Ilana Kowarski:

“Names are loaded, full of pitfalls and possibilities, and can prove obstacles to writing…” Ciuraru explains. “A change of name, much like a change of scenery, provides a chance to begin again.”

With skilled research and palpable empathy, Ciuraru chronicles the lives of secretive storytellers – those who wished to communicate without being known. In our tell-all age, such shyness might seem strange, but there was a time when pseudonyms were common.

…But – as Nom de Plume reveals – pseudonyms can also facilitate honesty. Without fear of retribution, authors like George Eliot felt empowered to express their controversial views on religion and politics.

It’s like the Buddhist saying about the finger pointing at the moon: My everyday personality isn’t important, so I try to remove myself from the picture and let my words and ideas speak for themselves. Conversation will always gravitate toward gossip and irrelevancies, alas and alack, but goddamnit, I’m going to do my best to keep my little nook of the Internet focused on the life of the mind!

It’s true, though — I express myself more openly and honestly here than I do in everyday life. Why, you lucky few know more about me — the stuff I consider important, at any rate — than people I’ve known for years and seen on a regular basis. Don’t you feel special now?