Tag Archives: defamation

What’s in a pseudonym? And what is behind it? Part I

We all know that a pseudonym or nom de plume can be a really creative idea in itself, to such an extent that you can find websites that ‘throw’ a random name at the click of a mouse. Being the linguistic nerd that I am, my website of choice in this area is Behind the Name. You can also use it to create character together, thus saving yourself a bundle on legal fees if someone decides to take you to court on defamation charges. And I’m not joking.

Some pseudonyms in literary history are a cracker. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known to us as Mark Twain (1835-1910), is by far one of my favourites. As a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi, young Samuel would cry ‘mark twain’ to announce a river depth of two fathoms. In my culture of origin, the celebrated poet Pedro Bonifacio Palacios (1854-1917) went by the sobriquet Almafuerte, portmanteau of two words which means strong soul in Spanish. It wasn’t his only pseudonym, though, but I believe it was the one he truly identified with: he had a very hard life right from the outset.

I could write a whole book—even a whole collection—on  what is in a pseudonym. Behind it, there’s a human being who happens to be an author, and many times it’s that very human being’s circumstance that requires a cloak of anonymity.

Part II will be released soon. In the meantime, to those online invisible friends, thanks for sharing my posts 🙂 Cheers, FFJ

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