Literary Names: Fitzgerald names beyond the great Gatsby
The spirit of Francis Scott Fitzgerald is alive and well. In the baby name world, Gatsby is one of the new attention-grabbing names on the block. In the world of entertainment, there is the theater piece Gatz, and now there’s eager anticipation for the latest version of The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Lurmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Isla Fisher,which is scheduled to open at the end of the year. A propitious time, then, to look at the author’s approach to literary names.
Fitzgerald’s novels and stories are populated with people with ordinary names like Nick and Dick, with typical Jazz Age period choices such as Bernice and Rosalind and Marjorie for girls, Chester and Percy for men, and a number of sophisticated Princetonesque surnames. He played with name changes reflecting shifting identities as well—Jay Gatsby having been born James Gatz.
Fitzgerald also made some interesting and highly unusual choices—some of which were ahead of their time—and here are the most provocative examples, from the novels and the endless series of short stories he churned out to survive :
Ardiota —from The Offside Pirate
Arlie—The Last of the Belles
Axia—This Side of Paradise
Birdy—Love of the Last Tycoon
Cecilia –This Side of Paradise– Fitzgerald liked this name so much he used it three times—but with two different spellings—in Love of the Last Tycoon and the short story Coward, the character’s name was the less common version Cecelia (actually the spelling of Pam and Jim’s baby on The Office).
Hepezia—Pain and the Scientist
Hildegarde —The Curious Case of Benjamin Button– Fitzgerald chose a Germanic name for the wife of reverse-aging Benjamin—curious as her last name, Moncrief, is anything but. Hildegarde is scarcely heard today—when even short form Hilda is a rarity.
Jannekin—Family in the Wind
Jobina—The Perfect Life
Jonquil—The Sensible Thing
Kismine –The Diamond as Big as the Ritz
Marice —First Blood
Mercia—The Rubber Check
Tudy—Image in the Heart
Vienna– The Bowl
Yanci—The Popular Girl
Amory –This Side of Paradise
Bomar—The Honor of the Goon
Book—The Woman from Twenty-One
Bradogue –The Love of the Last Tycoon
Brunswick—Mightier Than the Sword
Burne—This Side of Paradise
Carpenter—That Kind of Party
Carty—The Popular Girl
Caxton—The Intimate Strangers
Draycott—Bernice Bobs Her Hair
Hamilton—The Bridal Party
Horace —Head and Shoulders
Jebby –The Bridal Party
Knowleton—Myra Meets the Family
Lincoln —Babylon Revisited
Mayall—The Captured Shadow
Merlin—He Thinks He’s Wonderful
Oates—The Honor of the Goon
Satterly—Inside the House
Tanaduke—This Side of Paradise
Thayer—This Side of Paradise
Tudor—The Beautiful and the Damned
Wister–Six of One…
Frances Scott Key Fitzgerald himself was, of course, named for the composer of The Star Spangled Banner, who was a distant cousin of his; Scott was also the surname of his deceased older sister. The name Zelda has long been associated with Fitzgerald’s colorful wife. Their only child, Frances Scott Fitzgerald, was always known as Scottie.
Any interesting discoveries here?
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on June 14th, 2012 at 2:12 pm
Tarquin and Jonquil, two wonderful names, of course revealing my upbringing in blue blood New England….
I hated the novel Gatsby in high school, one of the few novels of Am lit that I read and really, really didn’t like (the other was Farewell to Arms — I was more of a Dreiser/Wharton/James fan). As part of our summer reading program, I reread it because I was monitoring questions over the summer — I was then 50 — and fell in love with it. So while Fitzgerald is still not my favourite Am lit author, I reread him that summer and found that I really enjoyed the experience.
on May 14th, 2013 at 2:33 pm
I love the name Llewellyn, but I don’t think there is one in “The Adjuster.” I do remember a Luella and an Ede, however, two lovely names.
on May 31st, 2014 at 3:24 am
Without trying to sound rude; it seems like a rather incomplete list. My son is called Lupin, and I’ve been trying to get this name in the Nameberry archives for a long time now. There was a Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter series, and a Lupin Pooter in George and Weedon Grossmith’s comic novel The Diary of a Nobody (1892).
Then there’s Hyde as in Mr. Hyde, evil alter ego of Dr. Jeckyll, which I think is a perfectly nice and classy name within this theme.
And how about Orson, as a reference to Orson Welles and even Winnie the Pooh, as it means Bear in French.
This list deserves to be so much longer. I’m hoping for a renewed one in a couple of months. 🙂
on May 31st, 2014 at 5:18 pm
@studiotilly–This list was just confined to characters in Fitzgerald novels, not a general literary characters one.
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