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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33935

Title: Naming and Identity in Henry James's "The Ambassadors"
Authors: Bennett, Victoria
Advisor: Henderson, Greig
Department: English
Keywords: Henry James
metaphorical studies
international relations
identity studies
Issue Date: 10-Dec-2012
Abstract: In Henry James’s novel "The Ambassadors," James uses axiological language in tropes and in substantives, periphrastically replacing proper names. He also includes valuations in miscellaneous data contained in such differences as the one he makes in "The Ambassadors" between "Europe" (place) and "'Europe'" (concept). As well, James puts adjectival assessments of people and situations in the midst of these constructions and in the mouths of his characters, assessments which vary from those which contradict the value systems posited in the novel by various characters, through those which seem quizzical or ambiguous, to those whose meaning seems obvious under the circumstances. The argument of this critical work is that these attempts at naming tie in fundamentally with the ways in which James means for readers to interpret the identities of the characters and the events and are not merely ornamental. Even when James says that a character "didn’t know what to call" someone or something or when "identity" or a verbal equation for identity occurs in an odd context, James answers his own implied rhetorical question; he is not as problematic to read as is sometimes suggested. Our own valuations are encouraged to be close to the experience of Lambert Strether. Leading the reader through the maze of Strether’s experience, James gives many clear signals from the simplest elements of his complicated language even into the fabrication of his complex metaphors that he, though an explorer of the moral universe, is no relativistic iconoclast. In the examination of these issues, a choice has been made to draw eclectically upon various sources and techniques, from traditional "humanistic" modes of interpretation, rhetorical studies, structuralist and deconstructionist remarks, to existentialism, narratology, and identity studies. This choice is the result of an intention to access as many different "voices" as possible, in the attempt to be comprehensive about the voices of James and "The Ambassadors."
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33935
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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