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Abstract

Ezra Pound defined literature as "news that stays news," and this study of names in a work of fiction that, though minor in its author's oeuvre, is important in modern literature deals with news reporting in mass-communication newspapers, the area of what John Carey has called "the greatest change in human consciousness that has taken place in recorded history."1 The novel is Scoop. It offers especially rich material for the student of how satirical names function in literature to score intellectual points, to set a tone, to banter and to be profound, to assist the writer with his classical aim of "teaching delightfully" and his personal aim of "tearing a strip" off his selected targets.

Scoop is an hilarious novel set against the real-life background of a rather farcical clash in far-off Ethiopia of the great political forces of Fascism and Communism that were very soon to engulf the world in war. 2 Scoop transmuted the base metal of fact, by a catalyst of bias, into the gold of literature. And the essentials are so finely perceived that as I write, at the end of the summer of 1987, the satire still is relevant; for Ethiopia, now on the verge of setting up a shengo (one-party parliament) of a People's Democratic Republic to end the rule of a military dictatorship that followed the collapse of "The Power of The Trinity," Haile Selassie, is still strife-torn, its Colonel Mengistu still a figure of farce, and the rebellions in Tigre and Eritrea, involving comic-opera People's Liberation Armies and confused government troops as well as the border skirmishes (with Somalia, etc.), still both bloody and bloody silly. The names change, but the foolishness they mock remains in the news.

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