Literary Astrology: Gemini

Curtis Sittenfeld's Sisterland

Fun fact about Geminis: Their most erogenous zones are their hands and arms. How does this play into our literary astrological charting? Not at all! But if you’re successful in using this information to pick up a stranger in a bar, please let us know in the comments. We do what we can.

Born between May 21 and June 21, Geminis are represented by the yin and the yang of twins. They’re adaptable, versatile, enthusiastic, eloquent, witty, and intellectual—in other words, the life of the party. However, we all know that with twins, one is evil incarnate, and Gemini’s dark side is inconsistent, superficial, indecisive, unfocused, and nervous. Which literary characters does this bring to mind? Read on:

Emma Woodhouse (Emma, by Jane Austen)
Austen’s narrator warns us from the get-go that her “handsome, clever, and rich” heroine “with a comfortable home and a happy disposition” suffers from high self-esteem. Emma is certainly eloquent, enthusiastic, and witty in her efforts to orchestrate the lives of those around her. The trouble is that her understanding of their needs, and her own, is superficial and inconsistent. Luckily, she is intelligent enough to realize this and adaptable enough to grow by the end of Austen’s story.

Lady Brett Ashley (The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway)
The life of the party—or the flame to which Jake Barnes, man moth, is drawn? Brett’s wit, joie de vivre, and intelligence are her charms, and the men of the novel are in her thrall. But Brett’s seeming self-possession is a mask for her anxiety (“she can’t go anywhere alone,” Jake says), and her independence a manifestation of her indecisiveness, the indecisiveness of an entire Lost Generation.

Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote)
On first appearance a shallow party girl who gets by on a succession of fleeting relationships, Holly nevertheless reveals herself as a highly adaptable person who has managed to reinvent herself in the name of survival. In this light, her lack of focus on any one relationship becomes a coping mechanism, if still a flaw. In true Gemini form, her strength is her weakness and her weakness her strength.

Nate Piven (The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., by Adelle Waldman)
It’s his eloquence that has won the titular Nate a place on the Brooklyn literary scene. It’s too bad the intellectual agility and emotional insight he brings to his work doesn’t cross over to his dating life. Nate ends up bobbing between relationships, indecisive, unfocused, and preoccupied with his own internal debate over guilt, intimacy, and desire.

 Who’s your favorite literary Gemini?