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

By Michael Ragussis

Michael Ragussis re-reads the novelistic culture through arguing the acts of naming--bestowing, revealing, or incomes a reputation; eliminating, hiding, or prohibiting a reputation; slandering, or maintaining and serving it--lie on the middle of fictional plots from the 18th century to the current. opposed to the historical past of philosophic techniques to naming, Acts of Naming finds the ways that platforms of naming are used to suitable characters in novels as diversified as Clarissa, Fanny Hill, Oliver Twist, Pierre, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Remembrance of items earlier, 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 through Cooper, Bront?, Hawthorne, Eliot, Twain, Conrad, and Faulkner, extending the idea that of the naming plot to reimagine the traditions of the unconventional, 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" strength of naming in numerous eras and in numerous, even competing, sorts of discourse.

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Typically, his questions teeter on the brink of prejudice, when they pull back for the sake (or the show) of scientific objectivity. "Is not, may not, her virtue be founded rather in pride than in principle? Whose daughter is she? 35). In such an example, the genuine question is placed inside the purely rhetorical question. Lovelace looks like the scientist who sets up a series of experiments to prove what he thinks he already knows. " In asserting Clarissa as "daughter," Lovelace takes her to be what her family doubts, and converts the title so lofty in the father's eyes to the mark of her dishonor; namely, as a daughter she is the mere stuff of which humans (not to mention Harlowes) are made.

We have here a special kind of dialectical movement that typically informs the naming plots of fiction: if the family plot seems to exist as an intransigent and inescapable pattern (especially insofar as it is repeated in the love plot), Anna and Clarissa's relationship enters the text as a significant revision of such a plot. 335), and thereby gives us the plot that runs parallel to the family's and Lovelace's trials of Clarissa: Clarissa's selfexamination. The friend (as opposed to the family member and the lover) significantly places the trial within Clarissa, not entirely outside her, not directed by a master.

And is her virtue founded in pride! 38). In Lovelace's hands, investigation is a means to satire, objectivity a mask for desire. Lovelace intends to explode the community's valuation of Clarissa and to make her his own. He correctly judges that these two goals are in fact one. " The clearest sign of such power will come when Lovelace is revealed as the natural scientist whose entire investigation awaits one moment, when his own name is given to the newly discovered species. Even leaving Lovelace's peculiar prejudices aside, Clarissa calls into question the concept of classifying, especially as it is directed at human beings.

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