Every reader of Dickens has enjoyed some of his grotesque names, like Quilp, or Uncle Pumblechook. But that’s only the beginning of criticism. His familiar names – Oliver Twist and the rest – have often developed further associations as time has gone by. Many associate ‘Oliver Twist’ with asking for more, without perhaps reflecting that ‘twist’ is Cockney slang for ‘appetite’ – and already was so in Dickens’s time. Nabokov tells us what the variants of “Lolita” mean; but what about the many other names – the motels, the places, the school register? In literature, names are often doors to meaning, and words giving glimpses of the writer’s intentions.
Monday, September 24, 2012
… OUPblog — What’s in a literary name? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)