[LMB] Penric reread, the very beginning / Desdemona

Jason Long sturmvogel66 at gmail.com
Wed Jun 26 23:40:18 BST 2019


While I certainly can't speak to what Lois knows about the deep meaning
behind the name, I do remember her asking us for suggestions for a
different name as she was concerned about the Shakespearian echoes of the
name. At this removed, I can't remember what parameters Lois put on the new
name, but it wasn't unlimited.

On Wed, Jun 26, 2019 at 4:16 PM John Lennard <john.c.lennard at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Questions are asked about why we ask questions of Desdemona. So ...
>
> Of late I have been wondering how much Lois did or didn't know about the
> name made famous by Shakespeare, besides it containing the pleasing pun on
> -demon-.
>
> Shax got it from Cinthio, where it is translated as "ill-fated", but it is
> in fact a smoothed transliteration of Sophoclean Greek, from his *Elektra*.
>
> A less smoothed transliteration would be -disdaimoni-, where (as the Stoic
> -eudaimoni- would suggest, as readers of Ada Palmer's *Ex Urbe* will know)
> the -dis- is the prefix that = bad/ill, and -daimoni- is a word to chew on.
> -Daimon- (whence daemon, demon) can simply mean 'a god' : in classical Gk
> one often does not name a god, but rather employs an epithet, as 'the mouse
> god' for Apollo &c. ; -daimon- is an all-purpose placeholder = "the god in
> question". BUT when Sophocles speaks of -disdaimoni-, he means the ill
> destiny / fate / nature of the Atreides, the whole cycle of events that
> runs from Pelops > Atreus & Thyestes > Agamenon & Iphigeneia > Agamemnon &
> Clytemnestra / Aegisthus (surviving son of Thyestes) > Orestes &
> Clytemnestra / Aegisthus, and so collectively leaves Elektra facing the set
> of circumstances she faces.
>
> That is, (dis)daimoni is a *cumulative*, unfolding, iterative, fractal
> (self-similar) set of successive inscriptions of (ill) destiny / fate /
> wyrd / family inheritance ; a matter of cursed inheritances, or
> circumscribed enablements, or powerful distinctions one could very well do
> without.
>
> Any of that sound familiar? And though the etymology of Desdemona is
> editorially and critically remarked less often than it might be, it is a
> datum that is out there ; while Lois almost always knows more than she lets
> on ...
>
> Just sayin' ...
>
> --
> John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)
>
> Associate Member & Director of Studies in English, Hughes Hall, Cambridge
> General editor, Humanities-E-Books Genre Fiction Sightlines and Monographs
> www.humanities-ebooks.co.uk
>
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>
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>
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> --
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