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American Modernism's Expatriate SceneThe Labour of Translation$
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Daniel Katz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748625260

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625260.001.0001

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The Mother's Tongue: Seduction, Authenticity, and Interference in The Ambassadors

The Mother's Tongue: Seduction, Authenticity, and Interference in The Ambassadors

Chapter:
(p.34) Chapter 2 The Mother's Tongue: Seduction, Authenticity, and Interference in The Ambassadors
Source:
American Modernism's Expatriate Scene
Author(s):

Daniel Katz

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625260.003.0002

This chapter explores two related, fundamental questions, as made evident in The Ambassadors: that of exoticism, or the elevation of a foreign ‘culture’ as such to the status of affective object; and that of multilingualism, translation and ‘interference’, in both specifically linguistic and more generally cultural terms, as the novel's explorations of cultural ‘authenticity’ as a fantasmatic object privilege in particular investments in the ‘native’ language as opposed to multilingualism. It also shows how Henry James re-examines Nathaniel Hawthorne's positing of the ‘mother tongue’. The Ambassadors rewrites many of Hawthorne's concerns regarding the maternal and the mother tongue, but within a space of generalised interference. The book, which plays at distributing three mothers and two sons among each other, places Marie in a double role, as she at once doubles and opposes both Mrs Newsome and Maria Gostrey.

Keywords:   Ambassadors, mother tongue, exoticism, authenticity, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, seduction

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