Henry James pp 283-303 | Cite as

The First Paragraph of The Ambassadors: an explication (1960)

  • Ian Watt
Part of the Modern Judgements book series (MOJU)


When I was asked if I would do a piece of explication at this conference,★ I was deep in Henry James, and beginning The Ambassadors: so the passage chose itself; but just what was explication, and how did one do it to prose? I take it that whereas explanation, from explanare, suggests a mere making plain by spreading out, explication, from explcare, implies a progressive unfolding of a series of literary implications, and thus partakes of our modern preference for multiplicity in method and meaning: explanation assumes an ultimate simplicity, explication assumes complexity.


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  1. 12.
    See George Gnox, ‘James’s Rhetoric of Quotes’, in College English, xvii(1956)293–7.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

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  • Ian Watt

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