Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Who Are Nast, de Brutus and Short?

Back in 2005 I published my translation of the first volume of Karamzin's History of the Russian State. The press run was all of three copies: this was primarily a proof of concept in dept. I concocted the name for the imaginary publisher based on Thomas Hobbes' characterization of human life as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." I wrestled with this for a while, trying to come up with plausible surnames that were close enough. I puzzled over "de Brutus," since it is so linguistically improbable. Rather mysteriously, this didn't bother me as much as I though it should: it was as if I'd seen that name before. The whole thing remained a rather private joke until my publishing consultant, Diane Moomey, advised me I would need a fictitious name for dealing with the POD (Print On Demand) people, since they will not deal with individuals. Lacking any better idea, I registered Nast, de Brutus and Shortt as a fictitious business name in San Mateo County in 2012. A bit later a friend who had read a draft of The Reign of Boris Godunov accused me of stealing my firm name from Thomas Pynchon. I was shocked, simply shocked. Some hasty research (thank you, Google and Wikipedia) established that there is a fictitious law firm named Salitieri, Poore, Nash, De Brutus and Short in Gravity's Rainbow,  which I had read in 1973. Evidently, this had lodged in some obscure cranny of my brain to emerge perhaps somewhat worse for wear several decades later.