Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Names Behaving Differently


I normally never have a problem with names. Characters walk into stories fully formed and with their names firmly attached. However, with this novel I’m having a slightly different experience.
Is this perhaps because I am operating within a different culture? I’m not so used to German and Yiddish names, especially the ones that were around during the 1940s. So, I’ve had to resort to name lists. I’m using the following:
I find myself tempted to use some symbolism.
A horse is called Adiv. It means delicate. He chooses his path in a delicate way. His health is delicate, because like his owners he is starving.  
A little girl is called Kyla. She is a gift, a laurel and a comfort to her mother whose husband has died of malnutrition. The mother, pregnant with a second child, is called Selda. Her name means happiness and joy. She has a very sad life but perhaps her name will remind her that there is yet hope.
The people who look after the Special Class in Shellberg Street cannot decide whether their neighbour is being concerned or is just plain nosy. People who understand German may be able to figure it out more easily. His name is Herr Ehrlichmann – his name means “honourable man”.  But there is still room for some doubt. In which way is he being honourable? To the Third Reich or to his former next-door neighbour?
Most readers of the books will not read any symbolism into the names. I may, however, contain these explanations in a glossary.             

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