Revealing an anonymous author: A violation of rights?

Revealing an anonymous author: A violation of rights?

Revealing an anonymous author: A violation of rights?

Elena Ferrante, an Italian author, successfully kept her identity hidden until recently when Claudio Gatti came up with an unasked for revelation that she might be Anita Raja, a translator who is of German Jewish origin. The revelation sparked debate on whether a writer who chooses to be anonymous should be given the freedom to successfully keep going with the hidden name.

There could be various reasons why a writer may choose to keep her identity concealed. It could range from threat to life to her choice of keeping out of the limelight. Not everyone wants publicity. It comes with its own price, something that doesn’t have to be pleasant always.


1. Freedom to remain concealed: It is a writer’s choice whether she wants to showcase her identity to the world, get her name famed amongst the high lords of literature or keep doing her silent work by basking in the glory of freedom and anonymity. There is a good reason why a writer would want freedom. If one could keep their real identity concealed, there is a definite unrestricting nature in her work.

2. Threats: Writers and media people have always been under the judgmental security of the extremists who interpret their facts and fictions in their own low life narrow minded scale. They can and have gone to extreme measures to silent the voices of writers. Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie, to name a few, have always lived a life of fear, though they quite enjoy the glory that being a celebrity author has brought them. Some people choose safety first and we should respect their opinion.

3. Unimportant: There is absolutely no need for an author’s identity to be known in order to understand and appreciate her work. Literature should be free of location, boundaries, name and community for that matter. Human nature and we are bound by it, we continue to judge a person and his work depending on his roots and religion. These will continue to shape our opinion unless we let them be a matter that doesn’t really matter.

4. Reductive theories: While some continue to argue that for the origin of the characters and to understand their time and condition, it is important to know about the author, others have denounced this theory. If a literary work makes you connect with the characters and their situation, that’s all you need. You do not need to deduce the instruments if the writer wishes them to remain concealed.

5. She did warn: In case of Elena, it is clear that she did warn earlier that she would stop writing books if her identity is sought to be made public and yet Gatti did what could be done to exercise her mind over the decision of the author. While we hope that Elena doesn’t discontinue her work, we cannot help but conclude that the revelation is indeed a violation of rights.


1. An alien concept: While in earlier days, it was quite easy for authors to keep their identity hidden, technology and its effective tools have made it almost impossible for authors to do that in present times. It is thought that the whole idea of keeping identity hidden in todays’ world is a publicity gimmick to make readers curious and hence keep them intrigued for the upcoming books of the author.

2. It is necessary: Imagine reading Shakespeare or Bronte without knowing who they were, where they lived and under what circumstances. It would never have made sense why the characters did what they did. The mysteries would have continued till present day and perhaps the newer generations would lose all interests in their works.

3. Connecting with readers: Being open about the identity lets the writer connect with the readers during release of books and other events. When readers are over-enthused about a writer’s work, they are often anxious to meet the author in person or find out who she is in real and what her views of the world are. There is no violation of rights in letting your fans know who you really are.

Elena had been clear about her choice of staying anonymous to her readers. She had previously revealed, “Anonymity lets me concentrate exclusively on writing. I have gained space of my own, a space that is free, where I feel active and present. To relinquish it would be very painful.”

When it is absolutely clear that a writer doesn’t want her identity in the open, her decision should have been respected and it definitely wouldn’t have killed Cladio Gatti to keep the finding to herself even if she did manage to uncover the truth, which we know isn’t very difficult in present day scenario.
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