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From Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms


Romans à clef


  • Fiction in which real persons, places, or events are depicted under invented names. For fiction that depicts the lives of real people see [Biographical fiction.]
  • URI(s)

  • Instance Of

  • Scheme Membership(s)

  • Collection Membership(s)

  • Form

    • Romans à clef
  • Variants

    • us: Key novels
    • us: Livres à clef
    • us: Schlüsselromane
    • us: Schlüsselromans
  • Broader Terms

  • Sources

    • found: Britannica online academic edition, Nov. 5, 2012 (roman à clef, novel that has the extraliterary interest of portraying well-known real people more or less thinly disguised as fictional characters)
    • found: Wheeler, K. Literary terms and definitions, via WWW, Nov. 12, 2012 (roman à clef: French, "novel with a key," also called livre à clef, "book with a key"; a narrative that represents actual historical characters and events in the form of fiction; readers in the know would recognize the real figures but typically the explanatory "keys" would be published later; also known in English as a key-novel)
    • found: Cuddon, J. A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory, 1998 (livre à clef (F 'book with a key') Also known as a roman à clef, in English as a key novel and in German as a Schlüsselroman. Usually a work of fiction in which actual persons are presented under fictitious names. The genre developed in 17th c. France; Somerset Maugham wrote several livres à clef)
  • General Notes

    • Fiction in which real persons, places, or events are depicted under invented names. For fiction that depicts the lives of real people see [Biographical fiction.]
  • Example Notes

    • Note under [Biographical fiction]
  • Change Notes

    • 2014-12-01: new
    • 2015-12-04: revised
  • Alternate Formats

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