I must offer my congratulations to the fantastic word nerds who run The Book Chewers. You guys have really cool prompts in your link-ups – seriously, I thought the questions would be the same old “What’s your favorite book? Who is your least favorite character? Which author do you want to meet most and why?” kind of questions. But they’re not, so I’m doing another. It’s about characters’ names and their meanings.
“Pick a book and look up the meanings of the characters’ names! What do you reckon? Is it a good fit? (And for kicks, what does your name mean? Since we’re googling and all…)”
All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen was my book of choice because it is amazing but not very well known and that needs to change. Maybe reading this post will convince you, Poor Sad Person Whose Life Has Not Yet Been Enriched By This Book, to read it. I used Meaning-of-Names.com for my research.
One of the special things about All Men of Genius is that it’s a (steampunk) retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. What this means is that many of the characters’ names (or the inspirations for them) are taken from those two books so while I hope the names fit the characters, I can understand if they don’t quite fit because Rosen was just pulling names out of plays. One would hope Wilde and Shakespeare did choose names more carefully, of course…
Meaning of “Violet”: Flower; variant of Viola, one of the heroines in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night (Using Violet as a variant makes sense. As for her name – it doesn’t describe her or anything. However, in the story it has greater significance for two reasons. Ernest constantly talks to her about flowers and her name comes from the violet flowers that grew in her mother’s favorite place on the estate.)
Meaning of “Ashton”: From the town with ash trees (The name of Violet’s twin makes a little more sense because he is from a town with ash trees: they grow next to the violet flowers.)
Meaning of “Jack”: Supplanter, God is gracious; diminutive of John (Jack’s name is actually John, by the way. I don’t quite know how to read “God is gracious” so let’s skip that bit. He does try to supplant Cecily’s affection for “Ashton” – really Violet disguised as her brother.)
Meaning of “Cecily”: Blind (Whoa. Accurate name. Cecily may not be literally blind, but she doesn’t notice that Violet has disguised herself as a man. She’s also oblivious in matters of who loves whom.)
Meaning of “Ernest”: Serious and determined (Fits him to a T. He takes everything seriously and ends up worrying too much as a result. Ernest is determined to be at least the man his father was, if not better.)
Meaning of “Miriam”: Rebellious (I take back what I just wrote. This is the best meaningful name of the book. Miriam is fiercely independent, doing everything her own way and not caring what people may think or say.)
Meaning of “Fiona”: White or fair (I’m pretty sure her race is white, and I guess she’s fair. She’s always wearing fancy clothes and doing up her hair.)
Meaning of “Malcolm”: Disciple of Saint Columbus (I don’t think this name fits him, exactly. But for the record, I looked up Columbus and it turns out that he’s the patron saint of poetry. Being named after him must not help, because Malcolm’s poetry is terrible.)
Meaning of “Toby”: The Lord is good (I don’t even know how to interpret this name.)
Meaning of “Drew”: Manly, courageous, wise (Drew is probably a little too sensitive, quiet, and calm to be considered stereotypically manly. However, he is brave enough to explore a dangerous, mysterious basement with Violet, Jack, and others and he wisely keeps secrets.)
Meaning of “Ada”: Happy, wealthy, noble (I suppose Ada is happy and noble. She’s totally wealthy.)
Meaning of “Oscar”: Accurate spearsman, jumping fighter (Ha ha ha ha! He definitely doesn’t throw spears, but “jumping fighter” made me giggle. Oscar is a talking rabbit.)
Meaning of “Antony”: Highly praiseworthy (Ashton would certainly think so! Sorry, that was a joke only other fans would get. But he is a pretty good servant; he does his job and keeps many, many secrets, namely that Violet is covertly attending an all-male school in order to advance her scientific career.)
And as for my name? I’m not going to tell you it outright but if you want to go on a little online search expedition, my first name means “God of plenty” or “consecrated to God”, my middle name means “joy”(because, well, it is Joy), and I don’t know what my last name means. I spent a while trying to find out but it’s Czech and I wonder if the spelling or pronunciation were Anglicized. Might explain why I can’t find it.
What does your favorite character’s name mean?