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TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:42 pm
by Liz
Did you see any significance to the names of the characters in TCD? NOTE: Let's leave Irene Adler out of this particular question. She will be discussed at a later date.

I found the following information on some of the names:

Corso - “run” in Italian

Varo - “I pierce” in Portuguese

Flavio (La Ponte) - Italian and Spanish form of FLAVIUS Roman family name which meant "golden" or "yellow-haired" from Latin flavus "yellow, golden".

Ungern - “Reluctantly” in German

Taillefer - (Latin Incisor-ferri, both meaning 'hewer of iron') was the surname of a Norman ioglere (juggler or jester)

Ceniza - Spanish ash is the product of combustion of any material, composed of non-combustible inorganic substances such as mineral salts. Party remains as residue in the form of dust deposited in the place where it has burned fuel (wood, garbage, etc.) and some may be expelled into the air as part of smoke.

Pablo - "small" or "humble" in Latin

Pedro – Stone in Greek

Boris - It was borne by king Boris I of Bulgaria in the 9th century, who converted his country to Christianity, as well as two later Bulgarian emperors.

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:54 am
by suec
The last names speak more loudly to me than first ones , although first names seem to match the characters well. Varo Borja has piercing eyes, La Ponte is blonde.

I wonder about La Ponte being a bridge, which is what it means in some languages.

Boris Balkan. Well, apart from reminding me of Boris Becker :-D this name really stood out for me at first, and not just because I had seen the film. It sounds wrong, as in not exactly very Spanish. I found myself waiting for an explanation of his nationality, which never came. This marked him out as being remarkable in some way, as did the alliteration, which made the name more memorable. Balkan, I think, is significant. It suggests the Balkans, very significant geographically, being in southeast Europe, a crossroads, melting pot and boundary, of course, between continents and cultures.

Varo Borja. This really spoke to me of the Borgias in how it sounds. The Spanish spelling apparently is with a j – they were a Spanish family and obviously notorious for their unscrupulousness. Plus, Dumas wrote about them in Crimes Celebres. And I may have this totally wrong, but I think in Spanish the v is often pronounced b. If this applies also to names, Varo Borja would also sound alliterative, which I found kind of intriguing in view of the fact that he and Boris Balkan mirror each other rather well as catalysts / controllers (Maybe, maybe not. No harm in speculating, no?) I tend to see a pattern of pairings with this novel. Most obviously, Corso investigating two texts, but there are many others. I wonder also for this reason about there being two Cenizas, both having first names beginning with p.
Ceniza. The writer does draw attention to that name, pointing out how it suits them (grey). Apart form age, and dirt and illlness, flexibility in interpretation. Not seeing things in black and white only but also shades of grey. But I do think it's a case of the name matching the appearance again. For me, ash is quite intriguing, having various connotations (fire and the funeral service)

Corso. “The man who courses after things” according to the book. Well, and so he does. Not sure what to make of this Italian meaning of run. It has so many different possible connotations – perhaps that is an accident, perhaps it’s the whole point. But I think of being given the run around and being on the run, both of which apply to Corso. Also, the story running its course.

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:07 am
by stroch
Intimidatingly erudite, suec.

I did find myself pulled out of the story by the names of many of the characters, and even though I knew I should investigate, I just didn't.

Balkan struck me all on its own as something fragmented and fractious, leading me to believe that he instigated more of the conflicts than I was aware of.

And when P-R directed me to pay attention to Corso's name, I bablefish translated Corso from Spanish to English. One of its meanings was listed as privateerng; which fits him well.

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:17 am
by Buster
Taillefer, in French, could be roughly translated as "cutting sword"...

As for "corsair" - surely Corso is pursuing treasure, and is as ruthlessly fixated as any pirate.

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:55 am
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
suec, your take on Borja is an interesting one. I thought of the Borgias as well. You comment on all the dualities in the story is very intriguing! :cool:

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:06 am
by Parlez
Great name sleuthing you guys! :cool:

I got a little sidetracked by the names - mainly trying to relate all the monikers from other literary works that everyone in the story had adopted or been given. I relied on the author to make the names clear(er) as the story went along, but, of course, that turned out to be a very naive thing for me to do.

But I'm glad a few intrepid readers perservered! It's fun to see the links and connections.

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:24 am
by Endora
Balkan, to me like Suec, is to do with fragmenting, to divide something to gain control (Balkanisation...do you say that in the US?)

Are we mentioning the name Nikon here? Lots of possibilities there.

And Corso. The runner. In the English we use here, to course is to chase, as in a dog after a hare. To me it's a term more about chasing after than running from or following. Poor Corso does spend his life looking for things, doesn't he. His ancestor from Waterloo, his lost love, his books. He's so full of wants that he has no time to look at what he already has.

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:30 am
by Parlez
Endora wrote:Poor Corso does spend his life looking for things, doesn't he. His ancestor from Waterloo, his lost love, his books. He's so full of wants that he has no time to look at what he already has.

Well said! :cool:
To ''chase after" without taking the time to see what you've already got fits Corso's personality perfectly!

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:55 pm
by Liz
Parlez wrote:
Endora wrote:Poor Corso does spend his life looking for things, doesn't he. His ancestor from Waterloo, his lost love, his books. He's so full of wants that he has no time to look at what he already has.

Well said! :cool:
To ''chase after" without taking the time to see what you've already got fits Corso's personality perfectly!


To "chase after"--I like that too. :cool: Great ideas all around. :thumbsup: Endora, yes go for it on Nikon. We're just avoiding Irene Adler.

Re: TCD Question #13 - The Names

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:18 pm
by gemini
When I first came upon this question I was a little baffled too. I usually love names that fit the character but here they were there but not for the shallow glance I gave them. It is great sharing this book so those of you who could see past my limitations could see what was there all along. Suec, I am not surprised you saw the names so clearly. Another great reason for discussing our books together. :cool: