Classical (and biblical) gas: Walter Mosley's characters
|Walter Mosley in a photo|
I wish I'd taken.
He has created protagonists with names taken from biblical wisdom literature (Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins) and from the ur-figure of Greek philosophy (Socrates Fortlow), as a bonus giving the latter a surname related to a Latin root meaning "strong." I thus take it as doubly clever that when Mosley creates a hero short on book learning, he drops the classical and biblical allusions in the name and cuts straight to a quality like those that such names embody: Fearless Jones.
But the Fearless Jones books also include characters named Ulysses (known to all but his mother as "Useless") and Hector. And Fearless' brainy co-hero, who operates a used bookstore when he's not getting into deadly trouble, is Paris Minton. I suspect, given Minton's susceptibility to female beauty, that he just may be named for Paris, who eloped with Helen and started the Trojan War.
I take it is significant that all those character names go back before the New Testament to Greece, Rome, and the Hebrew Bible. Mosley, I think, is interested in the very roots of things. I find circumstantial support for this view in the novel Fear of the Dark when Minton notices a shelf of Greek philosophers and says: "I like some'a these guys ... But I prefer the older generation: Herodotus, Homer, and Sophocles."
© Peter Rozovsky 2016