When asked “If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose?” Michael Dirda admits he’d want to be James Bond. And why not? Indeed, as Dirda explains,
The first words we think of when we describe James Bond — at least the 007 of the films — are suave, debonair, cosmopolitan. All those are shorthand for Bond’s supreme personal characteristic, what Renaissance courtiers always aspired to exemplify: sprezzatura. That is the ability to perform even the most difficult task with flair, grace, and nonchalance, without getting a wrinkle in your clothes or working up a sweat. Bond not only is cool, he always looks cool, at ease in his skin, at home in the world. Whatever his surroundings, he’s the best-dressed guy in the room.
There are other reasons – ahem – why someone would want to be James Bond, and Dirda mentions most of them. I find Dirda’s honesty refreshing here. My guess is that most men with PhDs in Comparative Literature publicly renounce Bond, while secretly, as the saying goes, wishing they were him.