Why did Rand pick the names she picked for her characters, particular the names Howard Roark and Hank Reardon? Is it just coincidence that two of her major heroes share the same initials? I vaguely recall that the first name of Rand's childhood sweetheart began with an H. Am I remembering correctly? If so, is there any connection there?
I'd be interested to read ideas on how she came up with these names or others.
One person has suggested that the character of John Galt got his last name from the Jewish word for gold. I don't know if that's true or not, but given that the currency in Galt's gulch is gold, it would make sense.
I am puzzled by your question as I am not aware of a "Jewish" language. Do you mean Hebrew? Do you mean Yiddish? Or do you mean some other language?
For what it might be worth, according to one English-Yiddish dictionary, the English translation of the Yiddish word for money is "gelt," which certainly is not Galt. I could not find an English translation of the Yiddish word for gold.
Possibly Rand liked the origin of the surname Galt: A bush of hair. Welsh, Gwallt. Source: An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import; Arthur, William, M.A.; New York, NY: Sheldon, Blake & CO., 1857.
Perhaps Rand wanted to honor another author, by the name of John Galt. This bit of information about a real John Galt turned up in a Google search:
John Galt (May 2, 1799 - April 11, 1839) was a Scottish novelist. He is best known for his novels on Scottish rural life, tinged with ironic humour, including The Ayrshire Legatees (1820), The Annals of the Parish (1821), The Provost (1822) and The Entail (1823). In 1826 he went to Canada as a secretary with the Canada Company, founding the town of Guelph there in 1827. He was a friend of Lord Byron, and published a biography of him in 1830. His autobiography appeared in 1833.
Well, I didn't actually ask a question, just tossed in a theory, which wasn't mine, but Jeff Walker's. Yes, I know Mr. Walker's credentials are dubious...and his theory was galt was gelt, or gold pronounced with a Yiddish infliction...yes, it's flimsy, but I still like the connotation, since gold is the standard in the Gulch. And please, no need to call me mister. :)
There is a Simpson's episode featuring an "undercover" army recruiter with the name of something like "LT Steele." The name almost sounds "tough," and the character himself does not disapiont: he is a masculine, huge, and...tough. In a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a main character is named "Estaban" because the sound of the name itself implies characteristics about his personallity.
I think Ayn Rand did something similar in her names for her characters. "John Galt" and "Howard Roark" and "Dagny Taggart" all sound a bit "rough" and a weird sense imply toughness, independence, and in a way, masculinity. And as implied by Sam Erica, names of many of her antagonists don't, such as Elsworth M. Toohey.
the English translation of the Yiddish word for money is "gelt," which certainly is not Galt.
Well, actually, it is very close. Philology teaches that vowels are shifty things, not as permanent as consonants. (There are rules for vowels. Rules for consonants are easier.) Galt, gilt, gold, geld, guild, the words are essentially the same. (In fact, speaking of consonants, "gold" and "yield" are the "same" word pronounced differently to allow for different shades of meaning. ) We might say that "galt" is the "second past tense" of "gold" -- or maybe Beowulf would recognize it that way -- help, helped, halp, y-holpen; gold, gilt, galt, y-golden.
(Speaking of Yiddish, here's a joke: What is the difference between a language and a dialect? Answer: Dialects don't have armies.)
(John Gault was granted a patent for the case that allowed postage stamps to circulate as money during the American War Between the States.)
"Dagny" was the actual first name of Dagny Juel Przybyszewska, mistress of Henryk Sienkiewicz. Dagny Juel translated Sienkiewicz's "Quo Vadis" into Swedish. When the novel became a best-seller in Sweden, it earned Sienkiewicz the Nobel Prize for literature; world-wide fame followed. Rand admired Sienkiewicz and learned a great deal from him. There are several additional references to Sienkiewicz in Atlas Shrugged, including plot elements from Quo Vadis and the characterization of the adolescent Francisco, based on Stasio in Through Desert and Jungle.
The reason for Rand's choice of the name "John Galt" was as follows, she said: She wanted a name that was not unusual, a name that could be used in a saying (Who is John Galt?) It had to be possible for the name to be part of a colloquialism.
To the best of my knowledge, Rand knew no Yiddish. Galt's name most definitely did not come from the word "gelt."
The reason for the names of her heroes and heroines was simple: Rand thought they were strong names. She especially liked the "k" sound.
For some reason, people keep looking for mysterious and symbolic causes for the names Rand chose. I suggest one apply Occam's Razor instead.
While I'm on the subject of names, let me say that the name "Branden" came from the telephone book Nathaniel and I looked through as a potential source of names we would like. We wanted to keep "B" as our last initial. End of mystery.
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