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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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With thanks to Roland Clare, a quick snippet of interest (certainly to me, anyway) on the etymology of a certain Étienne Cherdlu, a character featuring, despite omission from Hurley's Pynchon Character Names: A Dictionary (Hurley, Patrick. Pynchon Character Names: A Dictionary. Jefferson N.C.: McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2008.), in "The Secret Integration". (Pynchon, Thomas. “The Secret Integration.” In Slow Learner: Early Stories, 139-193. Boston: Back Bay Books/Little Brown, 1985.)

The name is a reference to ETAOIN SHRDLU, a phrase that appeared during the days of linotype machines where keys were arranged by letter frequency in the English language. ATAOINSHRDLU are, then, the key orders, similar to qazwsx on a contemporary keyboard.

Linotype

Featured image by Schwallex under a CC-BY-SA license.