I came across this word the other day and had no idea what it meant. The sentence ran–He was a rather dull arctophile.
Time to get out the old OED and look it up. Course if I had paid any attention to my Latin and Greek Teacher, I would have easily chirped up, Miss, Miss! Arcto is from the Greek for bear, and phile a lover or someone who has a great fondness. What a mouthful for lovers of Teddy Bears!
I always think of two great writers and their usage of Teddy Bears, one of course is Winnie the Pooh, but the other great use of the Teddy Bear is from one of my favourite novels, Brideshead Revisited. Who can forget Sebastian and his teddy bear, Aloysius? Aloysius was non other than the beloved teddy bear of John Betjeman, Waugh’s dearest friend at Oxford. So the bear indeed was an Oxford bear! When they were going to remake the film without the Teddy Bear, there was a major outcry and a Teddy Bear was once again part of the cast!
Did Waugh believe that this bear to become such a force in his novel, or was his intent that it only be a prop? Would Sebastian be as strong a character without the bear? Or has the reader created such a love for these two odd companions that one cannot be thought of without the other? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this point…can a prop overtake a character?
I think maybe it can, if its force is powerful enough in the character’s life. Just like setting can become a character if it’s rich enough, why not a notable inanimate sidekick?