Путеводитель по истории американского романа, выполненный учёными Колумбийского университета.

Designed as a companion to The Columbia Literary History of the United States (LJ 1/88), this compilation of 31 major essays covers the American novel from the 1700s to the present (although the majority deal with the 20th century). Within each era, themes, genres, and topics such as realism, gender, romance, and technology are discussed in depth, as well as modern Canadian, Caribbean, and Latin American fiction. Unfortunately, each essayist selects only the authors who best illustrate his or her topic, thus subtly skewing the view of the literary scene at that time. Since women, minorities, popular fiction, and even the book marketplace are included, coverage is uneven, with some major figures getting short shrift. Best as a supplement to other sources, this is recommended for all literature and reference collections. -


"The Novel"; "The American Novel": there was a time not long ago when most literary critics and scholars were confident that they had a solid understanding of these terms and had a fair idea of what a book devoted to the "American Novel" would contain. After an introduction that would acknowledge the debt American novelists owe to European predecessors such as Cervantes, Defoe, Swift, Richardson, and Fielding (some might include Homer, Chaucer, Spenser, and Milton), the chapters would follow a chronology beginning with some late eighteenth-century fictions by fledgling American imitators of the English prose giants.

In a chapter entitled "At the Beginning," Alexander Cowie opened his The Rise of the American Novel (1951) in this way: "For the dearth of good American literature during the first 150 or 200 years of the white history of the country, apology is needed less than explanation. A new nation, like a new-born baby, requires time before its special characteristics become discernible." Without even bothering to define the "novel" since he assumed everyone knew what that meant, Cowie quotes Julian Hawthorne's definition of "an American novel": "a novel treating of persons, places, and ideas from an American point of view." Presumably everyone then knew what "American" meant as well.

In our own time, scholars, critics, and teachers of the literature of the United States have come to recognize that narrative — storytelling — which forms an essential element of the "novel," began — ix- in every corner of the world at a very early point in the development of civilizations. On every continent, including the two to be named "the Americas," stories that began as oral narratives in families and tribes became folk tales, songs, chants, and eventually complex national and regional oral epics. Before the invention of alphabets, stories about the adventures of hunting and war were inscribed as drawings on walls and inside caves and may still be viewed today in the Southwestern United States, Central China, and elsewhere. As a reminder of this long literary history, the contemporary Native American novelist N. Scott Momaday includes in his novella The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969) a sketch of a hunter in action drawn by his father.

With the coming of writing, the problem of defining the genres of narratives became even more complex. Are the sacred scriptures of ancient people, such as the Bible and the Koran, histories exactly? Did human imagination play a role in their creations? If so, are they to some degree or in part fictional narratives? By the time Cervantes composed Don Quixote, often considered to be the first true novel, people had been writing fictional or semifictional stories with plots, characters, settings, suspense, humor, irony, narrative twists, and surprise endings for centuries. The point at which we can say "there is the first novel in English" is no longer a simple matter.

Defining the novel as a genre even in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries is difficult because, from the first, experimentation and innovation prevailed: the epistolary form of Richardson, the journal narrative of Defoe, the fantastical tales of Swift, the picaresques of Fielding, the tales of seduction of Susanna Rowson, the domestic intrigues of Austen, the gothics of Mary Shelley and the Brontës. Then, what are we to make of texts of the twentieth century called novels by their authors but that often consist of many elements of writing that would have baffled earlier novel readers, such as fragments of poems, mixed with letters, song lyrics, and pieces of prose narrative that do not appear to connect in any sequential or logical way with other prose in the text? Is a work a novel if the author intentionally refuses to provide a plot or an ending? Who decides these things? The authors, critics, readers, the National Book Awards Committee, English professors? -x-

Certainly, when writers themselves attempt to "advance the form," in John Barth's words, of the novel through experimentation, they have a good idea of what the form of the novel is that they have inherited; it must be for them, at least, a known entity in order for them to change it. But change has always been inherent to the novel, and the literary record is littered with critics who have roasted certain novelists for breaking the rules only to be burned themselves with the discovery that a literary genius was revising the conventions.

For the sake of this literary history, we might define the novel as a text usually of substantial length that is normally written in prose and presents a narrative of events involving experiences of characters who are representative of human agents. It may present events in a fairly linear manner as though cause leads to effect, or it may interrupt time sequences, demanding of readers careful attention to fragmented episodes. The events of the narrative may lead to a conclusion or may be left suspended in seeming inconclusiveness. Most novels depict situations that represent human experiences that readers find believable, but some others may present absurd, tangled situations that bear little apparent resemblance to recognizable human experiences. While some novels allow readers to focus upon action and characters, others require the reader's close attention to nuances of language in order to formulate an interpretation. This definition probably does not account for every text now accepted as a novel — and will account for fewer with the appearance of every new experimental work — but it is broad enough to include most texts called "novels" at the moment.

Some would demand that we not only try to define the novel but that we also provide criteria for distinguishing "good" or even "great" novels from "poor" ones. Which are works of art and which are artistic failures or make no pretense at art? Not long ago, the editor of a book like ours would proclaim that we might recognize a great novel by comparing it to the late works of Henry James or those of Faulkner's great phase in the 1930s or Moby-Dick. The criteria for the greatness would have been the intricate but orderly structure, the details of characterization, the profundity of themes, the complexity of the imagery, symbolism, and allusions, and perhaps the power of the setting to evoke particular places, eras, or subtleties of human -xi- speech. The persistence of such prescriptive judgments accounts for why great innovators such as Melville or Hurston were initially misjudged.

In casting other novels into the dustbin of "poor" or "trash" novels, critics could simply point to their lack of these refinements and/or their blatant use of sentimentality or gothic horror or to their representations of human situations and conditions of life deemed unfitting for the dominant reading public. Such outcasts were rejected under several labels, such as "popular fiction," "dime novels," "pulp fiction," "agitprop," "muckraking," "women's stories," and "sentimental romances." In short, they were condemned for being "not serious" and "too simple." Most critics felt that men wrote the best fiction because they had the richest experiences to draw upon and because they possessed the complexity of mind to create challenging works of philosophical and psychological complexity. Regretfully, too, many works written by members of racial and ethnic minority groups, especially about experiences within those groups, were slighted and ignored because the subject matter was viewed as marginal and/or the literary techniques, often incorporating elements from non-Anglo cultural traditions, were misunderstood.

Without diminishing any of the acclaim deserved by such writers as Melville, James, Twain, Faulkner, and Wharton for their many extraordinary works, contemporary critics are finding that many works previously rejected under the labels listed above need rereading and reevaluation upon their own terms. To cite one example, Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899) nearly slipped out of literary history in the twentieth century because it was condemned as immoral in its day and damned with faint praise some years later as a competent work of local color and women's fiction. Rediscovery and reevaluation have put this highly structured, imagistic study of psychic torment and sexual passion on the reading lists of hundreds of college courses and have generated many serious studies of Chopin's work.

The process of research and rediscovery is continuing, thus enabling those books that were previously undervalued because they were misread and judged by unsuitable standards or were rejected because of blind prejudice to take their rightful place in our literary history. If literary historians might seem to some to be leaning rather far in the direction of tolerance and inclusion, it is because for much -xii- of this century the extreme opposite conditions prevailed, and much of the rich literary heritage of the nation was excluded from public appreciation by the decisions of a few.

The subject of history is change, and literary histories are part of history. Thus, it stands to reason that literary histories both examine change and change themselves with the passing of time. Every literary genre is dynamic, and literary history is no exception. A literary history of the novel in America published in 1991 will be and should be markedly different in many ways from such a work published ten or twenty years earlier. Indeed, this present work differs in many aspects of its approaches from the 1988 Columbia Literary History of the United States for which I was General Editor. Planning for that volume began in 1982, and the nine intervening years have brought substantial developments in the theories and methods of criticism and literary history. In fact, the nature and purpose of literary history and the literary canon it surveys have been subjects of much scholarly debate.

For example, consider the titles of the two histories. Because the scope of the Columbia Literary History of the United States was so broad, the literature examined was limited to that which had been produced in the part of the world that has become the United States. Since the United States does not constitute all of "America" — in spite of the common usage of the terms as synonymous — we did not use the term "American" in the title. With the present work focusing upon only one genre, there was room to broaden the geographic scope and include chapters on Canadian, Caribbean, and Latin American fiction.

The desire to make the space for these chapters, however, has come from the growing internationalization of literature and the study of it during the past decade. Scholars throughout the world have come to appreciate more fully the extent to which the literature of our various American nations are intertwined. The texts of South America and North America are in dialogue with each other. Novelists of Africa and the Caribbean have a profound effect upon writers in the United States and are affected by them in return. The rapid maturation of the fairly new field of comparative literary study and increasing scholarly interactions and exchanges among those who study these various literatures have deepened our understandings of -xiii- these cultural connections and made it compelling to the editors of this book to be more internationally inclusive. As evidence of how writing done all over the world has become part of our own culture, a chapter on "Colonialism, Imperialism, and Imagined Homes" rightly includes discussion of some figures who were neither born in nor lived in the Americas but whose works and experiences as novelists and public figures are a vital part of our larger literary culture.

Several other dimensions of this book spring from current critical attitudes. There are no chapters that are restricted to the fiction of women writers or of a particular racial or ethnic minority group. The works of women writers and of African American, Asian American, Chicano/a, and Jewish writers are taken up within chapters that address larger themes that are not limited by such categories. In 1982, the editors of the Columbia Literary History of the United States concluded, after extensive consultation with colleagues sensitive to the issues, that it was necessary to have specialists on women writers and on particular minority literatures write essays on those literatures because the large numbers of newly recognized writers of those groups were still not known to most critics who were nonspecialists. We wanted to be certain that the first collaborative literary history of the United States in forty years made the names and works of writers previously excluded from the canon better known so that other scholars and students could study their works. In this literary history we decided not to "ghettoize" the novels of minority writers in order to underscore the impact of minority cultures upon American culture as a whole and to problematize the boundary between "major" and "minor" literatures.

Another way in which this book differs from its Columbia University Press predecessor is that it was not driven by a desire to be comprehensive or to have chapters on single authors that would signal our assertions of who is "major" and who is "minor." There is clearly a chronological progression in the book with four historically organized sections introduced by a specialist in each period, but we did not make an attempt to "cover" every novelist in every decade nor did we assign a certain number of pages to be given to each author according to our sense of an author's relative importance in the canon. We asked each contributor to write an informative chapter about the topic we assigned. We welcomed them to focus closely -xiv- upon authors whose work most engaged them as critics and to demonstrate for our readers how historical information and critical contexts of the various periods can inform readings of the fictional texts. Some critics chose to be quite inclusive and to provide brief treatments of many authors, while others use a few representative texts to examine complex literary phenomena more deeply, such as the conventions of late nineteenth-century realism. The number of times an author's name appears in the index or the number of pages of the entire volume given to an author's work is not an indication of an editorial decision to pay special attention to particular writers over others but instead to reflect the degree to which a highly diverse group of critics turned to particular works as examples of the development of the novel as a genre and as a reflection of changes in American society.

Because we have chosen a thematic rather than a biographical approach, the reader will not find a consistent presentation of what was once called the "shape of the artist's career" unless one of our contributors happened to find a particular career illustrative of some larger cultural issues. To take the pressure of biography off our contributors and to provide the reader with a convenient summary of the lives and careers of the authors, we have provided an appendix of author biographies where such information is provided for a great many of the authors discussed in the text. For similar reasons, the chapters do not present references to other critical works about the literature through footnotes or parenthetical intrusions. However, those critics who are mentioned in the chapters can be found, along with many others, in the selected bibliography.

The major aim of this "literary history" — a term that has as many definitions these days as there are definers — is to provide readers with lively and engaging discussions of the development of the novel in the Americas. Our emphasis, however, is upon the ways that current critical perspectives provide fresh insights into the texts and into the history of which the novels were and remain a part. For example, after an opening chapter that presents an overview of the emergence of the novel as an art form in the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century, there is a chapter that examines how the emergence of autobiography in early America, especially those written by slaves and by women, can be seen in relation to the narrative techniques of -xv- the novel. There are autobiographical fictions and fictional autobiographies, and this chapter examines the points of contact and divergence between these genres. Our next chapter surveys the book marketplace of the early nineteenth century and the impact of publishers and readers upon the development of the novel. Then, following a general chapter on the Romance form of the novel that explores the works of Hawthorne and Melville, there is a chapter entitled "Romance and Race" that uses the example of Poe in particular to show how mythmaking in the Romance is subtly connected to the public rhetoric that attempted to present slavery as a benevolent institution.

Such a variation of approaches — standard survey treatments interwoven with probing studies of special subthemes — is designed to allow readers to see the multifaceted nature of the novel as a form and the highly complex circumstances that enable, impede, inspire, and restrict the artistic powers of novelists.

In order to alert readers to some of the thematic issues examined across the centuries, we have used roman numerals, as with Fiction and Reform I" and "II, Popular Forms I" and "II, and The Book Marketplace I" and "II. The titles of other chapters indicate subjects for which there is continuity of treatment, such as in the case of race, region, and gender. In much literary theory and criticism of the 1980s, there has been more attention to and more sophisticated discussion of the work of lesbian and gay authors, and our chapters on "Society and Identity" and "Constructing Gender" especially reflect these recent trends.

Yet for all of our innovations in method and in the examination of new areas of fiction, this volume still tells an old story. That story is one that now begins with ancient oral narratives in the Middle East, in Africa, in Central Eurasia, in the Mediterranean, in Central China, in the forests and deserts of South America, and on the plains, along the rivers, and in the hills and mountains of North America. Some of these stories became powerful myths that became the cornerstones of great religions, that helped shape the destinies of peoples and civilizations, and that survived centuries to be echoed in poems and novels of today.

Once people of imagination began to write stories in that part of -xvi- North America that became the United States, they drew upon all of these heritages. African slaves told their ancestors' tales and heard those that descended through the families of Welsh, Scottish, Irish, and English settlers. French traders and Spanish explorers swapped stories with Native Americans who may have even memorized some from the Norse explorers centuries before. By the time the first "American novel" was written, a long and complicated cultural history provided a rich resource for the imagination of the novelist.

Thus, it was only a matter of a few decades before novels began pouring off the American presses, and American writers from Irving and Cooper to Stowe, Alcott, Child, Hawthorne, and Melville were achieving success and receiving acclaim. By the latter decades of the nineteenth century, Henry James could challenge Balzac for the honor of being major novelist in the Western hemisphere, while James's contemporaries and those soon following after, such as Twain, Howells, Wharton, Crane, Dreiser, Norris, Chopin, Chesnutt, and Cather, were producing works of international recognition.

With the emergence of Anderson, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein in the 1920s, the world acknowledged that most of the consequential novelists and writers of the time were from the United States, even if many of them chose to live abroad. Others who wrote in that period would wait decades to attain proper recognition; among them were Hurston, Toomer, and Hughes. When the achievement of Faulkner came to be understood in the late 1940s and 1950s, the world again hailed the United States for having literary genius in its midst.

And so, too, since the mid-century, renowned artists of the novel have appeared: Wright, O'Connor, Ellison, Bellow, Mailer, Baldwin, Malamud, Roth, Barth, Pynchon, Updike, Morrison, Kingston, Oates, and DeLillo, to name just a few. This list of American accomplishments in the novel does not begin to survey the remarkable artists of Canadian, Caribbean, and Latin American literature presented in the latter chapters of this history.

The inevitable limitation of any literary history is that there is never enough space for the inclusion of everyone or for the fullest treatment of those who are included. We regret that we could not provide chapters on every dimension of the novel or more analysis of -xvii- those we have included. We believe that what we do present will give our readers fresh, contemporary perspectives on the literary history of the "American Novel."

I would like to thank the associate editors and the contributors for the fine work they did for this volume. All of us involved in this book appreciate the important contributions of the excellent people at Columbia University Press. Once again, the President and Director of the Press, John D. Moore, provided the leadership and wisdom that enabled us to see it to completion. The Editorial Director of the Reference Division of the Press, James Raimes, initiated the idea for this book and oversaw the day-to-day progress of the work, and we benefited greatly from his insights, experience, patience, and understanding. James's fine assistant Frances Kim cheerfully and intelligently handled the myriad of details that crossed her desk. As always, William F. Bernhardt expertly edited the manuscripts with intelligence and tact. From the English Department of the University of California at Riverside, Stephanie Erickson and Deborah Hatheway composed the entries for the appendix of biographies of authors, and Deborah and Carlton Smith provided editorial assistance and suggestions for a number of the chapters. I am also grateful to the Faculty Senate of the University of California, Riverside, for general support and to my colleagues and the staff members of the English Department whose good will — and patience while waiting to use the copier — I genuinely appreciate. As always, my wife and university colleague, Georgia, contributed sound suggestions and warm encouragement, and my daughters Constance and Laura were indulgent of my frequent preoccupation.

Emory Elliott


Beginnings to the Mid-Nineteenth Century


Critics, preachers, and other self-appointed moralists hated it; young men and women loved it. The novel was the subject of heated popular debate in the late eighteenth century and, in many ways, was to the early national period what television was to the 1950s or MTV and video games to the 1980s. It was condemned as escapist, anti-intellectual, violent, pornographic; since it was a "fiction" it was a lie and therefore evil. Since it often portrayed characters of low social station and even lower morals — foreigners, orphans, fallen women, beggar girls, women cross-dressing as soldiers, soldiers acting as seducers — it fomented social unrest by making the lower classes dissatisfied with their lot. The novel ostensibly contributed to the demise of community values, the rise in licentiousness and illegitimacy, the failure of education, the disintegration of the family; in short, the ubiquity of the novel — augmented in the early nineteenth century by new printing, papermaking, and transportation technologies — most assuredly meant the decline of Western civilization as it had previously been known.

Predictably, running side by side with the sermons and newspaper editorials condemning the genre was a countering polemic in its favor. Other social commentators on the early novel claimed it was educational, nationalistic, populist, precisely what was required to bring together a nation recently fragmented by a Revolutionary War and further divided by the influx of immigrants in the postRevolutionary period, European immigrants who did not speak the same language, practice the same religion, or share the same values -3- as those earlier arrived on these native shores. By its linguistic simplicity, the novel was uniquely accessible to working-class readers and would introduce them to middle-class (and, presumably, WASP) values and manners. By its typical focus on women characters and its frequent addresses to women readers, it would help to erase the gender inequities built into the early American educational system. By its preoccupation with seduction as a theme, it would warn women that they had to be smart to survive. And even the early genre's suspect attachment to local scandal as a major source for its materials served a worthy end, for it warned men that their infamies could be broadcast to the community at large and that they could thus be held accountable for private sin in the court of public opinion.

What was the real function of the novel in early America? Again one might make the analogy to modern cultural forms such as television: the verdict is still out. But what is obvious is that, in a market sense, the new form triumphed decisively over its detractors. On the most basic, mercantile level, this is evident from late eighteenthcentury publishers' catalogs and book advertisements. Prior to around 1790, books that we would now call novels (for example, Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews) were frequently hawked as "narratives," or "personal histories," or simply left unlabeled. After around 1790, virtually any text that could conceivably be connected to the term "novel" (as noun or adjective) wore that designation, and autobiographical and biographical accounts, crime reports, conversion stories, captivity narratives, religious tracts, collections of sermons, even poetic sequences were all peddled as novels. As an established and valued commodity, novels sold.

The early contentious history of the novel in America anticipated in subtle and profound ways the debates, anxieties, and controversies about the genre during the nineteenth century, issues taken up in the chapters in the first section of this volume. Where, for example, is the boundary between the autobiography and the novel? The blurring of one into the other has a long history. That blurring also raises crucial theoretical and even political issues. As-told-to narratives, for example, contest the interrelated notions of "authenticity," "authority," and "authorship." An autobiography must be shaped and controlled and plotted in ways that resemble fiction, but the very concept of fictionality jeopardizes an authoritative "I." Which has more status, -4- novel or autobiography? Which has more cultural power? Questions of genre — especially when we address slave or Native American narratives — turn (as did discussions of the early novel) on questions of social truth and social power.

Authority and authorship also turn on questions of economic power. By the mid-nineteenth century, the "novel" did not exist as any single entity. Popularity produces diversity, and soon there were many kinds of novels designed for a vaguely differentiated and overlapping audience — sensation novels, pulp romances, adventure stories, newspaper serials, reform novels. Some writers, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, even wanted to distinguish their "romances" from the more prevalent but still partly suspect varieties of the novel.

Hawthorne's trepidation lest he be called a "novelist" seems rooted in virtually all of the early American anxieties about the morality, factitiousness, accountability, moral purpose, and political function of the novel in society, anxieties arising (like Hawthorne's own) from a Puritan preoccupation with the practical social value of products of the imagination. Even Hawthorne's well-known uneasiness about fiction and gender, articulated throughout his life and his fiction in a variety of ways, seems to be a vestigial manifestation of the very first anxieties about the novel in America. The first two American best-sellers, Charlotte Temple and The Coquette, were both penned, after all, by "scribbling women."

Did the novel forever alter America? Can a literary work really reform/re-form society? Can any cultural form effect social change? Or do cultural forms reflect those changes in progress? Agency, at one theoretical level or another, remains an issue in all discussions of the novel to date, just as it was in the first debates on the morality of fiction. So what else is new? Our fears and our hopes about the social potentialities of any new cultural phenomenon continue to inspire much the same debate (with the attendant tropes of apocalypse or redemption) that surrounded the emergence of the novel in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America.

Cathy N. Davidson


The Early American Novel

The hallmark of the early American novel is its instability, an uncertainty and confusion in almost every area related to fiction making; in order to highlight the most significant result of this instability, I would like to pretend at the outset of this chapter that I am a critic wedded to contemporary critical fashion. With this guise in place, I begin by declaring that, in fact, there is no such thing as the "early American novel." To prove my point, I carefully examine each term in the phrase to show that its intended meaning necessarily evaporates under critical scrutiny. First, take the word "early," which in this context is supposed to signify an event or events (the production of novels) occurring in the first part of some division of time, or of some series. In what sense, then, are the works that I intend to discuss — books by William Hill Brown, Hannah Foster, Susanna Rowson, Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Charles Brockden Brown, and James Fenimore Cooper — early products of American history or culture?

By consensus the first "American novel" is William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy, which appeared initially in 1789. But the land mass known as America had been called by that name since 1507, when the German geographer Martin Waldseemüller named it after its founder, Amerigo Vespucci; in that regard, "America" — its history and surely its culture — had existed for 282 years before Brown published his novel. If we follow the editors of one older anthology of American writing (1978), who declare that by American literature they mean "literature written in English by people who -6- came to settle in the territory that eventually became the United States of America," then American writing begins in 1630 with William Bradford's history, Of Plimmouth Plantation; Brown's book, still 159 years away, is hardly an early American production. (Newer anthologies, if they begin with voyages of discovery, assign dates like 1492 to the first American writings; if they commence with Native American "myths," the dates are earlier still, though mostly unknown.) Perhaps by "early" we intend something like the "beginning" of the American novel, but you do not have to read very far in Brown's book to realize that, as a "novelist," he is totally dependent on Samuel Richardson, and in particular Richardson's Pamela (1741-42), where the story, as is Brown's, is told through a series of letters; moreover, Brown's plot centers on the theme of seduction, another Richardsonian gift to the world of fiction. One might plausibly argue that the American novel truly begins with Richardson; without him there would be no Brown. Pamela, in fact, was the first English novel printed in America, in 1844. (Another English antecedent would be Laurence Sterne, whose A Sentimental Journey is actually mentioned in The Power of Sympathy.) Finally, suppose that "early" means, from our perspective, belonging to a period far back in time. This makes the most sense, relatively speaking, if you consider 200 years ago "far back in time" — though our country is still proclaiming its newness, still championing its innocence, still denying that it is drenched in time.

"American" is far more problematic. The word is absolutely meaningless as a descriptive term if all it indicates is that a book — Brown's, Rowson's, Cooper's, anyone's — was published in the United States. In the days before international copyright, the works of many English writers were pirated, printed, and sold by American booksellers under their own imprints; they were, in effect, published in America, and most Americans first read the great eighteenth-century novelists in these editions. Moreover, some nineteenth-century American writers — Washington Irving and Herman Melville are good examples — in order to secure both English and American copyrights, published several of their books in England before they appeared in America. Does the writer have to be born in America? Have written his or her novel in America? Susanna Rowson was born in England, and Charlotte Temple, her most interesting novel, was written while -7- she was living in England. Yet literary historians have always proclaimed it an "American" novel. Anthony Trollope's North America, and some of Frances Trollope's novels, were written wholly while mother and son (independently) were traveling in America. Are they American books? Must America then be the setting of the novel for it to be American? William Hill Brown's book is set in America — the America of the early Republic (New York, Rhode Island, and Boston), but then so is Aphra Behn's Oroonoko if, as William Spengemann has argued, you consider that when she wrote it in 1688 Surinam was considered part of America. In Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens has his title character travel to America and spend about a fourth of the book there; is the novel then one-fourth American? Perhaps more to the point: only about one-seventh of Moby-Dick takes place on American soil; is Melville's masterpiece not an American novel?

Scholars have spent an inordinate amount of time arguing that "American" really refers to "Americanness": national characteristics shape and mirror the form of a literary work. Some idea of America animates the narrative, controls and orders the very pattern of words upon the page. A variant on this idea of "Americanness" would be that recognizable issues, concerns, preoccupations appear again and again in books that are supposedly representative of American experience. Thus, Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain are the most American of nineteenth-century novelists, and Whitman is our true American poet, since something like an American identity can be discerned from reading their works. Ultimately, Spengemann has said, "America must make a difference in the way literature is written."

I have in the past believed this to be so (the force of Spengemann's arguments to the contrary notwithstanding), and to some extent still do, though I am deeply troubled by the implications of extracting some notion of identity, some sense of representativeness, from a canonized literature written almost exclusively by white men. The newest anthologies of our national literature have attempted to correct for this imbalance, and we now have access to the voices and visions of so many previously excluded "others." Perhaps, generally speaking, our literature will finally deserve to be called American, but can we say the same in particular for the novel, especially the so-8- called early novel, where the practitioners are exclusively white, though some indeed are female?

To be sure, the America in the term "the American novel" is a place, with hard outlines and a traceable landscape, but it is also, as it has been from the outset, an idea — often an ideal — imagined first in the minds of enlightened European thinkers, reimagined, and then shaped and configured, in the consciousness of Thomas Jefferson and the other founders of the Republic. That America may indeed never have existed in fact, but it always exists in mythic memory, and it is first and foremost a vision of inclusiveness: it deplores restriction and derogation. Can it not be said that to the extent that the nation embodies this vision it is that much closer to becoming America? How, then, can the "early American novel" possibly be American when it lacks any kind of minority and ethnic representation? Without there being a free assemblage of different peoples and an open forum for their genuinely differing points of view, there is no America; without a confluence of voices, expressing a myriad range of experience, there is no American novel. The American novel is, in the best sense of the term, multicultural; it may only recently have come into being.

This brings us to the third of our slippery terms: the literary designation "novel." If a novel is, in the simplest possible definition, a "sustained fictional narrative in prose," as the modern editor of The Power of Sympathy contends, then it appears as if Brown's, as well as every other book to be discussed here, qualifies as a novel. In fact, almost any form of fiction does, for what does "sustained" mean but that a plan or design has been executed or upheld? Even some autobiographies might fit under this rubric, which is how some contemporary critics view them anyway. A more problematic term, however, is "fiction," which had low status in eighteenth-century America and was often shunned by those who wrote it. Often, too, readers believed they were devouring "true" stories, that is, narratives based on fact — incidents that were historically verifiable (which is the case not only with Brown's Sympathy but also with Foster's Coquette and Rowson's Charlotte). Cathy N. Davidson points out that Rowson promised her readers "A Tale of Truth," and that is exactly how her story was read and appreciated. Some writers, like Washington Irving, went to elaborate steps to deny the fictionality of their work; his -9- assuming the mask of Diedrich Knickerbocker is only one of the ways by which he tried to convince the public he was offering it either history or "true" story.

If today's readers were asked to decide what element of a novel most mattered to them, they would probably emphasize either character or plot development. In other words, for most consumers of fiction, the novel signifies "realism," and this is indeed the distinction M. H. Abrams draws between the novel proper and the "romance": "The novel," Abrams writes, "is characterized as the fictional attempt to give the effect of realism, by representing complex characters with mixed motives who are rooted in a social class, operate in a highly developed social structure, interact with many other characters, and undergo plausible and everyday modes of experience." The niceties of generic distinction are not the point; rather, the works usually labeled as early American novels do not look anything like the conception most people have of the novel. Their characters are abstractions, hardly ever realized in any complex psychological way; their plots are mechanical, often clumsy and ill contrived; their "modes of experience" are anything but "everyday." In the modern sense of the term, the one we live with experientially, none of these books are novels at all but perhaps more like sermons or fables.

I must add a note here about what I personally look for in American novels, that is, what makes novel reading a vital experience for me. In each new book I am interested in discovering what I call "cultural voice," the process or the means by which an author with a social conscience and a rich and liberating language, though usually speaking through a persona, presents us with a unified moral vision of American society. "Voice" in this sense is the sound that results when fear is overcome so that truth can be asserted. It is the refusal to internalize, and thus be tamed by, the forces and agents of cultural repression. It is the cry of unsuppressed rage, the explosion of unchecked anxiety, the release of unmitigated anger, the expression of (as much as possible) unmediated passion or desire. A genuine voice can never be truly imitated, duplicated, or reproduced.

The primary function of the "cultural voice" I am describing is to demythologize, to unravel the web of false pieties that would masquerade as virtue, thus exposing sham, duplicity, and pretension cloaked under the guise of authenticity, honesty, and integrity. Di-10- rected at those who have assumed positions of authority, power, and privilege, it often reveals claims of superior citizenship to be little more than hypocrisy, a cover for selfish, rapacious deeds. (A prototypical example of my ideal American novel would be E. L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel [1971].) This quality of voice is fundamentally moral: in the novels that really matter, those fictions that change the way readers see or experience their world, expressive language and visionary commitment are aligned so that characters reach moral awareness through acts of speech; that is, the utterance of personal truths, values, and beliefs culminates in the long and often painful process of discovery. The "voice" with which a character or a narrator speaks, the language he or she chooses for that expression, are themselves agents of revelation of inner being and moral selfhood.

There are no cultural voices in the "early American novel," and there are four primary reasons for this absence. First, no authentic American language was available for literary purposes. The writers who constitute the canon here, from Foster and Rowson through Irving and Cooper, were thoroughly dependent on the modes, styles, rhythms, and structures of the English language that they found in the books of their favorite seventeenth- and eighteenth-century authors. While America may have proclaimed its political independence from Britain, it nevertheless remained culturally subservient well into the nineteenth century. One reason Irving was hailed as America's first significant author by the British literary establishment, for example, was that his elegant prose sounded as if it had been written by an Englishman. Twenty-five years ago, in The Colloquial Style in America, Richard Bridgman showed that not until the nineteenth century did American prose first incorporate a colloquial or spoken speech into its style; American writers, as Bridgman put it, began to "evolve a new means of expression out of the casual discourse of the nation," which included, among other things, an emphasis on "greater concreteness of diction" and "simplicity in syntax." The importance of this development must be underscored: if language creates consciousness, then "means of expression" creates literary forms of resistance; without an originality in either area there could be no genuine American voices.

Second, while the formality, propriety, and correctness of the written English language constrained early American authors, what may -11- have been equally limiting was the lack of cultural support of their creative efforts. America was simply too new and too raw a society to be overly concerned about the development of arts and letters; labor and resources were better expended on building towns and cities, roads and transportation systems, than on constructing an authentic American literature. Why should any healthy, able-bodied American citizen devote time and energy to products of the imagination, which were, after all, only of secondary or tertiary importance? Furthermore, when there was leisure available for literary pursuits, the lack of an international copyright made cheap reprints of British authors readily available. Why pay more for a book written by an American, which in any case was likely to be inferior? No aspiring American author could therefore afford to write full time — there was no profession of authorship in America as there was in England; the American Dr. Johnson did not exist — and without concentrated attention a bold indigenous literature was unlikely to appear. It is worth remembering that when Washington Irving became the nation's first successful professional author, he did so by going to England and winning recognition among the mother country's literati; having been approved abroad he could be sanctioned at home, which meant not only recognition but also, and perhaps even more important, dollars. But it did not mean the beginning of an American writer.

Third, where American culture did exist it tended to be parochial, thus generally distrustful of any form of written expression that was not expressly didactic. Literature, above all, was supposed to be edifying; its purpose was clearly that of moral improvement. Richardson's significant American following was a good illustration of this belief; as a Christian moralist (though Henry Fielding may have thought otherwise) he satisfied the public's overt need to see virtue rewarded, vice punished, and, whenever possible, raffishness reformed. But the novelist who sought to move beyond these boundaries, to, say, entertain through a tale of terror or adventure (seduction was too charged a subject to be considered entertaining), became highly suspect; such a book, being neither moral, educational, nor "truthful" (then as now, the vaguest of terms), served no socially redeeming purpose, and was condemned by clerical and secular leaders alike. Although the church may have been slowly losing its heg-12- emonic sway in American society, it still held enough authority to have its point of view taken seriously, and time and again the clergy (including such a luminary as Jonathan Edwards) warned that novel reading was an indulgence likely to lead to moral and spiritual decline. In the public sphere, prominent leaders (numbering among them figures no less revered than John Adams and Thomas Jefferson) decried the loss of a civic-minded feeling among the populace, a development they blamed in part on the withdrawal into a private and personal realm of being, emblematized perfectly by the isolated and self-absorbing experience of reading fiction. Such criticism encouraged neither experimentation nor forthrightness among American writers.

Attitudes eventually changed, of course, though the censure of the novel did not fully abate until well into the nineteenth century; what is truly noteworthy, however, was the continued, and in fact widespread, reading of novels in the eighteenth century, in spite of — and here one almost wants to say in opposition to — the criticism emanating from "high" places. By the turn of the century libraries were stocking, in addition to the standard sermons and funeral orations, novels and romances, travel narratives and adventure stories. And these were being consumed, as observers of the social scene noted, not only among middle-class families in seaport towns and cities along the East Coast but also by farmers and other dwellers in what was then the heartland of the country. It is difficult to know exactly what to make of this shift in reading habits, though as a form of popular resistance to the tedious sermonizing against fiction it may very well be part of a more general questioning of authority that occurred in the decades following the Revolution.

Fourth, if you have an unsettled society, there is no stable "American" genre of the novel — or, for that matter, anything else. The challenge to an established hierarchy of political leadership (composed, in the eighteenth century, of men who had wealth, talent, and social status), which is supported by such historical evidence as the worry over increased factionalism (addressed so cogently in The Federalist), the fear that the rise of the popular press would lead to a decline in religious and civil authority, and the passing of repressive laws like the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) — all these point toward the unsettled nature of society in the years during which the novel -13- was (supposedly) rising in America. In a society that was still being formed, and at a time when debates about the nature and shape of the government, and about such vital issues as the inclusivity or exclusivity of the voting populace, were taking place, the novel might very well have played a significant role in redirecting or restructuring power relations. Indeed, Cathy N. Davidson and others have argued that some novels tried to assume an ideological position — as, in Davidson's phrase from Revolution and the Word (1986), a "covert or even overt critique of the existing social order" — and that the more popular the genre became the more those vested with cultural authority worried over their loss of dominance. This was true because, unlike sermons, the novel required no intermediaries for interpretation or guidance; addressed to all readers, it presumed no special erudition on their part. In effect, it eliminated the need for mediation; the individual himself or herself assumed the role of authority. Novelists were then in an excellent position to shape public opinion, to become agents of the liberation of the democratic mind.

I contend, however, that such a glorious scenario never really took place: while this may have been an era in which the unprivileged were beginning to demand a place in the political culture of the nation, and while the novel may have validated the legitimacy of the individual reader's responses, the novelists themselves were too conservative in their relation to the state, too ambivalent about the location of legitimate authority, and too uncertain about where their loyalties ultimately lay to have become genuine "cultural voices" and to have written powerful social critiques. Although they located the inequalities and incongruences in an American society that claimed to be egalitarian, and although they occasionally undermined cherished beliefs about reason and liberty as the girders of that society, these writers remained wedded to the rhetoric of the Revolution, and thus were still intent upon educating an American readership to be good citizens of the Republic. An unsettled and turbulent nation did not lead to bold products of the imagination, but rather to didactic textbooklike texts that tried to freeze values that were even then in flux. Unlike our own era, which has witnessed a revolution in Latin American and Eastern European fiction, corresponding to an upheaval in the political life in these parts of the world, late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century America produced no new forms and configura-14- tions of the novel. Rather, we get not the novel as reflection of its society (one standard definition of the term) but a sham sermon to hold change at bay, mere imitations of older British forms. Indeed, the contradictions in the very term "early American novel" that I previously categorized mirror the contradictions in the works of the imagination to which that term applies.

If we examine some of the canonized novels of this period, drawing examples from four subgenres — the sentimental, the picaresque, the gothic, and what might be called the novel of nostalgia or reclamation — we can see the dislocations in the very form, shape, and language of these works. Beginning with the sentimental, and taking the "first" American novel first, we notice immediately that, like Foster's Coquette and Rowson's Charlotte Temple, Brown's The Power of Sympathy defends itself as a novel by claiming "to represent the specious Causes, and to Expose the fatal Consequences of Seduction"; further, it will "set forth and recommend" the "Advantages of Female Education"; but the truth is, as its publisher well knew, and highlighted as part of his advertising campaign, that the book was based on — was in fact an exposé of — the story of Perez Morton's seduction of his wife's sister, Fanny Apthorp, an act at once both adulterous and incestuous according to eighteenth-century law. Politician, statesman, patriot, and Harvard-educated, Morton was a member of the privileged class, a friend to John Adams and other New England elites, who actually defended his honor and reputation after his sister-in-law committed suicide. Clearly, it was this underlying scandal that fueled public interest in Brown's novel, especially since many of his readers believed he would provide them with previously unknown details. Clumsily written, with little attention to the nuances of character, and told through a series of letters that do not even bother to respond to each other, America's first "novel" lacks any memorable novelistic features; furthermore, it owes its enthusiastic reception and recognition not to any realized imaginative conception but rather to the historically verifiable events it purports to illuminate.

Brown certainly leaves no doubt that Morton (changed to Martin in the novel) deserves punishment as well as censure for violating both private vows and civic duty, and in this respect he indirectly challenges men like Adams who blamed the entire episode on Fanny's -15- (called Ophelia in the novel) supposed insanity. Moreover, as it promised, the novel does insist on the importance of education for women; its moralizing, didactic letters are just as often (if not more so) directed toward the audience as to the wayward characters. But as much as Brown may have wanted to defend the victimized, helpless woman, virtually powerless in a society where she was viewed as another form of property, he leaves too many unanswered questions about her possible complicity in the unsavory event of seduction. Ophelia may be innocent, even virtuous, yet she is seduced by her sister's husband and in her sister's house. There are no psychological clues to this puzzle. Furthermore, as for the other pair of male and female protagonists, Harrington and Harriot (who turn out to be brother and sister), they are unable to break free of their desire for each other. Their story is an enticing, sexually charged one, and cannot be canceled out by the author's moral intentions, no matter how often these are sounded. Seduction may well be a subject that points toward the gross abuse of social power by men of privilege and position, but it is also a titillating one, and Brown has not found a way to negotiate this dangerous issue satisfactorily.

Hannah Foster is more successful in The Coquette (1797), though once again we have a work of fiction based on factual incident, one familiar to every reader of the novel since it was a scandal widely publicized in the newspapers of the day. In 1788 Elizabeth Whitman (thinly disguised as Eliza Wharton in the novel), thirty-seven years old, pregnant, and nearly penniless, though from a respected family and well educated for the time, arrived at an inn in Massachusetts and, while supposedly waiting for her husband to arrive, gave birth to a stillborn child and then died shortly after of infection. As it turned out, there was no husband: Whitman was an abandoned woman, a victim of seduction, and in the popular lore of the day she became an example not only of compromised virtue but even more so of unjustified arrogance, since she had rejected what appeared to be two excellent opportunities for marriage in the hope of finding a husband with whom she could share both an intellectual and an emotional life. In other words, she desired compatibility, not merely protection, and for this she was vilified in the press. Foster attempts to retell her story from the victim's point of view, showing how limited were her choices and as a consequence how narrowly cir-16- cumscribed was her life, a life that, given her talents and abilities, should have been fruitful. It is Foster's point, however, that "should have" itself is an impossibility in a society that accords a woman status only as a male appendage.

Like Brown, Foster relies on the epistolary technique, and while she handles it more fluidly than he — the letters are more individuated, the style of each somewhat more appropriate to the particular correspondent — the narrative still remains leaden, often tedious. Looking forward some years to 1813, when Pride and Prejudice was first published, we can see how a master like Jane Austen handles similar material: the wooing of a bright, interesting woman by a dull, self-important cleric, her recognition that such a marriage would be spiritual death, and yet the consequences of refusing what looks like, socially speaking, the best offer the woman is likely to receive. Where Eliza Wharton's story drags, Elizabeth Bennett's sparkles, but then the Reverend J. Boyer, surely as pompous as Mr. Collins, is far less amusing and far more self-serving in his vanity and righteousness; moreover, Mr. Wharton can provide no ironic observations on his daughter's situation as does Mr. Bennett on his. And of course, there's no rescuer like Mr. Darcy to save the heroine and her family from ruin, only a destroyer like Peter Sanford to cause it. While the differences are, to a large extent, generically necessary (the comic as opposed to the sentimental), they are also motivated by the radically distinct social visions of Foster and Austen; for all its proclamations of openness and opportunity, American society is far more limiting and restrictive for women. It strips them of choice, just as it denies them a meaningful voice in their country's affairs, and even in their own.

Indeed, no difference here is finally more instructive than the major one between Elizabeth and Eliza: Austen's heroine combats her situation through brilliant and witty language, a play of sensibility that enables her to triumph over unfortunate, occasionally menacing circumstance, whereas all that Foste r can imagine for her protagonist is silence. Her letters ironically demonstrate a lack of creative choice. Eliza Wharton loses her voice or, perhaps more to the point, relinquishes it, but in either case circumstance and event triumph over her. Silence, as critics of the novel have argued, is an appropriate metaphor for a woman's lack of independent legal status in American -17- society; since she has no agency, why pretend that her words mean anything? But to yield the struggle, to accept powerlessness, is to permit the dominant culture not only to go unchallenged but also to take refuge once again in its supercilious moral standards. Eliza passively giving herself to her seducer, falling into sin and, inevitably, death, only reinforces the codes that Foster has in other ways tried to subvert. The novel itself sacrifices the cultural ground it might otherwise have claimed.

If Susanna Rowson was more successful in her social commentary — a point of some debate — it may very well have been because in Charlotte Temple (published in America in 1794) she abandoned the Richardsonian form (mercifully, only a few letters appear in the text) in favor of a third-person narrative, though one that she occasionally interrupts to speak in her own voice. It is that voice, however constrained it may be by her culture's suspicion of novel writing (she indicates in the preface her awareness of the novel's suspect nature), and bound though it still is to conventional morality (she advises her young readers to implore "heaven" to "keep [them] free from temptation"), that gives the novel its real interest, for we can hear, underneath the rather formal and even stilted language, her desire to break the bonds of women's cultural subservience, an inherited sphere of expectation that makes Charlotte Temple a prey to male predators like her seducer Montraville and his adviser Belcour. Addressing young women explicitly (perhaps the first time an American novel does so), Rowson warns against listening to the "voice of love" — the very voice women were culturally conditioned to await eagerly — since men, too, are products of their culture. Occasionally tempered by sympathy during the act, perhaps mitigated by remorse afterward, seduction is nevertheless a scenario of the empowered versus the marginalized, the sanctioned versus the disenfranchised, and women will inevitably suffer victimization until the social structure is reformed.

Rowson counsels resistance: men are "vile betrayer[s]," "monsters of seduction," and if they know the meaning of the word "honour" are undoubtedly too swayed by modern fashion and "refinement" to practice it. Forget "romance," she tells her readers (almost as if they were her charges), "no woman can be run away with contrary to her own inclination." But even though she expresses these feminist sen-18- timents and aligns herself with her audience, as if to say we must nurture each other rather than look toward a man for support, Rowson still cannot produce a text that itself resists the pieties and homilies of the culture it has been vilifying (the book actually concludes with the utterly banal biblical platitude that vice eventually leads to "misery and shame"). In the end it winds up promoting the values that cloak forms of (male) oppression; it authorizes the very authorities it has previously sought to displace. The "precepts of religion and virtue" vanish from the novel (if they were present in the first place) as quickly as Montraville when he has the opportunity to make an advantageous match, yet these become the tired ideals to which young women should aspire. If, after everything Montraville has done to disgrace and humiliate Charlotte, she can still declare her love for him, what kind of model has Rowson provided those readers whom she had previously roused to anger and indignation? Moreover, what kind of stability does the sentimental novel offer, when it itself is marked by such prevarication?

If the sentimental novel often failed because it could not sustain a coherent critique of American society, the picaresque often succeeded for the very same reason. This loose, baggy, disjointed narrative form, usually containing several different kinds of discourse, including philosophical reflection, travel essay, and political disquisition, was also perfectly suited for commentary on the politics of republicanism, which in the years following the Revolution, and especially in the time of Constitutional debates, could be highly factious. Cathy N. Davidson has convincingly argued this point, showing how the various and divergent voices of the American polis were sounded out by characters who traveled through cities, towns, and villages, engaging those whom they encountered in argument and debate. What often emerged was a tension — sometimes outright hostility — between Federalist and Anti-Federalist, privileged and common, those who supported the entrenched power and those who demanded its redistribution. The vociferous, highly charged (but implicit) arguments centered, above all, on the meaning of America and who were its rightful inheritors.

But the picaresque also had inherent weaknesses, the most glaring being an inconsistency in its point of view. It was often difficult, sometimes impossible, to tell where its author stood on the vital po-19- litical issues he (and it almost always was "he") was discussing. It was not until Mark Twain transformed the picaresque with the publication of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1884-85 that any kind of stability in tone and vision entered the form. If the journey down the Mississippi seemed random and unplotted, Twain's purposes were nevertheless highly focused. Moreover, with the dual portrait of Huck and Jim, Twain achieved a clarity and depth in character that no other picaresque novel had previously managed. Earlier versions of the genre may also have highlighted socially marginal figures, pitting them against representatives of mainstream society, yet none could maintain the satiric perspective while at the same time realizing the emotional depths of, and eliciting compassion for, their wandering protagonists. The potential for greatness had always been there; it took a great writer, of course, to realize it.

The most successful of the early picaresque novels, Hugh Henry Brackenridge's Modern Chivalry (published in irregular installments from 1792 to 1815) combines the best and the worst aspects of the genre. Concerning the latter, the narrative rambles incessantly, digresses willfully, pontificates frequently; moreover, the author interrupts, directly or in postscripts, to discuss both his career and his book (the very one we are reading), even quoting critical reviews of the first two volumes at the outset of the third (the advantage, perhaps, of publishing parts of a work at widely separate intervals). While these practices may seem like contemporary self-reflexiveness by our postmodern standards, they are merely distracting, since they apparently partake of no larger metafictional strategy; nothing, that is, holds the book together as a coherent whole. Concerning the best, however, Brackenridge creates two characters with charged comic energy, the educated and sophisticated Captain Farrago and his ignorant and coarse servant Teague O'Regan. The two have been compared to the classic fictional travelers Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (the novel itself suggests the likeness), but a more illuminating analogy would be the stage and television performers Abbott and Costello; like Abbott, Farrago relies on his superior reasoning ability, constantly offers advice and guidance, and is invariably ignored or, worse, foiled in his attempts to impose order on a chaotic scene. Like Costello, O'Regan depends on Farrago for assistance in difficult situations, always disregards his plea for moderation, and, though he is -20- the butt of the humor, winds up triumphing over the man of reason by becoming the choice of the common people. Had Brackenridge been a greater novelist (had he been Twain), he could have written a comic masterpiece.

What he has produced, however, is a book as contradictory and as confusing in its pronouncements and outlook as the early American Republic itself. Brackenridge cannot seem to decide between the aristocratic assumptions of Farrago and the populist impulses of O'Regan; while he shares Farrago's fear of the mob, for example, he apparently admires O'Regan's determination to rise in American society, even if he is unqualified for every position or office he seeks. If he seems dubious about the leveling tendencies of democracy, he also tends to reject the reactionary declarations and prejudiced views of an (often self-proclaimed) elite citizenry. Not surprisingly, Brackenridge shifts political allegiances in his book just as he did in his life, championing Federalism during the time of the Constitutional debates, then subsequently becoming an Anti-Federalist when government policies began to privilege land speculation at the expense of impoverished farmers. But, finally, the novelist seems unsure as to which version of the democratic system he supports, either total participatory democracy, or some limited form of democratic government where an enlightened leadership rules on behalf of a populace not quite intelligent and therefore trustworthy enough to govern itself. The equivocation may very well mirror the endless uncertainties of political life in the new nation, but it also weakens the already shaky foundations of the fledgling novel.

Perhaps Americans had the most success adapting the form of the novel that would seem to be the least suited to the open, expansive American landscape, the gothic, which depended for its effects on such feudal artifacts as intricately constructed castles and ruined abbeys, and such Old World types as evil barons and mad monks. But the gothic also specialized in such human foibles as superstition and delusion, as well as human anxieties over hidden corruption and uncertain, if not outrightly malign, motivation. The claustrophobic structures and mazelike pathways that tend to recur in these stories become metaphors for the distorted, haunted minds of the protagonists of these novels, characters whose respectable, seemingly normal outer lives mask savage, abnormal inner ones. The gothic thus be-21- came the perfect form for expressing the fears that American society, with its concomitant ideologies of liberalism and individualism, not only had continued the abuses of a hierarchical social structure but also had actually opened the way to even greater treacheries: selfmade, self-improved, self-confident, and self-determined men abusing power, subverting authority, undermining order.

No practitioner of the gothic was more attuned to these potential problems in American society than Charles Brockden Brown, and no American novelist exploited them more successfully than he did in several books from the late 1790s, including Wieland (1798), Ormond (1799), Arthur Mervyn (Part I, 1799; Part II, 1800), and Edgar Huntly (1799). In these experimental and daring, though flawed novels, Brown tested the limits of reason in a country willing to believe in its limitlessness, examined the darker and perhaps evil impulses of unchecked imagination, and explored the consequences of personality unloosed from its moorings in some form of stable, traditional community. Not surprisingly, given his interests, all four novels become fixated on violent disruption of a previously harmonious group of people, sometimes caused by an outside agent (Carwin in Wieland), sometimes by an internal one (Edgar Huntly himself). In each case, there is no refuge from the turbulence and confusion that results, no return to the fixed relations of things as they used to be. Drawing on the radical creeds, speculative philosophy, and psychological experimentation of his own time for the plots and metaphors of his novels, Brown introduced such ideas as ventriloquism, somnambulism, and spontaneous combustion into American fiction, suggesting the end of the once stable relationship between appearance and reality, and between the individual and society. Moreover, long before it became a fashionable critical notion, Brown posited the belief that the self was basically unknowable, indeterminate; the more we look for an inviolate order within, the more we discover the basic rule of fragmentation.

These ideas are most prevalent — especially the discovery of disorder within and the consequent inability to reconstruct an ordered self — in Brown's best novel, Wieland, which dramatizes, as Jay Fliegelman has argued, one of the most perplexing issues in the early republican period, the "conflicting claims of authority and liberty." The tension within Brown's narrator, Clara Wieland, is precisely be-22- tween these two mutually exclusive demands, represented by Henry Pleyel, the rationalist who eschews all other forms of knowledge, and Carwin, the man of passionate will who tests and manipulates Clara in order to destroy her faith in the rational side of her being, and by implication in Pleyel as well. (He also manages to ruin her reputation, by inference rather than act, in the mind of Pleyel, who essentially abandons her.) Thus, the authority of supreme reason wars with the license of unchecked liberty, the one constrained and controlled, the other raw and raging. Clara's crazed brother, Theodore, who in his pursuit of religious certainty kills his entire family (and would have added Clara to the list of victims were he not prevented by Carwin), illustrates not only the dangers of enthusiasm but also those of submitting too readily, too pleasurably, to the demands of a higher, more potent will. In other words, Theodore combines the excesses of both authority and liberty, and he must be eliminated. But his death brings no resolution to the essential conflict, and Clara, though she regains health at the end, never achieves self-knowledge. Brown's novel, compelling and powerful in its psychological undercurrents and social implications, ends irresolutely, thus weakly. Novelistically, Brown could not resolve the tensions; culturally, he could not solve the contradictions.

At the close of this period of the "early American novel," James Fenimore Cooper, in all probability America's first significant novelist, if not quite a genuine "cultural voice," produced a novel that indeed sought to reunify the spirit of a discordant nation. In The Spy (1821), Cooper concentrates on the issue of virtuous behavior in the Republic, and though his story is set in the Revolutionary era, he means the lesson to pertain to his own, which he saw threatened by the powerful forces of discord, emanating for the most part from a populace that had turned toward the pursuit of material satisfaction at the expense of national loyalty. Cooper illustrates his meaning through the symbolic structure of the novel, which centers on the Wharton family and the patriarch's attempt to preserve the sanctuary of his home in a time of crisis. The attempt is a futile one, for the elder Wharton, like Cooper's America, has conceived the task purely in material terms. As with the businessmen whom Cooper despised, money is Wharton's bottom line, dictating relationships as well as physical movement. The complicated plot turns on the fact that -23- Wharton has placed his family in a dangerous situation because he has refused to accept the moral responsibilities of citizenship.

Dispossessed as he thought he was from America, Cooper nevertheless writes from within a comfortable position in the cultural hierarchy, and his novel is, not surprisingly, a conservative one about preserving a sense of original virtue, located in the social structure as Cooper perceives it. That structure is in tatters, an idea suggested both by the "divided house" motif and the "neutral ground," the territory that, as it becomes the novel's dominant setting, represents post-Revolutionary America, with its bifurcated loyalties and shifting values. In its essence, it is a wilderness; it is fraught with conflicting passions and points of view, violence and disorder. "The law," Cooper writes, "was momentarily extinct in that particular district, and justice was administered subject to the bias of personal interests and the passions of the strongest." In addition to lawlessness, moral indifference defines the terrain. Thus, the land can only be set in order through the restoration of moral authority.

The problem with the novel — perhaps a mirror of the problem in American society as Cooper saw it — was to find a locus of that authority, and the best that Cooper can do is to invoke the archetypal father — the father of Founding Fathers — George Washington. Possessing both virtue and authority, Washington accomplishes the greater task of setting his lands in order by healing the divisions that have threatened their internal security. As the only legitimate paternal figure in the novel, he projects a sense of control that the other characters find reassuring. And when he is unable to act owing to military circumstance, he does not retreat from his sense of public duty but entrusts the task to his spy, Harvey Birch, who, by his disinterested deeds, extends the Father's virtue to the neutral ground. If Washington is Virtue incarnate, Birch is Selfless Action come to life, since his motives are clear: patriotism, not profit, has led him to sacrifice comfort, reputation, and future prospects of happiness for his country. In short, he is a saint, and when Washington smiles upon him he is beatified.

For Cooper, in a time of growing materialism, which would soon run rampant with the coming of industrialization, Harvey's selfless devotion was the single most important virtue Americans needed to practice if the Republic was to survive. But of course that was an -24- impossibility, since it had already vanished into myth and legend, signaled, though Cooper hardly means it that way, by Washington's very presence in the book. Cooper tells a great story, but unfortunately it is an irrelevant one. Whether America had ever enjoyed the golden moment of Revolutionary self-sacrifice and transcendent devotion to the ideals of the Fathers has been long debated by historians, and there will probably never be a definitive view on the subject. But again, it matters little in terms of Cooper's nostalgic vision, since in any case it would never come again. Ironically, Cooper moves the American novel forward by looking backward, for if he had one thing that all the others lacked, it was a consistent, fully realized, forcefully articulated vision of a reconstituted American society. If only all its citizens could be gods like George Washington, or even just angels like Harvey Birch.

To conclude, then, by returning to the beginning: as it turns out, an argument can be made for the existence of an "early American novel," though unless it accounts for the contradictions, inconsistencies, and instabilities in the genre as American writers adapted it, it is falsifying the achievement. Originality of design and form would only arrive with great romantic writers of the nineteenth century; an authentic American idiom and a genuine "cultural voice" would have to await Mark Twain's arrival on the novelistic scene. And the American novel would not truly become "American" until the politically disenfranchised and culturally dispossessed of American society were finally heard in the pages of our literature.

Jeffrey Rubin-Dorsky


Autobiography and the Early Novel

Concepts of social value in autobiography existed for many centuries before the word was coined. In the Western tradition, the earliest known text in this genre, The Confessions of St. Augustine, written at the turn of the fourth to the fifth century, is only one of many that were accommodated under a variety of other names. These include Plato's seventh epistle in the fourth century B.C., the Essays of Michel de Montaigne in the latter half of the sixteenth century, and the Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 1760s. As legend has it, credit for the initial appearance of "autobiography" in the English language goes to Robert Southey, under whose name it made its debut in The Quarterly Review in 1809. In America, The Autobiography of Thomas Sheperd, the Celebrated Minister of Cambridge, New England (1830) was the first book to use the term in its title.

In contemporary studies of characterizations of autobiographical narrative, scholars like G. Thomas Couser (Altered Egos: Authority in American Autobiography [1989]) have noted the singular aspects of the word used to describe the self: its number, capitalization, and position as the only single-letter pronoun in the language. Moreover, there is its typographical likeness to the Roman numeral I, its phonemic identity with "eye," and its punning on the idea of a single point of view. Although its implied dominance, usually claimed by privileged racial and cultural groups, is now widely challenged by people outside of those groups, these singular qualities of the "I" -26- suggest its elevated status — an acknowledgment of the uniqueness and independent social standing of the first person.

In addition, many Americanists have observed a particular relationship between the nature of autobiographical discourse and texts like The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin that traditionally define the dominant American identity. Almost all such critics (including voices from the margins) agree that while autobiography is not unique to this country, the form embodies peculiar American characteristics. This idea finds reinforcement in the fact that, subsuming boundaries of race and sex, the genre has become the country's preeminent form of writing. Nor is this a recent phenomenon. As early as the October 1909 issue of Harper's Monthly Magazine, William Dean Howells, an autobiographer himself, and one of America's foremost novelists and literary critics of that age, spoke of autobiography as a "new form of literature," calling it the most "democratic province in the republic of letters." Of course, literary theories of democratic equality do not mitigate the disadvantages and sufferings of the daily lives of large numbers of Americans, but judging from the quantity of documents identified as autobiographies, it is not difficult to conclude that Howells's judgment was correct. For autobiography, in its valorization of individualism and its focus on the success story, has always been eminently suited to the dominant American temperament.

One of the attractions of autobiography for readers of popular literature is that, generally, Americans presume the absolute truthvalue of these texts and an authentic and direct contact with the authors through the written word. Such beliefs grant the form what Elizabeth Bruss described as "empirical first-person" authority, and set the genre of autobiography hierarchically apart from other forms of narrative discourse.

Perhaps for this reason as well as for our innate curiosity about the lives of the famous and the successful, from its beginnings narrative autobiography flourished in America. Euro-Americans began recording their experiences in the new land in the early seventeenth century, and in the closing years of the twentieth century they continue to do so in unprecedented numbers, as ethnic and other minority groups, formerly excluded from recognition in letters, make their voices heard through this medium. But even excluding these aggressive newcom-27- ers, by 1961, Louis Kaplan's A Bibliography of American Autobiographies listed more than 6000 titles recorded prior to 1945, and Mary Briscoe's American Autobiography, 1945–1980, adds 5000 titles to that list. In addition to the sheer numbers of individual selfwritten lives, these bibliographies demonstrate that the American autobiographical narrative accommodates itself to wide varieties of selfrepresentations — the conversion, captivity, criminal, slave, and travel narratives, ethnic, immigrant, colonial, and transcendental autobiographies, to name a small number of easily recognizable categories.

Interestingly, while writing-the-self began early in the country's history, the study of American narrative autobiography was slow in developing. In 1948, a book almost unnoticed by the literary establishment, Witnesses for Freedom: Negro Americans in Autobiography, by Rebecca Chalmers Barton, became the first full-length study of the genre. Barton's text, consisting of twenty-three textual portraits, with a foreword by Harlem Renaissance philosopher Alain Locke, included such figures as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Mary Church Terrell, W. E. B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, and Richard Wright. Sixteen years later, in 1964, The Examined Self: Benjamin Franklin, Henry Adams, Henry James, by Robert F. Sayre, appeared, and set the stage for what was soon to become a new and almost instantaneously flourishing field of intellectual inquiry. Today, a multiplicity of critical texts, as wide-ranging in methodologies and interpretive intent as the varying content of the narratives they explore, makes up this burgeoning body of knowledge. These studies constitute a revolutionary reassessment of the relationship between self-representation and other branches of narrative literature.

This revolution has been immensely aided during the second half of the twentieth century by the explosions in literary theory and cultural criticism that, among other things, have led academic critics of American autobiography to define the "I" and to call indiscriminate presumptions of truth-value in the genre into question. Even before this, scholars had discussed the position of autobiography as a hybrid of history and literature, and had come to interesting conclusions about the art of its narrative techniques. But in the new wave of criticism, scholars like Albert E. Stone, in Autobiographical Occasions and Original Acts (1982), advanced the idea of the autobio-28- graphical act as occupying "the frontiers of 'fact' and 'fiction,'" a viewpoint that helped to open up new avenues for destabilizing the once dominant "I." As Stone describes it, in straddling this frontier autobiography comprises a "literary as well as a historical activity which recreates psychic as well as social experience," simultaneously resisting complete appropriation by the disciplines to which it is connected. The richness of the autobiographical enterprise, he points out, rests in its blending of, and the tensions between, memory, reflection, and imagination. More recent studies in the genre have gone even further, as such works as Couser's Altered Egos, Paul John Eakin's Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention (1985), and Herbert Liebowitz's Fabricating Lives: Explorations in American Autobiography (1989) take advantage of poststructuralist discourse to further problematize the boundaries of the "I."

In his disputation of a fixed truth-value in autobiography, Couser takes issue with notions that the "I" is first (prior), personal (private), or singular (unique), a position earlier and more conventional critics (primarily white males on white male autobiography) claimed. Couser's view, buttressed by the scholarship of social psychologists, is that the self is not constructed in isolation but continually engages in complicity, negotiation, and collusion in its relationships with others. This point of view inscribes difference in identity and acknowledges a contextually variable self that, although integrated, need not embody harmonic unity. Furthermore, memory, which is unstable, plays such an important role in the construction of autobiography that it unsettles the ground on which the truth of a narrative rests. Assuming the validity of this theory, how do we assess the relationship between American autobiography and the American novel in their development? A brief survey of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century American autobiography through the end of the Revolutionary War, followed by a look at the slave narrative and Native American autobiography in the nineteenth century, provides an outline of early patterns in the development of fictional elements in autobiography in this country.

The earliest Euro-Americans to face themselves in writing were explorers in search of New World adventure. Psychologically, these men were attuned to the idea of psychic transformations as a result -29- of their contacts with the Americas. The literature of the period, partly intended to attract additional settlers to the new exotic country, while descriptive of the physical characteristics of the new land and giving accounts of its inhabitants, speaks also to the effects that the environment had on these men. Among these early impulses to create an American self distinct from the one that came out of the old country are the accounts left us by Captain John Smith, which include A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Noate as Hath Hapned in Virginia (1608), A Description of New England (1616), The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles (1624), and The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captaine John Smith (1630). One of the most well known events in this last-named text recounts Smith's capture by the Indians and his escape from death through the intervention of the princess Pocahontas. The singular importance of the story, in the context of the new "self," is the metaphorical rebirth of Smith who becomes, through Pocahontas's willingness to sacrifice her life to save him from the barbarousness of her people, the son of the Indian chief.

There is little doubt that John Smith met Pocahontas and her chieftain-father Powhatan. Among English settlers, however, the story of Smith's escape from death at the hands of the Indians was built on assumptions that as a white man he was superior to the natives, a superiority that Pocahontas and her father recognized. This belief was further reinforced by Pocahontas's subsequent marriage to another English settler. On the contrary, besides the fact that whites were killed by Indians previously — as well as subsequently — to Smith, therefore negating the idea that Indians believed in a theory of white superiority, recent anthropological evidence indicates that when Powhatan permitted Smith, through a ritual ceremony, to become a young "white" chief, he used him to help him (Powhatan) in his trade for European goods and to strengthen his power base. Smith's was clearly a romanticized version of the events intended to capture the imagination of others with interests similar to his own, to lure them to the American colonies. The intent might have accomplished its goal, but this fictionalized appropriation of the Pocahontas story, the first legend of Euro-American colonialization, set the stage for the subsequent denigration of Native American intelligence and humanity. -30-

The secular stories of explorers like Smith find counterparts in the conversion narratives and Puritan histories, such as those of William Bradford (History of Plimmoth Plantation [1650]) and Edward Johnson (Wonder-Working Providence of Sions Saviour in New England [1654]). Although accorded the status of autobiographies, these texts more accurately represent collective community biographies that give all credit for the European settlement of the country to Divine guidance and providence, and set the ground rules for individual participation in the community. The best-known Puritan autobiographies are the Diary of Samuel Sewall (1673–1729) and the Diary of Cotton Mather (1681–1724). Mather also authored Paterna (1688–1727), an instructional document intended for his son, and Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), a history of the Puritan New England experiment. Other well-known spiritual autobiographies of the eighteenth century include Jonathan Edwards's Personal Narrative (ca. 1739), the Quaker writings of Elizabeth Ashbridge and John Wolman, and A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682), the text that launched America's first unique autobiographical account: the Indian captivity narrative.

As documents that defined the boundaries of life and behavior in the Puritan community, American seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury spiritual narratives were mechanical in pattern and restricted in subject matter, and promoted the idea that their writers had the presence of grace in their experiences. Since conversion was not an issue, it was never questioned. Each text was a testimony to the effect that the experiences of its subject conformed to the patterns of feelings and conduct permitted within the confines of the Puritan ethic. It bears mentioning that Puritan spiritual autobiography was not exclusively confined to prose narrative. Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor, who also wrote short first-person prose statements, are among those who wrote poetry that falls within the boundaries of this genre.

In their historical and cultural contexts, from the late seventeenth through the middle of the eighteenth century, Indian captivity narratives occupied religious, propagandistic, and sentimental spaces in early American autobiography. The first ones tended to focus on the religious dimensions of captive experience, while later ones became a vehicle for promulgating white hatred of Native Americans and made -31- an argument for Indian removal. The Puritans, believing themselves God's chosen people on a mission to establish the New Zion on this continent, equated Native Americans with the devil, creatures for them to exterminate from the land in a righteous cause. Infusions of melodrama into captivity narratives in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries made them factually exaggerated sensational horror fictions. In The Indian Captivity Narrative: An American Genre (1984), Richard VanDerBeets notes that the compelling pattern in the Indian captivity narrative, regardless of emphasis, is of the Archetypal Hero on an initiation journey from Death to Rebirth. The narratives follow a pattern of the subject's Separation from his/her culture (symbolic death), Transformation (through ordeals that ensure the movement from ignorance to knowledge and maturity), and Return (symbolic rebirth). The focus in Mrs. Mary Rowlandson's narrative is on the religious dimensions of the genre, but the pattern held for all captivity narratives.

On February 10, 1676, Narragansett Indians raided the English settlement of Lancaster, Massachusetts, destroying the town, killing seventeen of her family members and friends, and taking Mary Rowlandson, wife of Lancaster's minister, Joseph Rowlandson (away in Boston at the time), and her three children captives. She was immediately separated from her two older children, ages ten and fourteen, while the youngest, six years old, having been wounded in the raid, died a week after the capture. For eleven weeks Mary Rowlandson lived and traveled with her captors, before she and her two children were released in exchange for Ł20.

In 1677 the Rowlandsons moved to Wethersfield, Connecticut. A year later Joseph Rowlandson died, and in another year Mary, having remarried, dropped out of public view. A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson appears to have been written in 1677, but was not published until 1682. Under the title The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, the narrative was an instant success. A True History established the pattern for the early texts in this tradition: a confirmation of the election of God's people, the piety of the captives, and the justification for Indian removal. Mary Rowlandson's narrative went through four editions in its first year, and twenty-three by 1828. To date, at least forty editions have appeared. -32-

A True History, a story intended to instruct rather than exploit the stereotype of the savage Indian, focuses on Christian affliction. On the superficial level, Rowlandson tells the story of her 150-mile journey with the Narragansetts, but it is the interior journey that holds our attention; the symbolic landscape more than the literal one; and the darkness of the forest that represents that of the soul when God turns his face away. For Rowlandson, her capture was a rupture in the pattern of the daily life of the Puritan mother and marked the loss of everything that gave meaning to her life. Although her Indians are "murtherous" captors, "merciless Heathen," and "a company of hellhounds," because she is a faithful Puritan she transcends that symbolic death by finding meaning in her afflictions. In this way she recreates herself, and in the process of transformation seeks to discover what failings led to her punishment. Her duty in captivity is to concentrate on submitting to God's will. Among other things she learns how to provide for herself. During this period, her voice in the text is that of a Christian in the wilderness crying out to God. Her release from captivity assures her of having gained redemption and the promise of salvation. The return is fully accomplished in the writing of her story.

Although admirable for the dignity that its author displays in the face of a terrible ordeal, this text does not inform readers of the author's personal reactions to her trials. Like all spiritual autobiography of its time, A True Story reveals more about the strength of Puritan culture than about the true characteristics of Mary Rowlandson. In a time when women led socially restricted lives, she told her story publicly because it was the end of a process, and those who were able to draw the prescribed lessons from such ordeals were obliged to pass them on to others for their moral instruction. In her words, "one principall ground of my setting forth these lines is to declare the Works of the Lord, and his wonderful power in carrying us along, preserving us in the Wilderness, while under the Enemies hand, and in returning us in safety again." Clearly, the narrative was not her story. Her place in the flow of events in eighteenth-century Puritanism was to stand still and wait on her Lord.

Another interesting autobiography of that time was The Journal of Madam Knight, by Sarah Kemble Knight, the only text of its kind in the American genre. Although written in 1704-5, it was not pub-

— 33-

lished until 1825. Acting in her own business interests, Knight describes with humor and bravado her arduous and even dangerous journey from Boston to New Haven at a time when women seldom traveled alone. Her story is one of self-confidence and nonconformity to conventions of her day. At the end of each day she made entries in her diary. These reveal inner resources that enabled her to cope with the obstacles she encountered. The trip took her exactly five months, including a winter spent with relatives in Connecticut. Knight was not the typical woman of her time, but she was also not alone in her independence from conventions that restricted women's lives.

Knight's journal is especially important because of how openly she expresses her fears, misgivings, and loneliness on the road. She was not always alone, however, for she hired guides and met other travelers in the places where she stayed. Although little is known about her outside of her journal, some critics believe that she wrote, not for publication, but for the amusement of close friends. Not unaware of the religious beliefs of her day, she appears to have had little concern about them, and her journal did not follow the pattern of the spiritual quest found in most diaries of her time. Only at the end of the journal, in her expression of gladness over returning home safely and finding warm welcomes from friends and loved ones, does she express gratitude to the "Great Benefactor" for giving his "unworthy handmaid" safe passage during her months abroad.

But if Knight was more secular than religious, she also took class distinctions seriously. A small-businesswoman, she was mindful of treating those of higher social standing than herself with deference while she was condescending in her treatment of country people, African Americans, Native Americans, and others of lower status. Her journal reveals a robustness of taste and a love of good stories. She records several of these. She was also a satirist who wrote in many voices, using the language of colloquial modes of expression, neoclassical diction, and contrasting genres, mixing poetry, dialogue, and fiction into her personal prose. Because of this journal, Knight has a prominent place in travel literature, and it establishes her as a satirist representing significant themes and character types in the tradition of American humor.

The single most well known and often-written-about eighteenth-34- eighteenth- American autobiography (frequently characterized as the bridge text between the eighteenth and the nineteenth century) is that of Benjamin Franklin (written between 1771 and 1790). For Franklin the man is the model American hero and patriot. Born in Boston in 1706 of humble Puritan parentage, he lived a life that was the stuff of national legend. In his teens, Franklin rejected the religion of his parents for Deism, then popular among eighteenth-century intellectuals. At age seventeen he ran away from Boston to Philadelphia, and soon went off to England. Back in Philadelphia in 1726, he did well as a printer, bought and reformed a newspapers, The Pennsylvania Gazette, opened his own stationer's shop, and became the public printer for the colony. Financial prosperity led him to involvement in local politics. He established a fire company, a lending library, the American Philosophical Society, and proposed an academy that later became the University of Pennsylvania. In 1748 he retired from business to spend his time in politics and science. In the latter field, his discoveries in electricity brought him international fame.

In the world of politics, Benjamin Franklin became a leading member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, and in 1757 he went to England to represent the Assembly in its complaints against the British. He returned to America in 1775 when the country was at war. His greatest fame came to him as a member of the Second Continental Congress and as America's minister to France. He was involved in working out the peace this country made with England after the war, and he signed the Treaty of Paris in 1782. Returning to America in 1785, as an elder statesman, he was a representative to the Constitutional Convention. By the time of his death in 1790, having transcended poverty, low birth, and limited education, he had become to many the embodiment of the dream that in America hard work, virtue, and respect for conventions were the keys to prosperity, independence, and happiness.

The Autobiography is Benjamin Franklin's most important written work. Notably, it was the first major text in American autobiography to break with the (Puritan) tradition of the spiritual narrative, and many claim it as the first truly American self-in-writing. Franklin wrote the first part (which, in his treatment of his Boston, early Philadelphia, and London life, resembles a picaresque novel) while in England in 1771; the second part (accounts of his library project and -35- his efforts at moral perfection) in France in 1784, after the Revolution; the third (a record of the 1730s through the 1750s) in America in 1788. The brief and incomplete fourth section (a memoir of London) was also written in America shortly before his death in 1790. This text was Franklin's interpretation of his life as the self-made man, the Franklin he constructed for the world to see. The writing of it was the making of that self in which the "I" took full control of its own destiny. Primarily, Franklin uses his autobiography to promote the classic tale of the poor but talented boy who, through hard work, ability, and learning from his mistakes, makes a success of his life. Addressing his son in the first section, in a voice wise, humorous, and tolerant, the older man juxtaposes age and youth, and provides advice for the younger.

But Franklin's autobiography, the exemplary American text, is not the true life story of Benjamin Franklin. As G. Thomas Couser notes, from the beginning Franklin describes his text as the second corrected "edition" of his life, suggesting that the "life" itself was the first edition, and a text at that. Under these circumstances, his writing of his life was equivalent to editing a book, and the "relation between narative and life, or history, is not between 'language' and the 'reality' to which it refers, but between one text and another that it revises." As such, Couser points out that it is impossible to look through the autobiography for the life and the self behind the text. All the reader has for certain is the character with which he begins the narrative: a literal man of letters invented by the autobiographer. For, as Robert F. Sayre concludes, Franklin was writing to and about himself, developing a correspondence between his past and his present. Through his rich imagination he was able to create roles for himself (such as the waif who arrives in Philadelphia) that turned the narrative into an adventure permitting him to live out a variety of identities.

Ironically, within the decade following his death, several inaccurate partial versions of The Autobiography appeared. The first full edition, edited by his grandson Temple Franklin, was published in 1818, but critics remain divided on its accuracy of representation. As some experts conclude, even now Franklin's narrative resists publication in a "truly authoritative text." Still, few would deny its -36- achievement: the art of its autobiographical impulse and Franklin's historical place as a master craftsman in the writing of public prose.

While seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European settlers in America created autobiographical narratives by way of the explorer, Indian captivity, travel, and spiritual narratives, and finally through Benjamin Franklin's secular model American life, little or nothing was made of the presence and conditions of Africans or African slaves in their roles in the nation's beginnings. Slave status was equivalent to nonpersonhood and placed its victims outside the boundaries of the rights and privileges expected and enjoyed by the white population. By 1760, however, black autobiography was born, launching the slave narrative as America's second unique form of self-writing. White collaborations with Native Americans in the as-told-to life stories were preempted by more than seventy years when, in 1762, the first black document in this genre appeared, the product of a white amanuensis and a black subject. Between 1760 and 1798, the Revolutionary era, the partial experiences of fifteen African Americans appeared in print, five of them (of which four were self-written) by former slaves seeking to establish identities separate from their earlier slave status, while the remainder were criminal confessions written down by interested whites shortly before the execution of these men. In many cases, editions of the stories of those attempting to create "other" than slave selves appeared in Ireland, England, and on the European continent, sometimes before their American publications. In To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760–1865 (1986), William L. Andrews establishes the relationship between early slave narratives and American autobiography of that time.

In surveying this relationship, scholarship shows that at the beginning of the nineteenth century the former American colonies were settling into new nationhood as the Republic of the United States. The democratic state was grounded on the Declaration of Independence, which reinforced a national sense of individual rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Here was the ideal impetus toward autobiography. Few, if any, among those who found themselves leading the destiny of the new nation, or those enabled by its -37- new Constitution to participate in its progress, questioned the legitimacy of who automatically shared those rights and privileges, and who were excluded from that largesse and why. But if the country ignored the human dimensions of African American life, individually and collectively, African Americans, including slaves, did not internalize concepts of inferior human status to whites. From its eighteenth-century beginnings, the first one hundred years of African American autobiography is the story of women and men struggling to claim, in writing, for white readers, that they were human beings capable of telling the "truth" of their experiences. In this context, the black "I" and the white reader, with separate racial identities within the same culture, were forced toward a common reading of experience.

Slave narratives, the predominant genre in early African American writing, were the personal accounts of former slaves telling their own stories, first, in search of the psychological freedom that the bonds of physical slavery denied them prior to their escape from its shackles; and second, as propaganda weapons in the struggle for the abolition of that slavery. Information and reformation were the root motives driving their production. African Americans felt that moral and just whites, especially those in the North, needed to know, firsthand, the conditions of slavery, and to rise up to purge the country of its scourge. What the nation needed most, they would have said, was a mighty contingent of John Browns — white men and women willing to give their all for the honor of the democratic promises of the Constitution. While the most complex and personally interesting narratives in this tradition were written by their subjects, dozens of narratives were as-told-to life stories, generally mediated through the offices of white male amanuenses. Much scholarly debate on slave narratives focuses on the authenticity or lack of it of these latter, primarily on the editorial authority of the transcriber to compose, shape, and interpret the textual lives of the former slaves.

In addition to the slave narratives, spiritual autobiographies emerged in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. While escaped slaves condemned the "peculiar" institution by indicting its atrocities, spiritual narrators claimed selfhood by way of equal access to the love and forgiveness of a black-appropriated Christian God, which therefore negated any notions that they were nonpersons as -38- whites would have them believe. Like the slave narratives, the spiritual narratives compelled a revisionary reading of the collective American experience. Thus, the slave and spiritual narratives, secular and religious self-stories intended largely for white audiences, offered profound second readings of the American and African American experiences against prevailing white American racial perspectives. These personal accounts, dozens in number, recount, expose, appeal, and remember the ordeals of blackness in white America.

The most well known slave stories are Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (1845), and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself (1861), by Harriet Jacobs, and published originally under the name of Linda Brent. Both Douglass and Jacobs determined at an early age that the most important goal of their lives was to gain their freedom. To this end, both, overt rebels against the system, devoted their best efforts and eventually succeeded in liberating themselves from their much hated shackles.

Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey on a Maryland plantation in 1818, as a slave, Douglass experienced both the harshness of the system and its most benevolent face. However, under all circumstances he refused to compromise his belief that the only acceptable condition of life was in securing his right as an autonomous human being. In 1838, while living in Baltimore, he escaped the South and changed his name. A few days later, in New York City, Douglass married Anna Murray, the free African American woman who had helped him to engineer his escape. The Douglasses lived together for almost four decades. They had two sons and two daughters. Anna was vital to his career but remained in his shadow for all their years together. She died in Washington, D.C., in 1882.

Although as an abolitionist speaker Douglass traveled extensively in the northern United States and Europe for more than twenty years, New Bedford, Massachusetts, was home to him for most of the time until the abolition of slavery. With the encouragement of William Lloyd Garrison, a leading white abolitionist whom he impressed with his articulateness on slavery, Douglass took to the abolitionist stump in 1841. In the years following, he dazzled audiences with his oratorical expertise. In 1845, Douglass, who learned to read and write surreptitiously while in slavery, published his first-person account of -39- slavery, Narrative, and in 1855 he brought out a second, My Bondage and My Freedom. He published a third autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, in 1881. Douglass held several government appointments after the abolition of slavery, including that of Assistant Secretary of the Commission of Inquiry to Santo Domingo (1871) and United States Marshal for the District of Columbia (1877). He died of a heart attack in Washington in 1895.

Narrative was an instant success. More than 30,000 copies were sold in Europe and the United States in the first year after its publication (4500 in the first five months). The story delineates Douglass's firsthand knowledge of his parentage and early life, his struggles toward selfhood within the slave system, the consequences of his overt rebelliousness, one failed attempt at escape, and, finally, his success in achieving his life's goal. While the book is now a classic of African American literature, Andrews observes that, among its other qualities, readers and critics laud this narrative for its declaration of independence in the author's interpretation of his life, Douglass's claims to freedom through his text, and his literary and rhetorical sophistication. Although the second narrative is longer and more detailed, and is written by a more accomplished man of letters — a successful journalist and orator — in this text, as Andrews notes, Douglass turned to exploring his complex relationship with his environment in his search for a new group identity. Douglass biographer Dickson J. Preston (Young Frederick Douglass: The Maryland Years [1986]) estimates that for every person who has read either My Bondage and My Freedom or Life and Times, 300 have read Narrative. Both Andrews and Preston subscribe to Douglass's manipulation of the "facts" of his story to achieve greater advantage in audience interest. To this end, Andrews emphasizes Douglass's use of artifice — especially he credits the inventiveness of Douglass's rhetorical style. So successful are these strategies, Andrews concludes, that the imagined, fabricated, or deliberately exaggerated events in Douglass's story are of little significance in comparison to the literary and political effectiveness of the text, even if they remain matters for historians to continue to probe.

Harriet Ann Jacobs was a contemporary of Frederick Douglass's, and like Douglass's narrative, her Incidents challenged the institution of slavery. Born in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1813, she enjoyed a -40- reasonably carefree early childhood, unlike Douglass, living with both of her parents and her brother, and having a loving grandmother nearby. This tranquillity was irreparably ruptured at age six when her mother died. But even then the conditions of her life changed only minimally. When she was twelve, however, the mistress who had treated her with kindness also died, and left her as a human legacy to her five-year-old niece. At that point Jacobs learned, to her great distress, that the bane of all slave women was their vulnerability to the sexual abuse of their masters. Soon after she moved into his household, her young mistress's father, a local doctor, began his sexual pursuit of her. The struggle between the two, what Jacobs describes as the "war of her life" — his determination to win her submission and her resolve never to become his victim — went on for many years, even after she escaped from the South in 1842.

In addition to depicting events in her childhood and the unwanted sexual attentions of her master, Jacobs's narrative details events of slave life in Edenton and surrounding communities; strategies she adopted to thwart the master's desire to conquer her; her deliberate decision to become the mother of two children by another white plantation owner and her escape from her master by hiding for seven years in a crawl space under the roof of her grandmother's house; her struggle to free her children; the existence of an antipatriarchal interracial community of women; her flight to freedom; and the events of her life in the North. While the whole narrative is an interesting and moving document, its most memorable passages focus on the sexual victimization of the slave woman and Jacobs's culminating analysis of the meaning of freedom.

Unlike Douglass, in her time Jacobs gained no fame for her story, perhaps because of the combination of its publication during the Civil War and the lesser attention women's narratives enjoyed than men's. Incidents rose to prominence in the late 1970s, in the wake of the rise of white and black feminism, and is now universally recognized as a text that is as important as Douglass's Narrative.

Straddling the slave narrative and nineteenth-century sentimental novel traditions, and mindful of the power of the "cult of True Womanhood," especially since the implied readers of her story were Northern white middle-class women, Jacobs scores a major achievement in her textual handling of the incidents surrounding her vul-41- nerability to the sexual tyranny of her former master and her willing participation in a miscegenational relationship. A black woman slave and a fallen woman, she presumes to speak to the white women of the North, the upholders of "piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity," through a rhetoric that invites them to join her in the struggle against the patriarchal domination of all women. Incidents was the first book by an African American woman in which the victim made her own plea against the sexual tyranny of her slave master, and as woman and slave Jacobs ably addresses the parallels between race and sex. Finally, in the culmination of her story, when, against her will, a white female friend purchases her freedom, Jacobs does an elegant feminist analysis of the meaning of freedom for women of color. She had insisted that, as a human being, she could not be bought or sold. Although she recognized the impulse of her friend to free her from further harassment by her then dead master's kin, she was offended and disappointed by the act of money changing hands for her.

Unlike Douglass's Narrative, the authenticity of Incidents was a subject of critical debate for a number of years. At least one historian initially claimed that while the central character may have been a fugitive from slavery, the narrative was probably false because the work was not credible. Much of the debate centered on the extent of the editorial role of white feminist Lydia Maria Child in its production (was this a fiction by Child?), the narrative's use of novelistic conventions like dialogue, and its literary sophistication. Years of research have now gone into locating the "facts" that prove that Harriet Jacobs was indeed a former slave from Edenton, that she was owned by a well-known physician of that town, and that she authored her own narrative.

However, two aspects of the narrative persist to make this a problematic text. One is Jacobs's use of the conventions of sentimental fiction, and the other, her pseudonym. While it is arguable that she used the first to create bridges with her white female readers-bridges that, for cultural reasons, it would have been impossible to build with traditional slave narrative conventions, the pseudonym, a purely literary device, is more difficult to explain. Even more confusing, I suggest, are the contradictions in the narrative's opening statement: -42- "Reader, be assured this narrative is no fiction…my adventures… are…strictly true…. [But] my descriptions fall short of the truth." Yet, like the pseudonym that protects the identity of the author by raising doubts regarding her authenticity, the statement is a camouflage that permits her more control over her narrative. With its novelistic techniques, its pseudonym, and the ambiguity in its declaration of contingent truth, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, as effective a text as Douglass's Narrative, sits squarely on the frontier of fact and fiction.

The first Native American to publish anything in America was Samson Occom, a Methodist missionary to the Indians, whose Sermon Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul (1772) was also the first Indian best-seller. Before that, Occom went to England to raise money for the Indian Charity School in Hanover, New Hampshire, which later became Dartmouth College. Native American authors in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries wrote sermons, protest literature, and tribal histories based on oral traditions for similar reasons that former African slaves wrote their autobiographies.

Egocentric individualism was not an aspect of Native American cultures before Europeans arrived on these shores, and autobiography took a long time to develop among the native peoples. Although Native Americans valued personal freedom, self-worth, and personal responsibility, personal autonomy was secondary to the welfare of the group. Even in autobiography, Indian first-person narratives do not probe the nature of the self in the text. Also, since no Indian culture, prior to the European coming, developed a phonetic alphabet, writing did not exist for them as we know it in Western culture. Experts like Arnold Krupat note that tribal writings took the form of "patterns worked in wampum belts, tatoos, [and] pictographs painted on animal skins." Within their cultures, Native Americans constructed their identities not as individuals but as persons in relationship to collective social units of which each person was only a part.

The early Indian forms with the closest resemblances to Western autobiographical narratives were stories and accounts of dreams or mystic experiences. Communicated orally, these included the exploits of war and stories of family events told to assembled audiences of the -43- tribes, among whom were some individuals other than the tellers likely to have been present during the events actually being told. Honors were won, not for the individual, but for the tribe.

In the Western tradition, written Native American autobiography was a nineteenth-century phenomenon and exists in two separate forms: Indian autobiographies that are collaborative efforts produced like the as-told-to slave narratives, with the Indian as the subject; and autobiographies by Indians, texts composed without the mediation of an editor or transcriber. The latter, of course, depended on the Indian's mastery of literacy. However, critics see both groups as bicultural texts that developed as a result of contact with a culture outside of the native one. Krupat tells us that each represents the subject's having sufficiently distanced her/himself from the native culture to be influenced by the "other," and in the case of autobiography written by Indians, to have gained the "other's" expertise to compose one's own story in a normative form.

Thus, written Indian autobiography comes out of the oral tradition in contact with Europeans. In Indian autobiography, oral narratives are committed to writing through separate processes: the ethnographic and the as-told-to stories. Both share oral origins and presume a non-Indian mediator, but the ethnographer, usually an anthropologist, collects materials for a different purpose than the editor of the as-told-to story. The first collects for the record — for information on customs, mores, practices, and rituals of special groups of people. The as-told-to editor, on the other hand, not only takes information for the record but also works with the subject to produce a full autobiographical narrative. The product of the collaboration is determined by the narrative skill of the subject and the editorial skills of the editor, especially those of literary techniques. Unlike the ethnographic record, in the as-told-to story it is expected that incidents are reordered especially for their telling and do not represent a mirror image of actual experience. Since imagination plays a vastly important role in the final story, the outcome resembles Western autobiography.

Within the constraints of the transformation of oral narratives to written autobiography, governing patterns within Indian narratives fall into three main categories: the captivity narrative of the early white settlers, the memoirs of Franklin, and the African American -44- slave narrative. Indians converted to Christianity were strongly influenced by the captivity narratives with their penchant for a public declaration of faith, spiritual development, and endurance. The memoirs of Franklin, with their emphasis on historic content and public event, were attractive to Indian males but almost unobservable in female narratives. Women tend to turn to day-to-day activities in their life stories, recording family and personal life along with their roles in preserving the traditions of their people. From the slave narrative tradition, another branch of the Indian personal narrative focuses on those experiences in which the subject develops from within a group identity and tells stories otherwise unknown to white readers, but to whom they are directed. From such stories this audience gains insight into the individual as well as into the society of that individual. Indian autobiography, the product of direct bicultural interaction, and autobiographies by Indians, the product of socialization and influence by several streams of American cultures outside of the Indian experience, may very well represent the most profound example of the complexity of narrative at the junction of history and literature, fiction and autobiography.

Clearly, autobiographers of all groups — seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British settlers in the new colonies, black slaves in the nineteenth-century South, Native Americans forced to give up their cultures and to adopt the ways of white men, as well as the twentieth-century American heterogeneous migrants from across the globe — use techniques of fiction to place discernible patterns on their lives in writing. In autobiography, there is always a necessary relationship between the life of the subject and the life in the text, but the separations between fact and fiction are not always clear. Literature is less chaotic and infinitely more manageable than life and so imagination more than absolute historical truth grounds the autobiographical text. Undeniably, autobiography is a fictional form — a realization that need not diminish its social, historical, or literary value. For autobiography and fiction together provide complementary strategies for the art of writing the self.


The Book Marketplace I

Between 1815 and 1860, Americans lived through a market revolution and saw the novel establish itself as the lucrative art form of middle-class civilization. Lines of force bound these two occurrences together, but the rates of change on both sides were uneven, and writers often had unstable and conflicting relations to the new social universe. Literary patterns, in works and in careers, did not materialize simply as an homologous reinscription of the cultural dominant, in this case the solidifying of market capitalism. Such resemblances certainly existed, and they illuminate the common contours of literature and society. But the novel's flowering represented a multivalent negotiation, involving dissent as well as agreement, with an ideological ascendancy that was itself far from monolithic. Gender complicated integration into historical change and set male and female authors on dissimilar trajectories of development. Women novelists, culturally identified with domesticity, produced functional narratives that evoked an older understanding of the literary, but they far outsold their more experimental male rivals and were paradoxically freed by their prescribed gender roles to accept commercial popularity. The men conceived of themselves as professionals and bequeathed a definition of the aesthetic as the antithesis both of exchange value and of the best-selling women. Male novelists ultimately found acceptance in a space that was neither the market nor the not-market, in the regulated economy of the academy.

A famous quotation and an obscure location: two coordinates -46- from which to map an economics of the antebellum novel. The quotation comes from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, a book published in the same year as the Declaration of Independence, and occurs in the midst of remarks about the legal and medical professions. Lawyers and physicians, says Smith, enjoy a respectability and decency of recompense altogether foreign to "that unprosperous race of men commonly called men of letters."

The site, an imaginary one, appears in George Lippard's The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall, a Gothic thriller issued in ten pamphletlike installments in 1845, almost exactly seventy years after Smith's bible of free-market capitalism. Lippard is describing the setting of Monk Hall, a mansion originally erected on the outskirts of Philadelphia by "a wealthy foreigner, sometime previous to the Revolution," and long since overtaken in its isolation by the expanding metropolis. The ancient building now stands on a narrow street, "with a printing shop on one side and a stereotype foundry on the other," while rows of stores, offices, factories, and tenements stretch brokenly into the distance.

A cultural upheaval separates Smith's "unprosperous race of men" from Lippard's paperbound best-seller, with its image of a sensationalized house of fiction surrounded by the indices of technological and social change. Smith's phrasing accurately defines the state of authorship and literature in the early Republic. Indeed, his inclusion of writers in the same passage with lawyers and doctors indicates the extent to which the literary culture of Great Britain, however unremunerative, was in advance of that of the United States. The American novelist may have followed a profession, but it wasn't composing fiction: earning a livelihood from literature was an impossibility in this country until the 1820s. Only two novelists in the half-century before Irving and Cooper even aspired to professional status. The rest were men and women for whom novel writing remained, by choice and by necessity, a diversion, an amateur activity carried out in moments stolen from regular duties as jurists, clergymen, or educators. The two exceptions, Susanna Rowson and Charles Brockden Brown, labored valiantly to make letters self-supporting but could not overcome the economic and cultural obstacles. Brown, who was eventually forced by poverty to join his family's import business, found -47- novels so unprofitable that he not only stopped writing them but sought to repudiate his efforts in the genre, while Rowson had to turn to schoolteaching and textbooks to supplement the meager rewards of fiction.

Numerous reasons can be and have been adduced to account for these failures. Lippard, who dedicated The Quaker City to Brown as his great forerunner in fiction of the metropolis, identifies one impediment when he suggests that culture was the property of "wealthy foreigners." Inhabitants of the new nation, accustomed to associate art with Europe and with aristocratic patronage, looked abroad for their reading matter: over three-quarters of the books published in the United States before the 1820s were of English origin. The copyright law adopted by Congress in 1790 denied protection to these works in an ill-conceived attempt to aid native letters. The paradoxical result of the law was that American printers naturally preferred to pirate foreign novels than to gamble on American ones, whose authors would have to be compensated. The few American works of fiction that made it into print — barely ninety between 1789 and 1820, or an average of just three a year — stood little chance of posting a profit. Books were costly to produce and often priced beyond the means of ordinary readers. Publishing was localized and distribution hampered by the lack of adequate transportation. And Americans, according to contemporaries, faced too many pressing tasks to turn their attention to literature. Building a nation, settling the wilderness, and acquiring a competence all took priority over cultivating the arts. Nor was republican ideology, the dominant creed of the Revolutionary era, nurturant of fiction. Its subordination of personal interest to the community placed it at odds with the novel's focus on the appetitive subject. Brown's titles point to the dissonance: his six novels are named for individuals. He summed up the plight of the early fiction writer: "Book-making…is the dullest of all trades, and the utmost that any American can look for, in his native country, is to be re-imbursed for his unavoidable expenses."

Brown's words were prophetic in one respect: he spoke of literature not as a pastime but as a trade. Over the next fifty years, as the United States transformed itself into a market society, writing and publishing assumed the character of a business. The parallel development was anything but fortuitous: Adam Smith's economics har-48- bored the corrective to his own, and Brown's, negative assessment of the writer's plight. An agricultural people lacking a cultivated class of aristocrats could not have a thriving literary culture, nor the prospect of professional authorship, without an exponential increase in the "wealth of the nation." The War of 1812 set in motion an economic "takeoff" that shifted into high gear in the 1840s and 1850s, the decades not just of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville but of Lippard, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Susan Warner. Some changes — for example, the modernizing of production and distribution — were primarily material, but deeper structural affinities tied together the growth of commerce and industry and the maturation of the literary calling. Not only did the marketplace create the requisite conditions for art, it shaped the capacity for reception and determined, or rather produced, the novel's dominance of American literature. But the commercial order's power, though immense, was never total. The narrative of how the American novel became a commodity, of how we get from Brown's Wieland (1797) to The Quaker City, is a story both of the artist's implication in the marketplace and of his or her resistance to its values.

Technological advances and unprecedented population growth laid the foundations for a national market for printed material. The mechanization of printing and improvements in papermaking and binding meant that books could be manufactured in greater volume and more cheaply than ever before. (Lippard, in his description of Monk Hall, singles out the recent technology of the stereotype, an inexpensive duplicate plate, introduced in 1813, that permitted multiple copies of a work to be printed simultaneously.) Canals, turnpikes, and railroads facilitated interchange between distant geographic regions and diminished the obstacles to distribution. The flood of immigrants and the high native birthrate combined to double population every twenty-five years and to ensure a huge potential audience for books. Thanks to the common school system, the United States at mid-century claimed the largest literate public in history, with about 90 percent of the adult whites able to read and write (the figure was slightly higher for males than for females).

Economic arrangements had an instrumental role in turning these once abstemious men and women into devourers of fiction. As the subsistence orientation of the past yielded to commercial and then -49- industrial production, Americans as a people grew more affluent and had more disposable income to spend on entertainment. The divorce between home and work brought about by the rise of offices and factories particularly favored the consumption of light literature (that is, novels as opposed to history, politics, or theology). Middle-class women, who had traditionally gravitated to fiction because of its attention to female concerns (as in the seduction and courtship novels of the eighteenth century), were no longer involved in household manufacture and enjoyed more free time in which to read. The domestic sphere became identified with relaxation and culture; libraries entered middle-class residences; and men of all classes began to bring home newspapers and periodicals, which regularly serialized works of fiction or published entire novels as low-priced supplements.

Changes in ideology and the organization of social life further contributed to the triumph of the novel. The entrenchment of market capitalism was accompanied by an altered perception of the relationship between the self and the community. Republicanism, with its privileging of the common good, yielded to liberalism, which elevates the particular person and maintains, in the version developed by Adam Smith, that the general welfare is enhanced by the pursuit of private interest. This inversion of priorities meshes with the novel's historic emphasis on the individual. The clarifying of boundaries between residence and outer world also lessened the sway of communalism. The public realm — magistrates, clergy, and the like — had once exercised authority over family matters. (Hawthorne fictionalizes this older habit of public supervision in The Scarlet Letter [1850], where the Puritan magistrates regard it as their duty to oversee Hester's upbringing of Pearl.) As the family and the larger social order drew apart, the home emerged as the enclave of privacy and interiority. The public sphere appeared increasingly remote from personal life and hence from the concerns of art. The American novel largely ceased to take interest in public affairs, or rather took interest in them, as in the case of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), by personalizing political issues and seeking to read them under the sign of the home. There is no antebellum Modern Chivalry (1792–1815), Hugh Henry Brackenridge's multivolume satire of civic foibles. Nor is there anything comparable to A History of New York (1809), Washington Irving's comic masterpiece that deflates the public realm in laughter. -50-

There are, however, many fictions that replicate the split between household and labor — or, to phrase it somewhat differently, that sort themselves along the gender lines beginning to prevail in the society as a whole. Antebellum literary culture bifurcates into the novel of female domesticity and the novel of masculine adventure and camaraderie. As long ago as 1923, in his Studies in Classic American Literature, D. H. Lawrence noticed the pattern of male bonding on the margins that has since been taken as constitutive of the romance genre. The convention should be seen not so much as a flight from social existence as the refraction of an experience that growing numbers of American men were undergoing by mid-century, as they left their families on a daily basis to work alongside other men in banks, commercial enterprises, and factories. The male novel is noteworthy not merely for its distancing from the domestic zone but also for its immersion in the details and lexicon of work. Melville's fictions are among the most memorable on this score, from the early Redburn (1849) and White-Jacket (1850), through Moby-Dick (1851), to the ironic reversal of Bartleby, the Scrivener (1853), where the eponymous protagonist's singularity consists precisely in his refusal to do his job.

Masculine novels help to create the work patterns of modern society. As James Fenimore Cooper among others understood, printed literature erodes traditional economic structures (such as the apprenticeship system) by preserving and circulating information that was once hoarded by craftsmen and passed on selectively from older men, often fathers, to younger ones. In The Last of the Mohicans (1826), the legendary woodsman Natty Bumppo harangues against the "black marks" on the page for their power to undermine respect for the wisdom of age. Like mechanized production, male fictions render the father/master obsolete in that they teem with technological information and can double as how-to manuals. They construct the unconnected individuals they depict. Popular books of the era offer instruction in the secret of surviving the wilderness (Cooper, William Gilmore Simms, Robert Montgomery Bird's Nick of the Woods [1837]); the mysterious metropolis (Lippard, Poe's detective stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin, George Thompson's New-York Life [1849]); or at sea (Melville, Cooper's nautical novels, Poe's Narrative of A. Gordon Pym [1837-38]). -51-

Nineteenth-century sentimental novels eschew the depiction of male labor but expatiate lovingly on the work carried out in the home. This emphasis divides sentimental fiction from the seduction tales popular a generation earlier, before the separation of spheres gave domestic life its feminized coloring. Neither Rowson's Charlotte Temple (1794), the early Republic's best-selling novel, nor Hannah Foster's The Coquette (1797), which did nearly as well, shows the heroine doing chores around the house. These were not activities eighteenth-century women saw as defining their nature. The bestsellers of the pre-Civil War era tell a different story, and the chapters in Uncle Tom's Cabin that memorialize Rachel Halliday's homemaking skills are exemplary of the change. In Warner's The Wide, Wide World (1850), the heroine Ellen Montgomery has to master her aversion to housework to prove her mastery over herself. But mostly what Ellen does is to read books and write. The activity of authorship is one commercial enterprise that, being performed in the middle-class home, turns up time and again in novels both by women and by men. Melville's Pierre Glendinning and Fanny Fern's Ruth Hall meet on this terrain if nowhere else.

Of course the gendering of fictional subgenres always admitted of exceptions, just as the barrier between the home and the economic arena was never impermeable. Domestic fictions were composed by men and adventure narratives by women. Ann Stephens wrote the first volume published in the Beadle series of "dime novels," lurid tales of bloodshed that actually sold for as little as a nickel. And Hawthorne's books incorporate elements from both genres. The pages in The House of the Seven Gables (1851) describing Phoebe's facility at cooking, cleaning, and gardening rival anything in women's literature for sentimental effusion.

Rationalization of the book trade was fundamental to the novel's discursive preeminence. Publishers moved swiftly to take advantage of the changed environment — or rather, the category of the "publisher" in the modern sense came into existence as venturesome persons seized the opportunity for profits. In the eighteenth century, the writer had arranged the manufacturing of his or her works and paid the printer or bookseller a commission to distribute them. Over half the country's fiction had originated in relatively small communities like Poughkeepsie, New York, or Windsor, Vermont, and had come -52- from local printers who published notices and newspapers as well as books. By the 1850s, the proportion of local imprints had declined to under 10 percent. Centralization replaced dispersal as large and wellcapitalized firms arose in the rapidly growing northeastern cities of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Harper Bros., Putnam's, and other publisher-entrepreneurs specializing in books now monopolized the production of fiction. These concerns relieved authors of the risks of publication (while also reducing the author's share of the possible profits) and asserted total control over the business end of literature. They took charge of all commercial responsibilities, from buying paper and overseeing printing to merchandizing the finished product.

The new houses, backed by the financial resources to promote and disseminate their wares, inaugurated the mass marketing of written culture. They made literary works generally available and affordable and dispelled the aristocratic aura of books by turning out inexpensive series under the title of "libraries." Two classics of the American Renaissance appeared in Wiley and Putnam's Library of American Books: Poe's Tales (1845), which sold for 50 cents, and a twovolume, paper-covered edition of Hawthorne's Mosses from an Old Manse (1846), priced at $1.00 the set. Fifty years earlier, when wages were far lower, American novels had sold for about twice as much. Advertising emerged as an integral part of the literary scene, an essential tool for informing far-flung consumers about the latest publication and stimulating interest in buying. Promotional campaigns included announcements in newspapers, excerpts and blurbs in magazines, posters in bookstores, lecture tours, and inflated reports of sales figures (on the reasonable assumption that people will want to read a book liked by other people). Brown had tried to generate publicity by sending a copy of Wieland to Thomas Jefferson with a covering letter asking the third President for a plug. (Jefferson ignored him.) Antebellum publishers eliminated the element of chance and routinized the practice of "puffing," or planting favorable reviews and notices by writers who were often in the publisher's employ.

Under the market regime, works by Americans shed their reputation as money losers. Publishers welcomed home-grown manuscripts because they knew that a successful book could sell more than enough copies to recoup the cost of royalties. The output of native -53- novels surged accordingly, as writers, publishers, and booksellers scrambled to keep pace with demand. One hundred twenty-eight fictions by Americans appeared in the 1820s, or forty more than in the first three decades of the nation's existence. The number tripled in the 1830s, and then jumped again in the 1840s to eight hundred — almost thirty times the yearly average of the early Republic. Buyers snapped up the most popular of these works in quantities that kept rising until the figures peaked in the forties and fifties. The Last of the Mohicans qualified as a best-seller in 1826 with 5750 copies in circulation. The Quaker City, in contrast, sold 60,000 copies in 1845 and 30,000 in each of the next five years; the total of over 200,000 made Lippard's exposé the best-selling American novel before Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe's antislavery saga outdid that aggregate in the single year of 1852, and thereafter sales escalated; estimates of total copies purchased before the Civil War range as high as five million. While Stowe's figures were exceptional, other domestic novelists conquered the reading public too, with Fanny Fern's Ruth Hall (1855) logging sales of 55,000 and Maria Cummins's The Lamplighter (1854) exceeding 40,000 within eight weeks.

The South did not participate in these statistical marvels. The fate of literature below the Mason-Dixon line inverted the experience of the North, as if to underline the close connection between freemarket capitalism and the flourishing of native fiction. Thomas Jefferson, the country's leading eighteenth-century man of letters, was a Virginian who practiced authorship as a gentlemanly avocation. In the nineteenth century, as the rest of the nation modernized, an anachronistic understanding of the arts as nonprofessional persisted in the South to the detriment of the area's culture. The South lost its literary luster and didn't regain comparable distinction until the novels of William Faulkner. The problem, of course, was slavery: its expansion committed the region to an agrarian economy, retarded the growth of industry and cities, and had the inevitable consequence of devaluing all forms of labor. The South failed to nourish literature, said the North Carolinian abolitionist Hinton Helper, because it lacked a modern system of production. Its authors "have their books printed on Northern paper, with Northern types, by Northern artizans, stitched, bound, and made ready for the market by Northern -54- industry" — and, added Helper, the books found the vast majority of their readers in the North.

Literary supremacy decamped for the bustling commercial centers the South never had. The area's major fiction writer, Edgar Allan Poe, served a stint in Richmond as a magazine editor before fleeing for the more congenial cultural climes of Philadelphia and New York. The most prolific novelist, William Gilmore Simms, was clubbed the "Southern Cooper" but never attracted a large enough Southern readership to approach Cooper's financial independence. Although he chronicled regional history and mores, Simms remained dependent on Northern royalties and lecture tours. The principal outlet for the Southwestern humorists was a periodical edited and published in New York by William T. Porter, The Spirit of the Times. And the major Southern novel written before the Civil War, Uncle Tom's Cabin, was the work of a Northern woman and bore the imprint of a Boston publisher.

The African American novelist struggled under far greater disadvantages than the Southerner. Nearly all African Americans were in bondage, and those who gained or were born into freedom had little access to education. A minute pool of possible authors faced an audience problem unknown to whites. Free African Americans numbered barely a quarter million, or about 2 percent of the North's population in 1860, and few among these despised and impoverished people had sufficient leisure time or money to expend on novels. A readership of sympathetic whites failed to materialize. So formidable were the hindrances that just four novels by African Americans reached print before the Civil War. Only Harriet E. Wilson's Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) was published in book form in the antebellum United States. Martin Delany's Blake; or, The Huts of America (1859-62) appeared serially in two African American periodicals but had to wait until the 1960s to achieve publication on its own. The other novels, William Wells Brown's Clotel; or, The President's Daughter (1853) and Frank J. Webb's The Garies and Their Friends (1857), were issued in London with British imprints.

Unlike the typical slave narrative, which appeared under white (abolitionist) sponsorship and was introduced by white testimony to -55- its authenticity, these novels make few concessions to the sensibilities of white readers. The Garies and Their Friends details the racial hypocrisy of Northerners; Blake advocates African American separatism and refers to whites as "devils"; and Clotel broaches the scandal of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and rumored father of two mulatto daughters who are sold into slavery during the narrative. Our Nig, easily the strongest of the novels, refuses to honor the conventions of African American publication. Wilson consigns white testimonials to the back of the book and excoriates abolitionists "who didn't want slaves at the South, nor niggers in their own houses, North." Her novel received not a single American review and didn't sell enough copies to keep its author from the almshouse.

Such works make abundantly clear how stifling the antebellum marketplace could be to unwelcome ideas and unpopular voices. White buyers needed to be conciliated before they would agree to patronize African American artists. In Our Nig Wilson thematizes the prohibition against African American self-advocacy: the efforts of her protagonist Frado to make herself heard are repeatedly frustrated by whites, who find her words too discomforting to listen to and try to muzzle her. Frado has her mouth stuffed with a towel and a block of wood; her mistress, Mrs. Bellmont, threatens to cut out her tongue to prevent her from "tale-bearing." Written from the perspective of a mulatto servant, Our Nig paints a relentlessly bleak picture of race and class relations in the North. The book flaunts its unsalability by debunking the middle-class domestic scene that Stowe and other female abolitionists mobilized against slavery. The family for Wilson is not a stronghold of emancipatory affect; it is a plantation or factory where Nig suffers brutal mistreatment from other women. No other antebellum novel by a woman, white or African American, places itself so far outside the expectations of the feminine reading public.

Although white authors had a much easier time of it, not all of them, even in the North, fared well now that literature was a trade. In general, one can divide the novelists of the 1840s and 1850s into three groupings: the small circle of men who over the course of the next hundred years came to constitute the canon of national literature; the domestic or sentimental women; and the quasi journalists -56- like Lippard, most of them male, whose narratives of urban violence and sexual titillation shaped a sensationalized popular culture. These three groupings constituted the first generation of Americans able to view storytelling realistically as a career, a vocation that promised a decent livelihood and held out the prospect, for the lucky few, of real wealth. Least is known about the purveyors of sensationalism. Their paper-covered pamphlet novels, hawked on street corners or sold through the mails (until the U.S. Post Office withdrew their permits to ship at inexpensive newspaper rates), proved both popular and highly ephemeral.

Our concern here lies with the canonical and domestic writers, the major artists of the period and figures who often seemed to occupy antipodal cultural spheres. Rivals for the respectable, middle-class audience, they differed in subject matter, popular appeal, and understanding of the literary calling. Yet a series of paradoxes and inversions joined them and pointed to a broader area of agreement. In varying degrees, each school internalized but also set itself against the social and economic universe identified with Adam Smith. Although the women enjoyed immense commercial success and frankly viewed their writing as a lucrative form of employment, American culture — and they themselves — defined womanhood as the antithesis of acquisitiveness. They retained traditional ideas of the novel as committed to service; for most of them, the self-expressive dimension of art was subsidiary to the doing of good. The men, on the other hand, sold modestly or poorly in their lifetimes and felt estranged from the market, yet they forged an individualized conception of literature as "high" art, as a separate realm analogous to the newly theorized category of the economic.

Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper, fiction writers who came of age in the 1820s, prefigured the allegiances and contradictions of their canonical successors. Of the important male artists active in the mid-nineteenth century, only these two were born in the previous century and attained adulthood before the War of 1812. Performing a complex dance of equivocation, they advanced into the commercialized future while preserving essential characteristics from the preprofessional, foreign-dominated past. The two men were regarded in their own time as imitators of British models: Cooper as the American Scott, Irving as the American Lamb. Irving's international -57- hit, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-20), is suffused with Anglophilia and announces its superiority to the market in its title. Throughout his career, Irving maintained a public image of himself as a gentleman of letters, not a professional; he was forever seeking sinecures in government and cultivating the patronage of great men. Cooper's more abrasive personality ruled out supplication, but he too had an air of being above commercial considerations. His maiden foray into literature, Precaution (1820), apes English courtship novels and exudes a reverence for the aristocracy that persists throughout his American works, eventually to reach a pinnacle of shrillness in his last fiction, The Ways of the Hour (1850). Cooper's quarrels with publishers and reviewers, and his growing disdain for American democracy, hurt his sales and amounted to a declaration of independence from the reading public.

In spite of their reluctance, these two pioneers gave American fiction respectability and put it on a profitable footing. Irving and Cooper exemplified the man of letters as a man of business, their very aloofness from materialism endowing their works with an aura of highly marketable exclusivity. Gentlemanly aversion to exchange underwrote their appeal to a readership eager to acquire literary culture. Both men turned to writing careers after their families suffered financial embarrassment in the Depression of 1819. Both capitalized on the improved conditions of the 1820s to convert literature into an instrument of economic mobility. Cooper's Americanization of the historical romance in The Spy (1821) and The Pioneers (1822) took the country by storm, and his keen grasp of his audience's desires made him the Republic's first true professional author, popular enough, at least for a time, to live comfortably on his literary earnings. Irving excelled at recycling his successes: Bracebridge Hall (1822) was clubbed his "English Sketch Book," The Alhambra (1832) his "Spanish Sketch Book." But it was the retailing of the original Sketch Book that first demonstrated his formidable commercial sense. The collection was issued serially in seven pamphlets and sold for the astronomical figure of $5.37 1/2 the set. Five thousand Americans, according to William Charvat, paid the price, and Irving netted close to $10,000 before the sketches appeared as a separate book.

Irving and Cooper made vital if fitful contributions to the reconfiguring of literature as "a world elsewhere." Irving's History of New -58- York struck a blow against the cultural prestige of history writing, a genre esteemed by Americans for its pedagogic authority. In The Sketch Book, he portrays the artist as a dreamy idler, someone whose power to entertain has nothing to do with usefulness. Cooper, after making obeisances to patriotism in The Spy, claimed to have written The Pioneers "exclusively to please myself." The book's exquisite descriptions of natural scenery suggest an ambition to craft a selfsufficient "art" novel, although this aspiration has to contend against Cooper's usual wish to lecture his readers. Neither author proved consistent in absolving his work from "some definite moral purpose" (a phrase Hawthorne uses ironically in the preface to The House of the Seven Gables). Irving reverted to writing the kinds of histories he once mocked, while Cooper's didactic impulses, except in the Leatherstocking tales (and sometimes there too), almost invariably got the better of his artistic judgment.

The sporadic suspension of extrinsic purpose in Irving and Cooper not only marked them off from contemporaneous women novelists like Catharine Maria Sedgwick and Lydia Maria Child; it also declared their difference from an earlier cultural formation. In the eighteenth century, American novels had marched under the banner of social utility. They had not fully differentiated themselves from functional discourses such as sermons and patriotic histories. Something like a "moral economy," in which the corporate welfare took precedence over personal interests, had prevailed in cultural life much as it had in material affairs. The nineteenth century saw the gradual eclipsing of this definition of the aesthetic. Relative indifference to the moral or instructional obligation of fiction, an attitude appearing in embryo in the post-Revolutionary period, became a hallmark — perhaps even the distinguishing quality — of the imaginative writing that was subsequently judged canonical.

Literature's ostensible autonomy — its relatively recent status, that is, as a discrete discourse, governed by its own rules and values and emancipated from extraliterary functions — may appear to distance the artwork from a money-oriented social order; and, as I shall argue later, such an ideal did express genuine disaffection from the commercial spirit. But the disembedding of the literary was also part of a larger social trend toward specialization and individuation. The adherents of free-market thought interpreted the economic as a zone -59- apart from morality, theology, and government. Although autonomous art was in advance of mid-century economic practice, fiction's casting free from didacticism reproduced as cultural agenda the same structural imperative that informed liberal individualism. Art now presented itself as a circumscribed terrain analogous to the scene of commerce and no less secure from intrusions by church and state (or piety and politics). The new aesthetic ideology's privileging of disinterestedness bespoke not transhistorical "purity" but rather rootedness in a modernizing capitalist society and affiliation with Adam Smith's increasingly influential defense of the market as a selfregulating sphere that should be "let alone."

Domestic fiction, on the other hand, affirmed connectedness over autonomy. Sentimental discourse retained a pedagogic responsibility that harmonized with the nineteenth-century perception of women as moral guardians. The "cult of true womanhood" venerated selfless, nurturant beings who found fulfillment in serving others. Confined to the home, spared the compromises and pressures of the public world, women were thought to possess a purity and spirituality that ideally suited them for their tasks as wives and mothers. Fiction writing, like nursing or teaching the very young, was an acceptable activity so long as it conformed to the conventional female role. Woman's charge was to edify and improve her audience, only secondarily to strive for the perfection of art. This didactic strain linked literary domesticity to the republican past. Sentimental novels, though avidly consumed by antebellum readers, were residual in their entanglement with moral purpose and their loyalty to the communitarian emphases of the early Republic.

Although they too oscillated in their adjustments to the marketplace, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville broke far more decisively than Irving and Cooper with the previous cultural configuration. The three major fiction writers of the antebellum canon raised native letters to a par with foreign models. No one seriously thought of Melville as the American Marryat, and Hawthorne and Poe reversed the transatlantic flow of influence, Hawthorne impressing George Eliot among others, and Poe inspiring a long line of French poets beginning with Charles Baudelaire. Poe considered himself a consummate professional: he devoted all his energies to literature and never held a job other than as a writer, editor, lecturer, or free-lance journalist. -60-

Melville, who came from a patrician family fallen on hard times (as did Poe and Hawthorne), looked to the novel as a way of regaining affluence and social position. He could be extremely calculating in his dealings with the reading public, deleting anticlerical passages from Typee, for example, in order to avoid offending popular taste. At times Melville spoke of the commodity status of his books with a candor and absence of illusion more often found among the domestic and sensational writers. He described Redburn and White-Jacket as "two jobs, which I have done for money — being forced to it, as other men are to sawing wood."

Hawthorne, more than any other author of the period, came to personify American literature's maturation. He was a direct beneficiary of the commercializing of publishing: the shrewd Boston editorpublisher, James T. Fields, persuaded him to expand a long manuscript tale of adultery among the Puritans into a full-length novel. Hawthorne had endured years of obscure and ill-paid story writing, and Fields signed up The Scarlet Letter with a promise of an initial printing of 2500 copies and a royalty of 15 percent. The publisher's network of friendly reviewers acclaimed the book, a second edition was needed within days, and Hawthorne had his first (modest) commercial success. Prodded by Fields, who urged him to capitalize on his sudden popularity, Hawthorne embarked on a flurry of activity such as he never again approached. He revised and reissued several collections of tales, wrote two books of mythology for children, and completed two more full-length novels, all in the space of three years. He never quite duplicated his earlier success, but Fields's tireless advocacy of his canonization eventually elevated the novelist to the rank of "classic" author, the leading exhibit in the newly erected national pantheon.

But sales during one's lifetime matter to a writer too, as much or more than posthumous recognition, and in this area Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville all suffered repeated disappointments. Poe's literary professionalism vied with his aristocratic disdain for the common reader, and his occasional dream of suiting "at once the popular and the critical taste" fell dismally short of realization. For the metaphysical treatise Eureka (1848), the book he regarded as the culmination of his life's work, he predicted that a first printing of 50,000 would be necessary; an indifferent public slowly purchased 750 copies. A year -61- after this fiasco, Poe died impoverished in a Baltimore hospital, as if driven to actualize the (partial) self-portrait he cultivated — in tales, poems, and poses for daguerreotypes — as haunted, antibourgeois artist. Hawthorne, less histrionic in his patrician reserve, was more illat-ease with the exactions of the market. Having begun his career by publishing anonymously, he remained tormented by the violations of privacy demanded by fame. He simply could not sustain his commercial viability and kept trying to flee dependence on the reading public for the greater security of government patronage. (In this, he resembled Washington Irving.) Though he was dismissed from the Salem Custom House, the strategy ultimately paid off: his appointment as consul at Liverpool — a reward for writing the campaign biography of his friend Franklin Pierce — brought Hawthorne more money than all his works of fiction combined.

Melville engaged in a lengthy quarrel with the marketplace that he finally resolved, much like Hawthorne, only by removing himself from its domain. In 1866, while still in his forties, he took a position in the New York Custom House (ironic refuge from trade!) and never again wrote fiction for a living. This was a fate Melville provoked as well as had thrust upon him. In a famous series of letters to Hawthorne, he declared his unwillingness to accommodate his talent to the popular taste. "What I feel most moved to write," he told the older novelist, "that is banned — it will not sell. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot." Melville's books, early and late, bristle with mistrust of, not to say belligerence toward, the middle-class reader; resentment breaks out into rage in the semiautobiographical Pierre (1852), where the narrator rails against the public, and the protagonist, a writer, commits murder and incest. In his disaffection, Melville echoed his frustrated predecessor, Charles Brockden Brown. He complained in 1851:

This country…[is] governed by sturdy backswoodsmen — noble fellows enough, but not at all literary, and who care not a fig for any authors except those who write those most saleable of all books nowadays — i.e. - the newspapers, and magazines.

Other male novelists blamed their misfortunes on their female competitors. In a now notorious outburst, Hawthorne vented his spleen at the "scribbling women" whose books sold by the hundred -62- thousand and drove more deserving literature (he meant his own) from the market. Canonical writers regularly depict intellectual women as unnatural and textualize the wish to vanquish them, either by silencing or verbal usurpation. A conspicuous case of fantasy fulfillment occurs at the outset of The Scarlet Letter, when Hester Prynne, plainly a type of the female artist, stands in the Boston marketplace and vows never to speak in public. In The Blithedale Romance (1852) Hawthorne stills Zenobia's voice more ruthlessly by drowning her; Priscilla's utterances require no such violence because her public performances are orchestrated by a man. Poe's Ligeia, a woman so erudite that the male narrator abases himself before her "infinite supremacy," expires mysteriously and then returns from the dead with a bandage wound about her mouth. One woman who repaid these hostile gestures with disparagements of male narcissism was Fanny Fern, sister of the critic N. P. Willis and an author whose pugnacious spirit won over even Hawthorne. In her roman à clef, Ruth Hall, Fern caricatures her brother as a self-regarding poseur whose own works are ghostwritten. Willis is said to resent his sister's success because he "wants to be the only genius in the family."

Fern's novel tells the story of a woman writer who unabashedly regards literature as a trade and sets out, with single-minded determination, to win its financial prizes. The contrast to Melville's portrayal of the artist in Pierre could not be more pronounced. Melville's hero, who has been dispossessed of his inheritance, embarks on a literary career ostensibly to support his "family," but, more important, he writes in order to express profound truths about society and man. He loathes commercialism, composes a work far too radical for his publishers, and, thoroughly alienated from his dreams of literary greatness, ends up as a suicide. Fern's text reorders Melville's priorities. After Ruth Hall's husband dies, leaving her penniless, and she has to send a daughter to live with relatives, she decides to try her hand at authorship. She writes to make money so that she can restore her family, and she exults in the "market-value" of her sketches because the demand for them enables her to enter the "port of Independence." Ruth wants her pieces to affect and inspire others, but she thinks of herself above all as "a regular business woman" whose writings secure the wherewithal to cover "shoeless feet" and buy "a little medicine, or a warmer shawl." -63-

Pierre of course was atypical in his extremism, but Fern's version of the female author was representative: most sentimental novelists turned to literature for quite practical reasons and adopted a businesslike attitude toward writing. As Nina Baym puts it in her study of the women, they "conceptualized authorship as a profession rather than a calling, as work and not art." This overstates the case in that it elides the ambivalence many literary domestics felt about appearing in public or even signing their names to their books. Fern's heroine hides behind the androgynous pseudonym of "Floy," and she says that no woman can publicly defend herself from unfair reviews without doing "violence to her womanly nature." But the women seem to have experienced little of the alienation from their audience that beset the men. They saw their role as satisfying their readers' expectations and were largely untroubled by the contradiction, so bitter to Melville, between artistic urges and popular acceptance. Need to provide for one's family justified commercialism. "I am compelled to turn my brains to gold and to sell them to the highest bidder," said Caroline Lee Hentz, author of several best-sellers including Linda (1850). Hentz had no hesitation about carrying out such alchemy after her husband was incapacitated by illness. Stowe and Warner became entrepreneurs of the pen because of similar circumstances: the real or imaginary invalidism of Stowe's husband, and the worsening economic situation of Warner's father, who had a history of bad investments. Authorship, it should be remembered, was one of the few professions open to middle-class women in the antebellum period. Little wonder that so many embraced the literary marketplace: it offered prestige, good money, and unmatched range of influence, rewards far beyond those afforded by needlework and schoolteaching.

But aiming for, and achieving, material success did not produce liberal individualists. Commercial groundbreakers, the women remained troubled by conflicts over commercialism peculiar to their gender. Women were supposed to preserve their purity by refraining from the struggles of the marketplace, and Ruth Hall, for all her business acumen, turns over the management of her affairs to the editor John Walter, a gentleman-protector who addresses her fraternally as "Sister Ruth." What Hall did in fiction, Catharine Maria Sedgwick did in fact: she let her brothers handle all negotiations with -64- her publishers. "Our men are sufficiently moneymaking," asserted Sarah Hale, novelist and influential editor of Godey's Lady's Book. "Let us keep our women and children from the contagion as long as possible." Legal statute seconded popular thought in quarantining women, especially married women, from financial matters. Harriet Beecher Stowe's husband Calvin signed the royalty agreement for Uncle Tom's Cabin because married women couldn't sign contracts and didn't possess control over their earnings. Stowe was one of several female novelists who felt uneasy about the time and energy demanded by authorship. That composing fiction took place in the home merely exacerbated the distress such activity could cause. Wasn't the home the place where one cared for one's husband and children, and didn't the work in progress steal time from more urgent duties?

Carrying the requirement to be useful into the novel, women writers rejected the commercial age's tendency toward categorical differentiation and affirmation of the self. Stowe, who had no peer in either sales or profits, disavowed the authorship of Uncle Tom's Cabin, protesting on numerous occasions, "I did not write that book," and "the story made itself." Other women took more credit for their accomplishments, but the instinct to repress personal goals and deny unique capabilities was widely shared. All appealed to higher purposes, whether responsibility to humanity or service to God. The pleasure of exercising one's talent and basking in applause had to be coupled with the duty of instruction; the novel shared this trust with nonliterary utterances. Even Fern voiced the wish, in a didactic note to the reader, that her book would "fan into a flame, in some tired heart, the fading embers of hope." Sedgwick, like Irving and Cooper born in the eighteenth century, voiced traditional fastidiousness about the self-exposure of print. What emboldened her to write, she told a correspondent, was "the consciousness of a moral purpose." In Warner's case, the religious motive was so strong that she alternated works of fiction with homiletic tales and glosses on the Scriptures.

The background to Stowe's great book dramatizes some of the paradoxes common to domestic fiction. Her motives were at once familial, economic, and selfless. The financially straitened Stowes badly needed income from literature, and the royalties from Uncle Tom's Cabin exceeded $10,000 in the first nine months of sales -65- alone. But the catalyst for writing was moral outrage at the Fugitive Slave Act; Stowe conceived of her novel as a pulpit from which to rouse readers and convert them to antislavery. She deplored the evil of trafficking in human beings, but about the benefits of selling a book "favorable to the development…of Christian brotherhood" she had no qualms. The goal of succeeding for monetary reasons intersected with the desire to better the lives of others: the more books in circulation, the more people influenced for good.

Against this notion of literature as socially constructive, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville turned the novel into a proto-modernist art form, self-contained and increasingly self-referential. Undoubtedly pushed in this direction by lack of sales, the men were already moving toward aesthetic disentanglement, encoding in their narratives and theoretical pronouncements the impulse to specialize ascendant elsewhere in market culture. Hawthorne, perhaps the best-known spokesman for the canonical viewpoint, termed his fictions "romances" and defined them, in contradistinction to the novel, as taking place in "a Neutral Territory" removed from the actual world. His preface to The House of the Seven Gables problematizes the injunction that the work of literature should inculcate a moral. Questioning whether romances teach anything, Hawthorne says that the truth of fiction "is never any truer, and seldom any more evident, at the last page than at the first." Renunciation of advocacy pervades The Blithedale Romance. Published in the same year as Uncle Tom's Cabin, the book, in its prefatory disclaimer, underscores the divergence between the canon and a sentimental literature resolved to better society. The utopian community at Brook Farm, Hawthorne insists, is "altogether incidental" — a mere backdrop — to the action, and the story has not "the slightest pretensions to…elicit a conclusion, favorable or otherwise, in respect to socialism."

Poe and Melville were evolving toward the same position of disinterestedness. In The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), Poe imagines the artist as a hypersensitive being isolated from everyday reality, a creator of imageless pictures and self-reflexive songs. Poe's critical ruminations champion autonomous literature, and his appeal to Baudelaire was as a precocious proponent of art pour l'art. His essay on "The Poetic Principle" inveighs against "the heresy of The Didactic" and extols the "poem written solely for the poem's sake." -66-

Melville's work engages more directly with the issues of his time — among other topics, he wrote on slavery, class, imperialism, and the destruction of the Native American — but the ever-present ironies and ambiguities dissipate external purpose. Melville's fictions awaken awareness of social injustice but leave the reader with no thought of changing things. (In this regard, he is Stowe's opposite, more so even than Hawthorne.) For Melville, the writer was a teller of Truth (invariably capitalized) who had privileged access to perceptions too terrible for common consumption; he had to smuggle his meaning to the select few while concealing it from the multitude.

If the movement toward literary autonomy shared a structure of thought with free-market economics, that movement also generated values opposed to the regimen of capitalism. The canonical writers' modernist orientation espoused a version of professionalism that located itself outside the commercial world. Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville developed occupational ideals different in significant ways from the practical vocational outlook of the domestic novelists, for whom the confirmation of the common reader in sales was a relatively unambiguous gauge of success. The canonical ethic took the form it did as a deliberate act of self-definition against the contrary example of the women. The three male writers simultaneously wanted to demarcate themselves from their female rivals and to associate their practice of authorship with other professions that were emerging or undergoing rationalization during this era. Medicine, law, and teaching, occupations from which women were usually barred (except at the lower levels of teaching), were establishing more stringent requirements to enter the field and stricter standards of practice within it.

These changing fields, as they proceeded to specialize over the course of the century, stressed their dissimilarity from entrepreneurial pursuits governed by profit and loss. The new professionals came to place special emphasis on expertise in one's endeavor. They were comparatively insulated from the market — many collected a fee set by custom or the profession rather than a salary — and skillfulness assumed a value for them distinguishable from the income they received. Of course they wanted to be well paid, but what made them professionals was their sense of integrity and ability in performing a technical service, and what confirmed their professional identity was -67- the recognition of their merit by others in the field. In the egalitarian Jacksonian years, licensing laws and other attempts to restrict entry encountered popular resistance; nevertheless, the trend toward disciplinary rigor was irreversible. The professional ideal may have derived some of its prestige from the older, slowly disappearing tradition of artisanal handicrafts, which mandated a long period of apprenticeship before mastering a trade. The ideal can also be seen as a prefigurement of Thorstein Veblen's principle of workmanship, the devotion to excellence that Veblen attributed to the twentieth-century engineer and that he hoped would topple a system of production in which quality was sacrificed to profit.

But whatever its provenance and filiations — and Veblen clearly overestimated its potential to subvert — there is no doubt that for the canonical authors the professional ethic represented an alternative to the reign of commerce. An element of mystification entered into this, since the novelist, unlike the physician or lawyer, depended directly on sales for his income. But professionalism valorized extramonetary goals and conferred some of the aristocratic prestige, though little of the immediate market appeal, that "gentleman" supplied for Irving and Cooper. Melville was explicit on the disjunction between popularity and professional standards. "Try to get a living by the Truth — and go to the Soup Societies," he exclaimed, and he interpreted audience acceptance as a sign of artistic ineptitude. "Hawthorne and His Mosses," the impassioned essay Melville wrote to celebrate his fellow craftsman, spurns the public's plaudits as "strong presumptive evidence of mediocrity." For the meritorious writer, Melville argues, what counts is not the market but the appreciation of other literary professionals, including trained readers, who can grasp the complex messages encrypted within the multilayered text. A call for "close reading" informs this tribute, one hundred years before the New Criticism revolutionized the study of literature in university English departments. Melville's correspondence with Hawthorne is similarly dominated by his sense of their being practitioners of an exacting discipline, bound together by dedication to the highest standards of art. In this spirit of appreciative collegiality, he inscribed Moby-Dick to his brother novelist "In Token of My Admiration for His Genius."

Hawthorne was made uncomfortable by the degree of Melville's -68- adulation, but he too thought of himself as a professional in an esoteric specialty demanding training and skill. For a dozen years after his graduation from college, he lived in his mother's house in Salem and applied himself to mastering the art of fiction. Reclusiveness was at work here, but so was a commitment to the kind of rigorous apprenticeship becoming less common in manual crafts and more frequent in mental occupations. Few writers from the antebellum period brooded so obsessively on the character and mechanics of their calling. Like the masculine tales of his contemporaries, Hawthorne's works abound in detailed information about an arduous task. They are primers imparting instruction on the materials, "laws," and composition of the romance. While Ruth Hall is also a how-to manual for aspiring women authors, in Fern's case the advice deals not with the process of composition but rather with the best strategies for placing one's manuscript and coping with editors and publishers.

Poe shared Hawthorne's preoccupation with technique and agreed that the making of literature was a profession as distinct as medicine or law. Finding favor with the mass public, he stated in a review of Sedgwick, "has nothing to do with literature proper." And by "literature proper," Poe meant a self-conscious art pruned of everything that was not literature, an art obedient to its own regulations and explainable on its own terms. Like Hawthorne, he invited readers into his laboratory and allowed them to glimpse the creative process. "The Philosophy of Composition" describes how he selected the topic, determined the length, and achieved the effect of his poem "The Raven" — a palpably fraudulent account that says more about the pressure to professionalize than about the text's actual preparation.

For Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, the writer's vocation crystallized as a counterpoise to the articulation of literary domesticity. The three men defined their callings as artists in opposition to the sentimental novelists. Hawthorne endlessly denominated the romance as a species of storytelling liberated from the close notation of domestic manners, thereby proclaiming the form's distance from the fictions of his female compatriots. In his censure of the scribbling women, he grumbled that he had no prospect of success while "their trash" monopolized the public taste, and added that he "should be ashamed of [himself] if [he] did succeed." Melville's Pierre, resolved to astound -69- the world with a tale of truth, shows his seriousness by repudiating the feminized sentimentality of his juvenilia. And Poe, in his account of "How to Write a Blackwood Article," ridicules as mindless the female authors whose contributions fill the journals of the day. To the canonical figures, the domestic novelists may have stood for the unaesthetic past, a time when native culture had not yet found its voice, or they may have symbolized the materialistic, utilitarian present; but the fact remains that the men could not have formulated their professional identity without the alternative model represented by the women. Literary professionalism as a distancing from the market, as an elevation of calling and competence over profitability, was the creation of white male fiction writers reacting against the commercial triumphs of the feminine novel.

Adam Smith had believed that men of letters were less well compensated than physicians and lawyers because the field of literature was overstocked: the more restrictive a profession, the more highly rewarded its members. Despite their efforts to distinguish themselves from their contemporaries, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville failed to attain financial parity with elite practitioners of medicine and law; in fact, their forbidding standards of professionalism impaired their marketability. But in the long run, membership in a select club did reap economic benefits. Canonization transformed Hawthorne into a belated best-seller, available to the nineteenth-century reader in inexpensive school texts and imposing, clothbound editions of his collected works. Poe and Melville had a longer wait, but they too gained the ultimate in literary exclusivity: the status, and commercial longevity, of national classics.

A series of concluding ironies arises from this peculiarity of cultural history, final complications in the three men's shifting relation to the economics of authorship. Outsold by the more popular women while they were alive, the canonical novelists turned out to have greater staying power in the marketplace after their deaths. They owed their posthumous success not to the triumph of laissez faire but rather to the support of the emergent literary establishment. Whether or not their works possess greater artistic value, what raised Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville above their compatriots was the intervention on their behalf of fellow male professionals — the publishers, critics, and teachers who overruled the market by reprinting their books, -70- promoting their reputations, and assigning them in courses. The novelists who created the aesthetic as a discrete entity, a literary realm parallel to Smith's self-righting economy, achieved immortality through a form of cultural subvention or "welfare." The visible hand of professional authority was needed to rescue the self-sufficient novel from popular disfavor and to convert antebellum remainders into the enduring best-sellers of American literature.

Michael T. Gilmore


The Romance

Perhaps no literary term has been more descried, analyzed, and debated during recent decades than the term "Romance." Such eminent critics of American literature as Lionel Trilling and Richard Chase have identified its characteristics, contrasted them with those of the novel, and offered a beguiling paradigm focusing our attention on the achievement of Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, and (especially) Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville. But consensus has not rested easy: although such studies as those of Joel Porte and Richard Brodhead refined our sense of romance elements in specific texts, David H. Hirsch and Nicolaus Mills — among others — have balked at the idea of an autonomous genre called the romance and at what seemed to them fuzzy distinctions between narrative forms. Aware of the confusion wrought by evolving perspectives and critical fashions, Michael Davitt Bell has surveyed "the development of American Romance" with perceptive authority as a way of coming to see what happens in narrative when the romance sacrifices (as it does) relation to the quotidian world. And such recent assessments of American fiction as those of Edgar A. Dryden, Robert Levine, and Steven C. Sheer have inquired into the provenance and function of the romance with a fresh sense of purpose. On one thing most parties would agree: the persistent dialogue over the nature of the romance suggests its vital, albeit elusive and ambiguous, importance.

By common consent, the crucial text for discussing the nature of -72- the romance in American fiction comes from the preface to Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables (1851). "When a writer calls his work a Romance," Hawthorne writes, "it need hardly be observed that he wishes to claim a certain latitude, both as to its fashion and material, which he would not have felt himself entitled to assume, had he professed to be writing a Novel." The novel, he goes on to say, "is presumed to aim at a very minute fidelity, not merely to the possible, but to the probable and ordinary course" of human experience; the romance, while it must adhere to the truth of the human heart, offers a greater freedom of presentation: the writer may manage the "atmospherical medium" so as to "bring out or mellow the lights and deepen and enrich the shadows of the picture." The writer of romance, that is, has the latitude to adjust or refract reality, to fashion what we might call a subjunctive world of fiction different in kind from the socially structured world in which we live but implicated, I would add, in its desires and fears.

Hawthorne was not alone in making such a distinction between the romance and the novel. Nor was the distinction invented by American writers. Both William Congreve and the gothic storyteller Clara Reeve characterized the romance as dealing with the wondrous and unusual and the novel as depicting events of a familiar nature, Congreve in the preface to his otherwise-forgotten Incognita (1692), Reeve in The Progress of Romance (1795). In a preface to the revised edition of The Yemassee (1853), Hawthorne's Southern contemporary William Gilmore Simms made an elaborate case for the romance as the modern substitute for the epic. Important for Simms, as for Hawthorne, is the fact that the romance allows an extravagance of presentation: rather than subjecting "itself to what is known, or even what is probable, it grasps at the possible."

Despite the tendency of some nineteenth-century reviewers to use the terms romance and novel interchangeably (as Nina Baym demonstrates in her study of reviews and readers), Hawthorne could and did assume an established distinction between the two kinds of fiction in his preface to Seven Gables. Later descriptions of the romance as an identifiable kind of narrative support the idea of breaking away from the commonplace as a fundamental characteristic. Having already declared his affinity for the romance in Mardi (1849), Melville came to think of fiction itself as expansive, replete with wonder: "It -73- is with fiction as with religion," he wrote in The Confidence-Man (1857); "it should present another world, and yet one to which we feel the tie." The metaphor of a "tie" brings to mind Henry James's well-known analogy of "the balloon of experience" in his preface to the New York edition of The American (1909). The balloon, according to James, carries us into a world of imagination; but it is tethered to the earth by "a rope of remarkable length" that locates us and assures us where we are. If the rope is cut, "we are at large and unrelated." Ever concerned with technique, James concludes that "the art of the romancer" is to cut the cable undetected, with "insidious" craft. James's balloon analogy has long been a favorite among students of the romance. But his preface to The American offers an equally provocative and even more precise description of the form. James explicitly disavows the popular idea of the strange and the far as crucial aspects of the romance; they simply represent the unknown, which the increasing range of our experience may convert to the known. Nor is a romantic temperament in a character basic to this kind of narrative (while Emma Bovary is a romantic, "nothing less resembles a romance" than Flaubert's Madame Bovary). The romance, he goes on to say, explores a reality that "we never can directly know," no matter our resolve. It "deals" with a special kind of experience — and here we come to the essence of James's definition — "experience liberated, so to speak; experience disengaged, disembroiled, disencumbered, exempt from the conditions that we usually know to attach to it" by way of social context.

What emerges from this assemblage of definitions is a sense of the romance as an enabling theory of narrative equipped with memorable and facilitating metaphors. What comes from the theory is a mode of fiction that presents extravagance and courts the "disengaged" (in James's term), a fiction of intensity that feeds on caricature and seeks to confront the absolute. The consequence is a diverse set of narratives, gothic, magical, and psychological (frequently tending toward the allegorical and symbolic), unparalleled as expressive vehicles of revenge. In the work of Hawthorne, Poe, and Melville, one finds achievement of high and diverse order but none more eloquent than in studies of revenge empowered by the narrative energies of romance. -74-

Throughout his twenty years of writing tales before the publication of The Scarlet Letter (1850), Hawthorne worked tentatively and at times clumsily to release the imagination for the purposes of his art. He spent a career finding ways to enter what he once called "the kingdom of possibilities." In the context of a society suspicious of imaginative indulgence, his commitment to the imagination was cautious, even intermittent: what he called "the hot, hard practical life of America" never ceased to threaten his creative efforts. Out of his difficulties he wrote a number of tales dramatizing the plight of the imagination in a hostile environment — among them, "The Artist of the Beautiful" (1844), and "The Snow-Image" (1850) — and developed strategies of shaping and presentation that did much to define the nature of the romance as he saw it. (It may be well to note that although the tale is not simply a short form of the romance, any more than the short story is an abbreviated form of the novel, it does deal with the kind of expansive reality typically found in the romance. In his tales as in his romances, Hawthorne worked to set the reader apart from what he continually called the "actual" world.)

Each of Hawthorne's major romances contains a preface explaining that his kind of fiction requires a domain of its own if it is to flourish. In "The Custom-House" sketch, which serves as an introduction to The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne formulates the metaphor of "a neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairyland, where the Actual and the Imaginary may meet, and each imbue itself with the nature of the other." In the preface to The House of the Seven Gables, as we have seen, he explains that the latitude of fashion and material afforded by the romance is congenial to his imagination. His concern in The Blithedale Romance (1852) is "to establish a theatre, a little removed from the highway of ordinary travel," where his characters will not be exposed to direct comparison "with the actual events of real lives." The difficulty of creating fiction without access to a "Faery Land," he admits, "has always pressed heavily" upon him. The same perspective evokes his statement concerning the romance and America in the preface to The Marble Faun (1860). Italy, he explains, afforded him "a sort of poetic or fairy precinct, where actualities would not be so terribly insisted upon, as they are, and must needs be, in America." -75-

As much as any of his prefatory statements, Hawthorne's sketch "The Haunted Mind" (1835) suggests the nature of the "neutral ground" and its relation to disencumbered experience. In this sketch Hawthorne writes of an hour of the night when one wakes suddenly into a world of scattered dreams. It is a time out of time when yesterday has vanished and tomorrow has not yet emerged, "an intermediate space where the business of life does not intrude." The sketch epitomizes such familiar features of Hawthorne's fiction as inner guilt and the comforting associations of the hearth. Its larger significance, however, lies in its brooding dramatization of the conditions of his fiction. Hawthorne's subject is the haunted mind, but the setting of the sketch is a kind of neutral ground — out of time, between yesterday and tomorrow. Somewhere behind or below is the haunted mind (Hawthorne's metaphor for the free-floating imagination), which yields up vivid and uncontrolled images never yet encumbered or engaged by social institutions. As they emerge onto the neutral ground (here, the "intermediate space"), they confront actually existing things (furniture in the room, embers on the hearth) that swim into cognition: and the meeting of the two provides the potential for art.

To juxtapose the mental drama of "The Haunted Mind" with a different set of instructions for confronting the terrors of the night gives us a surer view of the context in which Hawthorne lived and wrote. James Beattie was a Scottish moral philosopher, one of the Common Sense school that had widespread significance on American educators, clerics, and writers during the first half of the nineteenth century. In his Dissertations Moral and Critical (1783), Beattie describes what he considers the most preferable way of dealing with "imaginary terrors" of the night. "By the glimmering of the moon," he writes, "I have once and again beheld at midnight, the exact form of a man or woman, sitting silent and motionless by my bedside. Had I hid my head, without daring to look the apparition in the face, I should have passed the night in horror, and risen in the morning with the persuasion of having seen a ghost." But determined to discover "the truth, I discovered that it was nothing more than the accidental disposition of my clothes upon a chair." On another occasion Beattie was alarmed to see "by the faint light of the dawn, a coffin laid out between my bed and the window…. I set myself to examine it, and -76- found it was only a stream of yellowish light, falling in a particular manner upon the floor, from between the window-curtains."

Here we have two ways of treating the imagination at its most exacerbated. James Beattie has no place for the haunted mind: he moves rationally to discover the facts of perception so that the actual world — what he would call the world of truth — is reestablished around him. In "The Haunted Mind," however, Hawthorne's narrator sustains a series of images within the mind. Retreating (head under the covers) from the wintry world outside, he speculates on the luxury of living forever like an oyster in a shell, then envisions the dead lying in their "narrow coffins." After entertaining such "hideous" fantasies, the narrator finally welcomes the sight of embers on the hearth because it balances the terrors of the haunted mind. What Beattie would banish as a matter of course (in the name of common sense), Hawthorne nourishes "on the borders of sleep and wakefulness" (in the name of imaginative life).

In the terms established by Hawthorne in "The Haunted Mind," failure to achieve the necessary balance of the imaginary and the actual may come about in one of two ways. In an overpowering wakefulness, in the midst of the insistence on empirical fact that James Beattie espouses, the products of the haunted mind are subjected to skeptical attack, rationalized, as it were, out of existence, rendered powerless. Conversely, blocked away from actually existing things and left to itself, the haunted mind could only contemplate its own nightmare visions in an empty and narcissistic exercise. The lurking danger — in this sketch, in Hawthorne's tales and romances, and in his meditations on art and life — is that the imaginative and the actual worlds might somehow be cut off from each other, leaving each in an impoverished and untenable position. When, in the final year of his life, he lamented that "The Present, the Immediate, the Actual, has proved too potent for me," Hawthorne signaled in the coded language he had long employed his awareness of the death of his imagination.

Poe's attitude toward the imagination and thus toward his fiction contrasts sharply with that of Hawthorne. Whereas Hawthorne labors toward the latitude he sees necessary for the romance, Poe leaps boldly into what the narrator of "Berenice" (1835) calls "palace[s] of -77- imagination" and thumbs his nose at the hot, hard practical life of America. Whereas Hawthorne focuses on the consequences of human action with painstaking emphasis, Poe (as we shall see) ignores consequences, at times with sportive insistence. He champions the imagination, proclaims its range as unlimited, and sets it free to play in a realm of its own where it is lord of all it surveys. In his "Marginalia" (1846) Poe describes certain fancies that come to one on the "borderground" between sleep and wakefulness. His version of a middle ground, unlike Hawthorne's, is not a place where the actual and the imaginary may meet in productive combination; the fancies of which he speaks inspire ecstasy beyond the range of human experience; they reveal "a glimpse of the spirit's outer world." Poe's "border-ground," in other words, is a point from which the imagination, unbounded and free from constraint, may journey into the "supernal."

Poe's fiction enacts the system of priorities suggested by this passage from the "Marginalia." His tales present the spectacle of the imagination playing games of its own according to rules of its own making. And where the imagination is at its purest and most triumphant, we may expect to find it transcending consequences. The narrator of "Loss of Breath" (1832), for example, undergoes startling mutilations that have no "real" effect on him. After cutting off his ears, a surgeon cuts him open and removes part of his viscera. Later, one ear is somehow back on his head. And, although the cats that eat on his nose do cause pain, no more is heard of wounds or their effects. He tells his story in the manner of someone having a bad day.

The most thoroughgoing example of a situation without consequences comes in "A Predicament" (1845), the companion-piece to "How to Write a Blackwood Article." Both "How to Write" and "A Predicament" abound with parody: Poe satirizes the formulas of contemporary magazine fiction, mocks his own style, and presents in burlesque his most fundamental ideas about the imagination. In a context of verbal frolic, the Signora Psyche Zenobia receives her instructions about how to write a story from the editor of Blackwood's Magazine. One point predominates: the writer, says Mr. Blackwood, must get into a situation no one was ever in before and then record his (or in this case, her) sensations. Sensations, he says, are the great thing: "Should you ever be drowned or hung, be sure and make a -78- note of your sensations. If you wish to write forcibly, Miss Zenobia, pay minute attention to your sensations."

Readers of "A Predicament" will recall the bizarre manner in which Zenobia chances to follow Mr. Blackwood's advice. As she gazes out the clock-face of a church tower, the minute hand comes around and, to her horror, pins her head in the opening. Then, as the minute hand slowly cuts into her neck, she proceeds to give "minute attention" to her sensations. "It had already buried its sharp edge a full inch in my flesh, and my sensations grew indistinct and confused." "The bar had buried itself two inches in my neck. I was aroused to a sense of exquisite pain." "The bar was now four inches and a half deep in my neck, and there was only a little bit of skin to cut through. My sensations were those of entire happiness." One eye pops out and stares insolently up at her from a gutter. Finally her head comes off and tumbles down into the street. Zenobia concludes the story of her predicament by recalling her singular feelings on the occasion.

"A Predicament" takes us past the ideas of destruction and death. From the moment it becomes clear that Zenobia will continue narrating after her head comes off, we are set apart, fully and finally, from reality as we know it. Though exaggeration and banter have sustained the uneasy tension of the tale up to this point, the decapitation of the narrator is the masterstroke. Poe has liberated his imagination from our assumptions and given us Zenobia, his only woman narrator and in a way the most Poesque of all, not the unreliable narrator we have come to know and mistrust but the indestructible narrator, whose disencumbered voice transcends all, whose narrative has no relation to the conditions of human existence. She is Ligeia in burlesque, a caricature of a caricature; her name Psyche means "the soul," she tells us. Then she adds: "that's me, I'm all soul."

In "The Power of Words" (1845), one of Poe's fables featuring a dialogue between angels after the destruction of the earth, Agathos recalls speaking a star into existence "with a few passionate sentences," something possible because of "the physical power of words" to create. Again, in the "Marginalia" entry cited above, Poe writes of his complete "faith in the power of words." Such a faith underlies Poe's commitment to the imagination and his empower-79- ment of narrators who speak "supernal" worlds into being. Equally bold but radically different is the position of Melville's philosopher Babbalanja in Mardi, who holds that "Truth is in things, and not in words," that "truth is voiceless," that fictions are as real as shovels and trenches — and equally liable to deceive. Melville would never agree with Poe about the power of words (though he used them effulgently); his primary metaphor for romance is a chartless voyage such as he undertook imaginatively in Mardi, sustained by the conviction that "those who boldly launch, cast off all cables; and turning from the common breeze, that's fair for all, with their own breath, fill their own sails." If the mention of casting off cables recalls James's balloon-of-experience analogy, the idea of a self-directed quest over "untracked" seas promises (even more severely) discoveries at once disencumbered and disconcerting — the story in brief of Melville's career as a writer of romance.

As Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847) demonstrate, Melville levied on personal experience for the substance of his early narratives. Both of these narratives deal with his adventure in the South Pacific, where he lived and loitered after deserting an Australian whaling vessel in the early 1840s. By the time he began Mardi in 1848, however, Melville was beginning to feel the constraints of writing picaresque travel narratives; because some critics had doubted the factual basis of Typee and Omoo, he proposed to write "a romance of Polynesian adventure." He would, as he announced, "out with the Romance." Despite these intentions, Mardi opens as a straightforward narrative, picking up literally where Omoo left off; but it quickly moves to uncharted dimensions. At work on his "narrative of facts," as Melville announced to his publisher John Murray, he "began to feel an incurable distaste for the same; & a longing to plume my pinions for a flight, & felt irked, cramped & fettered by plodding with dull common places." So, "suddenly," he began "to work heart & soul at a romance," something new and original. "It opens like a true narrative — like Omoo for example, on ship board — & the romance & poetry of the thing thence grow continually, till it becomes a story wild enough I assure you & with a meaning too." Replete with elements of allegory, satire, and philosophical speculation, Mardi reflects Melville's readings in Dante, Rabelais, Edmund Spenser, and -80- Thomas Browne, as well as his developing concern for what he called the great art of telling the truth."

Melville thus came to the romance by way of personal odyssey. Energized by a desire to "plume his pinions" for flight, he felt exhilaration as he cast aside the fetters of convention and moved toward the expansive world of "romance & poetry." The tone of his letter to Murray is typically his own. But his sense of imaginative release is something that all practitioners of the romance envision. To Hawthorne it appeared as a "Faery Land" shielded from actuality; to Poe it was a glimpse of the "supernal"; to Melville it arrived as a "story wild" and unpredicted.

In the work of Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville revenge thrives on an atmosphere of intensity that brings the self to stand apart from communal and institutional concerns, to confront what is perceived as a target with the full force of mind and volition. Various strategies of caricature serve each writer well; for by means of caricature the portrayal of self is perforce distorted, at once limited and magnified, invested with incipient violence.

Virtually all of Poe's tales display the human form in distorted and extravagant postures, versions of what Poe called the grotesque. In "King Pest" (1835), for example, the method is that of portrait caricature, which E. H. Gombrich (almost as if he had been reading Poe) defines as "the playful distortion of a victim's face." Poe characterizes each of his strange company by describing one highly exaggerated facial feature — a "terrific chasm" of a mouth, "a pair of prodigious ears," "huge goggle eyes" amazed at "their own enormity." In The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (1845), caricature accelerates to metamorphosis when the long-dead Valdemar suddenly rots away on his bed — "a nearly liquid mass of loathsome — of detestable putridity."

The distorting violence of Poe's imagination can take caricature an additional step to cruelty and revenge. Hop-Frog, court jester to a brutal king, is both a dwarf and a cripple, who can move along the floor "only with great pain and difficulty." The extreme anguish and abasement of his life (synopsized, as it were, by his deformities) bring him to hoist the king and seven counselors on a chandelier during a -81- masquerade party and burn them alive. And thus a narrative that begins, "I never knew anyone so keenly alive to a joke as the king was. He seemed to live only for joking," ends with "The eight corpses swung in their chains, a fetid, blackened, hideous, and indistinguishable mass." An ominous idea of joking encompasses "Hop-Frog" (1849): Poe twists it through stages of cruelty, uses a masquerade party to reverse its direction, and finally has it consummated by an act of revenge — for which Hop-Frog, incidentally, pays no penalty.

Edward Davidson has suggested that the camouflaged crudeness in Poe's early work — his coarse pun on the name Abel-Shittim in the first version of A Tale of Jerusalem (1832), the Shandean play on noses in Lionizing (1835) — may have come from an almost compulsive tendency to get even with his society, to ridicule an audience that could be at once amused and fooled. A compulsive aggression against his audience seems indeed to pervade Poe's work, both early and late. And one of its manifestations is the prevailing invitation of Poe's narrators to witness an act of vengeance. In a society that prized the domestic and valued the didactic for its moral utility, Poe became militantly antididactic, mischievously antidomestic. The narrator of The Black Cat (1843) presents the garish revenge of his tale as "a series of mere household events." The narrator of The Cask of Amontillado (1846) exults in the memory of revenge taken fifty years before — although some readers, uneasy at the amoral calisthenics of this tale and unwilling to accept Poe in undiluted form, see the narrative as confessional rather than celebratory.

In some of his best-known work Poe explores the intricate and baffling nature of the perverse. Characteristically, he uses narrators who seek to destroy the "I" — the self driven by an "unfathomable longing" to offer violence to "its own nature" (as we read in "The Black Cat"). Obsessed by the "eye" of his victim, the narrator of The Tell-Tale Heart (1843) decides "to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever." Given Poe's fondness for puns (and his disdain for the transcendentalists' emphasis on self), it is tempting to substitute an "I" for an "eye" in this context.

Poe's longest fiction, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838), is sustained by the spirit of self-destruction and recurrent strategies of revenge on the reader. We are at the mercy of Poe's imagination in Pym — the power of his words is paramount: hot and -82- cold, black and white, are what Poe says they are. Against all odds, Pym battles through to the final dream vision; as it progresses, his narrative casts off and subverts experience. And Poe is not above playing a trick to speed the voyage. He stages his scene of cannibalism brilliantly, in a way that maximizes its horror. The proof of Poe's power as a writer is that he makes us believe him in this scene; he engages us as members of a civilization that regards cannibalism as fearful and regressive, the ultimate sickening gesture to sustain life. And then he sandbags us. After the sailor Parker has been murdered, eaten, and his blood drunk, Poe has Pym remember the whereabouts of an ax with which he can chop through the deck and obtain food. After leading us to credit the terrible extremity of the situation, Poe subverts our reactions by quickly setting things back to "normal." But after this scene we are a good deal less sure where we are. In retrospect, we can see that we are taking a journey into a vengeful imagination.

Hawthorne's use of caricature differs from that of Poe when it depends for its validity on the perceptions of characters. What Giovanni sees in Rappaccini's garden (evidence of Beatrice's poisonous nature) may be the product of his skepticism and inability to love. What Young Goodman Brown sees in the forest (evidence of evil in those he reveres) may be the result of specter evidence. What various people see, and don't see, on Arthur Dimmesdale's breast at the end of The Scarlet Letter tells us something about the spectators, something about ourselves, and a lot about Hawthorne — inventor of the first multiple-choice test in the romance.

But Hawthorne, like Poe, can use caricature for his own purposes. And since the distorting effects of monomania produce psychological and spiritual caricature, Hawthorne's work contains what may be a peerless array of figures such as Richard Digby in The Man of Adamant (1837), Aylmer in The Birth-mark (1843), Ethan Brand in Ethan Brand: A Chapter from an Abortive Romance (1850), and of course Roger Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter. Out of a belief that only he can be saved, Richard Digby forswears society, disdains the young woman who (for some reason) loves him, and lives his self-intent life in a cave. Obsessed with his desire for perfection, Aylmer kills his loving wife (who for some reason married him) in the course of a great experiment and thus rejects the best the earth can -83- offer. Ethan Brand confronts the absolute even more starkly than these two destructive protagonists. The sole issue in this tale is whether a human being can commit an unpardonable sin, a sin so grievous that it exceeds God's capacity for mercy. Can Ethan Brand triumph over God? On such an absolute question does Hawthorne construct his "Chapter from an Abortive Romance," a story bleak, intense, formed out of the protagonist's monomania, his presumption, and his final despair and suicide.

Whereas Melville came to Moby-Dick (1851) after a burst of activity that included Mardi, Redburn (1849), and White-Jacket (1850), Hawthorne turned to The Scarlet Letter after being fired from the Salem Custom House. Whereas Melville would later present such sportive caricatures as Turkey and Nippers in Bartleby, the Scrivener (1856), one temperamentally unable to work in the morning, the other in the afternoon, Hawthorne had long before examined the hallucinatory and even cruel aspect of revolutionary fervor in My Kinsman, Major Molineux (1832) and presented as "A Parable" the resolute mystification of the Reverend Mr. Hooper in The Minister's Black Veil (1836). But the two writers saw their consummate stories of revenge published only a year apart. The Scarlet Letter, of course, came first; and so impressed was Melville with that romance and Hawthorne's earlier work that he inscribed Moby-Dick to Hawthorne "in Token of my admiration for his genius."

Vengeance in The Scarlet Letter reaches out to affect the entire fabric of the fictive world. The Puritan community, as we know, metes out public punishment to Hester Prynne the sinner. But Chillingworth undertakes a private search for Hester's partner in adultery, and Hawthorne handles the development of his obsession by giving us a virtual anatomy of revenge. Chillingworth begins his search with a sense of objectivity, as if the matter were a problem in geometry rather than one "of human passions, and wrongs inflicted on himself." Gradually, however, what Hawthorne calls "a terrible fascination, a kind of fierce, though still calm, necessity" comes over him. Ultimately, his revenge becomes more intense, more involved, more personal, an obsession that feeds upon itself. When Hester asks if he has not tortured Dimmesdale enough, Chillingworth replies, "No! — no! - He has but increased the debt." Part of Hawthorne's achievement in The Scarlet Letter lies in his ability to demonstrate the re-84- flexive nature of revenge, to show convincingly that Chillingworth has caught himself on a vicious blade of vengeance that cuts two ways. Though there can be no getting even, the avenger must intensify his torture; yet the more he does so, the more he destroys himself.

Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, of course, make each other possible in The Scarlet Letter. Just as Chillingworth lives to torture, Dimmesdale lives to be tortured. Yet the fundamental falseness of the minister's position yields an idiom of anguish that stands him very well in his professional life. His sermons, for example, are models of efficacy: the more he reviles himself as a sinner (in general terms, from the security of the pulpit), the more his congregation elevates him to new heights of spirituality (as he knows it will) and thinks comparatively of its own unworthiness. His anguish is convincing, compelling, and genuine, although it springs from and compounds his hypocrisy — even because of his awareness that it springs from and compounds his hypocrisy.

Dimmesdale clearly suffers from an excess of self. His weakness and suffering throughout most of the romance have tended to blur for some readers the fact of his pride, which, like his scarlet letter, lies beneath and gives special form to his mask of saintliness. Selfcondemnation, self-abnegation, and self-loathing are the stimulants of his psychic life; they constitute as well the price he must pay if he would not strip away the self reverenced by the public. And that self — formed out of a communal wish to admire a young, pious, and learned minister — he cannot bring himself to renounce. That his private suffering contributes to the public mask of spirituality is a kind of masochistic dividend for him.

It is Hester Prynne who breaks the cycle of vengeance and selfloathing in The Scarlet Letter. For Hester, who stands in haughty agony on the scaffold at the outset of the romance, neither seeks vengeance nor loathes herself. Proud, unable to hate her sin, she ornaments the letter and thereby (as Nina Baym points out) subverts "the intention of the magistrates who condemn her to wear it." The iron grace of her life for seven years, a discipline bred on suppressed emotion, leads directly to the forest interview with Dimmesdale and the unraveling of the story Hawthorne has set in circular motion. Without Hester, there is nothing in the logic of The Scarlet Letter to make it end, so tightly has Hawthorne woven his narrative of revenge -85- and self-absorption. The ending, as it must be, is grim. But the survival of Hester Prynne shows that there is life after the distortions of caricature and obsession.

Chillingworth's revenge is personal, Ahab's cosmic. And while Chillingworth masks his motives during the course of The Scarlet Letter, Ahab announces the vengeful purpose of the Pequod's voyage when he first faces his crew from the quarterdeck. Yet Ahab on the quarterdeck does not divulge the full dimensions of his rage. That responsibility falls to Ishmael, Melville's narrator, who is at pains to account for the growth of Ahab's monomania; Ishmael's language registers the intensity, the pitch, of the Captain's burning idea. Since his first and near-fatal encounter with Moby Dick, Ishmael tells us,

Ahab had cherished a wild vindictiveness against the whale, all the more fell for that in his frantic morbidness he at last came to identify with him, not only all his bodily woes, but all his intellectual and spiritual exasperations. The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malignant agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, till they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung. That intangible malignity which has been from the beginning…; which the ancient Ophites of the east reverenced in their statue devil; — Ahab did not fall down and worship it like them; but deliriously transferring its idea to the abhorred white whale, he pitted himself, all mutilated, against it. All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it.

Strong language, this, an absolute rhetoric with its repetitive all, all, all. It posits the existence of an "intangible malignity…from the beginning"; it invokes the "rage and hate" of the human race, "from Adam down." Ishmael notes that Ahab bears a scar, "a slender rodlike mark, lividly whitish," as if he were a tree struck by lightning. According to the Manxman, should Ahab ever be "tranquilly laid out" and made ready for the grave — an unlikely supposition — it would turn out to be "a birth-mark from crown to sole." Maddened, desperate, and scarred (perhaps by birth), Ahab seeks to confront not experience but evil. There are voices of reason in Moby-Dick, voices that speak of whaling as a business and of ties to families in Nan-86- tucket. Chief among them is Starbuck, who says he has come to hunt whales and not his commander's vengeance. But Ahab, who would confront the absolute, is absolute aboard the Pequod. The crew, he says, are his arms and legs; to him, the three symbols on the doubloon are all Ahab. Tied to him alone, the crew share the destructive fate of a captain questing for absolute revenge.

After the publication of The Scarlet Letter and Moby-Dick, Hawthorne and Melville continued to use the latitude of the romance to fashion narratives of revenge. Both Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables and The Marble Faun extend the revenge story to include gothic elements, the first a family curse that shapes the issues of the narrative, the second an oppressive and haunting figure of malevolence who is murdered by the faunlike Donatello — precipitating a new fall from innocence. Likewise gothic in atmosphere is Melville's provocative Benito Cereno (1856), in which revenge comes from slaves who revolt on board a ship carrying them to South America. Finally, in the posthumously published Billy Budd (1925), Melville converts the romance to fable with a story of "natural depravity," as seen in Claggart, causing the fall of the preAdamic Billy Budd.

Perhaps to demonstrate that the myth of the American Adam was indeed a myth, American writers have shown a fascination for revenge as a motif for the romance. Motives for vengeance cut across race and gender, involving such characters as Magua in Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans (1826), Nathan Slaughter in Robert Montgomery Bird's Nick of the Woods (1837), Ruth Hall at the end of Fanny Fern's novel of that name (1855) — as well as the plots of powerful twentieth-century texts such as Richard Wright's Native Son (1940), Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987), and Stephen King's garish Misery (1987), in which a reader turns vengefully on a writer. Native Son, of course, has never been called a romance; it is a hard-driving novel, unrelenting in its realism. Yet Bigger Thomas takes revenge for his life, for the fact of living, in that novel; and when he says, "What I killed for, I am," in the final chapter, realism falls away before an existential moment akin to the free-floating ventures of the romance. The urge to get even with someone or something or everything may be an essential part of the American sense of story, something artic-87- ulated out of a deep sense of loss or disappointment. If so, it continues to seek new forms of expression. As Melville said at the end of the broken promises and surfaces of The Confidence-Man (1857), "Something further may follow of this Masquerade."

Terence Martin


Romance and Race

Who ain't a slave? Tell me that.

— Ishmael, Moby-Dick

Henry Whistler, writing during the English expedition of 1654-55 against Spanish Jamaica, described Barbados as "the dunghill whereon England doth cast forth its rubbish." In this hub of excrement he lamented how a rogue could so easily become a gentleman, a whore a lady. Both Edward Long, in his History of Jamaica (1774), and Lady Maria Nugent, in her Jamaica journal, observing the behavior and appearance of white ladies on their plantations, complained about these surprising hybrids of the New World. Long writes: "We see…a very fine young woman awkwardly dangling her arms with the air of a Negroe-servant." Lady Nugent focuses on the shock of hearing the English language corroded by the drawling, dissonant gibberish of negro domestics: "Many of the ladies, who have not been educated in England, speak a sort of broken English, with an indolent drawling out of their words, that is very tiresome if not disgusting." Nugent and Long speak from the position of a dominant culture: threatened by the fact of creolization, a contamination, as they see it, of the pure civilities of Mother England. A latter-clay Rochester in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) looks at his white creole wife Antoinette and momentarily confounds her with the negro servant. "She raised her eyebrows and the corners of her mouth turned down in a questioning, mocking way. For a moment she looked very much like Amélie. Perhaps they are related, I thought. It's possible, it's even probable in this damned place."

What happens to romance when we turn to those places where -89- everything was allowed because thousands were enslaved, where the fact of slavery — the conversion of person into thing for the ends of capital — turned all previous orders upside down? If "masters" claimed civilization on the backs of those they called polluted or bestial — claims ever threatened by evidences of a terrible brutality and abandon — they had to clarify their identity against a background of hybridization, forced intimacies, and pollution. Perhaps we can no longer understand what we mean by romance in the Americas without turning to the issue of slavery. The forced intimacy of what Pierre de Vassière, writing about creole life in Saint-Domingue from 1629 to 1789, called "a very strange familiarity" between those who called themselves masters and those who found themselves slaves made the old practices of idealization unworkable. In plantation isolation, the extremes of differences were blurred in an odd promiscuity, where those who were supposedly inferior became absolutely necessary to those who imagined themselves superior.

If being master or mistress was so addictive a pleasure that the slave as ultimate possession (what Edgar Allan Poe in his review of James Kirke Paulding's 1836 Slavery in the United States praised as dependent upon, indeed goaded by, the use of the word "my," that "language of affectionate appropriation") became a necessary part of the master's or mistress's identity, then we are up against a situation where the terms of exclusivity or control, proclaimed and repeated, are somehow confounded by the facts of slavery. What happens to such words as "power," "purity," "love," or "filth" when, as an anonymous planter from Saint-Domingue put it, you have "tasted the pleasures of a nearly absolute domination"?

The development of romance in the United States was linked in unsettling ways to the business of race. Out of the ground of bondage, the curse of slavery, and the fear of "servile war" came a twisted sentimentality, a cruel analytic of "love" in the New World: a conceit of counterfeit of intimacy. So Herman Melville in Moby-Dick (1851) presented Ishmael and the cannibal Queequeg locked in a marital embrace. In Pierre (1852) the dark, mysterious Isabel and Pierre perform the spectacle of husband and wife, finally to be reciprocally neutered in a stony apocalypse. In Benito Cereno (1856) Don Benito and Babo act out a masquerade of servitude and attachment that -90- Melville will take to its most alarming extreme in the negative romance Bartleby, the Scrivener (1856). Poe's Eureka (1848) ends with an apocalypse startling in its eroticism: "a novel Universe swelling into existence and then subsiding into nothingness, at every throb of the Heart divine." The atoms in the intensity of their "spiritual passion," in their "appetite for oneness," will at last "flash…into a common embrace." This essay on the "Material and Spiritual Universe" Poe called a "Romance."

Speaking about the epic adventures of fugitive slaves in his lecture The American Scholar (delivered 1849), Theodore Parker declared that "all the original romance of Americans is in them, not in the white man's novel." The facts of slave life, once turned into heroic and sentimental romances, turned negroes into matter for idealization. Critics as diverse as Winthrop Jordan, William Andrews, Eric Sundquist, and Gillian Brown have noted how the cult of sentiment with its emphasis on self-denial, piety, and pathos signaled a turn away from the ethical problems of slavery. Further, like the idealization of women, which narrowed their realm to the domestic haven of home — a pristine place of comfort and compensation — the conversion of the negro into a figure for romance or a call to formal lament turned the oppressed, whether slave or ex-slave, man or woman, into an object in someone else's story, deprived of the possibility of significant action. The very question of love, as Ann Douglas argued in The Feminization of American Culture (1977), had to be de-natured when both ministers and ladies found themselves marginalized and awash in a language of spirit that allowed another reality to perpetuate itself. While Sarah Hale of Godey's Lady's Book celebrated the powers of feminizing and angelic "influence" on the brute, money-making men, the divide between those who wielded the terms of mastery and power and those who were busy sanctifying, serving, and suffering increased.

"What then is the American, this new man?" To answer St. John de Crèvecoeur's question in Letters from an American Farmer (1782) demands that we recognize that the Declaration of Independence always meant independence for white men only: an exclusion implied in the title of Lydia Maria Child's essay, An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans (1833). A Calvinist fear of pol-91- lution and dread of the flesh would find ready objects and necessary victims in those marginalized by the curse of color: the blackness that marked for the racist imagination depravity and corruption.

In the first half of the nineteenth century more Africans than Europeans arrived in the Americas. William Bird wrote to Lord Eymons as early as 1732: "They import so many Negros hither, that I fear this Colony will some time or other be confirmed by the Name of New Guinea." It is therefore not surprising when reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Custom-House (the preface to The Scarlet Letter [1850]) to note that he describes the street running through the old town of Salem as having "Gallows Hill and New Guinea at one end, and a view of the almshouse at the other." In "Free and Coerced Transatlantic Migration: Some Comparisons," The American Historical Review (April 1983), David Eltis writes: "In every year from about the mid- sixteenth century to 1831, more Africans than Europeans quite likely came to the Americas, and not until the second wave of mass migration began in the 1880s did the sum of that European immigration start to match and then exceed the cumulative influx from Africa…. In terms of immigration alone, then, America was an extension of Africa rather than Europe until late in the nineteenth century."

The revolution in Saint-Domingue (1791–1804) — the only successful slave revolt in the New World — forced the call for "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" to crash hard upon the facts of Property, Labor, and Race. For Edmund Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), as for other apologists of Empire, the emancipating year of 1789 turned the French into "a nation of low-born servile wretches." The colonists of Saint-Domingue had been proved right. That one could speak freedom for all humans, no matter the color of the skin, did mean "the end of Saint-Domingue." What might have remained vague ("The rights of men," Burke claimed, "are in a sort of middle"), once on the soil of Saint-Domingue became quite clear. When mulatto and black began to compete for pieces of "republican" entitlement, race, what Aimé Césaire has called "the terrifying negro problem," would explode what might have remained abstract, safe, or static.

In the United States the first successful slave revolution in the New -92- World qualified the "democracy" of the "Founding Fathers" and gave substance to the specter of the racial Armageddon prophesied by Thomas Jefferson in his 1781 Notes on the State of Virginia. "Deeprooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will…produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extinction of one or the other race." Thomas Carlyle's "African Haiti" — "black without remedy…. a monition to the world" — and reported scenes of vengeance would haunt those proslavery writers who sought to prove the deep bonds of affection between masters and their slaves: a compelling empathy and disciplined love that no "crude" or "fanatic" abolitionist could understand.

The duplicity in such spectacles of feeling, the hitch in the business of sentiment would be enacted in the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Critics, myself included, have ignored the way the romance of the South and the realities of race were fundamental to his literary production. Poe was not an exotic, a writer displaced "out of Space, out of Time." He knew the South, and for the most part remained ambiguous and cautious about the practice of chattel slavery. Yet the terrors of barbarism, and his own alternating unease with and attraction to the language of the heart, mark his tales of revelation and revenge. In the course of his life, something strange happened to what might have remained mere regionalist sentiment. But that gradual transformation should not blind us to the way Poe perpetually returns to his sense of the South, while attempting to screen his increasingly subversive concerns: the perils of mastery and nightmares about the decay of all fictions of status, the rot at the heart of the Great House.

Nowhere does Poe reveal his comprehension of the power extended over another in love, the terrible knot of complicity, as in his treatment of bondage: that unerring reciprocity between one who calls him or herself master and one who responds as slave. It is quite possible that Poe's most parodic exaggerations, his most sentimental posturings, have their source in what remained for Poe the ground of "civilized" society: human bondage. For Poe, as for Burke, Carlyle, or Jefferson, also severe (and enlightened) constructors of English -93- prose, the fact of the negro made possible the empirical elevation of something they call "human," with its finest image in tow, the Marie Antoinettes of this world. And yet, in Poe's writings how slippery, how easily reversed is the divide between human and brute, lady and slave.

Let us try to give a history to the dark side of Poe's romance. On June 22, 1815, according to The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe (1987): "John Allan writes Charles Ellis to sell Scipio, a slave, for $600 and to hire out others at $50 a year." On December 10, 1829, two years after Poe left the Allan household, Poe acted as agent for Maria Clemm of Baltimore in the sale of a slave named Edwin to Henry Ridgway for a term of nine years. In the Baltimore Sun (April 6, 1940), May Garrettson Evans begins her article by explaining that "a Baltimore man who wishes his name withheld quite by chance came across an old document relating to Edgar Allan Poe, which seems thus far to have entirely escaped the poet's biographers." It is easy to understand why a Baltimore gentleman might want to remain unnamed as he provides information that those who prefer to monumentalize a rarefied Poe would prefer to ignore.

Edgar A. Poe agent for Maria Clemm of Baltimore City and County and State of Maryland, for and in consideration of the sum of forty dollars in hand paid by Henry Ridgway of Baltimore City at or before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have granted, bargained and sold by these presents do grant bargain and sell unto the said Henry Ridgway his executors administrators and assigns a negro man named Edwin age twenty one years on the first day of March next to serve until he shall arrive to the age of thirty years no longer.

Poe was then awaiting the time for his entrance to West Point and had already written his early "romantic" poems, including "Al Aaraaf," "Tamerlane," "To the River — ," "A Dream," and "Fairyland."

What happens if we add the despotism of slavery to the cult of sentiment: to Poe's "fair sex" and the "romance" she appears to demand? Race remains crucial to Poe's treatment of women and "womanliness." For Poe understood the matter of idealization better than most of his contemporaries. He knew how praise, or the sanc-94- tifying of women, can become easy handmaid to a deadly, conservative ideology. For mystification is always a matter of power: a decreeing subject ordains the terms for a silenced object to attain the status, or stasis, of myth. The master makes the myth through which the other must seek his or her identity.

If to sentimentalize is to colonize the image, then Poe will ironize fantasies of love and domesticity. More important, as becomes evident in Poe's letters recycled to his various beloveds, there is nothing more compelling than possession: you love most what you own. And yet that love, as Virginia Woolf realized when she reviewed Caroline Ticknor's Poe's Helen in the Times Literary Supplement in 1916, can be "tedious" and "discreditable," languishing in an "atmosphere…of withered roses and moonshine." Poe understood the terrible burden of feeling, the tyranny of the "law of the heart," as the late "love poems" — "To Marie Louise Shew," "To Helen," and "For Annie" — demonstrate.

Poe knew that the language of romanticism allowed the covert continuation of inequality. What does man love in woman? Her transformation into superlatives, or as Poe repeats and overdoes it, her reduction into generality. Recall the exaggerations of his landscape sketch Landor's Cottage (1849), when the narrator introduces "Annie," the angel of the house: "So intense an expression of romance…had never sunk into my heart of hearts before…. 'Romance,' provided my readers fully comprehend what I would hear implied by the word — 'romance' and 'womanliness' seem to me convertible terms: and, after all, what man truly loves in woman, is simply her womanhood."

If Poe's women become shadowy, losing substance in attributes repeated and recycled no matter for whom or when he wrote, the writer himself seems to be most "heartfelt" when most vague. If Poe's narrators in the tales about women, in "Ligeia" (1838), "Berenice" (1835), or "Morella" (1835), for example, become as vain, abstract, and diseased as the objects of their desire (the women the madmen had idolized), Poe's letters and his love poems also trade on a sexual exchange. If women in nineteenth-century America must bear the trappings of style, must inhabit most fully the external as essence, Poe shows how such a spectacle both exploits and consumes its participants, both men and women. -95-

What happened to the tough, sometimes delirious skepticism of the critic of a society "sunk in feeling," when he turned to an institution that sustained itself by the most incredible mystifications? What were the effects of Poe's characterization of Jupiter in "The Gold Bug" (1843) or the fiendish "brute" whose shrill "jabberings" are unidentifiable — the terribly marked deeds of the "OurangOutang" driven wild by "the dreaded whip" in The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) — on readers for and against human ownership?

When Poe was an editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Virginia (1835-38), he corresponded with Thomas R. Dew, professor of history at William and Mary College, author of the Vindication of Perpetual Slavery (1836), and he published an introductory note to Thomas R. Dew's "Address" delivered at the College on October 10, 1836. In the April 1836 issue of the magazine a review of two books on slavery appeared, known as the "PauldingDrayton Review." As Bernard Rosenthal writes in "Poe, Slavery, and the Southern Literary Messenger: A Reexamination," in Poe Studies (December 1974), his excellent argument for Poe's authorship of this contested document, the review was traditionally assumed to have been written by Poe. The essay was included in J ames Harrison's Virginia edition, but in 1941 and subsequently, some scholars claimed that the review had been "misattributed" to Poe and identified Nathaniel Beverley Tucker as author. The review is excluded from Essays and Reviews in the Library of America edition of Poe's work.

If we place Poe in his historical and social context, reread his comments on Longfellow's Poems on Slavery (with his jibe that the collection is especially suited for "the use of those negrophilic old ladies of the north"), reconsider his scattered attacks on the fanatic coterie of abolitionists and transcendentalists, and recall his deep faith in human imperfection, we can see how much Poe's politics concerning slavery, social status, and property rights owed to the conservative tradition of the Virginia planter aristocracy.

Though Poe tried to subvert his society's idealizing rhetoric about women, he could not apply the same irony and skepticism to the institution of slavery. I now turn to what could be called Poe's most disturbing, because most authentic, "love poem," his review of James Kirke Paulding's Slavery in the United States and an anonymous -96- work, The South Vindicated from the Treason and Fanaticism of the Northern Abolitionists. The review appeared the same year as Lydia Maria Child's Anti-Slavery Catechism (1836). What I have argued about Poe's defiance of masculine disempowering of women is confounded by the question of slavery. Here, Poe produces straight the language of affection and subservience he seems to hyperbolize and mock when imaging women. The bond between master and slave that Poe portrays reads like a case of pietism gone wild.

Poe begins his review with a discussion of the French Revolution. Like Edmund Burke before him, he argues that since "property" is what everyone most wants, it is the secret law of any upheaval: "the many who want, band themselves together against the few that possess; and the lawless appetite of the multitude for the property of others calls itself the spirit of liberty." After condemning the Revolution, which he calls "this eccentric comet," he uncovers its real object. And he is far more honest than many historians of revolutionary France: "the first object of attack was property in slaves; that in that war on behalf of the alleged right of man to be discharged from all control of law, the first triumph achieved was in the emancipation of slaves." Poe, ever rigorous in his analysis, suggests how deeply dependent was the progress of the French Revolution on slave revolts in the Caribbean. For Poe, private property and the possession of slaves remained at the center of events in France and put such abstractions as "the rights of Man" to the test. Before turning to "Domestic Slavery," however, Poe turns to what he refers to as "recent events in the West Indies," treating them as foreboding what he deems "the parallel movement here."

Writing in 1836, Poe no doubt refers to the slave revolt of 1831-32 in Jamaica, also known as the Christmas Rebellion of 1831-32, the Baptist "War," or the Sam Sharpe Insurrection, involving between 18,000 and 50,000 slaves and their sympathizers over five parishes in North and North-Central Jamaica. The revolt lasted only ten days — December 28, 1831, to January 5, 1832. At the end, fourteen whites were dead and 312 slaves executed, with over 1000 shot in battle or while fleeing. What Poe leaves unsaid is significant. He says nothing about the Nat Turner rebellion of 1831, too unspeakable to mention, perhaps because it took place too close to home in Southampton, Virginia. -97-

Poe wants his readers to recognize that abolitionists who "come to us in the name of our common Redeemer and common country" seek "our destruction under the mask of Christian Charity and Brotherly Love." Ever alert to the way totalizing rhetoric screens more devious concerns, Poe now substitutes a few unalienable facts for what he sees as the dangerous masquerade of liberation. What follows are five of the most disturbing pages Poe ever wrote. Here, all the language of sentiment — the cunning use of the claims of the heart to remove or deny real human claims — what Poe recognized in his writings about women, is used, with no irony intended, as he turns to blacks.

What he introduces as "a few words of [his] own" is far more vehement than Paulding's discussion of slave devotion and the master's "kindly feeling and condescending familiarity." Here, Poe takes his own romantic postures, the supine poet dead or dying in "For Annie," or the varying deathbed scenes in his tales about women, and gives what was literary parody or philosophical crux a ground in reality. And the reality is ugly, and perhaps made more so by Poe's moralizing idealism, his attempt to turn a thing into a man, to paraphrase Philip Fisher's words in Hard Facts (1985). "We speak of the moral influences flowing from the relation of master and slave, and the moral feelings engendered and cultivated by it." Poe depends for his lesson about this relation on what he calls the "patriarchal character." This character is both sustained and necessitated by what he calls "the peculiar character (I may say the peculiar nature) of the negro." No less a suggestion than that the enslaved want to be mastered, for they love — and this is the crucial word for Poe — to serve, to be subservient. What follows is an excess of devotion that becomes the focus, as Poe sees it, of the master-slave relationship. In "The Black Cat" (1843) Poe will reveal the consequences of such an inextricable bond through the horrific reversals possible in a formally benevolent attachment: "the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute" and the "docility and humanity" of the master.

But before Poe gets to his theory of servitude, cast as devotional sermon, he presents the essential negro. Poe never has problems with invention, and yet his inventiveness, his masterly design, is confounded in his attempt to "develop the causes which might and should have blackened the negro's skin and crisped his hair into -98- wool." Since Poe admits it might be a while before anyone can answer the why of the curse of pigment and frizz, he gives us his theory of the institution of slavery. This theory is based on the reciprocity between what he describes as "loyal devotion on the part of the slave" and "the master's reciprocal feeling of parental attachment to his humble dependent." These "sentiments in the breast of the negro and his master," Poe explains, "are stronger than they would be under like circumstances between individuals of the white race." So, slavery becomes something akin to divine devotion, a lock of love that no mere mortal white man can sunder. As Melville reiterates in "Benito Cereno" when Captain Delano thinks about the "negro":

When to this [the good humor and cheerfulness of the negro] is added the docility arising from the unaspiring contentment of a limited mind, and that susceptibility of blind attachment sometimes inhering in indisputable inferiors, one readily perceives why those hypochondriacs, Johnson and Byron…took to their hearts, almost to the exclusion of the entire white race, their serving men, the negroes, Barber and Fletcher.

If there is any doubt that Poe is raising the "childlike" devotion of the slave and the "fatherly" concern of the master to the status of something akin to courtly love (where, however, the heart is made noble by not possessing), note what follows.

That they [these sentiments] belong to the class of feelings "by which the heart is made better," we know. How come they? They have their rise in the relation between the infant and the nurse. They are cultivated between him and his foster brother. They are cherished by the parents of both. They are fostered by the habit of affording protection and favors to the younger offspring of the same nurse. They grow by the habitual use of the word "my," used in the language of affectionate appropriation, long before any idea of value mixes with it. It is a term of endearment. That is an easy transition by which he who is taught to call the little negro "his," in this sense and because he loves him, shall love him because he is his. The idea is not new, that our habits and affections are reciprocally cause and effect of each other.

Applying the same analytic skill to this nearly incomprehensible (and incommensurate) relation as he will apply to the cosmic attractions of Eureka, Poe bases the cause of reciprocity in what is cultivated, cherished, and fostered. In this diagnosis, he goes far beyond the discourse of James Kirke Paulding in Slavery in the United States. Paul-99- Paul- argues that "the domestic relations of the master and slave are of a more familiar, confidential, and even respectful character, than those of the employer and hireling elsewhere." He praises the reciprocal and natural attachment, "this state of feeling, which a Southern life and education can only give," and concludes: "It is often the case, that the children of the domestic servants become pets in the house, and the playmates of the white children of the family." But Poe is less interested in what Southerners claimed as a type of familial proprietorship — feelings that could elevate or mask what was merely the best use of valuable property — than in elucidating a gothic tale of excessive obedience, reminiscent of Caleb Williams's confession to Falkland: "Sir, I could die to serve you!"

No cause for attachment is more powerful than a linguistic practice, the use of "the possessive 'my'…the language of affectionate appropriation." This recognition that you love what is your own, or "propre" in French ("ce que quel qu'un, quelque chose a, possède a l'exclusion de tout autre"), returns us to Poe's romance. For the remainder of the review gets its force from two proofs for "this school of feeling": in the sickroom and on the deathbed. As Poe says, "In this school we have witnessed scenes at which even the hard heart of a thorough bred philanthropist would melt."

Love and piety flow from both sides, from both the proprietor and the property. "But it is not by the bedside of the sick negro that the feeling we speak of is chiefly engendered. They who would view it in its causes and effects must see him by the sick bed of his master — must see her by the sick bed of her mistress. We have seen these things." Poe takes what he calls "t he study of human nature" out of the closet, as he reports intimate scenes of a black nanny shedding tears over her white "foster babe," of a black servant, "advanced in pregnancy, and in bad health," who kept returning at night to the door of her "good lady" mistress. Poe repeats the words of the faithful, "crouched down at the door, listening for the groans of the sufferer." Ordered home, she cries, "Master it ain't no use for me to go to bed, Sir. It don't do me no good, I cannot sleep, Sir."

In this world of noble sentiments, nothing less than love "prompts" the master, not "interest" or "value." Since the black was for Poe savage, childlike, and brute, a near mystical reliance on a cult of feeling becomes most fit for any discussion of race relations. Ap-100- propriative language is appropriate for a piece of property. For Poe, biological traits would accomplish the full metaphysical right of exclusion. Except for this one review, and a brief discussion of Longfellow's Poems on Slavery (1845), Poe omits the discussion of race from his critical reviews and essays.

For Poe the analogy between women and slaves was unthinkable. Poe could never, in spite of his awareness of women's subordination, entertain the conjunction of race and gender. For example, his review of Elizabeth Barrett's The Drama of Exile, and Other Poems in the Broadway Journal in 1845 expresses his concern about how women writers are treated when "the race of critics," as he put it, "are masculine — men." The greatest evil resulting from the absence of women critics, he explained, is that "the critical man" finds it "an unpleasant task. . 'to speak ill of a woman.'" Yet though here Poe refused to condescend to women, taking both their persons and their writings seriously, he blots out the activism of women writers who also happen to be abolitionists.

"Gracious heaven! What a prostitution!" James Kirke Paulding ends his Slavery in the United States with a warning to those women members of the abolition societies: "with all that respectful deference to the sex," he reminds them "that the appropriate sphere of women is their home, and their appropriate duties at the cradle or the fireside." For women must never forget that they are "the guardian angel of the happiness of man; his protector and mentor in childhood; his divinity in youth; his companion and solace in manhood; his benign and gentle nurse in old age."

In spite of Poe's subversion of the romantic idea of woman — his interrogation of women's coercion into image — he could never make the connection between slavery and the condition of white women in his society. No woman will ever be named by Poe as part of "the small coterie of abolitionists, transcendentalists and fanatics in general," who are a "knot of rogues and madmen." Recall Margaret Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845), which Poe will review in The Literati of New York City in 1846: "There exists in the minds of men a tone of feeling toward women as toward slaves, such as is expressed in the common phrase, 'Tell that to women and children.'" When Poe reviews Woman in the Nineteenth Century, he ignores Fuller's conjunction of woman and slave but praises the essay -101- as "nervous, forcible, thoughtful, suggestive, brilliant. . for all that Miss Fuller produces is entitled to those epithets — but I must say that the conclusions reached are only in part my own. Not that they are too bold, by any means — too novel, too startling, or too dangerous in their consequences." That Poe did not, or would not, make overtly the connection between women and slaves is also evident in his review of Lydia Maria Child, also in "The Literati of New York City." Throughout his praise of her poetry, there is never a reference to her well-known Anti-Slavery Catechism (1836), The Evils of Slavery and the Cure of Slavery (1836), or An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans (1833), even though he begins by noting — without naming — those compositions by which she has "acquired a just celebrity." He concludes by merely saying: I need scarcely add that she has always been distinguished for her energetic and active philanthropy."

Poe remained haunted, as did Jefferson, by the terrible disjunction between the ideology of slavery (the abstract and rather benign parental ideology grounded in the equally abstract assumption of negro inferiority) and the concrete realities of mutilation, torture, and violation. Jefferson's inability to deal with the issue of slavery leads directly to the apocalyptic terminology at the end of Query XVIII in Notes on the State of Virginia: "Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever; that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become possible by supernatural interference!" The gospel of apocalypse, the blood, fire, and overturning of Poe's tales of terror, gain their force from Poe's problematic relation to notions of mastery and subordination. More important, he understood how the idealization of women in his society depended for its force on the dehumanization of blacks. When he writes Eureka at the end of his life, his version of "the realm of Ends," he demonstrates the "convertibility" of matter and spirit, destroying the divisions that were at the heart of racialist discourse.

In the South's official mythology, the negro was forever nonAdamic: he/she had no task of naming and no gift of language. In -102- "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," Poe uses Dupin's acuteness in detection to reveal his own fantasy of barbarism. Poe had no doubt read that most severe of colonial historians, Edward Long, who in his History of Jamaica wrote: "That the oran-outang and some races of black men are very nearly allied, is, I think, more than probable." As Long admitted with Buffon: "the oran-outang's brain is a senseless icon of the human;. . it is meer matter, unanimated with a thinking principle, in any, or at least in a very minute and imperfect degree. . an oran-outang. . is a human being. . but of an inferior species. . he has in form a much nearer resemblance to the Negroe race, than the latter bear to white men."

The most difficult problem in knowing what manner of brute is the murderer in the Rue Morgue is the "very strange voice," the unrecognizable language of the criminal. Dupin explains: "How strangely unusual must that voice have really been. . - in whose tones, even, denizens of the five great divisions of Europe could recognize nothing familiar! You will say that it might have been the voice of an Asiatic — of an African." Poe concludes the story by describing a scene of wrath and revenge that suddenly, whether intentionally or not, moves us from Paris to the South, from Madame L'Espanaye to the brute's master:

Gnashing its teeth, and flashing fire from its eyes, it flew upon the body of the girl, and imbedded its fearful talons in her throat, retaining its grasp until she expired. Its wandering and wild glances fell at this moment upon the head of the bed, over which the face of its master, rigid with horror, was just discernible. The fury of the beast, who no doubt bore still in mind the dreaded whip, was suddenly converted into fear.

What Poe calls the "catastrophe of the drama" in the supposedly "humorous" story The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether (1844), we should now recall: "But I shall never forget the emotions of wonder and horror with which I gazed, when, leaping through these windows, and down among us pele-mele, fighting, stamping, scratching, and howling, there rushed a perfect army of what I took to be Chimpanzees, Ourang-Outangs, or big black baboons of the Cape of Good Hope."

Poe's Hop-Frog; or, The Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs (1849), one of his last tales, written some seven months before his -103- death, after the end of his engagement to Sarah Helen Whitman, while he fought illness and despair, remains Poe's most horrible tale of retribution. What Thomas O. Mabbott regards as merely "a terrible exposition of the darkness of a human soul" is Poe's final revelation of the national sin of slavery. Did Poe know Hegel's analysis of convertibility? The master, dependent on the labor of the slave, would end by depending on the slave, and the terms of domination would be reversed. As Hegel wrote in his Phenomenology of Mind: "Just as lordship showed its essential nature to be the reverse of what it wants to be, so, too, bondage will, when completed, pass into the opposite of what it immediately is." In any case, Poe would have been familiar with Jefferson's description of the effect of slavery "as a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism," which turned the master into brute.

The eight masters of "Hop-Frog" get turned into orang-outangs, tarred and flaxed (not feathered), by an enslaved dwarf "from some barbarous province that no person ever heard of." Then, chained in a circle, facing each other in a stupor of coincidence, they are burned to "a fetid, blackened, hideous, and indistinguishable mass." The shocking blind spot of most critics to the practice of slavery as fundamental to the horrors of "Hop-Frog" is exemplified by Mabbot's reflection in introducing the story in his Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe: "The manner of chaining apes described is not mentioned by any authorities consulted, and since it is integral to the plot, may well be invented on the basis of the captive wild men described by Froissart." In the final incendiary climax of "Hop-Frog" Poe gives "the power of blackness" its obvious, though repressed cause. Poe recalls, in a bloodcurdling way, his own earlier preoccupation in the "Paulding-Drayton Review" with what, in God's name, might "have blackened the negro's skin and crisped his hair into wool." But the tables have turned. The epidermic curse — the fatality of being black, or blackened — has been visited on the master race.

Writing his 1855 "Preface" to Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman declared: "Great genius and the people of these states must never be demeaned to romances. As soon as histories are properly told there is no more need of romances." By the 1850s the apparent division between fact and fiction was breaking down. The "romance" of the -104- fugitive slave depended for its force on being a "true history." These "verifiable" romances were janus-faced, pointing to both truth and fable. Hawthorne precedes The House of the Seven Gables (1851) with a discourse on "Romance" that grants the writer the use of the "Marvelous" in writing a tale that attempts "to connect a bygone time with the very present that is flitting away from us." And as Poe had argued against Hawthorne's heavy-handed use of allegory in his 1847 review of Twice-Told Tales, now Hawthorne emphasizes the importance of keeping any moral "undercurrent" to the tale unobtrusive. Unsubtle didacticism can kill the effect proper to revealing "the truth of the human heart."

Whereas Hawthorne can choose to err on the side of fiction, no African American writer who had recovered his freedom only to work for the abolitionist cause could afford such flights of fancy. On the one hand, the conversion of brute to man depended on a language so extraordinary that it could make the horrible facts of slavery into romance. On the other hand, these titillating narratives had to be based on true experiences. Harriet A. Jacobs, writing her "Preface" to Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861, begins: "Reader, be assured this narrative is no fiction. I am aware that some of my adventures may seem incredible; but they are, nevertheless, strictly true." And her editor, Lydia Maria Child, authenticated the document in the introduction to Jacobs's drama of what happens when romance — or more precisely, sexuality — is locked into race. She assures readers that she knows the writer and adds: "I believe those who know her will not be disposed to doubt her veracity, though some incidents in her story are more romantic than fiction."

Toni Morrison writes in Beloved (1987): "Definitions belong to the definers — not the defined." The black fugitive turned hero or heroine found not only that there had to be limits to invention — imagination had to be accountable to a reality often invented by someone else — but also that these facts could then be embellished or made to serve the often demeaning romantic fantasies about the "African character." So, terms like romance and history (like liberty and bondage) underwent some strange but instructive metamorphoses. In the history of the United States, where a slave, a piece of property, could become an object of "love," linguistic distinctions were undone, humanitarian definitions derailed and dismantled. -105-

The oft-repeated "power of blackness" thus could be argued to be absolutely necessary to the continued construction of whiteness. As Frantz Fanon argued in Black Skin, White Masks (1952, tr. 1967): "The black soul is a white man's artifact." Who holds the claims on the business of racial identity? Melville knew that the claims of color are nothing more than a sometime masquerade, depending on who wields power when. The Confidence-Man (1857) remains the most astonishing narrative of convertibility. But as early as Pierre; or, The Ambiguities (1852), Melville attempted to "gospelize the world anew" by reveling in a wild blurring of opposites, what Poe had called "Infernal Twoness." Reviewers were quick to condemn Pierre when it appeared, recognizing how dangerous were the excesses of his language (not only his subject) to morals and to the very myths of purity and domestic love on which Americans of "good taste and good sense" depended.

Like Poe in Eureka, Melville dealt with impossible inversions, unspeakable mergings. But Melville humanized or gave flesh to Poe's Newtonian mechanics and cosmic attractions. He attempted nothing less than to give a moral to what might have remained an abstract story. "This history goes forward and goes backward, as occasion calls." The convertibility between matter and spirit that Poe cast as atoms moving to and fro in the throes of attraction and repulsion, Melville articulated as the inevitable reciprocity between "Lucy or God," "Virtue or Vice," light and dark, "wife or sister, saint or fiend!" In Pierre's remarkable dream of Enceladus, the burden of whiteness — parasitical, destructive, and sterile — is embodied in the white amaranthine flower. These flowers multiply, contribute nothing to the agricultural value of the hillside pastures, and force the tenants to beg their "lady" to abate their rent: "The small white flower it is our bane!. . The aspiring amaranth, every year it climbs and adds new terraces to its sway! The immortal amaranth, it will not die, but last year's flowers survive to this!"

The dark world, the trope of aggression and excess, Melville reassigns to an overpowering whiteness. After all, if natural philosophers had argued about the cause of human blackness, the pollution of color, the barbaric stain, Melville put inscrutable whiteness, the "colorless, all-color," the "shrouded phantom of the whitened waters" at the heart of the terror and the fascination of Moby-Dick, his -106- other quest romance. In 1837-38 Poe wrote a story that no doubt influenced Melville. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket was his own "narrative" of whiteness, a romantic voyage to the "white curtain of the South." If the Southern slave made his perilous journey from bondage to the North — a place that, as Frederick Douglass and other African American autobiographers would find, was no salvation from degradation — Poe takes his reader from the North to a terribly iterated South. Ostensibly a trip to the South Seas, the narrative at times seems to mime and invert the narratives of American slavery. The title page reads as a burlesque of captivity, catastrophe, and incredibility: ". . the massacre of her crew among/ A group of islands in the / EIGHTY-FOURTH PARALLEL OF SOUTHERN LATITUDE; / Together with the incredible adventures and discoveries / STILL FURTHER SOUTH / To which that distressing calamity gave rise."

In the "Preface" to his narrative, "A. G. Pym" places a "Mr. Poe, lately editor of the Southern Literary Messenger," quite firmly in the role of Southern gentleman, one of those "several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deep interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited." Although Pym fears his story will lack "the appearance of that truth it would really possess," that only family and friends would "put faith in [his] veracity," and that the public would judge his writing "an impudent and ingenious fiction," he agrees to a "ruse" suggested by Mr. Poe. The adventures will be published in the Southern Literary Messenger "under the garb of fiction." Yet the public refuses to receive the "pretended fiction" as a "fable," and Pym decides "to undertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures in question."

Poe will later claim Eureka to be his "Book of Truths" as well as a "Romance." Convertibility is essential to both his style and his metaphysics. Fact becomes fancy and fancy fact in the mutual adaptation that remains for his earthbound readers the sure sign of God's perfection. But what is being made convertible in Pym's strange narrative? Pym's narrative is based on other chronicles of polar exploration and travel, most notably Benjamin Morrell's Narrative of Four Voyages (1832). This story, however, is less a romance of voyages to distant seas than a spectacular and violent staging of "civilization" defining itself through the conquest of savagery. Yet there is -107- no possibility of definition or conquest in this world of shifting appearances. Before Pym and Peters reach the black island of Tsalal (meaning "to be shaded, dark" in Hebrew and "to be shade" in its ancient Ethiopian root), the reader has already endured scenes of butchery, drunkenness, treachery, and cannibalism. So, although Pym's story leads us to the islands of the South Seas where we encounter "barbarians" and "savages," when the explorers finally visit the island village, the common racist divisions between "civilization" and "barbarism," good and evil, black and white, are no longer operative.

The "savages" are described with their "complexion a jet black, with thick and woolly hair." The natives dread the complexion of "the white race" and, most of all, the strange white thing "lying on the ground," earlier described by Pym as "a singular-looking landanimal," with a "body. . covered with a straight silky hair, perfectly white." The complex working out of the narrative depends upon a duplicity or doubling of color. As the explorers journey farther into the interior to that "country differing essentially from any hitherto visited by civilized men," any simple splitting of color into black and white — with the metaphysical truths normally attached to such biological facts — becomes more vexed and shifting than any racialist polarity allows.

Color becomes Poe's subject, as in the celebrated description of the water of Tsalal: not black, not white, but "not colourless: nor was it of any one uniform colour — presenting to the eye, as it flowed, every possible shade of purple, like the hues of a changeable silk." If the justification of slavery depended on the curse of color as sign of inferiority — what Jefferson stressed as the "real distinction which nature has made" — this story depends upon a crisis of color. Even though the waters manifest an uncommon variability of color, upon closer examination Pym discovers that "the whole mass of liquid was made up of a number of distinct veins, each of a distinct hue. . these veins did not commingle."

Without pushing too far the problematic symbolic construction of a totalizing category called race in this romance, I turn to the final entries in Pym's narrative, before his fall into the vacancy of whiteness. Moving quickly southward, Pym, Peters, and the black-teethed Nu-Nu are absorbed by an inexplicable whitening: the warm water -108- has a "milky hue"; a "fine white powder, resembling ashes" falls over the canoe; another white animal floats by. In the apocalyptic end, they are in between a "sullen darkness" and "milky depths." Then the darkness spreads except for the "veil" or "curtain" of whiteness. Pym's final vision — the mysterious "shrouded human figure" with a complexion "of the perfect whiteness of snow" — has been described as God, Lord of Death, or the "Deity of Eureka," ushering all things into the final Unity. However we choose to interpret the figure, the ultimate revelation of light becomes deadly, absorbing the previous nuances of shadow or darkness.

In the "Note" that follows Pym's death and the abrupt end of his story, the unnamed writer refers to "the most faintly-detailed incidents of the narrative." Attempting an interpretation of the figures of the chasms on the island of Tsalal, he moves his reader toward "The region of the south." The arm of the '"most northwardly' of the figures" is "outstretched towards the south," and the displaced Virginian Poe concludes with a litany on white: "the carcass of the i animal picked up at se. . the shuddering exclamation of the captive Tsalalian upon encountering the white materials in possession of Mr. Pym. . the shriek of the swift-flying, white, and gigantic birds which had issued from the vapoury white curtain of the South. Nothing white was to be found at Tsalal." And in the region beyond, Poe suggests we can know nothing. Yet, perhaps his Southern readers, especially those Virginians who had followed closely the debates about slavery in the Virginia Legislature in 1831-32, would not be immune to the final effect of this strange commentary on the vicissitudes of white power. The unaccountable and prophetic final sentence of the "Note" reads: "I have graven it within the hills, and my vengeance upon the dust within the rock." What G. R. Thompson in Poe's Fiction: Romantic Irony in the Gothic Tales (1973) calls a divine and "perverse vengeance for some unknown offense," no doubt recalled for some readers the known offense of slavery, and the fears of some Southerners, like Jefferson and Poe, that God's judgment would not be stayed, that the inevitable catastrophe is at hand.

Joan Dayan


Domesticity and Fiction

Literary histories have employed a variety of terms to describe the novels written by women in the United States during the middle decades of the nineteenth century: the sentimental novel, the female Bildungsroman, the domestic novel. This proliferation of terms is useful, if for no other reason, because it suggests that women novelists of the period were hardly the undifferentiated mass that Nathaniel Hawthorne represented them as being when (rankled by the success of the women novelists with whom he competed for the public's attention) he complained to his publisher that "America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women."

Although rakish characters like Charles Morgeson in Elizabeth Stoddard's The Morgesons (1862) and St. Elmo in Augusta Evans Wilson's St. Elmo (1867) owe more than a little to Samuel Richardson, the seduction plot so prominent in the early sentimental fiction intrudes only occasionally in women's novels published after 1820. Female Bildungsroman more adequately describes much of this fiction. Yet, while Susan Warner's The Wide, Wide World (1850) and Martha Finley's Elsie Dinsmore (1867) are exemplary instances of the novel of female development, Caroline Lee Hentz's Linda (1850) and E. D. E. N. Southworrh's The Hidden Hand (1859) flaunt the realist conventions of the Bildungsroman and might be more accurately classified as female picaresque or sensation fiction. Finally, to call women's popular fiction "domestic novels" is also somewhat misleading. Catharine Maria Sedgwick's Home (1835) is little more than a fictionalized treatise on housekeeping and child-rearing, but -110- Fanny Fern's semiautobiographical Ruth Hall (1855) records the adventures of a woman whose domestic ties have been severed and Caroline Chesebro's Isa: A Pilgrimage (1852) tells the story of a radical feminist who lives with a man to whom she is not married.

"Women's novels" might be the only rubric elastic enough to encompass the diversity within this literature. But since historically the gender distinction has worked at the expense of women writers (as Hawthorne's comment suggests), we now must wield it very carefully. Arguably, the only way to avoid inadvertent replication of the invidious nineteenth-century gender distinction would be to dispense with the category of "women writers" altogether. And yet, entirely abandoning this category of analysis seems unwise at this particular historic juncture. Literary historians, accepting Hawthorne's comments about scribbling women at face value, have assumed that women novelists of the period do not merit serious study, and hence these writers languish in undeserved obscurity. Given that women novelists have been excluded as a class, feminist literary histories must include them as a class — albeit with the understanding that the category of "women novelists" intervenes rather than describes, which is to say that it is used provisionally to redress strategic omissions in the scholarship rather than used to suggest either that women's novels are all the same or that they are necessarily different from men's novels.

One could argue that the ill-repute of mid-century novels by women owes less to their individual literary infelicities than to the rhetorical uses toward which scholars attempting to define the classic tradition of the novel have deployed them. Acts of definition are necessarily acts of differentiation. The highly contingent process of defining a classic tradition in part involved distinguishing it from what is not the classic tradition. By aligning the distinction they produced between canonical and noncanonical with gender difference, scholars could give that distinction the look of a difference found in nature (as it were) rather than in the opinions of mere human beings. Literary historians evolved a complex history of nineteenth-century culture in which they associated femininity with the passive reproduction of the status quo and masculinity with the willful transgression of norms. In defining the classic tradition they excluded not just -111- women but also male novelists whom they perceived as capitulating to the conventional, and they exalted those male novelists who most visibly thematized their own defiance of cultural expectations.

The crucial role of gender difference in defining the classic tradition of the novel helps explain some counterintuitive representations of the male classics that have been taken as truisms — for example, that James Fenimore Cooper's historical romances and what are called his "Indian novels" are a reaction against the feminization of the vocation of novel writing and an attempt to articulate a "masculine" novelistic countertradition. This claim is made despite the fact that Lydia Maria Child's "Indian novel" Hobomok (1824) exercised a profound influence on The Last of the Mohicans (which appeared two years after Child's book) and despite the fact that the historical romance was a preferred mode amongst women writers. Further evidence of the role played by the rhetoric of gender in the construction of the American Renaissance is the fact that, rather than describing The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851) with the "feminine" term of "domestic novels," literary historians generally refer to them as "romances," and they do this despite the fact that Hawthorne's relentless and gendered opposition of public and private spheres, his hostility toward the Puritan patriarch, and his representation of imperiled womanhood are precisely the materials of the domestic novel. Similarly, the need to manufacture the difference that would separate canonical from noncanonical, one could argue, dictates that Herman Melville's Pierre (1852) be generally regarded as a parody of the domestic novel rather than an instance of it.

Traditional concepts of the American Renaissance do not ignore women novelists so much as use them as the demonic double of the classic novelists of the period. Taking their cue from Melville's Hawthorne and His Mosses (a review of a collection of Hawthorne's tales that Melville published anonymously in 1850), literary historians have argued that classic writers used the conventions of best-sellers in order to communicate their own original and profound meanings. Popular women novelists, they have claimed, merely reproduced a standardized product that appealed to a mass audience composed primarily of undereducated and underemployed middleclass women desperate for something to fill their empty days. >-112-

Yet, even if women writers (like male writers) had to fulfill certain conventions in order to sell their novels, what prevented them from manipulating those conventions toward their own ends, as Melville describes Hawthorne doing or as he himself perhaps does in Pierre? In Little Women (1869) Louisa May Alcott's satiric transposition of E. D. E. N. Southworth into S. L. A. N. G. Northbury, her humorous treatment of Jo March's conflicting commitments to economic success and truth-telling when she launches her career as a writer, and Jo's disparaging references to notions she finds too "sentimental" — these suggest that the classic male novelists were not the only ones who felt that writing for the literary marketplace imposed some limits on what they could say. Only if one assumes that women writers were incapable of manipulating popular conventions can one read Little Women (as it so often is read) as an uncomplicated and unselfconscious capitulation to the demands of the marketplace.

Revisionary feminist scholarship has suggested that women like Alcott encoded "subversive" feminist messages in texts that merely appear conventional. Women novelists may also have been in the business of "hoodwinking" a public composed primarily of "superficial skimmers" (to borrow Melville's language). A more radical feminist critique, however, would note that the images of passivity and addiction characteristic of descriptions of the rise of mass culture are themselves gendered. The belief that by mid-century the reading audience was increasingly (if not overwhelmingly) female may itself account for scholarly consensus that antebellum Americans were hostile to any novel that manifestly challenged the literary, moral, or political conventions that permitted the masses to proceed through their lives with as little reflection as possible.

Literary historians' use of a rhetoric of gender in the construction of the American Renaissance has antecedents in the work of the canonical male writers of the period. For example, in The Spy (1821) Cooper (who published his first novel, Precaution, under a female pseudonym) satirizes the literary predilections of "our countrywomen, by whose opinions it is that we expect to stand or fall." Taking statements by male writers at face value, scholars have gone so far as to claim that the antebellum United States was "a society controlled by women." One dubbed the middle decade of the nine-113- nine- "the feminine fifties" and exclaimed: "And to think of the masculine Melville and Hawthorne and Thoreau condemned to work through their literary lives in an atmosphere like that."

Increasingly, the "feminization of American culture" (that is to say, the alleged determining influence exercised by women over midcentury culture at the level both of consumption and of production) appears to be largely a fiction created by the nineteenth century and perpetuated by literary historians in the twentieth. No direct evidence corroborates Cooper's assertion that the success or failure of a novel depended on women's tastes; contemporary historians of reading have little firsthand data on the gender composition of the early nineteenth-century reading audience. The belief in the femininity of the audience for novels rests primarily upon indirect evidence like The Spy's introduction and upon the patently chauvinist assumption that because most middle-class women were "only housewives" they had enormous quantities of free time on their hands that they squandered reading trash. (Harriet Beecher Stowe's letters suggest that some middle-class women were in fact driven to states of nervous exhaustion by the amount of work required to run a household prior to our age of "modern conveniences." Her descriptions of trying to dry sheets in the humid summer air while a cholera epidemic that would eventually take the life of one of her children raged through Cincinnati seems particularly to the point.)

Nor is it clear that women dominated culture at the level of production. To the contrary, there is evidence that at mid-century men produced more than twice the number of novels as women. Midcentury women writers like Warner, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Maria Cummins (who wrote the first "best-sellers" in the modern sense of the term) far outsold the "classic" male novelists with whom they are usually compared. But Hawthorne, Melville, and Cooper were not the only male novelists of the period. William Ware, T. S. Arthur, and Donald Mitchell are just a few of the male novelists whose popularity rivaled that of their female competitors. Finally, even if (as it indeed appears) the best-selling novels of the period written by women outsold the best-sellers written by men, the bookpublishing industry was entirely in the hands of men, a fact that greatly complicates the issue of who "controlled" the literary marketplace. In the face of such facts about production — and in the ab-114- sence of direct evidence about consumption — perhaps the time has come to ask not whether the "feminization of American culture" was a bad thing (the traditional view) or whether it was a good thing (the feminist revisionary view) but whether it even happened in the first place.

How is it, we might ask, that writers in this period came to believe that America (to paraphrase Hawthorne) had been wholly given over to women?

The belief that society had been feminized grows out of exaggerated claims for the influence of women generated by the rise of domestic ideology. By 1830 the nature of woman's contribution to society had become a regional obsession amongst intellectuals of the Northeastern United States, and by virtue of the dominance this region exercised over cultural production it necessarily became a national obsession as well.

The Revolutionary-era idea of republican motherhood is in some sense the precursor of domestic ideology. The Enlightenment concept that youth was particularly susceptible to both good and bad influences led late eighteenth-century American educators like Judith Sargent Murray and Benjamin Rush to argue that in their capacity as mothers women exercised a tremendous power over the fate of the Republic in the values they taught boys who would grow up to lead the nation. It was therefore necessary, argued these writers, to pay more attention to women's education than had previously been given, lest mothers communicate undemocratic tendencies to their male offspring.

Whereas Murray and Rush attempted to incorporate women into the ongoing Revolutionary project by representing men and women as equally capable of contributing to the moral well-being of the Republic, early nineteenth-century writers increasingly represented women as the sole repository of virtue in society. At the same time that they began characterizing men as naturally aggressive, sensual, and godless, authors of countless sermons, newspaper articles, and treatises began to argue that if through their relations with fathers, husbands, and sons in the home women did not exercise a civilizing influence on men, society would collapse into complete anarchy. In one of the scores of sermons bearing the title "Female Influence"-115- written in the period, the Reverend J. F. Stearns proclaimed to his women parishioners in 1837: "Yours it is to decide. . whether we shall be a nation of refined and high minded Christians, or whether. . we shall become a fierce race of semi-barbarians."

While such theories of female influence claimed that women ultimately controlled society, they also stressed that women exercised that power through indirect influence rather than through direct force. If a woman attempted to influence society directly — through, for example, winning the right to vote — she would lose her control over men, since brute force rather than moral suasion governed the political realm. Woman's physical delicacy would prevent her from battling with men on their own terrain, it was argued, and hence it was in her own best interest to remain within her "proper sphere."

For some writers, however, even moral suasion within her proper sphere was too direct a manifestation of woman's power. Child's 1831 treatise The Mother's Book(a somewhat more philosophical statement than The American Frugal Housewife, which Child published one year earlier) asserts that it is better for mothers to instruct through the example of their own virtuous behavior rather than through precept. Its dialogic form made narrative a particularly appropriate vehicle for what the age defined as women's proper exercise of power. Child (herself a novelist) recommended the reading of uplifting fiction, but she took care to distinguish uplifting fiction from fiction with a "good moral": "The morality should be in the book," she wrote, "not tacked upon the end of it." No doubt Cummins was thinking of the educational uses to which her own work might be put when, in The Lamplighter (1854), she describes Emily Graham judiciously selecting uplifting narratives of the "triumph of truth, obedience and patience" for Gerty Flint to read. This method of inculcating moral principles in her willful ward conforms with Emily's more general commitment to exerting her authority only covertly — a method contrasted with her father's disastrously manifest exertions of his authority. Emily, writes Cummins, "preached no sermons, nor did she weary [Gerty] with exhortations and precepts. Indeed, it did not occur to Gerty that she [was being] taught anything; but simply and gradually [Emily] imparted light to the child's dark soul." Because narrative was not considered rhetorical (rhetoric being associated with the "masculine" political sphere), novel writing was seen as -116- a particularly appropriate way for women to exert their indirect influence for the good of society.

The cult of domesticity and its appropriation of the genre of the novel provide a cultural context in which to understand Hawthorne's comment that America had been taken over by a mob of scribbling women (a comment that, by the way, was prompted specifically by the success of The Lamplighter). Hawthorne's overstatement of the case was informed as much by his culture's belief in the feminization of American society as it was by his own professional jealousy. In fact, in The Scarlet Letter, five years before writing the letter to his publisher, Hawthorne suggested that in American society the masculine-identified characteristics of Puritan times (the physical vigor and moral callousness of the Puritan elders) had given way to feminine-identified qualities of antebellum times (the exquisite delicacy and sensitivity of the narrator of "The Custom-House," which is presaged by the nervous behavior of the Puritan male hysteric Arthur Dimmesdale).

The theory that society had grown more feminine was by no means limited to male novelists of the period. One could argue that male writers manifested more hostility toward the changes they perceived than did most women writers, a hostility that they evidenced in their fondness for narrating the flight of male characters into the wilderness or out to sea (and thus away from the rule of women); however, a novel like Harriet Beecher Stowe's Pearl of Orr's Island (1862) suggests that it is more complicated than this. Like The Scarlet Letter, Stowe's local color tale is set in Puritan times (its titular "pearl" Mara Lincoln in fact recalls Hawthorne's character Pearl). Stowe's narrator, coyly prophesying the situation that nineteenthcentury Americans felt increasingly characteristic of their own century, associates seventeenth-century New England with the haughty masculinity of the young Moses Pennel and suggests: "There may, perhaps, come a time when the saucy boy, who steps so superbly, and predominates so proudly in virtue of his physical strength and daring, will learn to tremble at the golden measuring-rod, held in the hand of a woman." As an adolescent, Moses begins to chafe at the virtuous Mara's "apron strings" and goes to sea to sow his wild oats — an act of rebellion that anticipates Huck Finn's decision at the end of Mark -117- Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) "to light out for the Territory" in order to evade Aunt Sally's "sivilizing" designs on him. One might argue that women's novels already contain the narratives of male rebellion against the rule of women that are generally associated with male writers. In other words, far from challenging the principles of domestic ideology, male narratives of rebellion against women's rule merely reinforce domesticity's association of men with "semi-barbarism" and women with "high minded" Christianity. Similarly, one could argue that theories of the American Renaissance that represent the classic male novelists as rebels against the acceptable conventions of a literary marketplace controlled by women merely perpetuate the belief in the moral inequality of the sexes fundamental to domestic ideology.

The cult of domesticity may have become culturally dominant by the mid-nineteenth century, but it is important to bear in mind that, at least in its origins, it was an oppositional ideology. Domesticity's origins are explicitly antipatriarchal, and while to argue this is not the same thing as arguing that domesticity was feminist, it does explain why so many women took up the pen in behalf of a philosophy that seems, from a contemporary perspective, so at odds with women's political, economic, and personal independence.

Domesticity proceeds from a critique of the commodification of womanhood in the aristocratic patriarchal family. Jean-Jacques Rousseau captures the spirit of the patriarchal view of womanhood when he, in his cursory treatment of female education in Emile (1762), explains the difference between male education and female education as the difference between "the development of strength" and "the development of attractiveness." Responding in part to Rousseau in her Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (1799), British educator Hannah More (who is generally credited with the founding of domestic ideology) criticized her contemporaries for educating their daughters "for the world, and not for themselves." Patriarchal interests dictated the shape of the system of female education More wanted to reform. Consisting almost exclusively in ornamental graces requisite for obtaining an advantageous familial alliance through the marriage contract, this education, More felt, treated women as little more than commodities bought and sold -118- on the marriage market. Rousseau expressed the degree to which women were raised "for the world" rather than for themselves when he argued that a woman's knowledge and powers of reasoning should be developed only enough so as to prevent her from being tedious in conversation with her husband. Using the home as a metaphor for interiority (in the sense of "selfhood"), More was attempting to redefine woman's value in terms of internal qualities: sound judgment, knowledge of how to run a household, moral tendencies — qualifications that suited a woman to be a good wife and mother rather than merely making her satisfying to the male gaze.

Historical romances written by women clearly express domesticity's antipatriarchal content. We see this in Child's romance of ancient Greece, Philothea (1836). Aspasia, who herself relentlessly cultivates the gaze of the crowd, holds entertainments at her home in which women dance and sing before a male audience. Child's retiring heroine Philothea, seemingly voicing the author's view, explains to Aspasia that the renown women gain from performing before men is a sign of their thralldom rather than a measure of their freedom. The presence in the narrative of a woman who is literally enslaved (Philothea's friend Eudora) only strengthens the force of an analogy that later antislavery novels like Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) and Child's A Romance of the Republic (1867) would pursue in a native and more contemporary setting.

Like Philothea, Eliza Buckminster Lee's Parthenia (1858) constructs the domestic woman in order to criticize patriarchy. Set in the fourth century, the novel describes the youth of Emperor Julian, who dedicated himself to reviving the worship of the pagan gods just as Christianity seemed on the verge of establishing its ascendancy. Lee transforms the struggle between paganism and Christianity into a struggle between men and women. The warrior Julian (reputed to be a woman-hater) believes that Christianity is a religion suited only to women. In its story of the crucifixion he sees none of the male heroism he so admires in Homeric literature. In meeting the beautiful and wise pagan priestess Parthenia, however, Julian learns firsthand that there are forms of power other than physical force. He proposes that she become his empress and use her feminine charms to promote the cause of paganism. But because in her gradual conversion to Christianity she learns that the only way to make woman a "puri-119- fying and refining influence infused through society" is to "elevate [her] to her true place in the family," Parthenia declines the honor. Lee, it seems, detects in Julian's offer the patriarchal tendency to reduce women to mere objects for public display.

More was concerned that the patriarchal display of woman robbed her of any authentic identity. Hence she associated the fashionable life with a lack of authenticity. The life of the young lady, More had lamented, "too much resembles that of an actress: the morning is all rehearsal and the evening is all performance." The association of wealth and fashion with the loss of female authenticity is particularly apparent in some of the more didactic novels of the period, including Sedgwick's Clarence (1830) and The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man (1836), Elizabeth Oakes Smith's Riches Without Wings (1838), and Ann Stephens's Fashion and Famine (1854). The association, however, also seems to inform Alcott's compelling and not in the least bit didactic novella Behind a Mask (1866). Subtitled "A Woman's Power," Alcott's gothic romance is set in an aristocratic English household. The young and lovely governess Jean Muir ingratiates herself with the members of the Coventry household — particularly its male members — until she has all of them at her beck and call. At the end of the first chapter the reader sees what the Coventry family does not. Alone in her room after a first impressive day on the job, Jean declares aloud, "[T]he curtain is down, so I may be myself for a few hours, if actresses ever are themselves." She then proceeds to remove her makeup, wig, and several false teeth. The narrator remarks that the "metamorphosis was wonderful, but the disguise was more in the expression she assumed than in any art of costume or false adornment." The setting of the tale suggests that Alcott, like More, saw loss of authenticity as the inevitable fate of women in the patriarchal household. Like Lee and Child, Alcott selects a foreign setting for her novel in order to suggest that such a household has no place in the modern United States.

More's American protégé Catharine Beecher used images of physical confinement to express patriarchal culture's violence against the integrity of female selfhood. Beecher authored what is probably the single most influential statement of American domesticity, A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1841), which she later (with the aid of her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe) revised and published under the title -120- The American Woman's Home (1869). Throughout her work, Beecher expresses concern that young girls spend too much time indoors in overheated rooms and that when they are permitted outdoors are instructed not to run around and "romp" like boys. Women are further restrained by corsets and other "monstrous female fashions," which, by impeding the natural growth and development of the body, "bring distortion and disease" — literally to the female body, but metaphorically to the female self. The tomboy Jo March in Little Women expresses the domestic critique of monstrous patriarchal fashions when she complains, "I hate to think I've got to grow up and be Miss March, and wear long gowns, and look as prim as a China-aster." In Little Women Alcott uses the backdrop of the Civil War to create a value system that gives priority not just to women but to women as the representatives of the interior life.

The figure of domestic woman then cannot be separated from the modern reconstruction not just of the female self but of selfhood in general. In Little Women the March sisters remain at home, while the Northern men have gone off to fight. Jo rails against the destiny of her sex: "I'm dying to go and fight with papa, and I can only stay at home and knit like a poky old woman." Through her representation of the March sisters' attempts to overcome their "bosom enemies," Alcott relocates within the home the heroism traditionally identified with the battlefield. Alcott suggests that, in part because heroics attract the attention of the world, it is far easier to be a hero than it is to purify one's own heart; temporary hardship and even death in the name of a virtuous cause are more easily endured than a quiet, lifetime struggle for virtue. The same logic that led Alcott to valorize the (feminine) quotidian over the (masculine) heroic led minister Horace Bushnell to propose a new "domestic" form of worship. Referring in part to the histrionic conversion experiences that accompanied the religious revivals that punctuated the entire antebellum period, Bushnell complained in Christian Nurture (1860): "We hold a piety of conquest rather than of love, a kind of public piety, that is strenuous and fiery on great occasions, but wants. . constancy." In Bushnell's opinion all Christians, not just women, should cultivate domesticity of character.

During the Civil War years the influential women's magazine Godey's Lady's Book never once alluded to the conflict that so en-121- grossed the attention of the nation. Along with the novels Northwood (1827) and The Lecturess (1839), Godey's was an important vehicle for its editor Sarah Hale's rather conservative domestic philosophy, and Hale's critics have taken the magazine's failure even to acknowledge the major conflict of the day as evidence that women intellectuals retreated to the home to escape harsh realities. "Reality," however, was not something these women were attempting to escape so much as something the particular form of their antipatriarchal critique encouraged them to redefine. According to Child's The Mother's Book, "Nothing can be real that does not have its home within us." If under the editorship of Hale Godey's manifested little interest in the war, this is in part because domestic ideologues were skeptical about the importance of the merely external. Hence in addressing the question of discipline, The Mother's Book stresses that behavior matters far less than the motives that impel it. The modern concept of the self and the modern experience of the self would be inconceivable without the transvaluation that domesticity helped effect.

Domesticity's valorization of character over conduct gave novelists license to produce some of the era's more reverent representations of non-Western cultures. In Hobomok (1824) the prolific Child (whose 1868 An Appeal for the Indians refers to the belief in white superiority as a "curse") protests the undue harshness of Calvinist doctrine that would damn the unconverted but noble savage to everlasting punishment in the afterlife. Like Stephens's later Malaeska (1860), Hobomok is a tale of interracial marriage. At one point Mary Corbitant, who marries Hobomok and bears his child, has a vision of the Christian God smiling "on distant mosques and temples" and "shedding the same light on the sacrifice heap of the Indian, and the rude dwellings of the Calvinist." The narrator lays the groundwork for an early theory of cultural relativism when she asserts that "spiritual light" shines equally on all people but is refracted in many different ways.

Women novelists' willingness to entertain notions of cultural relativism was not entirely disinterested, of course. Like her earlier A New-England Tale (1822), Sedgwick's Hope Leslie (1827) employs -122- relativism to buttress its own antipatriarchal critique as much as to ennoble aboriginals. Through the generous actions of her native heroine Magawisca, Sedgwick legitimates the alien culture rejected by Puritan "fanatics" because it does not conform to their ethnocentric standards. At the same time, and through a similar logic, Sedgwick legitimates the acts of defiance against the Puritan elders committed by her white heroine Hope Leslie. In an age of what Sedgwick calls "undisputed masculine supremacy," Hope fails to demonstrate the "passiveness" that the Puritans define as woman's chief virtue. Sedgwick describes Hope as someone whom the Puritans perceive as, like the natives, in need of "civilizing" restraints. But Hope's conduct only appears immoral; steadfast principles in fact guide her actions throughout the novel.

The domestic emphasis on cultivating principle in order to preserve the authenticity of the self may also account for the frequency with which orphans appear in women's novels. In three of the most popular novels of the time, Warner's The Wide, Wide World, Cummins's The Lamplighter, and Finley's Elsie Dinsmore, the death of one or both parents or the abandonment of children is a compelling donnée for women novelists because it provides an opportunity for distinguishing between character and conduct. Only with the parent absent can the child's internalization of principle be gauged. In women's novels, as in Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on the subject, "selfreliance" is not freedom from duty but rather subjection to an internalized standard of duty. This is not to say that by internalizing duty domesticity merely introjected patriarchal rule but rather to suggest that even oppositional ideologies can have normalizing as well as liberating aspects.

While one could read assertions of women's moral superiority to men as empowering to women, historical romances written by women suggest that because theirs is the power of influence rather than of force, domesticity is always on the verge of reproducing patriarchal culture's male gaze. Harriet Vaughan Cheney's historical romance A Peep at the Pilgrims (1850) suggests that even in her private relations the domestic woman is necessarily a spectacle (as suggested by the titular "peep"). Even more so than Lee, Cheney -123- makes clear the erotic nature of the influence that domesticity assigned to women. Mr. Grey, voicing the wisdom of the Puritan patriarch, warns his daughter Miriam that she must accept male authority without question because women are more prone to err than men. "Women are born to submit," he claims, "and as the weaker vessel, it is meet they should be guided by those who have rule over them." Miriam argues in response that to the contrary women appear better suited to dispense the gospel rather than to receive it — since their erotic power makes their "influence" over men well-nigh irresistible: "If the entreaties of Delilah could subdue Samson, how much more powerful must be the arguments of religion from the lips of a virtuous woman," she asserts. Even though Miriam works toward Christian ends, Cheney cannot rid her "virtuous woman" of all the erotic power represented by the biblical Delilah.

Similarly, Stowe's representation of the virtuous Tina Percival in Oldtown Folks (1869) participates in the logic of the male gaze. Like Cheney, Stowe suggests that women's power over men depends upon their ability to please them. Tina's spectacular beauty, far from being a source of temptation for Stowe's male characters, is instead presented as, potentially, an agent of their regeneration. The narrator speaks of romantic "LOVE" as "greatest and holiest of all the natural sacraments and means of grace." Stowe contrasts this perspective with that of the Calvinist minister Dr. Stern, who believes that "the minister who does not excite the opposition of the natural heart fails to do his work." Significantly, the minister's sermons excite only "revulsion" among the townsfolk. Stowe had previously relocated gospel authority from the clergy to the eroticized domestic woman in The Minister's Wooing (another local color tale set in Puritan New England that Stowe published in 1859). There her character James Marvyn asserts that he does not understand a word of the minister Dr. Hopkins's tedious sermons but that the lovely Mary Scudder is his "living gospel" — the same phrase that the skeptic George Harris uses to describe his pious wife Eliza in Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Although thinking of women as the living gospel for men gives women a certain authority, it also defines them strictly in terms of men's needs. Because domestic ideology posits a moral difference between men and women, it always threatens to reduce women to little more than vessels for male salvation. One could argue that Stowe's -124- representation of the virtuous heroine not long for this world (the archetypal expression of which is, of course, Eva St. Clare in Uncle Tom's Cabin) results from the moral difference between the sexes posited by domestic ideology. Referring to Mara Lincoln's little Evalike demise at the end of Pearl of Orr's Island, the narrator notes that some people die young in order to aid in the spiritual development of those whom they leave behind. Mara's death has this effect on her skeptical fiancé Moses Pennel, whose salvation seems much more assured after her death than before it. In fact, on her deathbed Mara asserts that her Christian influence on him will be greater when she is dead than it would have been had she lived to marry him. For Stowe, then, a woman's dying gospel is perhaps even more potent than her living one.

Yet Mara Lincoln's martyrdom for the sake of her fiancé's spiritual well-being is just one logical extreme to which domestic ideology's claims for the moral superiority of women could lead. It is important to stress that domesticity was not an ideology in the impoverished sense of the term. Domesticity did not become a dominant discourse because it provided people with a finite and orderly set of beliefs relieving them from the burden of thinking; to the contrary, domesticity was compelling precisely because it gave people an expansive logic and a series of rich cultural symbols through which to think about their world. As a result, domestic ideology, while it certainly manipulated antebellum intellectuals, could also be manipulated by them. Hence Alcott could take it to what is perhaps its feminist extreme in her novel Work (1873). Work opens with the orphan Christie Devon (invoking the "Declaration of Sentiments" revealed by women's rights supporters at their convention in Seneca Falls in 1848) announcing to her guardians that "there's going to be a new Declaration of Independence," namely, her declaration of economic independence from them. Alcott uses domestic ideology in order to identify not just work but meaningful work for women. Christie ultimately becomes a mediator in an organization composed of both middle- and working-class women. There she helps to heal the class conflicts that arise. Alcott's fictional character Christie, one could argue, anticipates historical figures like Jane Addams, who at the turn of the century established social work as a legitimate profession for women. Because domesticity placed the welfare of society -125- in women's able hands, women could claim that certain social professions outside of the home were the logical extension of their work inside the home.

Alcott perceived that the particular skills and knowledge women developed in managing households had extra-domestic applications, and this perception no doubt influenced her own decision to become a nurse during the Civil War. After the war other women intellectuals like Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell (who in 1849 received the first medical degree granted to a woman in the United States) also tried to expand the terrain of women's civilizing mission to include all of society and not just her own household. Declarations of women's moral superiority and civilizing influence, as well as claims for the managerial and practical skills they acquired through labor in the home, buttressed women's entrance into careers in medicine, education, and social welfare. Ironically, in the second half of the century domesticity itself enabled women's forays out of what the antebellum period identified as women's proper sphere. To add to the irony, postwar suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton even used the logic of domestic ideology in their fight for women's political empowerment. Amongst these suffragists, antipatriarchal domesticity seems at last to have developed a recognizably feminist character.

The influence of domestic ideology on the suffragists, however, guaranteed that early feminism would not be without its political ambiguities. As early as 1838 in her Letters to Mothers Lydia Sigourney attempted to expand the terrain of domesticity into the world at large. Appalled that "the influx of untutored foreigners" had made the United States "a repository for the waste and refuse of other nations," Sigourney maintained that it was the responsibility of women "to neutralize this mass" through an internal missionary movement that would spread the good word of the Anglo-American middle-class home. Unfortunately, postwar suffragists, retaining domesticity's vision of the custodial role of women, used an argument reminiscent of Sigourney's to press for the vote. If white women were enfranchised, they argued, it would help offset the deleterious influence of lower-class immigrants and recently emancipated slaves (who during Reconstruction were allowed to vote). The same millennial -126- zeal that gives domesticity its custodial mission, then, also makes it both classist and ethnocentric.

A reading of Harriet E. Wilson's novel Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) suggests that some African American women were acutely aware of domesticity's normative contents; however, because most of the other important mid-century African American women intellectuals (including Sojourner Truth, Harriet Jacobs, and Elizabeth Keckley) expressed their suspicions about domestic ideology in nontraditional literary forms, any history devoted to a genre like the novel will necessarily underrepresent the contributions of African American women to the discourse on domesticity. Wilson's autobiographical tale (believed to be the first novel published by an African American in the United States) is yet another story of an orphaned girl in search of what Wilson calls "selfdependence." This orphan, however, is an African American woman living in the North who is taken in as a servant by a white family when her mother abandons her.

The willfulness of the orphan Frado recalls that of Cummins's character Gerty in The Lamplighter, but unlike Gerty's guardian Emily Graham, Frado's mistress Mrs. Bellmont is hardly a domestic woman. Intent upon "breaking" Frado's will, she rules over not just Frado but the entire Bellmont household with an iron hand. Wilson opposes Mrs. Bellmont's method of governing to Aunt Abby's more gentle methods. Befriending the abused child, the Bellmont family's maiden aunt manifests their concern for her spiritual welfare by attempting to convert her. But Wilson establishes this opposition between Mrs. Bellmont and the domestic woman Aunt Abby only to render visible what they have in common. The author orchestrates the death of Frado's defender James Bellmont in such a way as to provide an opportunity for Frado to provide evidence of her conversion to Aunt Abby's god. As the opening of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps the younger's novel The Gates Ajar (1869) suggests, in the nineteenth century the death of a loved one was often seen as an occasion for manifesting one's submission to a divine wisdom that passes human understanding. But just when she appears on the verge of submitting to the higher authority that Aunt Abby attempts to impose on her, Frado suddenly rebels against Mrs. Bellmont, threatening henceforth -127- to return any blows that her mistress inflicts on her. At the same time the narrator abruptly drops the question of Frado's conversion. Because race gave Wilson a marginal status within the dominant culture, perhaps she was in a better position to see the way in which the advocates of what Bushnell called a new "domestic" religion had not entirely erased "conquest" from Christianity.

Introducing the women's novel into the canon of the American Renaissance, some object, will involve discarding aesthetic criteria and instituting political considerations as the determinants of literary merit. We must not forget that even the acknowledged male "classics" of the American Renaissance were themselves at one point noncanonical and that their cultural ascendency in fact owes a good deal to politics in the form of American nationalism. Few critics have found even the handful of acknowledged male classics (including Moby-Dick, The Scarlet Letter, The Last of the Mohicans) entirely satisfying from a strictly aesthetic standpoint, particularly in comparison to the British and European "masterpieces" of the same period. Indeed, a comment by Melville in Hawthorne and His Mosses suggests that if nineteenth-century critics had applied aesthetic rather than political standards to literature, most of the classic male novelists we now read might languish in the same literary obscurity to which their female contemporaries have been relegated. Concerned over the ill-repute of American writers and wondering where the American Shakespeare was, Melville enjoins, "[L]et America first praise mediocrity even, in her own children, before she praises. . the best excellence in the children of any other land. Let her own authors, I say, have the priority of appreciation."

Neither were strictly aesthetic criteria F. O. Matthiessen's principle for selection when he introduced the concept of the American Renaissance in 1941 — the same year in which the United States entered World War II and democracy both at home and abroad seemed so imperiled. In his American Renaissance (which for almost half a century helped determine which mid-nineteenth-century writers were read), Matthiessen asserts that the best authors "all wrote literature for democracy," and he notes excluding Edgar Allan Poe from his study because Poe "was bitterly hostile to democracy."

Both Melville's and Matthiesen's comments suggest that political -128- considerations have for a long time and quite explicitly informed our sense of literary value. Introducing novels by women into the canon may not entail a drastic change in our concept of literary merit, after all. Instead it may require something far more radical — a change in our politics.

Lora Romero


Fiction and Reform I

"In the history of the world," Emerson proclaimed in Man the Reformer (1841), "the doctrine of Reform had never such scope as at the present hour." Indeed, as he surveyed the cultural scene, he sensed a "new spirit" and "new ideas" pervading Northeast reform activity. But whereas many of his acquaintances became involved in group efforts at social reformation, such as the communitarian experiment at Brook Farm, or abolitionism, Emerson insisted on the primacy of individual reformation. All desires for reform, he argued, emerged from "the conviction that there is an infinite worthiness in man" and an "impediment" standing between individuals and their essentially divine nature. As he insisted even more strenuously in New England Reformers (1844): "society gains nothing whilst a man, not himself renovated, attempts to renovate things around him." That same year, however, Emerson began to read widely in the history of slavery, and in a pivotal lecture, Emancipation in the British West Indies (1844), he called on the "great masses of men" to take a larger role in changing laws and affecting social policy. Seven years later, in a lecture on the Fugitive Slave Law, he advised his auditors that civil disobedience would be an appropriate response to the government's efforts to enforce "the most detestable law that was ever enacted by a civilized state." Abolitionism, the most pressing social reform movement of his time, had taken hold of Emerson, and during the 1850s the champion of selfculture addressed numerous abolitionist meetings and even campaigned for Gorham Palfrey on the Free Soil Ticket. Slavery was by -130- no means the only reform movement to capture his attention; in addition to offering occasional remarks on temperance, in 1855 he spoke to a women's rights convention in favor of women's suffrage, arguing that "if in your city [Boston] the uneducated emigrant vote numbers thousands, representing a brutal ignorance and mere animal wants, it is to be corrected by an educated and religious vote, representing the wants and desires of honest and refined persons." Nevertheless, despite his various reform commitments of the 1840s and 1850s, in his journals of the period he continued to muse skeptically on the value of group efforts at social renovation.

