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  1. #26
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Northern Ireland/England
    I don't know if this has been said before, but I reckon a name is only pretentious if the reason behind giving that name is pretentious. For example, someone calling their kids Byron, Keats and Wordsworth thinking that it makes them seem well-read, intelligent and to have good taste. This goes whether they like/have actually read those authors or not. However, if they genuinely like those names and would strongly consider using them without their primary association I don't consider that pretentious in the least. In fact, even if they wouldn't normally use a name, but its literary connection is so strong and important to them, I don't believe that is pretentious either. For example, I would recoil in horror at a girl named Austin, however if it were spelt Austen and was done purely because Jane Austen was so important to the parent(s) I would have great respect for that (though I'd still rather it were in the middle). There is a subtle line which can be crossed though - even if you would like to raise Charles Dickens from the dead and marry him, such is your devotion to his work, you should never, EVER call your kid Dickens. For obvious reasons.

    I lot of the names I like have literary roots and I do not believe that any of those names are pretentious. For example:

    Georgiana - I got, obviously, from Pride and Prejudice, my favourite novel, but I adore the name and the nn Georgie, which also has a special meaning to me in its own right.
    Cecily - from The Importance of Being Earnest, my favourite play (as well as Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter). I already liked Cecilia (for no particular reason other than its pleasing sound) but completely fell in love with Cecily after reading TIoBE.
    Ophelia - I just like it. I have not read Hamlet, though I do intend to. Whilst I like the Shakespearean connection, I would have loved the name regardless of its origins and associations.
    Tristan - the name of one of the characters in the All Creatures Great and Small series of books by James Herriot, my hero and favourite author of all time. Although the books are primarily non-fic (there was a little tweaking with dates, genders etc.) none of the characters had their real names (Tristan was really Brian). I was introduced to these at the age of twelve, at which point I had never heard the name Tristan before and fell in love with it instantly.

    Goodness, that was long. I hope it was coherent and got my point across.
    My furry darlings ~ Bodie the border terrier & Portia and Penny the guinea pigs


    Amabel ~ Beryl ~ Bryony ~ Cecily ~ Charis ~ Clara ~ Dinah ~ Flora ~ Georgiana ~ Ophelia ~ Rosamund ~ Sylvie ~ Tabitha ~ Tamsin ~ Violet


    Arthur ~ Barnaby ~ Basil ~ Bertie ~ Darcy ~ Elliot ~ Felix ~ Fraser ~ Frederick ~ Henry ~ Monty ~ Rowan ~ Rupert ~ Theodore ~ Tristan

  2. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    New England
    We really think it's pretentious to name a child after a character in a book that's a strong character? I'm not a personal fan of Atticus or Scout (just to name some that have been mentioned here) but if you really feel that way, you can't name children after any Shakespearean characters or people in the Bible... Where do you draw the line? Maybe the parents just like the name.
    Zoe Milena and Lucas Emmanuel

  3. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    I agree, hanniekitt, I think motivation is a lot to do with it; and while a few people exist who would name their child something literary to be pretentious, I think the majority of people have legitimate reasons for using the names they choose.

    I seriously side-eye the people I know who proudly announce that their daughter is named "Scout, like the character in To Kill a Mockingbird," because they haven't read it and I know they haven't. If they could admit they hadn't read it but still loved the name Scout, that wouldn't be pretentious.

    I don't think there's anything pretentious about naming your child after a book that you LOVE- really, truly love. But how is it possible that so many people's favorite characters or favorite books are TKAM and Catcher in the Rye? With the entirety of literature, THOSE are the two everyone on earth seems to love.
    I think this goes back to the discussion in the previous two pages, that these books are widely assigned in schools and, for many people, are the first books that they really study in-depth. This means that they are more familiar with the stories and characters and that there's a good chance these books are the first ones that really influenced them.

    And I think there's a big difference between Atticus/Holden/Keats and Lee/Ray/Juliet (As in Harper, Bradbury, and Romeo &.) With the latter, the names pay homage to the books/authors, but they're common enough that they aren't exclusively associated with those authors.
    You also have to consider individual taste/style preferences. Yann Martel is my favorite author...I don't even know how to explain how much he and his books have changed my life. But I will probably never name a child after him. I don't like the look or sound of Martel and Yann is the name of my dad's estranged father. And as much as his book Life of Pi means to me (this is a book I've read probably 50 times. I literally have a copy with me everywhere I go), the odds of me naming one of my future children Piscine or Richard Parker aren't great (although I'll admit I have considered Pi as a mn). I could use Paul from The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, but Paul is the name of a kid who bullied me in elementary school, so it isn't a particularly nice association for me.
    I love To Kill a Mockingbird, like most people do. I first read it in 5th grade and just fell utterly in love with Atticus and Scout. So why not honor TKaM by naming a kid Lee instead of Atticus? There are many reasons...I don't particularly like the look or sound of Lee; it's my step-grandfather's name and I'm not planning on naming a kid after him, even though I like him well enough; and Atticus is a lovely name that references one of my favorite characters. There's no reason not to use it, in my opinion.

    I have a friend who wants to use her favorite authors' surnames as her children's middle names. So [firstname] Bradbury, [firstname] Lewis, [firstname] Austen, [firstname] Rowling, etc. I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all; its a way of expressing her love for the authors and their books and I personally find it more meaningful than [firstname] Ray, [firstname] Clive, [firstname] Jane, and [firstname] Joanne. But that's just me.

    Sorry this was long and rambling; one day I'll get the hang of writing in a forum in a way that makes sense.
    I hope to be a mom one day. For now I enjoy being a name lover.

    My apologies for any typos; i post from my mobile phone.

  4. #32
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    London, England
    I mostly only find the use of a well-known author's surname to be pretentious (if that surname has little history of use as a first name). Why use Keats instead of John? Jerome instead of Salinger? Emily or Charlotte instead of Bronte? Jane instead of Darcy or Austen? Or (to reverse things) Harper instead of Lee? Jean Louise, not Scout? The only answer to this seems to be to either fit in more with current naming trends (which is fine, but people who choose literary names tend to be of the view that they are making some kind of different, alternative choice) or to make a statement. For me, I want to give my children names that will be relatively easy to wear and give them lots of options; I feel like if you use your child's name to make a statement that you're so well-read and intelligent, then that's what is pretentious.

    Annora Juliet, Elspeth, Verity, Zelda, Josephine, Marianne, Rosemary Constance
    Edmund Henry, Wesley, Jonah, Gilbert, August, Winston, Hugh Theodore

  5. #34
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by caroline147 View Post
    I feel like if you use your child's name to make a statement that you're so well-read and intelligent, then that's what is pretentious.
    Yes, but why assume that that's the intent? Why does it have to be based in something so shallow and spiteful? Why can't it be a statement of love instead, or values, or interest?

    How is this so different from using any other name? How is it worse than choosing a name because 'it's pretty,' instead of having a good story, a good meaning behind it?
    I'm not feeling incredibly profound at the moment. Check back later.

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