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Tuesday, January 15, 2008 4:22 pm
Playing Hard to Get
Posted by: Keir Graff

A long but interesting piece on author anonymity–and pseudonymity–in the Guardian (“The great unknown“). The proudly bylined John Mullan examines the reasons that writers, from Sir Walter Scott to Joe Klein, have chosen to hide in plain sight. His conclusion? That writers don’t do it because they’re afraid:

Indeed, in these cases as in many others, the authors did not really expect to remain hidden. If you follow in any detail the use of anonymity by literary writers – satirists, poets, dramatists and novelists – you will find that only rarely was final concealment the aim. Provoking curiosity and conjecture – highlighting the very question of authorship – was more often the calculated effect.

Or, more succinctly:

The main lesson is a simple one: that anonymity is most successful when it provokes the search for an author.


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