Emerson's ambivalent but increasingly engaged response to social reform suggests that he wrestled with some of the large questions his more individualistic philosophy of the 1830s and early 1840s tended to avoid: Can self-reformation proceed in a social vacuum somehow apart from the debates, institutions, and laws of antebellum culture? To what extent is group reformation dependent on individual reformation, and vice versa? Fearing that the "civilized state" was falling into barbarism, he also began to address different sorts of questions, as his unattractive remarks on the "brutal ignorance" of the emigrants suggest, about the state of the union: Who should lead the nation, and to what end? What constitutes legitimate authority? How achieve civilized harmony and progress during a time of heightening sectional, ethnic, and class conflict?

As the literary genre most responsive to social debates and discourses, and, at least traditionally, the genre most attentive to situating the individual in society, the novel is naturally suited to address all of these large (and representative) questions from a variety of perspectives. Given the enormous social impact of reform movements during the 1825-60 period, both in England and in America, and given not only the increasingly dominant place of the slavery debate in antebellum culture but also the increasingly tense ethnic, class, and gender relations of the period, it should not be surprising, then, that a conflict between individual and social action, a questioning of authority, a fear of social breakdown, and a utopian desire for social regeneration are some of the key issues and concerns informing and energizing the antebellum novel.

Of course the starting point of American reform is problematic. Historians have argued for the primacy of evangelicalism to the rise -131- of reform, pointing to the mid- 1790s — the beginnings of the "Second Great Awakening" — as the point of origin for subsequent reforms. However, because of the centrality of secular Enlightenment thought to some of the great reformist crusaders, we might argue for the primacy of Jefferson's authoring of the Declaration of Independence. Or, taking an even longer view, the Protestant Reformation itself — with its affirming of the individual over the traditional and institutional — could be viewed as the beginning of "American" reform. For the reform movements of the antebellum period, however, which drew on all of these sources, the revivals and religious debates of the 1820s and 1830s had the greatest immediate impact, channeling energies toward antislavery, feminism, temperance, hydropathy, penology, spiritualism, phrenology, peace crusades, and numerous other related causes. Dubbed "the Sisterhood of Reforms" by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, these various movements sometimes contradicted or were at odds with one another, but they shared in a set of fundamental beliefs: a rejection of Calvinist determinism; an insistence on the individual's ability to shape his or her own fate (even though, paradoxically, many reformers would endorse the use of institutions to achieve this end); a millennialist conviction of the nation's potentially glorious destiny.

The social and religious dimensions of these beliefs were developed in the perfectionist theology of the itinerant minister Charles Grandison Finney, who began his career in the West but had a major impact on the Protestant revivals of upstate New York's "burnedover district" during the late 1820s and early 1830s. Preaching that "God has made man a moral free agent," Finney insisted that, in tandem with God's love and grace, individuals could achieve an immediate and saving conversion. The regeneration and perfection of individuals, he argued, would ultimately serve to regenerate and perfect the nation. In more complex ways, Emerson, influenced by his former teacher William Ellery Channing and various Continental Romantics, argued for the importance of intuition and self-culture, rather than Unitarian institutional and historical authority, in encouraging individuals to discover their own miraculous divinity. A wave of such self-discoveries of the "Divine Soul" within, the utopian conclusion of The American Scholar (1837) implied, would ensure the renovation and reformation of American society. -132-

Despite the providential calm and ease of such large-scale transformations, as envisioned in the optimistic writings of both Finney and Emerson, many of the reform movements of the period were actively directed by Protestant elites concerned with maintaining their social hegemony during a time of increasing class and ethnic diversity. For many other reformers, however, the impulse toward reform emerged from a more genuine desire to bring about change in a nation whose idealistic values were believed to be compromised by rampant materialism, class and gender inequities, various abuses of authority, and the intransigent presence of slavery. To be sure, even these reformers sometimes betrayed a meanspirited hostility toward those perceived as marginal or different, but overall the religious revivals, along with the romantic theorizing of Emerson and his circle, played an enormously productive role in the emergence of a number of progressive reforms, such as the temperance, communitarian, antislavery, and women's rights movements. Although Finney and Emerson were themselves somewhat suspicious of group efforts at social reform, many of their auditors and readers, newly convinced of the regenerative potential of the individual and the nation, thought concerted social action the best possible approach to purging America of its accumulated evils and renewing consensual ideals.

Convinced that American society was in need of complete renovation, communitarian reformers, for example, established familial subcommunities based on noncompetitive principles of group association that were intended to serve as models for national reform. Over one hundred such groups, mostly short-lived, came into existence between the Revolution and the Civil War. Notable early groups, whose religious beliefs provided their chief inspiration and modus operandi, included Ann Lee's Shakers, the German pietistic Harmony Society, and the Mormons. Other groups, such as Robert Owen's New Harmony Society in Indiana and Frances Wright's group at Nashoba, Tennessee, were more secularly inclined. Both the socialist ideals of Charles Fourier, as popularized by Albert Brisbane's Social Destiny of Man (1840), and the millennialist ideals of the revivalists and the transcendentalists informed the 1840s communitarian experiment at Brook Farm. During the same period Adam Ballou established the nearby Hopedale Community, with the evangelical aim of promoting world peace. Many of these reform associ-133- ations attempted to implement nonsexist modes of social organization, though none was more committed to this end than John Humphrey Noyes's upstate New York Oneida community. During its relatively long life from 1848 to 1880, the community practiced "complex marriage" — shared marriage partners — and male continence, an arrangement intended both to protect women from the bonds of repeated pregnancies and to protect men from what was believed to be the debilitating expenditure of semen.

Surprisingly, Nathaniel Hawthorne, who in an 1835 notebook entry compared the "modern reformer" to an escaped lunatic, joined the Brook Farm community for seven months of 1841. His retrospective The Blithedale Romance (1852), set at a reform association similar to Brook Farm, reveals his conflicted attitudes toward the reform impulses that he himself briefly embraced. Conceiving of themselves as disinterested reformers in the spirit of the Pilgrims, the participants at Blithedale appear to be self-important and just plain selfish: Hollingsworth secretly pursues his prison-reform project; Coverdale apparently seeks a private refuge and literary material; the feminist reformer Zenobia, modeled partly on Margaret Fuller, seems in search of the limelight and a man. Though the community embraces gender reforms, women continue to do the cooking and men the physical labor, and there is a strong suggestion that Zenobia commits suicide out of her frustrated love for Hollingsworth (whereas Fuller in Woman in the Nineteenth Century [1845] had mocked the idea that women exist only for the love of a man).

Hawthorne's treatment of spiritualism further contributes to his apparently skeptical portrayal of the group's character and intentions. Whereas the Fox sisters' 1848 "spirit-rapping" communications with the dead helped to give rise to spiritualism as a reform movement of sorts, promising to provide access to the invisible and divine, in Blithedale Hawthorne analogizes Westervelt's decadent spiritualistic practices, which link mediums in "one great, mutually conscious brotherhood," to the associative practices at Blithedale, which link reformers in a "general brain" — with the large intention of underscoring both groups' propensities toward revolutionism. This is never so clear as when the novel shifts from Westervelt's lyceum display to the festive masquerade at Blithedale, where the associationists, as Coverdale describes them from his hiding place in the -134- hermitage, whirled "round so swiftly, so madly, and so merrily, in time and tune with the Satanic music, that their separate incongruities were blended all together." In his imaging of associationism and spiritualism as forms of demonic revolutionism, Hawthorne would seem to be in the same reactionary camp as the Roman Catholic convert Orestes Brownson, whose novel The Spirit-Rapper (1854) portrayed spiritualism as Satan's invisible tool for bringing forth the French Revolution, the European revolutions of the 1840s, and the emerging women's rights movement.

Yet Blithedale is more complicated than that, in large part because of Hawthorne's use of the first-person narrator Coverdale to enact both the suspicion of and the desire for reform. As presented in the novel, Coverdale is simultaneously an insider and outsider, a character who, leading an aimlessly drifting life in the anomic city, deeply desires the structure and community offered by Blithedale. He is a character, too, whose sexual anxieties and insecurities, and chronic cynicism, make him an unreliable critic of reform. The novel, to a large extent, is a study in power, desire, and impotence, as the voyeuristic Coverdale, simultaneously attracted to and frightened by Zenobia's sexuality, Hollingsworth's "masculine" fixedness of purpose, and, indeed, the carnivalesque energies of the festive Blithedalers, weaves melodramatic tales of flight and entrapment suggestive of his own wavering desires. Though the satirical elements of the novel would appear to suggest, in the manner of early Emerson, that individuals must first achieve their own private reforms in order for communitarian reforms to succeed, the larger thematic thrust of Hawthorne's skillful creation of the ironic and at times loathsome Coverdale is to suggest the importance of the self having some sort of ground, some sort of context, against which that self-reformation can be initiated. Unwilling to make any social commitment, whether at Blithedale or in the city, and fearful of losing control over his self-regulated imagination and body, Coverdale simply drifts on, unattached, unengaged, unhappy. In this sense he is quite different from the erstwhile reformer Holgrave (Maule) of The House of the Seven Gables (1851), whose ability both to locate himself in history and to honor the integrity of individuals — most dramatically when he resists taking mesmeric control over Phoebe's body — allows him to forge redemptive and potentially transformative bonds with others. -135-

In his use of mesmerism, in House and Blithedale, Hawthorne dramatically brings to focus a large impulse of social reform: the desire to take control of the body — individual and social. Whereas some Americans of the 1840s and 1850s regarded mesmerism — a species of hypnotism — as a reformatory science potentially bringing individuals and nature into perfect harmony, Hawthorne presents it, in his accounts of Matthew Maule's cruel domination of Alice Pyncheon, and of Westervelt's and Hollingsworth's manipulations of Priscilla and Zenobia, as merely the selfish enactment of hyperintrusive patriarchal power. Despite the demonizations of mesmeric control, however, an underlying anxiety of both books is a fear of losing control, an anxiety that in Blithedale finds its most haunting expression in the figure of the decaying inebriate Moodie. Devastated by the ravages of the marketplace, Moodie, like the sherry-loving Coverdale and the Blithedale masqueraders "with portentously red noses," remains in search of "a boozy kind of pleasure in the customary life" even as he wastes away. Coverdale, who does everything he can to deny his likeness to Moodie, remains haunted by a fear that their characters, fates, and resting places — the tavern — might not be so very different after all.

Coverdale's fears of decline, dissipation, and loss of control parallel the fears giving life and urgency to the temperance movement, the largest reform movement of the antebellum period. In part, the popularity of temperance reform can be attributed to the fact that Americans had a real drinking problem: the national per capita consumption of distilled spirits jumped from under two gallons in 1800 to just over five gallons in 1830. But temperance also melded well with a variety of ideological orientations. In the tradition of Protestant admonitions, ranging from Increase Mather's Wo to Drunkards (1673) to Lyman Beecher's Six Sermons on Intemperance (1826), Finney warned that temperance was of crucial importance because alcohol wreaked havoc on the spiritual and rational resources necessary for conversion. Emerson similarly believed that "unnatural" intoxication crippled the individual's spiritual resources and, like the Enlightenment temperance reformer Benjamin Rush, he also remained concerned about the effects of drinking on bodily health. The institutional sources of temperance activity in America were set in place by Federalist and Protestant directed societies — such as the -136- Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance, founded in 1813, and the American Temperance Society, founded in 1826 — which concerned themselves with reforming the drinking habits of the working classes. Proclaiming the virtues of self-denial and thrift, temperance tracts from these organizations promulgated a capitalist ethic conducive to the demands of the newly expanding factories. Many of the male workers who took the temperance pledge, however, were influenced less by these elitist groups than by the working-class Washingtonian Societies of the 1840s, which championed temperance in the Ben Franklin tradition of self-help and upward mobility.

Women, too, participated in great numbers in the temperance movement, as they saw drinking as a male activity threatening to violate the purity and harmony of the home. During the 1820s and 1830s, middle-class women organized female moral reform societies, which regularly conducted home visits of urban working-class tenements in an effort to purge those dwellings of the alcoholic beverages believed to transform honest laborers into shiftless, wife-beating beasts. (Concerns about violation and purity contributed as well to the rise of Magdalene Societies — groups of evangelical women offering refuge and the possibility of reformative conversions to urban prostitutes.) Women were also particularly responsive to a variety of health reforms championed by writers who took temperance as their starting point. Sylvester Graham's high-fiber cracker, William Alcott's vegetarianism, Orson Fowler's nondeterministic phrenology (according to Fowler, the defects of character detected in the skull could be remedied through diet and exercise), Amelia Bloomer's dress reforms, and the spiritualist Mary Gove Nichols's hydropathic water cure — all of these reforms were embraced by a number of women as ways of regaining control of their bodies from an increasingly professionalized male medicine and, more generally, the impinging male body.

An issue that spoke to a wide range of constituencies, temperance became a central motif of the writings of the period. Between 1829 and 1834 the New York State Temperance Society circulated over four million copies of its publications, while the American Tract Society distributed over five million of its temperance pamphlets by 1851. Significantly, in 1836 the American Temperance Union, challenging Finney's assertion that novel reading was a corrupting waste -137- of time, endorsed temperance fiction as an efficacious method of gaining converts to the cause. For temperance crusaders, the novel itself was of special importance, as book-length fiction, in the narrative tradition of William Hogarth's print cycle The Rake's Progress (1734), could trace the degeneration over time of the individual tempted to drink, and could trace as well the impact of drinking on the individual's family. An important forerunner of antebellum temperance fiction was Mason Weems's The Drunkard's Looking Glass (1813). During the 1830s, Mary Fox's The Ruined Deacon (1834) and George B. Cheeve r's Deacon Giles' Distillery (1835) achieved a considerable readership. In 1842 Walt Whitman wrote a temperance novel, Franklin Evans, for the Washingtonians, and three years later George Lippard published his enormously popular and sensationalistic The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall, which presented numerous scenes of depraved group drinking among Philadelphia's degenerate aristocrats.

Temperance themes had an important, though often satirical, place in Herman Melville's sea fiction (recall Aunt Charity's failed temperance work in Moby-Dick), as he tended to romanticize the fraternal bonds forged among his drinking sailors. Redburn's short-lived allegiance to the Juvenile Abstinence Association, White-Jacket's perception of the Neversink as "the asylum for all the drunkards," and Ishmael's initial shock at the unrestrained drinking at the Spouter Inn are meant to signify the greenhorn status of characters soon to become fraternal salts. That said, Melville's extended account in Redburn (1849) of dissipation in Liverpool's sailor bars, his portrait of despotic, hard-drinking Captain Claret in White-Jacket (1850), his demystifying picture of fraternal drinking in The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids (1855) as dependent on the exploitation of women and the working class, and his wonderfully perverse rendering of the cunning con games masked as fraternal drinking between Charlie Noble and the Cosmopolitan in The Confidence-Man (1857) — all suggest that he, like the conventional temperance writers of the day, viewed alcohol as a considerable social problem.

Temperance themes and images also found their way into many of the popular women's novels of the period. Concerned with addressing the problem of patriarchal power, women writers tended to image -138- the drunken husband or father as a brute who, under the influence of ardent spirits, gave unconstrained sway to his predatory passions. In Caroline Chesebro's Isa: A Pilgrimage (1852), for example, the heroine's adoptive father is an abusive drunkard who, fortunately, dies early on in the novel. Devoting her novelistic energies principally to the temperance cause, Metta Victoria Victor wrote two temperance novels, The Senator's Son; or, The Maine Law: A Last Refuge (1853) and Fashionable Dissipation (1854). In The Senator's Son in particular, Victor underscores the ravages wrought over time by paternal drinking. Opening with the protagonist accepting a glass of wine from his father at the age of four, the novel shows how this seemingly innocent act leads to the death of the boy's mother and, eventually, assorted ills to his sister, wife, and daughter before he kills himself while suffering delirium tremens. A more complex account of the ravages of drinking appeared in Elizabeth Stoddard's The Morgesons (1862), which, in the larger service of exploring the themes of free will and companionate marriage, counterpoints an alcoholic, who fathers a retarded child and dies of the d.t.'s, to a reformed drinker who participates in the shaping of a potentially happier marriage.

By far the most influential temperance novelist of the antebellum period, and the most successful in linking themes of individual and social dissipation, was Timothy Shay Arthur, who produced nearly zoo books, edited several popular journals, and published numerous sketches and tales. His best-selling collection of temperance sketches, Six Nights with the Washingtonians (1842), sold 175,000 copies by 1850; even more popular was his novel Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, and What I Saw There (1854), which, like Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, achieved enormous sales and spawned numerous stage productions. An advocate of socialism, Swedenborgianism, women's suffrage and right to divorce, and various other reforms, Arthur in Ten Nights devoted his considerable narrative talents (and penchant for melodrama and sensationalism) to demonstrating the need for legislation prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages at a time when the nation was beginning to react against just such legislation — the Maine law of 1851. Set at the Sickle and Sheaf, Cedarville's new tavern run by the former miller Simon Slade, the novel traces from the point of view of an unnamed traveler the downward course of town and tavern during a ten-year period. As the tavern becomes -139- increasingly degenerate — the inevitable result, Arthur suggests, the miller's abandoning the life of productive labor for the speculative hope of quick and easy profit — so too, in a suggestively organic relationship, does everything else in Cedarville. Slade's son Frank, twelve years old at the novel's outset, succumbs to the temptation to drink while serving customers, and by the end of the novel is an impoverished patricide. The town's fathers and sons suffer similarly dire fates, while the town's women, acutely aware of what the narrator calls "moral consequences," can only watch helplessly as the town falls apart: one mother dies grief-stricken over the body of her murdered son, and Mrs. Slade herself ends up in an asylum. Among the female characters, only Mary Morgan, the eleven-year-old daughter of Slade's former mill worker Joe Morgan, possesses the power to influence events. Mortally wounded by an empty glass Slade had thrown at the drunken Morgan, Mary on her deathbed, in the manner of little Eva, extracts a promise from her father to free himself from the enslaving clutches of alcoholic beverages. By the end of the novel the still-abstinent Morgan has the one neat and clean house in the neighborhood.

Concerns about social decay, the ill effects of materialism, the tyranny of the patriarch, and, especially, apocalyptic violence — central to much temperance activity — were also central to the antislavery movement. For abolitionists, as for other reformers of the period, America had betrayed its founding ideals and millennial promise, and was drifting toward barbarism. Like the temperance and communitarian movements, antislavery grew in large measure out of the "ultraist" perfectionism of the 1820s and 1830s revivals, while owing a considerable debt to Enlightenment ideals of selfcontrol and natural rights. As a reform movement, antislavery had important eighteenth-century sources in the work and writings of the Quaker humanitarian Anthony Benezet, who enlisted Benjamin Franklin to the cause, though antislavery took a somewhat conservative turn in 1816 with the formation of the American Colonization Society. Galvanized by the evangelical movements of the 1820s and 1830s, however, William Lloyd Garrison and many others came to view slavery as a national sin that, as long as it persisted, compromised the nation's hopes of achieving its millennial potential. Unlike Finney, who counseled his parishioners to avoid "angry controversy -140- on the subject," Garrison adopted a bold and confrontational rhetoric intended to develop in his readers a conviction of slavery's evil and an immediate need to abolish it. Writing in the inaugural issue of The Liberator (January 1, 1831), which appeared less than a year before Nat Turner's bloody slave rebellion in Southampton, Virginia, Garrison drew on the injunctions of the Bible and the Declaration of Independence to assert the moral imperatives of antislavery, warning that "till every chain be broken, and every bondman set free. . let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble." Garrison's mobilization of antislavery forces contributed to an upsurge in antislavery publications, most notably Richard Hildreth's The Slave; or, Memoirs of Archy Moore (1836) — one of approximately twelve antislavery novels published before Uncle Tom's Cabin — and Theodore Weld's Slavery As It Is (1839), an important documentary source for Stowe's antislavery fiction.

Although most antebellum Northerners opposed to slavery were far more moderate than Garrison in their opposition, by the mid1840s there was shared common ground among a range of groups and individuals opposed to slavery. It was viewed as an affront to republican ideals of free labor, as an act of great hypocrisy on the part of a supposedly Christian and democratic nation, and as an indication of an apparent quest by a small group of states, or plantation owners, for national power — hence the currency of a "slave power" conspiratorial fear during the late 1840s and 1850s, especially after Congress passed the Compromise of 1850. Perhaps the dominant rhetorical concern of antislavery texts, however, was with the unchecked mastery of the slaveowner over the slave. Endowed with godlike power, but hardly gods, enslavers, according to antislavery writers, found it nearly impossible to keep their passion for mastery under control. "Intoxicated" by their power, "enslaved" by slavery, they brutally inflicted cruelties on their slaves, who, for good reason, became increasingly vengeful. Inevitably, then, slavery undermined civilized restraint and promised to bring forth the most catastrophic breakdown of all: an apocalyptic war of extermination between the races.

Given the centrality of concerns among abolitionists about the ways in which slavery undermined self-control, it is not surprising that many of the leading antislavery writers were also involved in -141- temperance reform — Garrison, Theodore Weld, Gerrit Smith, and the African American writers Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, William Wells Brown, and Frances Harper, among numerous others, saw the temperance movement and antislavery as intimately related. And given that slavery was viewed as a manifestation of unchecked, brute patriarchal power, it is not surprising that antislavery, like temperance, drew heavily on women participants.

Women's involvement in antislavery activity became a significant phenomenon in the early 1830s, as 1832 saw the formation of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society and 1833 the publication of Lydia Maria Child's seminal An Appeal on Behalf of That Class of Americans Called Africans. Angelina and Sarah Grimké, South Carolina Quaker sisters of a slaveholding family, presented their antislavery views during an 1837 public speaking tour of New England, thereby prompting the critical condemnation of the Congregationalist churches and of Catharine Beecher, who argued that women should exercise their moral influence within the privacy of the domestic sphere. As the hostile response to the Grimké sisters might suggest, women in antislavery remained in subordinate roles within the institutional structures of the movement. The refusal by the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London to seat or give voice to women delegates from America intensified feminist thinking among Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and others (as the refusal by an 1851 New York temperance convention to allow Susan B. Anthony the right to speak would help to raise her feminist consciousness). Abolitionism, as an ideology and social practice, therefore taught many of the "feminist-abolitionists" about their own subordinate status, and, arguably, together with temperance, helped to fuel the emerging women's movement of the period.

Because marriage and property laws, along with the lack of suffrage, denied women rights thought to accompany republican citizenship, in feminist writings the analogy of woman to slave was seen as particularly apt, despite the fact that it was, after all, metaphorical. As Angelina Grimké remarked in Letters to Catharine E. Beecher (1838), "The investigation of the rights of the slave has led me to a better understanding of my own." Margaret Fuller, in her impassioned and poetical celebration of woman's potential, Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845), published the same year as -142- Frederick's Narrative, likened woman to a slave and man to a slave trader. In Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (1838), Sarah Grimké pictured the situation of the typical wife in this way: "man has exercised the most unlimited and brutal power over woman, in the peculiar character of husband, — a word in most countries synonymous with tyrant." At the epochal Seneca Falls women's rights convention of 1848, the early culmination of organized feminist activity, Stanton, in her resounding "Declaration of Sentiments," therefore revised Jefferson's Declaration, substituting male for British tyrannical authority, in order to call attention to the ways in which the nation's social institutions and legal codes mainly served the interests of America's white male citizenry. That same year, the New York State Legislature, in response to thoughtful women critics like Stanton, passed the nation's most liberalized married women's property act, which made it legal for women to maintain control over property they brought to their marriages.

The Married Women's Property Act of 1848 followed in the wake of the land reforms modifying the near feudal control New York's upstate landholding families held over their tenants. The antirent agitation leading up to these reforms prompted James Fenimore Cooper's Littlepage trilogy — Satanstoe (1845), The Chainbearer (1845), and The Redskins (1846) — which forecast a reign of demagoguery should the landed gentry lose its leaseholds — and the land reforms, along with the married women's property act, lay behind his The Ways of the Hour (1850). - In portraying in this late novel a woman who deserts her husband, is falsely accused by a mob of murder, and is eventually revealed to be insane, Cooper suggests that allowing women too much liberty could lead to the breakdown of civilization itself. (A similar argument informed the pseudonymous Fred Folio's Lucy Boston; or, Women's Rights and Spiritualism [1851].) During the 1850s, divorce was addressed from a very different perspective by women writers, who remained convinced of the need for liberalized divorce laws. Fanny Fern (Sarah Payson Willis Parton), whose first novel, Ruth Hall (1855), touched on the wretched marriage and eventual death in a mental hospital of Ruth's friend Mrs. Leon, focused in Rose Clark (1856) on a divorced woman who, hardly debilitated by her condition, develops her self-possession and self-reliant virtue to the point where she remarries her former husband on egalitarian -143- terms. More boldly, Mary Sargeant Nichols, in her autobiographical novel Mary Lyndon (1855), presented the eponymous protagonist divorcing her tyrannous and cloddish husband, and eventually attaining a happier second marriage with a man who shares her ideals of the primacy to marriage of free, unconstrained love.

Of all the novels published before the Civil War, Harriet Beecher Stowe's million-copy best-seller, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), the novel Lincoln credited with making "this big war," most compellingly interwove the major strands of antebellum reform: feminism, temperance, and antislavery. Temperance, for example, is central to the novel's representation of power relationships — between masters and slaves and, analogously, between men and women. The novel begins with Shelby signing over the slaves Tom and Harry to the obnoxious slave trader Haley, as the men sit together drinking wine and brandy. By the end of the novel we descend from this relatively restrained scene of intemperance to the unrestrained hell of the harddrinking brute Simon Legree's plantation. Along the way Stowe depicts a typical Kentucky tavern, wherein a crowd of slave hunters, "free-and-easy dogs," spit gobs of tobacco juice, drink tumblers "half full of raw spirits," and, significantly, wear hats, what Stowe terms "the characteristic emblem of man's sovereignty." White male sovereignty, rather than a prohibitionary politics, is the central issue here, with temperance blending into feminism, as Stowe presents male enslavers rendered intoxicated (and dangerous) less by alcoholic beverages than by their seemingly unlimited power over slaves and women. Representing "home-loving and affectionate" slaves, male and female, as admirably domestic and womanly, Stowe not only places the slaves at the center of her culturally revisionary idealization of matriarchy but also, in the tradition of the Grimkés, Fuller, and Stanton, points to the "enslaved" status of women in patriarchal society. The tragic destiny of the slave Prue, therefore, who was raised as a "breeder," speaks in part, Stowe implies, to the situation of all women in America. In this respect, the slave warehouse, where "stubbed-looking, commonplace men" physically examine the slaves Susan and Emmeline, provides a metonymic picture of race and gender relationships in America, with the suggestion that Simon Legree should be taken as the representative American man in extremis (just as the antipatriarchal Simeon Halliday of the Quaker settlement rep-144- resents the bright reverse image that Stowe hoped would accompany America's regenerative transformation). Violating women and slaves alike in the secluded space of his unregulated plantation, insisting in blasphemous ways on his mastery — "I'm your church now," he proclaims to Tom — Legree, having rejected the spiritual guidance of his mother (and thus of God), revels in his mastery until Cassy resourcefully debilitates the enfeebled, guilt-ridden drunkard.

As suggested by Cassy's rage, and also by Stowe's analogizing of George Harris's armed battle against fugitive slave hunters to the American and Hungarian Revolutions, natural rights theory figures prominently in the feminist politics of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Moreover, in addressing the evils of the Fugitive Slave Law, the novel offers critiques of Northern capitalism's implication in slavery, and of the implication of Northern and Southern organized religion as well. Reform must be national and wide-ranging, according to Stowe, or dreadful consequences will follow. For one, as St. Clare prophesies, America under slavery risks falling into a bloody, apocalyptic race war. For another, as Stowe's sermonic final pages portend, America under slavery, as a nation of sinners, risks God's apocalyptic wrath. In this sense evangelical reform — as embodied by Eva and Tom — is of special urgency. As Stowe explains, if readers can "feel right," as Eva makes Miss Ophelia and St. Clare (and the reader) feel right, or as Tom makes the slave overseers Quimbo and Sambo (and the reader) feel right, conversion of self and society would proceed naturally, thereby fending off the various cataclysms — racial and eschatological — informing the dark imagination of the novel. In important ways, then, the emphasis on evangelicalism, with its millennial promise, serves to contain the novel's more troubling insurrectionary dimension, particularly as embodied by the rebels George Harris and Cassy. The novel concludes with a series of Christian conversions on the part of the rebels, and with Stowe, through Harris, endorsing African colonization as a possible solution to America's racial problems — as a safety outlet, as it were, provided less by moderate racialists, such as her father Lyman Beecher, with whose politics Harriet disagreed, than by God, who has a larger design.

A fear of uncontained racial violence informed a number of the novelistic "responses" to Uncle Tom's Cabin, such as Caroline Lee Hentz's The Planter's Northern Bride (1854) and -145- William Gilmore's Woodcraft (1854), though, unlike Stowe, slavery apologists insisted that the well-ordered plantation could control such violence. In her subsequent novel, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (1856), Stowe countered this notion, and in doing so revealed even more clearly than in Uncle Tom's Cabin the social fears and desires underlying her antislavery position, and the underlying elitism as well. In A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853), Stowe worried over the debilitating effects of slavery on Southern whites, and remarked on the pervasiveness in the South of what she termed "Poor White Trash": "This miserable class of whites form, in all the Southern States, a material for the most horrible and ferocious of mobs. Utterly ignorant, and inconceivably brutal, they are like some blind, savage monster, which, when aroused, tramples heedlessly over everything in its way." In Dred, while sympathetically addressing the revolutionary perspective of the escaped slave Dred — presented as the son of the historical slave conspirator Denmark Vesey and modeled, as millennialist revenger, on Nat Turner — Stowe's principal focus is on the increasingly intemperate mobs of "poor white trash" under the control of demagogues. For, after the death of the newly converted plantation mistress Nina Gordon, who, under the guidance of her beloved Edward Clayton, had begun to adopt antislavery beliefs, her plantation and slaves fall into the hands of her brother Tom Gordon, a Legree-like enslaver intoxicated by alcohol and power. The novel concludes with the picture of an utterly degenerate mob under the control of Gordon, and a despairing sense of the nation falling apart under the pressure of the insurrectionary energies of the proslavery rabble. Clayton, who had wanted to reform slavery from within by educating and freeing his slaves, flees to Canada where he sets up a model township; Dred is shot and killed when he attempts to rescue an escaped slave from the drunken Tom's drunken mob.

Anxieties similar to Stowe's about the poor and working classes arguably lie behind much of the middle-class reforms of the period. In this respect, reform could sometimes serve the interests both of change and of the status quo — that is, preserving the hegemony of white Protestant elites. Desires to preserve and control can be viewed at an unattractive extreme in the period's pervasive nativism, itself a kind of Protestant reformism. For it was the opinion of a considerable number of Protestants that the increasing Catholic immigration -146- of the period was the greatest cause for alarm about social decay, signaling America's need for a "Protestant reformation": 54,00 °Catholics arrived in the 1820s, 200,000 in the 1830s, 700,000 in the 1840s, and 200,000 in the year 1850 alone. To meet the challenge posed by these immigrants, the evangelical community developed the vast publishing network of the American Tract Society (founded in 1825) and related organizations to disseminate and perpetuate Protestant-republican values. Lyman Beecher, in his widely read nativist tract Plea for the West (1835), emphasized the role of the word in this "reformatory" campaign: "Whatever European nations do, our nation must read and think from length and breadth, from top to bottom." And read Americans did, as they made best-sellers of numerous convent captivity novels dramatizing putative Catholic plots to undermine the values and institutions of the Republic. In their popular first-person narrative accounts, Rebecca Theresa Reed's Six Months in a Convent (1835) and Maria Monk's notorious Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery (1836) presented sadistic nuns and priests, violations in the confessional, evidence of Roman Catholic conspiracies, and, ultimately, a summons to Protestant reform (and to spend money on this kind of fiction) by remaining vigilant to Catholic subversives. Monk's sensational book of horrors sold upwards of three hundred thousand copies through 1860, spawned numerous other convent captivity novels, such as Charles Frothingham's The Convent's Doom (1854) and Josephine Bunkley's Miss Bunkley's Book: The Testimony of an Escaped Novice from the Sisterhood of Charity (1855), and helped to legitimize nativist discourse, which played an important role in the founding of the Republican Party, as a discourse of social reform.

Nativism and fears of insurrectionary disorder from the poor and working classes also played an important role in the urban reform movement of the period. Like Southerners concerned about the possibility of slave revolts and abolitionist conspiracies, Northerners remained concerned about the dangers lurking beneath the surface of what came to be regarded as the mysterious and wicked city — a trope central to a number of antebellum urban novels, such as Ned Buntline's Mysteries and Miseries of New York (1848) and Ann Stephens's Fashion and Famine (1854). Especially worrying to cultural elites was the marked upsurge in riots in Northeast cities between 1830 and -147- 1860, and the upsurge during the same period of labor organizing and discontent — or, we might say, urban reform from below. Frances Wright and leaders of the New York Workingman's Party, for example, spoke out against "wage slavery," and writers as diverse as Orestes Brownson, in The Laboring Classes (1840), Theodore Parker, in A Sermon on Merchants (1846), and George Lippard, in such urban reform novels as The Quaker City and New York: Its Upper Ten and Lower Million (1853), excoriated the rich for exploiting the working poor. In "The Laboring Classes" Brownson went so far as to predict a violent uprising from the workers similar to a slave revolt, "the like of which the world as yet has never witnessed, and from which. . the heart of Humanity recoils with horror"; and in The Quaker City Lippard presented a dream vision of God wreaking vengeance on "the factory Prince" for his crimes against "the slaves of the city."

Fearful of confronting rebellious "slaves" in their own region, urban reformers of the middle and upper classes invoked the putative republican ideals of hierarchy and order and sought to perpetuate these ideals through the creation of reformatory institutions — prisons, mental asylums, almshouses, juvenile delinquent homes, and, relatedly, schools and factories. These new institutions of social reform, so argued their promoters, for the most part Whigs convinced of the malleability of human nature (and concerned about the Democrats' mobilization of Catholics and other "undesirables"), would make model republicans of the dangerous working classes. At the very least, these institutions would keep in check, as reformer Horace Mann put it, the "mutinous" tendencies of those down below.

Indeed, with their emphases on discipline, hierarchy, and custodial isolation, the new asylums, prisons, and other self-contained reform institutions resembled not only the slave plantation but also the institution afloat of the period's popular nautical romances — the wellordered ship at sea. A tension between the claims of the "organic" state and the claims of the aggrieved and exploited individual — the tension, as it were, between urban reform from above and urban reform from below — is therefore central to much of the "escapist" sea fiction of the period. In many of these nautical narratives the hierarchical ship, like the idealized Northern reform institution, endows impoverished young men with a sense of place and purpose. In -148- Charles Briggs's popular The Adventures of Harry Franco: A Tale of the Great Panic (1839), Franco recuperatively takes to sea to escape bankruptcy. Similar financial situations motivate Melville's narrators in Redburn and White-Jacket, who bear some resemblance to the greenhorn of Richard Henry Dana's best-selling Two Years Before the Mast (1840). Like the ship in Dana's Two Years and the reform institutions of America's urban centers, the ship in White-Jacket, compared to "a city afloat," "a sort of state prison afloat," and an "asylum," adopts the order of the factory and the prison, not only because it houses sailors in search of purposive order, but also because it houses the disorderly poor — a rough lot of sailors — that urban reformers wanted isolated and enclosed.

Central to this institutional order, however, was the disciplinary prerogative of flogging, and for naval reformers William McNally and John Lockwood, whose Evils and Abuses in the Naval Merchant Service (1839) and An Essay on Flogging (1849), respectively, galvanized support among Northerners for the eventual abolition of flogging in 1850, ships commanded by authoritarian "lords of the lash" resembled slave plantations. For others, however, flogging, whether at ship or social institution, remained a necessity; even prison reformer Dorothea Dix believed it "sometimes the only mode. . by which an insurrectionary spirit can be conquered." Dana, though highly critical of flogging, as he sympathetically imaged the flogged seaman as a type of slave, nonetheless argued for the right of captains to flog or even execute sailors in extreme situations. Increasingly suspicious of unchecked democratic energies among the masses, Fenimore Cooper, in his nautical romances of the 1840s, most notably Afloat and Ashore (1844), idealized captains as benevolent republican gentlemen for whom flogging or execution at sea were regrettable but ultimately necessary last resorts.

Melville's early sea fiction typically demystified the institutional ideals of the well-ordered ship — and, by implication, the well-ordered urban reform institution — by developing the analogy of the ship not only to the reform institution but also to the slave plantation. In White-Jacket, for example, Captain Claret, like the captain of Dana's Two Years, sadistically flogs an apparently innocent sailor while blasphemously asserting his shipboard supremacy: "I would not forgive God almighty!" Whereas the greenhorn of Two Years somewhat gen-149- teelly resists mutiny when faced with a similar situation, WhiteJacket's emergent belief that the captain's authority rests on "arbitrary law" leads him to develop a rationale for resistance that appeals, as many abolitionists appealed, to the higher law of God and Nature. Thus, when the captain subsequently orders him flogged following an unfair charge of not being in his proper place, WhiteJacket, on "plantation" Neversink, where "you see a human being, stripped like a slave," in effect entertains the possibility of a slave revolt. Through Melville's presentation of White-Jacket's "wild thoughts" — his meditation on resistance — the reader is taken inside to experience what it means to be subjected to the institutional authority of ship, reform institution, and plantation. Yet White-Jacket, thanks to the intervention of corroborating sailors, does not have to risk becoming a "murderer and suicide," a rebellious slave. Perhaps because Melville shares with elites some of the anxieties about the consequences of unleashed insurrectionary energies, he keeps WhiteJacket's anger under constraints. Though other abuses of authority are represented in the novel, an informing fear of revolutionary social disorder, nowhere more apparent than in the account of the riotous "head-beaking" of the skylark, suggests that even in this reformist text Melville adopts a politics of "nautical" order not so radically different from the more aggressively institutionalist politics of a Dana or a Cooper.

That said, Melville's abhorrence for chattel slavery is evident in all of his novels, and it is precisely his ability to provide an "inside" perspective on what it means to be victimized by arbitrary authority — a perspective lacking in much antislavery and reform writing — that makes his antislavery thematics so powerful and challenging. Yet in his novella Benito Cereno (1855), his greatest treatment of slavery, Melville denies readers the inside perspective of the rebellious slave Babo while tempting them inside the perspective of the racist Delano. Melville, it would appear, had come to see reform as a balm for the middle class, and thus, in situating the reader in "Benito Cereno" outside the slave revolt — thereby making the reader a victim of the plot — he implicates even self-proclaimed "good" whites in the perpetuation of slavery. In a novella published two years before Benito Cereno, Frederick Douglass, in The Heroic Slave (1853), similarly keeps the white reader at a distance from a -150- rebellious slave. Although a sympathizing white aids Madison Washington in his early prison escape, by the end of the novella, which culminates in Washington's successful engineering of an uprising on the slave ship Creole (the novella is based on the actual 1841 rebellion), the slave acts on his own. As in "Benito Cereno," the mutinous events are conveyed from the outside: the rebellion is narrated after the fact by an eyewitness, the Creole's mate, who remains impressed yet terrified by the slaves' intelligence and heroic rebellious energies. Like Melville, then, Douglass points to the limits of reform by situating blacks in a world marked by pervasive racism and slavery's institutional hegemony.

In such a world, "The Heroic Slave" and "Benito Cereno" both suggest, revolutionary action on the part of the slaves is perhaps the only sensible course of action. The African American activist Martin Robison Delany came to a similar conclusion. In his novel, Blake; or, The Huts of America (1859-62), serialized in the Anglo-African Magazine and The Weekly Anglo-African, he depicted white racism in America culminating in a proslavery plot to set up Cuba as a locale for reestablishing the African slave trade in the Americas. Rather than leaving matters for white antislavery reformers to address, Delany has his hero Blake — "a black — a pure Negro — handsome, manly and intelligent " — organize violent countersubversive actions: a black rebellion in Cuba, an attack on an African king who continues to sell his people to slave traders, and slave revolts in the American South. Slave revolt also has an important place in William Wells Brown's Clotel; or, The President's Daughter, first published in London in 1853, as Brown, in his account of the New Orleans cholera epidemic of 1831, metaphorically links the fever to the feverish insurrectionism of the rebel Picquilo lurking in the swamps. Modeled after Nat Turner and a possible prototype of Stowe's Dred, he "was a bold, turbulent spirit; and from revenge imbued his hands in the blood of all the whites he could meet." Yet Brown, who worked as a temperance reformer among Buffalo's free African Americans, can seem more moderate than Delany, as he presents the noble reformer Georgiana advising her newly freed slaves thus: "If you are temperate, industrious, peaceable, and pious, you will show to the world that slaves can be emancipated without danger." But while the freedmen pose no danger to the whites, whites continue to pose danger to them. -151-

In a conclusion that both ratifies and undercuts Georgiana's counsels, Brown portrays a happy marriage between Clotel's daughter Mary (a granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress) and the former slave George, who, after escaping from slavery, educates himself and becomes a partner in a merchant house. Significantly, however, this success story occurs abroad: Mary and George are reunited and married in France and they choose to remain in London.

Similar pessimism about racial and class oppression informs Harriet E. Wilson's Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859), the first African American novel published in America, which, like Clotel, takes on the related issue of gender oppression as well. The poor white and African American women of Wilson's novel find it next to impossible to find decent work; though not actually enslaved, they suffer from the ravages of "wage slavery." In this respect, Wilson addresses the exploitation of women in ways that parallel and develop the treatment of the same issue in the fiction of white women writers — Fern's Ruth Hall and Ann Sophia Stephens's The Old Homestead (1855) depicted the desperate plight of New York's working women, and Rebecca Harding Davis, in her short novel Life in the Iron Mills (1860) and her first novel, Margret Howth (1862), explored the spiritual impoverishment and exploitation of women working in Northern factories. Frado, the "Nig" of Our Nig, is the daughter of a poor white working woman who, as she falls deeper into poverty, marries "a kind-hearted African," by whom she has two children. Unable to support them, she abandons one, Frado, with the rich and respected Bellmonts. Emphasizing the intersecting issues of class and race, Wilson presents as the most brutal character of the novel the "haughty, undisciplined, arbitrary, and severe" Mrs. Bellmont, whose privilege and cruelty link her to Stowe's Marie St. Clare of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Intent on exploiting and humiliating Frado, whom she raises as a servant, Mrs. Bellmont beats, chokes, and otherwise degrades and brutalizes her. When she leaves the Bellmonts at age eighteen, Frado, impoverished and the mother of a sickly son in Massachusetts, eventually has no one to turn to for help. The narrator refers scornfully to "professed abolitionists, who didn't want slaves at the South, nor niggers in their own houses, North," and, as fictional and real worlds collapse — Wilson herself was the mother of a sick child who eventually died —152- the author offers the novel to "my colored brethren" with the hope that their willingness to purchase it would provide her with funds to help her ailing son.

Harriet A. Jacobs casts an equally jaundiced eye on the problems of race, class, and gender in antebellum America in her novelized autobiographical narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). An account of Linda Brent's amazingly resourceful escape from slavery by hiding for seven years in her grandmother's attic space, the book exposes from an African American woman's point of view the sexual brutality inherent in slavery. As Jacobs remarks about the situation of the typical slave woman: "Women are considered of no value, unless they continually increase their owner's stock. They are put on a par with animals." The most "animalistic" character of the narrative, however, is Brent's slave master Dr. Flint, consumed by his desire to possess Linda sexually: "No animal ever watched its prey more narrowly than he watched me." As in Stowe and other antislavery and feminist writers, in Jacobs the patriarchal will to sexual mastery is presented as a form of intoxication. And like the scourge of alcohol in T. S. Arthur's fiction, slavery, in Jacobs's narrative, "makes the white fathers cruel and sensual; the sons violent and licentious; it contaminates the daughters, and makes the wives wretched." Indeed, because the plantation mistress and the slave mistress are portrayed as victims of the male enslaver's lust for power, sexual and otherwise, there are intimations that Jacobs, like Stowe in Uncle Tom's Cabin, is invoking a sisterhood of white and African American women, especially mothers, as the best possible reformatory solution to the problem of slavery. Yet Jacobs is clear-sighted about the gulf between the races and the classes, as Dr. Flint's wife, Brent's fellow "victim," absolutely fails to see any analogy in their respective situations. Though the privileged New Yorker Mrs. Bruce, following Brent's escape to the North, helps Linda to escape from her pursuers and eventually purchases her freedom, she stands as a rare exception to the racism rampant in the North, where segregated boats, trains, and hotels, and wandering fugitive slave hunters, remain the order of the day. As is true for George and Mary in Clotel, or the African American sailor in Melville's Redburn unselfconsciously walking the streets of Liverpool, Linda experiences her greatest sense of freedom when she visits England. -153-

By emphasizing the intractability of racism in America, particularly as it "invisibly" undergirded the nation's social, religious, and economic institutions, African American writers made clear what Emerson only occasionally faced up to: just how difficult it would have been for any American to achieve "transcendental" individual reform within a social system countenancing slavery. In this respect, African American writers presented a fundamental challenge to white reformers who, in advocating various specific programs, could lose sight of the need for larger structural and ideological reorientations. Reading African American novelists therefore presses us to reread white middle-class novels of social reform with a skeptical eye, alert to the ways in which, despite their authors' reformist intentions, they participated in the reproduction of dominant ideologies. Yet to engage in a thoroughgoing demonization (or deconstruction) of these novels as complicitous in, rather than subversive of, the reigning order — the interpretive thrust of recent New Historicist approaches to the Anglo-American novel of reform — may be anachronistic. Such a critical perspective, in affiliating white reform novelists in particular with the disciplinary and institutional practices of the state, and thus with the persistence of racial, gender, and class inequities in America, may even be self-righteous. More productively, we could regard novelists of reform, African American and white, as dialogical writers, alternately pragmatic and visionary, who, even as they were inevitably inscribed by their culture, found much in it to critique as they sought to imagine and hopefully thus to create a better America.

Robert S. Levine


The Late Nineteenth Century


As the single most severe disruption in America's political economy, the Civil War has often come to mark an important watershed in the nation's literary history as well. If, as Walt Whitman predicted in Specimen Days (1875-76), the "hell and the black infernal background" of the war would remain relatively "unwritten" for decades, its social repercussions naturally made their way into fictional representation: into the new forms of wage slavery dramatized in Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills (1861); into Henry Adams's Democracy (1880), where postbellum Mugwump reform was satirized as washing a "donkey's head"; into William Dean Howells's The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), which bore witness to the pain and guilt of newly integrated market economies; into the bitter pages of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), which burlesqued the invidiousness of Jim Crow and the color line. American commoners, often the symbol and occasionally the brunt of these social conditions, were given central "title" over national fiction: names like Lapham, Carrie, Jekl, or Maggie now appeared before the eyes of American readers. But these experiments in social "realism," and after it "naturalism" — the labels with which literary historians have usually marked the dominant conventions of this period — only loosely describe the narrative modes of the late nineteenth-century novel. At a deeper level, postbellum History pushed these traditionally individuating moral economies of the novel to new limits — evincing what Georg Lukács once called a struggle of an essentially biographical form to master the "bad infinity" of het-157- erogeneous social events. If the Gilded Age institutionalized the novel as never before in American culture, the form also became a locus of unease and dissent — simultaneously an expression of unstable centers and new challenges at the boundaries of American literary life.

At such centers of institutionalized literary culture in the North — in cities like Boston, among gentlemanly publishing houses, and at family magazines like the Atlantic Monthly, Scribner's, or The Century — the Reconstruction-era project of shoring up antebellum genteel culture initially meant disdaining both novelistic versimilitude and the "sensational" melodrama of cheap fiction in favor of more sedate, idealized, and usually historical romance. Fiction continued to be guarded against what Victorian critics called unhealthy "tendencies." Meanwhile, throughout the period genteel magazines would underwrite a variety of regional recovery projects — picturesque renditions of ostensibly disappearing local cultures — thus exhibiting a nostalgia that often subtly underwrote a growing political reconciliation of North and South (with disastrous consequences for African Americans). Even Howells's editorial challenge to romantic fiction from his post at the Atlantic assumed that the conventional realism customarily associated with the novel — initially modeled upon the knowable community of Jane Austen — would sustain "sanity" and balance in the American republic, provide a consensual middle-class culture by portraying "men and women as they are, actuated by the motives and passions in the measure we all know."

Yet the hegemony of such guardianship was always incomplete. Even Howells's "measure" could only be a nostalgic standard, an attempt to hold a moderate republican American center against the signs of the times: against European and Asian immigration (nearly nine million new arrivals between 1880 and 1900); against growingly bellicose expansionism, so evident in the Spanish-American War of 1898; against spasmodic class warfare and violence in the railroad strikes of 1877, the Haymarket Riot (1886), the Homestead strike (1892). In Howells's adopted home of Massachusetts, there were hundreds of strikes in the 1880s alone. Much of late Victorian literary culture dramatized whether the Howellsian center would (or should) hold. In other hands, the novel would be both formally more varied and ideologically more radical than the "Dean" envisioned: in the sociopolitical comedies of immigrant life by the Russian American -158- Abraham Cahan; in the openly discursive, spiritualized gender myths of Sarah Orne Jewett (who readapted the conventions of local color); in the political refashioning of historical romance by African American magazinist Pauline Hopkins; in the Cinderella class fables of Laura Jean Libbey.

Of course, the quarrel and the reciprocity between boundary and center, affirmation and dissent, never quite disappeared even as realism fragmented — and as the marketplace expanded. Even among the writers above, dependent as they were upon an audience created by their own professionalization, the challenge was often to work through popular forms that had received Victorian sanction. Among the seemingly naturalistic writers Howells greeted so uneasily as his logical successors — Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, or muckrakers like Jack London, Frank Norris, and Upton Sinclair — the sway of popular romance had hardly been forsaken. True, some measure of change can be felt in the new literary explorations of the slum, the factory, the "mysteries of the city" — subjects at which Howells had once only shuddered. The new material bounties of industrial society, however, were hardly disdained altogether. Despite the dark ruminations of a Twain or a Henry Adams, the industrial dynamo's own energy undercut many attempts at resistance. Indeed, the power and technical ingenuity of machine culture, and the mass spectacles of consumption it often created — in the hands of a Crane, a Dreiser, a Wharton, or a Henry James — became the substance of fictions that mixed their doubts with celebratory awe. In these ways, the turn-ofthe-century novel registered the war's final, yet mixed victory: a new North and a New South, a populace "unified" and allured by mass consumption — the nation's productive reach enhanced within its territories and without — yet a society still internally divided over the spoils.

Christopher P. Wilson



Money is the most general element of Balzac's novels; other things come and go, but money is always there.

Henry James, "Honoré de Balzac" (1875)

"At the Station" opens with a passage that sounds familiar, perhaps because it is from a Howells or Twain story we can't quite place. "Nothing could well be more commonplace or ignoble than the corner of the world in which Miss Dilly now spent her life," the story begins. "A wayside inn, near a station on the railway which runs from Salisbury, in North Carolina, up into the great Appalachian range of mountains; two or three unpainted boxes of houses scattered along the track by the inn; not a tree nor blade of grass in the 'clarin'; a few gaunt, long-legged pigs and chickens grunting and cackling in the muddy clay yards; beyond, swampy tobacco fields stretching to the encircling pine woods." The emphasis on the commonplace, on the ignored or despised; the attention to the unpainted houses, the muddy clay yards, and the gaunt pigs and chickens — or their human equivalents; the possibility of sympathy and satire; the awareness of regions and regional differences; the sensitivity to American dialects and their class and racial implications; the conversational middle — and middle-class — style, vocabulary, and syntax; the focus on Miss Dilly, not on Captain Ahab or Leatherstocking — here is a preliminary list of the traits of American realism. Because Rebecca Harding Davis is not working at the height of her powers in At the Station (1892), the story, unlike her pioneering Life in the Iron Mills (1861), does not take us deep into the unexplored territory of America's emerging industrial capitalism or make us see the complex realities of money and power that were affecting women and men in the new America. The first generation -160- of American realists, however, writers who began publishing during or soon after the Civil War, authors as different as Davis and James, Twain and Howells, each gave distinctive individual accounts of these vital, disruptive forces. By the end of the century they and successors like Charles Chesnutt had also probed the complexities of race in post-Civil War America.

They did so as professional authors who were personally engaged in writing for the market in the new entertainment industry. Their insights, conflicts, compromises, and triumphs are inseparable from their experience in the new world of mass markets, advertising, and big money. These developments had begun before the Civil War but accelerated as the scale of production expanded, the railroad system was completed, and the need to create consumer demand intensified. The corrosive, vital power of an expanding market society undermined moral, religious, and social stabilities. No wonder that a questioning of conventions and the conventional is perhaps the central unifying convention of American realism.

In their literary criticism the writers explicitly questioned conventions and the conventional. In his Declaration of Independence, The Art of Fiction (1884), Henry James affirmed the creator's freedom to choose both subject and approach, even as James defied the "keep off the grass signs" of the guardians of official taste. Even a writer as moderate as William Dean Howells, America's minister of culture, argued against the demand for a conventional love plot and all it signified, particularly a focus on marriage as the goal of life and an avoidance of the full range of contemporary concerns. After the Haymarket Riot in 1886 Howells attempted to explore the energies that were transforming American cities and threatening the moral and religious ideals he believed American writers should celebrate. The conflict between his desire to affirm his Emersonian values as the prevailing American reality and his commitment to render honestly what was happening in the new America goes to the heart of Howells's dilemma as an American realist. Mark Twain, for his part, ridiculed James Fenimore Cooper's conventions, which in Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses (1895) emerge as the improbabilities, exaggerations, and stilted language of the Leatherstocking tales. Twain is in effect arguing for a new set of conventions privileging the spoken language and fidelity to ordinary experience. -161-

Although we can create a composite portrait of American realism, differences and diversity are crucial. James, for example, had serious reservations about what he saw as Rebecca Harding Davis's sentimentality and the value she attributed to ordinary characters. Twain's colloquial immediacy is far removed from James's language and upper-class social world. Unlike the Europeans centering on Balzac and later on Flaubert and later still on Zola, we did not really have a school of American realism. Both in critical theory and in literary practice, moreover, the questioning of convention and the other formal and substantive traits all have antecedents in the work of earlier American writers, in the colloquial dialogue of Melville's Redburn (1849), for example, the sensitivity to the details of place in Hawthorne, or the practical, Yankee side of Emerson. It is a matter of degree, of emphasis. Similarly, younger authors like Dreiser, Crane, and Cather built on and reacted against what often seemed to them the timidity and limitations of the first-generation realists. In nineteenth-century America "realism" is a relational term defined partly by what people in a particular generation were accustomed to accept as plausible and lifelike, partly by what they responded to as pushing toward and beyond the boundaries of middle-class acceptability.

The first-generation realists and their successors did justice to the surfaces of American life through the conventions of presentational realism — plausibly rendered speech, recognizable settings and recognizable characters facing everyday problems, all open to the interpretation of a middle-class, predominantly feminine audience. American realists also penetrated beneath the surface to engage with the underlying energies of men, women, and society in the Gilded Age. I will be examining some of the ways significant writers during and in the decades immediately after the Civil War rendered their sense of the surfaces and depths of American social and psychological life. "Conventions" has a ring of traditionalism at odds with what they were committed to. But the term usefully highlights the constructed nature of the enterprise both for the writers and for us.

For James's contemporaries, his The Portrait of a Lady (1881) was — and remains for us — an exemplary representative of American realism. Early in the book James describes the Archers' old double -162- house in Albany and the full family life connected with it. James then carries Isabel Archer into the recesses of her childhood past and into the recesses of her favorite room, "a mysterious apartment" filled with old furniture with which "she had established relations almost human." The double house, the humanized room, and the sense of an inner life establish an intimate connection between house and self. Like the house, Isabel's self is divided or at least pulled in opposing directions. The door to the mysterious room is bolted, the door's sidelights are covered with green paper, and though as a little girl Isabel knew the door opened out onto the street "she had no wish to look out, for this would have interfered with her theory that there was a strange, unseen place on the other side — a place which became to the child's imagination, according to its different moods, a region of delight or of terror." Like the Emerson who celebrates the inner life of the self-sufficient individual, in this version Isabel looks inward into the depths of the imagination, creates a drama of delight or terror, and on principle avoids testing her theories against what she will find on "the vulgar street." As an adult in this same room she blithely tells her aunt, "I don't know anything about money." It is not really fair to equate Emerson, inwardness, and the imagination with the romantic and the street and money with realism. Emerson, after all, spoke for the meal in the firkin, the milk in the pan, and Isabel has an immense appetite for experience. In part James conceives Isabel so that he can explore a conflict between two sides of his American cultural heritage. As an American writer and realist, he is especially sensitive to the issue of the reliability of the imagination under the pressure of money and the vulgar street.

For James, the imagination and the inner self are not isolated or reified. In Isabel's case they are intimately related to her sexuality. James has Isabel encounter a series of suitors. "Deep in her soul — it was the deepest thing there — lay a belief that if a certain light should dawn she could give herself completely; but this image, on the whole, was too formidable to be attractive." The thought causes "alarms" that become increasingly intense. She is cold toward Lord Warburton because of "a certain fear." The drama builds because James keeps the sources of the fear unspecified and the entire issue in suspension.

As a representative American, Isabel often fuses the language of American political culture with the language of Emersonian self-163- reliance. "I like my liberty too much," Isabel says to justify turning down Lord Warburton. She continues in the accents of a Fourth of July address or of the Declaration of Independence, "it's my personal independence. . my love of liberty." Or in a recognizably Emersonian mode, "I only want to see for myself." Isabel's pursuit of happiness is a central concern, as is her fear that in marrying Lord Warburton she will be escaping unhappiness, "what most people know and suffer." In rejecting Lord Warburton, Isabel is affirming the American values of independence and love of liberty as over against the security of established English wealth, landed property, and aristocratic position.

Inseparable from this drama of conflicting political cultures is the depth of Isabel's feelings, expressed in a characteristically Jamesian metaphor. Isabel resists like "some wild, caught creature in a vast cage." Although Isabel often sees Lord Warburton as kind, he can also emerge "with his hands behind him giving short nervous shakes to his hunting-crop." As a potent male keeper, "booted and spurred," Lord Warburton thus plays a part in a submerged drama of sexual politics, a drama that is much more open with her American suitor, Caspar Goodwood. Isabel's feelings about sexual power, her own and her suitors', animate the overt drama of mind and values. "Who was she, what was she, that she should hold herself superior?" Isabel thinks. "What view of life, what design upon fate, what conception of happiness, had she that she pretended to be larger than these large, these fabulous occasions? If she wouldn't do such a thing as that then she must do great things, she must do something greater." She worries that she is "a cold, hard, priggish person, and, on her at last getting up and going rather quickly back to the house, felt, as she had said to her friend, really frightened at herself."

James throws further light on the self Isabel fears after the dilettante Gilbert Osmond declares his love. "What made her dread great," James reiterates, "was precisely the force which, as it would seem, ought to have banished all dread — the sense of something within herself, deep down, that she supposed to be inspired and trustful passion. It was there," James stresses, "like a large sum stored in a bank — which there was a terror in having to begin to spend. If she touched it, it would all come out." On this view the self is not a wellspring of infinitely renewable energy but a bank, a repository of -164- a finite sum of money. James reveals that the market society has infiltrated the deepest recesses of the self, even of Isabel Archer, who knows nothing about money. Her fear of "giving herself completely" is a complex fusion of her fastidiousness, her desire for independence, her unwillingness to subordinate and cage herself, her deep feelings about sexual power and powerlessness, and her mixed feelings about money and all it stands for.

Caspar Goodwood inspires the deepest fear of any of the suitors because he directly expresses his sexual passion. Throughout her last meeting with Goodwood, Isabel is "frightened" at his "violence." She feels "she had never been loved before. She had believed it, but this was different; this was the hot wind of the desert, at the approach of which others dropped dead. . the very taste of it, as of something potent, acrid and strange, forced open her set teeth." Death and sexual love merge as James's imagery enacts the physical emotions connected with a fierce seduction or rape. Isabel "floated in fathomless waters. . in a rushing torrent." Sounds come to her "harsh and terrible. . in her own swimming head." "She panted" when she pleads with Goodwood" to go away." Instead, "he glared at her a moment through the dusk, and the next instant she felt his arms about her and his lips on her own lips. His kiss was like white lightning, a flash that spread, and spread again, and stayed." In the conventions of the period a kiss, reinforced by James's imagery, has the force of sexual intercourse. For Isabel, Goodwood's "hard manhood," his "aggressive" physical presence, culminates in an "act of possession." The possession is sexual but also involves the issues of freedom, independence, and money. Osmond sees Isabel as a commodity, as his prize possession. In returning to Osmond, a choice open to multiple interpretations, Isabel is in part fleeing from the intensities of Goodwood's passion, from the possession he threatens, although overtly he argues for their complete freedom to do what they please. Isabel, however, is also affirming her independence and rejecting her status as a possession as both Goodwood and Osmond define possession.

In a possessive market society, money is the ultimate commodity, the ultimate possession. Isabel wants to see for herself, to judge for herself, but she does not know anything about money. She is also torn between her impulse to know the world, to throw herself into it, -165- and her impulse to trust herself, to devalue worldly possessions, and to ignore the vulgar street. After she inherits a fortune, she is afraid. "A large fortune means freedom," she tells Ralph Touchett, "and I'm afraid of that." If she failed to make good use of it, she goes on, she "would be ashamed." The stakes are high because shame is intimately connected to a sense of personal identity and self-worth.

Isabel argues for a sense of self that excludes possessions. "Nothing that belongs to me," she tells Madame Merle, "is any measure of me; everything's on the contrary a limit, a barrier, and a perfectly arbitrary one." Isabel is particularly indifferent to houses and dress. Madame Merle disagrees. "What shall we call our 'self?'" she asks. "Where does it begin? where does it end? It overflows into everything that belongs to us — and then it flows back again. I know a large part of myself is the clothes I choose to wear. I've a great respect for things! One's self — for other people — is one's expression of one's self; and one's house, one's furniture, one's garments, the books one reads, the company one keeps — these things are all expressive." James has Madame Merle give a working definition of the self appropriate to an expanding consumer and possessive market society. On this view, the self expands or contracts in relation to possessions. "There's no such thing as an isolated man or woman," Madame Merle argues; "we're each of us made up of some cluster of appurtenances."

Until well after her marriage Isabel does not realize the extent to which Madame Merle and Osmond, two artists, two dramatists, have manipulated her. They present Osmond as a refined man indifferent to the opinion of the world, indifferent to money, indifferent to the "cluster of appurtenances." His relative poverty allows Isabel to feel generous. She is bestowing something on a worthy recipient. The power relations are the reverse of a marriage to either Lord Warburton or Caspar Goodwood. Osmond is also much less of a masculine sexual presence than either of his rivals. Isabel imagines a Gilbert Osmond and falls in love with her own creation. In the destabilizing crosscurrents of a changing market society, the imagination is both necessary and problematic. Isabel, committed to seeing for herself, is unable to see that Osmond worships money and the opinion of the vulgar society he professes to despise.

James tests and qualifies Isabel's view of the self and imagination. -166-

He probes the web of sexual and market society pressures that affect the way she sees. In a patrician green world apparently far removed from the vulgar street, James reveals that even for Isabel Archer, profit, money, and gain are at the center of her marriage, just as they have penetrated to the center of her self.

In James's version of psychological realism, he uses metaphoric language to take us deep into a character's consciousness. James repeatedly recognizes the intimate connection between houses and selves in a possessive market society, a relation that for him has moral, psychological, and sociopolitical implications. Isabel, for example, gradually becomes aware that in marrying Osmond she is being confined in a house of darkness, that she is being imprisoned in a mind that lets in no air or light, that is a dungeon. Osmond's hatred, contempt, and egotism are overwhelming. Isabel's terror builds. The imagery is dense and deep, as are Isabel's painful moral and psychological realizations. Rooted in American political culture, her concern with freedom and independence is as alive as her eventual sense that she has been turned into a commodity, another objet d'art for Osmond to add to his collection, like the antique Roman coin he meticulously copies. James does justice both to the gradual, oblique way the mind works and to Isabel's sudden flash of awareness as she watches the intimacy between the standing Madame Merle and the seated Gilbert Osmond. But for all his sensitivity to the inner workings of the mind, James's psychological probing is not privatized. James shows the relation between the inner self and the environing world of the vulgar street.

Ironically, under Osmond's fastidious surface, under the aspect of taste, he and Madame Merle come to embody money and the vulgar street. Through Madame Merle, James exposes not metaphysical evil but the socially constructed evil of a society that places money above everything. For profit Madame Merle, gifted, aware, and sensitive, nonetheless lies to and betrays her closest friends. "'I don't pretend to know what people are meant for,' said Madame Merle. 'I only know what I can do with them.'"

In a world where Osmond and Madame Merle are dominant forces, where their imagination, art, and dramatic skill are important, the world becomes a social text that may not be incomprehensible but that is also not easy to read. Osmond and Madame Merle em-167- body the deception, manipulation of appearances, and obsession with profit that many social observers regard as basic to consumer capitalism. In his way Ralph is also manipulative but, as opposed to Osmond, Ralph is generous and loving. Ralph sees clearly that Osmond is a sterile dilettante who will grind Isabel in the mill of the conventional. Although he accurately reads the social text, Ralph is unable to prevent the marriage. Isabel comes to understand but the inner and outer obstacles are formidable.

These forces are even more pronounced in the great works of James's final phase. His concerns remained remarkably consistentthe house of the mind, the role of the imagination, and the impact of money and power on the divided self in The Jolly Corner (1908), for example, or the central role of commodities, of money, and of love and betrayal in The Golden Bowl (1905) and The Wings of the Dove (1902). James's style, however, became denser and more impenetrable, the moral and social discriminations became subtler, the ambiguities more difficult to understand. In his later works James created a style adequate to render his sense of the emerging twentieth century. For James, the impact on the mind of the dominant forces of modernity impelled him beyond what we would ordinarily see as "realism."

Even William Dean Howells found the realism he himself practiced and advocated inadequate to deal with his most principled social concerns. After A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890), Howells engaged with the large forces of the new America not in realistic fiction but in the utopian novels A Traveler from Altruria (1894) and Through the Eye of the Needle (1907).

Responding to the energies of the new post-Civil War America, Mark Twain gave the period its name in a novel of the present, The Gilded Age (1873). In successive works, however, Twain moved farther into the past. He drew on his own boyhood and his years as a cub pilot in Old Times on the Mississippi (1875), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), his masterpiece of vernacular realism. In these works he deals with contemporary concerns suggestively but indirectly, a tendency that intensifies in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), set not in the America of Twain's lifetime but in the England of a mythical past. His sense of -168- the American present seemed to make it difficult for Twain to deal with it imaginatively in anything like the mode of realism he had perfected in Huckleberry Finn. Except for Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894) and his essays and travel books, Twain turned increasingly to fable, s in the searing The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1899), or dream tales, as in "The Mysterious Stranger" (published posthumously).

Early in his career, however, in Old Times on the Mississippi, Twain began to develop his characteristic version of American realism as a way of knowing, seeing, and saying. For all the differences in class, cultivation, and milieu, Isabel Archer and her epistemological situation are similar to those of Mark Twain's cub as he tries to learn the constantly changing shapes of the river. In "Old Times on the Mississippi" the river in nightmare fog and darkness, the river with its energy and shifting banks and channels, becomes a metaphor for the fluid, shifting American social world Mark Twain experienced in the years after he served his own apprenticeship as a cub. The cub must learn all 2000 miles of the river. But the banks cave, the river at night looks different from the river in daylight, and the mind itself plays tricks and turns a ripple on the surface of the water into a dangerous reef. Knowledge is based on empirical experience, on the hard work of memorizing soundings and landmarks, on courage and an artist's intuition. The epistemological dilemma is that the cub must "learn the shape of the river, and you learn it with such absolute certainty that you can always steer by the shape that's in your head, and never mind the one that's before your eyes." No wonder the cub is often terrified and demoralized. He comes to the river with romantic ideas of glory and finds out about the cruel hard work and danger involved. Part of the reader's fun is watching the cub's pretensions get their comeuppance as the greenhorn repeatedly underestimates the challenge of the river and the capacity of the veteran pilots, particularly the exemplary Mr. B.

As the jokes accumulate, they elevate the pilot to the status of a demigod who can see in the dark, steer a boat through a deadly channel while he is fast asleep, and who, like the steamboat that brings the dead town to life, "if he can do such gold-leaf, kid-glove, diamond-breastpin piloting when he is sound asleep, what couldn't he do if he was dead." The language combines the tall-tale hyperbole -169- of frontier humor with the racy, precise language of piloting as an American occupation. As a realist, Twain taps into the energy of both traditions. American realists like Mark Twain may use such conventions to render a lifelike quality but they are rarely literal or onedimensional. Twain, for example, does justice to the world of the river in the 1850s and endows it with a suggestive charge that engages with his concerns as an American writer in the Gilded Age of moneymaking and accelerating technology. As a writer in such a destabilizing period, how does he know for sure? What can he rely on? What value does his work have? How trustworthy is the imagination?

For the cub, as for the writer, the pilot is a demigod, a deathdefying, life-giving savior figure. He thrives on the changing American world of the river. "That's the very main virtue of the thing," Mr. B. explains. "If the shapes didn't change every three seconds they wouldn't be of any use." It takes a special sensibility to see the virtue in these rapid changes and an equally special person to turn them to use. "As long as that hill over yonder is only one hill, I can boom right along the way I'm going; but the moment it splits at the top and forms a V, I know I've got to scratch to starboard in a hurry, or I'll bang this boat's brains out against a rock. . If that hill didn't change its shape on bad nights," Mr. B. concludes, "there would be an awful steamboat grave-yard around here inside a year." The cub amplifies the mythic implications when he says, "When I get so that I can do that, I'll be able to raise the dead, and then I won't have to pilot a steamboat in order to make a living."

"The true pilot," Twain affirms, "cares nothing about anything on earth but the river, and his pride in his occupation surpasses the pride of kings." Encoded in this view is a revealing contradiction. The courage, intuition, and hard work of the pilot who "cares nothing about anything on earth but the river" are at odds with that same pilot who glories in his princely salary, who looks down on and runs over lowly raftsmen, and whose pride "surpasses the pride of kings." The pilot was "the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived on earth. . His movements were entirely free; he consulted no one, he received commands from nobody." This supreme American individualist, however, is also enmeshed in a system -170- of supply and demand that keeps his wages high, that supports the luxury of the pilothouse and apprentices to do the menial work, and that contributes to the "exalted respect" he commands. Against odds the pilots form a union, systematize the distribution of information, and regulate wages and entry into the profession. Insurance companies and government regulations reinforce the union. The Civil War and a new technology, the railroad, also affect piloting. A union treasurer, like his Gilded Age successors, steals the retirement fund. The contradictions within the true pilot and his rapidly changing situation deconstruct this exemplary figure.

Just before the union surfaces in Twain's narrative, he brings to life how "you are tortured with the exquisite misery of uncertainty" as you grope through "an impenetrable gloom of smoke from a hundred miles of burning bagesse [sugar cane] piles…. You find yourself away out in the midst of a vague dim sea that is shoreless, that fades out and loses itself in the murky distances; for you cannot discern the thin rib of embankment, and you are always imagining you see a straggling tree when you don't…. You hope you are keeping the river, but you do not know. All that you are sure about is that you are likely to be within six feet of the bank and destruction." When Huck Finn is lost in the fog, his moral bearings are disoriented. In "Old Times" the issue is epistemological. Twain repeatedly comes back to the torment of uncertainty in a threatening, shifting, murky world. He leaves the issue unresolved, or rather he tells one more story about the demigod pilot, the savior figure who can steer a boat in his sleep and triumph over death and destruction.

After he deals with the union, the Civil War, and the railroad, however, Twain is unable to imagine the pilot as demigod. The epistemological dilemma nonetheless remains. But in place of Mr. B. and his like, who resolve the torment of uncertainty and who preside over parts I–IV of "Old Times," Twain now invokes another figure, the pilot Stephen W. Appropriately enough for a Gilded Age narrative, Stephen's identifying trait is his involvement with debt and money. The suppressed element in the figure of the true pilot is now overt. Money and debt were urgent concerns for Twain and many others in the Gilded Age. Unlike the demigod pilot, however, Stephen W. does not even temporarily resolve the issues he embodies. The jokes are -171- funny, but because money totally dominates, the tensions that impel the narrative are no longer in active play; the narrative loses force, and Twain brings "Old Times" to a close.

In "Old Times" another unresolved tension involves the lively colloquial language of the pilot as opposed to the genteel language of the landscape tradition. The narrator consciously favors "the red hue brightened into gold," the "tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as an opal," the "leafy bough," "the unobstructed splendor," the "graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances" — all the stock language and conventional way of seeing of the nineteenth-century landscape tradition. As the cub learns the river, the stock beauty and glory fade. Instead of a charming ripple the cub who has learned his trade now sees a deadly reef, "the very best place he could have found to fish for steamboats." He has also found a vital language rooted in ordinary American experience, a colloquial language Twain perfected in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

This language has a beauty appropriate to a developing realism. But Twain and other realists experienced a dilemma as they attempted to render observed American life, since they associated beauty with a set of conventions they were in the process of subverting. For Twain the new language of realism is in part connected with the masculine realm of work and with an evolving professionalism that involved a use of precise measurements at odds with the hyperbole of frontier humor and the irreverent colloquialism of ordinary speech. It was also at odds with his conscious conception of beauty. Using the gendered image of the woman's body, Twain associates beauty with femininity and deceptive surfaces, with the flush of fever hiding "some deadly disease." For the professional and the realist, "are not all her visible charms sown thick with what are to him the signs and symbols of hidden decay?" On this view the realist sees through the surface deceptions to the underlying disease, as Isabel Archer does in her way or as the narrator of Life in the Iron Mills grapples with in hers. Especially for the early Twain and the early Rebecca Harding Davis, realists in process, no wonder if they sometimes asked whether they had "gained most or lost most by learning [their] trade."

As a pioneer realist, in Life in the Iron Mills (1861) Rebecca Harding Davis probed a crucial area of American life a generation in -172- advance of successors who by the end of the century had forgotten her achievement. More pervasively than in "Old Times," the smoke that dominates the prologue to Life in the Iron Mills embodies both the material conditions of the mills and the difficulty of penetrating through "the fog and mud and foul effluvia" to a resolution of the questions this new way of life poses for all those affected by it. Partly because of the narrator's point of view, partly because of the dislocating impact of the mill world, the revelations in Life in the Iron Mills are not fixed and absolute but problematic.

Deb, malnourished and deformed, recognizes that the Welsh mill worker Hugh Wolfe has "a groping passion for whatever was beautiful and pure — that his soul sickened with disgust at her deformity." On this view, Wolfe accepts an etherialized, middle-class aesthetics that equates "the beautiful" and "the pure," an aesthetics at odds with the powerful art Wolfe in fact creates. Even more than the narrator of "Old Times," Wolfe is divided. The narrator of "Old Times" consciously values a language of beauty quite different from the art he actually creates out of the processes of piloting. Similarly, Wolfe's achievement is to create strong, moving art from the material conditions of the industrial process. His basic material, the korl, is "the refuse from the ore after the pig-metal is run." His Korl Woman statue expresses the spiritual hunger, the oppression, and, depending on the observer, the protest, the warning, or the supplication of the men and women who work in the mills. Wolfe's creativity is inseparable from the working-class reality that permeates his life. Part of his tragedy is that Wolfe does not have a verbal, conceptual language that allows him to value what he has created.

Instead, his consciousness is penetrated by middle-class ideas of beauty that denigrate his own class and fit in with the narrator's view "of the disease of their class….a reality of soul-starvation, of living death, that meets you every day under the besotted faces on the street." The statue, however, embodies strength as well as soulstarvation; a rugged, muscular beauty, not disease. The statue embodies a more complex and nuanced view of working-class men and women than either Wolfe or the narrator is able to articulate or the upper-class observers are able to comprehend. The Korl Woman statue also speaks to the unacknowledged situation of middle-class women like Rebecca Harding Davis and the narrator, who find in the overt oppression of the workers an analogue of their own position. -173-

For Wolfe the central "mystery of his life" is the question not of class conflict but of class difference. "He seized eagerly every chance that brought him into contact with this mysterious class that shone down on him perpetually with the glamour of another order of being. What made the difference between them? That was the mystery of his life." In his art, Wolfe does not explore the difference but instead goes deep into the complex realities of his own class. "With his artist's sense," however, Wolfe "did obeisance to…the thorough-bred gentleman, Mitchell….unconscious that he did so." In light of his obeisance to the glamour of the upper class at the expense of his own class, the wonder is that Wolfe is able to produce "figures — hideous, fantastic enough, but sometimes strangely beautiful" — but not beautiful by the standards of the class he worships, standards he himself partly accepts.

Through what the narrator sees as his God-given "artist's sense," Wolfe responds not only to the sensuous glamour of the other, the genteel class, but also to the middle-class emblems of popular romanticism: "There are moments when a passing cloud, the sun glinting on the purple thistles, a kindly smile, a child's face, will rouse him to a passion of pain." Wolfe may judge himself on these genteel standards but in his actual creative work he probes rather than avoids "this vile, slimy life" that has been forced on him. He then produces powerful masterpieces like the Korl Woman instead of images of sun-touched thistles and kindly smiles.

For all his longing, Wolfe is excluded from the life, art, and religion of the refined upper classes. In the fullest sense he does not speak or understand their language. When Mitchell, the intellectual, and Kirby, the owner's son, discuss a newspaper article, "at every sentence, Wolfe listened more and more like a dumb, hopeless animal" — a Wolfe, indeed. In church he is unable to understand the language of the supposedly universal religion the minister expounds. Does Christianity apply to a Wolfe who cannot understand the language of Christianity? "There was nothing of which he was certain," the narrator observes, "except the mill and things there. Of God and heaven he had heard so little that they were to him what fairy-land is to a child: something real but not here; far off." The matter is crucial, since Wolfe concludes "in all the sharpness of the bitter certainty, that between [him and Mitchell and Kirby] there was a great -174- gulf never to be passed. Never!" For Wolfe the class barrier is absolute. On grounds quite different from Kirby's belief in the American system as a ladder of opportunity, the narrator, however, is unwilling to accept Wolfe's view. The narrator believes that "veiled in the solemn music ushering the risen saviour was a key-note to solve the darkest secrets of a world gone wrong — even the social riddle which the brain of the grimy puddler grappled with madly tonight."

Searing, lurid hellfire lights the mill world, the world Wolfe knows and turns into art. Can another light penetrate the mills or have validity for Wolfe? He longs to be "other than he is." At the turning point of the story, the narrator places Wolfe in a natural setting outside the mills. "Overhead, the sun-drenched smoke-clouds opened like a cleft ocean, — shifting, rolling seas of crimson mist, waves of billowy silver veined with blood-scarlet, inner depths unfathomable of glancing light." The assumption underlying this conventional language of the picturesque and sublime is that, in the midst of the beauties of nature, we gain access to the divine. In "Old Times" as this language and its ideology lose their hold, the narrator experiences an understandable sense of loss. For Hugh Wolfe, even more than in his attraction to the glamour of the refined upper class, to Janie, and to sun-drenched purple thistles, "Wolfe's artist-eye grew drunk with color. The gates of that other world! Fading, flashing before him now! What, in that world of Beauty, Content, and Right were the petty laws, the mine and thine of mill-owners and mill hands?" Wolfe experiences a momentary "consciousness of power" but the narrator indicates that the entire experience is a delusion. "His soul took in the mean temptation [to keep the stolen money], lapped it in fancied rights, in dreams of improved existences, drifting and endless as the cloud-seas of color."

Wolfe understandably wants to be free of the misery of the mills. But under the corrosive pressures of industrial capitalism, how reliable is "the artist's sense" as the narrator conceives of it? Does it give Wolfe access to "that other world" of gentility and the risen savior or does it delude Wolfe into ignoring his own insights into the American realities of oppression and class barriers? Wolfe convinces himself that "God made this money" but the narrator implies a separation between the realm of God and the realm of Caesar, between true Christianity and Mammon. The issues are tangled and commendably -175- contradictory. As disturbing as they are to her, the narrator faces up to the central role of money and class in America. As an underpaid mill worker, Wolfe can never fully realize his talent. Money would help but accepting stolen money reinforces rather than changes the system. The narrator knows that change is necessary. In showing the way Kirby's father manipulates his foreign-born workers through appeals to spectacle and patriotism, the narrator, however, has ruled out change through the electoral process. Mitchell has raised the prospect of revolutionary change led by a Cromwell or Jean-Paul of the oppressed. Wolfe has imagined himself in this role but nothing comes of it, partly because Wolfe is too thwarted, partly because the workers are too fragmented and too easily coopted. The narrator herself believes the solution is the risen savior and the redemptive power of the other world beyond, but she recognizes that nothing in Wolfe's experience justifies the belief for him. Just as she believes in the risen savior, the narrator believes that Beauty resides in kindly smiles and sun-drenched thistles but she is honest enough to present Wolfe as drunk and deluded in his response to the crimson light from the sunlit heavens.

