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Conan Doyle. It is as if the narrator cannot be an ordinary walk-on in his
narrative: he can be only the star, or else a mere bystander. For the ¬rst variety
(which to some extent represents the strong degree of the homodiegetic) we will
reserve the unavoidable term autodiegetic.²¹
One glance at my Table of Contents will reveal that my bachelor
narratives are mostly of Genette™s second variety: non-autodiegetic
homodiegetic narrative in which the bachelor narrator tells someone
else™s, often another man™s, story. But the distinction Genette asserts
between the autodiegetic narrator who is ˜˜the hero of his narrative™™ and
the homodiegetic narrator who ˜˜plays only a secondary role . . . as
observer and witness™™ is not so clear. Indeed, the ideological stakes, and
particularly the gendered stakes, of this so-called ˜˜secondary role™™ are
already suggested by Genette™s labelling of the ¬rst variety as the ˜˜strong
degree.™™ We might surmise that not only the narratives told by non-hero
narrators are of the ˜˜weak degree,™™ but also the non-hero narrators
themselves who are weak, unheroic, not fully manly. Genette™s evalu-
ative descriptor betrays the ideological bias that is intrinsic to but
disguised by the formalism of traditional narratology.
The bachelor narrators I consider in this book are for the most part
well described as observers and witnesses, yet I do not accept Genette™s
assumption that he who is not the hero of his own narrative is automati-
cally and uncomplicatedly a ˜˜mere bystander,™™ diminished by the full
measure of inconsequentiality that phrase implies. (I am puzzled, I
admit, by Genette™s distinction between an ˜˜ordinary walk-on™™ and a

Introduction
˜˜mere bystander,™™ although in his hierarchy the former does seem
preferable to the latter.) In the chapters which follow, I call attention to
the heavily freighted relations between the bachelor narrators and the
signi¬cant others whose stories they tell. Enacted in the space and time
of narration, these relations repeat but also revise the gendered relations
that construct the main plots of these ¬ctions. The bachelor and his
narrative thus e¬ect discursive supplements which destabilize the texts™
dominant ¬ctions of manhood and domesticity.²² The activity of the
bachelor narrators in both the novels™ story and their discourse consti-
tute alternatives to hegemonic masterplots and hegemonic manhood.
While these narratives can be construed as o¬ering a rhetorical
challenge to the predominance of protagonists, whether individual or
paired, and their plots, the very rhetoric of the ˜˜challenge™™ predisposes
the critic to read the bachelor narrative as a story of contest in which the
bachelor ultimately reveals himself as a better man than the nominal
hero. Such a reading practice would merely invert the ideology of
Genette™s narratological model, recasting the ˜˜mere bystander™™ as the
hero of his own narrative. Were a critic to proclaim Dr. Watson the true
mastermind of Baker Street, for example, this inversion would merely
transform weak homodiegesis into strong autodiegesis, and the implicit-
ly weak homodiegetic narrator into an implicitly strong autodiegetic
narrator, without questioning the ideological valences of those catego-
ries. While competition between the homodiegetic narrator and his
narrative™s signi¬cant others, or even between narrative and plot, is far
from irrelevant to the bachelor narratives I consider, I believe it is
crucial to attend to the other modes of relation, real and especially
imaginary, that animate these narratives.
Therefore, in attending to the ¬gure of Oedipal plotting which
emerges from the domestic and familial carpet of many of the novels
considered here, I look beyond the classical account which identi¬es the
son as a murderous competitor with the father for possession of the
mother. In so doing, I take my cue from Eve Sedgwick™s in¬‚uential
account, following Gayle Rubin, of the tra¬c in women e¬ected by
erotic triangles consisting of two men and one woman, a con¬guration
that holds a place of privilege in Freud™s psychoanalytical theory,
Levi-Strauss™s anthropological theory, and Rene Girard™s literary the-
´ ´
ory in Deceit, Desire and the Novel.²³ Because it heeds the di¬erentials of
power and gender at issue in mediated desire, Sedgwick™s theorization
of a homosocial continuum of male desire disrupted by homophobic
panic allows us to see disavowed homoerotic energies at work in hetero-
±° Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
sexual rivalries between men. As other critics have pointed out, how-
ever, Sedgwick™s emphasis on homosocial desire between men obscures
the potential for female tra¬cking (where women occupy one or more
of the points of erotic triangulation) and for male tra¬cking which does
not involve women (where men occupy all three points of erotic tri-
angulation). To redress the latter elision, I attend in some of my readings
to a story which we might call the ˜˜other Oedipus™™: the Oedipus of
loving brothers rather than, or as well as, patricidal sons. Desirous and
identi¬catory collaboration, rather than sibling rivalry, crucially de¬nes
such fraternal relations. This ˜˜other Oedipal™™ plot and the classic
homosocial Oedipal plot together make up a multilayered story of
masculine subject formation based on mutuality as well as hostility;
reciprocity as well as manipulation; equality as well as hierarchy.²⁴
