It is tempting – oh, so tempting! – to announce that I would name my children things like “Eomer”, “Lothirial”, “Idril”, “Beren”, “Eilonwy”, “Gwydion”, “Alighieri”, and so forth.
But sadly, I could never do such a thing.
This is not mere cowardice on my part – although I cringe to think of the looks I would receive for naming a child that – but what I would like to think of as “humanity”. As much as I love Middle Earth, my children will have to live on this earth. And deal with the societies of this earth. So, I prefer not to make it too difficult for them.
And I have long since come to the opinion that some names qualify as child abuse. Therefore, there must be rules in naming children.
Rule #1: The name must not be too cumbersome for the poor, defenceless babe who must go through life bearing this name.
Some more obscure characters do tempt me to use their names. In particular, Miss Anathama Devyce from Good Omens, whose parent chose her name based more on sound than meaning. The thing is, it is a pretty sounding name . . .
My given name means “ready for the harvest”, which is pretty prosaic. My siblings all have cool name meanings, like “grace”, “beauty”, “womanly”, “bold protector”, “strength” and “elf army”. So not fair!
My children must have name meanings that are awesome.
Rule #2: The name must be examined for both sound and meaning.
Aside from the fantastically named literary figures, there are few who would make decent patrons for baby humans.
Susan Sto Helit. Anne Eliot. Gabriel Gale. Rupert Psmith. Sam Gamgee. Princess Irene. Sebastian Flyte.
Er, maybe not the last one.
But none of the names on their own resonate with the associations of that character. I could name child Susan, and no one know who I was naming her after.
This works the other way too. What is it with villains having nice names? I love the name Margaret, but Shakespeare’s histories have ruined that one for me.
Also, the end of the character makes a difference. Desdemona is such a pretty name, but I would prefer to lessen my child’s chances of strangling.
And authors themselves make wonderful role models, but so often their own names are strange, or ugly, or dull!
John Ronald Ruel? No thank you. Clive? Ugh.
And while I like the names “Agatha” and “Dorothy”, (although I do prefer “Dorothea”, or even “Theodora”: they all mean “gift of God”!) I am not soooo fond of Ms. Christi or Ms. Sayers as to claim their patronage for my offspring.
And though t’would be delightful to name a man-child after Chesterton, that is a moniker of such determined presence that it would require an equally strong surname. So I cannot exactly plan on using it.
Rule #3: The name must be clearly associated with figures whom I can respect, who are decent patrons, and who do not have horrible fates.
Oh, the naming of a child is already a fearful and wonderful responsibility!
See, I am also working on a theory that names affect character.
For instance, think of all the people to you know who are named, (or go by,) “Ben”. Aren’t they all fun, odd, unique, quirky, smart people? I would not mind having a “Ben” for a child.
But I would mind having a “Fred”. All the Freds that I have known, in either fiction or real life, tend to be . . . . annoying.
Rule #4: The name must in of itself recall excellent character and personality.
These all being the case, there are very few literary characters for whom I would actually name my children.
After much thought and consideration, (and conferencing with my dad,) I managed to pull the Pevensie children to mind. And I can say with complete certainty that I would enjoy having a Lucy and an Edmund.
Also, perhaps, a Miranda, an Andromache, a Gareth, (or Gawain,) a Cúchulainn, or a Gertrude.
But in truth, there are only two characters for whom I would absolutely name my children. These I did not have to think about; they have long been lurking in the corners of my imagination, awaiting only the child.
So, unless my husband vehemently (very vehemently) objects, my first son will be named “Benedict”.
After Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. (But with a slight spelling change.) I love this name not just for it’s association, and the hope that my child will become as smart, manly and sweet as his namesake, but for the fact that it means “Blessed”.
And, oddly enough, one of my daughters will be named “Beatrice”.
Not, shockingly, after the Shakespearian counterpart. But after Dante’s Beatrice, who guided him in Heaven.
Both these characters are ones whom I admire and respect and even love.
And, for Heaven’s sake, they both just have awesome names!