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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Name Game

How important are names in life and literature?

Movies influence so much in popular culture, but books do as well. This is an interesting post about a passage in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and the Damned and popular choices in children's names.

I've noticed more and more young people turning to old-fashioned names and the article mentioned Sophie and Max. My new grandson is named Max (after his great uncle) and friends of Erin and Eric have a little girl named Sophie.

I especially like animals named for characters in books - or even animals in books - Laura in Lolly Willowes names her cat Vinegar,and a friend in New Orleans years ago had two kittens named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

A literary trick that I enjoy is giving characters names that relate to their character, situation, behavior, etc. Dickens did this in a very obvious manner, and we certainly tend to remember these characters. Other authors are more subtle, and only after getting to know the character do we realize how much the name reveals.

Who are some literary characters whose names have made it into popular culture? Who knows animals who have a literary connection? What examples of literary names can you think of that have the Dicken's "twist"?


  1. I can't think of any specific examples and I don't have the book in front of me, but the Annotated Alice is a treasure trove of information about how Lewis Carroll used popular songs, names, etc. of his time and reworked them into passages in the story. In addition to being fascinating tales in and of themselves the Alice books are also filled with in-jokes, etc.

    I like pets named after literary and movie characters as well. Suzanne (Thus Says Suzanne) has pets named Solo and Indiana, after Harrison Ford's most famous roles. Long ago our bird was named after the crab in Little Mermaid, Sebastian. Two years ago I planted two matching trees on either side of the path down from our back deck and I am determined to name them something literary but haven't come up with anything I like yet.

  2. I'd like to read more how Carroll used his own time period in creating the Alice books. It would provide some interesting reading.

    Even without the literary connections, I'd like pets named Solo, Indiana, and Sebastian. Maybe someone will come up with names for your trees...Tolkien might provide some possibilities.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post, Jenclair, also, it made me smile because I remember my dad called his first car "Lorna Doone" :)

  4. Lotus, I think I'd like a car with such a romantic name. Good for your father!

  5. I named my daughter Jane, after Jane Austen and 'Jane Eyre', and one of her middle names is Sylvia, after Sylvia Plath.

  6. Helen - How could these names not influence the love of literature?!?