Author surrogate

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As a literary technique, an author surrogate is a character who expresses the ideas, questions, personality and morality of the author. On occasion, authors insert themselves under their own name into their works, typically for humorous or surrealistic effect.

Contents

Usage

Fiction

Frequently, the author surrogate is the same as the main character and/or the protagonist, and is also often the narrator. As an example, the author surrogate may be the one who delivers political diatribe, expressing the author's beliefs at an appropriate time, or expound on the strengths and weakness of other characters, thereby communicating directly the author's opinion on the characters in question. Philosophers may use author-surrogates to express their personal positions, especially if these are unpopular or run counter to established views. British writer David Hume used the author-surrogate 'Philo' in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Michael Crichton used his character Ian Malcolm to express views on catastrophic system failure in his novel Jurassic Park. Perhaps the best-known philosophical author-surrogate is Socrates in the writings of Plato.

Most stories have an author surrogate, insofar as the author is usually capable of pointing to one character (major or minor) whom he or she identifies with to a much greater degree than any other character. This can take the form of a realistic depiction of the author (Benjamin in Animal Farm), or a negative (Woody Allen in many of his films) or positive depiction of the author. Steve Gerber depicted himself saving the universe in his final issue of Man-Thing for Marvel Comics, and Chris Claremont did the same, while Gerber's act was passive and Claremont's had him merge briefly with the title character.[1] In both cases, the authors had other characters that were more traditional author surrogates, Richard Rory and Jonh Daltry.

Fan fiction

Author surrogacy is a frequently observed phenomenon in hobbyist and amateur writing, so much that fan fiction critics have evolved the term Mary Sue to refer to an idealized author surrogate. The term 'Mary Sue' is thought to evoke the cliché of the adolescent author who uses writing as a vehicle for the indulgence of self-idealization rather than entertaining others. For male author surrogates, similar-sounding names such as 'Gary Sue' or 'Gary Stu' are occasionally used.

Other uses

The expression has also been used in a different sense, meaning the principal author of a multi-author document. [1]

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