Tag Archives: Names

Stupid Questions: Name Edition

Maybe I just missed it somewhere along the line,but . . .

Does Monsieur Meursault have a first name?  

Not that I really care.  I’m sure he doesn’t either.  He could probably have someone else’s name and it would all be the same to him.

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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in The Stranger


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The Name Game

I was a big fan of those name memes that worked their way around the internet a year or two ago.  Remember that great one that helped you get your Royal Wedding Name?  You took your grandmother’s name, first pet, and the street where you lived to come up with a moniker over which you could wear a hat.  I was Lady Irene Taffy-Dirtroad.

The same sort of thing is just begging to be done with Crime and Punishment.  My translators’ notes tell me that Russian names are composed of a first name, patronymic name (from the father’s first name) and a family name.  We can follow that simple pattern, right?

So here you have it, the one and only C&P Name Generator.  It’s sure to be an internet sensation.

  1. In your first name replace all i’s and/or e’s with y.
    If possible condense one of your syllables to be consonants only, and add an extra vowel, o’s are good, to a different syllable.
    Add an a to the end.
  2. Take your father’s first name, and again apply the i/e to y transition.
    If you’re a woman add ‘ovna’, if your a man add ‘ovich’.
  3. Take your last name.  One more time switch out those crazy i/e’s and y’s.
    Add the final syllables to your last name by using the last four digits of your phone number and the chart below:
    1 – ras
    2 – kol
    3 – ni
    4 – kov
    5 – sky
    6 – ski
    7 – zyat
    8 – gai
    9 – dov
    0 – mov

Love always,
Chrystnya Bryanovna Robyrtsdovgaidovski


Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


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Stupid Question(s) Madame Bovary Edition

I didn’t miss Charles’ mother’s first name, did I?

It’s always possible that I didn’t catch it.  I miss things.  Sometimes important things.  Wait, is this important?

She’s just “Madame Bovary,” yes?

And yet she’s not The Madame Bovary, that’s Emma.

Why?  Why name the novel Madame Bovary and then cloud the issue?

Am I reading too much into this?


Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Madame Bovary


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What’s in a Name?

Well, everything!   As a parent (and a primogeniture), naming my children was a little stressful!  After all, the offspring will have to bear the joy or the burden of this name for possibly 100 years.   I often wonder if authors go  through a similar struggle when naming their characters.   It is possible that these names could last for even longer than a “real” child.   Melville’s characters are over 160 years old and still being talked about.

The names in Moby Dick run the gamut from funny (Stubb and Flask) to fun-to-say (Queequeg) to prophetic.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Elijah – the prophet echoing the biblical Elijah and his words of warning to Ahab.

Gabriel – the “angelic messenger” ship that gives the prophesy that Ahab will join their first mate in the depths for taking on Moby Dick.  (And I just might be a little partial to this name anyway – I gave it to my primogeniture.)

Ishmael – The cast-off son of Abraham in the bible, who was forced to wander in exile.  How appropriate!

Fadallah – OK, this might be a stretch, and remember, I have no notes in my edition of the book, but does Melville include “allah” on purpose to make us think negatively or think of untruth?

And, my personal favorite, Rachel – Melville puts it best – “She was Rachel, weeping for her children, for they were not.”


I could go on and on with this post, but I’ll leave it to you.  What were some of your favorite names in the book?



Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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A Theory fit for a John

My husband and I have nearly finished watching Showtime’s series about Henry VIII, The Tudors.  I know what you’re thinking, we only watch it for the history.  Really.

Anyway, one of the confusing things about that show is that 75% of the male characters are named Thomas.  No exaggeration.  It’s one of those awkward problems you run into when you adapt actual events into cable smut documentaries TV.

