By Michael Ragussis
Michael Ragussis re-reads the novelistic culture through arguing the acts of naming--bestowing, revealing, or incomes a reputation; taking out, hiding, or prohibiting a reputation; slandering, or keeping and serving it--lie on the middle of fictional plots from the 18th century to the current. opposed to the historical past of philosophic ways to naming, Acts of Naming unearths the ways that structures of naming are used to suitable characters in novels as assorted 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 manage the kid, and extra quite, to rape the daughter. His research additionally treats extra works via 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 several eras and in numerous, even competing, types of discourse.
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Additional resources for Acts of Naming: The Family Plot in Fiction
On the brow of the bastard the mark may have both meanings, as it does in Pearl's case. These examples of the marked brow from Oliver Twist and The Scarlet Letter are a highly symbolic way of putting a commonplace—namely, that in Oliver's countenance, for example, we can discover the features of his mother. "7 The name written on the face, of course, represents what Humpty Dumpty argues (via Cratylus) in his philosophic debate with Alice: a name expresses the essential being of the thing named.
I have been viewing face and name as correlates: the unblemished face is the surest sign of the unstained name in this fable (not until Bleak House, with Esther's scarred but innocent face, does Dickens complicate this pattern). From this it follows that Brownlow adopts the child who preserves the name from infamy, and spurns the child who defames it and changes it. " asked the other, after contemplating, half in silence, and half in dogged wonder, the agitation of his companion. " "Nothing," replied Mr.
9) Oliver's first vocabulary lesson masters him by giving him a name for himself whose meaning he does not understand. —are the names by which the "gentleman" assigns the child's position. Moreover, Dickens shows us that the title "orphan" is part of a carefully articulated though esoteric system of classification whose boundaries are as rigid as they are fine: Noah was a charity-boy, but not a workhouse orphan. No chance-child was he, for he could trace his genealogy all the way back to his parents, who 38 The Naming Plots of Fiction lived hard by; his mother being a washerwoman, and his father a drunken soldier: discharged with a wooden leg, and a diurnal pension of twopencehalfpenny and an unstateable fraction.