Tag Archives: War and Peace

Timeless Characters And Their Names In Books

I was wondering why some characters and their names in the books become so famous and why some of them are completely forgotten even though the book itself may be quite famous. In some cases the title of the book itself makes the name of the character very famous like Harry Potter or Eragon but in other cases it is the strength of the character that makes it famous like Howard Roark in Fountainhead. But there are other books where you will find it very difficult to remember the name of the character. As an example, I do not remember the name of main character in Five Point Someone or Love Story. I guess it has also to do with the narrative style of the story as well. If the story is written in first person the name is used less often making it less memorable.

Is it necessary for the name of the character to reflect the nature? I guess not. I wonder how J. K. Rowling decided on Harry or Hermione or Ron. She has given lot of thought while deciding names of spells but she seemed to have picked up really common names for her main characters. Even the Bella of Twilight is a very common name. On the other hand, some books come up with very uncommon names like Eragon. Something that you have never heard of. If the name is so common, do we still start relating that name with the type of character if that character becomes famous. Will we think of very intelligent and sharp girl if we meet some real life Hermione?

There is another aspect of naming that I have found very amusing. When books are translated from other languages to English, the native names are still taken in and then it becomes difficult to remember those names like it happened with me while reading War and Peace. I guess many non-Indians will find difficult to remember names if they were to read Mahabharata in English.

I guess the naming of characters is a complicated process in the minds of author and mostly they also do not realize how it can turn around depending upon the success of that book.

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Timeless Classic “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy

This is one of the longest single book I have ever read with a huge part of history, Russian culture and really vast stage of events. No comparison with Mahabharata of course, but that story some other time. I did not read this book for a long time after purchasing it and the reason was very interesting. Each time I started reading it, I was getting confused with long and difficult Russian names of the characters within first few pages and I had to keep on going back and checking which person is doing what. This happened multiple times and I did not go beyond first few pages for many years.

Finally, I decided to not worry about names and just read assuming that I will figure them out eventually. Once I was past that initial inhibition, I was hooked to the book. It is truly a masterpiece by a great story-teller. The book is a story of Russian aristocratic family in the time of Tsar and Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. The story revolves around the central character of “Natasha” (Countess Natalia Ilyinichna Rostova) superbly performed by Audrey Hepburn in the movie adaptation. I have mentioned the full name to indicate why it was difficult for me to understand names.

This was also the book where I first read in detail about Napoleon and his strategy on war. It is brilliantly portrayed in the book. The book is a sort of fictional history with very accurate historical events but at the same time the story is centered around some fictional characters. The events leading to the war, resilience of Russian people, the way they fight back makes this book a true epic. On one hand there is historical war and on the other hand there are simple dreams and aspirations of young people and how these two mix up with each other as the story moves forward is truly exceptional.

Sometime back I also saw the movie adaptation and liked it though not sure whether it was only because of Audrey Hepburn or the movie itself was good.

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