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intention to do a foolish thing™™: ˜˜When it is all over, when his meddling
has saved the girl from disrepute, if not from death, he goes home to his
±
 Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
books “ his books, that in the days of his perversity had become perverse
themselves and were now in the direst confusion™™ (p. ±). Although the
bachelor preserves the girl™s virtue, he can neither save her life nor save
himself from his own perversity, which is apparent in the promiscuous
mixing upon his library shelves of authors of diverse nationalities,
historical periods, and genres. The presence amidst this ˜˜unruly
jumble™™ of ˜˜that madman Nordau, who, along with the help of Lom-
broso, has succeeded in classifying himself!™™ (p. ±) makes the bach-
elor™s very attempt to classify his books seem itself doomed to degener-
acy, perhaps even to criminality and madness.² He can no more ˜˜bring
order into his life™™ (p. ±) than he can successfully bring order to
bookshelves that support such depravity.
My study, too, takes as its topic ˜˜The Bachelor in Fiction.™™ My
reading list and critical aims, however, are worlds apart from Percival
Pollard™s and, for that matter, from those of the bachelor of Green Gates.
My selection of texts does not, as Pollard™s does, form a subcanon or
even a countercanon of literature about bachelors. Rather, I focus upon
an array of bachelor texts which are ¬rmly ensconced in our current
canon of pre-modernist, proto-modernist, and modernist ¬ction, a
canon that includes such novels as Hawthorne™s The Blithedale Romance
(±µ), James™s The Portrait of a Lady (±°), Conrad™s Lord Jim (±°°),
Ford™s The Good Soldier (±±µ), and Fitzgerald™s The Great Gatsby (±µ).
Nor do I aim, like the Green Gates bachelor, to taxonomize or otherwise
enforce a normalizing order on the ˜˜perverse™™ ¬ctions that I read here.
Rather, I mean to demonstrate how the order of normativity, the proper
regulation of boundaries both gendered and cultural, is crucially at issue
in these canonical bachelor texts themselves. Much as these ¬ctions of
bachelorhood are proper to our current modernist canon, the ¬gure of
the bachelor was also at the heart of the bourgeois domestic world that
was often the norm for, and a normalizing force in, the novel.³
I am concerned here not simply with ¬ction featuring bachelors, the
broader category that Pollard identi¬es in his study, but with bachelor-
narrated ¬ction. Bachelor characters do double duty as ¬rst-person nar-
rators in a startling number of texts of the mid nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. Yet bachelor narrators seem to have blended into
the background of canonical, British and American ¬ction, perhaps
because of the very familiarity of their voices. The bachelor narrator is a
˜˜¬gure™™ in the double sense conceptualized by Roland Barthes “ both
an imaginary subject or character and a narrative device or trope⁴ “ but
this peculiar bridging of the thematic and the formal has virtually

Introduction
escaped critical notice. One aim of this book, then, is to defamiliarize
the consummately familiar voice of the bachelor narrator. What does it
mean when a bachelor tells the story in a novel? How does narration
matter?
This study focuses, moreover, not simply on bachelor-narrated ¬c-
tion, but mainly on high-cultural and modernist ¬ctions narrated by bach-
elor ¬gures. I am concerned here to map the intersections among the
historical ¬gure of the bachelor, the use of the bachelor as narrator in
pre-modernist and modernist ¬ction, and a tradition of novelistic
authorship which sometimes crossed but more often helped to widen the
˜˜great divide™™ between high and low culture that developed during this
era.µ Not coincidentally, this cultural divide occurred along lines strong-
ly marked by gender di¬erences.⁶ The gendered di¬erences “ between
men and women, and also between men “ which were fundamental to
the construction of the highbrow/lowbrow split also contributed to the
classi¬catory troubles embodied by the ¬gure of the bachelor.
