Friday, July 6, 2007

Author beaten up by his characters...

Ok, so there are lots of movies and stories (thanks King) about an author's characters coming to life and killing, raping, befriending and helping them. But this time, this guy almost deserved it.

Pierre Jourde wrote a novel called "Pays Perdu (Lost Land)" which is about life in the farming village of Lussaud. He described all kinds of shenanigans like immorality, impropriety and myriad other fun titillating stuff.

Jourde believed that simply changing the names of the characters would be enough to placate his neighbours.

Ok, here's the problem with thinking along those lines...everything was fine at first.

But it soon emerged that this was more down to the absence of a bookshop in Lussaud rather than the understanding nature of its residents. By word of mouth, the contents of the book spread around the village.

So what did the people do when the found out that they were the stars of a popular novel?

On 31 July as the writer and his family arrived for their summer retreat, they saw a sign had been put up at the village entrance carrying an ominous allusion to the death of a poet. As they approached their farmhouse, which has been in the family for generations, neighbours began to spout abuse, calling Jourde's two children "dirty Arabs". Their mother is Arab.

The irate villagers then swapped insults for stones, hurling them at the car. One smashed a window and injured a 15-month-old baby inside. Jourde hit back, striking the ringleader, a 72-year-old man. That pensioner was fined €500, and his four accomplices received two-month suspended jail sentences.

Naturally Jourde is all upset about this and has "spoken of his fury that a writer cannot write about what he wants, and of the fact that there are now "no-go zones" not only in cities but also in villages."

Wait a minute, he's a professor of literature? Maybe he missed one lesson called Roman Á Clef.

It's even a French term!

What is it?

A roman à clef or roman à clé (French for "novel with a key") is a novel describing real-life events behind a façade of fiction.

What's a good reason for using it? Writing about controversial topics and/or reporting inside information on scandals without giving rise to charges of libel

Yeah that and I dunno, maybe not having the people you've written about get furious at you and try to beat the snot out of you?

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