Friday, 27 September 2013

Friday Five: Fame. What's your name?

The Master: William Shakespeare
What is the height of fame for a writer? Arguably it would be that your name has become an adjective, the meaning of which is known to people who haven’t even read your books because you epitomised a style or a genre.

I ran a few of these past Him Outdoors, to see if he recognised them too or whether it was just me assuming that everyone had heard of them. He rejected Homeric, Jamesian, Proustian and Kafka-esque; they are obviously more literary criticism than common parlance.

I rejected Freudian on the grounds that it is not his writing that is acknowledged by the term, but his theories. Many people have only a loose understanding of what they are anyway, and simply think it means mentioning sex in an inadvertent manner. So these are the words on which we agree.

5 Common Adjectives Taken from the Names of Authors:
  1. Shakespearean – can mean almost anything from his language to his characters to the time in which he lived. If you are going to use this word to describe anyone’s writing, they had better be bloody brilliant.
  2. Orwellian – most usually associated with Big Brother, the thought police, doublespeak and the invasion of personal freedom by state intervention; it’s never a good thing.
  3. Dickensian – often linked with squalor and poverty, particularly of London, or jolly Christmases. Also relates to random well-drawn dramatic characters who linger on the periphery of the action.
  4. Wildean – witty and epigrammatic with acerbic undertones; dandyish for men; serious ‘with a past’ for women; and a suggestion of peacock feathers all round.
  5. Hardyesque – doom and gloom and pathetic fallacy, which is when nature, the weather and the seasons echo mood and foreshadow story. He is most famous for his tragedies in which people struggle against the great unfeeling world, and their minor faults are counted against them for the rest of their lives. NB – don’t ever sell your wife at the county fair.

No comments: