Names are important. Daphne Du Maurier knew that. Names are identifiers. Signifiers. Indicators. Of something more. Names say something about you before anyone has even seen you. Names make you attached. Even if you aren’t so attached to your own name. You connect. Like a dog collar and leash. Dog tags. Names are important. Holly Golightly knew that when she refused to give her cat a name. When she let the cat out in the rain. Like Hemingway. John Proctor wouldn’t sign his name but Arthur Miller signed his on a marriage licence. Marilyn Monroe. Not her real name. First born children are supposed to like their names more than others do. I have grown into my name. It sounds English. It sounds Victorian. I should have been Jane Austen’s sister. Although I would have enjoyed being a Brontë more. If I were American I would be a Dickinson. Names decide your personality. All Brittanys are dumb. All Jameses are arrogant. All Isabelles are difficult. All Hughs are cute. Claire is not a fat girl’s name. Despite what The Breakfast Club tells you. There are many derivatives of my name. But not as many as Avdotya in Crime and Punishment. I used to hate my name but now I tolerate it. I like it more when he calls me Bobbin. His human bobbin. I have a collection of wooden bobbins from Lowell and a blue dress from Giovanni’s. I belong in Massachusetts twirling myself in his sheets. Rotation. Revolution. Spinning ginny. Ginnie to his Riddell.
Cassandra Atherton is a Professor in Literary Studies and Creative Writing in Australia. She has published literary criticism, Flashing Eyes and Floating Hair (2007); poetry, After Lolita (2010); and a novel, The Man Jar (2010). Her book of interviews with American public intellectuals is forthcoming from ASP.