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Jun 2013 - Solaris > A Rose By Any Other Name

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Shanea | 358 comments Having an incredibly odd name myself, names are something I spend quite a bit of time pondering.
When reading science fiction or fantasy novels set in a different world/country/millennium I usually take a second to look at the different names. Some authors seem to go all out in creating their character's names, Suzanne Collins, Terry Brooks, while others seem to throw in an average name in there, possibly for ease of pronunciation,or because they think the name will hold up, or that it doesn't matter, Winston and Julia of1984, Richard of Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth, while others have a combination of the two, Frank Herbert's Dune, Douglas Adams.
Do name's of characters matter when reading a book? Does what the author chooses to name character's imply something about their intended personalities?


LaLaLa Laura  (laurabhoffman) I wonder if Harey's name is a derivation of Harry Carry,the Japanese expression to slice oneself open with a sword.


Angie Downs I believe that a good author is deliberate when selecting the names of their characters. And, yes, often they have special meaning. For instance, Lucy in A Tale of Two Cities. Lucy means light. Whenever Lucy is in the room, all eyes are on her. She brings light into the places she goes. Light, which also means illumination, then can also mean truth. Therefore, Lucy represents an element of truth throughout the novel.

Another example is Daisy, also referred to as "the golden girl", from The Great Gatsby. Daisies are white with yellow in the middle, often giving them a yellow hue throughout their petals. Throughout the entire novel, yellow is used as symbolism to represent money and death. Daisy represents Gatsby's hope for a better future, a rise in financial status, and also the impending ending of the novel, not only for Gatsby, but for the death that Daisy is ultimately responsible for herself.

Although I can't think of any examples from sci-fi or fantasy right now, I'm sure the same applies for those authors as well.


Nadja (nzie) | 16 comments I think he must have chosen the names very carefully, but I don't know what's up with Harey. It's not Polish at all I don't think (it sounds distinctly unfeminine as well, not ending in -a), and of course in English it sounds like a boy's name.

I haven't read enough scifi for names, but I think fantasy authors generally choose names really carefully with a mind towards their meanings (probably many authors do, but it may be obscure or the name may be too regular for us to think about it). The names in Harry Potter often relate to alchemy (Sirius *Black*, Rubeus (*red*) Hagrid, Albus (white) Dumbledore - all colors associated with stages of alchemy, and there are others that relate as well), or at the least tell you whether the character is sympathetic or not. Tolkien's names all have meanings, but since he invented his own languages and put a lot of info in the appendices they're easy to miss (also, some characters have multiple names/monikers). C.S. Lewis also used "Lucy" like Dickens did I'd say in Narnia, and Aslan means "lion" in Turkish (the lion sometimes symbolizing Christ). In his Space Trilogy, the main character of Ransom has a lot to do with sin, which makes his name appropriate from a religious sense.

~Nzie


Shanea | 358 comments Nadja wrote: "I think he must have chosen the names very carefully, but I don't know what's up with Harey. It's not Polish at all I don't think (it sounds distinctly unfeminine as well, not ending in -a), and o..."
I had known a lot of the name meanings like Dumbledore means bumblebee and all of the Black star names, but I had not noticed the alchemy in Harry Potter.
Just thinking of this makes me want to read every book searching baby websites for every character.


Nadja (nzie) | 16 comments I'm the right age to be the HP generation, but I wasn't interested until college, at which point I took out both the first book and a book about them from the library. I was concerned about witchcraft - based on both my own reading of it, and the book, I decided it wasn't a problem, and that book, by John Granger, introduced me to literary alchemy. There are some good articles on it online I think, and he has written a few books - I'd recommend "Unlocking Harry Potter" for the alchemy thing - it's one of the "keys" to reading it, if you're interested, both in the names and how they (and other characters) relate to alchemy. :-) I'm not an expert on alchemy, but I think his work is more reliable than baby name sites (I swear they just repeat popular mythologies and have lazy research).


Matthew Maybe the author was a Curious George fan? (Written by H. A. Rey)


message 8: by xenu01 (new)

xenu01 Angie wrote: "Another example is Daisy, also referred to as "the golden girl", from The Great Gatsby. Daisies are white with yellow in the middle, often giving them a yellow hue throughout their petals. Throughout the entire novel, yellow is used as symbolism to represent money and death. Daisy represents Gatsby's hope for a better future..."

And then Henry James' Daisy Miller is basically "Average Average."


Shanea | 358 comments Matthew wrote: "Maybe the author was a Curious George fan? (Written by H. A. Rey)"
I would die if that was the reason.


Shanea | 358 comments Nadja wrote: "I'm the right age to be the HP generation, but I wasn't interested until college, at which point I took out both the first book and a book about them from the library. I was concerned about witchc..."
Was he Hermione's dad? As a major Harry Potter fangirl, that might make it's way up by to read list very soon. Thanks.


message 11: by Tome (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tome (toenuff) It looks like you are read a different translation than I did.

In the French to English to Polish version her name is Rheya.

Wikipedia has some info about the translations:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solari...


Nadja (nzie) | 16 comments That's a lot prettier, in my opinion, but what's interesting is that they're anagrams of each other. I wonder what's so important about those letters?

Also, I was thinking this weekend, the naming elephant in the room is Solaris, which means "of the sun" in Latin. Why is a planet named after the sun? Is it because of the two-sun thing? Or is it some other reason? If I were naming the planet with a Latin word I'd pick something about the ocean, or include that it had two suns.


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