Bachelors were a necessary resource for the domestic institution of
marriage, yet they were often seen by their contemporaries as disruptive
to domestic life or sometimes merely extraneous to it. They were
thought to be both admirable and contemptible, enviable and ex-
ecrable, dangerous and defanged. The contradictions evident in and
among these pairings evoke the conceptual and practical challenges that
bachelorhood presented to nineteenth- and early twentieth-century
conceptions of bourgeois marriage, family, and domestic life. A variety
of demographic shifts in the United States and Great Britain over the
course of the ˜˜long nineteenth century,™™ and especially in the latter half
of this period, including a rise in average marrying age and a decline in
the rate of marriage, contributed to contemporary interest in and worry
about bachelors.· The fascination with bachelors is evident, for
example, in the boom in novels, stories, poems, and essays about
bachelorhood published in mass-circulation periodicals during this per-
iod.⁸ This explosion of popular bachelor discourse attests to the uneven
developments that cultural ideologies and institutions of marriage and
domesticity were undergoing during this era of rapid urbanization,
industrialization, and modernization.⁹ Bachelors were a troubling pres-
ence within and beyond the already troubled world of the bourgeois
family home.
Bachelor trouble was, fundamentally, gender trouble.¹° While they
were often seen as violating gendered norms, bachelors were sometimes
contradictorily thought to incarnate the desires and identi¬cations of
 Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
hegemonic bourgeois manhood. The late nineteenth-century ¬gure of
the bachelor was thus conceived as ˜˜at the same time an aspect of a
particular, idiosyncratic personality type and also an expression of a great
Universal™™: both a separate species of man and a representative modern
man.¹¹ This contradictory status indicates the instability of and competi-
tion between di¬erent models of manhood. Such uneven developments
in gender identities encompassed, but were not limited to, the late
nineteenth-century transition from a middle-class ideal of civilized man-
liness to one of primitive masculinity.
A concomitant of the emergence of new styles of normative and
counternormative bourgeois manhood, and of the attendant shifting of
the boundaries of what constituted proper bourgeois manhood, was a
change in the de¬nition of bachelorhood itself. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
has theorized a late nineteenth-century transition from bachelorhood
understood as a lifestage to bachelorhood understood as a character
type. The contest between the character type and the lifestage de¬ni-
tions of bachelorhood “ both of which also remained simultaneously in
play for the male bourgeois subject “ contributed to the paradoxical
de¬nition of bachelors as both di¬erent from and also the same as other,
˜˜normal™™ men. Sedgwick clari¬es the homophobic potential of each
understanding of bachelorhood, as well as the contribution of the
conceptual incoherence of these concurrent de¬nitions to the constitu-
tion of the intrinsically homophobic system of homo/heterosexual de¬-
nition. This system, which is itself based on a conceptual incoherence
generated by ˜˜minoritizing™™ and ˜˜universalizing™™ models of sexual
identity, was reinforced by the incoherent coexistence of minoritizing
and universalizing views of bachelorhood.¹² Sedgwick argues that the
mid-Victorian emergence and late Victorian development of the bach-
elor as a character taxonomy based on ˜˜sexual anaesthesia™™ strategi-
cally ˜˜desexualized the question . . . of male sexual choice,™™ e¬ecting a
homophobic erasure of the speci¬city of male“male sexual desire.¹³
Although the homophobically panicked, sexually anaesthetic bach-
elor type does appear in some of the texts that I consider, this type is not
typical, as my survey of popular writings on bachelorhood in the next
chapter shows. Indeed, a rich and polymorphously perverse range of
fantasmatic identi¬cations and desires are palpable, though not always
explicitly or consciously asserted, in narrative discourse uttered from the
gendered subject position of the bachelor. To the extent that such
homophobic erasure is at work in the bachelor narratives I discuss, I do
try to make such panicked occlusions visible by attending to the
µ
Introduction
eroticized activity evident in these ¬gures™ narrative utterances. The
excesses and occlusions of these ¬rst-person narratives often reveal
homoerotic desire and its panicked erasure, but they also disclose a
wider range of desires and identi¬cations, both transgressive and nor-
mative. One could argue, for example, that the unrequited love of the
Green Gates bachelor for a woman half his age is a coverup, or a
displacement, or an expression, of closeted homoerotic desire and
homosexual identity. But one might equally well argue that the old
bachelor™s feelings are based on his identi¬cation with and desire for the
woman™s youth; the di¬erence in age that apparently comes between
him and his female object is a salient axis along which his emotional
investments travel.¹⁴ Such an age di¬erential is normative in cross-
gender relations of the nineteenth century; after all, the marital union of
a forty-year old bachelor and an eighteen-year old woman is standard
novelistic fare. Yet this bachelor™s desires also seem to verge upon the
perversely counternormative; in addition to homosexuality, some other
unspeakable names for his unrequited love might include pedophilia,
incest, and masochism. The key point here is that, both before and after
the eruption of his ultimately unconsummated desire, this bachelor does
not su¬er from an absence of feeling.
