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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Literary Inspiration: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby, with the recent new film, is "in Fashion. How about the names from it though? The book actually has a plethora of names, as the narrator (Nick Carraway) decides at one point to list ALL of the people who are at one of Gatsby's parties. I don't think I can possible expound on every name, but I would like to list as many of them here as possible, and comment on some that interest me.

The Main Players
Nick Carraway
Jordan Baker - I have always liked the name Jordan, which is odd since typically I am not attracted to unisex names. Seeing this in the novel, which is set in the 1920s, made me curious about how long exactly it has been unisex. Looking up the data, it would appear that choosing to name a female Jordan was quite risque when the book was written (1925). Jordan did not appear in the top 1000 names for girls until the 1970s, and it wasn't until the 80s that the name became very popular for boys or girls. I don't think its coincidence that the name's rise for both genders coincides with Michael Jordan's rise to fame.
Jay Gatsby - An adventurous parent or literature lover could go for the name Gatsby. The sound itself is quite pleasing, the question is if that is a character you would want to honor!
Daisy Buchanan - A cute flower name that has stayed in the middle of the charts for sometime. With Lily so popular right now (currently 16th), and other flower names also trending (like Violet, Ivy and Iris), I am surprised Daisy is actually slowly declining (very slowly). 
Tom Buchanan
Myrtle Wilson
George Wilson 
Meyer Wolfsheim - Meyer would fit nicely in with the "last name as first name" trend that continues, yet it hasn't been in the top 1000 since 1928. I think its probably that Oscar Mayer brand that has done this (pronounced the same way).

Other Names
Chester Becker
Webster Civet - Webster, to me, is a great name. It immediately invokes the dictionary of the same name, and implies intelligence. It is a last-name first as well. It has never been to popular and hasn't been in the top 1000 since 942. Maybe its time to bring it back?
Willie Voltaires
Hubert Auerbach
Edgar Beaver - If Edward has been ruined for you by Twilight, but you love the name nickname Ed or Eddie, this might be a good place to look! I feel a nickname post for Eddie coming on...
Clarence Endive
Ripley Snell - I actually just met a newborn Ripley. It has never been in the top 1000 boys names. It is a last name first and is associated with "Ripley's Believe it or Not" here in the U.S. It has just the right level of quirkiness for some families. The Ripley I know is little brother to Rex. What a great sibset!
Ulysses Swett
Maurice Flink
Cecil Roebuck/Cecil Schoen
Newton Orchid
Clyde Cohen
Don S Schwartz
Arthur McCarty
G. Earl Muldoon
Ed Legros
James B. Ferret
Ernest Lilly
Gus Waize
Horace O'donavan
Lester Meyer - The name Lester used to rank pretty high on my personal list, because I saw it not as a "last name first", but rather as a place name for a river and park in my hometown. Now that I live in my hometown, the local connection doesn't seem as important. It is important, I think, to note that the names Lester and Chester both are much more popular in specific segments of the population - Amish communities.
George Duckweed
Francis Bull
Russel Betty
Henry L. Palmetto
Benny McClenahan
Jaqueline, Consuela, Gloria, Judy or June (the girls who were interchangeable) - I find it amusing that these are the names seen as interchangeable to the narrator. They don't seem all that similar! I did look into their popularity, and that is not where the similarity is coming from! Jaqueline and Consuela were virtually unheard back in that time period, while June and Gloria were quite popular. I wonder how Fitzgerald chose these names, or if he put much thought into them at all?
Faustina O'brien - While this name makes me immedietly think of the German philosopher and author Faust, it actually is a Latin name meaning fortune.
Ardita Fitz-Peters - The name Ardita is of Albanian origins and means "golden days". Ardy as a cute nickname?
Claudia Hip 

So, what do you think? Any names in here interest you?


  1. Edgar just makes me think of MIB: 'giant Edgar suit'...

    Somewhat surprised that you didn't mention Cohen as a last name first....


  2. I haven't read The Great Gatsby since high school and most of the names are a complete blank. I guess I'm going to have read the book again. The names sound pretty interesting, it makes me wonder where he got them from.

  3. So many of the names seem deliberately fanciful, like Webster Civet, Willie Voltaires and Ulysses Swett ... I do like Ardita though, and its meaning is lovely.

    I have seen Ripley used on girls, I guess because of Aliens.