Posted by: martinworster | March 12, 2007

43. ITS ALL IN A NAME

Tristan and Isolde, Tristan De Cunha, Tristram Shandy, Tristan from Legends of the Fall and Tristan Harry Worster

Click to enlarge!Coming up with a name wasn’t easy. First of all we didn’t know what sex ‘it’ was going to be. If it was a girl we were pretty set on the name Isabella. But for a boy we hadn’t really decided. We were also put under some pressure at the hospital by the Baby Name Police aka the lady who collects data for Birth Certificates. US law says that this information must be completed two days after the birth. Basically we had to come up with a name and the clock was ticking. It wasn’t like you could get to know your child and see what he’s like. Maybe you wanted to call him Bryan and he was actually a Norman. My niece was at first called Tilly and then my sister realised she was more of a Lucy. Oh, no, over here there’s no chance to see your baby grown into a name.

Tristan had come to me out of the blue one day whilst driving on the freeway. I’m not quite sure why. I had known one Tristan at my first school but he was in no way a best friend who I was still in contact with, that was over 25 years ago. I just like the name.

Then I looked in ‘The Perfect Name’ baby book we had;

“Tristan; Celtic: Full of sorrows; a variant of Tristram. In Arthurian Legend, Tristan was a knight of the Round Table and tragic hero of the medieval tale Tristan and Isolde”

I liked the background to it. It wasn’t too common. I had Irish heritage so I can wildly claim a nano-drop of Celtic blood in my system. AS would be expected over here, people referred it back to a movie as it was Brad Pitts brothers characters name in Legends of the Fall. I looked further into it. Tristan De Cunha is a small British Island in the middle of the Atlantic, almost equidistant between Cape Town and Montevideo. No baby boy is an island I thought. Then, continuing the ‘I live near Hollywood so movies exert a big influence in my life’ theme, Tristan and Isolde had just come out in the cinemas (I haven’t seen it yet, I’m waiting for the DVD). Tristan and Isolde is a story of doomed love that eclipses even Romeo and Juliet in its drama and scope. Wagner made an opera in the same name. Continuing the movie theme even further, ‘Tristram Shandy’ has also just come out staring Steve Coogan in the title role. Unless you studied English at University it’s unlikely you would have read the book. It’s often touted as the first English Novel written by Laurence Sterne back in 1760 (Tristram is the old spelling of Tristan). It’s one of my favourite books, a bawdy picaresque romp, an ahead of its time piece of metafiction and a very influential piece of writing.

So what was a name I liked after the event became to make even more sense. In short, Tristan is a legend. At first I was unsure. I felt that I had jumped on this name too quickly under duress from the Birth Certificate lady. But it grew on me and Tristan gradually and surely became Tristan.

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