Download Acts of Naming: The Family Plot in Fiction by Michael Ragussis PDF

By Michael Ragussis

Michael Ragussis re-reads the novelistic culture by means of arguing the acts of naming--bestowing, revealing, or incomes a reputation; putting off, hiding, or prohibiting a reputation; slandering, or conserving and serving it--lie on the heart of fictional plots from the 18th century to the current. opposed to the heritage of philosophic ways to naming, Acts of Naming unearths the ways that platforms of naming are used to acceptable characters in novels as diversified as Clarissa, Fanny Hill, Oliver Twist, Pierre, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Remembrance of items prior, and Lolita, and identifies unnaming and renaming because the locus of strength within the family's plot to regulate the kid, and extra relatively, to rape the daughter. His research additionally treats extra works by way of Cooper, Bront?, Hawthorne, Eliot, Twain, Conrad, and Faulkner, extending the idea that of the naming plot to reimagine the traditions of the radical, evaluating American and British plots, male and female plots, inheritance and seduction plots, etc. Acts of Naming ends with a theoretical exploration of the "magical" energy of naming in numerous eras and in numerous, even competing, different types of discourse.

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In such a way the naming plot sometimes functions to subvert, or at least qualify, the text's more overt plot. We will see a similar case in The Scarlet Letter, when the naming plot reveals the cuckolded husband and the lover, ostensible antagonists, to be the same man, the man who wants Hester to keep his name secret. 267). 267). Lovelace consistently imagines for himself a series of conventional male roles, each of which allows him to rename Clarissa. Like the father whose paternal authority is represented by his power to name the child, Lovelace is also like the parson—in fact, like Parson Tringham, who initiates the plot of Tess by the act of naming: "No parson ever gave more real names, than I have given fictitious ones.

148). In Clarissa no name is secure. Clarissa shows us, first, the orphan with a family and, second, the nameless child about whose name there is, from the simplest point of view, no doubt. In other words, Clarissa puts the orphan inside the family, the nameless child inside the child whose name is incontestable. In this way the story of the nameless orphan becomes the seminal text of fiction, even in novels in which the child knows both her name and her parents. That the plot of Clarissa functions through a manipulation of names, a powerful and eventually tragic dissociation between name and person, is made especially clear in what is perhaps the most eccentric feature of the text's discourse, an unleashing of the name's conventional syntactical function so that it overloads and dominates the grammar and meaning of the text.

In fact, it is not too much to say that Anna as friend allows a complete superseding of the male, so that the male lover, for Clarissa and Anna, becomes a supernumerary. 55), Anna and Clarissa's reaction is to bypass the male, to love without him. 427). Such pronominal transpositions displace the male from the center of language; in the context of the plot of Clarissa, they unname him. Lovelace is the particular man who suffers an unnaming that, from several angles, points to his unmanning. 526) him, and has sought to keep the gender equations fixed and clear: the failure of the love plot would mean "she would be more than woman, .

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