Cipher of a character

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by Catnap, May 21, 2013.

  1. Catnap Senior Member

    Hi to everybody,
    I find it difficult to get the exact meaning of the expression "cipher of a character". The author speaks about one of the character he created and answers to his fans' critics:
    "Everyone always asked me, why is XXX such a cipher of a character", my solution is:
    Tutti mi chiedono perchè XXX così criptica/indecifrabile" The author explains that maybe the character is less characterized... Did I get the meaning?
    Thanks for your help
  2. JasonNPato Senior Member

    GA USA
    Sometimes a "cipher of a character" means that the character is very similar to the author in many ways.

    By (one possible) definition, a cipher is a character/symbol that, when standing by itself, means nothing, but, when included as part of a code, suddenly obtains meaning. In this case, the character can become a cipher of the author, meaning that, when interpreted under the "code" that character = author, the character takes on a different meaning.
  3. CPA Senior Member

    British English/Italian - bilingual
    Sì, Catnap, hai capito bene. Del resto, subito dopo dice: "And I always find women very mysterious anyway". ;)
  4. Catnap Senior Member

    Thank you to everybody.
    P.S. CPA, are you too a fan of the 'Guide', eh! ;)
  5. peao New Member

    English - Australian
    Hi all,

    Just to add my two cents worth, when "cipher" is used to describe a person as opposed to a code it usually means a non-entity, or a nobody. A "cipher of a character" could mean a character with little importance, or even an important but boring character. It is very often used in film journals to describe a character that, on paper, doesn't have much personality but with the right actor can be turned into a complex or at least more interesting personality.
  6. SignorSpaghetti Member

    Australia English
    Yes peao is right - in this context 'cipher' means of no substance - and so presumably the author is being criticised for creating an unconvincing or uninteresting character.

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