Saturday, September 20, 2008

Camp Concentration 007- Some words on Dr. Busk

(Turkish edition)

Are characters’ names hidden messages? Do they hide encrypted meanings? Are they always symbolic, allegorical, referential? Is a name (any fictional name) a riddle which leads to a single, hidden answer?

When we choose a name for a character in a book, we choose two words that cross each other (so to speak) like the latitude and the longitude axis. The character is the intersection point. This may be a conscious or unconscious process.

Take, for example, “Dr. A. Busk”, the Susancalvinesque scientist who runs the show at Camp Archimedes. “Busk” means “a stiffening device: a strip of wood, steel, or whalebone used to stiffen the front of a corset”. Do I see a dry, stiff, haughty Victorian spinster behind this name?

She looks (to Louis Sacchetti) forty or forty-five years old, but later the General tells him that she’s thirty-seven. (Which reminds me of Maggie’s Mother, in Bob Dylan’s song “Maggie’s Farm”:

Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law.
Everybody says
She's the brains behind pa.
She's sixty-eight, but she says she's fifty-four.
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.

Louis Sacchetti asks the doctor what the “A” means, and she says: “Aimée”. Why does she hide her first name? Because “aimée” in French is the feminine form of “the loved one”, but she (according to H. H., the General) “still keeps her cherry”, and therefore is not worthy of her own name. A name which Sacchetti echoes, in Italian, when he exclaims: “Ahimé!” (“Alas!”).

QUOTE: (Dr. Aimée Busk to Sacchetti): “You are a prisoner, and I am... what? I am the prison”. (CC, p. 31, June 6 entry)

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