Heroes who are intellectuals

IIRC, he was only slightly more familiar with his lecture topics than his students were and usually managed to stay about three chapters ahead of them on any given assignment. I don’t think he makes the cut.

By this standard, Sherlock Holmes is definitely not an intellectual. Watson once remarks that he was surprised to find that Holmes was unaware that the Moon revolved around the Earth. Since it was of no relevance for solving cases, Holmes had never read anything about it.

Watson’s descriptions of Holmes often revealed more about himself than his subject; Holmes was not above whooshing Watson for an occasional cheap laugh.

Holmes’s violin playing wasn’t relevant to solving cases either. The man had and indulged a passion for the arts. If he’s not an intellectual, who is?

Most of Jules Verne’s heroes:
Professor Arronax, in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
The captain in The Mysterious Island.
The lead character in From the Earth to the Moon.

Many of H.G. Wells’ heroes.

In the comic books, Braniac 5, Reed Richards, Steven Strange, Henry Pym, Tony Stark (though he hides it well), Peter Parker, Charles Xavier.

Professor Challenger, in A. Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.
Most of the cast of Michael Crichton’s The Lost World.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard!

I’m not sure how cultured or philosophical Brainiac 5 and Henry Pym are (though it depends a lot on who writes them). Peter Parker is an absolute philistine, as written by Stan Lee; his philosophy can be summed up by those tacky little signs posted up at the Coffee Bean, and his derisive “It’s all a put-on, they’re only in it for the money, there’s no free lunch” comments about the various Greenwich Village weirdos he kept running into off campus at ESU. He’s all about morality and guilt, not so much about the culture.

Tony Stark does hide it well, but not all the time. I was particularly impressed with his debate with Dr. Spectrum during Englehart’s run on the book:

Spectrum: America changed, and so did we!
Iron Man: Where we come from, a hero is expected to be a little more aware and ask more hard questions.

It’s interesting that the stages of the Hero’s Journey (as formulated by Joseph Campbell) all are learning experiences by a broad definition, but do not necessarily involve intellectual development of any kind, with the sole exception of Apotheosis.

Who’s he?

A musician is not necessarily an intellectual. There are too many counter-examples to list.

I’m going to assume this is a serious question and not a sly joke, alluding to the fact that the first line in “Atlas Shrugged” is: Who is John Galt?

Thereafter, it’s a running question throughout the two-thirds of the book until we find out who Galt is and the last third of the book explains the “long-winded” part.

Hari Seldon

There are LOADS of books, movies and TV shows in which the protagonist is SUPPOSED to be an intellectual. It just so happens that, in many cases, the people who created those characters are NOT intellectuals, and don’t do a very good job making these characters look or sound as intelligent or deep as they’re supposed to be.

Examples? Well, look at “The Da Vinci Code” (I KNOW you don’t want to, but humor me), which was a huge best seller, and a very popular movie. The hero is supposed to be a professor of Symbolism at Harvard, which wouold make him an intellectual, right? But Dan Brown is neither smart enough to write plausible dialogue for a serious intellectual nor diligent enough to do a bit of basic research (there are no professors of “Symbolism,” Dan, but there ARE professors of Semiotics!).

Both the narrator and the title character of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf are, in a sense, intellectuals (though not necessarily heroes).

An actual professor of semiotics, Umberto Eco, knows how to write an intellectual hero. Even Baudolino, an unlikely Italian peasant with a gift for languages, somehow manages to become an intellectual.

Dang I was gonna say Jean-Luc Picard, but it’s been taken. But he’s a great example of someone who loved learning as well as adventure.

Sorry for the hijack, but do you really think so? I’ve never gotten that impression from my many readings of the Wolfe corpus. Wolfe was certainly a gourmand but not necessarily a brilliant cook. Aside from coming up with the menu for the last night of the Les Quinze Maitres feast (which he didn’t cook himself), and perhaps his laudable determination to excel at making corned beef, I don’t remember Wolfe being described as being exceptional, cooking-wise. He did make sublime saucisse minuit, but it was from a recipe that the original chef (Jerome Berin) gave him.

On topic: Wolfe is certainly an intellectual hero, though. He’s the opposite of Holmes in one way – I think he’d give up catching a criminal if it meant learning some fascinating new nugget about history.

Buckaroo Banzai

How about Agatha Christie’s Inspector Poirot? He solves most of his cases by using his “little grey cells”, as he puts it.

You are actually incorrectly remembering the book as being slightly LESS stupid than it really was. The hero was described not as being a Professor of Symbolism, but a Professor of Symbology. Although judging from the downright laughable lecture scenes, his field would more accurately be described as Art History.

But did he use them, or advocate their use, for anything other than solving crime? I don’t remember him being particularly intellectual in the sense that BrainGlutton means it, though I’m far from an expert on Agatha Christie.

I’d call Tyrion Lannister an intellectual, or at least a proto-intellectual. Cursed with a physical disability (he’s a dwarf, and not in a fantasy sense) and with the burdens of medieval lordship, he has only his mind and his gift for gab to get him out of trouble (and most likely right back in to it). He’s also as well read as anyone in his culture can be expected to be.

OTOH, I’m not sure I’d call him a “hero”.

We’re never shown much of Poirot’s life outside his work solving mysteries, but it is revealed that he is interested in the intellectual challenge of solving a mystery even if no crime is involved. In The Clocks he mentions solving the mystery of how pieces of orange peel wound up in his umbrella stand. Late in his life he also writes a book of literary criticism about mystery novels.

Outside the realm of mysteries, Poirot also apparently had some interest in horticulture. His oft-mentioned plans for retirement involved breeding new and improved varieties of vegetable marrows (squash). He wants to see if he can develop a more flavorful type of squash. In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd he is apparently starting a garden, but gives it up later. I don’t remember if his only reason is wanting to return to being a detective or if his squash experiments are failures.