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Object LessonsThe Novel As a Theory of Reference$
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Jami Bartlett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226369655

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226369792.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 05 December 2019

Throwing Things in Thackeray

Throwing Things in Thackeray

Chapter:
(p.66) 2 Throwing Things in Thackeray
Source:
Object Lessons
Author(s):

Jami Bartlett

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226369792.003.0003

This chapter argues that Thackeray devises a physical approach to reference in the world of the realist novel, and develops a theory of demonstrative identification that is nothing less than a motor-intentional philosophy of language. His novel Barry Lyndon is obsessed with lost objects, and with what one has in the losing of them. This chapter also shows how Thackeray uses the act of throwing objects as a bidirectional referential strategy, a tracking behavior that gets rid of an object in order to take meaning away from it. Barry’s frame of reference is constituted by these thrown objects: as they fly into the world, their trajectories allow its possibilities and restrictions to emerge. Because there are no intentional terminations in this novel—throwing isn’t a throwing-away—Barry’s attempts to reference, pick out, and hold on to the objects that ambiguously signify his narrative desire create arcs of beginning and ending that generate narrative through their attention to the physical distance between objects, characters, and plots.

Keywords:   William Makepeace Thackeray, Barry Lyndon, throwing, throwing things, motor intentionality, narrative desire, demonstrative indentification, narrative arc, lost arc

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