26 July 2011

Lemony Snicket / Sunday, 17 July 2011

Lemony Snicket is the legal[1] pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler (born February 28, 1970). Snicket is the author of several children's books, serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events(his best-known work) and appearing as a character within the series. Because of this, Lemony Snicket is both a fictional character and a real person. This article deals primarily with the character.
As a character, Snicket is a harried, troubled writer and researcher falsely accused of felonies and continuously hunted by the police and his enemies, the fire-starting side of the secret organization Volunteer Fire Department (V.F.D.). As a child he was kidnapped and inducted as a "neophyte" into V.F.D., where he was trained in rhetoric and sent on seemingly pointless missions while all connections to his former life, apart from his siblings Jacques and Kit (who were also kidnapped and inducted), were severed. In the organization he met and fell in love with a peer named Beatrice, to whom he eventually became engaged. After a series of unfortunate events (after which the real-world series is in some ways named), he became falsely accused of murder and arson. Eventually the fallacies grew so much that The Daily Punctilio reported his death. Beatrice eventually moved on and married Bertrand Baudelaire, becoming the mother of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, the protagonists of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Fourteen years thereafter Beatrice and Bertrand were murdered in a house fire, leaving the Baudelaires orphans. Feeling indebted to his former fiancée, Snicket embarks on a quest to chronicle the lives of the Baudelaire children until they become old enough to face the troubles of the world on their own.
Snicket is the subject of a fictional autobiography, Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (which contains an introduction from a fictionalized version of Daniel Handler). A pamphlet, 13 Shocking Secrets You'll Wish You Never Knew About Lemony Snicket, was released in promotion of The End. Other works by Snicket include The Baby in the MangerThe Composer Is DeadHorseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't AvoidThe Latke Who Couldn't Stop ScreamingThe Lump of Coal, "The Composer is Dead", and "13 Words". Snicket is currently writing a new children's series that is due out sometime in 2012.

Name origin

The name Lemony Snicket originally came from research for Handler's first book, The Basic Eight. Handler wanted to receive material from organizations he found "offensive or funny", but did not want to use his real name, and invented "Lemony Snicket" as a pseudonym.[2] The name's similarity to Jiminy Cricket, whom Handler described as "exactly the kind of overly moralistic, cheerful narrator who I despise", was "likely a Freudian slip".[3] When writing A Series of Unfortunate Events, he and his editor thought that the books should be published under the narrator's name, rather than his.[2]