The narrator believes that "the artist's sense" comes from God. If so, it is a God suspiciously aligned with her own class. If "the artist's sense" does not come from God, could the phrase be a sign that the middle class, the dominant class, has penetrated and warped Wolfe's consciousness? The narrator does not say so explicitly but her usage is open to that interpretation. When Wolfe functions as a creator he shapes grotesque, powerful, working-class figures. The narrator is honest enough never to connect these figures with "the artist's sense," a term she reserves for the kind of art, beauty, and religion she herself values. But when Wolfe acts on the perceptions of what the narrator calls "his artist's sense" or his "artist's eye," he steals money, denies his own best perceptions, reinforces the prevailing system, and ends up committing suicide in prison. As in works like Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener," Kate Chopin's The Awakening, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," the prison and suicide are signs of impasse, of a dead end, of a situation the writer wants to expose but can imagine no way out of. In Life in the Iron Mills an emerging realism, the power of class, and the hellfire energies of industrial capitalism undercut established canons of beauty and re-176- ligion. The dilemma is even more extreme than in "Old Times on the Mississippi." Like Isabel Archer and the cub, moreover, Hugh Wolfe's imagination both creates and falsifies under the pressures of the new American world the realist artist struggles to explore.

At the end of Life in the Iron Mills the narrator cannot forget Hugh Wolfe and the statue of the Korl Woman, which call into question all of her affirmations. No wonder she keeps the statue behind a veil. On her interpretation, the arm of the statue is stretched out "imploringly," whereas for Mitchell the arm is a "wild gesture of warning." What she sees as the statue's "thwarted life, its mighty hunger, its unfinished work" is deeply threatening to the narrator, partly because they challenge her religious and artistic commitments, partly because they express the situation of many middle-class white women like the narrator and Rebecca Harding Davis. "Molly" Wolfe has created "the white figure of a woman" that faces both Mitchell and the narrator "in the darkness, — a woman white, of giant proportions, crouching on the ground, her arms flung out" in a gesture Mitchell interprets in his way and the narrator in hers. The powerful image of the white woman is open to interpretation like any image that emerges from and speaks to the deepest recesses of the self and society. The narrator's concluding hope is that her redemptive solution is universal but she knows that even behind the veil Wolfe's statue continues to express its recalcitrant and subversive realities.

We must be grateful to a narrator who gives us compelling insights into class barriers, into the hegemonic infiltration of working-class consciousness, and into the thwarting and spiritual hunger of middleclass women as well as of foreign-born workers. Part of what is missing from the narrator's story, however, is any sense of the kind of working-class consciousness and cohesion Herbert Gutman finds among actual nineteenth-century American workers. The story also negates the prospect of radical change. In these respects Rebecca Harding Davis and her narrator are at one with almost every other writer in the American canon. A decade ago Life in the Iron Mills was practically unknown. We now recognize that, in the words of the Norton Anthology of American Literature, "the story affords one of the most overwhelming reading experiences in all American literature." Now that works like Life in the Iron Mills are at last receiving the attention they deserve, however, we must ask why some works -177- are and other works are not entering the canon. In the early 1990s is it a condition for entry into the canon that a work should be open to subversive interpretation and at the same time reinforce the sense both of the need for and the near impossibility of fundamental change?

The statue of the Korl Woman prefigures the turn-of-the-century work of the German artist Käthe Kollwitz — the same muscular intensity, sensitivity to darkness, and insight into working-class and feminine oppression — but in Kollwitz the raised arm is never imploring. She gives us instead figures of angry, cohesive protest. Even as we value the statue of the Korl Woman and all it embodies, perhaps we also need to keep our eyes open for American literary equivalents of Käthe Kollwitz. This is one question for readers to pose as they examine Rebecca Harding Davis's still-neglected novels, Margret Howth (1862) and Waiting for the Verdict (1867).

Charles Chesnutt is another talented but relatively unknown realist. As a black writer white enough to pass, Chesnutt was a fluent speaker of America's main social dialects. From the frame tales in the collection The Conjure Woman (1899) through the facades of his subtly ironic novel of passing, The House Behind the Cedars (1900), to The Marrow of Tradition (1901), Chesnutt presents a surface as impeccable as any in the Atlantic Monthly of his period. Playing off against the genteel prose, however, are underlying revelations, sometimes in black vernacular, sometimes the result of conflicting voices that expose the racial contradictions of the era of "separate but equal."

In The Marrow of Tradition Chesnutt unpolemically uses a series of double relations to test basic American views and practices about blacks and whites and the power relations between the races. Tom Delamere and Sandy look like "twin brothers." The degenerate son of a distinguished North Carolina family, Tom applies blackface and puts on the clothes of the family servant, Sandy, takes over Sandy's identity, and wins the cakewalk contest. He borrows money from Sandy and frames him after robbing and murdering his aunt. Chesnutt perceptively connects the white theft of black identity with the white theft of property. Elsewhere in nineteenth-century American literature divided selves are intimately connected with the underlying -178- dynamics of the market society, as in Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener." In The Marrow of Tradition, the formal device of the double has the added force of encoding and judging America's racial divisions.

Chesnutt is equally good at revealing a range of white racial views and the way they are used to further another theft, of the government. In the language of his patrician class, Major Carteret argues that the entire black race "was morally undeveloped, and only held within bounds by the restraining influence of the white people." Sandy's "murder" and "assault…upon our race in the person of its womanhood, its crown and flower," is, according to the Major, "the logical and inevitable result of the conditions which have prevailed in this town for the last year." As in the Wilmington, North Carolina, Riot of 1898, the historical basis for The Marrow of Tradition, the Major, General Belmont, and Captain McBane are committed to a revolutionary ouster of the elected Fusion Party, which includes blacks. Chesnutt acutely unmasks the contrast between the Major's language of the "logical" and "reasonable" and his race- and classbiased views and practices. Chesnutt also consistently uses the plebian Captain McBane to expose the underlying realities Major Carteret's genteel language obscures. "'Burn the nigger,' reiterated McBane. 'We seem to have the right nigger, but whether we have or not, burn a nigger.'"

According to the prevailing white view of blacks, "no one could tell at what moment the thin veneer of civilization might peel off and reveal the underlying savage." Through characters like Tom Delamere and Captain McBane, Chesnutt effectively turns this argument around. At the end the whites turn the town into a hell-on-earth in the name of "civilization." Chesnutt realizes that, in white eyes, the blacks who are defending themselves are not heroes; instead, "a negro's courage would be mere desperation; his love of liberty, a mere animal dislike of restraint. Every finer human instinct would be interpreted in terms of savagery."

Deepening these concerns are the contrasts between Josh and McBane and Josh and Doctor Miller, two other double relations. McBane, the son of an overseer, has made his money exploiting convict labor. He is driven by a sense of social exclusion that intensifies his racial hatred. Chesnutt illuminates the class antagonisms within -179- the ruling group as well as its use of the press to manipulate the opinion of ordinary white people. The implications for American democracy are sobering. McBane is blunt, violent, forceful. He has lost an eye in a fight with a convict and "his single eye glowed ominously." Before the end of slavery he has also killed a slave, Josh's father. Josh's desire for retribution motivates him as powerfully as race hatred drives his antagonist.

The spectacle of Josh, a looming "great black figure," also plays off against the moderation of the light-skinned Doctor Miller. Miller believes "the meek shall inherit the earth" and that armed "resistance will only make the matter worse — the odds against you are too strong." Josh, in contrast, affirms, "I don' call no man 'marster.'…I'd ruther be a dead nigger any day dan a live dog!" When Miller refuses to assume leadership, Josh takes over. "A gun is mo' dange'ous ter de man in front of it dan ter de man behin' it…. We'd ruther die fightin' dan be stuck like pigs in a pen!" Although he is killed at the end, he takes McBane with him. "A pistol-flame flashed in his face, but he went on, and raising his powerful right arm, buried the knife to the hilt in the heart of his enemy." In imagining and doing justice to Josh, Chesnutt had to overcome his own personal preference for the beliefs of Doctor Miller. In creating Josh he also taps into imagery and energies deeply threatening to the white readers of his period. The symbols of the gun, the knife, and the defiant refusal to accept injustice contribute to make Josh the most sustained instance of black militancy between Frederick Douglass and Richard Wright's Bigger Thomas.

The final double relation involves the two half-sisters, Olivia Carteret and Janet Miller, on opposite sides of the color line. Their father, Mr. Merkell, had secretly married, freed, and willed his property to Julia, his black mistress. In a story that gradually unfolds as the novel progresses, we learn that Polly Ochiltree has destroyed the will and marriage license that would have established Julia and Janet's claims to legitimacy and half the estate, the money that is now financing Major Carteret's newspaper. "I saved the property for you and your son!" Polly tells Olivia. "You've got the land, the houses, and the money." Mrs. Ochiltree charges Julia with pollution but the pollution the novel dramatizes is the moral blight of whites whose entire material edifice is built on what they have stolen from blacks. -180- No wonder Olivia Carteret's son is sickly and nearly dies in the presence of Janet Miller.

Chesnutt further complicates the material of domestic fiction by probing the deepest sources of Olivia Carteret's "nervous condition," which dates from the time of Aunt Polly's revelations. As the custodian of conscience, white women like Olivia were basic to the moral structure of the South. Olivia comes to "dimly perceive" that the crime Aunt Polly has revealed epitomizes the larger crime of slavery, "which, if the law of compensation be a law of nature, must some time, somewhere, in some way, be atoned for." Her troubled conscience is her share of the larger dilemma.

Mrs. Carteret "could, of course, remain silent," but what then of her "cultivated conscience, . her mentor and infallible guide?" In a quiet, deadly exposure of the moral confusion of an entire people, under the influence of her conscience Mrs. Carteret finally decides that to tell is to bring on bankruptcy and ruin, that she cannot even acknowledge Janet as her sister, but that "sometime in the future" she would contribute to Doctor Miller's hospital. In examining Olivia's conscience, her ability — or inability — to deal with the basic moral issue of her family, region, and race, Chesnutt has undermined the inner sanctum of white legitimacy.

Between Josh at one extreme and Mrs. Carteret at the other, William Dean Howells understandably felt that for all its power of "justice without mercy," finally The Marrow of Tradition was "bitter, bitter, bitter." The judgment, however, says more about the sensitivity of Howells and his audience than it does about Chesnutt's novel. As Robert M. Farnsworth observes, in The Marrow of Tradition Chesnutt "stepped over the bounds of racial decency and. . shook his white audience's faith in him." Chestnutt published one more book and then gave up professional authorship for a successful career as the head of a firm of legal stenographers. For reasons quite different from those of James, Twain, and Howells, Chesnutt, too, finally found that the pressures of the period were inimical to the practice of realism.

Howells had earlier written an encouraging review of Chesnutt's The House Behind the Cedars, a ratification that counted, since Howells was the most influential middleman of culture in the post-181- Civil War period. As a critic and editor he introduced advanced European realists like Zola, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and George Eliot to an American audience. He similarly made the case for contemporary American realists as diverse as John De Forrest and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. He supported both Henry James and Mark Twain, "supported" as a friend, as a critic, and as an editor who published and paid for stories and novels. He also mediated between the American West and East, between Twain's vernacular world and the Boston of Emerson and the Atlantic Monthly. Deeply encoded in his career and fiction is Howells's complex involvement in the worlds of literary art and the publishing business. This is a particular instance of the larger tension facing all of those realists who were compelled to render both the surfaces and the underlying energies of the new America.

In The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) Howells deals explicitly with the issues of realism and the morally threatening power of big money. He intertwines a series of stories centering on the ideal of selfsacrifice as this value emerges in the fictional sentimental novel Tears, Idle Tears, as it emerges in a love story within the novel The Rise of Silas Lapham, as it emerges in the story of the self-made millionaire, Silas Lapham, and as it emerges in the theory of realism of the minister, Mr. Sewall. Self-sacrifice is the cornerstone virtue of the nineteenth-century true woman. Howells exposes a false version of this ideal through Tears, Idle Tears, or Slop, Silly Slop. In this book the heroine sacrifices herself by giving up the man she loves because someone else has cared for him first. The details are realistic but the feelings and characters are "colossal" and of flattering "supernatural proportions." In contrast, the realistic novel championed by Howells and Mr. Sewall paints "life as it is, and human feelings in their true proportions and relation." One test, then, is empirical, so that Howells looks at the world of experience, which in his practice is the world of middle-class America. Another test is metaphysical, since Howells assumes that finally ordinary American life will confirm ideals of beauty, decency, and truth. In The Rise of Silas Lapham, Howells tests and illustrates his theory partly through the love plot, which sets up precisely the situation of Tears, Idle Tears.

Irene Lapham, beautiful but culturally limited, falls in love with the patrician Tom Corey. Everyone assumes Corey is interested in Irene, whereas he has fallen in love with the older sister, Penelope. -182- Penelope has a lively wit, a gift for mimicry, and an independent way of seeing and storytelling. She is described as "dark," not because she is sultry but because in contrast to her sister's lovely color she is not beautiful. At first Penelope epitomizes the realistic novelist, sensible, acute at social observation, and intelligent about character and values. But the sentimental ethos of self-sacrifice retains considerable power; it infiltrates the consciousness of a character as sensible as the appropriately named Penelope. She succumbs, decides it would be wrong to accept Corey, but finally comes to her senses, marries him, and vindicates Howells's version of realism. Irene does, too. She suffers, matures, and, instead of either pining away or marrying, remains single, with the author's full approval.

But however much Howells seems assured in his view that finally everyone agrees on what is true and lifelike, in practice he recognizes important strains and qualifications. It is significant that the women in the novel collaborate in constructing the conventional love story of the beautiful but limited Irene and the handsome patrician, Tom Corey, as if Corey could not be interested in the lively realist, Penelope, the "dark," unglamorous one. By exposing their susceptibility to a false, sentimental way of seeing, Howells is illuminating an important crack in the edifice of the middle-class true woman, since in this ideology women are the guardians of moral value and conscience. Mrs. Lapham plays a central role in misperceiving and constructing the love story. Howells is particularly astute in showing that Mrs. Lapham has suffered a serious decline. In the early days of her marriage she was actively involved in Lapham's affairs, but as they become more prosperous she loses touch. She simultaneously sees less clearly than she did in the early, hard working years.

Displaced from the world of affairs, Mrs. Lapham at one point becomes insanely jealous of the attractive "typewriter" or secretary who is at home in Lapham's office. Mrs. Lapham's hysteria is driven by her sense that she no longer has a useful economic function. Instead, her main function in life is to be a moral guide and her confidence in her judgment has been seriously weakened. For Howells the situation of prosperous middle-class women is both enviable and precarious. In A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890), it becomes even more extreme. Mrs. Dryfoos, Mrs. Lapham's successor, is separated by her husband's wealth from her original rural home and religious -183- tradition. She is an invalid with no connection to the confusing urban world her children must negotiate. Howells shows that the old republican virtues of simplicity, hard work, and suspicion of luxury are not easy to sustain in the new America of stock gambling, capital expansion, and the self-made millionaire. Howells is particularly sensitive to the dilemmas of prosperity for women caught in the crosscurrents of republicanism and capitalism or in the conflicts internal to the republican tradition.

In The Rise of Silas Lapham, Mrs. Lapham contributes to the dilemmas centering on money, business, and success. At the outset of Lapham's career, Mrs. Lapham is the one who realizes that to convert Lapham's paint mine into a gold mine, capital is required. She persuades him to take a partner, Rogers, to supply the capital necessary for full development and expansion. Partly because Rogers is not competent, partly because Lapham wants sole control of what he worships, the paint, Lapham forces Rogers out of the business. He does it legally, fairly, and precisely as any reaonable capitalist would but Mrs. Lapham's conscience is troubled because Lapham has taken advantage of Rogers in favor of his own self-interest. A kind of original sin is involved, since Lapham's prosperity is inseparable from his use of Rogers's capital. Rogers and his capital plus Lapham's hard work and good judgment lead to growth, wealth, and the ambiguous morality connected with ambition and big money.

The ambiguity is grounded in the agrarian, republican values that animate Mrs. Lapham's conscience. The paint in its original condition is associated with the old rural, republican world: it is rooted in the land itself, vividly symbolized by the ore clinging to the exposed roots of a great tree. The paint comes from the old farm, associated with Lapham's father and the graves of the family. Once Mrs. Lapham introduces Rogers and his capital, financial success follows but the earlier virtues are tainted. Mrs. Lapham cannot accept that to succeed as a capitalist, Lapham must behave impersonally. Her conscience keeps alive what she sees as the wrong Lapham committed. In this paradigm of the move from the old republican, agrarian America to the new America of large fortunes and capital expansion, Howells taps into conflicts deeply encoded in the republican's relation to capitalism. For Howells, Mrs. Lapham's conscience is both a strength and a nagging, punitive weakness. -184-

As for Lapham, his wife accuses him of making the paint his God and worshiping it. Under the pressure of Rogers's capital and the dynamics of capitalistic growth, the worship of paint begins to merge with the worship of money as God. Howells handles this change circumspectly, not overtly, in that Lapham continues to value primarily the tangible, earth-grounded product. But Lapham knows that "you wouldn't want my life without my money," and when he is with the patrician Coreys he brags incessantly about his money as well as his paint. Under his no-nonsense surface, Lapham has also been infected with the virus of social ambition, not so much for himself as for his daughters. He has bought a prize piece of property on the Back Bay and he decides to build an impressive house so that his family can be in society.

All of Lapham's underlying social longings and feelings about money and class difference come to a focus in the house. At the outset Mrs. Lapham also connects the house and all it stands for with Rogers and with Lapham's success. "You can sell it for all me," Mrs. Lapham says. "I shan't live in it. There's blood on it."

Lapham may not worship money but he does worship the house. The house is the beautiful embodiment of the new self as distinct from the old Jeffersonian, republican self of Lapham's origins. The republicans had a deep suspicion of luxury and of wealth gained through financial speculation. Lapham is infatuated with the lovely, luxurious improvements his architect suggests. Lapham also finances the house partly from money he has recently made as a stock gambler. Republicans, moreover, valued a general equality of conditions, not the economic, social, and class differences the house symbolizes. In Howells's recognizable version, republicans stress restraint, selfcontrol, discipline, moderation, and a life lived close to the land, symbolically in the old house on the patriarchal farm.

To satisfy his wife and perhaps his own sense of right and wrong, Lapham lends Rogers money and accepts stock in return. To save his original investment, Lapham becomes more deeply entangled with Rogers, he gambles on the market, and he suffers serious losses. The market for paint is glutted and a competitor has a product that undersells Lapham's. At a key moment in this gradually developing scenario, Lapham realizes that to save his business he must sell the unfinished house. Although his pride is deeply wounded, he decides -185- to go ahead. But instead he accidentally burns the house to the ground. The usually careful Lapham, moreover, has neglected to renew the insurance, so that the house is a total loss.

The result is that Lapham begins to purge or expiate the wrongs of a violated republicanism through what amounts to a valued act of self-sacrifice, a sacrifice of the possession that embodies the new self Lapham has achieved as a self-made man. Lapham's self-sacrifice contrasts and develops in counterpoint with Penelope's Tears, Idle Tears version. Also in contrast to Tears, Idle Tears and in accord with his own views about realism, Howells does not have Lapham make a conscious decision to behave virtuously and heroically. Instead, Howells has a sure sense of unconscious motivation rooted in the morally charged conflicts of a possessive market society and the American republican tradition.

In the sequel, Lapham, a secular Job or Christ, faces up to a series of temptations Rogers poses. Lapham consciously chooses to sacrifice his own self-interest — his business and fortune — rather than to take advantage of a legal but morally shady scheme to defraud a group of idealistic English investors. As the Satan-figure in this drama, Rogers is a plausibly rendered businessman who manipulates his appearance of "bland and beneficent caution," just as he turns to his own advantage his republican surface as "a man of just, sober, and prudent views, fixed purposes, and the good citizenship that avoids debt and hazard of every kind." His arguments are as specious and plausible as his appearance. Lapham and the reader, however, easily see through the mask. In this important respect Howells contrasts with those contemporaries, predecessors, and successors for whom the deceptions and acquisitive impulses make for irreducible epistemological uncertainty.

At the end Howells arranges it so that Lapham returns to his origins on the patriarchal, republican farm. He moves back into the old home and runs a scaled-down version of his business. He regains both the good sense and the moral virtue he lost under Rogers's influence. His fall in fortune corresponds with a rise in virtue. In illustrating the success of failure, Lapham thus validates Howells's belief in the agrarian, republican tradition. Lapham also exposes a weakness in Howells's theory of realism, since the pastoral ending highlights the contrast between Howells's deepest values and the un-186- derlying realities of an increasingly urban, industrialized market society. The metaphysical and empirical sides of Howells's theory do not really coincide in the emerging America of the 1880s and 1890s.

Far from being literal and artless, Howells's practice of realism is full of revealing contradictions, nuances, and a suggestive interplay between surface and depth. The same holds for the other realists of the post-Civil War era, although the precise content and intensity vary from writer to writer and novel to novel. Art and imagination, moreover, are central concerns of the American realists. Cumulatively, they give us a complex sense of the fate of the imagination and its creations in the context of a vital, changing America. They often represent the epistemological consequences of the new America through images of impenetrable fog and darkness, from Twain's river through the house of darkness at the highest reaches of the class system in Portrait of a Lady to the dark cellar and fog in Life in the Iron Mills. Sometimes sensitive to the moral and ideological conflicts, as in Howells, sometimes to the moral, epistemological, and sociopolitical implications, as in James, American realists explored the intimate connection between houses and selves, between possessions and character in the new America. They were also unusually alert to the situation of women, as in the suggestive ambiguities of Davis's Korl Woman, Howells's insights into the consequences of prosperity, and James's awareness of Isabel's fear and freedom.

Of all the American realists, Charles Chesnutt in a series of novels gave the subtlest, most probing treatment of the relation between whites and blacks. In Waiting for the Verdict, Rebecca Harding Davis anticipated Chesnutt's The House Behind the Cedars in exploring the dilemmas of passing and of interracial love relations. Mark Twain opened up these and other dimensions of American racial practices and their impact on identity in The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson. In Huckleberry Finn Twain had earlier imagined the escaping slave, Jim, as humane and knowledgeable, in touch with the mysteries of the natural world and close to his family even as he is separated from them. But at the end Twain also allowed Tom Sawyer to turn Jim into an object, a stage figure in Tom's romantic fantasy world. These contrasting views of Jim have implications within and beyond the novel. At the turn of the century Twain wrote "The United States of Lyncherdom" (1901). The concluding image of a mile of torches —187- kerosene-lighted bodies — throws a terrible light on the grimmest side of American racism. The fact that Twain was compelled to write "The United States of Lyncherdom" but decided not to publish it during his lifetime — he feared loss of sales in the South — highlights the situation of the realistic writer engaging with market pressures and with perhaps the deepest fault line in American culture.

To shift to another highly charged concern, from the vantage point of later generations, say of Dreiser or later Hemingway or, later still, Updike, the first-generation American realists are circumspect or relatively indirect in their treatment of sexuality, one of the touchstone interests of the realistic novel from Balzac to the present. Money in all its implications is the other major preoccupation of nineteenthand twentieth-century realism. On this count the post — Civil War American writers are as full and perceptive as we can ask for. Their sense of reality is open and varied, responsive to the surfaces and recesses of American selves and society. Stimulated and sometimes thwarted by the energies of the Gilded Age, James, Twain, Davis, Chesnutt, and Howells, representative post — Civil War realists, help us map the emerging new America whose construction is no more certain than the shifting shores of Mark Twain's fog-shrouded Mississippi.

Robert Shulman


Fiction and the Science of Society

In The Incorporation of America (1982), Alan Trachtenberg describes the significance of the White City as symbol, its ability to transform the diverse and conflicted America of 1893 into an image of national unity. White City was a study in managed pluralism: organized into twenty departments and two hundred twenty-five divisions, contained within one overarching "symmetrical order. . each building and each vista serving as an image of the whole." The choice of White City as the main design for the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was suggestive at the most fundamental level. As Herman Melville knew, the color white is a negation of the various rays of the color spectrum. It reflects but it does not absorb. One indication of White City's strategy for managing diversity was its presentation of certain cultures. Instead of being invited (like other constituencies) to portray their experiences in the nation's history, African Americans and Native Americans were presumed to be represented by an exhibit on primitive populations throughout the world. This ambition — unity without absorption, harmony through denial — is no doubt one reason why Frederick Douglass renamed the fair "white sepulchre."

It seems appropriate in retrospect that just one year earlier the city's foremost educational facility, the University of Chicago, had instituted one of the country's first sociology departments. Of all the social science disciplines developing at this time, sociology was most driven by the vision of social interdependence and unity that inspired the architects of White City. For the early sociologists, knowing so-189- ciety meant knowing the social whole. Other social scientists — economists, psychologists, political scientists, anthropologists — saw social reality piecemeal, through the narrow lens of their specialization. Sociology was unique in its aim to combine these disparate specialties into one integral discipline. This methodological imperative was matched by a theory that saw an unprecedented affinity of human consciousness and interests throughout modern life. In the landmark essay in which he declares "the scope of sociology" to be the organization of the "human sciences into a system of reciprocally reinforcing reports," Albion Small characterizes society as a "realm of circuits of reciprocal influence between individuals and groups." In keeping with the strategies of White City, Small's image is achieved at the cost of an evolutionary sleight of hand. What Small calls at one point, for example, that "serious scientific problem, the status of the coloured race in the United States," is subsumed in the image of "the last native of Central Africa. . whom we inoculate with a desire for whiskey add[ing] an increment to the demand for our distillery products and effect[ing] the internal revenue of the United States."

Small's vision of human reciprocity, his description of alien populations that can be "innoculated" into a worldwide web of social and economic interest, was framed in a society fragmented by a bewildering heterogeneity of interests. This late nineteenth-century landscape of social change included: unprecedented immigration rates, especially from Southern and Eastern Europe; escalating capital-labor conflict; challenges to traditional women's roles that brought increasing numbers of women into an embattled labor force; rapid urbanization and industrialization; the rise of trusts; and the ever-intensifying problem of race relations. Like any discursive field, sociology was an attempt to tell a certain kind of story about a particular historical reality. The burden of American sociology at its moment of origin was to reinscribe a conflicted and potentially explosive social reality as a terrain of consensus and integration.

The dedication to knowing the social whole that gripped an emerging sociological discipline is readily seen as consistent with the ambitions of contemporaneous American novelists. What is less often recognized are their various involvements (direct and indirect) with the anxieties, premises, and methods of this new science of society. The response of writers such as Herman Melville, Henry James, Ger-190- trude Stein, Theodore Dreiser, to the formulation of a science that professionalized the main business of novelists-social observation, description of human types and types of interaction, the classification of these types-is an untold story whose narration provides a critical index to the social engagement of American novels. At the same time, to explore the rise of sociology in terms of contemporary novels is to enhance our understanding of the imaginative aspects of this new science.

The most vivid link between sociological and novelistic writings of the period is their shared interest in a language of social types. From Max Weber's Protestant Ethic (1905) to Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy (1925), from W. E. B. Du Bois's Philadelphia Negro (1899) to Henry James's American Heiress (1903), sociologists and novelists sought uniform types for mediating a vast and heterogeneous modern society. While literary authors have always been drawn to type categories, the typological methods employed by American novelists of this period have a particular historical resonance. They were formulated in response to the same pressing social landscape that gave rise to a modern discipline based on typological method. Type categories invested individuals and social phenomena with the semblance of predictability and control. They were key tools in turn-of-the-century efforts to circumscribe an ever-expanding society-to clarify, order, and label the social world. Types also served to promote and exclude different forms of social being. As Ian Hacking suggests in the essay "Making Up People," "numerous kinds of human beings and human acts came into being hand in hand with our invention of the categories labelling them." This interest in the varieties and limits of human action points to another central concern of the era: the question of individualism. American sociologists and novelists were at the forefront of changing conceptions of the individual. Their use of type categories was part of their struggle to mediate the divide between social determination and individuality in support of an ideal that was basic to American values, as well as essential to capitalist development.

What did it mean to know society for the first formulators of social science? For Adam Ferguson, whose Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) is generally recognized as a key forerunner of -191- sociological analysis, knowing society involved viewing it as a totality: describing its interrelated institutions, classifying its various parts, identifying its stages of development. Ferguson stressed empirical method; social study must be based on scientific observation, rather than on speculation. If sociological beginnings are detectible in the work of Ferguson, it was late eighteenth-century France that gave the emerging field a sense of urgency and purpose. Vitalized and christened in an era of revolution, sociology pointed toward a permanent condition of post-revolution. The Enlightenment values that had inspired revolution were now rechanneled into the shaping of a stabilizing social science.

The institutional origins of American sociology lie in the 1850 founding of a Board of Aliens Commission by the State of Massachusetts, whose charge was "to superintend the execution of all laws in relation to the introduction of aliens in the Commonwealth." From the ranks of this organization, the American Social Science Association was founded in 1865. The motto of the association, "Ne Quid Nimis" (Everything in Moderation), and a representative sample of papers from the association's journal ("Pauperism in New York City"; "The Emmigration of Colored Citizens from the Southern States"; "Immigration and Nervous Diseases"; "Immigration and Crime") suggest its anxiety about immigrants and internal marginals.

American sociology was shaped by specific social and political pressures, as well as by strong international influences. At the point of its emergence it was also substantially supported by Christian reform organizations, as evidenced by the abundance of articles on Christian sociology in the early years of The American Journal of Sociology. The links between sociology and Christianity are consistent with the fact that many of the first American sociologists had close ties to the ministry.

American sociology in this period was often broken down into three interrelated clusters of inquiry: (1) attention to society's static dimensions, which addressed the question of social stability: how does society manage to preserve the status quo? (2) attention to society's evolutionary dimensions, which addressed the question of change: how did society come to be as it is and what might we predict about its future? (3) attention to society's technologic dimen-192- sions, which addressed the question of control: what actions can be taken to improve society and ensure a better future? Running through each of these lines of exploration was the ongoing struggle with the subject of individualism. As Albion Small observed, "Today's sociology is still struggling with the preposterous initial fact of the individual. He is the only possible social unit, and he is no longer a thinkable possibility. He is the only real presence, and he is never present." Sociology's emphasis on social determination, its insistence that human consciousness was formed and existed in interaction alone, seemed to undermine an American tradition of individualism. But in fact the task of "reconstructing individualism" was a continuing preoccupation. Thus, for static analyses the question was: how could individuals be fit into the existing social system? For evolutionary analyses the question was: how do individual differences come about; are they products of inheritance or environment? For technologic analyses the question was: can education and scientific knowledge equip certain individuals with special powers for social betterment? In what follows I will discuss these three clusters of sociological analysis by way of specific American novels. I consider in turn Herman Melville and realism, Henry James and naturalism, and W. E. B. Du Bois, Gertrude Stein, and experimentalism. This genealogy moves from writers whose major concerns coincided with those of social science, to writers who absorbed social science into their very techniques. The works of Stein and Du Bois, I argue, were overburdened with social scientific methods, which compromised their aesthetic power but made them ideal registers of the ties between sociology and literature in this period.

The overriding concern of Herman Melville's novella Billy Budd, Sailor (written from 1886 to 1891) is social transformation: how to channel the revolutionary energies of the late eighteenth century into the industrial work of the nineteenth century. As a work written in the turbulent closing decades of nineteenth-century America, and set in a climactic moment of revolution and consolidation at the beginning of the "modern" era, Billy Budd parallels the situation of late nineteenth-century sociology, a discipline that draws upon founding principles framed in the same revolutionary Europe. -193-

Riding the nervous British seas of 1797, haunted by British Jacobinism, Revolutionary France, and mutinies that year at Nore and Spithead, authorities aboard the Bellipotent are consumed with the problem of social order. Like the early European sociologists who were fresh from the experience of social revolt, Captain Vere and his officers fear lower-class uprising. Described as one whose "settled convictions were as a dike against those invading waters of novel opinion social, political and otherwise, which carried away as in a torrent no few minds in those days," Captain Vere knows the reparative powers of a careful and consistent empiricism. The Bellipotent operates through an elaborate network of watching and cataloging: methods of social description and typecasting that keep everyone on board, especially potentially disruptive elements of the sea commonalty, identified and ordered. The power to label and interpret the world around him is critical to Captain Vere's rule.

A key instance of typecasting is the parable of the black sailor at Liverpool that opens the novella. Transformed kaleidoscopically from an ideal to a sacrificial type, the black sailor foreshadows the experiences of Billy Budd. As a handsome cynosure, the black sailor elicits the "spontaneous homage" of his fellow sailors, a moment of collective tribute that is threatening in its ability to "arrest" the normal affairs of the Liverpool wharf. In keeping with this threat, another type, which casts the sailor as the sculptured bull of the Assyrian priests, emerges with a kind of grim necessity at the close of the passage. Now an object of sacrifice within an order of nature and ritual, the black sailor is neutralized. This double echo from the past (a mid-eighteenth-century moment that recalls an ancient rite) points to a simpler era when societies cohered by means of a common conscience reinforced by violence. It also registers the traces of primitivism still lurking in modern forms of social control.

Like the black sailor, Billy Budd is marked early on as an outstanding specimen, capable of inspiring his fellow sailors in unpredictable ways. Had Billy not killed Claggart, Captain Vere would have had to find some other reason for his demise. The necessity of his sacrifice, in other words, seems built into the situation from the beginning: a nervous ship in a time of mutiny and revolution, a handsome sailor who inspires collective pride, his execution. Typing Billy as the "Angel of God" who "must hang," Vere transforms Billy into -194- a visual emblem of his power. Billy's execution is a spectacle that confirms Vere's ability to contain collective sentiments.

The link between typecasting and social control brings us to contemporary sociological theories on social types. In Social Control (1901), E. A. Ross argued that a heterogeneous mass society like modern America required deliberate strategies for ensuring social obedience. He advocated the promotion of social models, ideal types, which society "induces its members to adopt as their guide." Based on the principle of self-regulation, what Ross called "bind[ing] from within," Ross's types left the individual "with the illusion of selfdirection even at the moment he martyrizes himself for the ideal we have sedulously impressed upon him." "The fact of control," Ross continues, "is in good sooth, no gospel to be preached abroad. . the wise sociologist. . will not tell the street Arab, or the Elmira inmate how he is managed." Ross's use of types for the purposes of social control had its analogue in various disciplines of this era. According to philosopher Josiah Royce, the value of an ideal type lay in its ability to instill a feeling of subordination to a unified whole. The loyal individual, he suggested in The Philosophy of Loyalty (1908), embodied the ideal union of individual identity and social commitment. "You can be loyal," he wrote, "only to a tie that binds you and others into some sort of unity. . the cause to which loyalty devotes itself has always this union of the personal and the seemingly superindividual about it." For the William James of The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) as well, the sign of the healthy religious type is his or her "sense of integration" in a benevolent social whole.

Like these social philosophers, Captain Vere seeks more than Billy's compliance; he needs Billy to believe in his sacrifice, as socially necessary and beneficial. After typing him "fated boy," Vere takes various measures (their "closeted interview," for example) to ensure that Billy embrace his fate. Billy's declaration at the point of execution, "God bless Captain Vere," signals the success of Vere's methods.

Perhaps an even deeper threat to Captain Vere's methods of social control is his master-at-arms, John Claggart. As one who eludes classification, described at one point as an "uncatalogued creature of the deep," Claggart seems uniquely resistant to Vere's authority. Yet Claggart is ultimately as tied to Vere's system as Billy through his -195- burning desire to rise in the ship's hierarchy. Both Billy and Claggart represent to authorities like Captain Vere the hope that the dream of vertical mobility, through success in Claggart's case or martyrdom in Billy's, can be counted on to offset lateral threats of collective identification. It is this hope that underlies sociological reconceptions of individuality. In an exemplary formulation, Albion Small moves from the observation that "individuals are different," to the claim that "the associated state [Small's phrase for society] is a process of making them different." As he explains further in adopting what he calls "the genetic view," the social process is "a progressive production of more and more dissimilar men." Though he intends another meaning of "genetic," Small's use of the term here foregrounds the sense that the modern liberal state has become an active producer of human types. For Small, social processes conspire to produce uniformly related selves, whose functional attributes can be neatly fit into the social system. Unsolicited differences-of race, ethnicity, political or religious belief-that threaten the status quo are subsumed by produced differences that support it. In the creation of type categories that provided model individuals capable of succeeding in modern society, sociologists were responding to contemporary anxieties about the erosion of individual initiative. At the same time they were controlling perceptions of human possibility.

An assumption governing the sociological use of types, which Captain Vere shares, is that the maker of these classifying terms is himself a neutral analyst. For Captain Vere, neutrality is part of being a professional. Off duty, Vere "never garnished unprofessional talk with nautical terms," a sign of the strict division in his mind between public office and private life. Vere's personal discretion is matched by a professional objectivity that brings him to substitute an "imperial code" for the claims of "private conscience." Vere's call for the suppression of instinct confirms a late nineteenth-century ethic of professionalism. Like its other key tropes, this professional ethic aligns the novella with a literary realist movement that coincided with Melville's final decade: the years when he was working in the New York Custom House and writing Billy Budd.

The novels of William Dean Howells, Stephen Crane, Henry James, Mark Twain, the paintings of Thomas Eakins, picture the frozen status quo worlds dreamed of by the rulers of the Bellipotent. -196-

In realism, social conflict is shifted to the borders of scenes or swiftly quelled. The worlds of realism are controlled by vigilance: the vulnerable visibility of the poor, the empowered visibility of professional elites, the invisibility of the rich. In an analysis of publicity in this period, Philip Fisher considers Thomas Eakins's The Gross Clinic as an instance of professional transcendence: the modern expert as God. Eakins's representation of the master surgeon at work presupposes the surgeon's power to select the moments when he is publicly seen. This moment is balanced by access to a privileged invisibility, which Fisher locates in the self-enclosed homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, homes that ensure the absolute immunity of their inhabitants from outward detection. While the public images of professional elites were carefully circumscribed, society's most powerful were invisible altogether. Eric Hobsbawm describes the increasing obscurity of governing elites in the late nineteenth-century era of mass democratization: "When the men who governed really wanted to say what they meant, they had henceforth to do so in the obscurity of the corridors of power." This is corroborated by Henry James's analysis of that pivotal political figure, "the boss," who operates in a shell of oblivion, his "political role" at once "so effaced, but so universal."

In the case of the lower classes, this situation was inverted: their lives, at work and at home, were increasingly exposed to public scrutiny in this period. The introduction of production methods systematizing industrial work led to greater vigilance in the factories. The activity of social reformers, increasingly devoted to the domestic lives of the poor and the immigrant, led to greater surveillance at home. The impact of these reformers was mixed: while their obvious goal was improvement, they also participated in a more ominous campaign to know and manage a potentially dangerous underclass. Social scientists adopted a more remote attitude, but their relationships to the impoverished lives they cataloged from a greater remove were equally ambiguous. Liberal sociology mainly identified with the sober middle class, and kept the poor and the wealthy (whose interests they nevertheless implicitly supported) at a distance. The main concern of realist literature as well was the conventional and the middle class. A notable example of realism's occasional forays into the world of the poor is Henry James's In the Cage, his only work narrated from the perspective of a lower-class character. -197-

The protagonist of this 1895 novella is a featureless telegraph operator, whose one distinctive trait is a classically overactive Jamesian imagination. The telegraph operator spends her days serving the wealthy who have grown addicted to a new technology that facilitates the rapid conduct of their (usually extramarital) affairs. To her customers, she is no more significant than the machine that relays their messages. Indeed, the novella ingeniously inverts its titular metaphor that casts the telegraph operator as a caged zoo animal. While she does work in a cage, it is her customers rather than she who are exposed to view. "It had occurred to her early," the novella begins, "that in her position-that of a young person spending, in framed and wired confinement, the life of a guinea-pig or a magpie-she should know a great many persons without their recognizing the acquaintance." The story's plot centers on her effort to exploit this circumstance of being hidden but ever vigilant. Scrutinizing their faces like a detective, she assumes a fantastic intimacy with her customers, a knowledge of their every desire and scheme. Thus the predictable lower classes become the predictors of the upper class. By investing his telegraph operator with the story's main imaginative value, James identifies her as an artist of sorts. And through this character, James presents the Jamesian artist as a predatory dissector of the wealthy. Ultimately, however, James foils the visual powers of the telegraph operator, restoring realism's usual hierarchy of vigilance. The telegraph operator is foiled because she attempts to enter into the lives of her subjects. By trying to realize her visual intimacy, she violates the boundary of vigilance. Empirical control over others requires distance.

As one of the gentile poor, James's telegraph operator fulfills Emile Durkheim's theory of anomie. Defined in his classic study Suicide, anomie (literally, "without norms") is a condition of rootlessness bordering on self-annihilation that occurs when human desires are raised beyond their realistic life expectations. According to this theory, hopeless poverty is a protection against suicide. But unqualified desire leads to disorientation and worse. It is appropriate, therefore, that the novella's final scene pictures the telegraph operator standing before a bridge while a policeman eyes her suspiciously. The policeman is an externalization of the control the telegraph operator no longer exercises over herself. -198-

The telegraph operator is an anomaly in James's realist canon, not only because she is poor, but also because she doesn't police herself. Rather than an internal plane for the individual's struggle and eventual reconciliation with social law (as in the case of a typical Jamesian heroine like Isabel Archer), the imagination of the telegraph operator is a plane of transgression. The task of regulating one's imagination, of internalizing external forms of vigilance, is a key activity of realist fiction. Realism emphasizes selective incorporation, its primary reflex is establishing borders. This is reflected in the claustrophobic atmospheres of realist works, which feel uniformly cramped whether depicting the interior spaces of Henry James or the battlefields of Stephen Crane. The scene of Stephen Crane's The Open Boat (1897) can be taken as paradigmatic. The challenge for the story's characters is maintaining the integrity of their craft ("no bigger than a bathtub," the narrator snaps with characteristic cruelty) against an encroaching ocean. The homely similes, which seem to crowd the characters as much as the ocean (the captain is like a father "soothing his children," the seaweed is like "carpets"), are there not only to taunt the characters by reminding them of the habitual protections they lack but to represent their inevitable restitution. Moreover, these similes are products of the characters' imaginations; the narrator is merely miming their familiarization of the threatening landscape. Like the wobbling boat that serves as its controlling metaphor, the story is concerned with what can be taken in, and what must be kept out, in order to ensure sanity and social stability. No matter how vast and wild its territory, realism concentrates on the most local mechanisms for stabilizing the social world-human perceptions and categories.

The central features of realism-the trope of vigilance, the emphasis on internalization, and the focus on individual over collective experience-come together in the most distinctive aspect of realist fiction-its view of character as type. The type supplies an immediately identifiable public persona, a boundary around the self. But it also acknowledges some residual aspects of personality that are inexpressible to others and perhaps even unknown to the individual. In the essay "How Is Society Possible?" Georg Simmel refers to the "non-social imponderables"-temperament, fate, etc.-those features that lend "a certain nuance" to an individual but do not fundamentally change his "relevant social category." This makes the self po-199- tentially limitless in idiosyncratic terms, but poses a limit on what individuals can be in social terms. In keeping with this, Stephen Crane's "Oiler," "Westerner," "Cook," and "Gambler," as well as Henry James's "Heiress" and "Dilettante," are individuals limited by function. But the idiosyncratic freedoms allotted James's more central characters are finally inconsequential in terms of plot. They are not allowed to stand in the way of their social function. Thus, Isabel Archer, the "intelligent but presumptuous girl. . affronting [her] destiny," for all her expansiveness, is fundamentally a type, and is so conceived by her fellow characters.

The typing of realist characters counters a threat that continually pressures the realist text: the threat of collective identification. The concept of type provides a view of self-sufficient, uniformly related individuals, whose collective existence is a matter not of choice or identity but of interdependence. Society promotes differences among its members so that they may be profitably related. This ideology of interdependence was set against the forms of spontaneous association that from the late eighteenth-century era of revolution to the late nineteenth-century era of expansion social observers most feared.

The novels of Henry James may appear to have little in common with naturalism. But in fact the issue of social evolution is a dominant concern of James's fiction, especially the fiction of the major phase. Poised on the edge of a new century, imposing its titular category of adolescence on society as well as on women, The Awkward Age (1899) is an exemplary case of this deepening concern. What are the differences among cultural rites for socializing women? how do those of modern society compare to those of primitive society? are there elements of barbarism in modern culture? — these are the questions the novel addresses. Like Thorstein Veblen's The Theory of the Leisure Class (published the same year), which ruthlessly cataloged the primitive offenses of modern elites, James's satire on the British ruling class focuses on their treatment of women. The marriage market of James's modern London looks suprisingly like the barter systems of primitive societies described by contemporary social theorists such as Herbert Spencer and J. F. McLennan (whose Primitive Marriage James owned and almost certainly read).

In her essay "The Traffic in Women," Gayle Rubin discusses the -200- ominous constancy of women's treatment from primitive to modern times. "Women are given in marriage, taken in battle, exchanged for favors, sent as tribute, traded, bought, and sold. Far from being confined to the 'primitive' world, these practices seem only to become more pronounced and commercialized in more 'civilized' societies." From its opening pages, The Awkward Age is explicit about the commodification of women in the modern era. It seems to go out of its way to press the similarities between primitive and modern societies. For the novel's upper class shares a critical affinity with the primitive populations described by the era's sociologists: their demise is at hand. The novel's elite offers little hope for generational continuity. Its female protagonist, Nanda Brookenham, is described at one point as just the kind to preside over "a fine old English family" of "halfa-dozen." The projected size of Nanda's family is statistically precise: four was the minimum number of offspring specified by population experts of this era for a stock to maintain itself. The novel's end, however, pictures Nanda's retreat to the country as the ward of a man three times her age, her prospects for marriage and family ruined. James's portrait of an upper class in decline, stripped of its reproductive powers, is consistent with the perceptions of other social observers of his day.

James's seedy upper class helps to shed light on social taxonomies of the era, where elites appeared in catalogs of "special classes" requiring scientific scrutiny. In a 1900 essay on social types published simultaneously in Durkheim's L'Année Sociologique and excerpted in The American Journal of Sociology, S. R. Steinmetz cites the variety of social characters about whom too little is known. "There are great entomological studies for the study of insects," he observes, "but we do not give ourselves any trouble to know the people around us." Among these unknowns, he cites the "primitive populations" "rapidly disappearing." He includes as well what he calls "special classes of the population": "prostitutes, the criminal and dangerous classes. . wandering artists, nobles, millionaires." The obvious mystery on this list is social elites ("nobles, millionaires"). Why would its members require scientific attention? What does it share with these other groups? Each of these groups is marginal to the interdependent community of socialized selves described by Albion Small. At the same time, each helps to define the boundaries of that functional society by -201- its very marginal relationship to it. As our observations so far have suggested, James's social circle has most in common with the "disappearing" "primitive peoples."

Yet why would primitives and nobles require scientific scrutiny? Primitives and nobles need to be managed intellectually because they contradict the narrative of evolutionary progress favored by social analysts of the era. Primitives threaten the thesis of evolutionary uniformity that ascribes a fundamental similarity to the development of all peoples. Primitives are defined as vestiges of a previous evolutionary stage, with little promise of meeting the demands of evolutionary progress, and their rapid decline is predicted. As a supposedly superior class that is regressing, nobles are living contradictions of the evolutionary thesis. Degenerate rather than vital, incapable of transmitting their valuable traits, they are defined as a social excrescence, a class that has been living off the fruits of others' labor for too long.

James's attentions to the place of his bourgeois and aristocratic characters on the evolutionary scale goes to the heart of a fictional enterprise usually considered alien to his fiction, naturalism. By exposing the barbaric propensities of civilized society, James revises the dominant nineteenth-century narrative of evolutionary progress. If James pictures a reservoir of social superiority that cannot sustain itself, Frank Norris and Theodore Dreiser explore a self-destructive sphere of social difference, the world of the lower class and the immigrant.

Naturalist literature provided an analytical yet voyeuristic view into the low life. Both senses of this perspective-the detached and the compulsive-are important. Even when naturalist narrators betray overt hostility (a naturalist trademark) toward their precivilized characters, there is still room for identification with them. For turnof-the-century readers, immersed in ideas of progress, naturalism provided the experience of looking into an evolutionary mirror. Readers could see themselves at an earlier historical moment: barbaric, unconscious, twisted. Thus naturalist characters incited an antagonism that might easily be internalized, illuminating one's own carefully hidden savagery. The difference of naturalist characters, then, was a difference that had to be reckoned with. As Michel Foucault has observed, prior to the seventeenth century every species was identified in and of itself, by a certain mark that it bore independent of all other species. But from the seventeenth century onward, identity was es-202- tablished in relation to all other possible identities. By the nineteenth century, difference was understood in terms of a larger conviction about the cohesiveness and unity of the social organism. Naturalist literature solved the problem of how to accommodate the alien and brutal with a normative reading of human progress in accordance with that of Herbert Spencer. At its most extreme, naturalist characters threw into relief the progress of "normal" Americans.

The worlds of Frank Norris, in Vandover and the Brute (1914) and McTeague (1899) in particular, are worlds of extreme naturalism. McTeague features inbred, sterile, and insane characters-the wasted undesirables who are better left to die out. Immobilized oddities (Old Grannis and Miss Baker), distorted gold worshipers (Maria Macapa, Zerkow, and Trina McTeague), brutes (McTeague and Marcus Schouler), these are human types who fail at everything: love, business, mere survival. Nor is it accidental that these characters have strange-sounding names. McTeague's abnormals were the immigrant and worker populations, whose features when seen up close justified their domination. Norris's fundamental contempt for his characters is exemplified by the novel's ending, where McTeague survives a monumental desert struggle against Marcus Schouler only to find himself handcuffed to the dead body. What the perverse underworld of McTeague shares with the hypercivilized community of The Awkward Age is the incapacity for self-generation.

The works of Theodore Dreiser offer a different perspective on naturalism by highlighting a modern capitalist social order that has subsumed the natural. In contrast to Norris's degenerate (and eminently expendable) social types, Dreiser's fiction features functional types who become dysfunctional. A register of the differences between Norris's and Dreiser's naturalism is their metaphorical use of newspapers. Norris's characters don't read newspapers (it's not clear that they can even read); rather they are the stuff of newspapers. Dreiser's characters, in contrast, are guided by them. Far from Norris's sites of extremity, newspapers in Dreiser are repositories of human possibility to be imitated. In Dreiser newspapers are a paradoxical medium both craved and feared. To be an object of publicity is an ideal state. Yet publicity can also mean that one is a victim or a casualty. Dreiser's fictions are themselves like newspapers, representing the unlikely but accessible circumstances that elude the majority. Consider, for example, Clyde Griffiths, the everyman who becomes -203- the dastardly object of awed crowds as he enters prison, or Hurstwood, who begins Sister Carrie (1900) as a generic businessman and ends as a pathetic object of urban voyeurs in a panhandler's line. Publicity is also the lot of Sister Carrie in her acting stardom, but it is the nature of a "star" to fall as well as rise. As they fall, Dreiser's characters become spectacles, illustrating the potential decline of anyone in the risk-driven society of capitalism. The vicissitudes of modern capitalism as portrayed in Dreiser's works put barbarism always within our reach.

Thus, where Norris's naturalism tends to corroborate a social evolutionary scheme, Dreiser's naturalism, by showing how such a scheme justifies and entrenches a man-made social system, tends to challenge it. Dreiser is interested in social science and capitalism as interpenetrating ideologies. He is at once more committed to and reflective about social scientific analysis. Like contemporary social scientists, he is drawn to the situations and individuals that repeat in modern life: the social fall or rise, the sexual conquest, the doubledealing, the "American Tragedy," the ambitious youth, the coquette, the female innocent, the fast-talking city slicker. This cataloging impulse, however, defines the limit of Dreiser's fascination with American capitalism. Likewise, Dreiser parts ways with the passive vision of Social Darwinism, including its instrumental version. In shadow types like the Captain of Sister Carrie, who opposes the sentimental idealism of the supposed hero, Ames, in portraits of immobile worlds dominated by rhetorics of social mobility (An American Tragedy [1925]), Dreiser reveals the prevailing social theory of his era to be the ideological handmaid to a basically unjust capitalist system. Dreiser's resistance to the naturalist assumptions embedded in liberal social theory brings us to the final set of literary examples to be considered: two writers who first embraced the practical potential of social science, and ended up more critical of its assumptions than any of the authors so far discussed. Yet however critical they became, W. E. B. Du Bois and Gertrude Stein remained attached to social science in ways that informed the works that are of concern to the history of the novel-The Souls of Black Folk (1903) and The Making of Americans (1906-8).

W. E. B. Du Bois and Gertrude Stein share the position of social marginals, as well as the experience of social scientific training. Both -204- were also self-exiles from American society: Du Bois settled in Ghana at the end of his life, Stein moved to Paris before she was thirty. Perhaps the most significant similarity is that both studied with William James and were heavily influenced by his pragmatist social science.

For Du Bois and Stein, typecasting was not an inevitable process but a political activity. Both saw the damaging effects of typecasting on their respective social groups and believed that greater control over their group's representation would extend its social possibility. They sought out the role of the expert cataloger of modern social life as a means of remedy and instruction.

As two writers who were personally implicated in questions of social difference and drawn to the promise of liberal social science, Du Bois and Stein represent powerful confrontations with the central intellectual concerns of their era: the seductive potential of categories and types, the social scientific conflation of knowledge and uniformity, individualism versus collectivism as competing ideals, the role of literature in relation to social science. They are distinctive, and crucial to our exploration, in having recognized the pivotal role that social science played in the modern era. While they were critical of this role, they also pursued it. This ambivalence toward the posture of social scientific expertise is built into the narrative personae of their two major novelistic works.

Of all the literary authors discussed so far, Du Bois is unique in actively combining sociological and literary methods. As a student of history and sociology at Harvard in the 1890s (with two years of study in Germany), Du Bois was drawn to the potential of this new discipline for arbitrating the problem of race in America. He more often found, however, that sociology was a symptom of the problem rather than a solution to it. Even the most enlightened of sociologists, W. I. Thomas, in a 1904 article, "The Psychology of Race-Prejudice" (American Journal of Sociology), came perilously close to calling racial prejudice inherent. And F. H. Giddings's concept of "the consciousness of kind," which held that the sense of community inevitably diminished with the increase of racial and ethnic differences, was used to justify turn-of-the century schemes for the deportation of African Americans.

Du Bois's earliest training was in history and economics, culmi-205- nating in his dissertation The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade 1638–1870 (1896). The book's bias is historicist, that is, Du Bois focuses on the historical genesis of slavery in order to redress the condition of African Americans in his contemporary society. Like Billy Budd, Suppression is most drawn to the closing decades of the eighteenth century: Melville's post-Revolutionary era of consolidation matches Du Bois's post-Revolutionary America, the moment of enlightenment that managed to entrench the most oppressive of slave systems. "There never was a time in the history of America," wrote Du Bois, "when the system had a slighter economic, political, and moral justification than in 1787, and yet with this real, existent, growing evil before their eyes, a bargain largely of dollars and cents was allowed to open the highway that led straight to the Civil War." By delineating the economic considerations that consistently overshadowed the moral question of slavery, Suppression embodies the weight of historical memory that tempered Du Bois's faith in social instrumentalism. Any program of social action had to contend with the historical process that had created and still informed African American possibility.

Given Du Bois's career-long interest in the theoretical problem of racial difference and its relationship to conceptions of social evolution, it seems appropriate that his entry into social science was through history. Du Bois's historical approach is consistent with the methods of the era's classic sociological theorists, for whom sociological analysis required a broad command of different cultures as well as historical periods. Like Spencer, Durkheim, and Weber, Du Bois is interested in the transformation of societies, as well as in the persistence of certain ideas and habits over time. Du Bois differs from these analysts in attending to the ways in which social evolution occurs and also fails to occur as a consequence of deliberate social policy. Du Bois likewise departs from an essentially static evolutionary script (favored by Spencer and Durkheim) that projects a normative pattern of development and evaluates all populations according to that pattern. The culmination of Du Bois's training as a social scientist was his classic anatomy of African American society in Philadelphia.

The central drama of The Philadelphia Negro (1899) lies in Du Bois's effort to strike a balance between assessing the collective con-206- dition of Philadelphia's African Americans and distinguishing the various strata of that community, with their different relationships to American norms and values. His study contains the seeds of his growing dissatisfaction with social science while it lays the groundwork for the problem that would plague his career: how could a commitment to a collective African American destiny be accommodated to the promise of individual assimilation and progress dividing that collectivity? Sociological theories of stratification together with his continuing absorption in Spencerian ideas formed the unsettling core of Du Bois's method. His turn away from sociology following The Philadelphia Negro may have had as much to do with the ways in which it magnified an emerging contradiction in his own thought as with the limitations he saw in the discipline itself. In practicing sociology, he adopted the dominant sociological trajectory of his era: the supplanting of basically conservative, essentialist notions about human potential with a liberal ideal that emphasized assimilation and training. This new ideal, however, retained a fundamental tie to the essentialist view, in upholding a belief in "the survival of the fittest." The superior elements of any social group, went the argument, would inevitably rise and prosper. Given this sociological climate, it is not surprising that an outgrowth of Du Bois's Philadelphia study was his first conceptualization of "the talented tenth," an attempt to distinguish the best "strata" of the African American race.

Du Bois's adaptation of these sociological principles for African American Philadelphia was timely, given a prevailing racial ideology of two nations, one white, one black, that relentlessly homogenized African Americans. Against this biological fiat of racial homogeneity, Du Bois set another biological fiat implicitly condoned by social science, which emphasized inherent differences of talent within each group. Du Bois thus used Social Darwinist ideas to challenge a prevailing racial ideology.

The irony is that his struggle against a white conspiracy that intentionally muffles African American achievements was mirrored by the response to his book. Through the reception (or more accurately, nonreception) of The Philadelphia Negro by the sociological profession-which took over half a century to confer its "classic" status-Du Bois experienced firsthand the limits upon all African Americans. Du Bois's failure to gain a hearing as a sociologist sig-207- naled the failed promise of the discipline's liberal assumptions. In declaring his next major study, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), a work of "faith and passion," he seemed to be deliberately distancing himself from the rational agenda of The Philadelphia Negro.

In The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois undertakes the imaginative reconstruction of the territory he covered in his sociological classic. His desire to gain control over the representation of African Americans will not be accomplished through the straitjacket of sociological method, he implies, but requires a more literary technique. If Philadelphia undertakes the work of social description, Souls undertakes the work of social change. Philadelphia selects among preexisting African American types assigned by the dominant society, while Souls surveys all the available African American types and, finding them wanting, begins to recover the powers of self-identification for African Americans themselves.

The two books are best seen as companion pieces, which need to be read together in order to understand their deepest implications. The striving Philadelphian bent on self-improvement joins the collectivity of African American souls. The insistence of Souls on plurality suggests Du Bois's new attitude toward the liberal individualism of sociology-it has never represented a true possibility for African Americans. Souls dismisses the claim that African Americans are individuals, the "fittest" capable of assimilating and rising like any "immigrant" group. What was deplored in Philadelphia, the "tendency on the part of the community to consider the Negroes as comprising one practically homogeneous mass," is embraced in Souls. The homogenizing of African Americans is transformed into an enabling device; African Americans become a self-identified and therefore empowered collectivity. Souls explodes some other powerful sociological myths as well. The trajectory of Philadelphia is from South to North, as the book charts the making of a modern African American populace, a narrative of liberal progress that pictures the race's "fittest" rising to the top. Souls, however, moves from North to South, thus implying that African Americans must come to terms with the roots of their experience in America, by returning to "the scene of the crime," as it were. The static evolutionary reading of African American history in Philadelphia-history in the sociological vein as a grand narrative that explains the present via the past-is -208- replaced by history as bricolage. Souls is annales history: an amalgam of tales, songs, mythologies, critiques, autobiography, elegy. Its concern is not progress measured in terms of the dominant society but the shaping of collective identity.

Souls seems in every way opposed to its social scientific predecessor, yet in fact Du Bois never strays very far from an implicitly sociological agenda. His achievement is that he manages at once to criticize and to revitalize the new science of society. Souls is filled with critical references to "the cold statistician," the "sociologists who gleefully count" African American "bastards" and "prostitutes," "the car window sociologist. . who seeks to understand and know the South by devoting the few leisure hours of a holiday trip to unravelling the snarl of centuries."

Du Bois's answer to these limitations is the aestheticizing of sociology. The sociological method of typecasting becomes exploratory, experimental. Far from merely typologizing, Souls elaborates a theory of types. For what is the color line but the penultimate type or boundary demarcating the limit of African American possibility? The book is a sustained effort to extend the boundary around the African American self. Du Bois devotes each chapter to elaborating a different unrealized potential: the African American as failed transmitter of a generational legacy (chapter 11, on the death of his son); the African American as failed educator (chapter 4, on his teaching career in Tennessee); the African American as failed spiritual leader (chapter 12, on Alexander Crummel). These promising but unfulfilled types are played off against the degraded types of the dominant society. The book is thus a dialectic of typological categories, and Du Bois's major insight is that the African American self internalizes them all. Thus the "warring" within that derives from this "doubleconsciousness": "looking at one's self through the eyes of others. . measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity." The African American self is alienated from both versions of self: the type of the white society, and the inner soul with which it conflicts.

But as Du Bois suggests, this condition of double-consciousness is also basic to the practice of sociology. As a discipline that enacts the dilemma of being subject and object simultaneously, whose practitioners are inevitably the objects of their own investigations, sociol-209- ogy epitomizes the circumstances of the African American soul. Because contemporary sociology failed to come to terms with this paradox, it could not realize the promise it held out to Du Bois.

By conceptualizing a different kind of social science founded upon a critique of capitalism, as well as an awareness of its own perilous objectivity, Du Bois pointed the way toward a critical social theory that would not be fully articulated until the rise of the Frankfurt School thirty years later. This perspective, formulated by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, among others, rejected orthodox social science, the American version in particular, as an apology for capitalism. They adopted in its place a theory based on the method of negative dialectics, critical of all reigning forms of analysis, and directed toward fundamental social change. For W. E. B. Du Bois, as well as for Adorno and Horkheimer, a social theory without this commitment was unworthy of the name.

Du Bois's ventures in literature after Souls had limited results. His first full-fledged novel, The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911), has all the trappings of socialist realism, with its cast of dark and light characters: the idealized African American hero and heroine, Bles and Zora; the weak and selfish whites, most of them monstrous vessels of capitalist greed; the weak African Americans who succumb to the evil temptations of capitalism. It is telling that however ambivalent Du Bois was toward the sociology of his day, he never equaled the powerful blend of literary and sociological imaginings he achieved in Souls.

"Mostly no one knowing me can like it that I love it that everyone is a kind of men and women, that always I am looking and comparing and classifying them, always I am seeing their repeating." So writes Gertrude Stein in The Making of Americans, expressing her era's simultaneous attraction and resistance to social categorization. Her own most obvious response is parody. The lists of human types that pervade Stein's "great American novel" are often absurd. One such list runs to: "being one liking swimming, being one tired of ocean bathing before they have really been in more than twice in a season." But despite such parodic attitudes, she was deeply committed to the enterprise of knowing human kinds. How did Stein come to be a maker of lists? What brought her to desire a unified knowl-210- edge of America? A clue to these questions lies in her pursuit of social science.

Stein's advanced education began at Harvard in the 1890s, where she studied mainly psychology, and ended at Johns Hopkins at the turn of the century, where she studied brain anatomy. Both of these educational experiences suggest provocative sources for The Making of Americans. Stein's Harvard research (which was published as "Cultivated Motor Automatism: A Study of Character in Its Relation to Attention," in The Psychological Review, 1898) was based on experiments with Harvard and Radcliffe students. It addressed the question of how automatic behavior can be cultivated in human subjects; how can subjects be made to internalize suggested actions as their own habits? Among the issues that Stein's experiment takes up is the question of gender difference: is there a consistent opposition between male and female responses to suggested action? Another is the problem of change: once learned, how can subjects be induced to abandon old actions and adopt new ones? Stein's research produced its own catalog of human types. Type I, "girls. . found naturally in literature courses" and men bound for law, is "nervous, high-strung, very imaginative." Type II, "blond and pale," is "distinctly phlegmatic," a general "New England" type that is repressed and selfconscious. The parallels between Stein's research and the ideas of William James are revealing. James describes habit, in the famous essay of that name, as "the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious conservative agent. . It also prevents the hardest and most repulsive walks of life from being deserted by those brought up to tread therein." With this observation, James links the intricate psychology of habit to larger mechanisms of organization and control. And this points to the larger arena Stein will create for her psychological studies in The Making of Americans.

At Johns Hopkins Medical School, where she went on the advice of James, Stein sought even more objective knowledge of human minds. Garland Allen, a historian of biology, has characterized the dominant tradition at Hopkins during this period as "descriptive naturalist." This involved an emphasis on morphology — the study and classification of form — which assumed the underlying unity of diverse organisms. Among the techniques taught was the construction of -211- family trees and phylogenies, which identified a single common ancestor as the progenitor of modern lines.

Stein's developing interest in typology culminated in her preoccupation with the work of Otto Weininger, the German psychologist, whose book Sex and Character (1906) inspired her during her writing of The Making of Americans. A precursor to Nazi ideology, Weininger's book offered a system of characterology, whose main purpose seemed to be the identification of human types that threatened the deterioration of nations. However rigidly schematic Weininger's ideas, he was willing to accept ambiguity, by admitting that some despised characteristics were present to varying degrees in all human types. Significantly, in light of Stein's Jewish-lesbian identity, the two main sources of degeneracy in Weininger's system were Jews and women. The extent of feminine possibility for Weininger was prostitute, mother, servant, saint, and masculine woman. Jews occupied a unique position in Weininger's typology since Jewish traits were confined to the race alone. They therefore provide an opportunity for the in-depth study of degeneracy.

What is so obviously startling about Stein's adoption of Weininger's ideas, which she claimed expressed "her own thoughts exactly," was that it required the complete suppression of her own identity. Indeed, she seems to have identified so fully with Weininger that she sometimes referred to his system as her own. As she wrote in her notebook, "That thing of mine of sex and mind and character all coming together seems to work absolutely." Stein's engagement with Weininger points to an important feature of The Making of Americans. Stein's representation of her own subjective processes, her use of herself as an object of study, was a means of self-distancing. Stein's spectacular detachment fulfills Georg Simmel's sociological prescription for aesthetics, from The Philosophy of Money: "The basic principle of art was to bring us closer to things by placing them at a distance from us." It also reveals what is perhaps the most elitist aspect of Stein's vision: that other human beings are to her objects, with readily identifiable "bottom beings," while Stein's own identity is endlessly elusive and revisable.

The Making of Americans is an effort to bring us closer to the various mythologies of American culture, by analytically detaching ourselves from them. American minds, the book's narrative suggests, -212- are thickets of repetition: filled with a finite set of stories, plans, opinions. Stay with one for a certain length of time and you begin to hear the repetitions, to note patterns, which hold the clue to that individual's "bottom being." This white noise exists in our minds apart from the practical thoughts that impel our action. When we sit back to reflect on ourselves, or to present ourselves to others, we become aware of the fog of repetition in which we are always enveloped. If this is true on an individual level, it is also true of nations. Perhaps more than any other American writer, Stein is devoted to the idea of a national mind. For Stein this national mind, like the repetitions that reveal individual being, comes alive through cliché, parable, all the little stories that form the mental tissue of American life. Another name for this mental tissue is ideology, and Stein aims to crack the enormous web of images and ideals that go into the making of Americans.

The central creation of Stein's novel is the great American writer. Stein claims supreme authority for writers. Stories are powerful. They exploit, indeed they create, the appetite for fantasy that is essential to any successful nation.

Yet how are we to take Stein's emphasis, starting with the title, on the production side of American culture? As a catalog of the seemingly infinite number of American types, Stein's book can be understood as celebrating the sheer activity of production. This is consistent with the spirit of her gargantuan 925-page book. It seems to contradict, however, her continual undermining of human reproduction and hereditary transmission. What Stein is suggesting is that this patriarchal model is becoming obsolete, the concept of fathering is losing ground to another kind of manufacture. Progress, as Stein defines it, involves the displacement of traditional forms of production by a modern capitalist ideal of production, with which the monumentally productive writer implicitly identifies. At the same time, Stein's American writer has become an active producer of selves, in the sociological vein. To this end, the novel begins with a sputtering, fantastically abbreviated patriarchal plea for the maintenance of tradition. And the remainder of the book can be read as a rebuttal of this two-line dictum.

The patriarchal figure who threatens to dominate the book is David Hersland, who closely resembles Stein's own father Daniel. In -213- contrast to the other fathers, this immigrant who made good fulfills a very liberal, very modern American pattern. He had "gone west to make his fortune. . he was big and abundant and full of new ways of thinking." An Emersonian type, "he was as big as all the world about him. . the world was all him, and there was no difference in it in him. . there were no separations of him or from him, and the whole world he lived in always lived inside him." David Hersland is the representative of the misguided dream of human transparency and uniformity. And in a sense Stein's whole book is an assault on this dream. The world, Stein argues, does not conform to the domineering unities of this patriarch. And yet the real action of her book involves not so much his discrediting as his rebirth in the form of the great American novelist. Stein's own penchant for knowing the social world, for cataloging its various parts, derives from this figure. Every restriction of this desire, every assertion that society resists knowledge and codification, is balanced by a reaffirmation of the desire to know. Though Stein readily admits that any such effort is bound to be a process of self-codification, she also recognizes this as a truth too dark to accept.

In one of the book's most brilliant passages, Stein records our stubborn inability to accept this darkness. She describes "being with someone who has always been walking with you, and you always have been feeling that one was seeing everything with you and you feel then that they are seeing that thing the way you are seeing it and then you go sometime with that one to a doctor to have that one have their eyes examined and then you find that things you are seeing, you are writing completely only for one and that is yourself then and to every other one it is a different thing. . You know it then yes but you do not really know it as a continuous knowing in you for then in living always you are feeling that someone else is understanding, feeling seeing something the way you are feeling, seeing, understanding that thing."

This passage is paradigmatic of Stein's vision. It reflects her preoccupation with the very processes by which human beings process knowledge, a subject as visceral as the function of the retina. Harking back to her interest in anatomy and automatic action, the passage reveals her conviction that predispositions, ideas, myths, once absorbed, are as stubborn as biology. This does not make Stein a bi-214- ological determinist. Rather she imaged ideology in physical terms as a reminder of its power. The passage is most striking in its awareness of the limits of awareness. You can know this "truth," about the limits of knowing, she says, you can look it square in the face, but it won't change your fundamental need to know. It won't alter the presumptuous habits that form the basis of American liberalism-that society and its members are transparent, that they are just like us.

The Making of Americans brings us full circle in our analysis, back to Ian Hacking's sense of "Making Up People." For Stein, as for Hacking, to classify is to invent; describing is a creative activity. Typological description involves not only the invention of human beings but the invention of language. "So I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the idea of describing really describing every individual that could exist," Stein writes in The Gradual Making of The Making of Americans (1934-35), "while I was doing all this all unconsciously at the same time a matter of tenses and sentences came to fascinate me." Stein's experimental language, this passage suggests, comes directly out of her addiction to social scientific methods of description. Her understanding of social scientific method reveals its fundamentally aesthetic aspects. While it locks others into typological schemes, it frees the typologist for acts of invention.

Stein's America, a turn-of-the-century scene of immigration, scientific discovery, economic expansion, looming sexual liberation, offers an open field for the making of Americans. The typological thinking of this era reveals a moment when the concerns of American novelists were vividly aligned with those of more scientific social analysts. In keeping with the other novelists we have discussed, Stein's sustained meditations on typological thinking remind us that literature tends to absorb contemporary ideologies. But they also remind us that literature can give us insight into social categories-the historical pressures that shape them, the human beings they affect-and, in so doing, may provide a source of resistance as well as a source of understanding and critique.

Susan Mizruchi


Fiction and Reform II

The second half of the nineteenth century in the United States was characterized by an enormous number of social reform movements. Indeed, roughly the last twenty years of the century have been designated by some historians as the Age of Protest and Reform. This period began around 1878, when the nation was racked by postwar financial panic and depression, and ended in 1898 with a return to "prosperity" occasioned by the discovery of gold and by inflation related to the Spanish-American War. But even before the onset of this officially recognized period of social protest, authors were using the novel form to lodge criticisms about social injustices they felt marred American life. Among the issues that were foremost in national debate during the period are abolitionism, feminism, agrarian protest, and industrial labor conditions. Each of these issues is treated directly and explicitly in at least one of the novels under consideration in this chapter. At the same time, as will become clear, it is possible to trace relations between these works and other less obviously "political" works of the era, and in doing so we will be able to identify the interest in social reform as not merely the discrete characteristic of a few writers and activists but rather as constitutive of an entire culture in which these persons performed their work.

If we are to understand that work fully, we must first understand what sort of undertaking is designated by "reform." The term is commonly used to refer to an improvement in social and political conditions that is brought about without a radical change in existent -216- social and political structures. Of course, the question of what constitutes "radical change" is a very difficult one to answer. We may be aided here by recourse to what are currently taken as the three dominant modes of social categorization-gender, race, and class. Contemporary social theory and cultural criticism are developing an everincreasing sense of the fundamental interrelation of these categories in the constitution of our society. Thus, to the extent that any given movement fails to recognize that interrelation, it then falls short of envisioning a really revolutionary social transformation-it is properly reformist. The movements characteristic of the late nineteenth century (like most of those current today) were constituted in precisely this way. Moreover, even when activists proposed social changes that would no doubt have brought about developments that most people would have experienced as radically new — the socialization of the economy, for instance, or the admission of women into all spheres of public life-the means by which they sought to incorporate these changes were by and large characterized by moderation, gradualism, and/or work through established social and political mechanisms, as opposed to sudden revolutionary transformation. Having posited this definition of reform culture during the latter half of the nineteenth century, we are now well prepared to be confronted with the many exceptions to it that any survey of the period will undoubtedly uncover. And yet, any modifications we must make in our understanding of the reform impulse should be seen not as invalidating this initial conception but rather as indicating the great difficulty of painting with broad strokes a national history whose import will lie largely in the fine, specific details of the individual experiences that constitute it.

Any history of the reform novel in the latter half of the nineteenth century would have to begin with a consideration of Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. This novel-an abolitionist narrative that advocated the ultimate repatriation of African Americans from the United States to colonies in West Africa-crystallizes the effect of a major political development that occurred right at the midpoint of the nineteenth century. The year 1850 saw the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, which mandated the return of fugitive slaves even from the nonslaveholding Northern states into which they might have escaped. By legislating the North's complicity in slavery, -217- the law merely exposed the fact that the entire nation had been implicated in the horrors of the system from the beginning, and indicated that the ramifications of the institution were not peculiar to the South. The act was an element in the Compromise of 1850, the other major aspect of which allowed for the admission of Western territories into the Union as nonslave states. Its passage marked a moral watershed for many Northerners, who were finally brought face to face with the full significance of the slave system; and the fact that the law was signed in 1850 provides us with a means of neatly bifurcating the century so that we can consider the reform culture of the latter half as a relatively contained phenomenon. Stowe, like many other citizens who harbored antislavery sentiments, was indignant with President Millard Fillmore and, especially, with New Hampshire Senator Daniel Webster-the bulwark of New England liberalism-for supporting the bill. She turned that indignation to the writing of her abolitionist novel, which was published in 1852, and which launched her on a long public career. As Uncle Tom's Cabin provides us with a means by which to understand the strategies incorporated in all of the rest of the works we will consider, it will be necessary to give it substantial attention here.

As numerous commentators have suggested, Uncle Tom's Cabin stands not only as a testament to Stowe's strong antislavery sentiment but also as an indication of the degree to which abolitionist rhetoric was forged in the crucible of feminine-and feminist-sensibility. Organized American feminism itself had strong roots in the antislavery movement, emerging from the women's auxiliaries to maledominated abolitionist groups of the 1830s and 1840s. In fact, it was in response to the barring of women delegates from the floor of the 1840 World's Antislavery Convention in London that Elizabeth Cady Stanton began the organizing for the first women's rights convention, held at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Thus the two movements-for women's rights, including, but not limited to, suffrage, and for equality between African Americans and whites, beginning with the abolition of slavery-have long been intertwined. They have also frequently been set at odds with each other in a political context that plays different disenfranchised groups against one another. Despite the historically vexed relationship between feminism and abolition-218- ism, however, Uncle Tom's Cabin, in its particular stylistic treatment of its peculiar subject matter, actually synthesizes the two social movements in one triumphant political work.

Since at least the mid- 1970s, scholars have been engaged in a reassessment of the function of the sentimental novel in the nineteenthcentury United States. This reassessment has led to an understanding of the form's potential for effecting progressive social change through its adaptation of narrative conventions that actually seem to reflect women's passivity and subservience to men. The stereotypically feminine traits that are associated with the Victorian-era "cult of true womanhood"-piety, purity, submissiveness, domesticity-combine to make women the guardians of society's moral standards. This has provided for two primary types of plot in the sentimental novel: the plot of romantic seduction, whereby a woman's virtue is tested by the insistent overtures made to her by a relatively less scrupulous man; and the plot of moral improvement, whereby the superior virtue that is considered to characterize women actually empowers them to sway the actions of the men who come under their domestic care. It has been argued that Uncle Tom's Cabin suppresses the former sentimental structure and emphasizes the latter, depicting women as the primary agents of the antislavery activity in the novel. Stowe's work thus actually loosens the sentimental novel from its associations with the apparently profoundly private concerns of the domestic sphere and transforms it into a forum for public agitation for social reform. This mode of politicizing the domestic sphere by introducing into it the consideration of public events will be central to much reform fiction through the 1880s-and it will also provide the context within which we can understand the development of the reform novel in the final decade of the century-so it is worth emphasizing here the role Stowe's novel plays in originating the strategy.

To understand this strategy fully requires that we examine exactly how Uncle Tom's Cabin makes its argument. Obviously, there are any number of aspects of Stowe's presentation on which we might focus. It will be instructive, though, to take a cue from the author herself, whose novel, when originally published in two volumes in 1852, was subtitled "The Man That Was a Thing." For Stowe's purpose, evident in much of her rhetoric in the novel, was to impress -219- upon her readers the dehumanizing effects of slavery upon African Americans held in its thrall. This was not a new undertaking; abolitionist orators and writers had been broadcasting a very similar message throughout the 1830s and 1840s. To be sure, that most influential abolitionist tract, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, which was published in 1845, based its polemical effect on precisely the fact that the institution of slavery rendered its victims (both African American slave and white master) less than human. The difference between Douglass's treatment and Stowe's, however, lies in the specific type of dehumanization that each sees at work in slavery. Douglass repeatedly emphasizes slavery's effect of imbuing human beings with an array of animalistic traits-"behold," he says, as he describes his own downward trajectory, just before the climactic turn of the narrative, "a man transformed into a brute!" Stowe, on the other hand, specifies again and again the intended effect of slavery to transform humans not into some lower order of animal but rather into inanimate objects, traded and held as property. In the very first chapter of her novel, Stowe, having presented the slaveowner, Arthur Shelby, reflecting on his need to sell his faithful hand, Tom, and the young son of his wife's maid, makes the following pronouncement:

So long as the law considers all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things belonging to a master, — so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil, — so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the best regulated administration of slavery.

This statement is only a prelude to numerous other references to the status of slaves as things throughout the first eight chapters of the book.

We might well ask what is accomplished by Stowe's positing of the matter as she does. It is possible to argue that, by emphasizing a desired inanimate status for African American slaves, Stowe actually allows for the question of slavery itself to be brought within the compass of domestic, feminine concerns, and thus to be commented on through the mechanism of sentimental fiction. In order to under-220- stand how this works, we need first to recognize the complicated relation between the realms, mentioned earlier, of the public and the private. Let us remember that, even if Uncle Tom — and the other slaves, too, for that matter — is legally a thing, a piece of property, he is a particular kind of property: specifically, as a plantation laborer, he is a form of capital — a fund of wealth managed specifically with the aim of producing more wealth. To the extent that capital presupposes a marketplace in which different persons' wealth can be exchanged in the form of various commodities, then its function is calculated as a relatively "public" one. On the other hand, distinguished from the category of capital, there exists that set of commodities whose implication in the larger system of exchange is relatively veiled, or mystified, through their fairly infrequent circulation in it. I am thinking of property that is not only "private" but emphatically "personal," and I have in mind one particular example of such personal property from Uncle Tom's Cabin itself.

