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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: December ::
Re: Literary Device
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 873. Wednesday, 1 December 1993.
 
(1)     From:   J. M. Richardson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Nov 1993 10:57:23EDT
        Subj:   Literary device
 
(2)     From:   James Schaefer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Nov 1993 12:10:24 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0867  Re: Literary Device
 
(3)     From:   James Schaefer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Nov 1993 21:49:10 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0867  Re: Literary Device
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. M. Richardson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Nov 1993 10:57:23EDT
Subject:        Literary device
 
One of my colleagues, a specialist in Renaissance rhetoric, has
suggested either "mimetic naming" or the neologism "psychonym."
 
J.M. Richardson, Department of English, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Ontario, P7B 5E1.  jrichard@cs_acad_lan.lakeheadu.ca
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Nov 1993 12:10:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0867  Re: Literary Device
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0867  Re: Literary Device
 
To Bill Godshalk:
 
This past summer, my wife participated in month-long NSF ecological
workshop.  Near the end, trading "when I was a grad student" stories
over beer, a fellow NSFer told how he was out doing field work with
his doctoral adviser when he came across a flowering plant he'd not
seen before.  When asked, his adviser identified it as a "pink
roadsidium."  Another plant evoked the name, "yellow roadsidium."  Being
particularly dense, as he admitted, it took a third species, a "blue
roadsidium," before he finally felt that tug on his lower extremity.
 
"Charactonym" sounds like it came from the same volume of Linnaeus.
 
Cheers,
Jim Schaefer
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Nov 1993 21:49:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0867  Re: Literary Device
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0867  Re: Literary Device
 
I was thinking about characters with names like Bottom and Mr. Tattle
and Mrs. Malaprop, and I kept seeing little Renaissance woodcuts with
flags coming out of characters mouths, and thinking it had something
to do with what those flags were called in allegories, when it hit me
that _allegory_ might be the key (not on the the banks of the Nile,
but Everyman, etc.).  Looking up _allegory_ in Babette Deutsch's
*Poetry Handbook:  A Dictionary of Terms* (3rd edition, 1969, Funk and
Wagnalls), I found (p. 86):
 
        The characters in an allegory are apt to be
        *personifications*, or abstract vices and virtues represented
        as persons.  This is also called *prosopopeia*.
 
Granted that fleshed out characters are not the same as one-dimensional
characters like Everyman, there is nevertheless a family resemblance
in being named for a characteristic trait, so perhaps this is the
answer.
 
The etymology of _prosopopeia_ is interesting:  _prosopon_,
mask, person (from _pros-_ + _ops_ face)  _poiein_ to make (as in
_poesis_), so "to make a person," ... or "make a face" in the modern
sense that comes close to the caricature these characters portray.
 
Dan Rowan was right: all you have to do is look it up in your Funk and
Wagnalls.
 
Jim Schaefer
 

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