Narrator and character

Lemony Snicket came from a family of three children. His brother Jacques Snicket and sister Kit Snicket were also V.F.D. members and friends of the Baudelaire parents. Both Jacques and Kit appear as supporting characters in the Series of Unfortunate Events books. He also knew Count Olaf in his early life, as the two attended school together.
In his youth, Lemony Snicket attended a V.F.D.-run boarding school with several other characters from the series. He received later tuition at a V.F.D. headquarters in the Mortmain Mountains, and was employed by a newspaper calledThe Daily Punctilio after graduating. He was an obituary spell-checker and theater critic.
Lemony Snicket conducted an ill-fated romance with the actress Beatrice Baudelaire, Lemony and Beatrice being at one point engaged to be married, but Beatrice breaking off the engagement for unclear reasons, and returning her ring to Lemony at some point later, along with a two-hundred page book explaining why the two could not be wed. It is revealed, however, that Lemony Snicket was believed to be dead by the Baudelaire parents, as The End states that, following with the tradition of naming children after someone who has died, Violet was to be named Lemony if she was a boy. Beatrice most probably discovered the truth sometime after marrying Bertrand Baudelaire, as she would presumably have no reason to send the ring and book to Lemony if she consistently believed his death.
As Beatrice was the Baudelaires' mother, she died in the fire that destroyed the Baudelaire mansion. She is not to be confused with another Beatrice Baudelaire, the daughter of Kit Snicket, and adopted sister of the Baudelaire orphans. Snicket frequently alludes to Beatrice in his narration and dedicates each Series of Unfortunate Events book to her.
Snicket is also known to have been close "friends" with a woman with the first initial "R.", who was the Duchess of Winnipeg.
Lemony Snicket has charged himself with the task of researching and writing the sad story of the Baudelaire orphans for "many personal and legal reasons".[4] He traces their movements and collects evidence relating to their adventures, but it is possible that he never met Violet, Klaus or Sunny in person. Many fans often identify him, though, as a taxi driver who appeared briefly in The Penultimate PerilThe Reptile Room and The Wide Window. This man is heavily implied to be in the possession of the sugar bowl, a key plot element of the series, after recovering it from the pond within which it had been hidden.
As the series progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Snicket knew the late Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire well for many years through their connections to V.F.D.. However, as mentioned in The Hostile Hospital and The End, despite all of Lemony's research and hard work, he still does not know the current location, position or status of the Baudelaire children.
Lemony was recruited by V.F.D. as a child, according to the Little Snicket Lad song.[5] In The Beatrice Letters, his niece, the daughter of Kit Snicket, who is also named Beatrice Baudelaire, mentions that she believes he is a detective of some sort, a reference to his investigations into the case of the Baudelaire children.
Snicket is frequently disparaging of himself; he has described himself as a coward, and at various points in his novels comments that he would not have been as brave as the Baudelaire children had he been in their situation. He also confesses that he has done things that were not noble, most notably the original theft of the sugar bowl from Esmé Squalor. He has also implied that he had a part in the murder of Count Olaf's parents, Olaf being the main antagonist of the series, and that Beatrice was involved as well.
In the narration of the books, Snicket describes doing many unusual things in his free time, including hiding all traces of his actions, locating new hiding places, considering suspicious dishes and researching the perilous lives of the Baudelaire children. He claims to often write himself citations for bravery in an attempt to cheer himself up, but these attempts are always in vain.

Other work

Daniel Handler, still under the name of Lemony Snicket, is to write a new series of four books that are presently untitled, to be released in 2012. Daniel Handler has also written or contributed to other works under the Lemony Snicket persona that are not related to A Series of Unfortunate Events. He has stated "there's a chance some other matters may take up Mr. Snicket's attention, that he may research and publish, but I'm always wary of making such promises".[6]The first of these was a secular Nativity story entitled The Baby in the Manger. Another Christmas story, entitled The Lump of Coal, was published in USA Weekend in 2004.[7] As Snicket, Handler wrote an introduction and endnotes for The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily, his favorite children's book, that referenced A Series of Unfortunate Events. A book of humorous quotes partly drawn from A Series of Unfortunate Events was published as Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid. Another "Christmas" story, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, was published in October, 2007.[8]Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren't as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn't Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out, a 2005 McSweeney's short story compilation, has an introduction and unfinished short story attributed to Lemony Snicket. Readers are encouraged to finish the unfinished story, and to submit their work to the publisher: "Our favorite ending will receive a fabulous prize of some sort". In 2007, the winner was announced on the McSweeney's website, announcing Jordan Pascual as the winner and won various prizes.Snicket also wrote The Composer Is Dead, a murder mystery designed to introduce young readers to the instruments of the orchestra; it was previously produced as an orchestral work by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, with Handler narrating as Snicket, and a recording of the performance is to be included with every copy of the expanded book.[9]In an interview with the 667 Dark Avenue fansite, Daniel Handler alluded to more Lemony Snicket books focused on the world of A Series of Unfortunate Events.[10]
In all of his A Series of Unfortunate Events books, he does not have pictures of his face except in an illustration in The End, although his eyes are obscured by cucumber slices in this picture.


  • The Bad Beginning
  • The Reptile Room
  • The Wide Window
  • The Miserable Mill
  • The Austere Academy
  • The Ersatz Elevator
  • The Vile Village
  • The Hostile Hospital
  • The Carnivorous Carnival
  • The Slippery Slope
  • The Grim Grotto
  • The Penultimate Peril
  • The End

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