In chapter 5 of the novel, when Mr. Shelby informs his wife, Emily, of the necessity of selling Tom and the young boy, Harry, she is first horrified, and then attempts to rally to the call of economic necessity by offering a substitute bargain for the sale of the two slaves. When Mr. Shelby hopes aloud that he has convinced his wife of the necessity for his action, she responds emphatically:

"O yes, yes!" said Mrs. Shelby, hurriedly and abstractedly fingering her gold watch, — "I haven't any jewelry of any amount," she added, thoughtfully; "but would not this watch do something? — it was an expensive one, when it was bought. If I could only at least save Eliza's child, I would sacrifice anything I have."

Mrs. Shelby's insight into the nature of her family's economic straits allows her to effect the transmutation of her watch — the private possession that, for all its practical use, is still primarily a personal adornment — into an item for exchange in the public marketplace. Simultaneously, and conversely, as the personal item is being offered as a substitute for the slave in the proposed exchange, an equivalency is established whereby the status of the slave must be recognized as related to the personal, private life of, in this case, the slave mistress. Once slave status is clearly demonstrated to fall within -221- the realm of the private, the personal, the domestic, then the questions pertaining to slavery may logically be considered by women, whose stereotypical realm, after all, is the actual and metaphorical private, domestic space of the nation. In short, Uncle Tom's Cabin depends for its power on a demonstration of the fundamental interrelatedness of the private and public spheres — on showing that the private is the public or, to put it in the terms of second-wave feminism, that the personal is political.

The confusion between private and public in the matter of slavery is explicitly manifested in the novel in a scene between Senator and Mrs. Bird, who assist the runaway slave, Eliza, as she makes her way toward the North. Just before Eliza's arrival at the Birds' home, Mrs. Bird remonstrates with her husband for his support, in the Ohio state legislature, of a fugitive slave act: "Things have got to a pretty pass, if a woman can't give a warm supper and a bed to poor, starving creatures, just because they are slaves, and have been abused and oppressed all their lives, poor things!" Her husband responds with what he considers to be typically masculine rationality:

"But, Mary, just listen to me. Your feelings are all quite right, dear, and interesting, and I love you for them; but, then, dear, we mustn't suffer our feelings to run away with our judgment; you must consider it's a matter of private feeling, — there are great public interests involved, — there is such a state of public agitation rising, that we must put aside our private feelings."

On the contrary, however, it is precisely by filtering public events through private feelings that the reform impulse is developed in the historical context under consideration, and this strategy certainly accounts for Stowe's ability to mount an abolitionist protest through the feminized form of sentimental fiction.

In its narrative treatment of the public/private relationship, Uncle Tom's Cabin prefigures much other reform fiction from the latter half of the nineteenth century. Nine years after the publication of Stowe's novel, just at the outbreak of the Civil War, Rebecca Harding Davis published her remarkable Life in the Iron Mills in the April 1861 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. This piece of fiction, which has been seen as representing the first step in American literature's transition from romanticism to realism, depicts the fate of two immigrant workers in the mills of a Midwestern industrial town. Hugh Wolfe rolls -222- iron in the vast works that, by the time of Harding's writing, are operating around the clock; his cousin, Deborah, is a "picker" in a cotton mill. The structure of Harding's narrative is such that it demonstrates the oppressive conditions of life in the factories both as they are experienced by Hugh and Deb themselves and as they are viewed from the vantage of a middle-class observer, represented in the narrator.

The opening of Harding's tale has become famous since its reprinting by the Feminist Press in 1972:

A cloudy day: do you know what that is in a town of iron-works? The sky sank down before dawn, muddy, flat, immovable. The air is thick, clammy with the breath of crowded human beings. It stifles me. I open the window, and, looking out, can scarcely see through the rain the grocer's shop opposite, where a crowd of drunken Irishmen are puffing Lynchburg tobacco in their pipes. I can detect the scent through all the foul smells ranging loose in the air.

And, three paragraphs later:

Can you see how foggy the day is? As I stand here, idly tapping the windowpane, and looking out through the rain at the dirty back-yard and the coalboats below, fragments of an old story float up before me, — a story of this old house into which I happened to come to-day.

From this point, the tale is related of the Welsh-born industrial workers who are the focus of Harding's story. But these opening lines are crucial, for they posit the grim reality of the mill workers' lives as an irruption into the narrator's apparently comfortable middle-class existence. After all, we do learn, at the end of the narrative, that the storyteller is ensconced in her domestic library, which is scattered with a number of objects of distinction: "A half-moulded child's head; Aphrodite; a bough of forest-leaves; music; work; homely fragments, in which lie the secrets of all eternal truth and beauty." It is striking then that, as she meditates in her insulation, the narrator should remark about the air of the mill town, "It stifles me." The personal effect that the stifling atmosphere of the mills has on the narrator indicates the degree to which the private, middle-class domestic space is penetrated by the machinery of industrial capital. The inevitable implication of the industrial world in the domestic realm is underscored, as well, by the fact that the story of Hugh and Deb -223- Wolfe, which the narrator relates, is the story, too, "of this old house," which the narrator presently occupies, and which is also "the one where the Wolfes lived."

The plot of Life in the Iron Mills is relatively simple. Hugh Wolfe, oddly independent and standoffish from the other millhands, is visited by two parties one evening as he labors overtime at the ironworks. One is his cousin Deb, a young, hunchbacked woman who ardently loves Hugh, and who this night, as on other evenings when he works the night shift, brings him a dinner pail; the other is a group of men from the upper classes come to take a tour of the mill while Deb is there. They include a Mr. Kirby, son of one of the millowners, the factory overseer, a town physician, a newspaper reporter, and a relative of Kirby's from out of town, named Mitchell. While at the mill, they marvel not only at the roar and bustle of the works themselves but also at a strange female figure that Hugh has carved out of korl, the refuse from the iron ore (the subtitle of Life in the Iron Mills is "The Korl Woman"). She has a strained and anguished-looking countenance, but is so muscular — in clear contrast to the Victorian "true woman" — that the gentlemen cannot understand when Hugh explains her pained expression by saying "She be hungry." Obviously, her hunger is a spiritual one, born of the stifling existence that her class endures as laborers in the industrial machine, which is evidently Davis's point; and this fact is clarified when Hugh specifies to his inquisitors that she is hungry for "Summat to make her live, I think, — like you." This statement provokes a debate amongst the visitors about exactly who is responsible for the social welfare of the factory workers.

While this exchange is going on, though, Deb makes her own grab at "summat to make her live" by stealing from Mitchell's pocket a wallet that contains a little cash and a check for a substantial amount of money. Following some persuasion on her part after she and Hugh leave the mill, he decides to keep the wallet, and is arrested the next day for theft. He is quickly tried, convicted, and sentenced to nineteen years in prison (literally half his life, as is pointed out in the Feminist Press notes to the book: the life expectancy at the time for men in his position was thirty-seven years; Hugh is nineteen when he is incarcerated). Deb gets a three-year jail sentence for acting as his accomplice. Rather than waste away in prison, Hugh kills himself by -224- slicing his veins with a piece of sharpened tin. Deb is befriended by a helpful Quaker woman, and lives a pious life among the community of Friends after her release.

What remains, however, is the figure of the korl woman itself, which stands, hidden behind a curtain, in the narrator's library. Its position there suggests the status of the story of Hugh and Deb, which, it has been proposed, is a realist narrative set in the romantic frame of the narrator's rhetoric. The korl figure represents unsettling questions about social inequities within the newly developing system of industrial capitalism, and its position in the narrator's library represents the introduction of those questions into the private realm of the domestic space, in which context they become fodder for a reform movement that is both represented in and occasioned by such works as Life in the Iron Mills.

In terms of literary history, Life in the Iron Mills is a remarkably prescient indicator of the characteristics of later works of United States literature. Observers have drawn links between its motifs and those of such disparate naturalist novels as Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1894), Frank Norris's McTeague (1899), Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899), and Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (1900). Davis's exposure of the millhands' lives has been likened to the exploration of turn-of-the-century urban ghettos represented in Jacob Riis's text-cum-photo essay, How the Other Half Lives (1890). The dramatic theatricality that characterizes the behaviors of her fictional personages has been seen as prefiguring a similar strain in Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), Norris's The Pit (1902), and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth (1905). These associations are all traceable through the narrative techniques that Davis utilizes, many of which appear repeatedly in the later works. But Life in the Iron Mills is not merely a precursor of American literary realism and naturalism; it is also a powerful instance of reform fiction — a status to which most later naturalism was prevented from acceding, however graphic its depiction of social inequality and the squalor of the poor, owing to its equally strong sense of the immutably determined and deterministic nature of those very conditions. Davis's work is deterministic, without a doubt — suggesting that Hugh and Deborah have inherited the conditions of their parents before them, just as does the wealthy Kirby; and that the future may be beyond their -225- ability to control — but it also suggests the possibility of transcendence of these conditions through Deb's association with the Quaker community, well known during the period for its interest and activity in effecting social reform through individual action. Consequently, Davis's work can illuminatingly be aligned with later realist works of social criticism, such as Hamlin Garland's A Spoil of Office (1892) and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906), both of which will be taken up here. Critics have also considered it to be centrally positioned amongst a trio of social reform works that establish the conventions for the later material: Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Davis work, and The Silent Partner (1871), by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.

Phelps's novel incorporates a number of aspects of literary naturalism, including grimly realistic depictions of the life of Sip Garth and other workers in the cotton mills of Five Falls, Massachusetts. Moreover, Phelps utilizes what critics have identified as a key symbolic structure of naturalism, whereby one particular entity is early on associated with the main character of the story and its significance evolves along with the fate of that character. In Norris's McTeague, gold is such an emblem; in Dreiser's Sister Carrie, it is the rocking chair; in Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, it is Henry's wound; in Life in the Iron Mills, it is the iron itself. In The Silent Partner, this naturalistic emblem is the hand of Perley Kelso, the daughter of one of the owners of the factory where Sip works. At the beginning of the novel that hand is beautiful and beringed, for Perley is to be married to Maverick Hayle, her father's junior partner. After she meets Sip in the street one evening, though, subsequent to which news of her father's sudden death is rapidly conveyed to her, Perley decides to test the limits of her new status as a silent partner in the firm (the only status that her fiancé and his father will allow the young woman with respect to the business) by trying to reform the condition of the millhands. Her insistence on this course of action — along with her growing realization that it is through the agency of the firm's partners and other members of her own class that the workers are kept downalienates her from Maverick, and she terminates her engagement to him. By this point in the story her ring has already been broken, as she has forcefully brought down her hand on a table in a fit of passionate frustration over the plight of Sip and the other mill work-226- ers, and the resultant bruise on her finger is a constant portent throughout the rest of the novel.

We mustn't forget, however, what the ring has signified: betrothal, marriage, domesticity — in short, precisely the type of insulated existence characteristic of high-bred ladies such as Perley, who would normally be ignorant of the goings-on at the factories their husbands and fathers control. Perley's mission, however, becomes precisely to incorporate the world of the mills into her own private sphere; or, rather, she comes to recognize that the factory has always been implicated in her own life of luxury and opulence. For, while it is true that, after her father's death, Perley leaves her comfortable home in Boston to live permanently in the family house at Five Falls and, thus, in closer proximity to the activity at the mills, the interrelation of her life and that of the mill workers is actually pointed out to her through a much less dramatic incident.

Having become acquainted with the squalor that characterizes the lives of the mill workers, Perley insists to Maverick that a number of improvements must be made at the factories, including the establishment of a library, reading rooms, lectures, schools, relief societies, and tenement housing, all for the benefit of the laborers. Maverick protests that Hayle and Kelso cannot afford to provide such amenities, but Perley makes a cogent rejoinder based on her own knowledge not just of the resources of the company but of the manner in which they are distributed, with the employees continually stinted in their share: "I think, if I may judge from my own income, that a library and a reading-room would not bankrupt us, at least this year." Thus, Perley's impulse to reform is developed through her growing sense of the relation between the condition of the mill workers and her own rather more comfortable existence, which she actually comes to use as an index of the wrongs suffered by the workers. The consciousness that she thus develops (though it seems to slip in a way that betrays the entrenchedness of her class conditioning during her effort to mollify the workers when they consider striking over a cut in wages) influences her to eschew marriage altogether and devote her life to personal efforts at reform within the mills, which she undertakes as a means to realize her rather naive utopian vision of social equality among the classes. -227-

But The Silent Partner is not merely a utopian vision; it is also a political tract, an attempt to convince its readers, through the example of Perley Kelso, of the necessity of bettering the lot of factory workers. Consequently, it is characterized by a fair amount of didacticism in its presentation. Indeed, throughout the novel Phelps cites extensively from the Reports of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor in order to support her claims about the laborers' existence. In this respect she shares much with other reform novelists of the era, particularly those writing about slavery, such as the African American writers William Wells Brown (Clotel [1853]) and, especially, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (Iola Leroy [1892]), whose characters themselves give direct voice to Harper's appeals for social justice. The combination of utopian vision and the moral exhortation that characterizes The Silent Partner is seen, as well, in the central utopian fiction of the late nineteenth century, Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888).

Bellamy's novel is the first one treated here to fall squarely within the era that has been termed the age of protest and reform. While the period lasted, it spawned numerous movements of dissent within the United States, and saw the publication of nearly 500 social gospel and utopian novels, among which Bellamy's is the foremost. But if Looking Backward gives us the most fully developed depiction of a utopian community, it nevertheless does not suggest that this ideal social order is a "nowhere" land the attainment of which is impossible. On the contrary, Bellamy suggests that a full socialist "Nationalism," as he called it, is not only possible but inevitable, and that, to paraphrase from the contemporary artist Laurie Anderson, "paradise is exactly like where you are right now — only much better." For, indeed, Bellamy's hero, Julian West, never leaves his Boston home. He merely goes to sleep in it — or, rather, in a soundproof chamber beneath it, which he has built as a haven from the bustle of the city that prevents him from sleeping — with the aid of a mesmerist who helps him treat his insomnia. The profound power of hypnotism keeps him in a sort of state of suspended animation until he awakes, Rip Van Winkle-like, 113 years later, in the year 2000, not a day older than when he first dozed. He soon learns that Boston, and, indeed, the entire society, has been fully socialized, and he is familiarized with this brave new world under the aegis of a Dr. Leete, who -228- discovers him, and Dr. Leete's daughter, Edith. Julian spends some time becoming oriented to the fact that his new life in the future is not really a dream, and even once he assimilates this fact he actually does dream that he is back in the year 1887, bemoaning the myriad social ills attendant to the full-scale industrial capitalism of the era. He is awakened from this nightmare by Edith Leete, learns that she is actually the great-granddaughter of Edith Bartlett, who had been his fiancée in 1887, becomes engaged to her, and is installed in a university position as a lecturer in history so that they might live happily ever after into the twenty-first century.

It is the nightmare of Julian's reentrance into the nineteenth century that actually provides for the novel's transcendence of the standard representation of utopian bliss as a social impossibility, and transforms it into a novel of reform. By the time that Julian has this horrific vision, he — and the reader — has been thoroughly convinced of the superiority of twentieth-century society, so much so that, given the choice, he — and, again, the nineteenth-century reader — would clearly opt for the socialist state. It is this presentation of choice that characterizes Bellamy's novel as a reformist work, in that it implies that United States citizens must take the initiative if they hope to bring about the Edenic society Looking Backward depicts. This choice is made clear in an excerpt from a speech Bellamy gave on "Nationalism — Principles and Purposes," in Boston in 1889. As Caroline Ticknor, daughter of Bellamy's publisher remembered it, Bellamy addressed the issues of "'Plutocracy and Nationalism,' expressing his belief that one, or the other, must be the choice of the American people at the end of ten years' time." As commentators have noted, however, Looking Backward is prevented from being a call for revolution through an aspect of Bellamy's philosophy that actually runs counter to this notion of choice — that is, his sense that his brand of socialism will be an inevitable evolutionary outcome of the capitalist development characteristic of the late nineteenth century. There is a contradiction here, then, but the two elements that constitute the paradox might alternately be seen as the means by which Bellamy's novel is made to fit the bounds of reform fiction.

It is worth noting, however, what happens to the conventions of the reform novel as identified thus far once Bellamy takes up the genre. Structurally, Bellamy's framing of his tale within the conven-229- tional plot of romantic marriage seems to recapitulate the strategy already identified as operative in the other works under discussion, whereby reform is constituted through the introduction of the consideration of the public good into the context of the private, domestic sphere. Thematically, however, this public/private dynamic is not played out nearly so forcefully as it is in the earlier works. Indeed, if it is true that Julian comes to a realization of the correctness of socialist principles right in his own home, it is equally true that his never stepping out of that home indicates a striking passivity in his relation to social reform — he, personally, never has to do anything, inside his home or out of it, in order to bring about social transformation. Thus Looking Backward, while using the domestic locale as a structural device in the narrative, actually evacuates that locale of any real political significance, and, consequently, reduces the significance of the feminist impulse that is implicit in the works by Stowe, Davis, and Phelps. Looking Backward actually effectively contains its feminism by dislocating it from a domestic space that is the primary stage for the novel's action, and in which concrete reformist activity takes place, and resituating it in the relatively more limited scope of a particular character in the story: the federal government of Bellamy's twentieth-century United States provides for one female elected official who works in the federal government — an official who has the authority to veto any legislation that concerns the well-being of women.

This dislocation of feminist politics within Bellamy's novel signals" a parallel reconception of the reform fiction genre during the time of Bellamy's writing. Specifically, the domestic setting itself — which in the earlier fiction had been the locus within which any number of social concerns might be considered and acted upon, and thus implicitly linked with feminist politics — is by the 1880s reconceived as the locus specifically for the treatment of particular issues pertaining to women's social status. Thus feminism, rather than continuing to function as a fundamental guiding principle with respect to the reform activities depicted in social protest fiction, became instead merely one more issue among others, to be treated in individual works that focused on women's status in the domestic sphere. Works such as Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899) and, especially, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) — which -230- were not necessarily even considered as reform fiction at all, but rather as stories of personal complaint, until their resurrection in the late twentieth century — exemplify this emergent genre beautifully.

The Awakening provides what commentators have identified as a Whitmanesque portrayal of the evolution of a woman's sensual life and her concomitant rebellion against the restrictions of marriage through her abandonment of her husband and children and her attachment to a charming but licentious rogue. "The Yellow Wallpaper" depicts the plight of another young married woman whose physician husband has diagnosed her as suffering from hysterical nervousness and has prescribed a cure of complete inactivity and bedrest that frustrates her energetic character. Both Chopin's Edna Pontellier and Gilman's unnamed protagonist come to tragic ends: the former, overcome by the constraints of social convention, finally opts for release from her stifling situation by walking into the sea, which act represents both her death and her giving herself over to the sensuality for which she has developed such a passionate craving; the latter, baffled by the patriarchal rule that keeps her confined to her chamber and suppresses her creative impulses, becomes obsessed with decoding the pattern on the wallpaper that covers her room. She begins to see that pattern as representing a hunched, deformed, "creeping" woman struggling to escape from behind a series of bars that entraps her. As time goes on, she determines to get the woman free, and the story ends in a frenzied climax in which she maniacally strips large portions of the paper from the wall with her bare hands while her alarmed husband and sister-in-law try to reach her through the bedroom door, which she has locked. When they finally enter the room, the woman has gone completely mad, envisioning herself as the one who had been trapped in the yellow wallpaper, and who now "creeps" freely around the room, refusing ever to be put back into her prison.

These works are reformist insofar as they imply the need for change in the social conditions that constrain women to the detriment of their psychic well-being. Indeed, Gilman's work is a very specific indictment of the practices of Dr. S. Weir Mitchel l, a Philadelphia physician (and novelist) of the time who became famous for developing the cure of enforced rest for "neurotic females," and under whose care Gilman herself was once placed by her well-meaning but -231- paternalistic husband. At the same time, while the works by Gilman and Chopin graphically illustrate the difficulties women faced within the society about which they wrote, they do not explicitly outline programs for change that might be taken up by social reformers. This omission undoubtedly prevented these works from being perceived as serious reform fiction for decades, and facilitated their rejection by readers as the private idiosyncratic (and shocking) visions of their authors. But if the florescence of a vital feminist scholarship during the 1970s provoked readers to reassess the genre of sentimental fiction as a primary means by which the most pressing social and political issues of the day were taken under consideration, so too has it provided for a new conception of these two works as classics of political fiction, crucial to a full understanding of the turn-of-thecentury literary depiction of United States social life.

In the meantime, female protagonists continued to represent the moral center of much reform fiction "proper" through the turn of the century. Just as Perley Kelso seeks a way, in The Silent Partner, to ameliorate the lives of the millhands of Five Falls, so too does Annie Kilburn, in the novel of that title by William Dean Howells (1889), seek the most effective way to uplift the masses from their degraded social level. Annie is the daughter of the late Judge Kilburn, with whom she had lived for eleven years in Rome, far from her home in the Massachusetts manufacturing town of Hatboro'. When she returns to New England, she is faced with a newly ascendant merchant class whose social agenda conflicts with the old aristocracy of which she is a member. This new bourgeoisie is represented by the shopkeeper, Mr. Gerrish, who clashes with the Reverend Mr. Peck about the latter's refusal to espouse a Christianity that conforms to capitalist ideology. When Peck's plan to leave Hatboro' for a ministry among the working classes in Fall River is thwarted by his sudden death in a train accident, Annie takes up his moral standard and works to establish the Peck Social Union. Even in this context, however, Annie's contributions amount to little, as she occupies herself with keeping the books for the organization rather than actually ministering directly to the needs of the working classes, a point that the narrative makes clear in a bitingly satirical reference to Annie's dwelling "in a vicious circle" in which she "mostly forgets, and is mostly happy." -232-

The cul-de-sac in which Annie finds herself at novel's end typifies the irresolvable moral questions that Howells raises about the privileged individual's responsibility for the general social welfare. The reformist nature of Howells's work lies not in its clear depiction of what is to be done to remedy social inequalities but rather in its guiding assumption that such inequities are indeed the central moral problem of the era. This is clear in the majority of Howells's vast body of work, and certainly in the seven or so works of economic fiction he produced from 1885 through 1894, of which Annie Kilburn and A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890) are the most striking examples.

While Howells's fictions might themselves demur at providing specific prescriptions for the social ills they depict, they nonetheless emerge from very specific social and political contexts that shape their general themes. Just before beginning Annie Kilburn, Howells had announced his intention of bringing attention to the injustice of the hanging of four anarchist laborers after the Haymarket bombing in Chicago in 1886. While the novel has little to do with the actual historical occurrence or the specific issues related to it, in depicting Annie's haplessness at finding the proper means of exercising her conscience it does nonetheless underscore Howells's belief that what is at stake in the struggle of the workers is not charity, but justice. This conviction is laid out much more elaborately in the more complex A Hazard of New Fortunes, written right after Annie Kilburn.

Simply stated, Hazard expands on the ideological conflict represented in Annie Kilburn in the tension between Mr. Gerrish and the Reverend Mr. Peck. That conflict is centered, in the later novel, on the characters of Mr. Dryfoos, an Indiana farmer who has become a millionaire when natural gas is discovered on his land, and his son, Conrad, who wants to minister on behalf of industrial workers. Their conflict is played out through Mr. Dryfoos's founding of a new magazine, Every Other Week, for which he wants Conrad to become the publisher; at the same time, his two daughters desire to become situated within New York society after Dryfoos, his wife, and his children move there upon the founding of the journal. The actual dayto-day management of the magazine is undertaken by Basil March (who, with his wife Isabel, is actually the central character in the story) — who serves as its editor after having left an unsuccessful ca-233- reer in insurance in Boston — and the promoter, Fulkerson. The catalyst for the explicit eruption of the social tensions that underlie the relations among these characters is provided by the elderly Henry Lindau, a German socialist who is an old friend of Basil March's and who handles foreign correspondence for the magazine. At a dinner party Dryfoos holds to celebrate the success of the new journalistic venture, he and Lindau clash over politics with the result that Lindau is disassociated from the magazine. This scene prefigures the explicit break between the elder Dryfoos and his son, who forsakes the business of the magazine to work on behalf of the striking streetcar workers. During a riot between the strikers and the police, Conrad sees Mr. Lindau being beaten by an officer, and is killed by a stray bullet as he runs to the old man's aid. Lindau himself dies as a result of his injuries, unable to appreciate the elder Dryfoos's change of heart after his son's death. Broken by his loss, Dryfoos sells the magazine to March and Fulkerson, who foresee prosperous future, and moves his family to France, where they settle in fairly well among Parisian society. This removal of the upwardly mobile family from the American context — and the accession of apparently more moderate parties to the position that they vacate — indicates the degree to which, by this time in the history of the reform novel, the domestic locus has ceased to serve as the prime site in which the transformation of social consciousness can occur, and has become, rather, the source of new converts to bourgeois ideology in the capitalist context.

This transition in the novelistic function of the family may well be linked to the rather less obviously didactic strategy that characterizes the work of Howells as opposed to that of, say, Stowe or Phelps. Howells's treatment of social division amongst the urban classes in A Hazard of New Fortunes was admired by the younger writer Hamlin Garland, who noted that "the author nowhere speaks in his own person, nowhere preaches, and yet the lesson is there for all who will read." In a novel that followed on the heels of Howells's Hazard, Garland attempted to do for the Midwestern farmer and the cause of agrarian reform what Howells had done for the rights of industrial workers.

From 1870 until the end of the century, United States farmers of the West and South were caught in a struggle with the industrial and -234- financial centers of the East as the country's economic base shifted from agriculture to manufacture: the mechanization of farming produced glutted markets and low crop prices; the development of railroad monopolies provided for high transportation costs that farmers were hard pressed to meet; high interest rates and an inflated money market added to the farmers' financial burden; a series of natural disasters made the welfare of rural families uncertain from one moment to the next; immigration and the opening of public lands in the West to homesteading increased the size and diversity of the rural population to such an extent that it was difficult for them to meet on common social territory to address their concerns. These problems that United States farmers faced were taken up through a number of burgeoning mechanisms for protest, including the National Grange, the Greenback movement, and the Populist Revolt. It was the complicated interrelation of these various developments that Garland attempted to treat in A Spoil of Office (1892), which illustrates the intense interest in social reform that characterized his early career.

The plot of the novel is bifurcated into an early section (developed from an unfinished novel on the Grange movement) that traces the development of Bradley Talcott's career first as an Iowa farmhand, then as a farmers' advocate and state legislator; and a later section that portrays his life as a politician in Des Moines and Washington. The central moral issue in the story involves Bradley's temptation, once elected to political office, to surrender the populist ideals on which his career had been based and succumb to the relative comfort of his position, a fate from which he is saved by the energetic Ida Wilbur, a Grange lecturer whose commitment to and understanding of the reform movement are much deeper than his own. Their union in the story results in the symbolic birth of a newly energized populist movement that will continue its vital work at the end of the novel.

What is notable about A Spoil of Office, beyond what most critics agree is a flawed structure and a nonetheless extremely accurate historical depiction of agrarian revolt, is its explicit treatment of women's subjection as a primarily economic problem. In a church lecture that Ida gives on "The Real Woman-question," she emphasizes that feminism -235- "is not a question of suffrage merely — suffrage is the smaller part of the woman-question — it is a question of equal rights. It is a question of whether the law of liberty applies to humanity or to men only. . The woman question is not a political one merely, it is an economic one. The real problem is the wage problem, the industrial problem. The real question is woman's dependence upon man as the bread-winner. As long as that dependence exists there will be weakness."

This position, which resembles orthodox Marxism's subsumption of all social inequality under the problem of class division within capitalism, characterized Garland's treatment of women's status in much of his early work, and the importance of his recognition of economics as a major factor in women's oppressed condition cannot be overlooked. At the same time, in works from 1894 and 1895, such as "The Land of the Straddle-Bug" and Rose of Dutcher's Coolly, Garland focused specifically on women's rights as a social as well as economic issue, thus broadening his treatment of that social movement — feminism — which had largely laid the framework for the development of reform fiction as we have come to know it since the turn of the century.

Throughout the period under consideration, much of the work of social reform continued to be performed by women of the likes of I da Wilbur. During the 1860s and early 1870s, Anna Dickinson was extremely popular on the Lyceum lecture circuit, speaking on numerous topics, including feminism, the rights of immigrants, and union organizing. Carry Nation and Frances Willard led the temperance movement through the 1870s. During the 1890s, Ida B. Wells produced explicitly detailed articles and addresses outlining the atrocities of lynch law in the South. And Ida Tarbell raised before the reading public questions about the integrity of the leading capitalist institutions of the day; her "History of the Standard Oil Company," published in McClure's Magazine in 1902, exposed the corrupt practices of the Rockefeller empire, and launched "muckraking" journalism. The great specificity of Tarbell's piece was duplicated in Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel, The Jungle, which detailed the degraded life of immigrant workers in the Chicago stockyards and meatpacking houses. Influenced largely by Jack London's 1903 attack on capitalism and the class system, People of the Abyss (London would go on to write a further indictment of this system in his 1906 novel, The-236- Iron Heel), and by the techniques of Tarbell and fellow muckraker Lincoln Steffens, The Jungle represents the culmination of the social protest novel before its impulses became dispersed in the global developments leading to World War I and in the various strains of American literary modernism.

The central figure in The Jungle is Jurgis Rudkus, a Chicago stockyard worker originally from Lithuania. Along with his wife, Ona, whom he marries after they both arrive in Chicago, his father, and several members of Ona's family, Jurgis ekes out a living in the meatpacking industry. Their lives are a continual struggle to make ends meet, as they all have only the most tenuous hold on their jobs — which are themselves extremely dangerous — owing to their age or youth, their uncertain health, personal injury, and the vicissitudes of industrial management. Jurgis's father, Antanas, dies of consumption, which he develops in the cold dampness of the meatpacking plant. Ona's cousin, Marija, loses her stockyard job and the family income significantly diminishes. At this point, Jurgis, who is taking nightschool classes in English, becomes an active member of the workers' union. The constant strain on the family resources takes a toll on Jurgis, however, and, with Ona having given birth to one child and pregnant with another, he takes to drink. Ona hopes to make money by prostituting herself to her plant supervisor, whom Jurgis assaults upon learning of the arrangement. The narrative moves rapidly through Jurgis's month in jail, the family's loss of their house, Ona's death in childbirth, and the death by drowning of their first son, culminating in Jurgis's stint as a migrant farmworker in the agricultural fields of the West. Upon returning to Chicago, he progresses through another succession of misfortunes, losing a job as a tunnel digger owing to an injury, begging for money on the street, returning to jail for attacking a saloonkeeper who tries to swindle him, working as a holdup man in Chicago's underworld, and, finally, returning to work as a scab in the meatpacking plant during a general strike. While there, he once again attacks Ona's former boss and, while subsequently fleeing the law, he comes upon Marija who is herself working as a prostitute. They are both thoroughly degraded now, until Jurgis hears a speech by a socialist organizer, after which he finds work in a hotel with a socialist manager, and begins a new and, finally, hopeful life. -237-

This expectant ending, coming as it does at the end of a long string of personal calamities for Jurgis, suggests Sinclair's primary intention in writing The Jungle: he wanted to call public attention to the conditions in which Midwestern industrial workers lived, and to urge social activism as a means of ameliorating those conditions. Indeed, the graphic manner in which he depicts the meatpackers' experiences leaves no doubt as to the unjust conditions under which they labored. At the same time, though, what caught public attention about Sinclair's book was not so much the degraded condition of the workers' lives but rather the appalling practices of the meatpacking industry in its preparation of foods for market. Concern about sanitation in the industry led to the passage of the Pure Food Bill of 1907, which President Theodore Roosevel t signed into law; but The Jungle had little effect in raising public outcry about the treatment of the workers in the meatpacking industry.

There is an irony here, in addition to the obvious one about the unintended effect that Sinclair's effort had in the public arena. The age of the protest novel began with an effort by Harriet Beecher Stowe to introduce issues of public concern into the realm of private, domestic life so that the push for reform might be born at home. By and large, that strategy worked in the case of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and it was further developed by writers such as Rebecca Harding Davis and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps through the 1870s. When the domestic setting itself became displaced as the site in which novels depicted social transformation as originating, however, and when it became reconceived as the realm in which only certain issues pertaining to women were to be negotiated, the connection between private life and public concern became reformulated as well. Consequently, by the time that Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, in 1906, its effect was bound to be not that readers would come to understand the treatment of others in the realm of labor as a public disgrace that ought to become their private concern, but rather that they would become aware that the sanctity of their private domains, their very families, homes, kitchens, and dinner tables, ought to be protected through the mechanisms of public policy. The development of such regulation is, of course, itself a type of reform; and the logic of the reform novel over the course of the historical period under consideration demonstrates that the primary site of reform, like char-238- ity, is the home. The question that the age raises and leaves unanswered, however, is whether the home marks the beginning of any real social reform, or merely its end, and what is at stake in the difference.

Phillip Brian Harper


Nation, Region, and Empire

The Civil War, noted Henry James in his 1879 study of Nathaniel Hawthorne, represented to many Americans a collective national fall into reality. No wonder a novel about that war, Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty (1867) by John William De Forest, has long been considered one of the first works of American realism. Praised for its starkly accurate battle scenes, the novel, however, has been damned for its excessively romantic frame. Yet both plots — of war and of love — work to the same end of national reunification, the cultural project that would inform a diversity of American fiction for the following three decades.

The novel rejects the romance of the Old South in the Louisianan heroine's misguided marriage to an older Virginian "gentleman," who though he fights for the Union, also drinks, spends, and loves too hard and too much. At his death, however, and with the heroine's final marriage to a young New Englander who has been toughened by battle, the novel reinscribes a new romance of national restoration. In the conversion of the title, the heroine does more than simply change sides and husbands; she weans herself from a fiercely local attachment to home — a quality identified as female — to a broader national allegiance. Finally, her Southern Loyalist father characterizes his home, with condescension and fondness, as barbaric, primitive, and childlike, and compares its inhabitants to Ashantees, Hottentots, Seminoles, Pawnees, Chinese, and cannibals. As a mineralogist, he -240- maps the South as a peripheral undeveloped "region" or colony and views reunion as a matter of natural evolution.

De Forest also initiated the search for the "Great American Novelin 1868, for which he nominated Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) as the only work with sufficient "national breadth" to link a wide spectrum of characters from different regions, races, and classes. (Not surprisingly, many post-Civil War novels, including his own, aspired to correct, negate, or expand upon Stowe, including works by Charles Chesnutt, Helen Hunt Jackson, Sutton Griggs, and Thomas Dixon.) Less sanguine about a post-Civil War novel achieving such broad dimensions, he saw two factors working against it: the sectional divisiveness that made the United States a "nation of provinces," and the rapid rate of social change. "Can a society which is changing so rapidly," he asked, "be painted except in the daily newspapers?" From a different angle, De Forest's obstacles to a national imagination have been viewed recently by Benedict Anderson as its building blocks. Anderson's useful understanding of nations as "imagined communities" posits their foundations on print culture, on the circulation of both newspapers and novels that unite diverse members, otherwise unknown to one another, through a shared sense of a present and of simultaneous participation in historical change. (It is well known that many authors of the late nineteenth century served their apprenticeship in journalism and continued to write in both modes.) De Forest and his contemporaries, however, found the shared present of their imagined community radically challenged by the immediate past that had nearly destroyed the nation, and that set the agenda for novelists of reimagining a community and rebuilding a nation.

To do so meant reimagining the past. "Forgetting," claimed the French philologist Ernest Renan in 1882, "is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation." He went on to state that "the essence of a nation is that all individuals have many things in common, and also that they have forgotten many things," largely the foundation of the nation in violent conflicts, invasions, or massacres. Yet Renan does not imply that nations therefore have no past and inhabit an eternal present, a misconception often applied to the United States, but that present collectivity depends on "possession in common of a rich leg-241- acy of memories," particularly of noble deeds and shared sacrifice. His reflections are particularly relevant to the pervasive memory of the Civil War, which writers and politicians actively "forgot" as mutual slaughter and rewrote as a shared sacrifice for reunion. Also forgotten and reinvented was the legacy of slavery and the questions it posed of a contested relation between national and racial identity.

In a period known for discovering contemporary social reality, writers were equally obsessed with the past, or with multiple pasts, largely of their own invention, whether the pre-Civil War South of Twain, Cable, Chesnutt, and others; the romanticized Revolutionary past; a mythologized medieval past of popular historical romances; island communities of regionalists, such as Jewett, Freeman, and Garland, that seemed to elude historical change; or the primitive past of the race imagined by naturalists, such as London and Norris. Much of this fiction expresses a Janus-faced nostalgia in which desire generated by a modern industrial society longingly projects alternatives onto the screen of the past, which refracts multiple images of the present back to itself. Novels traditionally identified with such different genres all enact a willed amnesia about founding conflicts, while they reinvent multiple and contested pasts to claim as the shared origin of national identity.

Another axis for late nineteenth-century novels lay in reimagining the shifting spatial contours of the nation, for the Civil War not only restored a familiar map but also opened new territory for expansion. History was inseparable from geography as well in Frederick Jackson Turner's famous address "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, an icon of nationalization. In a period in which the United States was in the process of securing the continental borders that now define it, through a series of "forgotten" Indian wars, his speech voiced nostalgia for a past as well as anxiety about the bounded space of the future, and his argument was deployed on behalf of further United States expansion abroad. Turner defined the center of American "civilization" through its edges, its confrontations with the "primitive," at a time when new "Indians" were sought, at home and abroad, as "others" against which to imagine American nationhood. Many novels of the period explore past and present borders and -242- frontiers to imagine a community through exclusion as much as inclusion.

What De Forest called "conversion," implying only one tenable resolution to the conflict, writers of the post-Reconstruction period called reconciliation or reunion, implying the transcendence of conflict. (Even in De Forest's novel, Southerner and Northerner fight on the same side.) This erasure of conflict from the legacy of the Civil War was performed by fraternal meetings of Union and Confederate veterans to commemorate former battle sites, and by publications such as The Century's series, "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," recounting the same battles from both sides to foster mutual respect. In addition to the war itself, the past of slavery needed reinterpretation as a shared legacy of North and South, rather than a history of violent contention spilling over into race relations in the present. To this end, in the 1880s and 1890s, the region De Forest called barbaric (which means foreign tongue) prolifically spoke for itself to the North in its major publications. Curiosity about Southern "local color" was inseparable from understanding its past, which often recast "the peculiar institution" of slavery in a romantic light. Yet this nostalgia that invented a palatable past for North and South was often doubleedged and could turn against the present, exploring racism as a major legacy of the Civil War.

George Washington Cable's The Grandissimes (1880) directly addresses the issues of national and racial identity in the past and indirectly in the present in its epic story of an extended Creole family, whose white hero, Honoré, has a free mulatto half-brother of the same name. Set at the time of the Louisiana Purchase (1803), at the frontier of shifting national boundaries, the novel represents "America" as a foreign power speaking a foreign tongue. The native-born son of German immigrants, Frowenfeld, plays an interesting central role as outsider to the local community but representative of the nation. The Grandissimes undergo a conversion of sorts, by splitting into old and new. The die-hard slaveholding, dueling citoyen dies off (along with his part-Indian blood), and the white Honoré defies his aristocratic past by going into business with his mulatto half-brother, adopting English and allegiance to the nation, and marrying the vic-243- tim of a former family feud. The novel rejects the explicit statement of an old era that "we the people" always means white, but makes that concept implicit in the new era. While business unites white and black, the love triangles of the novel demarcate the limits of imagining an interracial community: the mulatto Honoré is hopelessly in love with the beautiful and powerful ex-slave Palmyre, who loves his white brother; she was once married to an enslaved African king, Bras-Coupé, who she had hoped would lead an insurrection but who died imagining his return to Africa rather than be broken by slavery. The novel ends with the double marriages of two generations of white Creoles (the younger to Frowenfeld), and the exile of Honoré and Palmyre to Bordeaux, France (an echo of the exile of free African Americans in Stowe's novel). This end to the story of slavery mirrors the post-Reconstruction imagined community, where Cable, among others, argued for political equity for freed African Americans and social separateness. Palmyre remains outside the boundaries, however, unassimilated and threatening as the repository of "forgotten" memory and desire, tying the 1880s to 1803, in a palimpsest of earlier histories of massacres, Indian origins, and slave ships.

Reviewers tried to limit Cable to "local color" writing in order to separate geography from history and its resonance in the present, and they linked him unfairly with Thomas Nelson Page's invention of the "plantation tradition," which overtly romanticized slavery in In Ole Virginia (1887), a collection of dialect stories narrated by a faithful ex-slave who reminisces nostalgically about "dem good ole times." With Page, critics also joined Joel Chandler Harris's famous collections of Uncle Remus stories, which have a more double-edged effect. They participate in the nostalgic recuperation by framing slave stories in the voice of an elderly black "uncle" entertaining a white boy, but the stories themselves often speak in the subversive voice of a popular oral tradition that provided a cultural source of resistance to slavery and racism in the past and the present.

Charles Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman (1899) most fully exploits the multivocal potential of the dialect tale to turn the plantation tradition against itself. He frames stories told by ex-slave Uncle Julius with two conventions: the white Northern narrator and his wife who have bought an old plantation for both economic development and a bucolic retreat, and a marriage at the end between a -244- Northern and Southern young couple, whose reconciliation Julius's story facilitates. His stories, however, subtly subvert the plantation tradition to reinscribe its willfully "forgotten" history of slavery's brutal violence and slave resistance. As conjuring becomes a rich metaphor for storytelling as historical memory, Julius links the deromanticized past with the present reenslavement of blacks. The first tale, "The Goophered Grapevine" (which launched Chesnutt's career in the Atlantic Monthly), undoes the Northern romance of the Southern garden by exposing natural cycles under the institution of slavery as inseparable from economic exploitation and dehumanization. In the second story, "Po' Sandy," the history of severed slave bodies is inscribed in the haunted houses of the present, in the very wood that the Northern family wishes to use for a new kitchen. Chesnutt recharts the projection of an exotic and romantic Southern landscape as a palimpsest of destruction linking the past to the present. The final story reconciles the white lovers through the narration of slavery's destruction of a black couple, which exposes the broader national allegory of reconciliation through marriage that is founded on the expulsion of blacks from the national family in the Jim Crow laws of the New South.

Like Cable and Chesnutt, Mark Twain reinvents the prewar South in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894) to interrogate the present. By shifting Huck Finn's narrative journey from Northbound to Southbound, from freedom to further enslavement, from Jim's agency as an escaped slave to Tom's antics to set a free man free, Twain is doubling past and present, North and South, to question the meaning of freedom for African Americans and the nation at large in the aftermath of Reconstruction. Twain's devastating satire of all levels of Southern society "debunks" the romantic fictions the South tells about itself (though even his famous attack on the Sir Walter Scott disease as a cause of war here and in Life on the Mississippi [1883] tends to externalize an internal conflict as one between real Americans and pseudo-Europeans, thus contributing to the drama of reunion).

Huckleberry Finn is best remembered by readers for imagining an interracial community between Huck and Jim on the raft in the middle of the Mississippi — a subject of multiple interpretations and criticisms. The powerful appeal of this vision far outstrips its fragile and -245- fleeting appearance in the text, for the raft is continually threatened, run over, and invaded by the world of the shore it aims to escape. The problematic ending of the novel has a nightmarish logic in culminating the journey toward reenslavement. Jim, the legally free man, is enslaved in Tom's romantic novels and the town's racist fears, and Huck, after choosing to "go to hell" against his community and help Jim escape, is reborn as Tom Sawyer. The ending could be seen as a macabre parody of Reconstruction with Jim happily accepting forty dollars from Tom for his "trouble" (instead of forty acres and a mule?), and Huck lighting out for the territory ahead of the rest, to the "forgotten" history of white settlement and Native American displacement.

The dependence of racism and slavery on the power of social fictions at the end of Huckleberry Finn sets the starting point for the nightmarish playacting of Pudd'nhead Wilson, which interestingly echoes Cable's novel. Cable's doubling of the Honorés as the visible genealogy of slavery turns into Twain's switch of the white and black babies who are visibly indistinguishable. The imperial figure of Palmyre turns into the devilish mother-trickster, Roxana, who threatens the social hierarchy with her switching of babies, but who obeys her own son as her master and endorses the "fact and fiction of law" that declares one baby black and the other white according to an invisible "drop of blood." While in Cable the immigrant represents "America," he is split in Twain into the real American, Wilson, and the more alien Italian twins, reflecting the nativist fear of immigrants in this period. A ridiculed outsider at first, Wilson becomes an insider at the end, when he uses fingerprints — which he compares revealingly to a map — to uncover the "facts" of racial identity and to right the hierarchy that Roxana threatened. Wilson's legal and professional authority has been likened to the role of the Supreme Court in endorsing the imposition by states of the "separate but equal" doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson. Although set in the prewar South, Twain's plot of national restoration imagines Wilson's incorporation into the community as a reunion between North and South at the expense of selling African American rights down the river, back into slavery. Even the problematic invisibility of race resonates with post-Civil War — rather than antebellum — anxiety about the threat of an interracial community as American nationality. -246-

Registering the same hysteria about racial intermixing, Thomas Dixon resolves Twain's unsettling ambivalence about race as a "fiction of law or custom" in his unabashedly racist and popular novels, The Leopard's Spots (1902) and The Clansman (1905), the basis for D. W. Griffith's landmark movie, The Birth of a Nation (1915). Dixon's historical romances reinvent the Civil War and the downfall of Reconstruction as the story of the reunification of a white nation. His first novel plots the end of Reconstruction as a second Revolutionary war (in the town Independence) of whites against black dominance. The novel is punctuated by the repeated anxious refrain: "Shall the future American be an Anglo-Saxon or a Mulatto." The obvious answer is offered by the eruption of two events: the threatened rape of a white girl by a black man and the Spanish-American War. The war does for the nation what the rape does for the small town, fusing former secessionists and unionists, rich and poor, Protestant and Catholic, into one "homogeneous white mass." The connection between domestic racial conflict and international imperialism is made clear by the subtitle, "A Romance of the White Man's Burden."

Dixon's next novel carries this burden back in time to the Civil War and widens its national scope to imagine the birth of a nation from the rape of a white woman by a black man that spawns the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Dixon's racist caricatures rescue the romance of the white South by a kind of splitting that projects the negative stereotypes of Southern shiftlessness, barbarism, superstition, childishness, and violence (seen in De Forest) onto African Americans. This splitting allows for the national reunion in a double marriage of white couples from the North and the South. As in the The Grandissimes and Pudd'nhead Wilson, the fate of the most threatening character, Lydia, the politically and sexually domineering mulatto mistress of the evil Reconstructionist (who himself is reconstructed as white at the end), remains unresolved. These mulatto figures exiled to the border of the imagined community — but not killed off — represent the "forgotten" history of slavery founded in the white rape of the black woman that cannot be totally erased from the national plot of reunion.

While the Spanish-American War sews up Dixon's plot of national restoration by bringing together the Gray and the Blue on distant -247- shores, the war has the opposite effect in the plot of black national unification in Sutton Griggs's less well known Imperium in Imperio (1899). Here the presence of the mulatto as the visible history of slavery is as threatening to the romance of black nationalism as it is to Dixon's white supremacism. The novel depicts the organization of an underground black nation, founded to fill the constitutional gaps and to protect and enfranchise African Americans. When the war breaks out, concurrent with heinous cases of lynching, the Imperium is destroyed by discord between those who wish to join the United States in supporting Cuba's "largely Negro" revolution and those who wish to bring the revolution home. The radical voice of the founder (the son of a white senator) prevails and convinces the Imperium to launch a new Civil War by siding with America's foreign enemies and then claiming Texas as a separate state. The more moderate President of the Imperium, of humble black roots, urges that they remain in the Union to fight for full citizenship with the pen rather than the sword. Overruled, he willingly submits to execution, pledging his double allegiance to the laws of the Imperium and those of the United States and is buried with an American flag. The marriage plots as vehicle to national unity are also thwarted in the novel, as the lover of the radical founder commits suicide rather than marry a mulatto and contribute to the degeneration of the race, while the moderate President leaves his wife when his newborn baby appears to be white, only to discover just before his execution that the baby darkened as he grew. Narrated by a traitor to the Imperium in the interest of averting the violence of a race war, Griggs's novel leaves African Americans in a no-man's-land of national identity between patriotism and treason.

Though both Griggs and Dixon create extreme political fantasies, they highlight an important intersection in the 1890s between domestic racial strife and the acquisition of an overseas empire in Cuba and the Philippines. Dixon voiced a common welcome of the SpanishAmerican War as a final destination on the road to reunion between North and South at the expense of African Americans. In the new frontier of the empire, the nation could be reimagined as AngloSaxon in contrast to the inferior races of Cubans and Filipinos, who were identified with African Americans at home and considered equally incapable of self-government. This identification supported -248- contradictory positions: the imperialist acceptance of Rudyard Kipling's position in his poem "A White Man's Burden" (which was written to urge the United States annexation of the Philippines); the Southern opposition to imperialism in order to keep nonwhites out of the republic; and African American identification of revolutionary anticolonial struggles abroad. W. E. B. Du Bois linked domestic and colonial racial oppression in his prescient declaration in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), originally written for the first Pan-African Congress: "the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line." Theodore Roosevelt, whose The Strenuous Life (1900) bequeathed a title for the decade, subordinated race to manliness as the common bond of national restoration. Proven on the battlefield and tried in the assumption of colonial rule, American manhood forges the bond that transcends social conflict and turns a former divided nation into a reunited global power.

Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1895) links the cultural interpretation of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War as two stages in the plot of national reunion. This might seem strange to say of a novel by a twenty-three-year-old written thirty years after the first war and three years before the next war, which he would report at first hand. Crane's novel is also considered less ideological than iconoclastic, one of "enormous repudiations," as H. G. Wells said, which would lead many to agree with Ernest Hemingway that it was "the only real literature of our Civil War." Yet Crane is a master of forgetting: the novel radically divorces the Civil War from its historical context by parodying the conventional reinterpretations of the war through the frameworks of reunion, slavery, or romance. Yet this parody of convention does not merely open up the reality of the battlefield but revises the Civil War through the framework of the heightened militarization of the 1890s. The novel looks back at the Civil War to map a new arena in which modern forms of international warfare can be imaginatively projected. Divorced from a prior political context, the novel focuses on the construction of manhood in war, and while it parodies the romance Bildungsroman in which the private, Henry Fleming, reads himself, it reconstitutes manhood on the battlefield as a theatrical performance separate from confrontation with a largely invisible enemy but dependent on the eyes of the spectator. Crane's representation of war as a spectacle both adopts -249- and subverts Roosevelt's interpretation of the battlefield as a crucible for redeeming primal virility; Fleming's constant need for an audience destabilizes the identity of the "real man" by exposing it as a social construction. The transformation of the representation of war from the narration of conflict into an exotic spectacle was to provide Crane with a lens for reporting real battles in Cuba. It is not surprising that a headline in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World reporting the first major battle of the Spanish-American War read: THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE WAS HIS WIG-WAG. The mass circulation journalism of the 1890s not only created a shared domestic present chronicling the sensations of everyday life (as De Forest and Benedict Anderson would have it) but also made possible the projection of larger-than-life images of a renewed American manhood fighting "Indian" wars on remote frontiers of what Brooks Adams dubbed the "New Empire."

At the end of an annual picnic for the extended family around Dunnet's Landing, in Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), the narrator comments: "Perhaps it is the great national anniversaries which our country has lately kept, and the soldiers' meetings that take place everywhere, which have made reunions of every sort the fashion." Jewett here links two public arenas often considered separate or even antagonistic, the national and the local. Indeed, it might be difficult to imagine a fictional space more distant from the national drama of men on the battlefield than the isolated, largely female-dominated rural communities of Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, and Hamlin Garland. Just as these communities appear prenational, they take fictional forms that seem prenovelistic, consisting mostly of collections of short stories often incorporating vernacular storytelling and lacking overarching linear narratives. Yet the provincialism De Forest lamented as blocking a national novel, William Dean Howells celebrated thirty years later as "our decentralized literature." Paradoxically, this profusion of literature known as regionalism or local color contributed to the process of centralization or nationalization, as Jewett recognized by linking family and national reunions in the same passage as forms of "Clanishness," which she calls "an instinct, or a custom; and lesser rights were forgotten in the claim to a common inheritance." The decentralization -250- of literature contributes to solidifying national centrality by reimagining a distended industrial nation as an extended clan sharing a "common inheritance" in its imagined rural origins.

The celebration of regional difference has several contradictory functions in the national agenda of reunion. On the one hand, regionalist fiction expands the boundaries of the imagined community and democratizes access to literary representation, which can be heard in the multivocal introduction of the vernacular through the dialect of different regions. On the other hand, regionalism contained the threatening conflicts of social difference, just as dialect itself bracketed the speaker as uneducated and inferior to the urban narrator with his standard English. This hierarchy structured the conditions of literary production for regionalist writers as well, who were published by a highly centralized industry located in Boston and New York that appealed to an urban middle-class readership; this readership was solidified as an imagined community by consuming images of rural "others" as both a nostalgic point of origin and a measure of cosmopolitan development. By rendering social difference in terms of region, anchored and bound by separate spaces, more explosive social conflicts of class, race, and gender made contiguous by urban life could be effaced. The native inhabitants of regional fiction could be rendered, on the one hand, as "the folk," the common heritage from which urban dwellers had simply moved, always available for return. Even regionalists like Garland, known for depicting the punishing conditions of a squalid Midwestern farm life, still excavated this folkish figure from the social rubble when, for example, he identifies a veteran returning to his farm as Walt Whitman's "common American soldier." Ironically, the commonality of the folk here is mediated through literature. In contrast to this rooted national identity, regional inhabitants could also be rendered as exotically other, with the quaint and strange customs and speech of New Orleans Creoles, for example, painted with the luster of empire. Their exoticism makes them more familiar and less threatening than the feared flood of immigrants whose foreignness lay too close for comfort in an urban context.

At the World's Columbian Exposition where Turner identified the frontier as the fundamental Americanizing influence, Garland, in his lecture "Local Color in Fiction," propounded regionalism as an in-251- digenous movement, undefiled by artificial foreign influence, as though Turner's receding frontier could be dispersed and frozen in timeless island communities. Although Garland claimed that "the tourist could not write the local novel," tourists did and could read local color fiction, which, after all, could not be read by the people it depicted. Like the subjects of anthropological fieldwork (developing as a scientific discipline in this period), native inhabitants possessed primitive qualities that made them worthy of study also and left them in need of interpretation by outsiders. Regionalism performs a kind of literary tourism in a period that saw the tourist abroad and at home as a growing middle-class phenomenon; tourism was no longer limited to the grand tours of the upper class. Regionalists share with tourists and anthropologists the perspective of the modern urban outsider who projects onto the native a pristine authentic space immune to historical changes shaping their own lives. If historical novels invent pasts, regionalists invent places as allegories of desire generated by urban centers. Yet the reader of regionalism often finds less the nostalgic escape desired than a contested terrain with a complex history that ties it inseparably to the urban center.

America's best-known regionalist, Mark Twain, started his career with an immensely popular parody of the American tourist in Europe and the Middle East, The Innocents Abroad (1869). One of the multiple meanings of "innocence" is the tendency of tourists to sever a place from its historical context by literally ripping off specimens and souvenirs as fetishes. Yet their violent innocence makes them vulnerable to the social context they efface. This double "innocence" of the tourist is dramatized within regional fiction by the figure of the outsider: in Jewett's unnamed urban narrator in search of a quiet retreat where she can meet her publishing deadline; in Mary Murfree's amateur archaeologist of In the "Stranger People's" Country (1891); in Hamlin Garland's young men returning home from the city or the war in Main-Travelled Roads (1891); and most often in the narrator who comments on, interprets, and translates the life of the natives to an urban audience.

In many cases the "region" first appears as the projection of a desire for a space outside of history, untouched by change, but this projection is always challenged by a counter story and a prior history. Jewett's narrator is disappointed to find her hoped-for retreat at Mrs. -252- Todd's too noisy, too cluttered with a complex society and social intercourse, so she retreats farther to the isolated schoolhouse to write. But she ends up abandoning her writing in order to adopt the role of listener and participant, which cedes to the local the authority to define itself through its vernacular history, conversation, natural rhythms. Yet this movement from outsider to insider oversimplifies Jewett's complex narrative, which charts a struggle between the inhabitants, who have a highly particularized cosmopolitan view of their own history based on international trade, and the narrator, whose desire it is to turn Dunnet's Landing into a place both outside history and at the origin of human history. She sees eternal childhood in the aging inhabitants, in whose lives she finds vestiges of ancient Greek myths and Norman conquerors. In these premodern analogies she can posit a common inheritance, more ennobling than the alternative view of the countryside she momentarily grasps as "a narrow set of circumstances [that] had caged a fine able character and held it captive." Yet to view the rural life as entrapping, as do Garland and Freeman, is not simply more realistic than idealizing it; such a response could also be seen as the projection of the outsider's desire to view his or her life as less confining, more sophisticated and "adult." Tourists, after all, do go home.

Most regional fiction that posits a still timeless island community is characterized paradoxically by restlessness and motion, by the repeated acts of escape and return that frame many of Garland's stories and that produce the sense of a settled space. In "God's Ravens," an overworked and underpaid city newspaperman moves to the country in search of regeneration, only to find an oppressively narrow small town. When he falls sick, the community rallies to his side, and he comes to appreciate its truly human generosity beyond his own caricature. Only his illness and delirium, however, can conjure this idealized image.

In response to the complexity of place, which never remains outside historical time, the regionalist often projects a more distant remote retreat. Twain dramatizes this dynamic in Roughing It (1872), which starts with an escape to the West, to the "new and strange," and repeats this movement again from the West to the farther West of Hawaii, which appears at first as a kind of Eden, defined simply in terms of the absence of San Francisco's complexity. But very soon -253- the Edenic landscape of the most remote islands is shown to be inscribed by the history of colonial conquest, a history itself subject to prior political struggle over interpretation, as the monument to Captain Cook demonstrates.

Other texts in less extreme ways enact this movement of receding retreat to the more remote primitive spaces. Jewett's narrator not only looks farther back in time for analogies in which to cast the native inhabitants but also restlessly seeks more remote islands to explore, as though Dunnet's Landing has become a stifling center with its own periphery, whether in the folksy domestic Green Island, or the more exotic island of Joanna, who is compared to a medieval nun. Lafcadio Hearn also depicts this infinite regression in Chita (1889), where he moves from Grand Isle to more isolated islands, only to show that none could escape either the devastating storm or the historical devastation of the Civil War, and that the reunion with the past, in the father's longing for his missing daughter, is tantalizingly close but never achieved. Hearn's career enacted this restless motion structuring regionalism, as he moved from writing of the Gulf of Mexico coast to the French Caribbean of colonial times, and finally to Japan, where he could imagine time and space meeting in his discovery of "fairy-folk" of childlike charm and simplicity, the subject that made his career as the best-known popularizer of Japanese culture. Domestic regions are often doubled with more remote colonial spaces.

Kate Chopin has rightfully been removed by feminist critics from the confines of local color in which she made her career. Yet even The Awakening (1899) uses local color tradition against itself. Edna Pontellier, as the outsider to Creole culture, projects onto this highly hierarchical confining culture her own desire for sensuality and freedom, and she seeks more remote exotic retreats from Grand Isle to the fairy-tale-like acadian island, and ultimately to the sea. Yet her novel was so scandalous to reviewers because of its sexual frankness and also, as with later work of Chesnutt and Cable, because it deployed the local periphery to cast a critical eye on the national center in a critique of the social oppression that linked region and nation.

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, in her stories and in her novel Pembroke (1894), stayed within domestic regional boundaries while subverting them as centers of social protest. Deromanticizing small-town -254- New England, she exposes its oppressive denial of mobility and independence to women in its class stratification that controls even the remote village through its elders, its church, and collective gossip. Women protest their confining conditions and assert their independence, often paradoxically by denying desire and transforming their denial into creative power, as in "A New England Nun," or by turning traditionally confining spaces into centers of power, as in "The Revolt of 'Mother'" and "A Church Mouse." In Pembroke, a young man and woman defy their parents and their oppressive community by denying and deferring their desire for one another; while their final reunion seems to attest to the redemptive power of love, it is unleashed, ironically, by their capitulation to communal disapproval.

Eliding the inescapable social tensions that structure the growth from childhood to adulthood in Freeman's communities, Jewett's narrator recovers in Dunnet's Landing the common "instincts of a far forgotten childhood," thus linking the New England family picnic to the rites of ancient Greeks. This sense of the region as a space where a collective childhood can be recovered pervades literature of the West as well. Forerunners of Garland, such as Edward Eggleston in The Hoosier Schoolmaster (1871), Edgar Watson Howe in The Story of a Country Town (1884), and Joseph Kirkland in Zury (1887), are known for contrasting the idealized vision of the West, as a site that develops rugged individual virtues, with the more squalid reality of violence, economic oppression, and narrow provincialism. Most of them, including Garland in his Boy Life on the Prairie (1899), seek another more romantic retreat from this West in their depiction of the life of boys. In contrast to the exploitation of child labor that Garland calls attention to in "The Lion's Paw," novels and autobiographies were popular that represented the West as an arena of perpetual boyhood, where gangs of boys do little but play cowboys and Indians. Nostalgia for pre-Civil War innocence comes together with a scientific view of childhood as an earlier stage of evolutionary development; as G. Stanley Hall put it, "the child revels in savagery."

In this formulation, the boyhood of white settlers comes to displace the history of Indian settlement, a story that underlies Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). There Tom's famous stunt where he turns the work of whitewashing into boy's play might symbolize this dynamic of rendering the whitewashing of a community founded -255- on racial conflict as child's play. For Twain's complex vision of children makes them both innocent of social ideology and repositories of it. Like the island communities outside urban centers, childhood is colonized by adult desire for a pristine past prior to social indoctrination, which is exposed as impossible. Tom's childish desire for heroism takes concrete social form in a court of law where he exposes Injun Joe as the real murderer of the doctor (much like Pudd'nhead's final revelation of racial identity). Escaping the courts, Joe meets a natural punishment, suffocated by the same cave where Tom finds money and flirts with his male sexuality. The earth that swallows the Indian turns the white boy into a man, while allowing him to remain perpetually a youth by rendering his entry into the economic system as the discovery of buried treasure.

Thus regionalism in its many forms both fosters and thwarts the desire for a retreat from modern urban society to a timeless rural origin, the "common inheritance" of the clan. The regions painted with "local color" are traversed by the forgotten history of racial conflict with prior regional inhabitants, and are ultimately produced and engulfed by the centralized capitalist economy that generates the desire for retreat.

Both the desire for and the impossibility of escaping the changes wrought by modern industrial capitalism propel the narrative of Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889). The richness and the contradictions of the novel open the text to a multivalent allegory of almost every aspect of late nineteenth-century American society. The novel can be read as an allegory of reconstruction and colonialism, as it conflates the genres of regionalism and the historical novel (which Twain contributes to without irony in Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc [1896]). Connecticut Yankee plays out its double meaning in the drama of national reunion: in relation to internal regions, it refers to Hank Morgan's Northern background and makes him a kind of carpetbagger, eradicating the last vestiges of slavery and modernizing King Arthur's "southernized" England. But Connecticut Yankee also represented a collective national identity to those outside America's borders and subject to its power. An island at once outside of time and at the origins of history, King Arthur's England appears as the ultimate primitive col-256- ony, or region, with inhabitants who are compared to children, Indians, barbarians, bound by superstition, violence, and laziness. Knocked over the head as a foreman in an industrial dispute at home, Morgan, by becoming "Boss" of Camelot, gains the power he lacked at home. Like other colonists, he imagines the island as a backward blank slate on which he can create a utopian image of nineteenthcentury capitalism, freed of its threatening conflicts. Like other imagined timeless islands, this one, however, clings tenaciously to its own history and culture in order to resist or assimilate his projections of development. The tension informing Morgan's project of reform, between modernization as social change and modernization as social control, leads to the violent confrontation of cultures, both the source of humor in this diabolically funny book and the source of the final massacre. Whether resonant of the Civil War, Indian wars, or class conflict, or prescient of mass twentieth-century destruction (all seen by critics), the final massacre of the knights, paradoxically both Hank's victory and his defeat, represents the foundational violence that must be "forgotten" in order to imagine a nation, sixth-century England's natural evolution into America. Hank's destruction of Camelot tellingly spawns his nostalgia for the "lost land" he has destroyed. Connecticut Yankee sounds Twain's death knell for expanding United States frontiers abroad, which end up reproducing or magnifying the social conflicts at home they sought to alleviate.

Yankees abroad conquering lands remote both in time and in space were not unusual in fiction of the 1880s and 1890s; in fact, these heroes were the staple of the popular historical romance, from Ben-Hur (1880) to The Virginian (1902). Dismissed by literary historians as escapist, these narratives of escape echo the political argument for overseas expansion in this period. Leaving his overcivilized surroundings for adventure in a primitive arena, the hero (an overt or thinly disguised American) fights theatrical swashbuckling battles to liberate a backward realm from its threatening barbaric enemies, subdues and wins the love of an aristocratic heroine, rejuvenates his own masculinity, and finally returns home to the corporate commercial world he escaped. This formula is strikingly pliable to vastly different settings, from imperial Rome, to Latin American republics, to European history, to mythological medieval kingdoms, to colonial America, and finally to the West. In the national project -257- of reinventing origins, these works colonize the past as allegories that turn national reunification into empire building.

Vying with Uncle Tom's Cabin as the all-time best-seller of the nineteenth century was Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur, which reached the height of its popularity on stage and in print in the 1890s (a text in need of the kind of critical attention recently paid to Stowe's novel in its cultural context). The novel appealed to the fascination with origins, and it reinvented a most important originary moment, the birth of Christian civilization out of the ruins of the Roman Empire. Yet rather than focus on the saintly life of Christ, the novel spends most of its time on a hero who is confused about whether he is fighting a material battle for a new earthly kingdom of the Jews or a spiritual one for an unknown messiah. Fortunately, he does not have to decide until the end of the novel after he wins the climactic chariot race (as well known in the 1890s from its repeated staging in lavish outdoor spectacles as it is today from the film versions). What does this have to do with American culture in the period? The New Kingdom of Christ — anti-imperial in its origins — might allegorize and spiritualize the imagined New American Empire, which was propounded by ideologues such as A. T. Mahan and the Reverend Josiah Strong at least a decade before the Spanish-American War. They imagined American global power as anti-imperial in nature and not territorially based, but depending instead on international commerce and the spread of United States cultural institutions. Popular at a time of heightened militarism and the movement of "muscular Christianity," Ben-Hur highlights virile body-building in the service of a spiritual global empire. The book also would have appealed to interest in the origins of slavery, as well as to curiosity about the exotic distant ancestors of more recent Italian and Jewish immigrants, ancestors who were superseded by the Christian civilization to which Ben-Hur finally converts as an apostle. Lew Wallace, a veteran of the Mexican W ar, a Union general in the Civil War, and governor of the territory of New Mexico, lived a career that followed the Westward Course of Empire. His first popular historical novel, The Fair God (1873), treated the Spanish conquest of Mexico (á la Prescott), a lens through which he would view the Christian conquest of Rome. No wonder President James Garfield appointed him minister to Turkey as an expert on "the East." -258-

In the courts of Constantinople, Lew Wallace lived the life a younger writer, Richard Harding Davis, was famous for writing about in his novels of high society and colonial adventures. While Ben-Hur conquered Rome, Davis's hero of Soldiers of Fortune (1897), a dashing American mercenary and civil engineer, triumphed over the decaying British and Spanish Empires to save a fictional Latin American republic from dictatorship and revolution, and to marry an athletic "New Woman" whose father owns the mines there. In the abundance of best-selling romances around the time of the Spanish-American War, Davis's backward but alluring republic of Olancho was easily interchangeable with Tudor England, in Charles Majors's When Knighthood Was in Flower (1898), or with the mythical medieval principality of George Barr McCutcheon's Graustark (1901), all sites where playful physical virility represents aggressive national muscle-flexing abroad. In all of these fantasies, the hero can rejuvenate an authentic American self only outside United States borders in the new frontiers abroad.

The revival of the historical romance culminated in the proliferation of best-sellers about the colonial period and the American Revolution, such as Winston Churchill's Richard Carvel (1899), S. Weir Mitchell's Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker (1897), Paul Leicester Ford's Janice Meredith (1899), Mary Johnston's To Have and to Hold (1900). These novels participate in the mass cultural invention of national traditions along with the writing of the pledge of allegiance, the establishment of flag ceremonies in schools, and the rise of genealogical societies such as the Daughters of the American Revolution. These novels rewrite the American Revolution to underplay political conflict with Britain and to unite the two countries in a uniquely Anglo-Saxon heritage of manliness. The novels whitewash the Revolution as an exclusive inheritance against both the influx of immigrants aspiring to national identity and the claims of colonial subjects, such as the Cubans and Filipinos, to revolution and selfgovernment.

Owen Wister's popular novel The Virginian takes its immediate genealogy from the popular historical novel of the 1890s and its romance of empire. Wister sees the cowpuncher as the direct linear descendant of the Anglo-Saxon knight, and by imagining contemporary American imperialism as the return to an original virile past the -259- historical romance reopens the closed frontier and reinvents the West as a space for fictional representation. The West, furthermore, becomes the site for uniting South and North, in the courtship and marriage of the unnamed Virginian to the Vermont schoolteacher (herself with a Revolutionary genealogy). Wister's West expunges traces of Native Americans, while the Virginian takes on characteristics of the noble savage without tinting his essential Anglo-Saxon identity. The West also rejuvenates the overcivilized East, as one of the most erotically charged relationships in the novel is the narrator's attraction to the Virginian's natural virility. Like a regionalist narrator, he escapes from the overheated clubs of New York City and projects his desire onto the "handsome ungrammatical son of the soil." Yet the Virginian does grow up, a fact lamented by many readers, including Henry James. He combines not only natural aristocratic civility with democratic violence but also rugged individualism with obedience to his employer, a large landowner. The Virginian protects his property by controlling his unruly workers with a tall tale, leading a vigilante lynching of his friend (a figure for his younger self), and shooting the villain Trampas. The romance of lawless frontier violence is ironically a means of forgetting the history of the West as a political conflict over the land among Indians, homesteaders, and large ranchers, and of reinventing it as a place for the righteous punishment of criminals. The Virginian grows up at the end to become a prosperous landowner and a domesticated husband, but the novel projects for readers the counter-homoerotic plot of reunion, where the West remains as a perpetual melting pot of boys from farms and cities of all regions: "the romance of American adventure had drawn them all alike to this great playground of young men," where they never grow up.

Wister's romance renders Native Americans invisible except for their traces in the white bodies they leave wounded. Fifteen years earlier Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona (1884) employed the plot of romance to make visible the forgotten plight of Indians in the American Southwest. Set right after the Mexican War, the novel presents the American nation, as it is in Cable's book, as a foreign occupier in California, where Spanish landowners and native Indians are equally dispossessed by aggressive American settlement. Indians, represented by the hero Alessandro, occupy either a natural primitive -260- innocence outside of history or a culture completely absorbed by the exotic Spanish mission. Alessandro marries Ramona, who is halfIndian and half-Scot, and who was raised by a Spanish family whose imperious mother detested her and whose timid son ineffectually adored her. When she elopes with Alessandro, she returns to the roots she never knew and follows Alessandro's inevitable decline and banishment from the town of his father and every subsequent home, until in a state of insanity he accidentally takes the wrong horse of a white man and is shot as a horse thief. Like Stowe, to whom she was positively compared, Jackson effectively chronicles the abuse of Indians at the hands of the Spanish, the American settlers, and government bureaucracy, but she cannot imagine Native American agency except as insanity. Ramona is redeemed by the motherly love of Aunt Ri, a folksy dialect figure from the passages of local color, a real American, and by her final marriage to her adopted brother, Felippe, who takes her and Alessandro's daughter to Mexico City. As in Cable's novel, the love triangle sets the limits of the imagined community, whose interracial contours — Spanish, Anglo, and Indian — can only be projected over the border, where the woman of mixed race preserves the forgotten history of the nation's westward expansion.

In his historical novel about California, The Octopus (1901), Frank Norris deromanticizes the West of Jackson and Wister. In place of freewheeling cowpunchers, we find sophisticated wheat ranchers (most of them college men) out to exploit, not merge with, the land. In place of Jackson's victimized exotic Spanish past, we find the Spanish mission as a site of violence from within, where a young girl is raped by a mysterious "Other." The novel opens with a familiar Eastern outsider, Presley, who has come West to recuperate his health and who desires to write a romantic "Epic of the West." The first chapter exposes this desire as fantasy, through his disgust at the presence of German immigrants (not "The People" he expected), and more violently through the slaughter of sheep by the railroad, foreshadowing the climactic slaughter of the ranchers. In his depiction of the violent confrontation between the ranchers and the corporate railroad, Norris makes visible the capitalist economic structure that undergirds the mythical space of the West. Yet like the urban nar-261- rators of Wister, Jewett, and Garland, Presley (and the novel) do not simply travel from naive romance to more trenchant realism. Instead, they continually try to recuperate in the West a desire for prehistorical origins or a utopian vision of national unity.

What better symbol of national unity and what better subject for a national novel than the railroad, a complex economic and industrial phenomenon that physically transformed part of a continent into a nation by linking commerce and communication among widely dispersed local communities? The novel exposes the contradictions of this nation building as the railroad destroys the settlements and livelihoods of the same communities it brings into being. Against the overarching force of the railroad, which controls the means of representation in the press, as well as the government through the militia, the novel explores alternative definitions and symbols of the national public sphere. At an assembly of the farmers' league after the massacre, Presley proposes the model of a nation unified by conflict, by the struggle of people against trusts. But the novel diffuses this threat of class conflict, in part by making the original confrontation one within the family (the Derricks) and within the capitalist class, and in part by having Presley — the intellectual — engage in a desperate act of anarchism by ineffectually throwing a bomb, without political or narrative consequence. Countering the threat of class conflict is a nostalgic view of the folk as an Anglo-Saxon clan, represented by the marriage of Annixter and Hilma — ultimately doomed — and embodied in a barbecue, where we see "pure Americans at the starting point of civilization, coarse, vital, real sane." Another symbol of unity that appears to transcend social conflict is the natural cycle of the wheat, which recurs as a powerful symbol of the earth's female-identified fecundity. Yet the wheat is never "natural" to start with, as the mechanical planting and reaping appear throughout in images of military conquest or sexual violation echoing the rape by "The Other." Furthermore, the capitalist, Shelgrim, merges nature and the machine as an ahistorical apotheosis of "force." If, as he claims, the railroads make themselves as the wheat grows itself, neither is subject to contest by human agency.

The conclusion of The Octopus abandons the depiction of class contrast between an elite dinner party and a starving immigrant mother for a ship about to carry wheat to India with Presley on -262- board. Not yet cured of his overcivilized consumption by his sojourn out West, he plans to light out for a more distant territory. His spiritual passage to India complements the manifest destiny voiced by the owner of the ship, who has given up domestic industry and the class conflicts it spawns to fulfill America's global mission of feeding the world while opening it up to commerce. His overt imperialism rounding the globe finds echo in Presley's Nirvana, the "full round of a circle whose segment only he beheld." On board the same ship and buried under tons of wheat is Behrman, the agent of the railroad. The wheat, which takes its natural revenge on Behrman, represents a revitalization of the American economy, as a spiritual and natural course of empire. Despite his ironic critique of America feeding the world while immigrants starve on the streets of San Francisco, Norris can turn imperial expansion from a history of violent conquest to one of global and spiritual nourishment.

The ending of The Octopus suggests an important but overlooked historical context for American literary naturalism: America's shift from continental expansion to an overseas empire at the turn of the century. Frank Norris and Jack London were deeply influenced by Rudyard Kipling, and themselves spent time in contested colonial arenas of Europe and the United States (Norris in the Transvaal and Cuba, London in the Pacific, the Klondike, Japan, and Korea). More important, they took up Kipling's "white man's burden," not simply in overt racism against Asians, Mexicans, and all nonwhites, but by reconstructing American identity as a biological category of AngloSaxon masculinity. They also projected imperial adventures onto imaginary open frontiers of the "Wilds," the open seas, arctic exploration, and the primordial beast within modern man. Norris hardily endorsed American imperialism as he equated the Anglo-Saxon inclination to dominate the world (in his essay "The Frontier Gone at Last" [1902]) with the definition of masculinity: in McTeague (1899), as the desire to dominate women. If regionalists seek primal origins of American nationality in prenational communities and clans, naturalists invent more distant yet immanent origins in biological conceptions of race and gender. Yet their fiction not only celebrates the ascendancy of the Anglo-Saxon male hero but also permits us to view him less as a biological fact than as a social construction built out of anxieties about the claims of women and im-263- migrants at home and colonized people abroad, who threaten this primacy and against whom he is defined. Anglo-Saxon becomes synonymous with American as both the height of civilized development and a form of primitive regeneration that "forgets" history and social conflict as the basis of nation building.

Norris's and London's fascination with the primordial power within civilized man must be understood in relation to the imposition of civilizing power over people defined as primitive by the developing social sciences. Obsession with the primitive takes two opposing narrative trajectories of degeneration and regeneration. The same process of shedding the veneer of modern civilization can reveal the debased criminal within (McTeague, Vandover, Wolf Larsen), or can reawaken the ennobling heroic Anglo-Saxon warrior (Ross Wilbur, Van Weyden, Scott Weedon). This doubleness in primitive identity turns social difference into inherited biological fact. Yet the atavistic primitive within is also exposed as a projection of the violence of modern society onto an internalized "other." The ambiguity of the "primitive" as a site of either regeneration or degeneration can reflect critically upon the meaning of the civilized, which its boundary is meant to protect.

London's The Call of the Wild (1903) may seem as far away from a national novel, as De Forest imagined it, as the Yukon is from United States borders, and as dogs are from men. But the novel and its companion piece, White Fang (1906), enact an allegory of national development that unites the double trajectory of the primitive as degeneration and regeneration. The debasing bestiality in Vandover and the Brute (1914), where the hero literally acts like a wolf in his insanity, can be celebrated in real animals, who enact a primal violence that regenerates virility. The romance of dogs and men allows the exclusion of women, so intrusive in the narrative of The Sea-Wolf (1904) where the castaway woman mediates and deflects the powerful homoerotic desire between men as a symbol of national unity.

Buck in the primordial wilderness is homesick not for California but for a deeper memory of a hairy wild man, which posits a Social Darwinian origin of the race. In this primal world of violence and the hunt, the dog can nobly cross the boundary between civilization and the wilderness to become a wolf (so debasing to Vandover). Here is a version of Turner's frontier, an originary space producing real -264- Americans. Projected onto nature is a nationalist fantasy. The first dogBuckkills to assume the position of leader of the pack is the German Spitz, from a nation increasingly threatening to America at the time. As the Yukon becomes crowded and domesticated, Buck is tortured by the incursion of a bourgeois family, dominated by a hysterical woman, who receive their natural justice by falling through the ice, "the inexorable elimination of the superfluous." Buck is then rescued by the ideal frontiersman, Thornton, with whom he reconstitutes the perfect American family along with an Irish terrier who mothers him and a huge black dog named "Nig," of boundless good nature. Thornton embodies the feminine virtue of tenderness along with his unquestioned virility. After Buck proves his love for Thornton by turning work into play in a sled-pulling contest, they light out for the territory before the rest — this time eastward, in search of a fabled gold mine (the dream of wealth as natural rather than social). While Thornton lives like an Indian, Buck lives a similar frontier idyll by running and hunting with a pack of wolves while returning for perfect civility to the man he loves. The end of the novel reinvents the conquest of America — this time as the invasion of Indians who destroy the primal unity between man and beast in the wilderness. Thornton and Buck are not seen as intruding into the Yeehats' prior history, marked only by an arrow in the body of a moose hunted by Buck. When Buck attacks the Indians for revenge, they shoot one another in confusion. Yet their presence serves the purpose of both cutting Buck's ties to civilization and preserving his memory in their myths, while he represents a "younger world," prior to civilization.

White Fang is a more overt allegory of evolutionary origins as the wolf-dog moves up the human developmental scale from brutal Indians only bent on survival who domesticate him through terror, to lower-class whites who exploit him for gratuitous violent entertainment, to the upper-class Scott Weedon, who tames and civilizes White Fang with love, and who, like Thornton, incorporates the civilizing qualities shunned in women. Brought back to California, the wolf reaches the height of his civilized career when he recognizes a criminal intruder about to kill a judge, and when he unleashes his primitive killer instinct to tear out the throat of this lower-class criminal, a degenerate beast. The lower-class degenerate threatens the national class structure, which the primordial beast from the wilderness -265- has been trained to protect. More laborious and less compelling than the immensely popular Call of the Wild, White Fang, through its frame that starts with a search party to recover the body of an aristocrat and ends by leashing primordial violence to protect a judge, exposes the deeply seductive call of "the wild" as the projection of "civilized" desire.

