When was Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin born?
Join LibraryThing to post.
This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.
I don't have the references in front of me at the moment, but from the various books, I speculate that Wolfe was born somewhere around 1895, which would make him about 19 at the start of WWI: young and foolish. Archie would be about 10 years younger (birth date 1905) which would have him around 24 when he went to work for Wolfe in the late 20's.
I remember reading once that Stout deliberately and cleverly kept things vague and throughout the series portrayed Wolfe was about fiftyish and Archie in ealy to mid-thirties, thus avoiding the problem of other long running series where the detective become severely geriatric. Preseumably he took less care about this in earlier books where he probably did not consider that he would be using the same charcacters upto 40 years later.
Agreed; so I have read, and so he did. :) Also, in the earliest books, Wolfe's birthday would have fallen c. 1885 - 1890; much like his author's.
Over My Dead Body is from 1938, if I recall. Twenty years after the end of the war. He would have to have been in his late twenties, at least, in 1918, to suit both the plot and his suggested age. Forty-eight, perhaps, but not younger.
I can't cope with Wolfe being younger. :) Not sure why. Later, of course, his birthdate crept behind him as he edged into more and more modern territory - carefully vague and obscured, as quartzite says. And Archie's likewise.
(Admission: he could have been as young as forty-six. I just don't want to think it. ;) )
In a memo dated 15 September, 1946, Rex Stout states Wolfe's age as 56. A facsimile of the memo is reproduced at the end of the 1995 Bantam edition of Fer-de-Lance. It goes on to fully describe Wolfe's physical characteristics, including a small brown mole just above his jawbone, half way between his ear and chin!
A description for Archie and the Brownstone is included in the Memo. It states Archie's age as 32. The Memo is titled:
"Not For Publication
From Rex Stout"
Saul of course, is nondescript);.
Excellent. Thank you, cogitno. You've saved my feelings as well as my sanity. :) Wolfe just shouldn't be under 50, whatever I was prepared to allow.
If Archie was 32 in 1946 that would make his birth year in 1914. Since Fer-de-Lance was written and set in 1933, Archie would have to be 19 years old and he had been already working for Wolfe for seven (?) years. I think this is a case where the author, several years after the fact, just pulled a number out of the air without considering what it does to his timeline.
Frankly, I was stretching the age to the youngest possible when I said Wolfe was born in 1895 and Archie in 1905. Evidently, Stout wanted Wolfe to be significantly older than Goodwin but I can's see Archie being so young in the 30's.
And, yeah, the age thing went to hell when the 60's rolled around.
I think the essential point is, they simply didn't age. The ages stayed steady from the first volume. They merely moved through time; they weren't touched by it. Hence, calendar issues are abound to be confusing and irrational, if one assumes a normal progression was intended.
And yet, we may still meet Archie walking down the street in New York, unchanged. Now wouldn't that be fine?
I see I made a mistake above, writing 'abound' where I meant 'bound.' It's probably precisely because they DO 'abound'!
When an author starts with a series, he/she is well-advised not to fix an age for the main characters. I just found Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody books, and Amelia's age is given in book one. The second book wasn't written until six years later, and then it snowballed until she finished with 18 books about her fictional characters. I read an interview in which she stated that she didn't want to have her characters chasing the bad guys down with their canes. Even so, it's a stretch at the end of the series in 1922, because at that point Amelia would be in her early 70s.
I think that Peabody's and Emerson's ages are part of the reason that the 'children' are the more active agents in the later books.
Has anyone read Emma Lathen's books? Here the authors solved the problem by having John Putnam Thatcher and his associates stay the same age thru the series although the world aged around them.
Hm. Coming back to your question, hailelib; I haven't read Emma Lathen's books, but heard of them for the first time in the last month. Will try to amend the unread status, soon. What's your own pick for her best book?
I've read and own four or five Lathen books; they never appear on my public library's shelves, though, nor do I often see them in bookstores.
I liked Murder without Icing because of Thatcher's conversation with an up-and-coming hockey star on what to do with the money he was making after his new venture started making money. There's Thatcher saying to himself, "why can't our new Trust department employees understand this the way this athlete does?"
Thanks to all three of you for the recommendations. I'll look out for one of the above, or order a copy soon!
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.