Encoding the Circumambient Psychological Moment: Clause Relations, Parallel Structures and Alliteration in Henry James’ “The Ambassadors”

William Collins


Henry James’ “The Ambassadors” might be termed an Impressionist Suspense Novel in that the action of the novel centers on the shifting impressions and groping for hidden meaning in the mind of its main character, Lambert Strether. The subtle changes in Strether’s struggle for understanding are registered in a series of intense encounters with Chadwick Newsome, and his lover, Madame Marie de Vionnet and are communicated to the reader in the complex syntax of James’ prose. This article will examine James’ use of four linguistic devices to render character portraits and signal shifting impressions: clause relations, parallel grammatical structures, lexical repetition and replacement, and serial alliterative modifiers.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/sll.v3n4p301


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