(n.); allurement, enticement, coquetry; flirtation; from the French agacer (“to tease”)
Fictional characters – unlike the messy organisms from which they derive – float free from the sordid contingencies of the body, because, no matter how convincingly they’re portrayed as being embodied, the medium within which they operate is, self-evidently, a mental one.
–Will Self, from BBC’s A Point of View
Why do you read fiction? The allure of a well-devised plot, the sublimity of the prose, or the draw of a character so well-crafted they almost feel like living, breathing people? We grow attached to characters, tucking ourselves into their realities, struggling at their sides through trials and tribulations, experiencing their joys and depressions. But are fictional characters, with their “slippery claim to reality” anything more than “initially seductive—but ultimately nonsensical—simulacra of people,” as novelist Will Self describes?