@caroline147, I agree that Gatsby is a show stopper! As far as being the naming police, I want to clarify that it seems to be the consensus (at least on this thread) that it it ostentatious to pick a name when the parent is not familiar with the story, but is "pretending" to be familiar with the story; as Daisy says below:
Originally Posted by caroline147
[QUOTE=daisy451;1899830] The assumption that the lower-class doesn't know about these literary names is wrong. I didn't grow up in the wealthiest of neighborhoods, and people still read classics in school, memorized the quadratic equation, all the normal education things that everyone does. With the few exceptions that you get anywhere, we still knew what the books were and who wrote them- people generally weren't so busy that they had no idea what was going on in the world.
^ I agree, @daisy451, most people have a basic understanding of the classics, I don't think people, in general, consciously think about "branding" their child (unless you are the parents of "#" or Facebook. My experience has been struggling families have had, as far as this thread has defined, the "most ostentatious" literary names. I know the parents of the little boy (well, he was 11 years old at the time) Othello were certainly familiar enough with the fact it was literary, and again, not a great namesake (in my opinion DUE to the story), but I don't think his parents were choosing this name to signal "I am well read," or at least I didn't perceive it this way.
So to clarify the (jokingly said:) "naming police" - I personally do not think it is my right to train my ear to think of this as pretentious/ostentatious before discovering if the parents had a personal connection to the story itself when choosing a heavily literary name. I know all discussions on the board are opinions, but I can't help but notice a tinge of judgement. It confuses me a little that the general consensus seems to be the parents should research the connection of a "heavily literary name" and IF they don't = ostentatious. Shouldn't an ostentatious/heavily literary name be ostentatious no matter what? Even if the parent has a personal connection?
@daisy451 kudos for graduating near debt free! It is not an easy feat; I had to work 50 + hours a week, along with scholarships in order to graduate debt free - it is a great feeling though!
Having just watched re-read Great Gatsby, and seeing the movie, out of pure curiosity, I am wondering if this was the first time Jordan was used as a first name for a girl in lit? Anyone know?
OK I can see it as pretentious/a little annoying. I did name my daughter Madeline partly after the character in the Bemelmans' children's picture books; of course, I loved the name first and foremost, but it was also tied to the character for me (I am a reading teacher, btw). I don't see that as pretentious--maybe because it's a child's picture book instead of a classic novel? So where do we draw the line? Also, I really love the name Sal for a boy, and did even before I recently read Catcher in the Rye (NOT required reading in a religious private school--ha! but I totally loved it), and Salinger is the only "long form" I really like for it. I don't think I could actually use it, unfortunately though--not sure why--maybe it's bc it does feel a bit pretentious to me. Interesting topic.
I commented at the beginning of this forum, but I have to add now, and might repeat myself a bit. Bear with me.
I've never met a child with a name like Harper, Atticus, Scout, etc, but I did meet a 20-something guy in a bar the other day named Tennyson! I probably freaked him out a little (thankfully, I wasn't looking to flirt because I probably would have been out of luck) because I got a little too excited about his name. He wore it well, although he might have seemed a little tired of explaining that yes, that was his real name.
I don't think there's anything wrong with giving your child a name for literature. Parents have been giving their kids Shakespearean names for 400 years. That's how we have names like Cordelia, Imogene (which was a mistake that everyone loved anyway), Jessica and Miranda. No one would think you're pretentious (or ostentatious) for giving your child those names. I think the problem here is that the literary names we're talking about it that they're simply new. They haven't been given to too many real-life children in the past, so people aren't used to them and make judgments on them. But that doesn't necessarily make Atticus, Scout and Harper pretentious-- maybe just ahead of the curve.
I said before how I can see their appeal. It's incredibly lovely to think of giving your child a positive role model and have stories to share with them when they're old enough-- not just the one you named them after, but also why you picked their name and its meaning to you and your partner. But also, I think this is a generational thing. There are tons of literary works from the 20th century that parents have grown up with, that influenced them at some point in their lives and that they maybe fell in love their characters and choose to bestow on their children. I agree with the previous posters that I don't think there are too many parents who just pick the names out to sound cool without actually reading the books. I think it's more of a natural cycle, and I think it happens with each new generation.
Harper and Scout aren't my cup of tea, and I couldn't stand Salinger, but I'll take them and their history over Neveah or Jayden any day.
I've never read the book and I like Atticus. I don't like it because I think it would make me sound educated (seriously?!), I just like the sound - it's fresh and it pops, to my ears. I'm sure plenty of parents who actually picked the name thought the same.
I agree! But hypocritically I make an exception for Ophelia and Cordelia...
I used to dislike the name Salinger, but I realized the other day I've been pronouncing it wrong....in my head I've always said it as "say-ling-er" and it sounded horrible, but I heard someone say "Sah-lin-jer" and honestly the sound is pretty and I can understand the appeal of it pronounced that way. (I wouldn't use it myself at this point because I haven't read anything by Salinger, but if I read something and fell in love I totally see the appeal)
I've said it before, but there have been several pages since then, so it may bear repeating: to me, the only way a literary name is pretentious is if the parent gave it to make themselves appear more well-read and cultured when they aren't. And to know the parents' intentions you'd have to know them pretty well.
For example, I know my cousin and his wife well enough to know that if they had a kid together they would choose a name like Tennyson or Thoreau or Gatsby...something rarely-used, with an obvious literary connection (as opposed to something like Atticus, with history beyond TKaM). And neither of them are high school graduates or people who care about education or literature or even enjoy reading for pleasure. They both are people who want to seem well-read and cultured without actually being well-read or cultured. And in that case, I totally feel justified in my judgment of them...but I think you really do have to know the person that well to be able to know their intentions.
Just meeting a kid in a grocery store named Gatsby...I think we don't have the right to roll our eyes and sneer at the mom's choice, because for all we know it's a family name or the book that changed her life or the movie she watched on her first date or something that has a lot of meaning for her.
I hate to double-post, but I do have a question about literary names, and this seems like the right place for it.
It seems like, in general, people are much more accepting of names like Scout, Atticus, Holden, Austen, Bradbury, etc. than they are of a name like Hermione. The names are from similarly recognizable sources, and I'd be willing to wager that more people have deeper connections to Harry Potter than they do to Catcher in the Rye. So what is it that makes one name more useable than the other? Part of me wonders if this isn't slightly pretentious...as if, perhaps, people want to be associated with more intellectual literature, even if something like Harry Potter has more meaning for them?
I would totally use something from Harry Potter, and would wager that a large part of the current popularity of Lily has to do with the fact that she's Harry's mother. Arabella, Ginevra, Lavender, etc are all names I would consider from HP, as I am an enormous fan. And I love, love, love Hermione… her name, on the other hand, just isn't very attractive, imo.
Originally Posted by ameliawilliams