Friday, October 21, 2016

Unusual Names from the Lost Generation - Fitzgerald and Hemingway

Hello, readers!

The "lost generation" was a term coined by Gertrude Stein in describing the generation of men and women who had survived World War I, coming of age then and in the subsequent Jazz Age. Referring to the sense of wandering and melancholy that plagued many during the era - especially the expatriates - this term now often applies to artists of the time.

In their books, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway included a variety of characters who personified the period in different ways. Here are some of the names of those "lost" souls who have influenced American literature today.

Ernest Hemingway, his wife Hadley Richardson, and friends in Pamplona, Spain, 1925

Hemingway's names: 

Not a name he picked, but this name was a unique choice for women of the era - the name had been used rarely for boys, and wasn't even recorded for girls until 1964. Her birth name was Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, Hadley being a family name. In 1998, this pretty English choice began its ascent up the top 1000, and now ranks at #102. It means "heather field."

Another name more often associated with men, the female protagonist of The Sun Also Rises is named Lady Brett Ashley. Her name identifies her as "one of the boys," and she's very much an equal in their social group (unusual for 1926). Now that Brett is on the decline for boys, the girls could make a claim for it - it's not too far off from Brynn or Kate, either. 

Though he's a minor character in A Farewell to Arms, Ettore Moretti has an unusual name for an American - hence the addition to this list. Ettore is the Italian variant of Hector, and it means "holding fast." It currently ranks at #64 in Italy, but is incredibly rare in the United States. Ettore would be an attractive and uncommon alternative to names like Giovanni or Leonardo.

A beautiful Spanish choice that's never ranked in the US top 1000, Pilar can be found in literature, religious texts, and films. It comes from the word for "pillar," referring to a moment when the Virgin Mary appeared on a pillar in Spain. The character in the novel is known for her strength and compassion - not a bad namesake for any little one.

Often linked to the eponymous saint, Anselmo is a rare but long-standing choice for speakers of Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. It means "divine protection," and has two very cute short forms: Ansel and Elmo. With it's soft sound and o-ending, this name could fit in nicely with today's trends.

Fitzgerald's names:

Like Hadley, this woman has been referenced in history as the wife of a great author - but she herself was a great writer and artist (check out Save Me a Waltz). Zelda recently jumped onto the top 1000, as feminine vintage names become more and more popular. Will Zelda shoot to the top 100 or maintain a low profile? Only time will tell.

An incredibly romantic name, Amory Blaine makes it clear that the protagonist of This Side of Paradise is ruled by passion. Though the name has been growing in use in recent years, it's still a unique choice. But it's closeness to Avery and Emory make it more than viable for today's youth. The etymology is unclear, but Amory is related to either "beloved" or "industrious."

Another name signifying that this woman is on par with the men in the novel, Jordan Baker is a minor female character in The Great Gatsby. She was named for two contemporary car companies, representing her modern personality. Though Jordan has always been more popular for boys, both genders have the name on a decline since their heyday in the 1990's and 2000's.

A variation of an English name meaning "coal miner," Collis fits right in with Colin or Silas. The character in Tender is the Night doesn't stick around for too long, and Collis itself has been on the decline for awhile. Still, it's an uncommon option that isn't too far from the trends.

Names I've missed? Tell me in the comments!

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