The prominence of the avunculate
reflects not a current political reality but a trace of one, preserved in the frequency of the MoBr-SiSo pairs (mother's brother-sister's son), the affectionate nature of such bonds, and the presence of language to describe these familial relationships.
Cleere finds tropes and themes of "failed ownership and blocked circulation" (109) in the novels of Dickens, hence a similar idiom of fat and economy of the avunculate. The third chapter, "In Loeo Parentis: Dickensian Uncles and the Victorian Pawnshop," traces both the greasy marks left behind by devoured bodies and the exchange of pledge for cash transacted in pawnshops.
The commercial patriarchy of the avunculate radically makes and unmakes identity as well as undermining the paternal family, which is why within the rhetoric of social paternalism the commodification of kinship constitutes usury or pawnbroking.
In Cleere's analysis of several novels by Trollope, penny-postage undermines the affective paternal family, commercializes patriarchy, and proliferates the avunculate.
The avunculate functions as both ideology and counter-ideology.
The claims are provocative and its readings of narrative inscriptions of the avunculate in Mansfield Park, Adam Bede and Daniel Deronda are rich.
Aside from these reflexes of the avunculate in Beowulf, other "symptoms" of totemism need further study.
In a totemic frame, these scattered elements combine into an integral whole--ancestor veneration, zoomorphic names and symbols, suggestions of kin-solidarity, converging terms for paternal kinsmen, flecks of matrilineal patterning plus faint reflexes of the avunculate from Beowulf and the wills.
Unaccustomed to this prehistoric pattern, he may have invented Hygd's offer in order to account for Beowulf's oblique ascent to the Geatish throne--transversely, along the lost line of the avunculate. But the avuncular line of inheritance, weakly reflected in the wills too, may have been the folkright rule in early Germanic Europe.
(18) My main source on the avunculate is Claude Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, trans.
The avunculate coexists with primogeniture before being fully displaced by it.
These compounds suggest a formulaic avunculate. Klaeber speculates (251) that in Finnsburgh Fragment 18-21 "the Frisian Gu??here tries to restrain the impetuous vouth, Garulf--perhaps his nephew, cp.