Talk:Roman à clef

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TV Shows?[edit]

Da Vinci's Inquest/Da Vinci's City Hall are widely-known to be based on former Vancouver coroner and then mayor Larry Campbell. Could a section on TV shows be added? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:03, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Probably better added as a subsection in Film à clef. Heavenlyblue (talk) 20:19, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

2003 - 2007[edit]

The X-files reference seems pointless and silly (and I'm a fan of the show) - I'm inclined to cut it. Thoughts?Danmusic 05:49, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

In disambiguating Mapping, I just unlinked it from this page, since it didn't seem be being used in any technical sense. Certainly the use here doesn't match any of the technical sense on that page if it's allowed for an event or character in the novel to correspond to more than one event or character in real life (which it seems to me does happen sometimes). However, if it is being used in a technical sense, then please let me know -- or better yet, add this sense to the Mapping article! -- Toby 23:57 Jan 26, 2003 (UTC)

Thanks. I wasn't using it a technical sense, precisely. I was using it as a single word encapsulating the meaning "data indicating the one-to-one correspondence between elements in set A and elements in set B.". One event or character in the novel corresponds exactly with one event or character in real life (in a true roman à clef), so it's close to the technical meaning. Is the term, in my non-mathematical sense, in common usage, or is it just how I think about things? -- Dreamword 02:19 Feb 6, 2003 (UTC)

I'm sure that the use of the term here is certainly appropriate.What I wonder is about is a link to an article discussing a technical use of that term. If a given character in a true roman à clef can only correspond to at most one item in real life, then this would qualify as a function (or at least a partial function, but that distinction is probably an irrelevant technicality), but I'll let you decide if a link to Function (as [[function|mapping]], presumably) is a good idea or not. -- Toby 03:47 Feb 9, 2003 (UTC)

I'm inclined to leave it unlinked and, if anything, replace "mapping" with "correspondence." (Goes to show what havoc occurs when a trivium guy starts using quadrivium terms...) -- Dreamword 18:43 Feb 9, 2003 (UTC)

Well, to the extent that the quadrivium is about the various guises of number, then that must be me! ^_^ -- Toby 05:39 Feb 12, 2003 (UTC)

Re: The Devil Wears Prada: if the author denies that a character is modelled on a specific figure then we need some convincing evidence to the contrary before we call it roman a clef and put it in the list. Even if the evidence for that one figure was overwhelming I'm not sure one figure drawn from life a roman a clef makes. -- Antaeus Feldspar 11:51, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

There is far too much list and not enough article here. -- Cyrius| 22:36, 15 July 2005 (UTC)

Indeed there is too much list. A few examples across a variety of times and places would be sufficient. Perhaps a separate entry containing a list of famous romans a clef —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:24, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Worse, the list doesn't look like a very good list. An autobiographical novel like "The Bell Jar" is such an open door that no clef is called for. Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" seems to me more of a Reuters transcript than a novel of any kind. Orwell wrote allegories, or perhaps homilies, but Stalins are so common in history, and indeed in the news, that again there is no lock-key correspondence to be seen. Naming Jack Kerouac screams out for the novel this wiki-writer has in mind, at risk of falling into the old "This is a roman à clef about so-and-so" jape. I didn't know Hunter Thompson had written any novels, I thought it was all journalism, and so it goes.
Lord Fnord (talk) 14:10, 23 January 2021 (UTC)

Re: Re: The Devil Wears Prada: For that matter, the figure drawn from life must not be the author -- half of contemporary lit fic would be roman a clef if that were so, and thus Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" is far from the form. I think it's also a given that the models for the fiction have already enjoyed some celebrity or notoriety -- part of the fun of reading a roman a clef is the chance to figure out who is being spoofed. If the author is just writing about a friend or relative and changes the name, they're not playing the game. 06:36, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

Would it not be, rather, that not ONLY the author must be drawn from life, but a large part of the cast of characters? Heavenlyblue (talk) 20:33, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

English Language Bias[edit]

While the list is interesting there is a clear English language bias. It might therefore be useful to include examples from other languages and cultures, not just to expand the list but also to note if there truly is an Anglo-American cultural oddity. The expression seems French; it might therefore be worthwhile to add something on the history of the expression.

