A character…can always ask a man who he is. Because a character truly has a life of his own, marked by his own characteristics, because of which he is always ‘someone’. On the other hand, a man… can be ‘nobody’. Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author, 1921/1995, p. 55. Much of what we have said so far has emphasised the importance of finding a balance in the writing process between freedom and control, of developing a metaphorical or reflexive relationship with our own material so that it takes on a life of its own within the holding environment we provide for it. This is particularly important when we come to think about the relationship we have as authors with the characters and narrators we create in our fictions. In this chapter we explore several different kinds of such relationships. Characters as autonomous creations In Luigi Pirandello’s celebrated play Six Characters in Search of an Author, the characters of the title – all members of an extended family – arrive unannounced at a theatre where a Director is in the process of rehearsing actors for a play. They are in great distress, having been brought into being by the rich creative fantasy of their author, who has then been either unable or unwilling to give them life within a play.
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