What’s in a name?

More than I knew, apparently. In the novel I’m currently working on, The Sleep of Reason, I have named my protagonist/narrator Charles Frere. It’s an old name in my father’s family, and it presented itself to me early in my imaginings of the story. I had no thought about it beyond my willingness to use it without hesitation.

The story involves a great deal of reference to 19th Century paintings. Art appreciation is at the core of this story. Thus I was greatly surprised when I heard the name “Charles Frere” used in reference to a 19th Century painter.

Not only was there a painter named Charles Frere, but apparently there were two of them. I know nothing about the biographies of either man, so I’m reluctant now to use the name given that art appreciation and painting are so critical to the story. I’d would hate to find out that one of these men had some serious or tragic history that didn’t fit with my story. I fear an informed reader would assume I had chosen the name because of some importance in the life of one of the actual painters who held the name.

I’m not really tied to the name. As I said, it’s an old family name, but there are others. It has given me pause, however, to consider finding some historical name that has a history that might be compatible with my plot and my character’s fate. I’ll have to think about that.

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