Tag Archives: nature of fiction

Fictional Characters

“The only real people are the people who never existed, and if a novelist is base enough to go to life for his personages he should at least pretend that they are creations, and not boast of them as copies.  The justification of a character in a novel is not that other persons are what they are, but that the author is what he is.  Otherwise the novel is not a work of art.”

-from page 14 of The Decay of Lying by Oscar Wilde, edition published in 1905 by Brentano’s in New York.  Retrieved from digital copy at: https://archive.org/details/intentionsdecayo00wild

I think it’s impossible for a fictional character to truly be a “copy”, even when inspired by a real person.  The best it can be is a representation of how the author imagines that person, or a lie.  The character is still a person who never existed.