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Weiye Loh

BBC News - Belle de Jour's history of anonymity - 0 views

  • In the internet age, we have become increasingly concerned about the effects of anonymous online commentary. Anonymous bloggers can have enormous global audiences. "Trolls" can bring criticism straight to the computer screens of the people they disagree with. These trends are solidly in the tradition of literary anonymity - from unsigned political tracts to biting satirical graffiti, we've seen it all before.
  • the effects of anonymity are more important for the anonymous writer than they are for the audience. We'd still be dotty over Jane Austen's books if, like her contemporary audience, we never knew her name.

    The writing has enough authority and detail to carry us along in her inner world. Knowing her name, where she lived, and seeing the piecrust table where she painstakingly wrote out her manuscripts is interesting, but it's trivia. It's not what makes her novels sing.

  • Anonymous is one of our greatest writers.

    "From the medieval period to the modern period there have been authors who have enjoyed playing with and experimenting with anonymity, and it never really goes out of fashion," says Marcy North, author of The Anonymous Renaissance: Cultures of Discretion in Tudor-Stuart England.

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    "Anon was, as Virginia Woolf noted in one of her final unpublished essays, "the voice that broke the silence of the forest". Elsewhere she suggested that "Anonymous was a woman". For anonymity has definitely been widely used by women throughout the ages, whether they're writing about relationships, sex or anything else.

    Without Anonymous, there are so many classics we would not have had - Gawain and the Green Knight, virtually all of the Bible and other religious texts.

    Anon is allowed a greater creative freedom than a named writer is, greater political influence than a common man can ever attain, and far more longevity than we would guess.

    Obviously, I'm a great fan of Anon's work, but then, as a formerly anonymous author, I would say that, wouldn't I?"
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