By Michael Ragussis
Michael Ragussis re-reads the novelistic culture through arguing the acts of naming--bestowing, revealing, or incomes a reputation; casting off, hiding, or prohibiting a reputation; slandering, or retaining and serving it--lie on the middle of fictional plots from the 18th century to the current. opposed to the heritage of philosophic ways to naming, Acts of Naming finds the ways that platforms of naming are used to acceptable characters in novels as different 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" strength of naming in several eras and in several, even competing, sorts of discourse.
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Additional resources for Acts of Naming: The Family Plot in Fiction
The epistolary form of the novel helps to undermine the idea of the simple and autonomous self, an idea by which Clarissa typically represents herself. Whether we choose to focus on Anna Howe or Lovelace as the reader of her texts, Clarissa Harlowe always has an interpreter. The single letter, given under hand and seal with concluding signature, is a naive representation of the self self-enveloped—an unassailable summation, in monologue form, of one's being. Clarissa dramatizes the way in which the letter enters the world to be opened up to the reader's interpretation.
Brownlow takes as his son the child in whose face he can trace the features of his dead beloved (the girl who died on their wedding day, and who, incidentally, turns out to be Oliver's aunt), and the child in whose face as well "he traced . . new traits of his early friend" (368). While Brownlow adopts the child who perfectly reproduces the familial features, he spurns the child Monks in whom those features are defaced: "you, who from your cradle were gall and 42 The Naming Plots of Fiction bitterness to your own father's heart, and in whom all evil passions, vice, and profligacy, festered, till they found a vent in a hideous disease which has made your face an index even to your mind" (336).
268). 283). What Anna ultimately does is to propose "friend" as a significant alternative to the division between kindred and enemy, and even to the terminology of the lover. The friend is especially well suited to take the place of both kindred and lover because the term has both meanings well into the eighteenth century, and Anna is covertly suggesting herself as a successful substitute for both the family member and the lover. The friend in Clarissa consistently defines her own status by instructing Clarissa to question the terminology of kindred: "He [James] is not my brother.