I know there are examples in Norwegian literature (one case that relates to the internal world of publishers, a few years ago) but this is too small a country to be of general interest.

Given the value of this technique in avoiding controversy, I expect that it has been used since the very origins of writing. Vectro 20:50, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Please add what you have. Heavenlyblue (talk) 19:59, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure that I would call it bias. After all, this is an English language project. But point taken. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:22, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

A Dance to the Music of Time[edit]

The article summarises this series as a "sequence of twelve novels satirising English cultural and political life in the middle of the 20th century." The series includes satire, but that's only one of its strands, and by no means the chief one. I'm not sure how one would do "Dance" justice in a one liner, but feel that this brave attempt falls short. Countersubject 13:31, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


"In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust is perhaps the epitome of the roman a clef novel, winding through 3000 pages of Scott-Moncrieff's translation of the authentic French text, it lays down the complexities and subtleties of life for future 20th century authors to utilize at their discretion." i am aware it is semi autobiographical, which i suppose makes it roman a clef, but what is all the rest of that? it sounds to me like an overzealous fan, but i'm not precisely sure what it's getting at so i don't want to snip it. --dan 04:17, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Citizen Kane[edit]

I think Citizen Kane is a far more notable, more famous and just plain better example of roman à clef in cinema than The Great Dictator. Any detractors? --PopeFauveXXIII (talk) 17:07, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Sounds right to me. Heavenlyblue (talk) 20:37, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
And so it is included in Film à clef. (talk) 13:28, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

The Great Gatsby[edit]

This novel is "a comment on the prohibition of alcohol sales"? Really? I know it's many things to many critics, but this seems an odd way to characterize the novel. (talk) 16:36, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Seconded. It reads more like an attack on society and socialites. Prohibition is a minor detail in the main character's backstory, nothing more. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:55, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Removed. Whatever it is, it is not a roman a clef. elpincha (talk) 01:26, 27 September 2009 (UTC)

Roman à clef and Faction[edit]

It's my position that these two terms both identify the same literary device. Any possible distinction between the two would be limited to scope. For example, it may be argued that "roman à clef" is best limited to novels in the strict sense of the word, while faction could apply to other formats, like films, short stories, novellas. But that's arguable, too. Some argue that "Roman à clef" has evolved to include more than just the traditional novel. Regardless, the word "faction", although not always found in dictionaries, is common enough that both terms need to co-exist on the same page, because recent authors of novels are indeed using the word "faction" to describe a roman à clef, perhaps because of the obvious awkward sound and spelling of the French term as it appears to the English speaker. One such author is the well-known writer Fr. Malachi Martin, Ph.D, author of numerous books under his own name and pen names, who talked about the word "faction" and its history in interviews (available on YouTube), and how it applied to his roman à clef, "Windswept House." He used the word "faction" despite the fact that he was fluent in French and a number of other languages. There is no other distinction between the two as to time perspective, etc.

Also see, for example:

Indeed, the word "faction" is a rather recent invention, but one that is being used by multiple writers of novels that are romans à clef.

I'm going to let others decide and do the editing. MeSoStupid (talk) 02:00, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

So, you're claiming the word "faction" was creaded by Fr. Malachi Martin to support his book? I think, perhaps, that may be sufficient evidence to delete the article entirely. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:13, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure that qualifies as a reliable source; are there any sources like usage in newspapers and magazines by people who are, say, professional literary critics? Any use in academic journals? Accounting4Taste:talk 15:18, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Hi - see here. I'll keep looking. It's difficult to search for because the word obviously has alternative meanings that are more common. MeSoStupid (talk) 03:40, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

