Similar-Sounding Names: A Conundrum

March 11, 2019 | 2 books mentioned

In Hilary Mantel‘s award winning Tudor trilogy, she has a grand total of five characters named Thomas, three Catherines, three Marys, and two Annes. How does Mantel juggle the task of writing these characters without confusing the reader? For The Atlantic, Nina Martyris examines books that are rife with characters with similar-sounding names, including One Hundred Years of Solitude and Anna Karenina. “The overlapping of names is an all-too-common occurrence in life,” writes Martryis. “True, it can cause confusion (especially for the accounts department), but if fiction’s grand purpose is the mimesis of la condition humaine, shouldn’t writers be nudged to accommodate this inconvenient reality, rather than dodge it for fear of taxing the reader?”

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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