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May 7th, 2013 10:27 PM #11Senior Member
- Join Date
- Apr 2013
I do think it's ridiculous UNLESS the name is already a common, or at least known, given name. I think character first names (Atticus, Scout, etc.) aren't as bad as surnames of characters or the author. For example: Naming your child Beatrix, after Beatrix Potter, or Jack, after Jack London, is a great way to honor the literature you love. Jay is a great name...Gatsby is not so much.
Naming your kid Tennyson or Chaucer seems much more pretentious to me.Lillian Elizabeth 6.16.13
May 7th, 2013 10:33 PM #13
I completely agree...and feel like a hypocrite for doing so, since it's important to me that every single one of my favorite names (for girls, at least) has a strong literary connection. I'm a grad student in lit, however, so this is also an inescapable part of my life; when you think in books, talk in books, and work in books, it's really hard not to name in books as well. I'll note that almost all of my favorite literary names were picked from my beloved children's books or my research in Renaissance literature and drama, not lit-fic favorites like Catcher in the Rye or Gravity's Rainbow or something. Does that make it better? Probably not. :/Simon, Eloise/Louise, Faye, Judah, Thea, Felix, Iris, Cordelia, Roscoe, Lydia, Jasper, Phaedra, Adrian, Lucinda, Jane, Conrad, Wallace, Finnegan, Sylvie, Charlie, Dashiell, Juniper, Atlas, Matilda, Julian, Alice, Marlowe, Octavia, Jack, Marigold, Archer, Gabriel, Persephone, Raphael, Dov
Just a grad student, dreaming ahead...
May 7th, 2013 10:57 PM #15Senior Member
- Join Date
- Nov 2011
Haha, I majored in English, work in publishing, love lit names...but sometimes I do feel that way. For me it isn't so much a matter of pretention as it is cliche, though.
I don't think most people are actively trying to exploit their children's names as a way to make themselves look more cultured, educated, etc. I don't even think they want to make their kids look better by giving them literary names, though I do think names from books carry an appealing well-read/intelligent literary vibe. I think celianne makes a lot of good points: not only do you read those impressive classics at a formative age, but you also spend so much time with them, digging in deep, analyzing them for essays and class discussions. Many people don't read much, particularly classics, after you get out of the education system. Even if you continue to buy books and read in your adult lives, you don't spend as much time or effort thinking through stories. The books from middle and high school naturally stand out as the most important, respected, often personally meaningful texts one reads. Sometimes it can seem a bit pretentious when people who don't read in their present day spare time name their kids after a character or author...but hey. I imagine they connected with the book (or just like the name) at some point.
I don't think all names from books included within the high school canon sound pretentious. Keats, Auden, Byron, Flannery, Zora, characters from Dracula, Fahrenheit 451, many Shakespearean plays--I don't find those pretentious or cliched. People don't use them that frequently. But certain texts become the Isabella, Sophia, Emma, Lily, or Madeline of the book world. (Notably those come in waves, too; the Shakespeare plays taught when our parents were in school are no longer [necessarily] the ones taught in schools now.) Anyway, Isabella, Sophia, etc. are beautiful, vintage names; To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye are incredible, deserving books. If you really truly love and connect with the name/book, great. In a way, I see the value of naming a child after a character almost everyone loves and recognizes--instant positive connotation... But sometimes I do start feeling a little exasperated and think, "Gosh, didn't you read or love anything else? You know that's EVERYONE's favorite book, don't you? What have you personally read/connected with/felt changed by that wasn't included in a bulleted study guide from your teacher x years ago?"
Notably, I think that TKAM's names are the ones that feel the most cliched or pretentious or hipster or whatever. Multiple pps here have expressed frustration over them. To preface: I love TKAM; it was my grandmother's fave book; we read it aloud as a family growing up--it's great. I recognize its importance contextualized by the time in history when it came out. But it's also a book that feels like it's morally challenging and heavy-hitting and gritty when really it's pretty tidily laid out for the reader. As Wall Street Journal writer, Allen Barra, once argued: "In all great novels there is some quality of moral ambiguity, some potentially controversial element that keeps the book from being easily grasped or explained. One hundred years from now, critics will still be arguing about the real nature of the relationship between Tom and Huck, or why Gatsby gazed at that green light at the end of the dock across the harbor. There is no ambiguity in “To Kill a Mockingbird”; at the end of the book, we know exactly what we knew at the beginning: that Atticus Finch is a good man, that Tom Robinson was an innocent victim of racism, and that lynching is bad. As Thomas Mallon wrote in a 2006 story in The New Yorker, the book acts as “an ungainsayable endorser of the obvious.”" Sometimes I feel like that's why TKAM has skyrocketed in popularity: besides the nostalgia of having loved it in high school, the reader can pat him or herself on the back for coming down on Atticus's side, coming down against racism and intolerance, when there wasn't really a question of which side was right... I think that adds to the pretentious image that names from this book can carry.
Just some thoughts.
May 7th, 2013 11:05 PM #17
No, I don't. Anytime I recognize someone's name from a book or author, I'm charmed. Books are a huge part of my life; I'm not sure I would have survived childhood without them. They were my escape; the characters were my friends; the authors my heroes. All of my children's names will be inspired by books I love or authors I admire. If people find that pretentious, I don't give a flying f*ck. They can go live their own life and name their children whatever they like.
If I met a baby D'Artagnan and excitedly started talking about the novel with his parents and they couldn't follow along with the conversation, then yes, I'd think they were pretentious fools who picked the name because it was from a book (or in this case, probably the movie/s) rather than a true love of the book or character, but my first thought would not be a negative one.Cordelia Eilonwy Snow | Thisbe Wildrose ● Damian Sparrow | Malachi Tristan Bjorn
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May 7th, 2013 11:12 PM #19
Atticus isn't exactly a tireless crusader against the forces of racism -- he's a good guy, but also smugly complacent in his upper-class white life. He also treats a victim of rape and incest extremely badly, voicing a misogynistic, dismissive attitude towards women's claims of sexual assault that was endemic during that time (and still is, I'd argue). Atticus was singing kumbayas while his neighbors were being lynched. That's hardly the kind of role model I would want for my sons. If you want to name your kid after a Civil Rights hero, how about Bayard Rustin or one of the lawyers who defended the Scottsboro Boys?Simon, Eloise/Louise, Faye, Judah, Thea, Felix, Iris, Cordelia, Roscoe, Lydia, Jasper, Phaedra, Adrian, Lucinda, Jane, Conrad, Wallace, Finnegan, Sylvie, Charlie, Dashiell, Juniper, Atlas, Matilda, Julian, Alice, Marlowe, Octavia, Jack, Marigold, Archer, Gabriel, Persephone, Raphael, Dov
Just a grad student, dreaming ahead...