D J Taylor

Stranger than Fiction

Most works of fiction are, on one level or another, about real people. Such are the depths to which the aesthetic imagination is occasionally reduced in its search for raw material that nearly every novelist ends up introducing some kind of roman à clef element into his or her books: many of the great English novels of the past century or so can be followed home to a creative rumpus-room consisting of the author’s friends (and enemies), actual situations and emotional dilemmas which, if they are not straightforwardly filched from life, have at least some vestigial grounding in a past reality.

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