Eerily well read: 5 lit-inspired Halloween costumes

What holiday could be a better match for the bookish among us than one that ushers in bags of candy and a temporary belief that anything, no matter how otherworldly, is possible? Halloween practically cries out for literature themed costumes, but in case you need a little help this year, try some of Chirograph’s suggestions.

Ichabod Crane: Colonial Creepshow

There really is no better way to set the Halloween mood than a reading of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. But the elaborate Headless Horseman costumes have been done to gruesome death. Besides, the more scholarly among us know the scariest part of “Sleepy Hollow” was nervous schoolteacher Ichabod Crane’s building anxiety. Not to mention the grotesqueness of the Disney-fied Ichabod, who frightened the bejesus out of any child ever subjected to the 1940s cartoon adaptation.

 

T.S. Eliot: The Hollow(een) Man

Thomas Stearns Eliot was not only the author who dreamed up “The Wasteland” (which, let’s face it, must have inspired many a post-apocalyptic movie-scape), but also a thoroughly ookie-looking man. His gaunt figure and strange habits led his close friend Virginia Woolf to describe him variously as “sinister,” and “suspicious, elaborate, uneasy.” Inhabiting him this Halloween is a prime opportunity to show off your makeup skills, as Eliot himself was no stranger to caking it on. Woolf noted in 1922 that the creator of J. Alfred Prufrock wore “violet powder to make him look cadaverous,” while another contemporary recalled a dusting of green powder on his cheeks.

 

Kurt Vonnegut: Archetypal Eccentric

You’d be hard-pressed to find an aspiring writer from here to Tralfamadore who doesn’t wish they looked like Vonnegut all 365 days of the year. But the best part of this costume is its versatility. This year you’re Kurt, next year, you’re Mark Twain, the year after that you’re Albert Einstein. So it goes.

 

Shelley, Shelley and Byron: Romanticists take a holiday

Frankenstein’s monster is a mainstay of Halloween gatherings, but it was a relaxing weekend at the beach by these three that spawned the creation of old Bolt Neck. Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron were famous for their dramatic getups, and paying tribute to them with this group costume idea is a rare chance to indulge a yen for puffy shirts, headscarves, and unisex broaches. Extra candy goes to anyone who can effectively portray opium dependency and tuberculosis using simple costume props.

 

Godot: The Fake-Out

This one is meta. Say you’re planning to skip the big Halloween party and stay home with a good book. Just tell your friends you are going as Samuel Beckett’s Godot this year. Then tell them not to wait up. You’ll either be hailed as a great wit or shunned from all future social gatherings. Proceed at your own risk.

 

Peter Goffin is Chirograph’s Managing Editor. He has no costume yet, but does enjoy candy.

 

 

About the author

Peter Goffin

Peter Goffin is the Managing Editor of Chirograph.

By Peter Goffin