Amy Kaplan


Gender and Fiction

In The Responsibilities of the Novelist (1902) Frank Norris explains in "Why Women Should Write the Best Novels" that women are much better suited to writing great novels than men. First, "writing is a feminine — not accomplishment merely — but gift." Moreover, women have the leisure, the right kind of education, and the temperament for novel writing. So they should surpass men at the task.

That they did not surpass men was an obvious source of relief to Norris. Women may have been writing more novels than men, he conjectured, but they were not writing better, or even equally accomplished, ones. Their lives were too sheltered to allow them the kind of engagement with experience — with "life itself, the crude, the raw, the vulgar" — that Norris considered essential to the production of great novels. Further, Norris believed that women lacked the physical and psychological strength necessary for the creation of great art. The mental strain of writing quickly debilitated them, resulting in "fatigue, harassing doubts, more nerves, a touch of hysteria occasionally, exhaustion, and in the end complete discouragement and a final abandonment of the enterprise."

Norris's wishful thinking about women not being able to write great novels and his construction of literary creativity as a virile activity illustrate how entangled the subjects of gender and novel writing had become by the end of the nineteenth century. In fact, even as Norris argued that women could not write great, or even good, novels, Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, Pauline Hopkins, and Kate -267- were doing just that; and they would be followed by writers such as Willa Cather and Zora Neale Hurston. But in 1902 Frank Norris needed to claim that women could not be great novelists. He, along with many of his white male colleagues, felt extremely nervous about two things. First, the accomplishments of women novelists as artists were becoming increasingly difficult to deny. Second and related, the long-standing anxiety among many white men in the United States about novel writing as an effeminate occupation was, if anything, intensifying rather than abating.

For both men and women in nineteenth-century America, gendered ideas about novel writing grew out of and reflected larger political realities. Even before the Civil War, white women and people of color had embarked irreversibly on asserting their right to define themselves for themselves; and in the decades following the war, they continued, despite setbacks, to make dramatic inroads into social, intellectual, economic, and political territory previously staked out by white men as theirs alone. Change and upheaval were ubiquitous by the turn of the century. Immigrants arrived in large numbers from Italy, Ireland, Eastern Europe, and, before quotas, China. African Americans began moving North in significant numbers, as did Mexicans in the West. Native Americans waged desperate, defiant battles against United States imperialism.

The struggles of women to achieve change took many forms. By the end of the nineteenth century, many middle-class young white women, rebelling against the unwritten rule that they must not support themselves, sought to enter the ranks of paid employment, while growing numbers of African American women, most of them expecting to work throughout adulthood, fought to enter occupations from which they had been barred by discrimination. Across the nation, women's clubs devoted to self-improvement and civic involvement sprang up; African American clubs actively campaigned against lynching, the convict lease system, and institutionalized racial segregation, while all of the clubs lobbied for such social reforms as kindergartens, women matrons in women's prisons, and an end to child labor. Marking a major change in childbearing for many women, the average number of children for a woman of forty dropped from seven or eight in 1800 to three or four in 1900. Individuals such as Mary Cassatt, Emily Putnam, Maggie Walker, and Emma Goldman -268- achieved fame as artists, scholars, entrepreneurs, and activists, while others such as Ida B. Wells and Jane Addams became well known as advocates for specific political and social reforms. Female enrollment in colleges and universities increased during the first two decades of the twentieth century by 1000 percent in public institutions and 482 percent in private ones. The campaign for women's suffrage intensified and ended successfully in 1920 in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

It is important not to overstate women's gains during the Progressive Era — nor should divisions and inequalities be ignored. Most women who worked for pay held low-paying, unprestigious jobs. Those who worked in the home for no pay typically faced unending cycles of hard physical labor combined, frequently, with killing monotony. Birth control and divorce did not exist for huge numbers of women, who continued to have to bear more children than they wished and to endure oppressive, often violent, marriages. Most important, the life-situations of immigrant women and of women of color often differed radically from those of native-born white women, who in many cases were their exploiters and oppressors every bit as much as white men were. As a result, deep divisions existed. Often displaying itself in magnanimous attempts to "lift up" one's inferiors, the social reformist activities of privileged women frequently provoked resentment in poor and working-class women, even as circumstances forced them to accept the aid rendered. And racism more often than not made talk of "sisterhood" ludicrous. As Charlotte Hawkins Brown, one of four African American women invited to speak at an interracial conference in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1920, bluntly told the white women listening to her: "We have begun to feel that you are not, after all, interested in us and I am going still further. The negro women of the South lay everything that happens to the members of her race at the door of the Southern white woman. . We feel that so far as lynching is concerned, that, if the white women would take hold of the situation, lynching would be stopped."

However, important as the differences and conflicts among women were they should not obscure the fact that from the white, male, dominant-culture point of view at the turn of the century — as well as from the point of view of many women at the time — major, fundamental change in the status and position of women was taking place. -269-

In fact, by the turn of the century feminist ideas and activities, referred to at the time simply as the Woman Movement, had become so widespread and powerful that a strong reactionary counterattack had settled in. No less a spokesman than Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States from 1901 to 1909, denounced the fight for suffrage, for example, as "a thousandth or a millionth part as important as the question of keeping, and where necessary reviving, among the women of this country, the realization that their great work must be done in the home."

All of this determination of women to change their economic, social, and political situations found clear expression in their relationship to the novel, the most popular but also, it was becoming more and more evident, the most prestigious literary form in the United States. During the second half of the nineteenth century and then early in the twentieth, women writers increasingly set out to write their way into the national literature not simply as money-making professionals but as artists — as the equals of great international figures such as Flaubert, Tolstoy, or Balzac, or their rare female counterpart such as George Eliot or George Sand. Alice Dunbar-Nelson declared at the turn of the century that she wished to write the best novel ever written. Edith Wharton (for a while) enjoyed being compared to Henry James. Kate Chopin named as her favorite author and primary model Guy de Maupassant. Willa Cather began her career by denouncing feminine writing and aligning herself instead with men. By the turn of the century the battle over white male ownership of the high-art novel in the United States had come to a head. Even more important, it was a battle that took place within a context of more women from various backgrounds being able to become authors than ever before in the nation's history. African American women published more novels between 1892 and 1902 than in all previous decades of United States history combined. White women, in the opinion of many turn-of-the-century readers and reviewers, virtually owned the form. Women previously unrepresented among American writers launched careers. The sisters Edith and Winnifred Eaton, whose mother was Chinese and who wrote under the names Sui Sin Far and Onoto Watanna, respectively, began publishing at the end of the nineteenth century. The Native American authors Zitkala-Ša (sometimes known as Gertrude Bonnin) and Hum-ishu-ma (also -270- known as Mourning Dove) began writing for publication. Similarly, the short-story writer María Cristina Mena, thought to be the first woman of Mexican descent to publish in English in the United States, began her career at the turn of the century.

Debate about gender and novel writing was not new in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. Fierce rivalry had emerged as early as the 1850s. Inspiring Hawthorne's much-quoted complaint about that "damned mob of scribbling women" supposedly stealing his audience, popular white novelists such as E. D. E. N. Southworth, Maria Susanna Cummins, and Susan Warner dominated the midcentury novel market. Indeed, their best-sellers about and for women shaped the domestic novel to such an extent that their work affected not only the next generation of white male novelists such as Henry James and William Dean Howells but even their successors such as Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, and Sinclair Lewis, all of whom had to deal (comfortably or not) with the predominance of women among their readership. To be sure, most popular mid-nineteenth-century women novelists did not define themselves as artists. Typically, they protested that they were writing merely to make a living; they emphasized that they were not attempting to lay claim to the traditionally male province of high art. Nevertheless, their extraordinary popularity forced subsequent generations of novelists, male and female, to take into account the audience served by them — and for women novelists, the public image of the woman novelist that they created as well.

A case in point is the influence of popular mid- nineteenth-century novels by and for women on the two best-known male authors of realistic fiction in the second half of the nineteenth century, William Dean Howells and Henry James. As Alfred Habegger explains, the two men came of age during a period when women wrote almost all of the major novels in the United States. It is therefore not surprising that pleasing an overwhelmingly female readership accustomed to narratives about women and women's concerns created a basic — if not the basic — challenge for both men. Howells himself theorized in "Mr. James's Later Work" that his colleague's male readers were "of a more feminine fineness, probably, in their perceptions and intuitions, than those other men who do not read him." Raising the issue many decades later in Henry James (1951), F. W. Dupee summarized -271- critical opinion by calling his subject "the great feminine novelist of a feminine age of letters." Similarly, Howells was routinely identified with women. As Habegger relates, the author Charles Dudley Warner wrote to his friend at one point: "You must have been a woman yourself in some previous state, to so know how it is yourself. You are a dangerous person. Heaven grant you no such insight into us men folk." Less charmed, one irritated male reviewer said: "Mr. Howells is never exciting; the most nervous old lady can read him without fear."

If the label "feminine" was complicated for male novelists such as Howells and James (it could be either a compliment or an insult, depending on who used it, why, and when), the issue of gender and novel writing was even more tangled for women writers. For those who wished to continue in the popular-novel tradition of their midcentury, white, domestic-novel predecessors, identification as a woman writer posed little problem. Traditional Victorian codes of femininity emphasizing modesty, intellectual conformity, and primary commitment to home and family dovetailed with the occupation of producing ostensibly formulaic novels that did not claim to be "art" — by which in the modern West is meant work that is original and idiosyncratic, individualistic, and frequently challenging or even upsetting. However, for many women late in the nineteenth and then early in the twentieth century, the mid-nineteenth-century mainstream American image of the domestic novelist no longer applied, if it ever had in the first place. Increasingly, women writers as a group were determined to assert their right to write not simply to make a living but for the same reasons that ambitious men (and a few women) had always turned to novel writing: to create original works of art.

Perfectly reflecting the period is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's argument in her essay "Men and Art" in The Man-Made World (1911). She points to a major difference between "art" and "Art," the former being what women had been allowed to do according to Gilman, the latter what men had reserved for themselves. Consequently Gilman declares of the "primitive arts" of women such as "pottery, basketry, leatherwork, needlework, weaving," and the like: "Much of this is strong and beautiful, but its time is long past." Such creations are "not Art with a large A, the Art which requires Artists, among whom -272- are so few women of note." What women in the modern world need to do, Gilman argues, is invade and then redefine and adapt for themselves the territory of high art traditionally denied them, including and especially literature.

By the time Gilman's book saw print, there were many women in the United States already asserting their right to be, in her shorthand, Artists. For a number of native-born white women such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, Mary Austin, Ellen Glasgow, Gilman herself, or Willa Cather, it is probably accurate to say that the most pressing issue was finding a way to reconcile the conflict embodied for them in the terms "woman" and "artist." For other equally ambitious women who were women of color or immigrants (or both), authors such as Frances Ellen Harper, Pauline Hopkins, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Winnifred Eaton, Sui Sin Far, Hum-ishuma, and Anzia Yezierska, the challenge was even more complex. It involved combating racist, cultural, and entrenched class biases as well as gender issues.

One way of understanding the range and complexity of the issues dealt with by women novelists in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is through brief consideration of a few representative careers. Useful for the purpose here, although many different choices could be made, are the following five writers: Pauline Hopkins (1859–1930), Edith Wharton (1862–1937), Winnifred Eaton (1875–1954), Willa Cather (1873–1947), and Humishu-ma (1888–1936).

A biographical sketch published in The Colored American Magazine in 1901 (and no doubt written by the author herself) outlines Pauline Hopkins's ambition as a novelist. The piece announces that she aims to write fiction about racism that will reach all classes of readers and explains that "Contending Forces [1900] is her first published work." It was also her last separately published novel. As the sketch bluntly observes: "Pauline Hopkins has struggled to the position which she now holds in the same fashion that all Northern colored women have to struggle — through hardships, disappointments, and with very little encouragement. What she has accomplished has been done by a grim determination to 'stick at it,' even though failure might await her in the end." After Contending Forces, Hopkins was able to bring out three more novels serially in The-273- Colored American Magazine, where she served as literary editor from 1900 to 1904: Hagar's Daughter (1901), Winona (1902), and Of One Blood (1902). But she was not able to publish those novels as individual volumes nor to follow Contending Forces with any other separately issued novel. The difficulties announced in the 1901 sketch proved all too real.

Hopkins's resolve as an African American woman writer to create her own kind of art and to speak her mind pitted her against tremendous obstacles of racial, sexual, and therefore economic discrimination. Like that of any writer, her life as a publishing artist depended on having a publisher. But as an African American woman committed to writing honestly about race issues and needing to support herself financially, finding an outlet for her work was extremely difficult. During the few years that she worked at the Colored American while it was published in Boston, she was indefatigable and prolific. However, when the magazine changed direction and moved to New York following its secret purchase by Booker T. Washington, whose accommodationist policies Hopkins opposed, she lost her outlet. She tried to place work elsewhere and even created her own publishing company. But her efforts failed. Though she lived until 1930, she was not able to continue to publish novels after the four that appeared in the unbelievably short span of 1900 to 1902.

All four of Hopkins's novels focus on African American people's battles with racism in the United States, three of them giving preeminence to women's stories; and each shows her testing and expanding the form of the novel to make it serve her purposes. Interweaving stories of familial rupture and reunion, violation and restoration, Contending Forces links past and present to expose late nineteenthcentury, white, rape-lynch mythology as the modern reincarnation of the ethos underlying slavery. Similarly, Hagar's Daughter and Winona deal with the institution of slavery and connect it to the modern African American woman's struggle to define herself against powerful forces of erasure. Most experimental formally is Hopkins's last novel, Of One Blood, which mixes realism, melodrama, journalism, dime novel techniques, and dream prophecy to create a parable about racism, healing, the African American woman artist, and pan-African wholeness. -274-

Hopkins's images of the African American woman artist in Contending Forces and Of One Blood clearly signal her anger about her own situation as an African American woman writer. The woman artist in her first novel is shadowy. Significantly named Sappho, she reveals her creative potential only in hints: her name, the beauty she creates around herself, the passion she feels for her child, the occupation of stenography (Hopkins's own occupation) by which she supports herself. This character is important yet vague — purposefully hard to see and know. In Contending Forces, the African American woman artist's fate in the United States is to have been raped by her white uncle, and her story is one of painful reclamation of identity.

Much less optimistic in its conclusion is Hopkins's account of the woman artist in her last novel. In Of One Blood, the soprano Dianthe Lusk is deceived, sexually violated, silenced, and finally murdered by the book's principal white male character. In this book Hopkins openly celebrates the African American woman artist, connecting her to a long, ancient line of foremothers in Africa. She then shows her violent silencing in the modern United States. Rendered doubly vulnerable by race and gender, Hopkins's woman artist has a rich, glorious past. What she does not have, in this story, is a future. Violent racism kills her.

Born to privilege in a wealthy, white, Old New York family, Edith Wharton enjoyed a career that contrasts sharply with Hopkins's. Inherited income, leisure, freedom from domestic labor, and the security of an excellent private education positioned Wharton for success. Her impressive production of close to twenty novels, eleven volumes of short stories, and numerous essays and articles from the late 1890s to the early 1930s cannot be separated from the advantages of her race and class.

Edith Wharton did have to struggle to turn herself into an artist. Totally leisure-class in their expectation that she would devote herself to nothing but marriage, motherhood, and a life of constant hostessing and visiting, her parents were drawn neither to the arts nor to the life of the mind; and the marriage that she made in 1885 turned out to be deadly. Acutely depressed, she involved herself, on her doctor's advice, in fiction writing in earnest; but as she grew stronger, her husband grew severely depressed. Finally Edith Wharton sued for -275- divorce — against the Wharton family's wishes — in 1913. Although she had an affair early in the twentieth century, she never remarried; and she lived most of her life after the turn of the century in France.

Wharton's rebellion against her class's, her family's, and her husband's expectations reflected the historical moment. Although highly conservative and elitist in many ways, she was nevertheless part of a new generation of women at the end of the nineteenth century who believed in their right to realize their own creativity and ambitions much as privileged men, at least in theory, always had. Indeed, a central issue for Wharton, many scholars argue, was the intensity of her male identification as an artist. If the production of high art, historically, was reserved for men, then how was one as a woman to pursue that goal? Was it possible to be both an artist and a woman? Wharton's most direct answer appears in her first novel, The Touchstone (1900), which has at its center the novelist Margaret Aubyn. She is brilliant, critically acclaimed, and prolific. She is also ugly, unrequited in love, and, by the time the novel opens, dead. The fears embodied in this early representation of the woman artist are clear; desexualization, rejection, and an early death are her fate.

After The Touchstone Wharton's novels return only covertly to the subject of the woman artist. She included the figure obliquely in The Age of Innocence (1920) in the character of Ellen Olenska, but frequently Wharton made her artists and artist-figures male. Looked at one way, this disappearance of the woman artist after The Touchstone suggests resolution. The author acknowledged her fears in her first novel and exorcised them. Looked at another way, however, Wharton's fiction suggests lifelong, unresolved conflict about her own identity as a woman writer. Critics have commented on the almost too-perfect precision and distancing of narrative technique in her work — her fear of admitting feeling and emotion — and Wharton has been charged with hostility toward her women characters. Both practices can be interpreted as manifestations of conflict. They can be read as the author's self-defensive attempt to secure her status as an artist in a male-dominated world by separating herself from "feminine" fiction — that is, allegedly soft, second-rate work — and from other women.

Edith Wharton succeeded brilliantly at writing her way into the tradition of the high-art novel in the United States. Her work enjoyed -276- critical acclaim and a popular readership; given her presence, it was difficult to doubt women's abilities as literary artists. Indeed, one reason that the next generation of young white male authors such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner needed so desperately to assert the masculinity of novel writing was that their youth had been dominated not by great male novelists but by great female ones. Attacking writers such as Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, and Willa Cather as old-fashioned, prudish, and boring was one way of making room for themselves.

In contrast to Edith Wharton and her ambition to create elite art, Winnifred Eaton aimed directly for popular commercial success. Born in Canada the daughter of an English father and a Chinese mother, she was one of fourteen children and the family was poor. As an adult, she wrote most often under the Japanese-sounding pseudonym Onoto Watanna, supporting herself and her four children, particularly after her divorce, by writing popular romances, most of them set in Japan and almost all of them love stories. That is, she capitalized upon rather than rejected the well-established tradition of popular women's fiction in the United States; and she was extremely successful. The first woman of Chinese ancestry to publish novels in the United States, Winnifred Eaton brought out fourteen novels between the late 1890s and the mid-1920 s.

Unlike her sister who published short fiction under the name Sui Sin Far and thereby openly acknowledged her Chinese ancestry, Winnifred Eaton responded to virulent anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States at the turn of the century by suppressing her own heritage and assuming, instead, a Japanese identity. Her strategy, as Amy Ling argues, was one of adaptation, subterfuge, and subversion rather than open confrontation. By reinventing her background, she could cater to the reading public's fascination with Japan and thus exploit Asian subject matter in a positive, albeit stereotypic, way without churning up the racism — or at least the same kind or the amount of racism — that Chinese subject matter would produce.

The full meaning and the cost of Eaton's successful disguise are not easy to measure. She brilliantly participated in a strategy of deliberately assumed false identity and infiltration that women artists, defined as outsiders, have made use of from George Eliot (and earlier) on. At the same time, as Onoto Watanna she centered her creative life -277- in an act of denial that clearly seems to have created pain as well as a degree of freedom. Her autobiography, Me(1915), in which she calls herself "Nora Ascough" and identifies her mother simply as "foreign," reflects bitterly at one point: "My success was founded upon a cheap and popular device. . Oh, I had sold my birthright for a mess of potage [sic]." In alluding here to the biblical story of Esau and, even more immediately and tellingly, to the famous reference to it at the end of James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912), Eaton suggests how hard it was for her, at least at times, to pretend to be someone she was not. The rampant anti-Chinese bigotry of her era placed her in an untenable position. As she saw it, and certainly she was not imagining things, to survive and thrive as a novelist she had to deny a basic part of herself.

This confusion and guilt about hiding one's identity appears clearly in Onoto Watanna's early novel about a woman artist, A Japanese Nightingale (1901). In order to secure enough money to help her brother come home to Japan, the heroine, a teahouse dancer who is half Japanese and half Caucasian, sells herself in marriage to a white American. In keeping her economic motive a secret, she keeps from her husband her full story as a human being and her pain and isolation at having to live a lie. As a "real" story about a woman artist in Japan, the book is frequently thin and farfetched. As a disguised story about its author's own disguise as an artist, however, it is revealing. It says that economic necessity, secrecy and isolation, and flattery of whites consume the major part of a Eurasian woman artist's life.

Willa Cather's ambition as a novelist, like Wharton's, was to distinguish herself as an artist. As Sharon O'Brien has argued, Cather's long apprenticeship as a novelist was dominated by the conflict she felt as a middle-class white woman between the identities of "woman" and "artist," the former associated for her with domesticity, nurture, and relationality; the latter with public accomplishment, daring intellect, and rule-breaking. Publishing her first short story in 1892, she did not write her first novel until 1912; and during that twenty-year period, as well as occasionally thereafter, Cather outspokenly denigrated women writers. It was a way of separating her-278- self from public accomplishment that was "feminine." By attacking women writers she could identify herself with real artists — that is, men. Then in large part through the friendship and example of Sarah Orne Jewett, as O'Brien explains, Cather gradually arrived at a way of integrating her identity as a woman and her ambitions as an artist. Although that integration was always shaky, she was nevertheless able to produce nine novels in about twenty years, as well as many short stories, essays, articles, and autobiographical writings.

Where Cather's story differed radically from Wharton's was in her struggle against homophobia. Profoundly complicating Cather's public career as an artist was her primary, private identification with women, romantically and emotionally, at precisely the time historically that such same-sex relationships were being defined as pathological. Because Victorian ideology assumed that respectable women were asexual, a woman of the previous generation such as Jewett might write with considerable freedom about love between women. But with the breakdown of Victorian ideology toward the end of the nineteenth century came a redefinition of all women (not just "bad" women) as sexual. Consequently, deep intimate bonds between women no longer qualified as "innocent." They became, instead, potentially and even inherently sexual — and, given their rejection of men, clearly "deviant." This invention of lesbianism as deviance by the mainstream culture occurred at the same time that Cather was trying to find her voice as an artist. As might be expected, these changes in cultural attitudes toward same-sex emotional and romantic identification among women generated tremendous creative tension for Cather — both inhibiting and fruitful.

Cather wrote most openly about the woman artist in her third novel, The Song of the Lark (1915), and it is significant that the singer Thea Kronborg has her most complete and transforming creative experience in a moment of solitary, magical communion with the earth itself, which Cather clearly depicts as female and simultaneously erotic and maternal. Deep in Panther Canyon, which is described as "a gentler cañon within a wilder one," a secret protected place "hollow (like a great fold in the rock)," Cather's artist, standing naked in a still pool in the sunlight, experiences an epiphany. Embraced by the earth, Thea understands in a flash the utter intercon-279- nectedness of earth, flesh, womb, female sexuality, and artistic form. As a consequence of this powerful, symbolic, same-sex experience deep in the earth she finds herself reborn and renewed as an artist.

Similar covert exploration of same-sex love and of its relationship to artistic creativity exists throughout Cather's fiction. Most obvious probably are the loving relationships between men in The Professor's House (1925) and Death Comes for the Archbishop(1927). But even in My Ántonia (1918), many critics argue, the central love relationship between Jim and "Tony" (Antonia) makes most sense if it is read not simply as a heterosexual attraction but also as a camouflaged same-sex one.

Existing in tension with such subversive energies in Cather's novels, however, is her racism. Writing during a period of mounting homophobia, Willa Cather struggled against powerful biases, which she could circumvent only surreptitiously. It is therefore an irony of her work, as must also be said of many other white women's writing at the time, that it is deeply racist and ethnocentric. Even as Cather wrote about white women's struggles against discrimination, including those of immigrants, she ignored living Native Americans in favor of celebrating dead ones, rendered Mexican women invisible, and caricatured African Americans. Like most privileged white women at the time, she did not use her own situation to understand the situations of people of color in the United States.

In sharp contrast to a career such as Cather's, Hum-ishu-ma, also known as Mourning Dove, published one novel, Cogewea, the HalfBlood. Written around 1912, it did not come out until 1927; and the story of its revision and publication forms a critical chapter in United States literary history.

A member of the Okanogan people of the American Northwest, Hum-ishu-ma is usually cited as the first Native American woman novelist. She grew up in what is now Washington state and then on the Flathead Reservation. Although she had little formal schooling, she had impressive talent and determination and around 1912 wrote the first draft of Cogewea. In 1914 she shared her manuscript with Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, a white man actively involved in championing Native American rights. McWhorter added some notes and quotations, did some editing, and tried to place the book for Humishu-ma. He did not succeed, perhaps because of World War I; and -280- then after the war he continued to make changes in the manuscript — but this time without telling Hum-ishu-ma. The book, as Alanna Kathleen Brown explains, now became the work of two people with two separate objectives. When the novel finally came out in 1927 McWhorter had so altered it that Hum-ishu-ma wrote to him: "I feel like it was someone elses book and not mine at all. In fact the finishing touches are put there by you, and I have never seen it."

Hum-ishu-ma wrote Cogewea at night after exhausting labor all day as a migrant farmworker; she trusted McWhorter with her manuscript; and her reward was a book she could barely recognize as her own. As Dexter Fisher points out, McWhorter no doubt meant well. He wanted to revise Cogewea to make it more timely, impressive, and therefore marketable. Nevertheless what he did was to appropriate and rewrite Hum-ishu-ma — transform her work into his image of what it should be. He repeated on the personal level precisely the process of colonization and erasure that he claimed as an advocate of Native American issues to be fighting against in white culture.

Despite the manuscript's violation, it seems possible to identify the basic plot and design of Cogewea as Hum-ishu-ma's. The book has in its foreground a simple if tangled love-plot. Rejecting a young man who, like herself, comes from a mixed Okanogan and Anglo background and is therefore at home in both the Native American and the white world, Cogewea runs away with a white man who turns out to be a racist liar. When he abandons her, it is actually a good thing. Cogewea returns to her people and, most important, to new respect for her grandmother, her Stemteema, who had warned her against the white man. Quite overtly, Cogewea is a cautionary tale about the dangers of trusting white men and leaving the world of one's grandmother. It is, ironically, almost uncannily prophetic about Hum-ishuma's experience as a writer.

It may be that Hum-ishu-ma's struggle as a writer against colonial domination and particularly white sexism shows up most powerfully in Cogewea's form. Three times she inserts the Stemteema's traditional, cautionary tales into her conventional Western plot design. These tales, either remembered by Hum-ishu-ma or gathered by her for the novel, thus interject into the book a traditional, oral narrative that both opposes and interacts with the love-plot. Consequently the -281- form of Hum-ishu-ma's book, probably even more than its content, articulates what was obviously a fundamental issue for her as a woman writer, at least in this work. How does one fuse the modern Western novel — whether popular or high-art — and the traditional art of generations of Native American foremothers? Is it possible, or even desirable? Can the two meet, interact, coexist, or connect in the same text?

After Cogewea Hum-ishu-ma published Coyote Stories (1933), a collection of traditional Okanogan tales. Also, it is reported that she was determined to write another novel, this time without anyone's "help." Whether she did so is uncertain, however, as no manuscript has been found.

Certainly the careers of Pauline Hopkins, Edith Wharton, Onoto Watanna, Willa Cather, and Hum-ishu-ma suggest no unitary story or pattern. Rather, what a sketch of representative women novelists' ambitions and fates at the turn of the century indicates is both how feasible and how very difficult it was for different women to become novelists in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century.

They all had behind them a strong tradition. By the end of the nineteenth century American women had been publishing novels for well over fifty years. Led by writers such as E. D. E. N. Southworth and Susan Warner, a number of them had succeeded so phenomenally that the popular novel in the 1850s was dominated by white women. Following the Civil War, other white women such as Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Constance Fenimore Woolson, and Sarah Orne Jewett published novels that significantly altered the earlier pattern. They wrote books that simultaneously sold well and attracted praise as "art," thus preparing the way, it can be said, for the explosion of talent and achievement among women novelists at the end of the century. Earlier there had been isolated women such as Elizabeth Stoddard or Harriet E. Wilson who had attempted novels substantially or even completely different from those produced by the popular white domestic novelists. But it was not until the third quarter of the nineteenth century that such experimentation and individuality became the norm rather than the exception.

Empowered by various, vigorous women's movements, as well as by various literary traditions that included autobiographies, poetry, -282- slave narratives, travel literature, and a number of oral forms in addition to the novel, women writers from many backgrounds turned with increasing ambition and confidence at the end of the nineteenth century to the novel, whether as high art or as popular fiction. African American women such as Frances Ellen Harper, Emma Dunham Kelley, Amelia Johnson, and Pauline Hopkins brought out novels in the 1890s and the first years of the new century. Onoto Watanna and Hum-ishu-ma likewise began novel-writing careers at the turn of the century. Many white women such as Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, Willa Cather, Mary Austin, Gertrude Atherton, Ellen Glasgow, Zona Gale, and Mary Roberts Rinehart began their careers as novelists at the end of the nineteenth century.

Indeed, as a group white women novelists were so successful that their work clearly threatened white men at the time. Theodore Dreiser's beginning his own career with two novels about women, Sister Carrie (1900) and Jennie Gerhardt (1912), or Sinclair Lewis's debut with Main Street (1919) suggests how aware they were of the feminine market. Even more telling, the exaggeratedly muscular novels of men such as Richard Harding Davis, Frank Norris, Winston Churchill, and Harold Bell Wright point at least in part to their anxiety not simply about virility in general but specifically about gender and the novel — who should be shaping it and what it should look like.

A second and equally if not more important conclusion to draw from any overview of women novelists at the turn into the twentieth century is that gender cannot be separated out from race, ethnicity, and class when thinking about the struggles and accomplishments of women writers in the United States. As women, all of the writers I have mentioned shared the challenge of having to combat sexism and misogyny in order to write and publish. Also all, in one way or another, benefited from changing attitudes toward women in the broader social and political context. However, the differences among and for women created by racism, colonialism, cultural bigotry, and class discrimination often reduced to insignificance the similarities produced by gender. Edith Wharton's publication of seventeen novels and Hum-ishu-ma's publication of one — which she could barely recognize as her own by the time her benevolent white "friend" got through with it — indicate how inextricable the issues of gender, race, class, ethnicity, and culture are in United States literary history. The -283- subject of gender empowerment and the American novel does not exist independent of questions of race, class, and culture.

Elizabeth Ammons


Popular Forms I

The only men, as a class, in America today, who are able to live by pure literary labor, are the writers of what you call "dime novels," that is to say, of books written for the largest possible market in this country…. Had Poe lived in these days he would have been a writer of dime novels; for his prose stories have all the qualities which are required in a good "dime." Had he done so, he might have ended his days in comfort, instead of dying in misery, for good dime work pays well. - Frederick Whittaker, Dime Novels: A Defense by a Writer of Them (1884)

When Frederick Whittaker mounted his defense of cheap fiction in the late nineteenth century, he was reacting against criticism of it as a degenerate, corrupt, and corrupting form. His tactic was to legitimize the processes of authorship and reception (or literary production and consumption) within the marketplace. The argument and counterargument nicely gesture to the warring definitions, theories, and assumptions that inform discourse of the "popular" in the industrial age. Disentangling the terms of that discourse is crucial, because each leads to a different construction of the literature. I will argue in this chapter that popular or mass literature of the nineteenth century made available to authors and readers a negotiated response to historical, ideological, and commercial developments of the period.

Critics of popular culture in the industrialized era have theorized alternative models of the relationship between popular forms and society, or specifically the effect of the commodification of culture on literary production. At one end of the spectrum, the Frankfurt School condemned the "culture industry" as a capitalist operation manipulating and deceiving a passive public. That reading of mass culture is one that echoes through many avowedly untheorized attitudes: Ralph Ellison is not unusual in perceiving the debasement of African American culture in its appropriation by mass forms of entertainment. The opposite response is epitomized by some of Leslie Fiedler's work, -285- which celebrates mass literature as the spontaneous expression of modern folk culture. These diverse connotations are represented in the multiple definitions of the term "popular," itemized by Raymond Williams in Keywords (1983):

Popular was originally a legal and political term, from popularis, L — belonging to the people…. The transition to the predominant modern meaning of "widely favoured" or "well-liked" is interesting in that it contains…a sense of calculation…. Popular culture was not identified by the people but by others, and it still carries two older senses: inferior kinds of work…; and work deliberately setting out to win favour…; as well as the more modern sense of well-liked by many people, with which of course, in many cases, the earlier senses overlap. The sense of popular culture as the culture actually made by people for themselves is different from all these.

In more recent years an intermediate position has developed, one that is compelling in its recognition of both the trivializing and the empowering potential of popular forms, and that acknowledges the manipulations of the mass media while arguing that the needs and desires of the reading public can act as a counterforce in the collective production of meaning. This perspective is partly a response to the perceived disjunction between critics' and audiences' explanations of the stories that popular forms tell. Privileging the critics' readings assumes and perhaps encourages the passivity of "untrained" readers, implicitly characterizing them as gulls to the ruses of the manifest content of popular works. The theory of "negotiation" answers this assumption by ascribing agency to the material institutions of production, distribution, and consumption, to the publishers, authors, and readers of mass literature, all of them being understood to invest the text with their own agendas, vocabularies, ideologies. Michael Denning provides one of the most succinct articulations of the dynamic of negotiation when he says of cheap books that

they are best seen as a contested terrain, a field of cultural conflict where signs with wide appeal and resonance take on contradictory disguises and are spoken in contrary accents. Just as the signs of a dominant culture can be articulated in the accents of the people, so the signs of the culture of the working classes can be dispossessed in varieties of ventriloquism.

The later nineteenth-century explosion of American cheap fiction grew out of major innovations in antebellum popular publishing. This chapter sketches in the early period by tracing the rise of story papers, dime novels, and nickel series, all of which flourished in the -286- latter half of the century. It pays attention to the material circumstances of these works' production and consumption, their textual inscriptions, their authors, and their readers, as the collective coordinates of the "contested terrain" of popular literature. Such grounding facilitates our understanding of how these popular works spoke to their age — as well as how they speak to our age about the imaginative life of the past — and how they offered to authors and readers models of accommodation, qualified resistance, and negotiation.

In the antebellum period key moments facilitated the onset of cheap fiction: the explosion in America's market economy, the huge increase in its population, the spread of literacy, and the rapid advances in transportation, industrialization, and print technology made possible the production and continental distribution of lowpriced literature to a mass audience for the first time. The first entrepreneurs to take advantage of these material conditions were the publishers of story papers: cheap, weekly compilations of serialized melodramas, didactic sketches, and news digests. The composition and contents of story papers were a direct result of marketing calculations. The large folio sheets with their cramped columns of diminutive typeface, the paucity of illustrations, and the very low price -3 cents to 6 cents per issue — were the result of a narrow calculation about how to attract the largest audience as cheaply as possible. Snippets of commentary and international gossip were added to make the story papers look like newspapers, since only newspapers were eligible for the cheapest, third-class postage. The first story papers were Brother Jonathan and New World, both founded by Park Benjamin and Rufus Griswold in 1839; the most popular and longlasting were Robert Bonner's New York Ledger (1855-98) and Street and Smith's New York Weekly (1855-89), each claiming at different times to sell 350,000–400,000 copies a week. These titles and others appeared up to the end of the century, but the form was distinctively forged in its early years: as enthusiasm for the dime novel escalated after the Civil War, later story papers could claim only one-half to one-quarter of the earlier versions' circulation; in 1877, Publishers Weekly said of weekly story papers: "These have not been pushed of late years as they used to be, and their readers perhaps are ready for something new." -287-

The political climate also had a palpable effect on story papers. The rhetoric of Manifest Destiny provided a nationalistic discourse within which publisher-editors could legitimize merchandising calculations of scale and popularity, translating commercial practices into patriotic principles in the apparatus that surrounded and spoke to the fictional contents. In the years when America was battling with Mexico and Britain in its efforts to expand its Western territories, nationalist sentiment was stirred by iconic story-paper titles such as The Flag of Our Union, The True Flag, The Flag of the Free, Uncle Sam, The Yankee Nation, The Star-Spangled Banner, all accompanied by flamboyant heads of eagles, flags, and cameos of the founding fathers. The democratic ethos was invoked in editorial columns and publicity announcements that accommodated readers to the upheavals of industrializing America, by explaining the technology of storypaper production as a process entirely at the service of the public, making "a paper that shall please the million."

Story-paper authors also functioned as icons of emergent nationalism. The first story-paper publishers pirated European material, but once that source ran dry, they stimulated American production, first with cash prizes for published stories, then with fees — anywhere from $100 for a novelette to $1600 for a novel. The need to fill pages, then, turned American writing into a paying profession for the first time. Mining that commercial calculation for all its nationalistic potential, publishers vied to boast about the Americanness of their authors and the size of fees paid to certain stellar names (stressing output and price more than genius of production), again emphasizing that these measures were adopted for the public's delectation.

The array of fictional formulas perpetrated by the story papers included some residual forms unchanged from the European tradition: for example, aristocratic costume romances. The most distinctive narratives, however, adapted inherited patterns of sensational action, multiple plot-lines, and stereotyped figures to American settings and the current political climate. The genre "mysteries of the city," for example, adapted by George Lippard and, later, Ned Buntline from Eugène Sue, was marked by the peculiarities of the American city in the 1840s as well as by the displacement of rural dwellers after the Panic of 1837.

Melodramas of two types predominated. Stories of masculine ad-288- venture on the sea, in the wilderness, or in historical and contemporary wars with Britain, Mexico, and Native American tribes justified the nationalist cause in specifically democratic terms. Typically, Charles Averill's The Secret Service Ship; or, The Fall of San Juan D'Ulloa, first published in The Flag of Our Union in 1849, focuses its sensationalized propaganda about the contemporaneous Mexican War on the heroic spy, Midshipman Rogers. In his complicated tangle of plot lines, character disguises, false deaths, and indigestible coincidences, Averill entirely sacrificed the convention of secrecy to the allegorical imperative. Far from camouflaging himself in the dress of his Mexican surroundings, Midshipman Rogers accouters himself as follows:

his right arm rear[ed] proudly aloft to the breezes of the Gulf, a superb dark blue banner, on which was embroidered in bright golden characters, the inscription "UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE," surrounded by a circle of thirty glittering stars, such as ever gem the Flag of our Union; while the azure sash which encircled his manly waist…was itself a star-spangled standard, folded into a semblance of a scarf.

At a climactic moment in the plot, Rogers unfurls the United States flag and drapes himself in it. Simultaneously boosting both the nationalistic cause and the paper's title, Averill insists that what has infiltrated and vanquished Mexico is the type of America, the democracy where the common man (the midshipman) is hero.

The other prominent formula was a sensationalized version of the domestic, sentimental novel, which sold so successfully at midcentury and which Jane Tompkins has read as an expression of the revival movement. Women's narratives in the story papers also told of female trials and fortitude in the face of sudden poverty, orphanhood, abusive guardians, and evil suitors, but their florid, feverish action was more "high wrought," in Nina Baym's term, than that of Susan B. Warner and Maria Cummins. The most lavishly touted author of this melodramatic genre was Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth, who was published in the New York Ledger from 1855 and whose writings still attracted a large audience in the 1880s and 1890s, when they appeared alongside the dime novels. Southworth's successful formula involved mistaken identities, vicious love triangles, and horrific bouts of insanity, all of which are represented as distortions of the domestic propriety at which the heroine aims. The heroines typically -289- earn their happiness by being chaste and Christian, but that virtue does not inhibit them from undertaking some sensational crossdressing adventures. While clearly speaking to the religious enthusiasm and women's topics of the age, these melodramas also offered illicit thrills.

Some of these melodramas were delivered, textually, by strong authorial voices that translated the commodity status of the literature into a highly metaphorical process of commodity exchange between authors and implied audiences. These authorial gestures seem a more characteristic dimension of male than female narratives; this difference may well be historically specific, in that the first identifiable voice was a male one that emerged from the patriarchal system of the publishing industry. Maturin Murray Ballou was one of the first entrepreneurs to take advantage of the new print technology, most successfully with The Flag of Our Union (1846-70). He also seems to have been the first story-paper author to incorporate the businessman's perspective into his authorial voice, when he turned author himself in the face of dwindling indigenous materials to fill his pages. In adopting his new role, Ballou never renounced his old one; in the midst of his melodramatic storytelling, he pauses to inform the reader how much time and money the process of writing has cost; and he extends the public accountability of the author from the editorial rhetoric to the fiction itself, by explaining and justifying his decisions about the composition of his tale, in, for example, Fanny Campbell, the Female Pirate Captain and Red Rupert, the American Bucanier [sic], both published in The Flag of Our Union in 1845. The most prolific author to follow Ballou's practice was E. Z. C. Judson, best known under one of his many pseudonyms, "Ned Buntline."

Buntline's voice was more politicized than Ballou's, because he carried into his fiction the perspectives of both publisher-editor (Judson produced his own story papers intermittently) and tribune of the people (at one time heading the Know-Nothing Party, he was a prominent participant in the Astor Place Riot of 1849). He also used the serialized format more aggressively, to respond to his critics and comment on his political and legal adventures beyond the pages of his fiction. Peter Buckley has elucidated the strategies by which Buntline carried the rhetoric of mass meetings from the streets of New York City into the story papers and back again, breaking the bounds of -290- novelistic form to argue political, legal, commercial, and personal cases to his audience. This whole ongoing commentary was intertwined within stirring tales of the American Revolution — such as Saul Sabberday, the Idiot Spy; or, Luliona, the Seminole (1858) — or of urban vice — for example, The Mysteries and Miseries of New York City (issued in parts between December 1847 and April 1848). In Buckley's words: "Practicing the serial form…appears to have brought writers into new relations with the audiences assembled, so to speak, by the texts themselves"; in Buntline's: "I hope you feel as if you had got your money's worth."

The sum of these authorial, narrative, and publishing strategies is that story papers did much more than flood American society with cheap, sensational adventure stories. Their editorial and authorial rhetoric acknowledged the operation of the market on the contract between author and reader, and inscribed that contract into the nationalist history of America, implicating commercial practice just as much as martial pursuits into the democratic ethos of the new Republic. At the same time, their fictional narratives positioned American women and men in heroic roles. While the editorial apparatus communicated reassuring messages about the technology and scale of industrialization, it also mediated the sensational fiction in such a way that the adventures read not simply as dissociated escapism but as displaced allegories of American life. The effect was that story papers offered readers accommodation to the speed, change, and growth of modern America.

The popular form central to the post-Civil War period was the dime novel, which flourished from 1860 to about 1900. Dime novels were introduced by Beadle and Adams, who were soon joined by a host of imitators, the most successful being Frank Tousey, George Munro, Norman Munro, and Street and Smith (the last transferring from the story paper to the dime novel late, in 1889, but immediately becoming Beadle and Adams's main rival and surviving as pulp magazine publishers until 1950). Beadle shifted the emphasis in cheap publishing away from serials to uniformly packaged series: each consisted of complete, predominantly American novels presented as compact pamphlets priced at 10 cents or 5 cents, with illustrated covers, which became increasingly lurid and vividly colored through time. -291-

Pamphlet novels had been issued, irregularly, in the antebellum period, but usually in installments for 25 cents each. Beadle and Adams's major innovation was the marketing of their line: the portable format was an important selling point in an age of escalating rail travel; the recognizable, appealing format took effect with the onset of the newsstand as a major outlet for cheap fiction; and the very low price ("A DOLLAR BOOK FOR A DIME!!" as the publicity blared) opened up the market to readers of all income levels. The dime novel publishers also pared away most of the editorial paraphernalia characteristic of story papers; in time, they tapped the audience loyalty bred by serialization in the earlier format by organizing titles into "libraries," a device that also facilitated the frequent reprinting of novels. The results were massively successful; Beadle and Adams published 3158 separate titles and sold copies in the millions. In the words of W. H. Bishop, in 1879, dime novel literature was "the greatest literary movement, in bulk, of the age, and worthy of very serious consideration for its character, the phenomenon of its existence cannot be overlooked."

The authors of dime novels were implicated in the industrial processes more directly than their story-paper predecessors, primarily because dime novel publishers attempted to rationalize (and thereby deskill) writing as well as production, advertising, and distribution. At first, with Beadle and Adams, editors regimented authors' production mainly in terms of quantity, speed, length, and fixed payment rates, supplying only general instructions on content. With the advent of Street and Smith, however, the principle of systematization penetrated much more deeply into relationships among publisher, editor, author, and audience. They supervised their writers closely, taking over more and more authorial decisions, until, by 1896, Ormond Smith dictated character, plots, and scenes to the author who was ostensibly "inventing" Frank Merriwell. Increasingly, too, all dime publishers shunted authors around from one house pseudonym to another; in the case of Street and Smith, multiply authored series under one trademark name came to be the rule.

Fitting writing to production-line techniques inevitably shaped both the public's and the writers' conception of authorship. From the statements that have survived, it is clear that many authors came to absorb the values of commercial publishing, willingly subscribing to -292- the conditions of labor in the fiction factories. William Wallace Cook, for example, who wrote for Street and Smith between 1893 and 1928, off and on, described authorship:

A writer is neither better nor worse than any other man who happens to be in trade. He is a manufacturer. After gathering his raw product, he puts it through the mill of his imagination, retorts from the mass the personal equation, refines it with a sufficient amount of common sense and runs it into bars — of bullion, let us say. If the product is good it passes at face value and becomes a medium of exchange.

Laura Jean Libbey, who won a massive readership through the Munroes' story papers, wrote plays in later life according to the method she had learned as a dime novelist. Eschewing outline or notes, she dictated two or three plays a week, 120 in eighteen months, then produced a list of 120 titles, to which she matched the plays as they came to hand. The more complex inscriptions of authorial accents in the fiction itself are part of the textual story told below.

Sizes and types of audience are notoriously difficult to establish, the more so in the case of historical publishers of ephemeral literature. Nevertheless, informed hypotheses are important, because we read this literature now partly through our construction of how it was received contemporaneously. Certain clues point to a large and diverse audience for dime novels, but with a majority of this readership belonging to the working class toward the end of the nineteenth century. Beadle and Adams themselves explicitly announced in 1860: "it is hoped to reach all classes, old and young, male and female"; they advertised books in the nationally influential New York Tribune; and some of their publications were reviewed (favorably) in the highbrow North American Review. The Civil War produced a captive audience of soldiers, who were highly responsive to the sensational adventure that some publishers became adept at producing. Later, industrialization, urbanization, and economic calculations seem to have delivered the working classes as the main audience for cheap fiction. Frederick Whittaker specifically enumerated: "The readers of the dimes are farmers, mechanics, workwomen, drummers, boys in shops and factories"; extrapolating from this and other evidence, Michael Denning has averred that "the bulk of the audience of dime novels were workers — craftworkers, factory operatives, domestic servants and domestic workers." At least once formulaic fan-293- tasies were adapted to quasi-realist urban settings, Street and Smith appeared to believe that they had a proletarian audience (and potential, unpaid sales force) reflecting their proletarian protagonists. The editorial apparatus of an 1871 New York Weekly reads, in part:

Every sewing machine girl in the United States should not only read Bertha Bascomb, the Sewing Machine Girl, but should make it her especial business to see that everybody else reads it. The story is designed to benefit the working girl, and therefore every working girl in our broad land should constitute herself an agent for its distribution.

Given that it was Francis Smith, coeditor, who had written Bertha Bascomb, this rhetoric can be read as not just addressing but actively constituting a working-class following. Retrospectively, commentators tended to style dime novels "part of the youth of many of us" (this from an editorial in the New York Sun in 1900). In fact, however, it was only toward the end of Beadle and Adams's life and throughout Street and Smith's dime career that a specifically juvenile audience was targeted.

The characteristic dime novel narratives aimed at this shifting audience were action-packed melodramas that told, again, stories of nationalism and commerce. Several formulas are familiar from the story papers — tales of heroic, patriotic wars and of the frontier — but others developed in response to historical circumstances: the fictionalizing of outlaws, detectives, male factory operatives, and working girls, for example, was particular to the newer form, as it developed in the 1880s and 1890s. All of these fictions were quick to exploit the topical, from scientific and technological inventions to industrial strife to Teddy Roosevelt's triumphs in the Spanish-American War.

The formula most actively promoted by Beadle and Adams and their imitators in the early years was the Western. While there had been individual best-selling frontier romances — each of Cooper's Leatherstocking tales (1823-41) was a best-seller, as was Robert Montgomery Bird's Nick of the Woods; or, The Jibbenainosay (1837) — the genre as a mass phenomenon took off with the advent of the dime novel. The historical context was clearly a factor: accompanying the human migrations from East to West before the Civil War and the cattle trails from West to East after was a vibrant, optimistic political rhetoric that characterized the Far West as site of -294- national, economic, and personal regeneration. Also bearing upon the response to the dime Western was the general shift in popular trends, as women's fiction waned and men's gained ascendancy, as Nina Baym and others have shown. Finally, the specific story of Beadle's first Westerns suggests that commercial calculations also had a bearing.

Beadle and Adams opened their publishing venture with a tale set on the early frontier: Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter, by Ann S. Stephens, which was Number One of Beadle's Dime Novels in June 1860. It sold at least half a million copies, yet turned out to be an unusual dime novel. Its structure was untypical: though its melodrama was vivid, its plot entanglements and subplots and coincidences were considerably more restrained than in later dimes, and it ended tragically. The subject matter was handled equally unusually: Malaeska traces the fate of a Native American woman, who is left widowed by her white soldier-husband, robbed of their son by her aristocratic in-laws in New York City, forced to witness his suicide when his Indian heritage is revealed to him years later, and finally killed by her own grief on her boy's grave. That this is a distinctively female, as well as native, experience is suggested by the narrator's comment on Malaeska's self-sacrifice: "It was her woman's destiny, not the more certain because of her savage origin. Civilization does not always reverse this mournful picture of womanly self-abnegation." When Irwin Beadle chose this story, reprinting it from serialization in The Ladies' Companion of 1839, he seems to have made an astute commercial calculation, grafting an example of the provenly popular sentimental fiction onto a new format and new publicity that emphasized the frontier adventure more than the prominent religiosity.

Malaeska's failure to articulate the West in topically optimistic, patriarchal terms may well have doomed it in the long run as the forerunner of a genre of women's Westerns. More immediately, happenstance worked against its institution as a formulaic model. Later in 1860, Edward S. Ellis, a young schoolmaster, brought to Beadle and Adams a wilderness adventure with clear sales potential. Seth Jones; or, The Captives of the Frontier took plot, character, and setting from Fenimore Cooper. But Ellis transformed Cooper's Natty Bumppo — the backwoodsman isolated between two races — and -295- Bird's Nick — the schizophrenic Indian killer — into a backwoodsman who harmonizes savagery and civilization. Seth Jones is the avuncular, Indian-slaying hunter who, after saving various captives from the Mohawks, turns out, beneath his disguise, to be a young, aristocratic Easterner suited to marry the white heroine. Ellis produced a sunny, optimistic ending that erased the tension between East and West evident in Cooper's and Bird's divided endings: an important symbolic function in a time of national strife. Beadle mounted a massive advertising campaign for Seth Jones for several days before the novel's publication, running newspaper advertisements, billboards, and handbills with their tantalizing question "Who is Seth Jones?" followed by lithographs of a coonskin-capped hunter declaring "I am Seth Jones." The response was even more massive than to Malaeska. Ellis was a new, twenty-year-old author willing to join the Beadle stable and turn out endless imitations of his model for the next thirty years, whereas by 1860 Ann Stephens was almost fifty years old, an established author and editor whose production was more wedded to middle-class magazines than to Beadle and Adams's dime novels (though she continued to write for them intermittently). For various reasons, from the historical to the commercial to the personal, Ellis's version of the frontier adventure, a version that appropriated the wilderness for the glorification of white men rescuing white women and killing Indians, held sway in the Beadle production line.

This model was also perpetrated by the dime authors who brought the Western into the modern era. Ned Buntline introduced Buffalo Bill as a Western hero — both in dime fiction and on the New York stage. Then Prentiss Ingraham hammered home the point that this violent plainsman could fill the romantic role because his gentlemanly demeanor and exotic appearance brought together the savage and the civilized. Edward Wheeler created the Western outlaw when he introduced Deadwood Dick, another Easterner, disguised this time in a black costume and mask, in Beadle's Half-Dime Library of 1877. In the twentieth century, partly in response to the strictures of the Postmaster General, dime publishers turned to moralistic adventure stories about clean-cut boys; the most popular Western version of this formula was Wild West Weekly, a series about a gang of boys in the West led again by a displaced Easterner, which Frank Tousey began in 1902. In 1904 Street and Smith produced a close imitation, Young-296- Rough Rider Weekly, which played on associations with Teddy Roosevelt and carried Western adventure into the modern age, with battles revolving around commerce, property, and sport, not the killing of Native Americans. The characteristic line that survived through these decades of ritualized adventure was the imperative to marry frontiersman and gentleman, or West and East.

In terms of publishers, writers, and fictional formulas, dime novels were a male-dominated genre. However, from the beginning, publishers were interested in catching women readers, too, and made efforts to develop a distinct women's formula. As well as beginning the dime novel with Ann Stephens, Beadle published a number of women authors. One steady contributor was Metta V. Victor: her work is interesting not only because she was married to Beadle's chief editor but also because her Maum Guinea and Her Plantation "Children"; or, Holiday-week on a Louisiana Estate, a Slave Romance (1861) is an imitation of Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin that can stand alongside Seth Jones in literary historical significance; and her detective novel The Dead Letter(which appeared in Beadle's Monthly in 1866) is the first known detective story by a woman. Street and Smith also worked to produce an identifiably female genre with their "Bertha M. Clay" stories, first in the late 1870s, when New York Weekly pirated stories of Charlotte M. Braeme, a European author, under that name, and then in their dime series as a house pseudonym. In fact, Street and Smith used their regular stable of male authors — including William Wallace Cook — to produce these stories. There was no doubt, however, that they were designed to appropriate female ideology: Cook understood that he had been directed to write "a bit of sentimental fiction for young women."

This attempt to imitate the success of domestic women's fiction of the 1850s reaped massive rewards only once the formula was fitted to the changing social patterns of urbanizing America, toward the end of the century. Laura Jean Libbey became the stellar author of sensationalized stories set in the city, revolving around the trials, temptations, and romances of young working women. These novels were serialized in the Munroes' Fireside Companion and Family Story Paper in the 1880s and 1890s before being reprinted innumerable times by cheap publishers up to the 1920s. Accumulatively, they garnered such a huge audience that they won trademark status: in 1910, -297- The Bookman labeled the genre of working-girl romances "Laura Jean Libbeys." Libbey's formulaic plot revolved around a poor factory operative, shopgirl, or mill worker who manages to resist the unwelcome advances of the wealthy, upper-class villain, yet is often forced — unwittingly — into an illegal marriage with him, and finally ends the novel marrying an upper-class hero who admires her for her personal virtues that transcend her humble background. Although this formula privileges sentimentalism and romanticism, it is distinctly different from the mid-century domestic novel and from the post-Civil War novel of female religious zeal (for example, Augusta Jane Evans's St. Elmo [1868], the sine qua non of the type). Libbey sloughs off religiosity and focuses away from the middle-class domestic sphere, to follow the romantic dramas of the proletarian heroine in paid employment. (Her tales are also different from those by Horatio Alger, the other prolific formulist of the city in that period, partly because sexual passion rather than juvenile adventure is central to her treatment.)

In many ways, these novels are celebrations of working women, though that impression is complicated by the heroine's removal at the end of the novel to a wealthy domestic sphere and by the frequent revelation that the working girl was, unbeknownst to herself, a lost heiress. Critics have read these plots to different allegorical effect, some arguing that they told working-class readers that they could be both workers and heroines, others arguing that the endings betray and trivialize workers. In general, however, these plots clearly speak to the changes in women's status between about 1870 and 1920. More and more women were joining the work force, often with lowpaying factory jobs, and considerable concern was being voiced about the effect of public employment on young women's virtue; in such a climate, the very figuring of the working girl as democratic heroine, her entry into a popular pantheon that included such nationalistically approved types as the hunter, the detective, and the honest mechanic, signaled some level of legitimacy. Fiction that heroized women outside the domestic sphere offered working-class women some kind of accommodation and justification, some means of negotiating the transition from private to public.

The messages of all these dime narratives are complicated not only -298- by the relationship between formula and social agency but by the inscriptions of authorial voices in the texts. The Beadle and Adams authors forged a facsimile of a storyteller's relationship with their audience by talking to their readers about the commercial paraphernalia of the dime novel. In their earliest form, these tactics are familiar though exaggerated versions of inscriptions in the antebellum story papers. Buntline, for example, mounted a running commentary on his place in the production line, within his repetitive dime tales of captivity, chase, and rescue on the frontier, acknowledging the competitive commercialism of his task as author. Prentiss Ingraham and Edward Ellis implicated authors, characters, and readers in codes, conventions, and sign-systems, thus moving the fiction closer to an acknowledgment of its status in the publishing field. Edward Wheeler's characters completed the last refinement, by becoming independent of their author to the extent that they wrote their own plots, devised their own identities, and fought their own publishing battles. For example, just at the time that Street and Smith marketed an imitation of the Deadwood Dick series, Wheeler had his hero declare: "I see that counterfeits are being shoved on the market — that is, sham Deadwood Dicks. We have one here in Eureka…. I wish to meet this chap and learn where he obtained the right to use my copyrighted handle?" The voice that recognizes the rules of the marketplace and the systematic interchange between producer and the consumer now belonged to the characters. The shift in rhetorical power is a textual illustration of the diminution of authorial power, just around the time when authors were losing more of their autonomy in the publishing hierarchy. Libbey's tactic was rather different: she too recognized her readers, partly by representing them and constructing their responses in her fiction. In Leonie Locke; or, The Romance of a Beautiful New York Working-Girl (1884), for example, she wrote:

Many a working-girl read the story of Leonie Locke, and their honest hearts thrilled as they read the story of her struggle against adverse fate. She had been a working-girl like themselves; she had known all their privations, the early rising, hurried toilet and hurrying steps to the work-shop. She had known what it was to toil late and early for the sweet bread of life, and she had known all their sorrows and the pitiful desolation and fear of being discharged from work. -299-

Libbey also maintained a strong authorial voice, but one reserved to the prefaces and advice columns that accompanied her fiction. Speaking in her own voice, she tempered her fantasies with comments on the harsh realities of urban life and contemporary gender relations, warning her young female readers about advances by men above them in social status. In different ways, these male and female narratives sustain a double vision, constructing formulaic fantasies accompanied by a demonstration of the realities, commercial and otherwise, supporting and implicitly critiquing these fictions.

Under the heavy hand of Street and Smith, these authorial gestures disappear, usurped by the publishers, who talk directly to the audience themselves. In juvenile nickel series, an editorial voice at the end of the story comments on the construction of the fiction, encourages readers to distribute it for financial rewards, and, in time, invites the audience to participate in its composition. The most emphatic example of this process occurred in the letters pages of Rough Rider Weekly; in response to conflicting advice from readers about whether Ted Strong, the hero, should or should not marry Stella, the heroine, the editor threw open the author's study and invited all the readers in: "So you think Ted and Stella should marry? What do the rest of our readers think about it?…There are two sides to this question, and we should like to have it decided by our readers." The fiction has become an overt bargaining tool between publisher and public; the only role left to the author was to carry out the audience's demands. It is the logical conclusion of the rhetoric initiated by the early story papers.

Reconstructing readers' responses to these authorial and narrative signs is even more problematic than classifying audience demographics. Some hypotheses have been constructed about the extent to which authorial resistance to the production line was matched by readers' responses, by scholars piecing together evidence from a patchwork of autobiographies, diaries, and reports by social reformers. The evidence suggests that male and female workers, at least, read dime fictions in ideologically charged ways. Denning argues that workers read cheap novels allegorically or typologically, interpreting a range of scenarios as microcosms of their social world. Thus, especially at times of industrial agitation and strikes in the late nineteenth century, workers could read the triumph of labor in stories of -300- Western outlaws — such as Edward Wheeler's Deadwood Dick, the Prince of the Road; or, The Black Rider of the Black Hills (1877) — as much as in those of honest mechanics exposing corrupt capitalists — in, for example, Frederick Whittaker's Larry Locke, the Man of Iron; or, A Fight for Fortune. A Story of Labor and Capital (1883-84). Similarly, working girls seem to have fashioned their fantasies toward self-empowerment. Dorothy Richardson's 1905 autobiography, The Long Day: The Story of a New York Working Girl, along with Joyce Shaw Peterson's analysis of it, suggests that women workers read Libbey as encoding their public situations, by dignifying labor and acknowledging the harshness of their city lives, yet also offering them visions of survival and transcendence that gave them private sustenance. It can also be argued that the ways in which these women shared and constructed community around their reading signal their appropriation of these commercial productions into their own culture. (The potentially empowering effects of such a communal response have been charted for our contemporary period by Janice Radway's account of women revisioning Harlequin romances.) Even beyond the consciously political environment of the adult world, in young audiences' responses, there is evidence that popular reading involves an active shaping of narrative, an expression of choice. Reflecting on his son's response to 1950s comics, Robert Warshow speculated that the boy's fascination with the publishing house, the staff, and the drafting processes indicated a specific strategy on the part of the juvenile reader:

I think that Paul's desire to put himself directly in touch with the processes by which the comic books are produced may be the expression of a fundamental detachment which helps to protect him from them; the comic books are not a "universe" to him, but simply objects produced for his entertainment.

One could object that the post — World War II boy was a more sophisticated reader than his turn-of-the-century counterpart; the extensive and ingenious editorial gestures of that era suggest, however, that publishers envisioned their audience as both potentially malleable and ever resistant.

In the dime novels and nickel series of the later nineteenth century, publishers, authors, and readers staked their claims to self-301- empowerment and prominence. Reading these opposing moves — which are both productive of and expressed by the formulaic narratives — as "negotiation" is not to ignore the dangers of social control. After all, the culture industry ultimately circumscribed authors and readers by implicating them in the mass production process. Nor is the intent to represent these melodramas as seriously argued discourses on the political situation. However, fantasizing, as much as reading and writing, is a socially constructed activity with ideological implications; and collective fantasies accent the meanings of popular literature quite as much as individual authorial gestures do.

Some of that delicate balance may have been lost, at least at the textual level, in the imitators of dime novels spawned later in the twentieth century. Partly because of the postal restrictions on series of complete novels, pulp magazines took over from dime novels after World War I, bringing with them a new format and different editorial methods. These weekly and monthly magazines were miscellanies of short and long fiction with various features like quizzes, letters pages, and factual articles, printed on cheap pulp paper and selling for 10 cents or 15 cents. Pulps were invented in 1896, but they reached the height of their popularity only once they began to specialize after 1919: Street and Smith were first with this innovation, with their all-Western Western Story Magazine. The pulps died as a popular form around 1950.

By and large, pulp magazines offered the same formulaic narratives as the dime and nickel novels, dispensing with the juvenile emphasis and adding some violence and sex to the action. Perhaps because these formulas were so entrenched, pulp editors did not direct their authors very closely. Instead, they switched their most intense surveillance to the audience, trying to gauge and manipulate audience response through letters pages and editorial columns. Readers' contributions became formularized in departments — such as the Wranglers' Corner in Wild West — where characters respond to readers' letters in a facsimile of direct contact between readers and fictional figures, orchestrated by the editor. By this point, the authors often disappeared as personalities. In a final sign of mechanization, when the latter-day pulp Far West was launched in 1978, the readers' re-302- sponses were limited to a multiple-choice questionnaire. Even the most commercial individuation was ultimately denied, in what reads as a logical process in the rationalization of labor.

By design, I have concentrated on the distinctive forms of popular production from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, in an effort to understand the central machinery driving the cheap fiction of the age. Complicating the narrative, however, are best-sellers that were not produced within mechanisms described above, yet clearly signaled significant ideologies. Running parallel to story-paper and dime-novel production, for example, were the monthly middleclass, middlebrow magazines aimed at a female audience. Periodicals such as Godey's Lady's Book (1830-98) and Peterson's Magazine (1841-98) made a significant impact on women's popular culture, though their sales were much smaller than those of the story papers and the dime novels: Godey's, the most popular magazine of this class, claimed to sell 150,000 copies a month. These publications encoded more genteel formulas and constructed a more middle-class audience: they carried sentimental, moralistic miscellanies of verse, sketches, and domestic stories, abundantly illustrated with engravings and full-color fashion plates; and they cost around $3 per year. Significantly, however, their editorial gestures are marked by the same commercialism as the cheaper publications. Although the intimate address developed by the first publisher-editor stressed gallantry and advice to the "fair Ladies," it also paid considerable attention to the annual expenditures and authorial fees involved in production.

Also significant among periodicals was the fiction serialized and reviewed in Harper's Monthly (1850-), Harper's Weekly (18571916), and The Century (formerly Scribner's Monthly; 1870–1930). Frank Luther Mott has styled the nineteenth-century Harper's Monthly as "the great successful middle-class magazine"; Harper's Weekly was subtitled "A Journal of Civilization": essentially, these periodicals sought to address "the plain people" in uplifting accents. To that end, they promoted lavish illustration, a predominance of British fiction, and a miscellany of essays of topical and educational interest. At the times of its very greatest popularity, Harper's Monthly sold around 200,000 copies (for $3, later $4 per annum). Where these magazines dovetail significantly with dime novels of -303- Western adventure, however, is in their publishing of Owen Wister's, Frederic Remington's, and Theodore Roosevelt's Western tales and illustrations in the late nineteenth century. The gentrification of the Western at the hands of these Ivy League authors, particularly as directed at a middle-class audience, brought the popular genre into the "mainstream" culture of the East and helped to deliver both the massive sales and the favorable reviews of Wister's The Virginian in 1902. This success also fed back into dime production in its influence on juvenile dime series of the early twentieth century.

Finally, another category of novels proved popular by consumption, and they appear in the standard bibliographies as "best-sellers" of the period. Such works are Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1895), clearly works of a different order from the sensational narratives of dime novels and story papers. While these works lie beyond the scope of this chapter, even here it should be recognized that mass techniques left their imprint on novelistic rhetoric and reception. Twain, for example, borrowed the strategies of popular literature to parodic effect in his handling of dime novel blood-and-thunder stories voraciously devoured by Tom Sawyer and piously sentimental, female narratives hilariously misread by Huck Finn.

Story papers and dime novels were the most visible fictional forms of nineteenth-century America; explicitly conjoining the market economy with literary production, they set an agenda that could not be ignored. In literary historical terms, the cheap publications affected the larger climate of conventions and expectations governing literary production and consumption. Culturally, their mixture of commercial rhetoric, fictionalized history, and democratized sensationalism created stories that could be appropriated and accented by quite opposite groups. By this point, it is clear that Raymond Williams's definition of "popular" describes not discrete possibilities but the force field of conflicting interest groups, classes, individuals, and discourses activated by and in popular fiction. These stories were spoken by the people, inasmuch as story papers and dime novels fostered a massive new reading public, especially from the working classes, and those readers collectively and individually "authored" meanings in their -304- own interests. At the same time, some authorial voices attempted to speak to the people, to fashion a direct address that sustained an impression of intimacy and individual relationship within the homogenizing effects of mass production. And the publishers sought to speak for the people. Developing marketing strategies to demarcate their audience by gender and generation, they produced several distinct formats for cheap fiction, each with its own ideology, agenda, and vocabulary. Fastening on historically and politically charged moments, the formulaic narratives and editorial mediations worked to incorporate both audience and authors into the economically driven "juggernaut" of the culture industry. Understanding both the "cultural work" and the rhetorical presence of popular literature in America involves reading this contest of resistant, assumed, and dominant voices.

Christine Bold


The Early Twentieth Century


The chapters in this section remind us that culture and cultural production in the United States and around the world in the first half of the twentieth century were shaped by momentous political, technological, economic, and social developments. Large numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, and other parts of the world; the unimaginable devastation of two world wars and the Korean War; the economic catastrophe known as the Great Depression; the migration of large numbers of African Americans from the deep South to population centers in the Northeastern, Midwestern, and Western states; the enactment of increasingly repressive laws and practices to monitor, control, and segregate members of disenfranchised racial and ethnic groups; changing constructions of gender and sexuality; the rise of new technologies and industries, among them motion pictures and television; the reforms associated with the New Deal; the scourge of McCarthyism — these developments, as well as others, altered inexorably the meanings that attach to the idea of "the American."

It is therefore not surprising that fiction produced in such an apparently turbulent period would respond in a variety of ways to these changes. Indeed, even a quick glance at the titles of the chapters in this section indicates that the authors all consider American novels in relation to circumstances under which they are produced, circulated, and read. Readers of this section will, no doubt, be struck by the various challenges that writers of the period offer to the meaning of -309- a national identity and to the practice and work of fiction in the wake of the globalization of the United States economy, the internationalization of American culture, and the evolution of new media.

In this period, writers from groups historically underrepresented in the canon of American letters explored ways of representing the specific cultural practices of their communities that were accessible to a wider readership. Drawn, perhaps inevitably, to received literary forms such as realism, naturalism, regionalism, the romance, the Western, the detective novel, and so on, they challenge the boundaries of these genres by writing from fresh perspectives. In addition, the emergence of expatriate movements helped to situate American writing in an international scene and heightened the relationship between American narrative experimentation and innovations in other art forms.

Readers of this section should notice as well the prescience of American novelists in the first half of the twentieth century. In their search for narrative strategies that speak to the fabric of American experience; in their explorations of the space between fiction and history; in their quest for a language to address the power of visual media upon life in the United States; and in their simultaneous gestures toward universality and particularity, they anticipate movements and developments we have come to associate with postmodern and contemporary culture.

Valerie Smith


Modernist Eruptions

An earthquake, the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, becomes in Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) the massive disruption that loosened Alice B. Toklas from her American moorings and launched her on her journey to Europe and into modern literary history. Like many of Stein's narratives, the anecdote makes only tenuous sense: apparently the earthquake forced Stein's brother and his wife to return abruptly from Europe, and Alice B. Toklas, her placid life already shaken by earthquake and fire, became even more unsettled when she saw what the Steins brought with them. "Mrs. Stein brought with her three little Matisse paintings, the first modern things to cross the Atlantic." Thus Stein's narration slyly links the natural earthquake in America to the first tiny rumblings of the European modern art movement that would become a cultural cataclysm in the early twentieth century. This traffic of modern art between Europe and America turned sensational in 1913, when over 1500 international works of highly experimental art were exhibited at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City, and a shocked American audience found Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase insane and depraved.

American artists, generally committed to a national literature as free as possible of British influence, responded in a variety of ways to the lure of modern European culture. Some, like Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg, stayed home and continued to work "in the American grain," to borrow William Carlos Williams's phrase. Some were drawn to Chicago, which became a hub of American literary activity -311- and the home of such important modernist publications as Poetry, edited by Harriet Monroe, and the early Little Review, edited by Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap. As Hugh Kenner argued in A Homemade World (1974), the Continental influence eventually found its way back to America, where it produced a "homemade" variety of modernism. Meanwhile, other young artists, equipped with that spirit of experimentation they considered quintessentially American, went off to Europe. T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Hilda Doolittle ("H. D.") first stopped in London, and the rather conservative Eliot, his temperament responding to the tradition, order, and Anglicanism of England, stayed on. Some, like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, were swept across the Atlantic with the tides of war or its aftermath, and were caught up in the excited cultural tumult they encountered there. France, especially, offered Americans a place where they suffered none of the anxieties that threatened their postcolonial psyches in England, and Paris became a Mecca for young American "expatriates," who revolved around a series of literary salons and centers usually dominated by brilliant and enterprising American women — Gertrude Stein's salon at 27 rue de Fleurus, Sylvia Beach's bookstore Shakespeare and Company, Natalie Barney's pavillon with its leafy garden and Doric temple in the rue Jacob.

Gertrude Stein was the first of the American expatriates to cross the Atlantic and settle in Europe — arriving in Paris in 1903, after having acquired a fine education at Radcliffe that included instruction from the psychologist William James, brother of the novelist. Within a year of her arrival she was studying a painting by Cezanne of his wife, in order to appropriate his techniques for her own experimental verbal portraits, which she eventually published at her own expense in 1909 as Three Lives. In these three portraits of American women, two German-American servants and a young African American woman, Stein dismantled the mythology of the American dream by using her newly discovered Continental techniques to forge a writing capable of illuminating its hypocrisies and ironies. At the same time, her technique, like postimpressionist painting, drew attention to its own procedures. Inspired by Gustave Flaubert, whose story "Un Coeur Simple" she had translated to improve her French, Stein told the stories of these exploited women in a severely unadorned and stripped prose that would make Flaubert's style the -312- enduring standard of the language of modernist fiction. Ezra Pound would, ten years later, promote James Joyce's Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man on precisely this ground: the verbal economy that Joyce called "a scrupulous meanness" reflected the clean, clear, disciplined, impersonal expression inaugurated by Flaubert's quest for le mot juste as an antidote to Romanticism both in expressive language and in sentiment.

But in Three Lives Stein was not only looking backward to the French novel tradition, she was also looking toward "the new" with a canny combination of insights from the American pragmatism that she had learned in college, applied to understanding the European postimpressionism that was confounding art lovers with the exorbitant demands it made on them for an active, fragmented, and creative perception. William James's theories taught Stein to think of cognition as an active, selective, purposive process aimed not at finding transcendent truths but at creative exercise of its own powers. She toyed with automatic writing in the wake of his classes (as the Surrealists and other moderns, notably the wife of W. B. Yeats, did also) to demonstrate to herself the creative and alert potential of cognition and its language even when removed from intention — like Sigmund Freud, whose Interpretation of Dreams (1900) showed the intense poetic activity of the sleeping mind. As a result, her first encounter with postimpressionist painting in France did not discomfit her as it did the many Europeans who felt disoriented by the abandonment of a focalized perspective and by the fragmentation of the viewer's position that would become even further radicalized by Cubism during the next decade.

The abstraction of formal elements that she found in Cezanne's still lifes, the attention to the geometries of shapes that made his canvases a composition of spheres and cones, Stein adapted in a prose that foregrounded the geometries of language, the nouns and verbs and adjectives, the pauses and punctuations that she would love all of her life. In the careful construction and repetitions of her sentences in Three Lives — "It was a very happy family there all together in the kitchen, the good Anna and Sally and old Baby and young Peter and jolly little Rags" — Stein created a stylistic primer of the symmetry and formality of the common sentence while simultaneously rendering its fatuous logic ironic. In later years she would write this sentence -313- again, only this time about the sentence itself: "It makes everybody happy to have words together. It makes everybody happy to have words apart."

These experiments culminated in the collection of prose pieces she called Tender Buttons (1914), where Stein moved from the postimpressionism of Three Lives to the extreme abstraction of a verbal Cubism with only vestigial references to represented things. In Tender Buttons Stein abandons even the already abstracted mimesis of the still life hinted at in her subtitle — "objects food rooms" — to concentrate on the concrete qualities and compositional possibilities of words themselves. It is not objects, food, and rooms that she represents but the playful disposition, in juxtapositions we now recognize as collage, of the sounds and look of words associated with objects, food, and rooms. "A sight a whole sight and a little groan grinding makes a trimming such a sweet singing trimming and a red thing not a round thing but a white thing, a red thing and a white thing." With this writing, the reader becomes a viewer who must forgo communication with a work of art that does not ask to be "understood" but obtrudes its medium — words as concrete as though they were laid on with a knife, like the thick paint Stein reports the outraged public tried to scratch off Matisse's La Femmeau Chapeau at the autumn salon — and as full of harmonic gradations as a musical composition by Stein's friend Erik Satie, who himself playfully invoked painting in such titles as "Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear."

But Stein's grand opus, a thousand-page American genealogy called The Making of Americans, represents an astonishingly early text of modernistic maturity: well underway while T. S. Eliot was still a Harvard undergraduate, the work was completed in 1911 (but not published until 1925), several years before Ezra Pound published his Imagist manifesto in the March 1913 issue of Poetry magazine or Ernest Hemingway saw his first Red Cross ambulance in 1917. Written far ahead of its time, this big book should have established itself as Stein's revolutionary masterwork, her Finnegans Wake, as it were: the most avant-garde of the modern family epics that include John Galsworthy's post-Victorian Forsyte Saga, Thomas Mann's neobaroque Buddenbrooks, and D. H. Lawrence's scandalous The Rainbow. From its startling opening narration — "Once an angry man -314- dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. 'Stop!' cried the groaning old man at last, 'Stop!' I did not drag my father beyond this tree" — Stein makes her own writing a violent remembering of violent rememberings, an allegory of the verbal and stylistic manhandling of one's literary forebears and traditions. Her remarkable grammatical effects in this text reflect her progress in elaborating the metaphysical implications for the collapse of traditional notions of space and time that were inaugurated with Albert Einstein's publication of his work on the special theory of relativity in 1905, and that Stein, like many other American writers including William Faulkner, attended more closely in the works of the French philosopher Henri Bergson's notion of a durée, a subjective quality of time as a present duration observable in memory. Stein, who was also friendly with Alfred North Whitehead and therefore familiar with his work on the relations of time, space, and matter, made the syntactical handling of tense in her writing a performance of the way the times of life in individuals and families felt during their present duration:

Repeating is always in every one, it settles in them in the beginning of their middle living to be a steady repetition with very little changing. There may be in them then much beginning and much ending, but it is steady repeating in them and the children with them have in them the pounding of steady march of repeating the parents of them have in them.

Stein's prose too has in it the steady pounding of the repeating, thereby rendering its own voice or speech, its own speaking ego or narrating subject, itself as intuitively atremble as the living being of the Herslands, whose story it tells. Before "stream of consciousness" was even properly implemented by Virginia Woolf and James Joyce as a salient technique of novelistic modernism, Gertrude Stein was already problematizing it and dismantling it in her texts.

Stein insisted throughout her life that she had invented modern writing, yet both in her own time, and during the decades after World War II when critical opinion was shaping the literary history of the modern period, her significance as an innovator was eclipsed by that of the "lost generation" novelists (to borrow her own term), Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom she befriended, encouraged, and instructed. Until a recent critical tend-315- ency began to elevate and foreground avant-garde texts over more traditional modernist productions, Stein's reputation survived mainly on the basis of her salon, her art collection, her patronage of Picasso, Matisse, and Gris, and her dominant personality that evoked both subtle and crude ambivalences in people made uncomfortable by the unconventional way she deployed her own gender identity. Her intellectual and artistic ambitions and her social power tended to be construed as egotistical and patriarchal in this gifted woman, who had been writing and experimenting for nearly twenty years before the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the vote in the United States in August 1920. The feminist impulses that led her to make her first sustained text a coded lesbian novel (Q.E.D.; or, Things as They Are [1903]), and to treat in Three Lives the conditions of lower-class ethnic women who are, in fiction, the most invisible Americans, flowered in her most popular and famous book, the 1933 Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Turning conventional perspectives upside down, like a Cubist painting, this revisionary history restores to the success of the modern art movement the labors and contributions of the wives, mistresses, sisters, and servants who invisibly cooked, kept house, posed, inspired, typed, managed, published, and loved the artists and made their work possible. Matisse may have been master to his disciples (Stein playfully called him the C. M. or cher maître), but it was Madame Matisse who posed until she was exhausted, took care of his diphtheritic daughter, accepted his abuse, and taught him how to haggle with buyers. She more than deserved to season her soup with the laurel wreath her husband eventually had bestowed on him. With the cunning inversion that lets Alice's voice and interest tell the story of modern art, Stein offers her own companion a silver anniversary gift in the form of a textual embrace, a text that problematizes the notion of authorship with a principle of female collectivity that makes it ambiguous and undecidable whether it was Gertrude or Alice who "created" the books, having become two in one mind and one life as well as in one flesh.

The issue of gender was just one of many complex factors informing the extremely heterogeneous and complex ideology of modernism. Much of the conservatism of "high modernism," the classical poetics of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, was produced by the fusion of an antiromantic intellectual bias, formally articulated by the young -316- English critic T. E. Hulme (who fell in World War I), and wedded to an elitist reaction against what was perceived, in the tradition of Matthew Arnold, as the greedy materialism, cultural philistinism, and spiritual bankruptcy of modern society. In his Culture and Anarchy (1869), Arnold wrote, "Our society distributes itself into Barbarians, Philistines, and Populace; and America is just ourselves, with the Barbarians quite left out, and the Populace nearly. This leaves the Philistines for the bulk of the nation." Art, by imposing a geometry, discipline, and order on itself, served the modernists as a formal bulwark against what Eliot in his essay on Joyce's Ulysses was to call "the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history." Pound, in his essay "Why Books?" was to write of "the damned and despised litterati" — "when their very medium, the very essence of their work, the application of word to thing goes rotten, i.e. becomes slushy and inexact, or excessive and bloated, the whole machinery of social and individual thought and order goes to pot." In the principles of Imagism, which Pound articulated for poetry during the years 1912 to 1915, he promoted a poetic language "austere, direct, free of emotional slither." This technique of verbal economy and precision was supplemented with a psychology of impersonality, encouraging the poet to adopt many voices, masks, or personae in place of poetic subjectivity or personal commentary.

