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 holding and serving it--lie on the middle of fictional plots from the 18th century to the current. opposed to the heritage of philosophic methods to naming, Acts of Naming unearths 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 energy within the family's plot to regulate 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 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 numerous, even competing, sorts of discourse.
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Extra info for Acts of Naming: The Family Plot in Fiction
The text of Clarissa is everywhere embedded with such definitions of love, friendship, virtue, and so on. But the disagreement over names takes on an even more troubling dimension. In the midst of the continuing debate over the meanings of particular names, the underthought of Clarissa asks if names have any value at all. Names are alternately—almost schizophrenically—valued and devalued, filled with significance and emptied of it. 146), as if the name were a transcendent signifier next to which all things fall short.
222). James's retaliation against Clarissa's out-grandfathering him is to out-father Clarissa. Clarissa's tragic dilemma within this family arrangement can be stated simply: to be worthy of the name daughter means to be fundamentally 22 The Naming Plots of Fiction nameless, because it means changing her name at the will of the family. 211). The apparently capricious command means, of course, that Clarissa must marry Mr. 58) of the family. 352), the same transaction we will find at the heart of the naming plot in Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
But even here we find adumbrated what will become a subtle association between bearing a name and living and dying, with the name functioning as an extremely concentrated synecdoche for an entire life story. " This prepares us for a significant reversal, when it is made to look as if the author himself does not invent the name of the title character. Like most heroes in fiction, Oliver has an invented name, but Dickens makes Bumble, and not himself, responsible for this. " Bumble answers, "I inwented it"—"We name our foundlings in alphabetical order" (7).
Acts of Naming: The Family Plot in Fiction by Michael Ragussis