Friday, October 5, 2007
With tongue firmly in cheek...
I have long been a fan of the world's most prolific writer - Anon. You see his work everywhere and the breadth and volume of works attributed to him is quite amazing. Thus, I was more than just amused the other day when I “Googled” (now a verb in the vernacular) Anon. The scholarly dissertation written in 1983 by Donald E. Simanek at the end of this link (http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/anon.htm) was one of the returns from that search. It it turned out a rich and full history of Anon, a man worthy of great respect. Mentioned in the dissertation is his contemporary Ibid; who, rightfully so, was dismissed as a hanger on to Anon and other great writers of the times. Another Anon contemporary Nobody later had a minor role in the comic strips as a character in the "Family Circus" strip. Anon has perhaps been attributed with more contributions to literature over the centuries that any other writer, as well as countless sayings.
A short excerpt from the above mentioned work on Anon's life –
“Few literary puzzles have inspired such universal apathy as the question: "Who was Anon?" Books of quotations are cluttered with sayings attributed to Anon, and these scraps of truth and wisdom have earned Anon universal recognition and immortality. Innumerable biographies have been written about lesser authors, even authors so obscure that their works are seldom read. But Anon, though widely read and widely quoted, has been accorded only widespread indifference by the literary community.
What little we know of Anon's life is of doubtful validity. We have no authentic picture of Anon, nor any first hand description of him by anyone who would admit to having known him. Not one scrap of original manuscript in his own hand has survived the ravages of time. Scholars have given up hope of ever discovering an autobiography of Anon in some dusty attic.
Yet, from the available dearth of evidence, we can piece together a sketch (albeit apocryphal) of this prolific genius. We know that Anon's wisdom appeared very early in history. When references to him are traced backward in time, in the general direction towards the emergence of civilization, they lead us to a blank wall. This suggests that Anon must be placed in historical times so ancient as to predate the emergence of intelligent thought. He was certainly ahead of his time, which may be the reason why none of his contemporaries knew of him.”
There is much more about Anon at the site referenced above with the link and I encourage you to visit it to get more insight into Anon the legend behind the myth.
I decided also to pursue information about another of the obscure contributors to the lexicon of our society and recalled one of the greats in sanitation history. Back when I was in the Army, I did a book report on the life and contributions of a great man, Thomas Crapper, whose biography “Flushed with Pride”.