M2: Unit 2: Chapter 6 – Q6.1 Answer

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The name Drystubble (‘dry stubble’) as it appeared in both Nahuijs and Siebenhaar could be read as an English name. Readers might not pay any particular attention to it, or they might wonder how a Dutch trader with Batavus as his first name acquired such an English-looking surname. Some readers might interpret the name as symbolic of the man’s character in the way Dickens devises names of this type: Drystubble is very much a ‘dry stubble’, an unimaginative, dull person.

Edwards opts for Droogstoppel, which does not look English at all. It may well be the name as it occurs in the original (indeed it is). It also stresses the man’ s Dutchness. The fact that you are reading a narrative set in Amsterdam and a book originally written in Dutch will be highlighted in other parts of the passage as well.

As for Scarfman: this is the name given to him by Drystubble/Droogstoppel becaue of what the figure is wearing, so it is not a proper name in the proper sense of the word. Edwards’s version contains a translator’s footnote earlier in the book in which he explains that, as he sees it, the man must be wearing what should be called a ‘scarf’ in English, not a ‘shawl.’ Note that a footnote like this conveys a concern for linguistic and historical accuracy, and is openly critical of earlier translations.

Droogstoppel now gives ’37 Lauriergracht’ as his firm’s address. The name is again resolutely un-Englishand may be presumed to be Dutch, but the order of the elements making up the address – number first, followed by street – conforms to Anglo-Saxon practice.

The use of Dutch names suggests a desire to stress the Dutchness of the setting and narrative. In this respect ‘Scarfman’ looks incongruous because it is transparent to an English reader, however it is first introduced into the novel as a descriptive designation rather than a real proper name.