[DWJ] Re: TdVC

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at eon-uk.com
Wed Jun 14 11:49:43 EDT 2006


Sorry for reviving an old thread, but it's taken me this long to catch
up with the list.  (Most lists I unsubscribe when they sustain 100
postings a day for any great length of time, but not this one...)

>>>I think 'da Vinci' is widely recognized as the last name of a famous
>>>painter, whether correctly or not.
> 
> It dates fromt hat period when surnames were coming in, doesn't it?
> There were odd things happening then. Fr-ex... a couple would carry
> new baby to be registered.

Well, "of" in surnames is a strange phenomenon anyway, isn't it.  At
Leonardo's time, in most of Europe a surname was more of a description
than a formal name.  Some families had hereditary surnames; others
didn't.  "Of" could easily creep in as part of a description.

Later, however, some European countries made "of" a formal appendage to
a hereditary surname, which anyone of the (feudal) rank of Gentleman or
above was entitled to use.  So we have (keeping the theme literary)
forms like "von Goethe" or "de Lint".  Whether the "of" is considered
part of the surname is more of a cultural thing - it is hereditary with
the name in (I think) all cases; we always talk about "Goethe" rather
than "von Goethe", but "de Lint" rather than "Lint" (and wonder whether
to look for his books under D or L, in shops that bother to install an
alphabet on their fantasy shelves).

Since the word for "of" is generally used in Latin languages, and
usually only dropped in German, I think it is reasonable to consider "da
Vinci" to be Leon Hardy's surname, and acknowledge that it is a surname
of the descriptive sort, should we need to.  We would probably find all
this easier to cope with if we had an equivalent "of" convention in
English...

That said, I've never read The Da Vinci Code.  I have read Angels and
Demons, and (while I agree with the examples of awful writing cited on
the list) I found that bad writing was almost the only thing I _didn't_
notice as being wrong with it.  The plot was far-fetched; the
science-fiction elements were poorly researched, and didn't fit with the
story; the characters' motives were distorted by what I took to be Dan
Brown's own views; the Church bits were poorly researched; there was an
atmosphere of "this is for Americans who can't be expected to know about
Europe"; and the notion that the ambigrams were impossible to construct
was given the lie by their inclusion in the book.  Need I go on?

I got a laugh at the London meet when I described part of Christopher
Paolini's "Eragon" series as "almost as far-fetched as Dan Brown".
Anyone else following that series?  Will he grow up into a real writer
or a generic post-Tolkien fantasy regurgitator, do you think?

Philip.
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