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Thread: Ruined names: Tamerlane?
April 25th, 2013 06:06 AM #1
Ruined names: Tamerlane?
At what point do you consider a name too tainted to use? I'll use Tamerlane as a current example only because it's the name that got me thinking about it. I have a pretty major character in a finished novel currently going through the second editing process named Tamerlane. He's part of an extreme religious order that practices acts of (magical) terror on innocent people in a high fantasy novel. Fantasy or not, it's a little unfortunate.
When I heard the name of the Boston bomber that died last week, I have to admit my very first thought was, "Well, shit, is that all people are going to think if they ever read this stupid book?!"
His name was Tamerlan, not Tamerlane, but it's the first place my head went and I'm sure others would as well.
Obviously, historically Tamerlane has been around a lot longer than the most recent one, but I don't have a lot of faith in people's historical knowledge.
So what ruins a name? The scope of the atrocities committed by someone of the same name? Ex: Adolf
The rarity of their name? Ex: Timothy McVeigh didn't ruin Timothy, did Tamerlan Tsarnaev ruin Tamerlan/e?
Something else? Why are some names taboo and other names somehow survive the crimes committed by those with the name?
FWIW, I won't be changing my character's name, but I can't help but feel that it's... well, spoiled, at least for the next 30 (?) or so years.
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