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Movember Reading: Memorable Moustaches in Fiction

November 18, 2012 | Winona | Comments (4)

In honour of Movember (the month formerly known as November), and for all you moustachioed readers and writers out there, I offer you six memorable 'staches from the stacks:

Hercule Poirot's Moustache

Poirot by CounihanIlustration by Claire Counihan

The moustache belonging to Agatha Christie's famous fictional Beligian detective is a lot like the man himself: impeccable, fastidious, and quite unique. When we first meet Hercule Poirot, and his moustache, it is through the eyes of Captain Hastings:

"Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet, four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. Even if everything on his face was covered, the tips of moustache and the pink-tipped nose would be visible."

- from The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (also available as an e-book and in large print). For more Hercule Poirot at the library, click here.

 

Asterix's Moustache

Asterix Obelix Dogmatix
Illustration by Albert Uderzo

Moustaches are hardly unique in the village of invincible Gauls in the beloved comic books by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Everyone's got one: our hero Asterix (bushy and yellow); his best friend Obelix (bushy and red); even loyal canine companion Dogmatix (bushy and white). When the Romans send a spy, Caligula Minus, to infiltrate the village and determine the secret of the Gauls' superhuman strength, he gets a moustache too (bushy and orange, and fake). But the spy's identity is revealed when his fake moustache is pulled off during the course of a traditional dance:

Asterix: "What on Earth is this?"         

Caligula Minus: "Er...it's a detachable moustache! The latest thing from Lutetia!"

Asterix: "I don't think you're a Gaul at all! I believe you're a ROMAN SPY! GET HIM!"

- from Asterix the Gaul by Goscinny and Uderzo. For more Asterix at the library, click here.

 

Ignatius J. Reilly's Moustache

Ignatius J. ReillyIllustration by Myron Grossman and Michael Tedesco 

Ignatius J. Reilly's moustache is the centrepiece in the idiosyncratic appearance of this misanthropic, delusional iconoclast, who is introduced on page one of John Kennedy Toole's posthumously published cult classic:

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs." 

- from A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (also available as an e-book and an audiobook). For more on Toole's life and work, check out:

 

Colonel Aureliano Buendia's Moustache

One Hundred Years of SolitudeIllustration by Tom Rainford

Early in Gabriel García Márquez's multi-generational masterpiece Colonel Aureliano Buendia adopts a moustache that signals his growing militarism:

"About that time he had begun to cultivate the black mustache with waxed tips and the somewhat stentorian voice that would characterise him in the war."

Later, when the Colonel has withdrawn from fighting, his moustache only serves to remind us of the futility of war:

“They had allowed him to shave. The thick mustache with twisted ends accentuated the sharp angles of his cheekbones. He looked paler to Ursula than when he had left, a little taller, and more solitary than ever.”

- from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (also available in large print). 

 

Captain Hook's Moustache

Captain Hook Peter and the StarcatchersIllustration by Greg Call

Captain Hook, the sinister pirate captain and archnemesis of Peter Pan, is a classic villain of children's fiction whose moustache is terrifyingly menacing: 

"He was a strikingly unpleasant figure, with a pockmarked face and a large red nose, like a prize turnip, glued to his face. His long black hair, greasy from years without washing, stained the shoulders of the red uniform coat he'd stolen from a Navy sailor on the high seas, just before escorting that wretched soul over the side of the ship. He had dark, deepset, piercingly black eyes, overshadowed by eyebrows so bushy that he had to brush them away to see through the glass. But his most prominent feature was the thick growth of hair on his upper lip, long and black, lovingly maintained, measuring nearly a foot between its waxed and pointed tips. It was this feature that gave him his name, the most feared name on the sea: Black Stache."

- from Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry. For more Captain Hook at the library, check out:

 

 The Fu Manchu 

Dr. Fu ManchuIllustration by Mort Engle

Dr. Fu Manchu's moustache is so iconic that it is the origin of an entire style of facial hair: the Fu Manchu. Actually, the evil criminal genius himself only wears the Fu Manchu in the film and television versions of the books; in Sax Rohmer's pulp fiction classics Dr. Fu Manchu doesn't have a moustache at all. But both the Dr. and his namesake moustache have become synonymous with racist portrayals of Chinese villain stereotypes in the West throughout most of the twentieth century:

"Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green... Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man."

- from The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer. For more Dr. Fu Manchu at the library, click here. For more on negative Asian stereotypes in fiction and film, check out:

 

Got 'mo examples? Add yours in the comments below!

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