Encyclopaedic assertions are however still open to

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Encyclopaedic assertions are, however, still open to revisions. If we keep a scien- tific mind, we must be ready to revise our opinions about Hitler’s death whenever new documents will be discovered. Moreover, the fact that Hitler died in a bunker has al- ready been questioned by some historians. On the contrary, the assertion Anna Karenina commits suicide cannot be cast in doubt. Fluctuating individuals in fluctuating scores Notice that what I have just said holds true for Anna Karenina, Hamlet and many others but not for every fictional character. There are a lot of interesting narrative characters who have remained unknown to the great majority of readers and stand so to speak pris- oner of their original score. On the other hand, I have recently read that according to a reliable test, many Britons believe that Sherlock Holmes and Eleanor Rigby really ex- isted. ( reference) Hamlet or Sherlock Holmes acquired a sort of existence independent of their original scores. Many fictional characters “live” outside the score which has given them existence, and move to a zone of the universe which we find very difficult to delimit. Some of them even migrate from text to text because the collective imagination has, over the course of the centuries, made emotional investments in them and has trans- formed them into fluctuating individuals.
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It is not indispensable that they come from great works of art or from popular legends. In this sense we have appointed Hamlet and Robin Hood, Heathcliff and Milady, Leopold Bloom and Mickey Mouse as fluctuating entities. Becoming a fluctuating en- tity does not depend on the aesthetic qualities of the original score. Why so many people suffer for the suicide of Anna Karenina and only a small bunch of Hugo’s addicts sym- pathize with the suicide of Cimourdain in Ninety Three ? Personally I feel the fate of Cimourdain (a gigantic hero) more touching than the one of that poor lady. Too bad, the majority is against me. On the contrary, Dido or Medea, Don Quijote, Madame Bovary, Holden Caulfield, Gatsby, Philip Marlowe, Maigret or Hercule Poirot became individuals living outside their original scores, and even those who have never read these original texts can claim to make true statements about them. Being independent of the text and of the possible world where they were born, they are (so to speak) circulating among us , and we encounter some difficulties in not considering them real persons. Let us define the epistemological status of these entities better. A fluctuating character exhibits a core of properties that seem to be identified by everybody: for instance Little Red Riding Hood is a girl, she wears a red cap, she met a wolf who later devoured her and her grandmother, even though different people can have different ideas about the age of the girl, the kind of food she had in her basket, and so on. It has been suggested that a fictional character is an object of higher order, that is, one of these objects that are something more than the sum of their properties. What is crucial for the recognition of the object is that it maintains a Gestalt , a constant relation between its elements even if these elements are no longer the same. A typical example
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