Wholesale Apocalypse: Brand Names in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake
Copyright (c) 2016 American Name Society
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Coinages pervade Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic novel Oryx and Crake (2003). Most of the neologisms in the novel denote corporations and their products and form part of a thoroughgoing critique of consumerism. The coinages are jarringly hyperbolic and their orthography often evokes contrary connotations. However, in the thematic context of the novel, coining practices follow certain patterns and function as effective, if ambiguous, satirical tools. On one level, the practice of branding is thoroughly satirized. On another, however, the neologisms point to both the limitations and possibilities of satire when dealing with the themes addressed in the novel: commoditization, environmental damage on a planetary scale, and a vision of the imminent end of humanity itself.
- Atwood, M. 1985. The Handmaid’s Tale. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.
- Atwood, M. 2003a. Oryx and Crake. London: Bloomsbury.
- Atwood, M. 2003b. Oryx and Crake. Read by Campbell Scott. New York, NY: Random House Audio.
- Atwood, M. 2009. The Year of the Flood. London: Bloomsbury.
- Atwood, M. 2013. MaddAddam. London: Bloomsbury.
- Cooke, G. 2006. “Technics and the Human at Zero-Hour: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.” Études en littérature Canadienne/Studies in Canadian Literature 31(2): 105–125.
- Danesi, M. 2011. “What’s in a Brand Name? A Note on the Onomastics of Brand Naming.” Names 59(3): 175–185.
- Eagleton, Terry. 2015. “Utopias, Past and Present: Why Thomas More Remains Astonishingly Radical.” The Guardian, October 16, <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/16/utopias-past-present-thomas-more-terry-eagleton> (Accessed October 21, 2015).
- Friedman, M. 1991. A “Brand” New Language: Commercial Influences in Literature and Culture. New York, NY: Greenwood Press.
- Givner, J. 1992. “Names, Faces and Signatures in Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye and The Handmaid’s Tale.” Canadian Literature 133: 56–75.
- Henthorne, T. 2005. “Naming Names: Identity and Identification in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.” Onoma 40: 105–113.
- Orwell, G. 2013 . Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Penguin.
- Palmer, C. 2014. “Ordinary Catastrophes: Paradoxes and Problems in Some Recent Post-Apocalyptic Fictions.” In Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction. Ed. Gerry Canavan and Kim Stanley Robinson, 158–175. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
- Room, Adrian. 1994. NTC’s Dictionary of Trade Name Origins. Rev. edn. Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Business Books.
- Sargent, L. T. 1994. “The Three Faces of Utopianism Revisited.” Utopian Studies 5(1): 1–37.
- Showalter, E. 2003. “The Snowman Cometh.” London Review of Books 25(14): 35.
- Sisk, D. W. 1997. Transformations of Language in Modern Dystopias. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Templin, Charlotte. 1993. “Names and Naming Tell an Archetypal Story in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.” Names 41(3): 143–157.
- United States Patent and Trademark Office. 2015. Trademark Electronic Search System, <http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4810:3nqitr.2.1> (Accessed October 31, 2015).