50 greatest villains in literature

From The Telegraph:

Satan Compiling a list of the 50 Greatest Villains in Literature, without too much recourse to comics and children’s books, proved trickier than we’d imagined – but gosh it was fun. It’s perhaps the nature of grown-up literature that it doesn’t all that often have villains, in the sense of coal-black embodiments of the principle of evil. And even when it does, it’s not always so easy to tell who they are. Is God the baddie, or Satan? Ahab, or the white whale? Yet even writers as subtle as Vladimir Nabokov have spiced their work with a fiend or two. And here they are. We hope you’ll furnish a few more we missed. These are the best of the worst: bloodsuckers, pederasts, cannibals, Old Etonians…the dastardliest dastards ever to have lashed damsel to track and waited for a through train.

“Who’s bad?” Michael Jackson asked. “They are,” we can at last, with confidence, reply. SL

48 Shere Khan from The Jungle Book stories, by Rudyard Kipling

His name and character, if not his physical appearance or his species, are based on a Pashtun prince. And there is something refreshingly simple about his aims: to eat Mowgli. To this end he sows dissent among wolf pack (enough alone to get him down to the eighth circle of Dante’s hell) and causes Mowgli all sorts of trouble. TC

47 Long John Silver from Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

The former sidekick of the pirate Captain Flint (for whom his parrot is named) may have one leg, but he is physically brave, likeable and a natural leader of men, especially after he kills one who won’t join his mutiny. Switches sides whenever he can, and gets away in the end. AMcK

46 Moriarty from The Final Problem, by Arthur Conan Doyle

Got a chair at one of our smaller universities after his work on the Binomial Theorem, but the criminal strain in his blood won out. The “Napoleon of Crime”, motionless “like a spider at the centre of his web”, until his fall in Switzerland, may be called James. Or that may be his brother. AMcK

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