“A conspiracy of silence”: The Unsaid and the Unsayable in Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove
This paper endeavours to explore and question Todorov's pertinent verdict that in The Wings of the Dove the secret is essential just as the essential is secret. What is purpose of the nove!' s several apophatic devices? How are these devices related to or illustrated by James's narrative strategies, his aesthetic programme and his metatextual devices? Such are the questions that are tackled in this essay which starts by arguing that the foregrounding of the unsaid represents first and foremost a means to refute realist causality and to signal modemism' s scepticism about the concept of truth. Naturally, such a strategy of withholding information and eluding revelations has also aesthetic consequences and the nove!' s poetics of reticence, its grammar of eloquent unspeech, establish the next stage of our reflexion. In the proliferation of metaphors of very unlike natures can be detected another paradigmatic project aimed at circumventing fixed meaning and multiplying hermeneutic possibilities. Semantic confusion is also and mainly generated by the various oxymorons which foreground the unrepresentable and which constitute the most visible aspect of an avantgarde demonstration of (post-)structuralist indeterminacy and unspeakability.
Published : 2020
Christian Gutleben, « “A conspiracy of silence”: The Unsaid and the Unsayable in Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove », Cycnos, 2020. URL : https://hal.science/hal-04146719