La genealogía de los Earnshaw

Some Anglophone readers (and Russophone children) get understandably confused by Russian names in Crime and Punishment and War and Peace. Others are bewildered by the tightly circumscribed nameset of Wuthering Heights. Over to Kathryn Hughes, again:

…the screechy melodrama about two families living on the Yorkshire Moors who intermarry, squabble, die, buy land, lose land, beat each other up and have children to whom they give bafflingly identical names… Virginia Woolf who, along with Sylvia Plath, thought it a sacrilege to scribble in her books, broke her rule with Wuthering Heights, sketching out a family tree on a blank page, in a desperate attempt to sort out how all those multiple Catherines, Heathcliffs and Lintons fit together.

A desperate attempt! Are we supposed to understand that Virginia Woolf never quite figured out the plot of WH?

Speaking of this tortuous genealogy, which famous 20th century novel does it remind me of? Bafflingly identical names on a seven-generation family tree in a remote provincial town.

Cien años de soledad, of course, or One Hundred Years of Solitude.

One Guardian reader admits: “I tried to read Wuthering Heights once, and couldn’t get past the confusion of the names.” Another responds: “The ‘confusion of the names’ is one of the most glorious artistic devices of the novel.” Agreed – and the first to be confused, and drawn into the mess, is the narrator.

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