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ideology and practice in the ±µ° bestseller, Reveries of a Bachelor by
Donald Grant Mitchell (a.k.a. ˜˜Ik Marvel™™). In its negotiations of
intimacy and distance, fantasy and reality, normativity and perversity,
Mitchell™s text is an important precedent for the bachelor narrations
that I consider in the later chapters of the book. The liminality of reverie
“ hovering between waking and sleeping, the bachelor in his reveries is
paradoxically represented as both active and passive, working and
±µ
Introduction
playing, producing and consuming “ exempli¬es the function of the
bachelor as a threshold ¬gure, one who both demarcates and subtly
alters the placement and permeability of the boundaries of domesticity
and domestic selfhood. The bachelor™s reveries mark this ¬gure as both
within and beyond the worlds of bourgeois family life and manhood.
Chapter , ˜˜Susceptibility and the single man: the constitution of the
bachelor invalid,™™ extends chapter ±™s ultimate focus on the bachelor™s
gendered subjectivity as represented by and in ¬rst-person narration.
Here I consider three nineteenth-century novels that imagine bachelors
as invalids and narrative intermediaries: Wuthering Heights (±·), The
Blithedale Romance (±µ), and The Portrait of a Lady (±°). In all three
novels, the visual perspectives of these bachelor invalids and the di¬er-
ent voices in which they speak are in¬‚ected by the fragility of their
health and the spectacle of death, a spectacle which each bachelor either
vicariously witnesses or himself performs. The ex-centric masculinity of
these bachelor invalid narrators reenacts, both repeats and revises, the
permeability of identity and the proper regulation of boundaries be-
tween individuals at issue in these novels™ plotting of the gendered
relations of marriage and alternatives to marriage. I consider the dif-
ferences between the homodiegetic ¬rst-person bachelor narration of
Wuthering Heights and Blithedale (whose narrative situations also di¬er
signi¬cantly from each other) and Portrait™s heterodiegetic third-person
narration which employs a supplementary yet crucial bachelor ˜˜center
of consciousness,™™ which I call an ˜˜o¬-center of consciousness™™ in
recognition of Ralph Touchett™s eccentric masculinity. The perspectives
of all these bachelor narrators and re¬‚ectors reveal their constant
negotiations between sympathy and detachment, between proximity
and distance, and also between specular vicariousness and spectacular
self-display, negotiations that inform our understanding of these novels™
gendered authorship.
Chapter , ˜˜An artist and a bachelor: Henry James, mastery and the
life of art,™™ proceeds from chapter ™s reading of the bachelor re¬‚ector in
The Portrait of a Lady, to argue that the ¬gure of the bachelor vitally
informs the persona of the high-cultural male artist that James himself
assumed in his life and writing. This chapter examines a wide range of
James™s writings, with a particular emphasis on his mid-career ˜˜tales of
literary life,™™ ˜˜The Lesson of the Master™™ (±), ˜˜The Aspern Papers™™
(±) and ˜˜The Figure in the Carpet™™ (±), and on his literary
criticism, especially his ±°· essay on Shakespeare and his ±± essay,
˜˜The New Novel.™™ I begin by analyzing James™s critical objections to
± Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
¬rst-person narration in longer works of ¬ction, demonstrating James™s
association of this narrative technique with a self-contradictory range of
sexual and gender identities, cultural ranks, and genres: femininity and
masculinity, lowbrow and highbrow, autobiography and romance.
James™s multiple and inconsistent readings of this narrative technique in
his own and others™ writings provide insight into his attempts to reclaim
literary ¬ction as an arena of properly regulated masculine endeavor.
The aesthetic ˜˜life of art™™ appears in James™s ¬ction and criticism as a
