This thread quickly wandered into a discussion of the wonderful 1952 film version of The Importance of Being Earnest directed by Anthony Asquith, with Michael Redgrave, Margaret Rutherford, Dorothy Tutin, Joan Greenwood, and of course Edith Evans as the definitive Lady Bracknell. In connection with that, I would like to bring to your attention the surprising etymology of the name Algernon, as presented by the Hanks/Hodges Dictionary of First Names:
English: of Norman French origin. In Norman French it was a byname meaning ‘moustached’ (from grenon, gernon moustache, of Germanic origin). The Normans were as a rule clean-shaven, and this formed a suitable distinguishing nickname when it was applied to William de Percy, a companion of William the Conqueror. In the 15th century it was revived, with a sense of family tradition, as a byname or second given name for his descendant Henry Percy (1478-1527), and thereafter regularly used in that family. It was subsequently adopted into other families connected by marriage with the Percys, and eventually became common property.
Completely unconnected, but I’ve been stewing over this for days and have to vent my wrath in public: Harold Bloom’s “review” of R. Crumb’s Genesis in the latest NYRB starts off by saying “I don’t like or care about Crumb” (maddeningly supercilious quote: “Staring at the women and men of Crumb’s Genesis, I dimly recall someone showing me an issue of Mad magazine”) and from then on talks about himself and Thomas Mann. I can’t fathom why the editors of the Review didn’t eat the money they’d paid him for his irrelevant maunderings and commission another review, this time from someone with at least a vague acquaintance with Crumb and his tradition. What they published is an insult to their readers and to one of the geniuses of late-20th-century comic art.