1 Batya Casper • Geoffrey,
The issue of fictionalizing historical characters out of history, so to speak, is an important one for me. Thomas Pynchon's treatment of Benjamin Franklin "going way beyond the real Franklin" is of concern to us both as writers and readers. Perhaps Pynchon could allow himself that liberty because we know Benjamin Franklin so well. We know him to the extent that changing his personality is tantamount to emphasizing it, to pointing an arrow at it, to inviting the reader to protest . "No, that can't be," we say, "we know this guy" - and then we sit back and enjoy the joke.
Such treatment, I think, would be less successful with lesser known historical characters.
Of more interest for me though, as a modern writer, is the creation of fictional characters within a historical context. For me, it is essential that such characters be what I call, "virtually correct," i.e. some kind of condensation or conglomerate, some representation of people who actually lived in my chosen time period. Many of the actions my characters take, in Israela, for example, are amalgamations of historical actions - borrowed and fictionalized in the details. I believe it is as important for the fictional characters to be true to their historical time, as actual historical figures. Otherwise, what would be the point?