The Great Fortune, 1960

(Great Characters in Literature)

Guy Pringle

Guy Pringle, who is at first a lecturer and then is in charge of the English Department at the University of Bucharest. He is a large, bearlike, physically and metaphorically nearsighted twenty-three-year-old. He is a committed English Marxist. He seems to ignore the realities around him and his marriage, preferring to give vent to his compulsive gregariousness and his camaraderie. He naïvely sees the best in everyone and imagines that generosity always will be repaid.

Harriet Pringle

Harriet Pringle, Guy’s twenty-two-year-old wife. They were married only a few weeks before both traveled to Bucharest from England. Harriet was an unwanted child of divorced parents and was reared by an aunt who considered her to be a nuisance. She looks to Guy for security but does not find it, partly because Romania is about to fall to German-Romanian Fascists but especially because her husband seems more interested in his Marxist idealism and how it will save the soon-to-be war-engulfed world, his teaching and theatrical projects, and the eccentrics he brings home than on striving to adjust to his more down-to-earth wife while she tries to protect him from his opportunistic, self-serving coterie.

Prince Yakimov

Prince Yakimov, called Yaki, a White Russian who frequently is unemployed. A former society playboy, he is now impoverished. An opportunist and weakling, he gracefully sponges on those he knows but will betray any friend or cause for the luxuries he still craves.

Sophie Oresanu

Sophie Oresanu, a pretty, opportunistic Romanian law student, partly Jewish, who clearly is intent on pursuing Guy and resents Harriet’s presence in Bucharest. Sophie’s major interest in life appears to be finding a husband, preferably one who can provide her with a British passport.

Clarence Lawson

Clarence Lawson, a self-loathing young Englishman in charge of Polish refugees in Bucharest. He is attracted to strong women like Harriet, who rejects his advances. He eventually marries Sophie Oresanu, who, on acquiring her British passport, leaves him for a series of more affluent men.