This is information about the book noted at the above link: A History of American Literary Journalism: The Emergence of a Modern Narrative Form, University of Massachusetts Press (2000). Book of the Year Award, American Journalism Historians Association (2001). History Award, AEJMC History Division (2001). This information comes from the author's webpage. MeSoStupid (talk) 05:14, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Arthur Rubin also just deleted again my addition of the book "Windswept House" to the list of notable books saying it wasn't "notable", despite that fact that this book is very noteworthy and created quite a bit of controversy. It's more well-known than most of the books on the list. A key to the real identities of the character is available online, to which Martin remarked was "well done." In interviews, he stated the book was at least 80% real events. See [ here]. This book created a lot of controversy in the world of Catholicism especially because Father Malachi Martin claimed to have been one of a limited number of persons shown the original Third Secret of Fatima in February, 1960, and claims were made about it in this book. After the book came out, Martin then appeared on national radio in the United States, Coast to Coast, and made claims about the contents of the Third Secret which had been suppressed for nearly forty years by the Church. These interviews are available on Youtube, where he discusses his book, and also the history and use of the word "faction." Less than two years later, and less than a year after Martin's death, the Vatican Secretary of State released what it claimed to be the authentic Third Secret, only to be accused of not divulging the true or whole Third Secret by quite a number of well-known Catholics in part due to Malachi Martin's claims, including Mother Angelica, founder of the EWTN television network. Multiple books were then published contradicting the Vatican Secretary of State's release. As a side note, I've been having quite a lot of problems with user Arthur Rubin, and there is a current case pending against him. MeSoStupid (talk) 04:10, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

After you read Arthur Rubin's comment to this section asserting that I was claiming that Malachi Martin "creaded"[sic] the term to support his book, and then compare it to what I actually wrote, I think it's quite revealing. MeSoStupid (talk) 21:42, 3 November 2009 (UTC) Sales Rank: #154,565 in Books

. Notable, but better known than others in the list? I think not.
And you did attribute the use of the word "faction" to the author of this book. Since I couldn't find a more reliable source for the term, I assumed you were telling the truth, that he did create the term. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:47, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

The Amazon sales rank doesn't reflect total sales of books. It's based on sales over a recent period. A sales rank for a book is often much higher when the book is first released than it is a year later. That number doesn't have particular relevance here. Also, I found other books on the list that are up in the millions or over 500,000 on this ranking list, so I don't exactly understand your point. I said it was more well-known than most of the books on the list, i.e. more well-known than over half of them. MeSoStupid (talk) 02:05, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Roman à clef versus autobiography and historical fiction[edit]

I'm concerned that the criteria for the "Notable romans à clef" list are too broad. The list includes many titles that are simply "autobiography" or "historical fiction," not specifically roman à clef. I just added Orwell's "Animal Farm" to the list; in fact, I was surprised that it wasn't already there because it really is a perfect modern example. The roman à clef doesn't simply include real-life characters under pseudonyms or recount real events under fictional guise; it is most often a thinly veiled polemic or social critique of a contemporary situation. It is different from something like Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" or Kerouac's "On the Road," books which are informed by real people and events but function as autonomous works of fiction and transcend contemporaneity. These examples (as well as many others on the current list -- "The Bell Jar," "Buddenbrooks," etc.) don't belong in the same category as "Animal Farm," which has more to do with allegory and satire. I don't want to use my example as a new criterion of inclusion, but only as a reminder that the list ought to be precise. There are other places on Wiki for about 50% of these titles. Trrenaud (talk) 20:25, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Animal Farm is not a perfect example (though it is one interpretation), because it is heavily fictionalized in the interests of making a readable story - allegory/parable is not the same as roman a clé. I agree though that the example list would ideally be massively culled to say 6 solid examples. But people are always going to want to edit the page to add their own favourite books, so this isn't really likely unless you fancy fighting edit wars for all eternity. I think concise lists of examples are one area where a freely-editable wikipedia is doomed to fail. (talk) 17:40, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Imply vs Infer[edit]

In the last sentence , first paragraph:

"This "key" may be produced separately by the author, or inferred through the use of epigraphs or other literary devices.[3]"

The one who is "using" epigraphs or other literary devices here can only be the author, therefor the key is being "implied", rather than "inferred" in this sentence. I'll change it. Heavenlyblue (talk) 20:08, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

Added links[edit]

I have added links for the following:

  • Jean V de Bueil
  • Carl Van Vechten
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Las Vegas
  • James A. Pike
  • William Woodward, Jr.
  • Chandra Levy
  • Ciudad Juárez
  • Sonora (talk) 12:39, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

WorldCat Genres[edit]

Hello, I'm working with OCLC, and we are algorithmically generating data about different Genres, like notable Authors, Book, Movies, Subjects, Characters and Places. We have determined that this Wikipedia page has a close affintity to our detected Genere of romans-a-clef. It might be useful to look at [1] for more information. Thanks. Maximilianklein (talk) 23:44, 5 December 2012 (UTC)