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A reading of Henry James' 1902 novel The Wings of theDove is particularly fitting for this issue ofSchuylkill for several reasons. This late novel is rife withrepresentations of multiple, often overlapping subject positionsthat the close reader is forced to reckon with. These subjectpositions include, but are not limited to, James as authorand as a self-referring subject of the novel's "Preface,"who perceives and performs outside of the designation of "author."The reader must also consider James' unreliable narrator as asubject who functions as both detached observer and protagonist,and whose equivocal rendering of events includes labyrinthineaccounts of the contents of other character’s consciousness. Andfinally, we the reader, are rendered subject to our own ambivalentinterpretation of events. James complex representation of so manysubject positions has, not surprisingly, earned his late work thereputation of being "difficult." However the student of humansubject formation enjoys a uniquely Jamesian-inspired "jouissance"if he or she is persistent and enjoys a good slow read.
In the history of written literature, it is difficult not to notice the authors who expand their reader's style and manner of reading. Some write in an unusual syntax which forces the reader to utilize new methods of looking at a language; others employ lengthy allusions which oblige the reader to study the same works the author drew from in order to more fully comprehend the text. Some authors use ingenious and complicated plots which warrant several readings to be understood. But few authors have used all these and still more devices to demand more of the reader. James Joyce, writer of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, uses extraordinarily inventive and intricate plot construction, creative and often thought-provoking word constructions, allusions to works both celebrated and recondite, and complex issues and theories when challenging his readers to expand their method of reading.
The narrators of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Wakefield” and “The Birthmark” contiguous with Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” demonstrate the readers’ preconception on point of view: how this impression frequently becomes a central influence on the storytelling process, and ultimately the reliability and consistency of the narrator. Evidently, as each fable-like story progresses, the protagonists develop their role as a product of the setting, each using a particular and distinctive approach. Moreover, readers have the opportunities to ascertain unique details in each account that divulge the qualities or traits of the main character. Most glaringly though, readers are continuously influenced by the speaker’s point of view, predominantly