Roman à clef?


I’ve never had a problem with the form of fiction known as the “roman à clef” (French for a story that needs a key). Generally, knowing the key will make the story more relevant but not knowing the key is perfectly okay, assuming the fiction is well-written. How many readers have enjoyed Anthony Powell’s A Dance To the Music of Time [see also] without knowing the sources of Powell’s characterizations? As the years go by, those real-life personages are becoming sufficiently obscure so as to make knowing the key even less important.

I am, however, now concerned about what is being considered a roman à clef. Look at this list from Wikipedia:

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