I haven't read the entire thread put personally this is how I feel -
A literary name is bad if it chosen purely because of a character in a book - eg I named my son Atticus because I loved the character etc. However if a parent loves the name, and the fact that there is a character with a decent history behind it makes it more special - then I will get fully behind it, personally a literary association has got to come to second.
I have the same issue with biblical names, so often you hear people say I want my child to be named after someone from the bible or I named my son Matthew because he wrote my favourite gospel etc - but I generally feel as parent should love a name on it's own merit rather than the history that goes with it.
Because after all these names are just characters - they have moulded over time, as language has changed, so even if you are the most religious person naming your son Joshua, doesn't necessarily mean that the biblical Joshua had exactly the same name, spelling and pronunciation.
Whereas if you love the name Joshua it sound, its meaning and finally it's history - then the biblical references will simply make it more special.
Personally I would prefer to hear children being named after people who have had an impact on the parent, whether it be a grandparent, a friend or even a famous figure who they respect - than a person who has been made up by an author.
So I would quite happily name a son Atticus Thomas (if I liked the name Atticus) because I love the named Atticus, and the middle name would honour a family member. The fact that Atticus is a noble character in a story - and Thomas is biblical would come second to my choice. However I would never disregard a name, simply because it had major connations to a story - however Atticus really isn't my style!
But to be honest - I generally feel that what someone names their child is up to them - and everyone has different opinions on it - so I try my very hardest not to judge :)
I have such mixed feelings on this-- and I'm struggling with it at the moment, so I'll try and respond.
I think if someone is genuinely using it to appear smart, eh. That's up to them, but I will snicker (not that most people would admit that that's the reason they chose a particular name).
For me, I have to like a name, and if it has a particular nod to history or literature, it makes me squeal with delight even more than just liking the name for the sound or feel. The "both" factor is important to me, and if I can find a name that I love that also has a special meaning to me, I get giddy.
I think I found one, though I keep getting a lot of dislike on the name front, since I'm having a boy, and loving the name Marlowe-- not only am I a Renaissance and classical theatre freak of nature-- I love the name, so I'm having a hard time shaking it.
It was nice to read some of your responses to this query, though!
I see no problem with using literary (or any cultural) references to inspire the naming process. I think names should hold personal significance to the parents, so if there is a character, author, etc. that the parent truly loves, I can definitely support that. Some names on my list directly related to literary/cultural sources: Calvin (comic strip), Holden (The Expanse series), Shepherd (Firefly), Saul and Tyrol (BSG), Jaime (ASOIAF), Shaun (JFC), Heidi (book), Eyre. [sidebar, I just realized how much more "literary" my boys' list is than my girls'...THAT'S INTERESTING]
That being said, I love these names 1) because of the references and 2) because I also love the way they sound. (looking closer at my literary references, all the boys' ones are sources I've enjoyed with my husband, while the girls' references are sources I've enjoyed on my own...ALSO INTERESTING).
What also bugs me is parents who choose a "themed" name. "We both love literature so we want a literary name". I dunno...do you both love the same literature? Do you love other things besides literature, and if so, why zero in on the lit angle? Do you actually love the name itself, or just the character/author? For instance, I am a musician. NOTHING bugs me more than my musician friends naming their kids Aria and Cadence. They're not even super strong names IMO, they're just vaguely musical. Now, I have met an Aria whose mother 1) was a musician and 2) truly loved the name, came to it completely by accident, and felt an immediate sense of relief and rightness when she found it. Cool. (and for a long time Clara was on my list, inspired by Clara Schumann, but also Clara from the Nutcracker which was my first favorite book ever)
The question of pretentiousness...this is something I struggle with a lot, because I married into a family that is not as interested in literature or the arts as my family is, so I do encounter some mild hostility in this regard from time to time, and I have done some soul-searching as well. Here is what I've come up with: There is absolutely nothing wrong with claiming what you love because you just really love it. But when you claim something because of some (real or imagined) "boost" it gives to your image...that's pretentious, and it's actually not cool. Oddly enough, I think people giving their kids trendy names are searching for a "boost" of a some kind as well, so maybe the impulse comes from the same place even if the names are radically different.
