June 30, 2017

I just came upon, and devoured, "The Education of Robert Nifkin." What surprised me is that while virtually all characters in this appear to be fictional, Clifton Fadiman was a very real fellow (indeed, as a lad I read his Mathematical Magpie anthology just a few years after it was published). Of course, fiction often contains cameos of real-world historical figures, but in this case the portrait is less than adulatory. What's up here?

(I see by a site search that my query about Fadiman has already been raised and partially answered — but only partially. Why recast Fadiman in so unprepossessing a light? That seems odd to me.)

P.s. My introduction to your work was via Lizard Music — still one of my all-time favorites several decades and multiple rereadings later.

Daniel replies:

First of all, how do you know whether virtually all the characters are fictional? Second, it is possible to have the same name and not be the same person. (And, I don't definitely remember, but I think the phrase, "no relation," may appear in the book). Thank you for devouring it. (For your further information, I was...well, I won't say a fan, but an appreciator of the widely known Clifton Fadiman. My identically named character is also a favorite of mine, but for quite different reasons.)

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