Roman à clef


Roman à clef
Key to vol. 2 of Delarivier Manley's, New Atalantis (1709).

Roman à clef or roman à clé (French pronunciation: [ʁɔmɑ̃n‿a kle]), French for "novel with a key", is a phrase used to describe a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction.[1] The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the "key" is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction.[2] This "key" may be produced separately by the author, or inferred through the use of epigraphs or other literary devices.[3]

Created by Madeleine de Scudery in the 17th century to provide a forum for her thinly veiled fiction featuring political and public figures,[4] roman à clef has since been used by writers as diverse as Victor Hugo, Phillip K. Dick, and Salman Rushdie.

The reasons an author might choose the roman à clef format include satire; writing about controversial topics and/or reporting inside information on scandals without giving rise to charges of libel; the opportunity to turn the tale the way the author would like it to have gone; the opportunity to portray personal, autobiographical experiences without having to expose the author as the subject; avoiding self-incrimination or incrimination of others that could be used as evidence in civil, criminal, or disciplinary proceedings; and the settling of scores.

Biographically inspired works have also appeared in other literary genres and art forms, notably the film à clef.[citation needed]

Contents

Notable romans à clef

Prose

Verse and drama

See also

Book collection.jpg Novels portal

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Roman a clef — Roman à clef Le roman à clef est un sous genre romanesque dans lequel certains personnages ou la totalité de ceux ci représentent, de façon plus ou moins explicite, une personne réelle. Sous le couvert de la fiction, l auteur adresse en écrit en… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • roman à clef — [rō΄män nä klā′] n. pl. romans à clef [rō΄männä klā′] [Fr, novel with a key] [often in italics] a novel in which real persons appear under fictitious names …   English World dictionary

  • Roman à clef — Le roman à clef est un sous genre romanesque dans lequel certains personnages ou la totalité de ceux ci représentent, de façon plus ou moins explicite, une personne réelle. Sous le couvert de la fiction, l auteur adresse en écrit en réalité une… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • roman à clef — /rddaw mah nann kle /, pl. romans à clef /rddaw mahonn zann kle /. French. a novel that represents historical events and characters under the guise of fiction. * * * (French; novel with a key ) Novel that has the extraliterary interest of… …   Universalium

  • roman-à-clef — [ˌrəʊmɒroman à clefα: kleɪ] noun (plural romans à clef pronunciation same) a novel in which real people or events appear with invented names. Origin Fr., lit. novel with a key …   English new terms dictionary

  • roman à clef — noun (plural romans à clef) Etymology: French, literally, novel with a key Date: 1893 a novel in which real persons or actual events figure under disguise …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • roman-à-clef —  (Fr.) A novel about real people but using fictitious names; pl. romans à clef …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • roman à clef —    (roh MANH ah KLAY) [French: novel with a key] A fictional literary work based upon historical characters and events, or one in which well known real people are portrayed as fictional characters.    Margaret Truman, the daughter of President… …   Dictionary of foreign words and phrases

  • roman à clef — /roʊˌmɒn a ˈkleɪ/ (say roh.mon ah klay) noun (plural romans à clef /roʊˌmɒn a ˈkleɪ/ (say roh.mon ah klay)) a novel in which actual persons and events are disguised as fiction. {French: literally, novel with a key} …   Australian English dictionary

  • roman à clef — noun /roːˌmɑ̃aˈklej/ a piece of fiction, especially a novel, containing real life people and/or events …   Wiktionary


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