Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms [NOOK Book]

Overview

What's in a name?

In our "look at me" era, everyone's a brand. Privacy now seems a quaint relic, and self-effacement is a thing of the past. Yet, as Nom de Plume reminds us, this was not always the case. Exploring the fascinating stories of more than a dozen authorial impostors across several centuries and cultures, Carmela Ciuraru plumbs the creative process and the darker, often crippling aspects of fame.

Biographies have chronicled the lives...

See more details below
Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$8.99
BN.com price

Overview

What's in a name?

In our "look at me" era, everyone's a brand. Privacy now seems a quaint relic, and self-effacement is a thing of the past. Yet, as Nom de Plume reminds us, this was not always the case. Exploring the fascinating stories of more than a dozen authorial impostors across several centuries and cultures, Carmela Ciuraru plumbs the creative process and the darker, often crippling aspects of fame.

Biographies have chronicled the lives of pseudonymous authors such as Mark Twain, Isak Dinesen, and George Eliot, but never before have the stories behind many noms de plume been collected into a single volume. These are narratives of secrecy, obsession, modesty, scandal, defiance, and shame: Only through the protective guise of Lewis Carroll could a shy, half-deaf Victorian mathematician at Oxford feel free to let his imagination run wild. The "three weird sisters" (as they were called by the poet Ted Hughes) from Yorkshire—the Brontes—produced instant bestsellers that transformed them into literary icons, yet they wrote under the cloak of male authorship. Bored by her aristocratic milieu, a cigar-smoking, cross-dressing baroness rejected the rules of propriety by having sexual liaisons with men and women alike, publishing novels and plays under the name George Sand.

Grounded by research yet highly accessible and engaging, these provocative, astonishing stories reveal the complex motives of writers who harbored secret identities—sometimes playfully, sometimes with terrible anguish and tragic consequences. A wide-ranging examination of pseudonyms both familiar and obscure, Nom de Plume is part detective story, part exposé, part literary history, and an absorbing psychological meditation on identity and creativity.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
Ciuraru…writes well and has a fully functioning sense of humor, so Nom de Plume is a pleasure to read…
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Ciuraru (Solitude Poems) includes 18 writers—from George Sand to George Orwell—in her lively literati masquerade party, recounting events that led to their pen names along with intriguing peeks behind their masks. In 1899, William Sydney Porter began writing as O. Henry: "Because he used an intermediary in New Orleans to submit his stories to editors, no one knew they were by a convicted felon." Eric Blair became George Orwell with his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, telling his publisher, "I am not proud of it." An outstanding chapter details how Alice Sheldon spotted "Tiptree" on a marmalade jar and then fooled the science fiction community for years as James Tiptree Jr. When the ruse was revealed, "She was crushed to find that some of the male writers she'd considered friends... turned their backs on her." Patricia Highsmith used another name on her lesbian novel and wrote for comic books, but since she gave her credits to The Who's Who of American Comic Books, it's quite a stretch to call that a "secret life." Otherwise, this survey of authors who sought anonymity and privacy is well researched. Amid informative, illuminating profiles, Ciuraru successfully ferrets out curious literary charades. (June 14)
Bookazine
“Nom De Plume is wildly entertaining, almost gossipy, but travels on the high end of the literary landscape. This book is beyond great.”
BookForum
“An engrossing, well-paced literary history…biography on the quick, and done well.”
Jewish Daily Forward
“Our curator is always having fun in ‘Nom De Plume,’ and, as a result, so are we.”
Huntington News
“…‘Nom de Plume’ is part detective story, part exposé, part literary history, and an absorbing psychological meditation on identity and creativity. It’s a delightful book.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“You are on the second-to-last page of Carmela Ciuraru’s NOM DE PLUME and wishing you weren’t because this book is such great fun...Intelligent, confident, and trustworthy.”
Wall Street Journal
“Ms. Ciuraru…writes with clarity and confidence, and her research is impressive.”
Christian Science Monitor
“With description that captures the imagination, Nom de Plume is what nonfiction should be - accessible, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining.”
Chelsea Now Magazine
“Ciuraru’s treatments of her subjects sparkle with rich, well-arranged detail and the sly wit of literary hindsight. With a central focus that remains urgent and appealing for 21st century readers even as it dissects the personal lives of authors long past, Nom de Plume is surely an important book.”
The Daily
“Stories of self-invention are always interesting to read about, especially in Carmela Ciuraru’s Nom de Plume. Ciuraru’s book presents a persuasive argument that the generative powers of the pseudonym should persist.”
Boston Globe
“Fascinating, lively, and fun - you can’t do much better than to read about George Sand, born Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, who adopted a swaggering male persona to go along with the name.”
Los Angeles Times
“Ciuraru builds each history as its own personal story, then builds the literary charm and genius behind the pathos, … a tale of literary genius all its own.”
The Reading Ape Blog
“Engaging without being breezy, informative without being pedantic, these essays offer insightful, fascinating literary portraits without the solemness and heft of so many literary biographies. Ciuraru gets to the essence of their lives efficiently and evocatively, which makes for pleasant and piquant summer literary non-fiction.”
Associated Press Staff
“Carmela Ciuraru’s Nom de Plume deftly tells the stories of some of literature’s most famous pen names. For anyone who creates the book will enthrall. As much a meditation on the creative process as it is a tell-all about their names and the intrigue that created them.”
New York Journal of Books
“Nom de Plume is filled with tremendous insight into the minds of these writers and their ability to create not only works of fiction within the covers of their books, but fictional lives for themselves as well....beautifully researched and deftly written-pure pleasure from cover to cover.”
The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog
“Ciuraru’s writing is bright, lively, and smart, making Nom de Plume both informative and extremely enjoyable to read. I strongly recommend this read for any fans of biography, especially writers, and perhaps even more especially, women writers.”
Joyce Carol Oates
“Nom de Plume is a fascinating collection of stories—populated by individuals whose ‘doubleness’ is so distinct that they acquire secondary personalities, and, in some notable cases, multiple personalities. It’s a richly documented literary excursion into the inner, secret lives of some of our favorite writers.”
John Banville
“A fascinating book on a fascinating subject. We all have other selves, but only some of us give them a name and let them loose in the world. Carmela Ciuraru steps behind a host of shadowy facades to interrogate the originals, and the result is both enlightening and wonderfully entertaining.”
Phillip Lopate
“What to make of the paradox that some of the boldest writers have hidden behind pen names? Carmela Ciuraru has performed a valuable service in examining the phenomenon through her charming, sprightly, and illuminating biographical essays.”
Honor Moore
“Nom de Plume is a delicious investigation of what leads the likes of the Brontës, Samuel Clemens, and Karen Blixen to ditch their names for safer, more romantic identities when they write. Whether their reasons are practical or mysterious, their lives and choices are here charmingly limned by Carmela Ciuraru.”
Elif Batuman
“Each page affords sparkling facts and valuable insights onto the manufacturing of books and reputations, the keeping and revealing of secrets, the vagaries of private life and public opinion, and the eternally mysterious, often tormented interface between life and literature.”
Jonathan Yardley
“...Ciuraru, a freelance literary journalist, writes well and has a fully functioning sense of humor, so “Nom de Plume” is a pleasure to read...”
Kirkus Reviews

