Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ten great books written by pseudonymous authors

At The Daily Beast Carmela Ciuraru, author of Nom de Plume: A Secret History of Pseudonyms, named ten great books written by pseudonymous authors.

One title on the list:
Party Going
by Henry Green

To call this a novel about nothing is almost an overstatement. Henry Green, the pseudonym of Henry Yorke, was fairly perverse in his insistence on disorienting readers and depriving them of relatable characters and tidy conclusions. (Nor was he interested in the notion of a linear narrative.) "Life," Green once said, "is one discrepancy after another." Party Going follows a group of spoiled, rich young people stranded one evening at a London railway station during a thick fog. (Green, who came from a wealthy family himself, despised social privilege.) Nothing much happens. His characters are given to banal musings and indecision. Desire is thwarted by inaction and overanalyzing: "[W]hile she had wondered so faintly she hardly knew she had it in her mind or, in other words, had hardly expressed to herself what she was thinking, he was much further from putting his feelings into words, as it was not until he felt sure of anything that he knew what he was thinking of." One of the pleasures of reading Green is his insistence on incomprehension, his dizzying sentences (with their strange syntax and oft-missing articles), and his peculiar brand of humor. Although Party Going is not "about" anything, it serves to reveal the banality of existence and the failures and mysteries of human interaction.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue