Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Fiction Becomes Reality

Some fictional characters acquire a life of their own and become real people. This is because they are based on archetypal real persons. Five examples are as follows.

Father Christmas is based on Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus who lived 270-343AD). He was Bishop of Myra (Demre in Turkey) famed for his generosity. His Feast day was December 6, close to the Midwinter festival and he became the personification of Christmas.

Father Frost is based on an ancient, childless Russian blacksmith, who fashioned a substitute daughter out of snow ever year (the Snow Maiden). They became the personifications of winter.

Haji Firouz is based on Prince Siāvaš who was assassinated in ancient Iran. His son avenged his death, and so every spring Firouz reappears - black-faced and red-coated - on March 21, the first day of the Persian year, with his uncle, Amu Nawruz (Uncle New Year).

Sherlock Holmes (private detective) is based on Joseph Bell (1837-1911) whom the author Conan Doyle met in 1877. Bell was a lecturer in medicine in the University of Edinburgh who was renowned for his analytical skills and powers of deduction. The first appearance of Sherlock Holmes was in the 1887 novel A Study In Scarlet, and he became immediately so popular that he is now a world famous character and the subject of numerous new stories and films.

James Bond (secret agent) was created by Ian Fleming in 1953 and is based partly on his brother, Peter Bond, who was a British Intelligence Officer in the Second World War. The first novel was Casino Royale; this and subsequent books were made into films and have since been augmented and grown into a permanent industry, the highest-ever grossing film series.

Finally, there are purely fictional beings, such as Frankenstein (a Gothic horror creature created by Mary Shelley in 1818), Superman (created 1938) and Batman (created 1939), to mention but a few.

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