The bachelor narrators whom I consider are, similarly, far from
anaesthetic in their erotic identi¬cations and desires. In fact, the wide
variety and sheer intensity of their erotic and identi¬catory energies
might lead one to describe these ¬gures as voyeuristic, fetishistic, and/or
masochistic, psychoanalytic classi¬cations which carry a negative,
pathologized valence. The intrasubjective and intersubjective relations
by which these ¬gures de¬ne themselves and others can be understood
as ˜˜deviations™™ from or ˜˜perversions™™ of normative masculine desires
and identi¬cations. As such, these relations can be revalorized as gestur-
ing toward alternative, counternormative, or ˜˜queer™™ masculine sexual-
ities and genderings. But the intrasubjective and intersubjective rela-
tions by which these ¬gures de¬ne themselves and others also signal,
perhaps to an even greater extent, the presence of the perverse within
what has been conventionally demarcated as masculine heteronor-
mativity.¹µ What is alternative often turns out to be proper to the
mainstream, if necessarily disavowed by its proponents. My primary
concern here, then, will be with the paradoxes of the bachelor™s relation-
ship to normative domesticity and normative manhood, and with the
ways that these paradoxes make this ¬gure so enigmatic as a speaking
and/or writing subject of novelistic narrative discourse.
 Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
The ambiguities of the bachelor narrator™s relation to domestic and
gendered norms also make this ¬gure particularly expressive of the
ambivalences of male, high-cultural, pre-modernist and modernist liter-
ary authorship. Just as the cultural boundaries that de¬ned bourgeois
domesticity and hegemonic manhood were permeable and shifting in
this period, so too were the boundaries which separated high culture
from culture de¬ned as low, mass, or popular and also, as one century
segued into the next, the boundaries which separated modernist writing
from nonmodernist writing.¹⁶ All the authors considered in this book
shine, more or less vividly, as stars in the ¬rmament of current academic
literary canons. Yet all struggled, albeit to di¬erent degrees and with
varying strategies, with what they experienced as competing desires for
popular and critical success. These struggles were simultaneous with the
historical rise of the popular woman writer and the vast and rapid
expansion of literary markets. Correspondingly, many of these male
writers experienced their struggles on and against the literary market as
˜˜melodramas of beset manhood,™™ in which they performed the part of
the long-su¬ering victim, and sometimes the scrappy survivor, of a
debased mob of female readers and writers.¹· One subtlety which this
psychic melodrama tends to elide is the fact that economic success and
aesthetic success were marked not only by the gendered di¬erence
between female and male authorship, but also by the gendered di¬eren-
ces between di¬erent styles or models of male authorship. Popular
writers were not all women; high-cultural writers, and writers who were
merely unpopular, were not all men. The male high-cultural authors
discussed in the following chapters were not so consistently beset, nor
were they beset always by the same people, nor always for the same
reasons, as they typically represented themselves.
