Code name “Joseph Anton”

A required police code name rather than a nom de plume, Salman Rushdie’s pseudonym “Joseph Anton” seemed to have a particularly Kafkaesque quality to it, matching his surreal personal situation under global fatwa (there was Josef K in The Trial, for example) ; that is, until the author explained he had fashioned his alias using the first names of his two literary heroes, Joseph Conrad and Anton Tchekhov.

In The Spectator

Joseph Anton was his actual pseudonym rather than his literary one; his fictional books continued to appear under his real name, while his real life was lived under a fictional one. But his recent memoir blurred the lines, being published by Salman Rushdie, titled Joseph Anton, and written in the third rather than the first person.

In The Guardian

Asked to choose an alias for police to call him by, Rushdie plucked a name from the combination of the first names of two writers he loved: Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

“I made it the title of the book because it always felt very strange to be asked to give up my name, I was always uncomfortable about it, and I thought it might help dramatise, for the reader, the deep strangeness and discomfort of those years,” said Rushdie.


And thats a great phrase from Joseph Conrad, you know, from the now improperly titled Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’, where the title character is extremely ill and obviously dying on a boat and his shipmates ask him, “Why did you come on the boat? You must have known you were not well. Why did you come on the boat when you knew that you were seriously ill? And he says, he says this famous line, he says, “I must live until I die, mustn’t I?” — you know? and I think that’s, that’s the answer to being human, you know, is that we all it’s going to come to all of us, you know, but the point is to use the time you have.






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