OF THE BABY NAME MAX
Max is the little “bad boy” of Maurice Sendak’s classic 1963 children’s story, which he also illustrated, Where the Wild Things Are. Young Max, being punished for his mischief, is sent to bed without dinner. Once in his room, aided by his extravagant imagination, Max is taken on a wild journey to where the wild things are – right there in his room. And Max is one of the wildest of them all! So he becomes King of the Wild Things. Nonetheless, our young hero soon finds himself missing home and family, and he makes his way back to the comforts of the hearth, including a good, hot supper. There is room in our world for both the dark and the light, but at the end of the day, there’s no place like home, as a good witch once said to a little girl from Kansas.
Max Demian is a major character of the book “Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth”, written by Hermann Hesse and first published in 1919. Young Emil struggles with the opposing forces of good and evil as he grows from young innocence to mature adulthood, and Max, his charismatic older friend, is there to spur him on, pointing up the different points of view available in any worldly experience and challenging Emil to find his “world of light” in unlikely places. Max guides Emil to the realization of the power of individualism in a world of unquestioning conformity. All of this plays out on the eve of World War I, after which the old world dies, and things will never be the same again. Max has understood this; so, too, will Emil.
Max is the husband in Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier’s extremely popular 1938 novel. It was later made into an equally popular Hitchcock film, with Laurence Olivier, in 1940. Max is a handsome, rich and sophisticated English landowner and widower, who marries the second Mrs. De Winter after a whirlwind courtship in Europe. She arrives at her new estate with her new husband only to find herself the object of scorn and contempt from Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, who revered the late Rebecca, the first Mrs. De Winter. Max harbors secrets he does not divulge to our young heroine, who becomes increasingly distressed and depressed over her inability to live up to the glorious reputation of the first Mrs. Max. All of this has dire consequences, naturally, and the family skeletons are finally revealed just short of absolute disaster for all. Great fun, of its time, and even in today’s feminist world, one might just find the brooding Max de Winter as fascinating as did his meek little bride.