All Characters are Entirely Fictitious
It usually goes something like this:
All characters in this publication are entirely fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
And it’s nearly always a lie. Robert Liddell suggests that the passage deceives nobody and would be no protection in a libel action, and, he continues, one must suppose that the common explanation is the true one: ‘it is inserted by publishers so that illiterate booksellers’ assistants may more easily be able to distinguish fiction from biography, memoirs and the like.’
To muddy the waters even further, in recent years some people have declared that they are willing to pay to be written into this or that popular writers’ novels. And some writers have agreed to do this, accepting money for their favourite charity as payment. It seems that some among us are not satisfied by having both a ‘real’ life and a virtual life on the world-wide-web, but are thirsty for more and looking for further identity in some kind of fictional existence.
I suppose these people must recognize that life and art are quite different things, and that existence in one is strangely different to existence in the other? E.M. Forster in Aspect of the Novel, points out how free fictional characters are from work, and what a disproportionate amount of time they devote to love.
I can’t help recalling the words of Guy de Maupassant, when talking about fictional character:
. . . whether we are describing a king, an assasin, a thief, an honest man, a prostitute, a nun, a young girl, or a stall-holder in the market, it is always ourselves that we are describing, for we are obliged to ask ourselves the following question: ‘If I was a king, an assassin, a thief, a prostitute, a nun, a young girl, a stall-holder, what would I do, what would I think, how would I behave.’