source of both gendered normativity and counternormativity, a tension
evident both in the con¬‚ict and collusion of the man with the artist. The
man and the artist are ¬gures which stand in James™s work sometimes
for internal self-division, sometimes for interpersonal male-male rela-
tions, and sometimes for both simultaneously. I focus throughout on the
gendered interplays of specular vicariousness and spectacular self-dis-
play, self-discipline and self-indulgence, and hierarchy and equality, all
of which sustain the intrapsychic and intersubjective formation of mas-
culine desire and identi¬cation in James™s writings.
Chapter , ˜˜A way of looking on: bachelor narration in Joseph
Conrad™s Under Western Eyes,™™ argues that national and racial di¬erences
are not the only di¬erences at issue in the ˜˜translation™™ which is o¬ered
by this novel™s bachelor narrator. This narrator speaks across explicitly
gendered divides, border lines which separate masculine from feminine
and also mark the di¬erence between as well as the proximity among a
range of masculine subject positions. The double binds of male
specularity and male feminism in both the novel™s plot and its narration
re¬‚ect a related gendered double bind which Conrad experienced in
writing this novel. I demonstrate how ˜˜The Secret Sharer,™™ which
Conrad dashed o¬ in December of ±° while struggling to ¬nish Under
Western Eyes, crystallizes the competing and internally con¬‚icted models
of manhood at issue both in this novel and in the Marlow-narrated
novels that preceded and followed its publication. These con¬‚icts play
themselves out in the bachelor narrator™s use of the ¬gure of the
Medusa™s Head, an uncanny ¬gure whose long-standing association
with artistic representation, with unruly women, and with revolution,
were not lost on Conrad. The aesthetic, the erotic, and the nationalistic
implications of this ¬gure for the narrator™s representation of the novel™s
heroine, reveal Conrad™s own authorial anxiety that something would
be lost in translation.
Chapter µ, ˜˜The necessary melancholy of bachelors: melancholy,
manhood, and modernist narrative,™™ widens the view of Conrad™s
±·
Introduction
corpus of work by taking up two novels narrated by Conrad™s most
famous bachelor narrator and by grouping these two Marlow-narrated
texts with two highly canonical, early twentieth-century bachelor-nar-
rated novels which are equally marked by a melancholic sense of lack.
˜˜The Necessary Melancholy of Bachelors,™™ the title of a ±° essay that
appeared in Putnam™s Magazine, reveals a vital historical context for the
more familiar melancholy which pervades much of modernism, particu-
larly male modernism, and even more speci¬cally the two-protagonist
form that gives shape to an in¬‚uential strand of modernist narrative.
The melancholy of these modernist narratives which bear the name of
˜˜another man™™ “ Lord Jim (±°°), The Good Soldier (±±µ), and The Great
Gatsby (±µ) “ can be traced to the narrators™ disavowal of the sentimen-
tality of their abjected male objects and of themselves, a melancholic
investment reinforced by their reliance upon familial and especially
fraternal metaphors to describe their attachments and resentments. The
compensatory e¬orts which disrupt their narratives reveal an irresol-
vable tension between desires for a¬liation and autonomy, and for
merger and separateness, a tension that also reveals a contest between
homoerotic desire and its homophobic disavowal. Similar tensions
animate Chance (±±), in which Conrad revived Marlow for his swan
song more than a decade after his penultimate appearance as the
narrator of Lord Jim, and which, ironically enough, garnered Conrad his
¬rst popular success. The ¬gure of the ˜˜good uncle™™ in Chance provides a
point of entry to the quasi-familial and quasi-domestic status of bachelor
narrators in this period and thus returns us to the liminal status of the
bachelor in relation to domestic life and hegemonic manhood.

