Saturday, March 29, 2008

Aptronym Destiny

An aptronym refers to someone's name that is reflective of their occupation. Some notable examples include Judge Learned Hand, Astronaut Sally Ride, Poet William Wordsworth, and Presidential Press Secretaries Larry Speakes (Reagan) and Tony Snow (Dubya). It is with bookseller's remorse that I let go of my favorite aptronymical book: Russell Brain's Some Reflections on Genius and Other Essays (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1960). Here's my description of this classic title in remembrance:

"There was nothing else for it; poor little Russell Brain was fated by the Aptronym Gods to become a neurologist and to author this preordained book. A collection of essays about the relationship between genius and madness, the genetics of genius, and discussions of some superintelligent folk such as Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift, Charles (smart as the) Dickens, Lord Monboddo and Christopher Smart (naturally)."

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