Elegant and predatory character who appears in three Thomas Harris novels; Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. In the first two novels, the refined Dr. Lecter is imprisoned in a Psychiatric Hospital and amuses himself by using humans as pieces in his own game of Mental Chess and sketching great works of art solely from memory. Dr. Lecter is described as having maroon eyes and six fingers on one hand.

Dr. Lecter was once a respected psychiatrist and gourmet until it was discovered that he was killing and eating his more annoying patients. Dr. Lecter's culinary peculiarities earned him the moniker, "Hannibal the Cannibal". Although Dr. Lecter has a history of treachery and a cold, amoral amusment at the misguided intellectual forays of lesser mortals, the FBI occasionally contacts him in time of need because of his invaluable insight into the human mind. Dr. Lecter develops a strange and twisted relationship with Clarice Starling, who was assigned to interview Dr. Lecter.

An interesting sidenote is that Dr. Lecter never uttered his most famous line in the novels. Although he was excellently portratyed by Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 film version of Silence of the Lambs, the character in the novel never said, "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti". Dr. Lecter was an oenophile with rarefied tastes, and in the novel he ate human liver with "a big amarone". Fearing that audiences would be confused by the more obscure wine, the makers of the movie decided to change the wine to a more mundane but more easily recognizable chianti.

An interesting reflection of the darker side of human nature, it is worth pointing out that Dr Lecter is a nihilist, as can be exemplified in the many conversations recounted in Hannibal. The good doctor's non-belief complements his amoral stance on society and is used in both the books and the films as an explanation of his brilliance and originality.

Again, I think this maybe be simple fascination that our time has for emerging philosophical thoughts, which will inevitably fade into the passe as time moves on, however Dr Lecter does exemplify the superman category in nihilism almost perfectly. He is highly intelligent, very well educated, with refined tastes, a vast knowledge in almost every conceivable area, incredibly skilled, and with a belief only in himself, and nothing else.

Laws seem not to exist for Dr Lecter, and part of his charm seems to be his innate freedom of will even when locked away in his deep dark cell.

Perhaps this is why the last book felt a little disapointing, Lecter was free to roam as he pleased, and there was very little direct tension between himself and the rest of the authorities in the book until the very end, when the inevitable occurred. The book seemed to be a gentle exploration of his character, as opposed to the novel it was meant to be, and Dr Lecter while a superb agent of plot, and character development in others, doesn't seem to take well to the open sunlight of a lead role in a novel. Maybe this is true of all nihilists, they need to be nihilist within the context of a society, and would find it difficult to non-believe were they left in nature by themselves and free to do as they willed...

But I digress.

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