In their ways of telling, bachelor narrators delineate the thresholds of
bourgeois domesticity and manhood, thereby enabling themselves and
their authorial creators to mark the boundaries of normativity while
simultaneously going out of bounds. I like to think of the bachelor as a
¬gure who stands in the doorway, looking in from the outside and also
looking out from within. This double perspective provides readers a
privileged vantage upon the world of the novel, a ¬ctional world that
both re¬‚ected and crucially shaped the real world beyond. The ˜˜I™™ of
the bachelor, a masculine subject position that is at once both within
and beyond the pale, reveals the novels to be considered in the chapters
which follow as both representative modernist texts and truly singular
¬ctions.
° ±

Trouble in paradise: bachelors and
bourgeois domesticity



˜˜The Bachelor in Fiction™™ was hardly news when Percival Pollard
published his review essay of that title in ±°°. An ±µ Wilkie Collins
sketch entitled ˜˜The Bachelor Bedroom,™™ published anonymously in
the English periodical All the Year Round, indicates that as early as
mid-century the bachelor in ¬ction had long been a conventional topic:
˜˜The bachelor has been profusely served up on all sorts of literary
tables; but, the presentation of him has been hitherto remarkable for a
singularly monotonous ¬‚avour of matrimonial sauce. We have heard of
his loneliness, and its remedy, or his solitary position in illness, and its
remedy; of the miserable neglect of his linen, and its remedy.™™¹ Deplor-
ing the monotonous insistence on marriage as the sole remedy for the ills
of bachelor life, Collins asserts that there is ˜˜a new aspect of the
bachelor left to be presented . . . a new subject for worn-out readers of
the nineteenth century whose fountain of literary novelty has become
exhausted at the source™™:

But what have we heard of him in connexion with his remarkable bedroom, at
those periods of his existence when he, like the rest of the world, is a visitor at his
friend™s country house? Who has presented him, in his relation to married
society, under those peculiar circumstances of his life, when he is away from his
solitary chambers, and is thrown straight into the sacred centre of that home
circle from which his ordinary habits are so universally supposed to exclude
him? (p. µµ)

The topic proposed as an antidote to the hackneyed representation of
bachelorhood is not so innovative as he would have it. This ˜˜new
subject for worn-out readers™™ falls short of newness, for one thing,
because Collins shares with his literary predecessors the assumption that
married life is a crucial frame of reference for bachelorhood, if not
simply its remedy. This sketch, like the profusion of written representa-
tions of bachelorhood before it, concerns itself primarily with the bach-
±
±
Bachelors and bourgeois domesticity
elor™s vexed ˜˜relation to married society,™™ and to conventional familial
and domestic life more generally.
It was precisely the bachelor™s ambiguous distance from or, rather, his
ambiguous proximity to ˜˜that home circle from which his ordinary
habits are so universally supposed to exclude him™™ (p. µµ) that made
this ¬gure a ˜˜fountain of literary novelty™™ to nineteenth-century
readers. Whether staying in other people™s homes, residing in homes of
their own, or occupying indoor or outdoor spaces that were anything
but domestic, bachelors were represented primarily in terms of hegem-
onic marital, familial, and domestic ideologies, practices, and spheres.
Bachelors were seen as both proper and improper to conventional
married, bourgeois domesticity, much as the remarkable bedrooms and
other spaces with which they were so insistently associated were often
located either dangerously close to or threateningly far from, sometimes
even simultaneously within and beyond, the ˜˜civilised residences™™
(p. µµ) of married people and families.
The conceptual incoherence produced by the ¬gure of the bachelor is
particularly vivid against the background of domestic life. Bachelors
were often thought to be the antithesis of domesticity yet they were also
sometimes seen as its epitome. This paradox results in large part from
the self-contradictory status of the private sphere itself within bourgeois
domestic ideology. That is to say, the private was both the center of
meaning for bourgeois domestic life and also marginal to it, trivial in
comparison to the ˜˜real world™™ of the public sphere. By the mid
nineteenth century, the private, domestic household was de¬ned as
ideally beyond the marketplace and market relations, yet the household
was itself the very type, or imaginary origin, of economy, a term that
derives from the Greek ˜˜oekonomia™™ which refers to household man-
agement.
For bourgeois men, the con¬‚icted relation of the private household to
the public marketplace was particularly perplexed and perplexing.
Patresfamilias were, in theory at least, the kings of their castles and yet
they were often dispossessed within ˜˜the empire of the mother.™™² Men,
moreover, were de¬ned and were expected to de¬ne themselves in
relation to subcultural contexts “ work and home, public and private “
whose explicit values were often opposed. That these spheres were not
always so separate as their nineteenth-century constituents and twenti-
eth-century commentators assumed “ neither so di¬erent in ethos nor so
spatially distinct as the ideology of separate spheres would suggest “ only
compounded the confusion. Under hegemonic domestic ideologies,
° Bachelors, manhood, and the novel
home may have been idealized as a haven from a heartless world or
even a veritable heaven on earth, but there was trouble in paradise. The
presence of bachelors within bourgeois homes and the existence of
paradises of bachelors “ versions of domesticity and quasi-domesticity
enacted by bachelors in chambers, men™s clubs, and bachelor apartment
buildings “ only meant more trouble.

