By Michael Ragussis
Michael Ragussis re-reads the novelistic culture by way of arguing the acts of naming--bestowing, revealing, or incomes a reputation; removing, 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 ways to naming, Acts of Naming unearths the ways that platforms of naming are used to suitable characters in novels as various 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 energy within the family's plot to manage the kid, and extra really, 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, and so forth. Acts of Naming ends with a theoretical exploration of the "magical" energy of naming in numerous eras and in numerous, even competing, types of discourse.
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Additional resources for Acts of Naming: The Family Plot in Fiction
510). I take such a symbolic renaming as the signal by which the text reflects back upon the failures of what one might call the literal name, the name that seeks to fix identity. First, Clarissa shows how the philosophic desire to call everything by its correct name is exploited in the master language of the patriarchal family and of the lover, a language that deindividualizes and dehumanizes through a system of naming in which the person disappears under the cover of the name. Second, Clarissa shows how the proper name, with its view of the crystallized and static self, names less authentically than personal pronouns, with their shifting meanings and their ability to name between names, between selves.
He writes in Clarissa's stead, he mimics her hand, he invents her words for her, and he signs her name— what the family and he have sought all along. " He allows the name Clarissa Harlowe only when he himself subscribes it, when it is attached to his words, when it ceases to be her own. 400). The moment of power through a name disguise ironically becomes the moment of vulnerability and self-alienation. The symbolic annihilation of Clarissa Harlowe is at the same time a version of self-annihilation, a confusion of identities in which neither Clarissa nor Lovelace survives, a pyrrhic victory in which only the name of Clarissa survives.
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. The moral spirit of Puritan self-examination checks and redirects the empirical study of Clarissa that is performed by the philosopher-scientist. But such a trial does not take place solely within Clarissa.
Acts of Naming: The Family Plot in Fiction by Michael Ragussis