Charles Pergiel is happy to quote a tweet by Jess Day, the character played by Zooey Deschanel in the Fox comedy New Girl, as follows:
If you get a memory foam mattress, make sure you sleep really comfortably that first night. Otherwise, it’ll never let you forget.
Now this line (which you may remember from here) was attributed to the character, and although it does sound relatively Zooeyesque — spellcheck wants “picaresque” or “romanesque” or even “statuesque” instead — we have no way of knowing who actually came up with it, which prompts this question from Mr. Pergiel:
[S]omeone wrote this line for someone else to say in a TV show, so it was said by an imaginary character. Does that mean the words are imaginary too?
Um, no. I just read them out loud, so now they officially exist.
For comparison, here’s the opening paragraph of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly — Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is — and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.
Huck, of course, was an imaginary character, though we can presume that this paragraph was written by Mr. Mark Twain in a flurry of truthfulness.
Stipulating for the moment that no one connected with New Girl is likely to be considered alongside Twain in the Pantheon of American Writers, I ask: would Jess Day’s one-line tweets be less “imaginary” if we knew exactly who wrote them?
And just to make this a little more meta: There is a @realhuckfinn Twitter account, though its purpose is to deflect attention away from expurgated versions of the original Adventures and toward the Genuine Article, as written by Mr. Mark Twain, who told the truth. Mainly.