The Inoperable Community: community, at least for Louis Lambert Strether, the “ambassador” who becomes a “conspirator” plotting against Mrs. Newsom and betraying his mission, eventually defines itself through a relationship with death. Another important aspect is gift-giving that prevails in the circle of conspirators juxtaposed to contract that dominates in Woollett, Massachusetts where the “ambassador” comes from and where he returns. Finally, conspiracy that ties the “members” of the community primarily at the level of language becomes the means of suspending the inevitable and death-like end of the union. The paper concludes that Jamesian experiments with language in his late novels as well as his technique of suspending the climax may be seen as an attempt to model a community of readers – a circle of conspirators rather than a coterie of adepts.
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