Readersforum's Blog

August 18, 2011

Tolstoy’s Mercury Crater: Six Strange Things Named After Writers

By Gabe Habash

Writers have long been honored by having boring things like schools named after them but, every now and then, something odd is named after a writer. Take, for example, the genus of butterflies bearing the moniker of avid lepidopterist/part-time writer Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov isn’t the only author who has inspired adoration from unexpected sources, either. So sit back and enjoy an Oh Henry! bar along with these bizarre things named after scribes:

1. The New Jersey Turnpike has rest areas named after Walt Whitman, James Fenimore Cooper and Joyce Kilmer. All three writers have strong connections to the Garden State, but last year there was talk of possibly selling the naming rights to the stops in order to help the state’s budget.

2. Stendhal, the French realist behind The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma, has a syndrome named after him. Stendhal Syndrome is an illness that’s caused when an individual is exposed to art, particularly if the art is overwhelmingly beautiful. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and hallucinations. The origin of the ailment’s name is linked to Stendhal’s experiences taking in Florentine art which, as cited by psychiatrist Graziella Magherini, quite commonly causes dizziness in tourists visiting the Italian city. Stendhal Syndrome can also be applied to a situation in which the individual is “confronted with the immense beauty of the natural world,” which is why things like this happen.

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