My readings of the triangulated dynamics of desire and identi¬cation
are complemented by attention to other multilayered mythic para-
digms, including the myriad myths of Orpheus which ¬gure in James™s
˜˜The Aspern Papers™™ and the manifold ¬gure of the Medusa™s Head in
Conrad™s Under Western Eyes. The utility of these mythic paradigms
resides in their explicit emphasis on the visual, on seeing and not-seeing
as ways of knowing, having, or being. They make newly and di¬erently
visible the basis of mediated desire in systems of exchange, especially
those that involve the trading of gazes, looks, and glances. For example,
the performance of bachelor narrators as onlookers at the triangulated
love plots which are the stock-in-trade of novelistic ¬ction reveals
mediated desire as not merely triangulated, but as fundamentally quad-
rangulated. In Wuthering Heights, for example, Lockwood assumes, among
other subject positions, that of a ˜˜third man™™ who observes the male-
male-female triangles consisting of Heathcli¬, Edgar, and Catherine in
the ¬rst generation, and Hareton, Linton, and Cathy in the second
generation. In this text and others, the bachelor onlooker is a ¬gure of
surplus value, one who is apparently in excess of the requirements of a
homosocial market in Oedipalized desire. The specular relations of the
bachelor creates a speculative market, one whose value depends upon
the interest invested in it by a ¬gure who is not a primary producer,
consumer, or even an object of consumption, within this economy. The
bachelor narrator as witness is invested in what he sees and tells, yet his
identity within the narrative mise en scene is not solely constituted in terms
`
of his competition on the marriage market of the novel™s plot. Bachelor
narration thus might be said to represent an alternative economy of
manhood, even while it also participates vicariously and, one might
±±
Introduction
argue, decisively in the exchanges that constitute the narrative transac-
tions of novelistic discourse.
In departing from a conventional psychoanalytic vocabulary here, I
mean to signal my awareness of the limits of psychoanalysis as a
methodology, as well as the value of non-Oedipal, or even anti-Oedipal,
theories of desire.²µ One could legitimately object to the use of
psychoanalytical paradigms for reading bachelor narratives on the
grounds that the product of any given set of social conditions has limited
ability to critique other products of those same conditions; in this
context, those ˜˜products™™ include psychoanalysis, the bourgeois family,
and also the bachelor as a cultural ¬gure constructed in relation,
however vexed that relation may be, to the historical and discursive
framework of the family. One could even argue that the bourgeois
family itself is the social condition that produced psychoanalysis, and
hence psychoanalytical paradigms can hardly be expected to do other
than reproduce the conditions of their making when used to consider
novelistic representations of bachelorhood.
There is, however, another way of looking at this relation. I would
contend that the historical adjacency, or even direct mutual causality, of
the family and psychoanalysis makes the latter particularly amenable for
understanding the former. Psychoanalytically informed critical ap-
proaches seem to me especially well calibrated for taking the measure of
the family as a machine for the production of gendered subjectivities,
including those of bachelors. It is, of course, necessary to correct for the
inevitable biases in traditional psychoanalytic precepts and practices.
For example, recent correctives to the reductive assumption that desire
and identi¬cation must necessarily have di¬erently gendered objects
have had a revitalizing e¬ect, one which is crucial to the viability of this
methodology for reading bachelor narratives.²⁶ Recent reconceptualiz-
ations of identi¬cation as having the potential to trouble, rather than
simply reinforce, the boundaries of individual subjectivity, have also
contributed to the utility of psychoanalytical methodologies. Judith
Butler argues that ˜˜identi¬cations belong to the imaginary; they are
phantasmatic e¬orts of alignment, loyalty, ambiguous and cross-corpor-
eal cohabitation; they unsettle the ˜I™; they are the sedimentation of the
˜we™ in the constitution of any ˜I,™ the structuring presence of alterity in
the very formulation of the ˜I™.™™²· Such a rethinking of identi¬cation as
the dynamic basis of identity-formation allows us to read the incorpor-
ations and introjections of bachelor narrators as alternative or supple-
mentary models of masculine subjectivity. When intrasubjective rela-
± Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
tions are understood to depend upon, even to be coextensive with,
intersubjective ones, bachelor narratives can be understood as having
the potential not only to buttress conservative identities and interac-
tions, but also to generate alternative models of masculine subjectivity
and gendered relations. Just as considering the identi¬cations and
desires of bachelors psychoanalytically can open up new understandings
of the formation of gendered intersubjectivity, considering bachelors in
relation to the dominant ¬ction of the domestic family can open up new
understandings of families themselves, revising the traditional
psychoanalytic abstraction of the family as a closed, nuclear unit.