    µ ¬ ·©    ¬  :  ®  ©     ©   ¬      ©  ·
The ¬gure of the bachelor was not invented in the nineteenth century.
Indeed, the bachelor appears as a stock character in seventeenth- and
eighteenth-century writing, a ¬gure that partakes of other contempor-
ary types of eccentric manhood such as the rake, the beau, the fop, and,
somewhat later, the sentimental man of feeling. But the genealogy of the
bachelor goes back even further. The Oxford English Dictionary gives ˜˜bas
chevalier™™ as the conjectural etymology of the term: ˜˜a young knight,
not old enough or having too few vassals to display his own banner, and
who therefore followed the banner of another . . . Hence knight bach-
elor, a knight of the lowest but most ancient order.™™ This meaning,
which holds from the fourteenth century through to the sixteenth,
overlaps with another denotation of the term, used from the fourteenth
century through to the nineteenth. This slightly later denotation refers
to ˜˜a junior or inferior member, or ˜yeoman,™ of a trade guild or City
Company™™ or to ˜˜one who has taken the ¬rst or lowest degree at a
university, who is not yet a master of the Arts.™™³ The OED also records
that bachelor was used in the seventeenth century to refer to an inexpe-
rienced person or novice. Only in the mid eighteenth century did the
current primary meaning arise: an unmarried man of marriageable age.
The pre-eighteenth-century uses of the term “ knight, guildsman, stu-
dent “ all have a primarily vocational register with connotations of
youthfulness. These early uses register the centrality of an apprentice-
ship system in which the bachelor serves a master in hopes of later
assuming a position of authority himself. While unmarried status may
be necessary for these pursuits, bachelorhood here primarily refers to
the man™s vocational status.
The eighteenth-century shift of the primary denotation of bachelor-
hood to unmarried status moved the de¬nitional context of bachelor-
hood into a world and a set of relations “ the private sphere, the family,
marriage “ from which bachelors themselves were nominally excluded.
This striking shift to a meaning more or less parallel to our contempor-
±
Bachelors and bourgeois domesticity
ary usage occurred at roughly the same time that middle-class masculin-
ity itself was coming to be equated with the emerging concept of
occupation.⁴ Bachelorhood was not an occupation, yet such phrases as
the ˜˜freedom, luxury, and self-indulgence of a bachelor™s career™™ sug-
gest something like a substitute or alternative vocation, even while
gesturing towards the bachelor™s violation of the norms of bourgeois
masculinity, especially with respect to an ideal of male productivity.µ
The larger cultural and historical context of the emerging concept of
occupation is, of course, the formation of the middle class itself and its
attendant ideology of separate spheres.⁶ Bourgeois domesticity as an
ideology was not based on marriage per se, but on the gendered division
of labor and the construction of a private realm as the locus of true
selfhood, a realm separate from that of the marketplace.· Although
home and marriage were not literally synonymous, their ideologies were
so intricately interwoven that they were virtually interchangeable, at
least rhetorically. Alterations in nineteenth-century marriage patterns

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