Il nome letterario ambiguo
Ambiguity is a key concept in modern poetics. Though there exist different concepts of literary ambiguity, we prefer to adhere to William Empson’s classical definition according to which any verbal nuance allowing alternative reactions to the same piece of language may be regarded as ambiguous. Our paper intends to show that ambiguity can also extend to literary names. We demonstrate this by means of two shorter novels by the German 19th century writer Wilhelm Raabe, namely Zum Wilden Mann (1874) and Unruhige Gäste (1885). In both texts the ambiguity of the personal names and even of the titles enhances the profound ambiguity of these novels. They achieve this mainly by way of their semantic pre-onymic meaning as ‘redende Namen’ (‘cratylic’ names), but in one case (Phöbe in Unruhige Gäste) by reference to two different earlier bearers of this name: one mythological and the other one biblical.