Vol. 59 No. 3 (2011)
Research Article

Onomaturgy vs. Onomastics: An Introduction to the Namecraft of Ursula K. Le Guin

Published 2011-09-01





Where literary onomastics focuses on names in the context of a narrative, literary onomaturgy focuses on ensembles of names that share common features in their construction, over and beyond the texts in which the individual names appear. This approach gives serious consideration to wordplay and free association that other critical perspectives would treat as irrelevant, yet maintains methodological rigor thanks to its model of name creation. It furthermore treats semantic content as an element of construction, on a par with sound and form, that can be displaced from one name to another. While many of these elements get woven into the narratives in which the names appear, others get left out of the texts, but reappear in the fabrication of other names. In Le Guin's namecraft these internominal relationships cut across different texts and imaginary worlds, are open to great variety, and possess aesthetic properties that make the ensembles worthy of study and admiration on their own merits.


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