Ultimately, I most appreciate names that are inspired by a number of sources: Perhaps my great-grandma's maiden name is also a literary character I love as well as my husband's childhood best friend and the street we lived on when we were first married, plus it sounds amazing with our last name. WINNER.
What I meant was that I can see how people can think it's pretentious when people who haven't read the book name their child after a character from the book just because it's hip and smart and all. But I don't think that people who just love the name should be judged for giving it to their child, and that's why I certainly don't agree with this thread because, as I said, you can't tar everyone with the same brush.
Originally Posted by renrose
Gatsby would make an adorable dog.
Originally Posted by halestorm
I find this thread confusing. Honestly, where are these people naming their children names for no other reason than to sound educated, or better educated than they actually are? I've never met someone with a literary name who didn't have a lovely story passed down from their parents as to why they chose that name. It sounds to me like a person assuming the parents of an Atticus are pretentious are snobs themselves. "Oh, a book you read in middle school? Color me impressed. Why didn't you pick a more obscure/common name/book/character? Then you'd impress me." The usual snobby, hipster silliness.
Obviously if they name their child a name from a piece of literature they've either never read or didn't love to pieces for no other reason than to sound important it's pretentious. Obviously! But I've never met anyone who did this.
While I'm slightly bothered (more for my future children's sake) that people are going to read or hear my children's names and think, "What a pretentious woman," the bigger part of me doesn't give a hoot. Someone hearing or reading my children's names has no idea why I chose the name. I know, and my children will know.
It's no different than the snobbery for any other name. "Another Sophia? Yawn." What I hear? Another judgmental snob who thinks they could have done a better job. You have no idea why they chose that name. Ask them! Unless you are having a conversation about the name and it comes up that there's no story behind Atticus, you are an utter snob if your first thought is "boring" or "pretentious".
Having an opinion is a lovely thing. But ask yourself where this opinion (especially if it's an opinion of judgement) is coming from. In my experience, they come from insecurities deep within ourselves and those are good things to be open with ourselves about so we can be a better person. We're all a work in progress.
^All of this.
Originally Posted by redwoodfey
I wouldn't use an overt literary name because of that factor! I love books & love a lot of literary names but I feel like for me it would be too cheesy especially because I am known amongst my friends & family as being a "reader"! I think a super subtle nod is better than something like Salinger. But it's a personal choice and if someone named their kid Holden cause it was the book that got them interested in reading I guess that's a nice story behind a name!
As for the pretentious side of it...I do think that 20 years from now the name Atticus might get a little judgement the way a name like Neveah might. Sophia might feel like a bore but it's a lot less loaded in that way.
I think there's something to be said for considering this when picking a name. "Does the name sound down-to-earth?" is as valid a question as "Is the name spelled correctly?" or "Does the name sound 'trashy'?"
For me, it mostly has to do with how well known the name is and how direct the association is.
I don't really think it's pretentious to use any name, but there are definitely names who's only association is one specific famous person. I wouldn't personally want to bear the name of a person like that, famous or infamous, because I feel like the beginning of every relationship would consist of explaining the connection. I want to be myself and not somebody else.
So names like Cher, Plato, Madonna, Socrates, Elvis, Michaelangelo, Galileo, etc. I would not consider usable for that reason.
Then of course there is a huge gray area, how famous or direct does the association have to be before it becomes burdensome to a kid? That's the real argument IMO.
I think Atticus is a bit heavy for our current day, but other than that I think it's a fine name.
Scout is cute, but sounds like a dog's name to me so I wouldn't consider it.
Tennyson is actually kinda cute! Tenny is adorable!
Keats isn't really a pleasant sound to me. I'd probably use Keaton instead.
Auden sounds like odd-one.
Harper isn't a good association for me as it makes me think of harping on something over and over.
Ray is just boring and dated imo.
Bradbury is sorta interesting, but I wouldn't want the word "bury" in my name.
Salinger isn't a pleasant sound to me--"injure"
I have a lot of names I'd consider for a similar reason: Calvin, Wesley, Luther, Piper, Corinthia, Theophilus