Another detail which the melodrama of beset high-cultural male
authorship tends to obscure is the fact that the trials to which these
writers were subject, or to which they subjected themselves, were
nuanced by pleasures and privileges. High-cultural literary authorship,
like hegemonic bourgeois manhood, exacted sacri¬ces but it also confer-
red rewards. While immaterial rewards “ prestige, self-esteem, collegial-
ity, the life of the mind “ are obvious perquisites of high-cultural artistry,
material rewards were not always or entirely ruled out. And when the
sacri¬ce of material comforts and other attainments of normative bour-
geois manhood were unavoidable, such asceticism could be re-en-
visioned by its male subjects as an alternative mode of attaining an
exemplary manhood. The self-sacri¬ce of the artist thus enables that
·
Introduction
artist to experience the ultimate in self-ful¬llment. Ironically, in order to
transform the anxieties and hardships of true artistry into sources of
emotional satisfaction, male high-cultural writers often psychically enlis-
ted the supposedly low-cultural genre of melodrama, a genre whose
queer excesses are seemingly beyond the pale but which exist as a
disavowed component within many mainstream cultural narratives.¹⁸
The contested status of bachelors as ¬gures of luxurious self-indul-
gence and/or of disciplined self-abnegation made them well-suited to
articulate the melodramatic vicissitudes of male, high-cultural author-
ship. Like the male authors who deployed them, bachelor narrators are
themselves given to recasting abjected manhood as manhood trium-
phant, and to disavowing melancholically the sentimentality that stands
both as their own de¬ning trait and as that of the signi¬cant others with
whom they identify. Bachelor narrators are thus particularly ¬tted for
symbolic use by authors who reinforced, sometimes in the very act of
crossing, the borders of the cultural milieus in and against which they
de¬ned themselves as writers. Indeed, bachelors often served in cultural
and literary discourse more generally as threshold ¬gures who marked
the permeable boundaries that separate domesticity, normative man-
hood, and high-cultural status, from what was de¬ned as extrinsic to
these realms.¹⁹
The liminal function of the bachelor becomes even more pointed
when considered through the critical lens of the bachelor as narrator.
The ¬rst-person bachelor narrators whom I consider are for the most
part narrators of the sort Gerard Genette designates ˜˜homodiegetic,™™ or
´
present as characters in the stories they tell, as opposed to ˜˜hetero-
diegetic,™™ absent from the stories they tell.²° As tellers who also appear as
characters in their stories, homodiegetic narrators are located both
within and beyond the ¬ctional worlds of their stories, serving as
intermediaries between diegetic levels within the narrative and also
between author and reader. Simultaneously present in separate diegetic
spaces, these narrators might also be conceived as divided, or multi-
plied, within themselves; such a split, or doubling, is most evident
between the ˜˜I™™ of the narrative past and the ˜˜I™™ of the narrative
present. Saying ˜˜I™™ as a homodiegetic narrator can thus verge on
speaking in synchronic and diachronic chorus or call-and-response with
oneself, occasioning a spatial and temporal multiplication of subjectivity
which would seem to challenge the unitary or monolithic self. Yet
homodiegesis is far from an essentially or intrinsically radical form,
either aesthetically or politically. The e¬ects of homodiegesis as a
 Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
narrative technique depend upon the speci¬c uses made of its potential
for con¬rming or confounding the boundaries within, and also between,
individuals.
Authors are not the only ones upon whom the containing and/or
subverting e¬ects of homodiegetic narrative depend. Readers also make
vital contributions to the aesthetic and political meanings of
homodiegetic narrative. As a reader who is a narratological critic,
Genette assumes the impermeability and hierarchical grounding of
individual subjectivity, an assumption evident in his further narratologi-
cal distinction between two varieties of homodiegesis:
one where the narrator is the hero of his narrative (Gil Blas) and one where he
plays only a secondary role, which almost always turns out to be a role as
observer and witness: Lockwood [in Wuthering Heights], the anonymous narrator
of Louis Lambert, Ishmael in Moby Dick, Marlow in Lord Jim, Carraway in The
Great Gatsby, Zeitblom in Doctor Faustus “ not to mention the most illustrious and
most representative one of all, the transparent (but inquisitive) Dr. Watson of

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