Roman à clef

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Concept.png Roman à clef 
(literary technique,  censorship avoidance)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
The lone gladio.jpg
Using fiction to lightly disguise real persons and events, often to avoid censorship.

A Roman à clef is a novel which is non-fiction, but contains fictional names to hide the identity of those involved.


The reasons an author might choose the roman à clef format include:

  • satire;
  • addressing third rail topics;
  • leaking information without occasioning legal charges such as libel or breaking the official secrets act
  • avoiding self-incrimination or incrimination of others that could be used as evidence in civil, criminal, or disciplinary proceedings
  • wish fulfillment - turning the tale the way the author would like it to have gone;
  • portraying personal, autobiographical experiences without exposing the author as the subject;
  • freedom to change the background and personalities of key participants;
  • settling of scores.

Selected Examples

Sibel Edmonds, the most gagged person in US history, wrote The Lone Gladio, a roman à clef, after learning that such a book would not be subject to censorship.

The Amazon page of Tracy R. Twyman's Genuflect noted that "several of the characters in this story have certain aspects based on known, powerful figures in the modern world, I make no claim that these people are involved in any nefarious deeds such as those depicted here,"



Page nameDescription
Empress BiancaAuthor sued by Lily Safra, wife of murdered spook/billionaire Edmond Safra, as a defamatory roman à clef.
Methodical Illusion
Windswept House: A Vatican Novel1996 novel by Roman Catholic priest and theologian Malachi Martin, containing "real events and real people masked in the form of a novel", telling the story of an international organized attempt by these Vatican insiders and secular internationalists to force a pope of the Catholic Church to abdicate.
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