Strategic Nonnarration in Henry James

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2006-11-13

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This dissertation coins strategic nonnarration as the literary device of withholding significant characters and events from a work's entire narrated text and, through repeated textual acknowledgement, calling attention to that withheld material. The aim of this study is to show how the withholding of direct presentation operates as a narrative strategy to foster interpretive freedom and to prompt the reader to assimilate the events that are not directly presented. There are several strategies by which the text prompts the incorporation of withheld material, including foregrounded reference, metonymy, vicariousness, mimesis, silence, temporal simulation, and doubling of character and reader. The following chapters explore Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady, The Wings of the Dove, The Princess Casamassima, The Lesson of the Master, and The Ambassadors as well as James's criticism and several brief non-James examples in order to assemble diverse cases of strategic nonnarration and to illustrate its didactic and representational functions. Reader response criticism and narrative theory provide both context and contrast for the narrative gaps in presentation this study explores and the potential assimilation of that withheld material.

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