In her nonfiction debut, anthologist Ciuraru (editor: Poems About Horses, 2009, etc.) presents brief biographies of a handful of pseudonymous authors from George Sand to the late 20th century.

What motivates a writer to publish under another name? Ciuraru offers quite a few reasons in these biographical sketches of writers whose works of fiction appearedunder a pseudonym and one, Portugal's Fernando Pessoa, who wrote under more than 70 heteronyms, separate personalities each with its own style and extensive imaginary biography.Most of the Ciuraru's choices are familiar figures—Mark Twain, George Orwell, Lewis Carroll, Sylvia Plath—and each section begins with a single introductory sentence that may be intended as intriguing but often serves instead to suggest an unsettling contempt for her subjects. If there is a consistent lesson to be taken from these lives, it is that a successful author will find it nearly impossible to hide behind a pseudonym for long. Otherwise, these authors have little in common; their reasons for publishing pseudonymously and their attitudes toward their alter egos are as varied as their life stories. Ciuraru does not attempt to find a pattern among them or impose one upon them, nor does she explain how her subjects' struggles with identity issues might differ from those of other authors. Written in a breezy style that occasionally lapses into the vernacular, the biographies are lively and entertaining, but they provide no real secrets or startling revelations. The omission of endnotes will disappoint readers attempting to determine whether an assertion is the author's own or reflects a scholarly consensus, or those seeking the sources of delicious factual tidbits like the width of Emily Brontë's coffin (17 inches).

A collection of original literary biographies connected by a single circumstance that does not by itself suffice to pull them together.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062109569
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/14/2011
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 919,102
  • File size: 613 KB

Meet the Author

Carmela Ciuraru

Carmela Ciuraru is not a pseudonym. Her anthologies include First Loves: Poets Introduce the Essential Poems That Captivated and Inspired Them and Solitude Poems. She is a graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Elle Decor, ARTNews, O, The Oprah Magazine, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    Princess candence

    Looks around.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    Blizzard Starflower

    She levitates the ice and breaks it, making snow fall.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    Butterfly Showers

    She skidded to a stop, cowering.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2013

    PC

    Came in holding hee baby

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2013

    Scootaloo

    *Snickers.*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    Freedom Wing

    Freedom Wing smiles at the foals.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    Wildfire

    She used some orange magic to grab Butterfly's tail. "Your fine. Get over here."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Snowstar

    "Freezepaw, no!"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Med den

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    Bruce

    Ugh...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)