The Worst (Fictional) Jobs in Literature

Every week in a competition of wits The New Yorker asks a question of the Twitter-verse. Its most recent contest asked followers to reply to the question, “What’s the worst job in literature?

Although James Joyce’s proofreader appeared several times in the list, most tweeters stuck to the fictional theme. In the end the job The NY found worse than Hamlet’s motivational coach and Jay Gatsby’s poolboy was the winning entry “Narcissus’ girlfriend.” There were, however, so many gems within the bunch that we had to round up a Top Ten for you.

Think your job’s unbearable? Check out the hilarious responses below:

1. Captain Hook’s harpsichord key repairman

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

2. The reception committee for Godot

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

3. The chiropractor of Notre-Dame

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

4. Gregor Samsa’s exterminator

“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

5. Public relations for Lisbeth Salander

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

6. Richard III’s physiotherapist

William Shakespeare’s Richard III

7. Hester Prynne’s stylist

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

8. Huck Finn’s elocutionist

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

9. Ophelia’s swim instructor

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

10. Oedipus’s shrink. Or ophthalmologist.

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Tableaux Vivants for the 21st Century

“Portrait of Sylvia Von Harden” remake by Stephan Hoffman & SoYeon Kim

“Portrait of Sylvia Von Harden” by Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix

Lest we think we, as “modern” people came up with performance art, here is an idea that is older than our country: the art of Tableaux Vivants.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “tableaux vivants” as a “representation of a person, character, scene, incident, etc., of a well-known painting or statue by one person or a group of persons in suitable costumes or attitudes, silent and motionless.”  Such playful, yet at times, serious, art has been around since at least the mid-18th century. The Italian actor Carlo Bertinazzi performed the “The Village Betrothal in Los Noces d’Arlequin” by Jean-Baptist Grueze for the court at the Palace of Versailles in 1760.

Tableaux vivant “actors” tried to mimic costume, lighting, and theme in order to delight, educate, and inform. These “living paintings” were very popular in the early 19th century when the re-creations were moved from lofty venues like palaces to more humble ones, such as the parlors of affluent Americans. Godey’s Lady’s Book, arguably the most popular and influential magazine of its time, described tableaux vivant as one of the most popular of party activities which also served to “engender a love and appreciation for art.”

Today, actors and artists still seek to create in form what visual artists put to paper. In April, the Adobe corporation challenged students in the UK to create their own tableaux vivant and vie for a 10,000 pound prize. An American website called “Booooom” wanted to participate in the project and asked Adobe for permission to adopt the idea (though not the prize).  Adobe agreed.

Here are just a few of the stunning photographic tableaux vivants. What is truly delightful is the way in which many of the artists do not create a literal homage to the original work, but nevertheless embody its spirit.

Check out ALL the entries here (more accepted until 10/21/11)  and more creative events on Booooom’s  Facebook page.

“Self Portrait 1889″ remake by Seth Johnson

“Self Portrait 1889″ by Vincent van Gogh

“Automata” remake by Or Eitan

“Automata” by Edward Hopper

“Narcissus” remake by Max Zerrahn

“Narcissus” by Caravaggio

The First Annual Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

The University of Alabama is pleased to announce a new award for legal fiction in honor of one of its most famous residents and former students, novelist Harper Lee. In 1960, Lee’s first (and only) novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published, to both popular and critical acclaim. Since that time, TKAM has become of staple of both high school and college curriculums.

The “Prize will be given to the published book-length work of fiction that best exemplifies the role of lawyers in society, and their power to effect change.”

Unfortunately, even if you have the next great legal thriller sitting in your desk drawer or on your flashdrive, consideration for this award will only be given to works published (with an ISBN number) in 2010. But hey, it’s an annual award, so maybe next year!

For full details on the Prize, including how to vote and who will judge, please click here.

Win a Year’s Supply of Bacon From eNotes!

eNotes free year of bacon supplied by baconfreakSure, we are pretty fond of Sir Francis around here, but nothing beats a sizzling pan full of the other white meat. In honor of every college student’s favorite food, eNotes is giving away a year’s supply of bacon. That’s right. A YEAR’S SUPPLY OF BACON from BaconFreak will be delivered to your doorstep, and we’ll also throw in a 1-year premium membership to eNotes.

eNotes has always helped you with your grades by providing great study guides and a free Q&A forum. Now we want to help you out with your breakfast by giving away a 12-month subscription to’s “Bacon is Meat Candy” Bacon of the Month club. Check out the gloriousness here.

Wanna win? All you have to do is post on your Facebook page why you need and to help you bring home the bacon this school year, making sure to @ tag the event so we know you entered! (Or you can just write it on our wall.)

Don’t know how to tag? Just type an “@” in your status update, and then type “bring home the bacon.” If you don’t tag us, we can’t see your entry, and the bacon can’t be sizzling in your kitchen!

An example of tagging:

I need and @bacon freak to help me @bring home the bacon. For free, cuz I have five roommates. And bacon is the breakfast of champions.

We’ll randomly select a winner next Friday (September 17)! Good luck!