Lydia’s busybody social worker, Sofie Duluti, is a minor character with probably the most complex name in the novel. It is first an anagram. I won’t spoil it by openly giving you the solution up front, but I've hidden it right at the bottom of this blog page should you want to check if your solution is right.
It is second a marriage of two disparate concepts, which delivers a whole sense that supports the anagram and what the social worker represents. This happened to be largely serendipitous, because the anagram came first and I then went looking to see what the components might accidentally mean, to make sure there wasn't any conflict with the intended meaning. That serendipity was itself accompanied by some uncanny synchronicity, which I will get to a bit later.
I vaguely knew that ‘Sofie’ was a form of 'Sophia' (in Germany, Denmark, and Holland), which comes from the Ancient Greek word 'Σοφια', meaning ‘wisdom’. That’s straightforward enough. The second name, Duluti, is a bit more interesting.
I searched and found that there is a Lake Duluti in Tanzania, but I couldn’t find any hint of what the name might mean. Beside that lake, there is an hotel called Lake Duluti Lodge. I took a punt and emailed the hotel asking if anyone knew what it meant. A nice lady called Judith answered with the following explanation: Duluti is a local myth. According to the people indigenous to that area, Duluti was a girl from the Meru tribe, who many years ago, was taken by a flood from the slopes of Mount Meru and her body was found floating in the crater lake. Since then, the lake was named Duluti, as well as the area around it.
The whole name breaks from a convention of consistency in that we have Ancient Greek combining with a Tanzanian dialect and a little northern European thrown in for good measure. Naughty me. Never mind. I excuse myself by pointing at the anagram and saying the rest is just happy accident and that Sofie just so happens to have a Tanzanian father and a German mother. Anyway, the combination could now be said to mean: wisdom washed from the heights and dead in the water, which is perfectly consonant with the anagram. I like that. For me, at least, it brings a harmony, a resonance.
Now for the added synchronicity. I don't know about you, but I can go years without seeing, hearing, or uttering the word 'Tanzania'. My partner, Su, had never heard of Tanzania, but on the very day I received the email from Judith explaining the Duluti myth, Su came home from a French class and told me the French-born tutor was leaving London to set up a farm in Tanzania.
Your clue to solve the anagram of Sofie Duluti is: wisdom washed from the heights and dead in the water. If you still don't get it, scroll down to the bottom of this blog page and the answer is there...
Sofie Duluti is an anagram of 'useful idiot'.