As the preceding comments on economic markets and intersubjective
relations have doubtless already made apparent, this book is more than
a strictly narratological study. In this regard, I follow the practice of
recent critics who bring to bear on the narratives they consider such
contextual issues as the emotional and material e¬ects of historically
constructed gender norms and subjectivity.²⁸ But this study is also more
than strictly narratological because I refuse to maintain “ frankly, quite
often, I simply cannot see “ the division between story and discourse, or
between histoire and recit, which is fundamental to narratological ap-
´
proaches. Although narratologists acknowledge that such divisions are
only approximations, theoretical constructs meant to describe the com-
plexities of real texts, this approximation seems particularly untenable
in homodiegetic narratives, narratives in which the story/discourse
dualism is embodied within a single character. It is not only a matter of
the practical di¬culty of distinguishing with certainty between the
narrative past and the narrative present, but one of the theoretical
impossibility of separating the story from its telling. This study is
predicated on my critical conviction that story and discourse, the
˜˜what™™ and the ˜˜way,™™ of bachelor narration are so deeply and mu-
tually constitutive that they cannot be surgically separated without
doing irreparable damage. The critical portmanteau of ˜˜bachelor nar-
rative™™ does not so much yoke together a cultural type and a narrative
form as it reveals the abiding, indivisible connection between ideology
and form.
By a¬rming the ideology of form, my aim is not to equate male
author with male narrator. Rather, I mean to investigate the narrative
and authorial e¬ects that their di¬erences as well as their similarities
may have had. Such representations may occur within the boundaries
of gender but not apart from the bounds of di¬erence. For this reason, I
have included only one full-scale reading of a novel by a female author,
±
Introduction
even though many well-known women novelists of the period “ includ-
ing all three Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edith
¨
Wharton, and Willa Cather “ deployed single or married male nar-
rators, used male pseudonyms, or otherwise assumed masculine identi¬-
cations in their pursuit of authorship.²⁹ Much compelling work has been
done and remains to be done on such cross-gendered representations, as
well as on representations that transpire across the boundaries of class
and race. Without minimizing the importance of such projects, I believe
that it is of vital importance to attend to issues of same-gender represen-
tations within our current canon of modernist male authorship. What it
means for a male author to speak in the voice of a male narrator does
not go without saying.
While attending to certain di¬erences among bachelor-narrated texts
written on di¬erent continents and sometimes separated by more than
half a century, this study is predicated on their similarities. The premise
here is that we can productively read texts so disparate as these “
sketches and short stories together with novels; narratives that feature
heterodiegesis with focalizing bachelor re¬‚ectors along with
homodiegetic bachelor narratives; a female-authored novel among
male-authored ones; books by American and British authors and by an
expatriate Pole writing in English; even a novel that features a married
but virginal male narrator “ as bachelor narratives. If the diversity of
material gathered here under the rubric of bachelor narrative seems
willfully broad, this study makes certain exclusions that may seem
equally willful. Poetry enters only obliquely, even though the personae “
both dramatic monologists and less fully dramatized speaking voices “
assumed by many poets in the period sing in harmony with the chorus of
novelistic bachelor narrators. I have focused upon prose ¬ction because
of the centrality of marriage plotting to the novelistic tradition treated
here, even while recognizing that comparable conventions crucially
in¬‚ect poems both narrative and lyric. This study is meant to open up a
¬eld larger than what it encompasses. I hope that the inevitable exclu-
sion of texts that might be considered under the rubric of bachelor
narrative will stimulate other critics to examine these texts along lines
comparable to the ones sketched here.
The structure of this book is roughly chronological, following the arc
of modernism from the mid nineteenth to the early twentieth century.
The book does not, however, argue for a uni¬ed historical trajectory of
bachelor narrative; rather, it takes the case study as its method. While
close readings of individual texts are the general modus operandi, hetero-
± Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
geneity in the structure and focus of the chapters allows for attention to
broader historical contexts, to authorial careers, and to the intricate
workings of literary narrative. Thus chapters  and µ each cluster
together several novels which share an historical moment and a them-
atic focus, while chapters  and  each focus on individual authors.
Whereas chapter  takes a comparatively wide-angle view of the
author™s career, chapter  takes a close-up look at a single moment and a
single text. Chapter ± might be said to zoom in from a consideration of
external perspectives on bachelors as represented in popular texts,
especially nineteenth-century mass-circulation periodicals, to the inside
perspective on the bachelor imaginary presented by the immensely
popular mid-century Reveries of a Bachelor. Chapter ± thus provides both
an historical framework for and an historical point of entry into the
remaining chapters; it also makes a methodological movement inward
which sets the sights of the following chapters on the intrapsychic and
intersubjective relations of bachelors as e¬ected by their narratives.
Chapter ±, ˜˜Trouble in paradise: bachelors and bourgeois domesti-
city,™™ begins with an overview of the demographic, economic, and
cultural changes in England and America that contributed to the
popular and literary fascination with bachelors and bachelor represen-
tations over the long nineteenth century. This overview prepares the
way for a discussion of the paradoxical expectations of domestic ideol-
ogy for middle-class men, and the ways that bachelors were viewed by
their contemporaries as diverging from normative bourgeois masculin-
ity. The vexed relation of bachelors to bourgeois domesticity and
manhood is particularly visible in the history and representation of
urban housing, as I show in the next section of the chapter. This section
traces the contemporary association of bachelors with multiple-occu-
pancy urban housing in England and America; the perceived incom-
patibility of such residential forms with family life; and the contribution
of such institutions as the men™s club and the bachelor apartment
building to contemporary critiques of married domesticity. The last
section of the chapter considers the narrative negotiations of domestic

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