Le naufrage et la survie dans The Wings of the Dove de Henry James

Guillaume Tanguy

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Abstract :
International audience
In Henry James's The Wings of the Dave the reader is struck by the centrality of nautical metaphors. Milly Theale is compared to a « great steamer » and describes herself as « the survivor of a general wreck » .The nove)' s survivors, however, tum out to be Merlon Densher and Susie Stringham who are envisioned as seeking refuge on a « small emergent rock » amidst « a waste of waters ». As for Kate Croy, she conjures up the image of a « clear cold wave » threatening to submerge the American heiress. The recurrence of these images should not obscure the economic theme which several cri tics have detected: Kate' s plot is motivated by the hope that « Milly's death can be made profitable» (Rivkin), and much of James's writing as a whole exposes « the alienating influence of American mercantile culture » (Meissner). The aim of this article is to analyse the interaction between nautical imagery and the critique of modern materialism. The Lorelei and the shipwreck serve as unstable tropes which refer both to the possible threat posed by Milly, and above ail the risks -such as moral corruption and libidinal displacement - incurred by other protagonists if they surrender to the « force of suction » of material wealth. The recurrent use of chiasmus, play on words, syllepsis and object-subject slippage creates an ambiguous text in which reversibility prevails.
Published : 2020
Document Type : Journal articles

Citation

Guillaume Tanguy, « Le naufrage et la survie dans The Wings of the Dove de Henry James », Cycnos, 2020. URL : https://hal.science/hal-04146691