Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Short History of Anonymous Authors

The Daily Beast takes note of the new O novel (whose author is no longer anonymous) and books written by mysterious writers.

From the piece...

Today, in virtually any chain bookstore, the piles of Bush, Palin, Grisham, or Franzen, seem to demonstrate one simple equation: books equal a joyous, uncomplicated celebrity. In the age of Nook and Kindle, books and writers, like little bubbles of self-assertion, intoxicated by the oxygen of publicity, revel in the high winds of fame. Actually, this is a comparative novelty. Writers used to go to extraordinary lengths to remain anonymous.

With good reason. Books were a matter of life and death. Immediately after the introduction of the printing press, writers who challenged religious or political orthodoxy were in mortal danger. Translations of the Bible, especially, offered a short route to oblivion. Tyndale was burned at the stake. Lower down the slopes of Parnassus, even Shakespeare published anonymously.

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