Breaking the “Mould” of The Ambassadors
Abstract

This essay claims that the friction between sexual identity and desire in The Ambassadors is given shape by an evangelical language of election and abjection. My interpretation centers on Lambert Strether’s metaphor of the tin mold, an embodiment of a fatalistic sensibility that admits no surprises. This image responds to the ideological fallout from the Oscar Wilde trials, which popularized notions of fixed sexual identity in a way that also reconstituted queerness as merely a type. I argue that Strether’s experience, written into the temporal disjunctures of the late Jamesian sentence, orients his sexuality around a Calvinistic fulfilment of fate.


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