The beauty of fiction is that the creator gets to name her own creatures.  Which really had me scratching my head about Charlotte Brontë’s decision to name not two, not three, but FOUR of her characters John.  Here’s an abbreviated character list:

John Reed:  Jane’s nasty, mean, bully of a cousin
John:  groundskeeper at Thornfield, married to Mary
John Eyre:  Jane’s uncle from Madiera
St. John Rivers:  not to be confused with the gospel writer, Mr. Rivers is Jane’s cousin

So why all the Johns? A  I’ll avoid any poorly placed allusions to slang meanings, and instead provide you with this theory (caution, this contains a Chapter XXXIII spoiler alert):

I believe that Miss Brontë put all the Johns in the book so that when you hear about the death of the Rivers’ Uncle John in Chapter XXX you are less inclined to think that he must also be Jane’s uncle.  This saves a bit of surprise for later.

Truth be told, it didn’t fool me at all.  But it did help me justify the overuse of the name.

Now, if only I could figure out why she wrote in three Marys.

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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Name Game

Names are important. 

I would imagine that for an author the naming of one’s characters is vital to the telling of the story.  If I was an author I know I’d spend a long time stewing over the names of my book’s cast members.  I remember the challenge we had naming our children.  We spent months suggesting names and then ruling them out.  Hey, in our house, even Webkinz’s names are carefully-crafted.  We have a stuffed mouse named Pixie Squeaker and a stuffed pig named Isabella Mudbath.  See what I mean?  Thought-out names.

So when I got to chapter XI and met Mr. Fang, I couldn’t ignore the names in Oliver Twist any longer.  It looks like Dickens is playing a little name game.  Mr. Fang is the magistrate that deals with Oliver when he’s falsely accused of stealing Mr. Brownlow’s handkerchief.  Isn’t Dickens clever?  Mr. Fang likes to show his teeth by displaying his power in the courtroom.  When Fang asks Oliver his name and he’s too ill to respond, the official/lawyer/bailiff (what is his position anyway?) answers for Oliver and says his name is Tom White.  I like that.  White!  as in innocent or pure!

What about the names of other characters?

Remember the funeral director and his wife?  The Sowerberrys?  Sour berries?  Maybe dealing with death all the time has made their lives sour?

What about our Beadle Mr. Bumble?  For sure he is bumbling in his religious position of protecting the parish children and showing them God’s love and mercy.

In chapter XIV I met Mr. Grimwig, Brownlow’s friend.  This gentleman certainly has a “grim” disposition.

Oliver Twist.  The orphan’s journey through life is taking twists and turns.  It’s not the life anyone would want for any child.  Circumstances have twisted what should have been a beautiful, peaceful childhood.

Speaking of peaceful, I looked up the name Oliver.  It’s comes from the Olive Tree which symbolizes fruitfulness, dignity, and beauty.  Offering an olive branch signifies an offering of peace.  Hmmmm…  At this point in the novel, Oliver hasn’t experienced much peace.  I certainly hope there’s more peace to come for the orphan.

Alright, Dickens.  I’ve got my eye on you.  What other messages will you be giving us in the names of your characters?


Posted by on December 3, 2011 in Oliver Twist


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Miss Bennet, meet Miss Austen. Miss Austen, Miss Bennet.


I’ve always loved the name.  So simple, yet rich, and dignified, and sweet.  So, well, Miss Bennet.  Or do I mean Miss Austen?  It must be time to pull out the Stupid Question category again.

When giving a character in your novel your own name you are declaring:

a)  you don’t have the creative energy necessary to come up with another name.
b)  this person is semi-autobiographical.
c)  that the characters in your novel are so far removed from your personal experience as an author that you can share a name with no further thought.
d)  nothing, so stop thinking about it.
e)  other.  Please specify.


Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Pride and Prejudice


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I am a C. I am a C-H. I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-A.

Speaking of names, Christine, how many times in the midst of blogging and journaling did you have to:

Erase the last two letters of the character’s name.
Replace them with ‘an’ or ‘ana’?

Part 2 gave me a bit of a shortcut.  Sometimes I didn’t erase and just squeezed that extra little ‘a’ in nice and cozy-like between my ‘i’ and ‘n.’


Posted by on August 18, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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It’s all in the Name

I thought it was interesting that Bunyan waits until mid-way through part 1 to inform us that Christian’s original name was Graceless.   What a wonderful thought – we were formerly Graceless, burdened by the Law, but the name Christian has been given to us, and now we walk by Grace.


Posted by on July 24, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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