During this same period, Pound along with the artist, critic, and writer Wyndham Lewis and the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska began to augment the formalism of Imagism with an emphasis on the creation of energy and the celebration of violence that they shaped into a short-lived movement called Vorticism, and whose chief product was a highly avant-garde journal that began publication in June 1914 called Blast: The Review of the Great English Vortex. This movement included among its inspirations the 1909 manifesto by the Italian Futurist Filippo Marinetti with its glorification of war, violence, virility, and speed: "We wish to glorify War — the only health giver of the world — militarism, patriotism, the destructive arm of the Anarchist, the beautiful ideas that kill, the contempt for women." These values anticipate those of the fascist ideology that would engulf Italy and Germany in the thirties, and that swept not only Marinetti but also Pound and Lewis into its destructive philosophical vision. Pound and Lewis's Blast was first published in June 1914; within -317- three months war was declared, and the conflict that we call World War I began: the first fully mechanized modern war fought for four years, 1914-18, with machine guns, mortars, bombers, aerial dogfights, tanks, and poison gas — much of it in seemingly endless and stalemated trenches. The unprecedented slaughter and horror of this war created a virtually indeterminable number of casualties. The conservative estimate is 10 million dead and 20 million wounded, and the dead included a generation of European poets and writers, claiming T. E. Hulme, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Alan Seeger, Julian Grenfell, and Rupert Brooke among the English, the Germans Georg Trakl, August Stramm, and Ernst Stadler, the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and Pound's friend, the sculptor Gaudier-Brzeska. The war poetry produced by these writers before their deaths reflects the state of art in their countries at the time of the war. The English poets struggled with mixed success to free themselves from the Georgian pastoralism that was the established and accepted form of English poetry at the same time that Pound and his American cohorts were turning it upside down with their modernist manifestos. The Germans and the French, in contrast, were using the avant-gardism already flourishing in their countries to produce a far more experimental, ironic, and nihilistic poetry, like that of August Stramm, for example, who uses destroyed syntactic forms to express the destroyed worlds and consciousnesses of dying soldiers. Because America did not enter the war until 1917, American soldiers largely escaped the "troglodyte war" (as Paul Fussell calls it in The Great War and Modern Memory [1975]) of the claustrophobic, nightmarish trenches, and the American literary treatment of World War I is consequently different as well. The American "high modernists," Pound and Eliot, treat World War I chiefly as a metaphor, a sign or symptom of a spiritually rotten modern world. "There died a myriad/ And the best, among them,/ For an old bitch gone in the teeth,/ For a botched civilization," Pound wrote in Hugh Selwyn Mauberley in 1919.

In the work of Ernest Hemingway, the young American novelist whom Pound praised as a prose "imagist," the high modernist remedy of using a disciplined, muscular, classical style to redeem the fragmentation, loss of value, and chaos both symptomatized and produced by the war, without wasting the energy of its violence, achieved its most successful fictional realization. Even before Pound -318- gave Hemingway a moral theory of style, Hemingway learned to think of writing as a rigorous craft of producing clarity, simplicity, and strength of statement and expression while working as a young reporter for the Kansas City Star. This early journalistic training was interrupted by his decision to volunteer for Red Cross service as an ambulance driver and canteen operator for Italian soldiers in the summer of 1917 — an experience itself disrupted when he was wounded in the leg by machine gun fire and shrapnel. Over ten years later, his fictionalized version of this early adventure was published as A Farewell to Arms (1929), the story of a young American serving as ambulance driver for the Italian army, who deserts and escapes the horror of the war with a young English nurse, only to have his idyllic sanctuary destroyed by her death in childbirth. Compared with Erich Maria Remarque's horrific and despairing tale of trench warfare published nearly at the same time (All Quiet on the Western Front), Hemingway's novel could be construed as romanticizing the war by displacing it onto a tragic love story. But the clean, hard prose keeps any sentimentality or idealism at bay: "He said there was so much dirt blown into the wound that there had not been much hemorrhage. They would take me as soon as possible. He went back inside. Gordini could not drive, Manera said. His shoulder was smashed and his head was hurt. He had not felt bad but now the shoulder had stiffened." The simple declarative sentences built on a strong scaffolding of substantives have been stripped of adverbial or descriptive excess and poetic adornment to the point where Ihab Hassan refers to Hemingway's style as an "anti-style."

But its modernistic impersonality, the way Hemingway replaces direct emotional expression with what T. S. Eliot called an "objective correlative," that is, the displacement of mood and feeling onto an impersonal and objective image, scene, or description that evokes, rather than names or speaks the emotion, allows him to transform style — in writing, gesture, and living — into an ethical act. He does this quite strikingly with a daring rhetorical maneuver in his first, and perhaps major novel, The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926, in which the protagonist narrator, Jake Barnes, is a man literally castrated by the war, whose language must emblematize a mode of coping with the sterility, nihilism, and corruption of the postwar modernity without self-indulgence or self-delusion. The jaded coterie of -319- the opening Paris episodes of the novel was based on a circle of Hemingway friends that gives The Sun Also Rises the status of a roman à clef — Brett Ashley derived from Duff Twysden, Robert Cohn from Harold Loeb, Pedro Romero from the bullfighter Cayetano Ordonez. The plot describes the quest of this group (a quest often read by critics as a mythic variant of the same Grail legend whose themes of impotence and regeneration served T. S. Eliot as poetic paradigm for The Waste Land) for an alternative to the forced gaiety and shallow pleasures of the Paris café scene by way of a bucolic fishing trip to Burguete ("Before I could finish baiting, another trout jumped at the falls, making the same lovely arc and disappearing into the water that was thundering down") and a fiesta visit to the Dionysian running of the bulls in Pamplona in Spain.

In the figure of the perfect bullfight Hemingway offers his emblem of modernist art as redemption of modern sterility and futility by interpreting its ritual as the transformation of violence, by discipline and control, into art and beauty. Hemingway's description of Romero's technique might double as a description of his own craft as a writer:

Romero never made any contortions, always it was straight and pure and natural in line. The others twisted themselves like corkscrews, their elbows raised, and leaned against the flanks of the bull after his horns had passed, to give a faked look of danger. Afterward, all that was faked turned bad and gave an unpleasant feeling. Romero's bull-fighting gave real emotion, because he kept the absolute purity of line in his movements and always quietly and calmly let the horns pass him close each time.

Hemingway's own straightness and purity of line, that is, his refusal to contrive inflated emotional effects or extravagant plots and ornamental prose, become the stylistic equivalent of the protoexistentialist stoicism that makes Jake Barnes able to accept and face existence as it is — without the crutch of romanticism, idealism, or illusion. The novel ends in a famous line announcing Jake Barnes's naming and resisting of romantic delusion. To Bretts' mourning the loss of their love — "Oh, Jake…we could have had such a damned good time together" — he responds, "Yes…. Isn't it pretty to think so?"

One of the few moderns without a college education, Hemingway tended to be regarded as the least intellectual of the modernists, -320- called the "dumb ox" by the critics for his promotion of unreflective brawn in his fiction. But Hemingway read widely during the twenties, borrowing books assiduously from Sylvia Beach's lending library at Shakespeare and Company, and he read under the productive tutelage of Stein and Pound. From both he learned to value Flaubert; from Pound he learned the importance of the stylistic inventions of T. S. Eliot and James Joyce. Hemingway seems not to have read philosophy widely or deeply, but he may have acquired the vision we now recognize as his proto-existentialist code of courage and fatalism in the face of nada, nothingness, from reading the Russians, particularly Dostoevsky ("Dostoevsky was made by being sent to Siberia"), Tolstoy ("I thought about Tolstoi and what a great advantage an experience of war was to a writer"), and Turgenev. This code generates the figure of the solitary individual coming to terms with an existence of meaningless violence and extremity, the soldier, the hunter, the bullfighter, the fisherman, the writer, obliged to prove not only physical valor but also the moral courage implicit in honest, undeluded judgment and precise, undistorting language, that continues to dominate such later fiction as For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), Hemingway's novel about the Spanish Civil War, and the haunting The Old Man and the Sea (1952) about an old fisherman's solitary struggle to bring in his greatest fish. But when Hemingway ventures into the realm of philosophical writing, as he does in his nonfiction works on bullfighting (Death in the Afternoon [1932]) and safari hunting (Green Hills of Africa [1935]), the hidden hypocrisies and perversities of his project are betrayed by his writing, as in life they were betrayed in the growing personality cult that made him a media celebrity and masculinist icon until his death by suicide in 1962. His Nietzschean individualism (although Hemingway seems to have read little Nietzsche beyond Thus Spake Zarathustra) can be seen to mask an egotism that escapes social responsibility in forms of adventurism such as war, bullfighting, and safari hunting. Its amoral anti-altruism further licenses a blatant array of oppressive discursive practices in Hemingway's writing: homophobia ("the nasty, sentimental pawing of humanity of a Whitman and all the mincing gentry," he writes in indictment also of Gide, Wilde, and other "fairies"); anti-Semitism ("it certainly improved his nose," Jake Barnes says of Robert Cohn, the Jewish boxer in The Sun Also Rises); racism ("I had had no -321- chance to train them; no power to discipline," of his black African guides. "If there had been no law I would have shot Garrick"); his misogynistic portraits of women as "bitches"; and a penchant for sadism found in his culturally rationalized love of cruelty, aggression, and violence that, in spite of his Loyalist sympathies during the Spanish Civil War, revealed some affinities shared with the violent futurist ideology. In pointed contrast to Stein's relatively benign memoir of Paris in the twenties, Hemingway's 1956 reminiscence, A Moveable Feast, seems an unworthy surrender to ingratitude and self-indulgent malice.

Against the background of the changing social and political developments of America in the twenties and the thirties, the exoticism of Hemingway's settings and the solipsism of his concerns gradually made his fiction seem escapist and relevant only on the level of a specific American mythology, his modern and cosmopolitan updating of the figure of the American Western hero, the pioneer, the gunslinger, the cowboy. The broader, extremely vital and complex, historical panorama of American life during these decades was left to other American novelists to express: William Faulkner, inventing highly experimental forms to articulate the moral conundrums of the emerging modern South; John Dos Passos, who expressed the urban American immigrant experience as a montage of vernacular speech and a collage panorama of struggling lives and historical events in Manhattan Transfer (1925) and his U.S.A. trilogy (collected 1938); the writers of the Harlem Renaissance, like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, who incorporated the rich voices of African American dialect, old folkloric storytelling rhythms, and new blues sounds into poetry and prose; and F. Scott Fitzgerald, the simultaneous lyricist and demystifier of the modern American dream. Dos Passos and Fitzgerald could well be paired to emblematize the fractured and schizophrenic nature of the American reality for the different American populations of the early decades of the twentieth century.

Rapid technological advances and the increasing urbanization of American labor by immigrants and Southern African Americans brought in their wake an era of great union and populist political activity, ideologically vitalized by the Russian Revolution of 1917 but increasingly resisted by a government alarmed by "the Red scare" -322- into enacting such controversial paranoid gestures as the Sedition Act of 1918, the deportation of the anarchist Emma Goldman to Russia in 1919, and the 1920 trial and 1927 execution of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. Dos Passos's novels allude to these events and fictionally elaborate both the emotional texture and the ideological grain of the historical milieu in which they were engendered. But the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the most popular and financially successful of the American novelists of the modernist period, gazed over these churning classes and masses populating the American landscape, much as his own character Daisy Buchanan is described, as enjoying "the mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes…gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor." Fitzgerald captures less the reality than the fantasy of another America that occupied the cultural horizon during the twenties: the "Jazz Age" (he called two collections of short stories Flappers and Philosophers [1921] and Tales of the Jazz Age [1922]), the era of Prohibition and wild financial speculation, the jostling of Jamesian "old money" with vulgar American arrivistes, the aesthetics of glamour produced by material and social extravagance — simulated and stimulated by the celluloid images of the burgeoning movie industry for which Fitzgerald intermittently wrote. Some would say he prostituted his talent writing for the screen, but he would also have demystified the film industry had he lived to complete his final novel, The Last Tycoon, a book edited by his friend Edmund Wilson and published in 1941.

Fitzgerald's more privileged milieu — his attendance at Princeton, which lent him the material for his first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), which in turn brought him the fame and money to court successfully a beautiful, highstrung woman from Alabama, Zelda Sayre — generated more specifically social and ideological concerns voiced in a more symbolistic style than that of the other modernists. Fitzgerald arrived in Europe later than Hemingway, in 1924, and it was during this Continental sojourn, when, like Hemingway, he too fell under the tutelage of Pound and Stein, that he published The Great Gatsby (1925), a work still frequently nominated as "the great American novel." But although Gatsby bears the modernistic hallmark of a clean, hard prose, its craft is less foregrounded and selfdisplaying, less the logopoetic focus of its own fiction than is the -323- work of Hemingway and Stein. Hemingway and Fitzgerald seem also to have been influenced differently by their literary traditions, with Hemingway choosing Huckleberry Finn as his American gospel, while Fitzgerald grounded himself in the late nineteenth-century architects of the American moral imagination, Henry James and Theodore Dreiser. From the Continental tradition, too, Fitzgerald seemed to derive a larger share of irony, not just le mot juste of Flaubertian fiction, but Flaubert's curious logocentric modernization of the Continental adultery novel that allows him to determine the function of romances, books, and magazines in shaping the dreams and desires of, say, an Emma Bovary. Jay Gatsby outlines his Horatio Alger program on the flyleaf of Hopalong Cassidy, and Jordan Baker's beauty reminds Nick Carraway that "she looked like a good illustration." This stylistic and philosophical divergence in the strategies of Hemingway and Fitzgerald was already etched in their different secular "occupations" before coming to Europe: Hemingway's stints as a reporter and journalist against Fitzgerald's work for an advertisement agency and as a contributor to H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan's Smart Set. In a Gatsby vignette that updates the adultery novel, Fitzgerald represents Myrtle Wilson, the lower-class mistress of wealthy Tom Buchanan's slumming, reclining with her nose broken by her lover "on the couch, bleeding fluently, and trying to spread a copy of Town Tattle over the tapestry scenes of Versailles." Versailles, the emblem of monarchical glamour whose nineteenthcentury dregs Emma Bovary tries to recapture in her "aristocratic" adulteries (as well as site of the disastrous treaty that marked the closure of World War I), has become commodified as pretentious home and hotel decor of the American rich, while the society gossip rag is used to mop up the blood that will be spilled far more copiously by the socialite Buchanans before the ends of their double affairs.

Fitzgerald also read and admired the work of Joseph Conrad, and although he is known to have read Conrad's preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus just before writing Gatsby, it is Conrad's Heart of Darkness that leaves the clearest imprint on that text. They would seem to have little in common — Heart of Darkness, Conrad's dark tale of the European rape of Africa, and The Great Gatsby, Fitzger-324- Fitzger-'s tale of a single, hot Long Island summer in 1922, when Jay Gatsby, the fabulously wealthy and glamorous tycoon is unmasked and destroyed in his attempts to realize the American dream by recapturing his lost and now married sweetheart, Daisy Buchanan. But Fitzgerald keeps his focus on the same issue as Conrad — the disastrous moral cost in hypocrisy and destructiveness that civilization at its most opulent and attractive entails: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." The novel's polemical task is the seduction and disillusionment of the reader, and to this end Fitzgerald borrows Conrad's narrative device of adopting the impressionable and corruptible vision of an implicated naif, Nick Carraway, the nice Midwestern boy who, like Conrad's Marlow, must disentangle the moral enigma of a charismatic man whose immense idealism — "he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail" — becomes too large, and, passing beyond good and evil, betrays itself. Instead of the suborning of justice in the Sacco- Vanzetti case that so obsessed Dos Passos and the American writers of the Left, Nick Carraway's great moral shock comes from Gatsby's implication in the betrayal of an institution invested with the mythology of the American dream: the "Black Sox" scandal over the fixing of the 1919 World Series. Nick Carraway's negotiation of the attractions and repulsions by the glamorous world of Gatsby and the Buchanans is conducted through a poetic language charged with moral complexity. Of Daisy Buchanan's seductive voice, Nick Carraway tells Gatsby:

"She's got an indiscreet voice," I remarked. "It's full of — "I hesitated.

"Her voice is full of money," he said suddenly.

That was it. I'd never understood it before. It was full of money — that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it…. High in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl…

Like Conrad,'s Marlow, Nick Carraway too is ultimately confronted with a choice of nightmares, and like Marlow, who sides with the demonic idealism of Kurtz against the hard greed of the Company, Carraway sides with the doomed and self-corrupting questing of the -325- impostor Gatsby against the hard amorality of the rich Buchanans: "I found myself on Gatsby's side and alone."

Fitzgerald achieves both Nick's and the reader's troubled repulsions in the world of Gatsby by producing spiritually resonating distortions and symbols that defamiliarize the world and make it strange, and that we associate with the techniques of Expressionism that James Joyce had already incorporated into the brilliant and shocking Nighttown section of his modernistic 1922 novel Ulysses. The valley of the ashes that separates West Egg and New York — "a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens" — is such an expressionistic device, as is the ghostly giant oculist's billboard of "the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg," whose function as a blind panopticon inserts an image of an ineffectual conscience (ironically created by advertisement) into the amoral spiritual landscape of America. Fitzgerald's brilliant early promise was not sustained, even though his long-anticipated Tender Is the Night, with its more opulent and richly poetic prose, was considered by many a second masterpiece. This tragic story of the dissolution of the doomed marriage of a beautiful, wealthy, glamorous couple, in which many readers saw a reflection of the Fitzgeralds' own struggles with alcoholism, infidelity, madness, and institutionalization, failed in 1934 to make its panorama of the private angst of an American moneyed elite, disporting itself on the Riviera, relevant to an America in the grip of the brutal Great Depression. When Fitzgerald died prematurely in 1940 of a heart attack hastened by alcoholism and depression, none of his books were in print.

Modernism, then, changed during the thirties, with the Depression, the New Deal reforms, the Federal Writers' Project, and other WPA projects that followed in the wake of the stock market crash of 1929. Although that year saw the publication of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, a book that overtakes The Great Gatsby as a great modern American novel, the politicalization of American fiction by such writers as Dos Passos, James T. Farrell, Richard Wright, Meridel Le Sueur, and John Steinbeck marked the end of American high modernism, as stylistic experimentation was put increasingly in the service of revolutionary and protest literature. During this period the critical voice of Partisan Review, especially, promoted an engaged literature organized around a new "proletarian" fiction that would -326- make art socially responsible to the economically and racially oppressive times reflected in such events as the coal miners' strikes of Harlan County, Kentucky, and the 1931 trial for rape of a white woman by eight African American men, the "Scottsboro boys," sentenced to death by an Alabama court and eventually pardoned. The remains of a more purely logopoetic American fiction of the kind associated with high modernism took an avant-garde form inspired by the German expressionism and French and Spanish surrealism of the early twentieth century, and issued in the thirties in an American version strongly marked by gothic elements. The high modernistic prototype of this neogothic mode of fiction was created by Sherwood Anderson, who wrote his "Book of the Grotesque," a collection of tales of hidden, anguished, small-town lives published as Winesburg, Ohio (1919), under the influence of the pure syntax and language he had first encountered in the writing of Gertrude Stein's Three Lives and Tender Buttons. Anderson, who in 1932 joined fifty-one other writers in signing a "manifesto" backing a Communist presidential ticket, in turn influenced William Faulkner and Nathanael West (Miss Lonelyhearts [1933] and The Day of the Locust [1939]), two other American novelists in whose fiction the lives of simple, poor, and alienated people are dilated, by sometimes fantastic narrative and stylistic distortions, into subjectivities invaded by nightmare, criminality, and madness.

It was James Joyce, whose A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man had served in the teens as model of the verbal purity of high modernistic prose, who led the way into the stylistics of verbal excess and derangement with the neologistic, densely allusive, hallucinogenic nightlanguage of his avant-garde 1939 dream text, Finnegans Wake. Published throughout the thirties in installments in Eugene Jolas's magazine transition, an avant-garde publication committed to "the revolution of the word," Joyce's new work revitalized the surrealistic tendencies that were to mark the avant-garde maturity of modernism at the same time that they inaugurated the self-consuming, selfexhausting, self-conscious fictionality of postmodernism. Samuel Beckett, who served as Joyce's amanuensis and friend during the writing of Finnegans Wake, became the first of the Wake's postmodern heirs, which later included Vladimir Nabokov and Jorge Luis Borges. Of American novelists, it was Djuna Barnes who brought this strange -327- subversive amalgam of nightmare and unreality, of verbal illogicality and brilliant discursive excess, of philosophical destruction and nihilism saved only by pure, nonsensical language itself, to fruition in her own 1936 night-novel, Nigbtwood. Trained as an artist in New York — she would later illustrate some of her texts with fine woodcuts — Barnes, like Hemingway, worked as a journalist (albeit a very different sort of journalist) in the United States before going to Paris on assignment for McCall's magazine in 1919. Her feature writing covered circus and vaudeville, and prompted her occasionally to participate in both sensationalistic and serious "stunts" — jumping from a skyscraper into a fireman's net or allowing herself to be forcefed in order to articulate the plight of imprisoned, hunger-striking suffragists. Before coming to Paris, she had several one-act plays produced by the Provincetown Players, and during her two decades in Paris she was a lively member of Natalie Barney's lesbian salon, whose coterie she celebrated and lampooned in the hilarious eighteenth-century pastiche of lesbian eroticism she had privately printed and circulated as Ladies Almanack in 1929. Barnes enjoyed as well the patronage of two powerful modernist giants, James Joyce, who granted her a rare interview for Vanity Fair in 1922, and T. S. Eliot, who wrote an admiring introduction to Nigbtwood: "What I would leave the reader prepared to find is the great achievement of a style, the beauty of phrasing, the brilliance of wit and characterisation, and a quality of horror and doom very nearly related to that of Elizabethan tragedy."

Nightwood (1937), whose biographical core is thought to have been Djuna Barnes's disastrous affair with the American sculptor Thelma Wood, uses the setting of the lesbian demimonde of Paris in the twenties as the venue for the decline and fall of Western civilization. The aimless plot, as unfocused as Robin Vote's nocturnal prowling, presents the collapse of the heritage of the House of Hapsburg through miscegenation and imposture, culminating in the sterile issue of the celibate child of Felix Volkbein's marriage to the mad and mysterious Robin Vote. Robin Vote, who leaves Felix for a series of women whom she in turn abandons and betrays, emerges as an emblem of human "otherness" in the text, as the concentration of everything dark and strange, unintelligible and alien, in a suffering nature reduced by novel's end to that of a crawling beast: "Then she -328- began to bark also, crawling after him — barking in a fit of laughter, obscene and touching." Barnes's philosophical subversiveness resides in her comprehensive dismantling of the symbolic order, the system of everything that signifies in a culture and a society. In Nightwood every aristocrat is a phony, every doctor a quack, every priest defrocked, every story a lie, every vow a betrayal, every caress a blow, Europe is a circus and America a zoo, and Nightwood itself a novel that destroys its own coherence in the telling. The figure who embodies all these self-negations is the magnificent creation of "Dr. Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante-O'Connor," whose medical books are dusty and unread, his forceps rusty, his room a degraded den of filth ("A swill-pail stood at the head of the bed brimming with abominations"), as he lies in bed in woman's wig, rouge, and flannel nightgown, spewing a torrential logorrhea at Nora Flood on the subject of the night: "Though some go into the night as a spoon breaks easy water, others go head foremost against a new connivance; their horns make a dry crying, like the wings of the locust, late come to their shedding." Nora Flood thinks, as she looks at him and listens to him, "God, children know something they can't tell; they like Red Riding Hood and the wolf in bed." The residue that remains from all the negations in the text is language, like Dr. O'Connor himself making an unforgettable and unintelligible spectacle of itself: a poetic sound and fury, signifying nothing — or, as Matthew O'Connor would put it, "I'm a fart in a gale of wind, an humble violet under a cow pad."

Modernism, like any other historical literary period or movement, is a critical construct — both of its own time and its own actors, and of the ensuing critical tradition. In their own day, the modernists — especially the Americans expatriated to Europe — self-consciously responded to what they perceived as a spiritually bankrupt modernity by inventing new poetic and novelistic forms to express, critique, and redeem their age. "The age demanded an image/ Of its accelerated grimace" Ezra Pound wrote in Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, and thereafter put "The Age Demanded" in quotation marks to indicate the instant peril of becoming a pious cliché or a self-parody to which modernism's mission of poetic virtuosity made it vulnerable. But true to the motto Pound is said to have worn stitched on his scarf in London, "Make It New," they did indeed make it new. How their -329- newness, their innovations, have been valued and judged has changed with the critical evolution of the later twentieth century. The greater admiration for the "lost generation" novelists, Hemingway and Fitzgerald — which was inspired by New Criticism's formalistic emphasis from the forties to the sixties when the canons and values of modernism were being codified — has shifted during the seventies and eighties to the avant-garde productions of Gertrude Stein and Djuna Barnes, who respond far more interestingly to the metaphysical inquiries of poststructuralist theory. During the nineties, increasing concern from Marxist and Frankfurt School critics over the ideological implications of literary experimentation may yet shift attention once more, toward the critically occluded writers of political engagement from the American thirties. Modernism will thus itself continue to be remade anew.

Margot Norris


American Proletarianism

The title of this chapter may strike some readers as quaint, if not altogether contradictory. The extent to which it does measures how the language of criticism embodies the dominance of certain political narratives. "Proletarianism" (or "proletarian") has, in the cultural discourse of the United States, come to be associated with a "foreign" way of speaking, historically that of Soviet or Soviet-identified leftists, specifically that of Marxist political rhetoricians, more particularly yet, that of Stalinist cultural critics of the 1930s. In its more barbarous manifestations, this set of connections has led to the view that "proletarian" and "American" are mutually contradictory terms, and thus that their deployment in a title must represent a reprehensible effort to resurrect some (at best) outdated ways of thinking about literature from the dustbin of history into which the upheavals in Eastern Europe have swept them.

I am, of course, stating a somewhat extreme version of this argument, but until recently virtually every essay or book on the subject of proletarian culture (with a very few honorable exceptions like Walter Rideout's The Radical Novel in the United States, 1900–1954 [1956]) has in some degree given expression to much the same narrative. Indeed, few if any of the cultural narratives of this country have been rehearsed with such unanimity of voice — a fact that, in itself, might make one suspicious. The story told is that "proletarian art" was a failed venture of an admittedly troubled time, the years of the Great Depression of the 1930s, doomed from its very beginnings because it attempted to place the individualism of creation in service -331- to the social goals of a collectivist ideology. To the extent that such art succeeded, the story continues, it did so only because its creators by accident or design moved outside this ideological orbit and thus from under the stifling, humorless power of Communist Party functionaries.

But sustaining this narrative has, in fact, required the obliteration of much of the terrain it is ostensibly designed to map. White women and writers of color, for example, virtually disappear from these histories, as does any serious discussion of efforts to create art by people from working-class origins. The exclusion of women writers and intellectuals from these accounts and the marginalizing of writers of color have been necessary to the process of producing the dubious master narrative I described above. In short, to shift metaphors, "proletarian art" has over the last half-century taken on the qualities of an archaeological mound: one knows that something lies deeply buried under the debris, excrement, and ash of decades of Cold War propaganda, but the shape of what has been so entombed, much less its story, is only now, and slowly, beginning to be discerned.

We are better able, now, to tell a more complete story. In the first place, important texts, like Meridel Le Sueur's The Girl and I Hear Men Talking and Tillie Olsen's Yonnondio, are for the first time fully in print, as they were not in the thirties. And other works, like those of William Attaway, Josephine Herbst, Claude McKay, and Clara Weatherwax, are again widely available, as they were not when critics were both constructing and responding to the earlier Cold War narrative. Second, important recent works of criticism and biography have begun to redraw the pictures of twenties and thirties writers and the world they inhabited. This criticism engages the relationship of art and proletarianism in general, and the character of thirties fiction in particular, not as static subjects for antiquarian study or as occasions for inspirational panegyrics; rather, it sees the period and the cultural issues raised in it as important for contemporary debates over the relationship of art and politics and about the very nature of what a socialist transformation of society might mean. Such criticism has, I think, been more attentive to what previously repressed and marginalized voices reveal about that earlier cultural discourse. Finally, the evaporation of the Cold War has, in itself, weakened the political urgency of the old dominant narrative. For those interested -332- in proletarian art, the decline of what has been designated as the Left has, perhaps ironically, thus been liberating.

Given the advantages of these changes, a number of newly "rearticulated" (Cary Nelson's word) narratives of the literary history of proletarianism and the American novel can be constructed. All will differ from earlier accounts in a number of ways. In addition to new evidence, they will bring the fresh perspectives of feminist and Third World criticism to important issues that were overtly contested in the thirties. First, the debate over the social functions of art, especially the notion of "art as a weapon," will demand a new look at the often discounted impact of Soviet — and other European — models on American practice. I think it will become clearer that Soviet examples, illustrated by translations of Russian fiction, reports on Soviet critical debates, showings of Soviet films, and the like, significantly influenced American writers. The problems of form, particularly of the relevance of modernist stylistic departures, will be illuminated by considering together the practices of writers and visual artists. The autobiographical character of so much of proletarian fiction offers a distinctive entrance to the debate over the value of art created by, as well as on behalf of, the proletariat. A revisionist view will, as I illustrate below, conclude that far from being the crude products of Stalinist aparatchniks, theories of proletarian culture were-and remain — coherent and challenging expressions of a frankly engaged criticism.

Rearticulated narratives must also emphasize concerns that were less clear in the 1930s, but that came into focus with the emergence of the 1960s movements for social change. First, of course, historical omissions of white women and minority writers need correction. More important, perhaps, the analytic categories of gender and race help reattach the politics of proletarianism to the work of earlier writers like Charlotte Perkins Gilman and W. E. B. Du Bois, who had insisted that radical change involves transforming not only economic but social relations. Further, the ideal of collectivity, cooperation, socialism, or "solidarity" has historically distinguished the working class from the individualism that defines bourgeois social relations and cultural production. Recent criticism argues that women's proletarian fictions dramatize, differently from men's, that putting into practice a collective ethos is central to fundamental social transfor-333- mation. Most basically, perhaps, a rearticulated narrative would maintain that the discourse represented by the term "proletarianism," which came into and then faded from critical prominence in the 1930s, marks simply one manifestation in the long history of efforts by working-class people to express, communicate, and alter the nature of their lives. All these issues cannot be explored in depth here; in summarizing them I am suggesting the outlines of the significantly revised map of proletarian art now being drawn.

Two autobiographical novels, published within a few months before and after the 1929 stock market crash that precipitated the Great Depression, provide symbolically useful starting places for this discussion. In their working-class subject matter, their autobiographical origins, their fundamentally revolutionary politics, and perhaps most of all in their class-conscious viewpoint on the world, Agnes Smed ley's Daughter of Earth (1929) and Mike Gold's Jews Without Money (1930) represent a new, "proletarian" literary departure. Jack Conroy, an active writer and editor during and after the thirties, has suggested that "the rebellion of the 20s was directed principally against the fetters of form and language taboos"; whereas, after the crash, "editors and publishers began to realize that people would read about such unpleasant things as unemployment and hunger." Conroy's is a simplistic but still useful paradigm of the movement from formalism to the idea of art as a means for shaping social values. Driving this transformation was a profound, widespread emotional response to the sudden crash: to most ordinary Americans it represented the devastating, unthought-of collapse of an earlier, hopeful dream that their work was destined to fulfill. By 1933 at least 12 million workers were unemployed. While many stood on soup lines waiting for handouts, the government, in an effort to bolster prices, was paying farmers millions of dollars to plough under wheat, kill off hogs, and dump milk into ditches. Such experiences of hunger, Hoovervilles, and hopelessness brought people to question the economic and social values they had been taught to revere. Yet to some, the calamity seemed to open a new opportunity: to build out of the wreckage of capitalism an economic system of cooperation and equality. In this effort, those on the Left developed special prestige: not only had the Soviet Union avoided the horrors of the Depression, -334- but the Communist Party and its allies took the lead at home in organizing the unemployed, fighting for aid to the dispossessed, turning despair into militance. For many writers, painters, and dramatists, also, the grim downward spiral offered a chance to turn art from a marginal commodity into an instrument for inspiring and shaping change. I would symbolize this leap into a new, "proletarian" art of hunger and fear, of protest and search, of old anger and fresh hope by the publication of Smedley's and Gold's books.

It is not that stories about working-class life nor fictions devoted to social protest or even revolutionary activity were recent developments in American, much less in European, culture. Herman Melville, Rebecca Harding Davis, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, and Sinclair Lewis, among others, had written powerfully in such modes. It would be untrue to picture the 1920s wholly as a period in which artists were devoted to creating experimental works directed to sophisticated upper-class audiences. Yet, relatively little of the fiction of the 1920s was concerned with working-class life, much less with revolutionary politics. Thus, the publication of Daughter of Earth and Jews Without Money represents something more than an arbitrary divide.

Both books are fictionalized accounts of coming-of-age in working-class communities. Both dramatize the tensions between working-class families and bourgeois institutions of acculturation and social control, like schools, landlords, and employers. Both, like many proletarian fictions, chronicle the painful efforts of their young, often abrasive working-class protagonists to gain, through education, work, or politics, a sense of agency, a meaningful vocation in a fundamentally hostile world. And both, perhaps most significantly, express a deep yearning not just to gain a "place" in that world but to help transform the predatory society they picture into a true community; neither book, also characteristically, dramatizes real success in that critical project. Taken together, both in what they accomplish and in how they fail, they offered for their time a basic definition of proletarian fiction: it is focused, generally in realistic forms, on the experiential details of working-class life; energized by an often angry, sometimes bitter, insistence on forcing American culture to recognize the particular qualities of working-class experience and to respond to the distinctive imperatives of working-class values; and committed to -335- the act of writing in order to critique the dying old society, to validate the beauty often buried in working-class life, and thus to help inspire the movement to create a new, just, and therefore socialist future. Both these novels are also products of writers who devoted almost all their literary energies to the causes they supported: in fact, while both Smedley and Gold continued to write extensively, mainly as chroniclers and propagandists of revolutionary movements, neither again completed a substantial piece of fiction.

For all these parallels, it would be hard to find two books more different either in tone or in their subsequent receptions. The differences were functions not simply of subject matter or style. Gold's book, written in short, punchy, journalistic sentences, and in a voice that combines outrage, sentiment, and bitter humor, offers a series of loosely related sketches of early twentieth-century life in the ghettos of New York's Lower East Side. The tone and mid-American origins of Daughter of Earth are established in the opening pages: "To die would have been beautiful. But I belong to those who do not die for the sake of beauty. I belong to those who die from other causes — exhausted by poverty, victims of wealth and power, fighters in a great cause…. For we are of the earth and our struggle is the struggle of earth." Jews Without Money went through eleven printings within the eight months after its publication in February 1930; was translated into at least sixteen languages, including German, Yiddish, Bohemian, and Tartar, by the time Gold himself prepared an "Introduction" for a new edition in 1935; and, with his more polemical writings, rapidly helped project Gold as one of the leading figures of the cultural Left in the United States. Further, the book became something of a model for proletarian fiction, which Gold had been making efforts to define since the early twenties. It helped generate a group of semiautobiographical novels that constitutes one major form in which men of working-class origins expressed their lives in fiction during the 1930s.

Daughter of Earth, while it was also reprinted in 1935 with an appreciative introduction by Malcolm Cowley, never gained anything remotely resembling the currency of Gold's book, and Smedley remained, at best, a marginal figure on the Left cultural scene. To be sure, that was partly because she lived in China for much of the -336- thirties and worked at the fringes of the Communist movement rather than, like Gold, at the very center of the American Communist Party. Still the differences in the books, and in their receptions, express more fundamental tensions.

About a year before the publication of Jews Without Money Gold pictured his idea of a proletarian writer in a frequently quoted New Masses editorial, "Go Left, Young Writers" (January 1929):

A new writer has been appearing; a wild youth of about twenty-two, the son of working-class parents, who himself works in the lumber camps, coal mines, harvest fields and mountain camps of America. He is sensitive and impatient. He writes in jets of exasperated feeling and has no time to polish his work. He is violent and sentimental by turns. He lacks self confidence but writes because he must — and because he has real talent.

The style is perfect Gold — as is, one suspects, the image of the proletarian writer he projects, complete with impatience, loud feelings, and masculine assertiveness, as well as the sense of swallowing life whole, like Walt Whitman and Jack London, to whom Gold refers in a succeeding paragraph. But the image, for all its individual resonance, is not simply a projection of Mike Gold; rather, it represents a widely held conception on the Left not only of the proletarian writer but of the idealized proletariat. It insists that mines, mills, and lumber camps are the only true sites of proletarian action. And it reveals the extent to which even those ideologically committed to a collectivist ethos bought into quite individualistic conceptions of agency-in art and in society as well.

Smedley's Marie Rogers confronts many of the same problems encountered by Gold's hero. But for Marie, there is nothing like the easy solution almost accidentally provided by the discovery of socialism on the last page of Jews Without Money. When she moves to New York from the West seeking an active political community, Marie finds herself altogether ill-at-ease among the middle-class intellectuals whose Bohemian lifestyle seems to dominate the socialist movement early in the second decade of the century. The talky, sexually experimental Greenwich Village Bohemia of Floyd Dell and Max and Crystal Eastman, of The Masses magazine, of the Provincetown Playhouse, of John Reed and Louise Bryant, paralyzes -337- Marie, and Smedley herself. The culture of her class becomes, ironically, a barrier to her participation in a movement ostensibly designed to liberate her class. Subsequently, she becomes deeply engaged in the movement to free India from British rule, spending some months in jail as an "enemy" collaborator during World War I. But her involvement in this movement, too, is cut short by sexual blackmail and by the inability of male members of the movement, including her husband, to accept real equality for a woman comrade. Thus Daughter of Earth concludes on the edge of despair, rather than with the "proletarian optimism" Gold prescribed for proletarian fiction and expressed in the familiar concluding peroration of Jews Without Money: "O workers' Revolution…. You are the true Messiah."

Like a number of other thirties novels by women — for example, Myra Page's Gathering Storm: A Story of the Black Belt (1932), Fielding Burke's (Olive Tilford Dargan's) Call Home the Heart (1932), and Tillie Olsen's Yonnondio: From the Thirties (1974) — Daughter of Earth dramatizes class struggle differently, as Barbara Foley points out, from comparable men's books: as a phenomenon not just of "making history" but of making daily life (in Richard Flacks's terms). Smedley's book insists that the kitchen and the bedroom are, as much as the mill, the union hall, and the strike, places where the struggle for a new socialist society must be joined. Fewer than a quarter of all women and less than 15 percent of married women worked outside the home through most of the thirties. If the industrial "workplace" only was to be the focus for art, as it mainly was for organizing efforts by the Left, then relatively little of women's lives would be discovered in art. Further, if the working class was defined and portrayed entirely in terms of its relation to the means of production, then the significance of other distinctive group experiences — of gender, race, ethnicity-would be diminished.

It would not be accurate to claim that Smedley's book offers a paradigm for the experience of women on the Left. To the contrary, as has frequently been pointed out, the Left broadly and the Communist Party specifically, for all its patriarchal practice, provided encouragement and support for women artists unusual in American society. The "Woman Question" was taken seriously on the Left: the Party press published substantial analyses that, with older classics like those of Engels and Bebel, provided the basis for political discussions. -338-

Moreover, in significant ways the Left carried on the heritage of feminism that spoke for radical change (Smedley, for example, was deeply involved in the movement to provide birth control to workingclass women), and it provided opportunities for many women to be active on behalf of themselves and others in the working class. In fact, some women, like Meridel Le Sueur and Josephine Herbst, played significant public roles in Left cultural circles during the Depression. The Book Union, a leftist book club, selected three novels by women — A Stone Came Rolling by Fielding Burke (Olive Tilford Dargan), Marching! Marching! by Clara Weatherwax, and A Time to Remember by Leane Zugsmith — as its primary selections of "proletarian novels." Still, the "pessimism" of Daughter of Earth, like the long-delayed completion and publication of important works by Le Sueur and Olsen, suggests that the thirties Left, including its women writers, had no secure answers for vital questions about the relationship of social and cultural transformations (especially those having to do with gender roles) to a political and economic revolution.

The books that most resonate with Jews Without Money include some focused on the blighted worlds of the "bottom dogs" of society, as well as others that detail the efforts of plain working-class Americans to live through the multiplying disasters of Depression, Dust Bowl, and dispossession, to find jobs, and perhaps to organize. It became the object of a number of writers of the late 1920s as well as the 1930s to extend a "downward" view to the bottoms of American society generally unseen by the middle-class reading public. Edward Dahlberg's novels Bottom Dogs (1929), From Flushing to Calvary (1932.), and Those Who Perish (1934) gave a name and one definition to such fictions. His first book follows Lorry Lewis as he grows up around his mother's barber shops, especially in Kansas City, in a Cleveland Jewish orphanage, hobo camps, the YMCA and Solomon's Dancepalace in Los Angeles. The second book finds Lorry and Lizzie Lewis in and around New York, as Lizzie, rapidly aging, tries to establish herself as a lady eligible for marriage and Lorry tries to discover himself along the waterfront, in the cemetery, at a Coney Island festival, and finally through a pilgrimage back to the orphanage. One can observe how, as the first two books progress, the style changes from what Dahlberg himself later derogated as "the rude American vernacular," conveyed with a kind of ironic gusto, to the -339- increasingly erudite and allusive technique that marks his later works. In 1929 he had written with a Whitmanesque sense of the expressiveness of everyday details: "The barber shop, with its odor of soap and hair tonics, the Paramount Building on Times Square with its tawdry lighting effects at night, the offices and hotels along Broadway, a cheap yellow and red symphonic surge in brick are just as artistically suggestive as the Chartres Cathedral or the cafes along the walk of the Montmartre." In Bottom Dogs and Calvary Dahlberg carries out the artistic program implicit in this comment, capturing and, as Jules Chametzky has suggested, legitimizing, even celebrating that seamy, loathsome landscape just at the edges of destitution-the deluded lower middle-class America of Lizzie Lewis that at once repels and consumes Lorry. Those Who Perish, one of the first American fictions to dramatize the Nazi threat and also to attack Jewish collaborationism and self-interest, is written in a much more selfconsciously literary style; and the wandering, rootless young hero of the earlier books, who anticipates Jack Kerouac's road-drawn hipsters and, perhaps, Saul Bellow's tamer Augie March, emerges as the suicidal Eli Malamed. Dahlberg's work finally constitutes an increasingly elaborate (self)portrait of the artist transformed from hobo to guru. Politics is not his occupation, nor does revolutionary optimism characterize his people: Bottom Dogs ends with Lorrie wondering whether he has caught the clap from a dance-hall girl. And all the central characters of Those Who Perish do, indeed, die needlessly or by their own hands.

Dahlberg's people skirt the bottom, in fact; Tom Kromer's live there. Waiting for Nothing (1935), Kromer's essentially autobiographical narrative, captures from the inside the experiences of men on the fritz. The book begins — and ends — nowhere, or anywhere: a dark, nameless urban street where the hungry narrator backs off from clubbing a passing man, to an anonymous flophouse, where he lies caught between aching weariness and the fierce biting of lice. Dahlberg's wanderer hitches rides on the rails; Kromer's nails a fast drag at night, smashing against the side of the boxcar, hanging on for life, knowing that, like others he has seen, he will end in a ditch or be cut to ribbons under the wheels if his grip fails. Lorry Lewis always seems to find a friend; Kromer's narrator can, at best, fall in with a smart -340- stiff who teaches him to earn his daily keep by diving "down on a doughnut in front of a bunch of women."

Kromer's is probably the least romanticized of the books portraying the lower depths of America. His title echoes ironically one of the era's best-known works, Clifford Odets's agitational drama Waiting for Lefty. Kromer's narrator, waiting for no future, cut off from any past, isolated from any movement, is confined at the end to thinking only about "three hots; and a flop." Even Nelson Algren's gloomy Somebody in Boots (1935) provides glimpses, if transient, of real companionship and of a movement for a better society, though his central figure, Cass McKay, seems utterly unable to turn himself toward them. Like Lorry Lewis, Cass takes to the road partly from aimlessness, partly from hunger, though partly to escape the meaningless brutality and ugliness of his Texas home. But he finds, finally, that there is no place much better to go in Depression America, only a jungle where "the strong beat the weak" and all "strike out at something" when they can, if only to pass on to others their own pain. In Chicago, he is beaten for befriending an African American Communist, loses his job, is left by Norah, a young working woman with whom he has struck up a relationship, and drifts back onto the bum. Cass can briefly perceive that his condition is a result of the corruption and greed of capitalism, and briefly understand, too, how racism keeps working people separated. But to the extent that he comes to have a class identification, it seems to be that of the lumpenproletariat, the breeding ground for Fascist recruits. Indeed, Richard Pells has suggested that "Algren suspected that the 'people' were not incipient socialists but potential brownshirts who might come together solely for an orgy of looting and arson," like the people of Chicago's depths in Jack London's The Iron Heel. That judgment may be unfair to Algren's effort to symbolize in the nightmare jungles traversed by his homeless men and women the American dream that vanished with the Depression. Like his later and better-known postwar work, The Man with the Golden Arm (1949) and A Walk on the Wild Side (1956), Somebody in Boots may best be read not as a realistic coming-of-age novel but, like most of the books I am discussing, as "a gloomy parable" (Pells) of disconnection from that older, pastoral American society now "gone with the wind." -341-

In many ways, the book that most fulfilled the promise of Jews Without Money is Jack Conroy's The Disinherited (1933). Like Gold working class in origin, Conroy came from a very different tradition of American radicalism: Midwestern, small-town, populist, native, anarchic — represented by Moberly, Missouri, where Conroy was born and grew up. The Disinherited originated as a series of autobiographical sketches published by H. L. Mencken in the conservative American Mercury and was then adapted into the form of a novel in order to get a commercial press to publish it. An expert storyteller and an important editor, Conroy had always been interested in the folk dimensions of working-class culture: the tales, ballads, jokes of a rich oral tradition. In fact, The Disinherited is a treasure-chest of such materials, and it may best be understood as the search of its first-person protagonist, Larry Donovan, to find a meaningful cultural and communal center to his life after the traditional miners' world of Monkey Nest Camp has been destroyed by lost strikes, the mining deaths of his father and brothers, the fragmentation of modern society, and plain poverty. Initially, Larry believes that he can "rise" to a white-collar job if he gains sufficient education. Later, he works in a steel mill and in the burgeoning auto industry, spending his wages on the pleasures of the moment. Left broke and jobless by the crash, he returns to Monkey Nest Camp, works in construction, and ultimately discovers his solidarity with all other workers:

I could no longer withdraw into my fantastic inner world and despise these men. I did not aspire to be a doctor or a lawyer any more. I was only as high or as low as the other workers in the paving gang.

In the book's climactic scene, farmers organized by Larry's German World War I veteran friend Hans force a foreclosed farm and its contents to be sold back to the farmer for pennies. And Larry, having led a group of town men to support the farmers, makes a speech in cadences recognized by an old-timer as those of Larry's union-leader father. Having thus reclaimed or reconstructed the cultural heritage of his class, Larry goes off with Hans into the unromantic world of union organizing.

The most popular novel to capture Depression America on the road was, of course, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939). -342- Steinbeck's novel, while it points toward a more humane future, is in many ways also an exercise in nostalgia. For its center of value remains a kind of "agrarian utopia" (Warren Susman's term), maintained in the limbo of an idealized encampment by New Deal social policy. And its concept of breaking out of selfish individualism, dramatized in the famous scene of Rose of Sharon sharing her breast milk, involves incorporating outsiders into the more or less traditional family. But in many novels like those I have been discussing, and in 1930s America, it is precisely the disintegration of the family under the stresses of exploitation and the Depression that forces marginalized men and women onto the road.

Books like The Disinherited and the poems, stories, and "reportage" published in The Anvil and in other magazines (Left Front, Leftward, New Force, Dynamo, The Cauldron, Partisan Review) mainly begun in the early 1930s in connection with the Communist Party's John Reed Clubs represent an important part of the American response to the idea that a revolutionary working class should produce its own writers and artists. In the context of the postrevolutionary Soviet Union, there were those who saw little point in burdening a newly self-conscious proletariat with the decayed culture of Russia's aristocratic and bourgeois past. Rather, they believed, workers should be organized into what amounted to literary study groups within which, through practice and criticism, they would learn to develop an art true to their own experiences and needs and integral to their everyday lives. The resulting "Proletcult" had, by 1920, become a mass movement, with a membership (between 300,000 and 450,000) perhaps as large as that of the Soviet Communist Party itself. The subsequent heeling of the movement under Party control, the later debates over the validity of the idea of a proletarian culture (notably if problematically engaged in Trotsky's Literature and Revolution), the intricacies of organizational infighting in the Soviet Union and elsewhere throughout the twenties and thirties, and the emergence of the idea that literary content and ideas should be directed by the policies of a proletarian "vanguard party" do not concern us here, except to the extent that these developments help to explain the growing disrepute of the idea itself.

In the United States, however, Mike Gold in particular continued throughout the twenties to push this idea of proletarian culture; ul-343- timately in 1928 he succeeded in turning The New Masses into what Eric Homberger has accurately described as "a Proletcult magazine." In this phase the magazine received numerous submissions from working people like Jack Conroy, H. H. Lewis, Herman Spector, and Edwin Rolfe. And while, in 1930, The New Masses was turned back to better-known — and, perhaps, less gritty and more middle-class — contributors, it had helped lay the groundwork for the success of the John Reed Clubs and of their magazines. These were the fertile grounds from which sprang important novelists like Richard Wright and Tillie Olsen, and which encouraged many other young workingclass writers like Conroy. Such institutional supports are critical to the development of a culture rooted in working-class experience.

Many of the men and women who joined the John Reed Clubs were working on novels, but ultimately few were published. In part, the shorter forms of poetry and story were obviously easier to complete for people with full-time work and family commitments. In part, too, the Communist Party's 1934 decision (as part of its movement toward "popular front" politics) to eliminate the John Reed Clubs in favor of a League of American Writers constituted by more traditional, better-known, and largely middle-class authors shortcircuited the slow development of a militantly working-class literary culture, and helped condemn at least some of the emerging writers to what Tillie Olsen has eloquently termed "silences."

It may be, however, that the central problem was the novel itself. For how could the novel, which emerged with the development of capitalism and which, as a form, privileges "the position that individual destiny occupies in capitalist culture" (Christian Suggs's words), be reshaped to envision the emergence of a collective future implicit in proletarian politics? Suggs goes on to point out that "the novel's unique ability to focus for considerable numbers of pages on the most internalized processes of the mind and soul could have the collateral effect of isolating private sensibility from public identity" and consequently undermining the political purposes of proletarian fiction. The essentially autobiographical fictions I have been describing found it difficult to evade this dilemma. On the other hand, experimental efforts to decenter the narrative from one single hero, like Robert Cantwell's The Land of Plenty (1934), William Rollins's The-344- Shadow Before (1934), and Clara Weatherwax's Marching! Marching! (1935), ran the risk of losing a mass audience more accustomed to straightforward stories.

In fact, the variety of technical experiments would be surprising if one took too seriously critical strictures enforcing realism. Many efforts were influenced by John Dos Passos's techniques, especially multiple narrative centers, in his trilogy U.S.A. (1930, 1932, 1936), and behind him very likely the "unanimist" fictional tactics of Jules Romains. In Union Square (1933), Albert Halper provides a kind of sociological cross section of the variety of human beings who work, live, engage in politics, and hang out in and around the Square. In A Time to Remember (1936), Leane Zugsmith interweaves a series of stories about the lives of department store workers who become caught up in a strike. Robert Cantwell begins The Land of Plenty "Suddenly the lights went out." We are in the head of Carl, the foreman; subsequent chapters pick up that same moment from the perspectives of Hagen, Marie, and others in the factory, and then in the town. Weatherwax uses a wider, if generally less well-controlled, set of devices: one chapter of Marching! Marching! consists of what are presented as clippings, ads, and strike bulletins; the text moves without signal from narration to internal monologue and from the head of one character to another; the narrative of a strike meeting is suspended for six pages to describe the lumber operations in which one man works. In her trilogy of the Trexler family, Josephine Herbst places brief vignettes, out of chronological sequence, between the chapters of her main narratives. Like Dos Passos's "Newsreels," though different in form, these are mainly efforts to capture a sense of American public life as it converges with the "private" experience of the autobiographical Victoria Wendel. It is true that an insistent, and sometimes one-dimensional, naturalism constituted the mainstream of proletarian fictional technique through the 1930s. It is also true that some of the anti-Stalinist writers gathered around Partisan Review were more committed than others to sustaining the legacies of 1920s modernism. But as these examples suggest, the interest in modernist techniques was widespread; indeed, Marcus Klein presents proletarian literature as "a literary rebellion within [the] literary revolution" called modernism. However that might be, it is essential, I -345- think, to understand how such sophisticated later works as those of Tillie Olsen are grounded in these efforts to use modernist experimental tactics to reconfigure the novel to proletarian social purposes.

Proletarianism takes yet a different shape when it intersects with race. While Conroy's protagonist sought community within the framework of Midwestern radical traditions, Claude McKay's central figures looked toward the values of the African diaspora to counteract the disintegration and anomie of Western culture. McKay, a black Jamaican by birth and a published poet of dialect verse before he immigrated to the United States in 1912, became well known in Left and Bohemian circles in post-World War INew York as an editor of The Liberator (successor to The Masses) and writer of both lyric and militant verse in generally traditional forms like the sonnet. In London during 1920 he worked as a journalist on Sylvia Pankhurst's working-class feminist newspaper, Worker's Dreadnaught, and in 1922 he visited the Soviet Union. There he published an account of race relations in the United States (The Negroes in America [1923]) and a collection of fiction whose nature is expressed in its title, Trial by Lynching (1925). In France, beginning in 1923, McKay set out to establish himself as a novelist by sketching the "semi-underworld" of urban African American workers that he had inhabited between 1914 and 1919. The draft of one novel, "Color Scheme," McKay evidently destroyed after its rejection. Later, however, he was encouraged to expand a short story into his first published novel, Home to Harlem (1928).

In Home to Harlem McKay tries to maintain in tension the three elements that interest him about the lives of rootless, urban African American working men in America; they are represented by the three central male characters, Jake, Zeddy, and Ray. Jake is drawn back to Harlem from abroad by its night life, its Baltimore, Goldgraben's, and Congo bars. But while Harlem's dark-eyed women, its "couples…dancing, thick as maggots in a vat of sweet liquor, and as wriggling," dominate his desires, he rejects the role of "sweetman": "Never lived off no womens and never will. I always works." By contrast, Zeddy is always out for the main chance, arguing against Jake's refusal to scab: -346-

"Youse talking death, tha's what you sure is. One thing I know is niggers am made foh life. And I want to live, boh, and feel plenty o' the juice o' life in mah blood. I wanta live and I wanta love…. I loves life and I got to live and I'll scab through hell to live."

On the other side, the educated Ray envies Jake's natural spontaneity and his capacity for happiness: "I don't know what I'll do with my little education. I wonder sometimes if I could get rid of it and go and lose myself in some savage culture in the jungles of Africa." The underlying ambivalence of Ray's views suggests that McKay (who slightly differentiates himself from Ray when the latter reappears in Banjo) has not altogether worked through the political dimensions of his deep attraction to the "primitive" and presumably exotic qualities of black life. McKay clearly differentiates Jake's natural decency and sense of proletarian solidarity from Zeddy's comic and sometimes ugly blundering, but the roots of that difference, personalities aside, remain unclear. Nor does there seem to be any real way of reconciling Jake's desire for some of Ray's Western "edjucation" and Ray's need for the resources of Jake's earthy happiness. Robert M. Greenberg has suggested that Jake's virtues are "essentially preindustrial ones, qualities that can only foster a marginal life for an individual in the urban North." The characters of Home to Harlem are marginal in another sense, too: they are able to pick up jobs, gigs, money because, though the novel seldom touches on it, times are still flush in the white world.

In Banjo (1929) the ideological drift of Home to Harlem is more fully worked out. Ray meets Banjo — Jake without traces of workingclass ideology — comes to reject the Western civilization that has been taking "the love of color, joy, beauty, vitality, and nobility out of his life," and decides to throw in with Banjo's marginal and dangerous but joyful style of living. What distinguishes black life on the Marseilles waterfront in Banjo is its specifically African quality, defined by the variety of African and diaspora characters who populate the Ditch. Marginality emerges here not as a crushing burden or, at best, a temporary declivity from which people will eventually climb but as a soulful, rhythmic space within which an alternative life to that of white culture can be enacted. It is, perhaps, a differently romanti-347- cized, and equally problematic, version of the "muck" in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).

One may read in the changes from McKay's earlier stories to Banjo and his later Jamaican novel, Banana Bottom (1933), a movement from a fundamentally class to a largely racial basis of solidarity, a movement opposite to that dramatized in Richard Wright's powerful novella "Bright and Morning Star." Jake's commitment to worker solidarity is limited: while he will not scab, neither will he join a union — like most "bottom dogs," though he is "no lonesome wolf," he is suspicious of all forms of entanglement — especially if they come in white. In "Bright and Morning Star" Sue, who is suspicious of virtually all whites, ultimately sacrifices her own life to protect her Communist son's comrades, white as well as black, and also to exact some vengeance for his lynching. The stories of Uncle Tom's Children (1938), of which "Bright and Morning Star" is the last, move from African American protagonists who are victims toward those who increasingly embrace radical struggle. In the process, they also seem to move away from the black folk culture (especially religion) associated with the rural South, as well as with the Caribbean or ultimately Africa, that sustains McKay's central characters. In Native Son (1940) that has disappeared; indeed, James Baldwin complained of the book that it lacked "any sense of Negro life as a continuing and complex group reality." There is, of course, a good deal of truth in that criticism. But it misses precisely the sense in which Wright's title links Bigger Thomas to the long line of utterly marginal men who populate proletarian novels of the thirties — especially those written in Chicago by men from mid-America. Bigger is the most thoroughly dispossessed victim of the social processes also dramatized by Algren, Kromer, and Conroy, among others, the processes by which Depression Americans were finally, wrenchingly cut off from earlier, mostly rural sources of traditional value and set adrift in the urban jungles of capitalism. In Native Son the American dream of freedom and flight passes overhead as an advertising gimmick while Bigger and Gus play out the distance in harsh laughter.

At the same time, the ending of the novel focuses Wright's doubts about the ability even of a developed class analysis to account for such thoroughgoing alienation. What emerges in Bigger's final encounter with Max is much the same problem that William Attaway -348- confronts in Blood on the Forge (1941). Like hundreds of thousands of African American people in the decade after 1914, Attaway's three Moss brothers, Mat, Chinatown, and Melody, flee from the exploitation and violence of rural Kentucky to the steel mills near Pittsburgh. As Richard Yarborough has pointed out, Attaway portrays the men's movement into the promised Northern land as, in fact, a descent into an industrial wasteland. All three are destroyed in that process: China is blinded in a mill explosion; Melody injures the hand that enables him to root himself in music; and Big Mat is killed leading strikebreakers.

From one point of view, the experience of Wright's and Attaway's characters represents at its extreme the experience of all workingclass men caught between a dying rural world and an industrial system whose humane potential is waiting to be born. But reading Blood on the Forge against Thomas Bell's novel of three generations of immigrant Slovak steel workers, Out of This Furnace, published the same year, suggests that the differences are, finally, critical. For Bell's book ends triumphantly, with an impending birth and with the victory of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee in Braddock presented as the expression of the American values embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Moreover, in Out of This Furnace African American workers like the Moss brothers are altogether invisible — except, perhaps, in the name of a particularly violent trooper called "Blackjack." Attaway wrote no novels after Blood on the Forge. What seems to me played out in these novels of African American life are a series of unresolved conflicts: between the values embodied in forms of cultural nationalism and forms of classbased solidarity; between the construction of the South as "home" and value-center and the North as "promised land"; between versions of pastoral and versions of proletarianism. Arna Bontemps perhaps tried to avoid such conflicts by setting his groundbreaking novel of African American self-assertion and rebellion, Black Thunder (1936), in the antebellum South. Still, by modeling black militance even in a historical slave revolt like that of Gabriel, Bontemps encountered the demand from the Alabama school in which he was teaching that he renounce his radical associations — mainly his friends engaged in the struggle to save the Scottsboro Boys and in support of Gandhi's nonviolent demonstrations in India. How to show his re-349- nunciation? Why, burn all the "race-conscious" and therefore provocative books in his library. African American intellectual life in the United States simply provided no refuge from the politics of race.

In a formal sense, other working-class women writers of the thirties did not follow Agnes Smedley's autobiographical lead. More fundamentally, however, Daughter of Earth was paradigmatic, for narratives of coming to consciousness and fathoming the painful contradictions of gender and class were at the heart of books by writers like Meridel Le Sueur, Olive Tilford Dargan, Myra Page, and Tillie Olsen. In The Girl — only parts of which were published in the 1930s — Le Sueur succeeds perhaps better than in any of her other work in holding together the contradictory imperatives that have marked her long, complex career as writer and Communist Party activist. These involve the tensions between sexual awakening and "political" consciousness, between modernism of style and the effort to reach a working-class audience, between the writer as seller of words or as peoples' oracle, and above all between the logic of individual advancement and the power of collective action. In her work, these are all linked. In certain ways, The Girl duplicates the pattern of other books that trace the coming to consciousness of a working-class protagonist. We meet the nameless girl as she begins waitressing in a St. Paul speakeasy and follow her developing affair with Butch, a young, marginal worker. We watch with horror as she becomes the driver for a botched bank robbery plotted by the predatory Ganz and as she and the fatally wounded Butch flee into the countryside. Pregnant, out of work, and separated from all the men who had tried to control her life, the girl returns to the city to become part of a community of "bottom dog" women, surviving through the bitter winter in an abandoned warehouse, where in the book's climax she gives birth. What the girl discovers can be seen as a version of class solidarity, especially when she communicates with a deaf girl in a scabrous relief maternity home about the Workers Alliance. But the content of that solidarity is markedly different from what Larry Donovan comes to in The Disinherited or Mickey stumbles upon in Jews Without Money. For its emotional basis is the commonality of female experience.

Le Sueur tells us that reading D. H. Lawrence first enabled her to -350- think positively about women's sexuality. She had early been taught that sex meant danger, and, as in many women's novels before and after the 1930s, it continued to be threatening: an illusion fostered by Hollywood, the trapdoor to impoverishment through repeated cycles of pregnancy and childbearing, or a commodity demanded by men as token of their power. Indeed, Le Sueur's young male characters, like Bac in I Hear Men Talking (1984) and Butch in The Girl, are often predatory individualists, strikebreakers, violent to women, intent above all on "beating." Nevertheless, heterosexuality opens a way for Le Sueur's young women to discover what "nobody can tell you," to step out of the constrictions of selfhood, finding, like the girl, not only unity among women but also a relationship to the earth itself that Le Sueur often symbolized by the Demeter and Persephone myth. Many of Le Sueur's early stories (for example, "Annunciation," "Spring Story") illustrate the intensity of her concern with women's bodies and sexuality — a concern that brought her into conflict with some Left critics and editors and, indeed, with at least some of the audiences for most Left-wing magazines of the thirties.

Ishma Waycaster, the central figure of Olive Tilford Dargan's (Fielding Burke's) Call Home the Heart, is caught in a similar set of conflicts: between her mountain home and the industrial lowland; between her passion for her husband, Britt, and her attraction to the scientific and politicized doctor, Derry; between her desire for the personal satisfactions of her own farm and hilltops and her commitment to the revolutionary struggle of the National Textile Workers' Union to organize the Winbury (Gastonia) mill workers; between irrational desire and the life of reason. These remain ideologically unresolved though humanly convincing in Call Home the Heart as Ishma, after an irrational outburst of racism, retreats from the union struggle back to mountains, husband, home. Dargan's dramatization of the persistence of racism even among enlightened white Southern workers has been praised as an honest effort to confront realistically a main barrier to worker solidarity. But, in fact, the dilemmas of racism are not central to the novel, any more than they were fundamental to the Gastonia strike. What is much more critical in the book, and what seems to me displaced onto the issue of race, are questions about gender and the relation of personal to social transformation. Gender is much more marginal in the Left discourse upon -351- which Dargan is drawing and appears at once less critical and much more intractable than racism, the solution to which is, at least theoretically, clear. As Deborah Rosenfelt comments about another novel on the Gastonia strike, Myra Page's Gathering Storm: A Story of the Black Belt (1932), "the author [is unable] to acknowledge fully the very subversiveness of the women's issues raised. They are subversive not only of the dominant culture's sex-role ideology but also of the Left's insistence on the seamlessness and unity of the working class." But more fundamentally, perhaps, the novel is struggling with the question of what Ishma, who is so much an image of American possibility, will finally become. There is nothing fixed and predetermined about that in Dargan's book: Ishma is created and recreated in relation to the material circumstances of her life. The problem, then, is to imagine circumstances capable of energizing both her passions and her intellect — a task neither novelist nor movement accomplished. Indeed, when she tries to resolve such dilemmas in the sequel A Stone Came Rolling (1935), Dargan is much less convincing.

Le Sueur's style also seems pulled in contrary directions: a lyric, repetitive, incantatory modernist technique (influenced, perhaps, by Gertrude Stein as well as by Lawrence) sometimes jostles against the reportorial voice (influenced, perhaps, by Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway) she honed in articles like "Women on the Breadlines" and "What Happens in a Strike" (collected in Harvest Song [1990]). The lyrical, Le Sueur writes in I Hear Men Talking, could be "used as reaction to the deathly action of the economics and history of the town." But it poses a problem to the audience she seeks: "A farmer in North Dakota said to me once, 'You write too beautiful.'" So, like some critics, she came to "question the lyricism of my early stories." For if the writer's role was to become an "oracle of the people" (Linda Ray Pratt's term), like Whitman, hearing, gathering, expressing, returning to the people their own stories, she could not distance herself from them by language, as modernist writers often did. Further, to serve a political function in a communist movement, a writer could not simply reproduce the relationships of bourgeois culture, appropriating people's lives into narratives and selling them back as commodities. One can see in Penelope, the developing central consciousness of I Hear Men Talking, Le Sueur's effort to create an alternative to the portrait of the artist as young appropriator that one -352- finds, for example, in Anderson's "Death in the Woods" or Winesburg, Ohio.

The tensions about the relationship of artists and intellectuals to a social movement were not easily resolved, especially for authors of middle-class origins in the aggressively working-class movement of the thirties. Commenting on Horace Gregory's angst over his conflict between artistic individualism and Communist discipline, Le Sueur wrote in The New Masses (February 26, 1935):

For myself I do not feel any subtle equivocation between the individual and the new disciplined groups of the Communist party. I do not care for the bourgeois "individual" that I am. I never have cared for it…. I can no longer live without communal sensibility. I can no longer breathe in this maggoty individualism of a merchant society.

But "maggoty individualism" is never so easily exterminated; indeed, it reappears here as a kind of self-hatred, which can lead to artistic paralysis or to shrill assertion of one's correct politics. Le Sueur dramatizes the effort to cast off bourgeois separateness and step into working-class solidarity in a piece like I Was Marching (1934), but a certain insecurity persists. Indeed, the question comes to be central to a significant number of novels of the time.

The work of Tess Slesinger and Josephine Herbst is not, on the whole, focused on the life of industrial workers. Slesinger's only completed novel, The Unpossessed (1934), and her collection of stories, Time: The Present (1935), concern the personal and political lives of people best characterized as middle-class intellectuals. And while she was later active in Hollywood in the long battle to establish the Screen Writers Guild, her movie scripts are not very involved with working-class struggles. The Unpossessed provides an unusually frank view of the tensions between ideological commitment and personal desires among the class of leftist intellectuals to which most writers of proletarian novels in fact belonged. Loosely based on the group around Elliot Cohen, editor of The Menorah Journal and later, having moved to the far Right, founding editor of Commentary, the novel tells about the efforts of the men in the group, and the student acolytes of one of them, Bruno Leonard, to set up a magazine that will at once express their political aspirations and satisfy their quite varied personal desires. By alternating scenes of public activities —353- meetings, fund-raising efforts, and the like — and private interactions, Slesinger suggests how the personal and the political remain in tension, how, indeed, unresolved personal conflicts come to abort expressed political commitments.

Most particularly, the men in the group seem unable to relate honestly to the women closest to them, much less to the rather callow students who help drive the magazine enterprise or to the variety of ordinary people with whom they interact daily and on whose behalf they would write. The contradictory impulses of the group are most devastatingly satirized in Slesinger's account of the lavish fund-raising party thrown for the magazine, the public climax of the novel. The parallel "private" climax is provided by the final chapter, in which Margaret Flinders, one of the book's central characters, returns from an abortion, pushed on her by her bitter, withheld husband, Miles. Probably the first widely circulated American fiction to deal in detail with an abortion, the chapter was first published in 1932 as a separate short story, "Missis Flinders." The book does mock all the protagonists at one level, playing their withdrawals from commitment against the fanaticism of Dostoevsky's characters evoked by Slesinger's ironic title. But it also presents them with a certain sympathy born of Slesinger's recognition that decent political values can, and usually do, live side by side in human beings with rather less noble motives of personal aggrandizement or sexual conquest.

Herbst's trilogy (Pity Is Not Enough [1933], The Executioner Waits [1934,], and Rope of Gold [1939]) is one of three — the others are John Dos Passos's U.S.A. and James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan — published by Left-leaning writers during the thirties. They are strikingly different: Dos Passos tries to achieve in his choice of characters, his use of "Newsreels," his capsule biographies of notable Americans, a panoramic view of the country in the decades before and after World War I. Farrell focuses narrowly on the decline of a lowermiddle-class urban family as representative of the fate of millions of other Americans, lost in ideological confusion and economic dislocation. Herbst centers her narrative on a few members of the Trexler family, a fictionalized version of her own, but tries to achieve scope by tracing them over most of a century and across much of America. Her primary protagonists, especially as the trilogy goes on, are female, which some critics have suggested may account for the trilogy's -354- lack of wide readership. But it may also be a function of its very inconclusiveness. Rope of Gold in particular suggests that the trajectory of Victoria Wendel's and Jonathan Chance's private lives as writers and political activists and that of world-changing economic and political forces are somehow converging. But a novel cannot leap out of history, especially if it is committed to historical representation, like Herbst's. And none of the novel's concerns — the rise of fascism, duplicity and male chauvinism on the Left, the distant promise of a classless society — are resolvable within it. The recent revival of interest in Herbst — partly stimulated by Elinor Langer's important biography — may suggest that the very ambivalence that kept her slightly apart from total commitments in the period's politics is appealing, in a way that forced conclusions are not, to a postmodern generation of readers.

But the proletarian writer who has most appealed to contemporary readers is, ironically, one who published hardly anything during the thirties. Nevertheless, Tillie Olsen's fiction does, in certain respects, epitomize the best of the time. Yonnondio, as it has been published, was mostly written by 1938 or 1939, and a portion of it printed as "The Iron Throat." But then the novel's manuscript was set aside for other work, child-rearing, earning a living, surviving the repressions of the Cold War, and lay in a trunk until 1972 when its bits and scraps were resurrected, painstakingly copied, reassembled into the narrative that exists. Like many of the books I have discussed, Yonnondio is a story of growing up, particularly of Mazie, daughter of Anna and Jim Holbrook. The narrative follows the family in the early 1920s from mining community to farm to packingtown in their search for decent jobs and room for children to grow. It was planned to follow Mazie's continued development beyond her early teens, perhaps into a writer who could, like her creator, "limn" the "hands" of America. For what this Mazie knows are the endless frets of too many children in too little space, the violence engendered by a father's inability to get at what is consuming him, the desperation of toil gone to waste. The last scene portrays the stifling of life in the packinghouse and at home by 106-degree heat, shifting from consciousness to consciousness to create a mosaic of pain.

What Olsen accomplishes in Yonnondio, I think, is drawing together technical strategies and thematic materials seldom unified in -355- proletarian fiction. Her methods of varying narrative voices and presenting scenes from very different points of view — now Mazie's innocent eyes, now Anna's weary glance, now a narrator's knowledgeable vision — represent one of the most successful adaptations of experimental techniques to subject matter characteristic of the consciousness of the thirties. But she also joins the work and household worlds. Thus she brings to imaginative life the intersections of these domains, which ideology and the habits of patriarchal society have largely kept separate.

What the foregoing seems to me to illustrate is the variety of the texts one can usefully think about under the rubric "proletarian." For the term does not represent merely a political prescription for cultural work — though there were undoubtedly those who preferred that it should — but an angle of vision on the art of another time. That angle of vision is, as I have illustrated, different in the 1990s from what it might have been in the 1930s. It will continue to change as our understandings of class, and particularly its intersections with other categories of social structure and of cultural analysis, develop. This work, therefore, is presented not as the definitive account of "proletarianism and the American novel" but as one among the many differing narratives that might, and undoubtedly will over time, be constructed from the variety of texts now open before us.

Paul Lauter


Popular Forms II

When Horatio Alger died in 1899, his rags-to-riches formula had already been contested by a different kind of adolescent achievement: the heroics of the athlete Frank Merriwell. First appearing in 1896 — at the hand of "Burt L. Standish" (Gilbert Patten) and at the behest of publisher Ormond Smith — Frank and his brother pitched the winning pitch in over 200 novels, which sold an estimated 126,000,000 volumes by the end of the 1920s. Alger's novels gained in popularity during the first decade of the twentieth century, and his name soon became synonymous with the American myth of self-improvement. But it was Patten's fiction in Street and Smith's "Tip Top Weekly" series that commanded the juvenile field, marking an abrupt shift in the site and the style of American success. The hero of Ragged Dick; or, Street Life in New York (1867) must rise to respectability and to a job as counting room clerk. In contrast, Frank Merriwell enjoys perpetual triumph outside the confines of the city and the economic order.

In its relocation of success, the sports novel escapes the specific contradiction of ideology and plot that characterizes the Alger formula: the wealthy Mr. Whitney explains to Ragged Dick that "in this free country poverty in early life is no bar to a man's advancement," that "your future position depends mainly on yourself"; but Whitney's very presence in the novel, his role as Dick's benefactor, refutes the platitude. In Frank Merriwell at Yale (1903), the platitude changes, the hero himself explains that "in athletics" (rather than in this country) "strength and skill win, regardless of money or family," -357- and he himself, all by himself, triumphs from the beginning to the end of each novel, requiring no assistance from a surrogate father. We might say, then, that in fiction, as in the American society of the era, sports established an arena of success that the economy could no longer provide. But a novel like Frank Merriwell in Wall Street (1908) actually transforms the economy into one more playing field where Frank invariably triumphs. While Alger's Luke Larkin, the "son of a carpenter's widow," must "exercise the strictest economy" in Struggling Upward (1890), Frank Merriwell, whose financial reserves appear no less vast than his strength, can exercise an economy of wild speculation in which "need" has given way to "desire." All told, the Merriwell series does not so much suppress the economic as it rewrites the economy in accordance with The New Basis of Civilization, as the economist Simon Patten understood it in 1905, where an "economy of pain" has been supplanted by an "economy of pleasure," and the primary task of education becomes to "arouse" the worker to participate in American "amusements."

Still, a simpler way to understand the disjunction between the Alger novel and the Merriwell novel is to recognize that, just as Alger's fiction once served as an alternative to the sensationalist dime novels of the 1860s and 1870s, so the baseball novel serves as a means of reestablishing the adventure paradigm that postulates "directly the inborn and statically inert nobility of its heroes," as Bakhtin says, rather than portraying any "gradual formation" of character: Ragged Dick, despite his inborn "pluck," must learn the behavior that will enable him to succeed; but Frank Merriwell's success springs from an absolute "stability of character." Describing the relation between formula fiction and American ideology can begin with this point, for the narrative in which America represents itself to itself insists on precisely such a stability. Within the dominant ideology, "America" never appears as a product of economic or social forces, but as a permanent and autonomous character, the adventure hero, as it were, confronting a series of tests. Theodore Roosevelt's imperialist rhetoric voices this heroism with especial clarity — waging war in the Philippines appears as a test of the individual's and the country's "manly and adventurous qualities" — but throughout the twentieth century both liberal and conservative rhetoric insistently portrays "America" on trial, the resolution to both domestic and international crises re-358- siding in the character of " America." Not change, but permanence, will solve the crisis at hand; not a process of becoming, but a more exact fulfillment of being, will guarantee success. The ideology of formula fiction, this is to argue, should be thought in relation to the narrative form of ideology, for if Frank Merriwell embodies the ideal of American "individualism," then "America," likewise, fleshes out the narrative grammar of adventure.

Above all, it was "adventure" and "action" that the pulp magazines promised their readers, beginning with Frank Munsey's Argosy (1896). And it was the pulps that produced the typology through which formula fiction has been displayed and consumed. In the 1920s and the 1930s, the expansion of the pulps — numbering over 200 during the Great Depression — particularized "adventure" to the point where, for instance, one could read not just War Stories or even Navy Stories, but, more exactly, Submarine Stories and Zeppelin Stories. Street and Smith published the first truly popular specialized pulp, Detective Story Magazine, in 1915, and it was detective fiction, science fiction, and the Western that claimed the most attention from both editors and readers. The serialized novels from these magazines established generic formulas; the pulp industry produced, as Marx would say, "not just an object for the subject, but a subject for the object"; and the subject produced was a new male readership. To oversimplify, we can claim that while the most popular fiction of the 1850s was written and read by women (under the auspices of male publishers), by the 1950s much of the most popular fiction, such as Mickey Spillane's hard-boiled detective novels and Max Brand's Westerns, was written and read by men. The modern emphasis on fiction's mass distribution — marked by publishing's involvement with Marshall Field and with Sears, by Robert de Graft's invention of Pocket Books (1939), by the emergence of mail-order book clubs — includes an attempt to masculinize the reading process. As Charles Madison explains in his history of publishing, the distribution of paperbacks to the armed forces during World War II developed "millions of readers who previously had seldom looked into a book." Thus, the masculine/feminine opposition that had long encoded the distinction between high and mass culture began to blur, and the hypermasculinity of the adventure hero looks not least like a compensatory reaction to this shift in literary consumption. -359-

Just as the character of the adventure hero, always on trial, resists all change, so too the adventure formula resists modernity, providing an alternative experience to what Thorstein Veblen described, in 1904, as "the cultural incidence of the machine process" — "the disciplinary effect" of the "movement for standardization and mechanical equivalence" and the insistence on "matter-of-fact habits of thought." At the same time, that alternative, to the degree that it repeats a standardized formula, perpetuates this "disciplinary effect"; like any commodity, it creates only illusory difference; and it invites the reader to submit, like the author, to the prescriptions of (the very rhythm of) the productive apparatus. Nonetheless, formula fiction is not reducible to its formula, and reading science fiction, detective fiction, and the Western amounts to encountering a perpetual renegotiation of "adventure" and "modernization" (which is to say: "adventure" and its own mode of production).

In modern science fiction, the confrontation between "adventure" and "modernization," heroic stasis and modern progress, appears as a bifurcation within the industry itself: one strain of the genre emphasizes "adventure," most simply represented by the Flash Gordon film serials (1936, 1938, 1939), based on the popular comic strip; the other emphasizes invention or "hard science," initially represented by Hugo Gernsback's Ralph 124C 41 + (1911), a novel serialized in his own publication, Modern Electrics, the country's first radio magazine. Gernsback's hero displays his technological genius in the act of saving a village girl from multiple crises, finally bringing her home to New York and the 650-foot, round glass tower that is his home. The novel takes as its task the presentation of a future metropolis and the careful description of future inventions, but this "Romance of the Year 2660" remains an adventure. The hero's genius — symbolized by the tower, technology's own phallus rising above New York — is inspired by the vulnerability of woman, the given, without which the narrative could neither begin nor end. And this point complicates the typical charge against science fiction, the claim that it promotes an unexamined and untenable myth of technological progress, as Lewis Mumford has argued. For that myth of progress inhabits a structural stasis: the stereotypical gender code makes science make sense, providing it with its very reason to be. Indeed, a second glance at the -360- genre's modern history suggests that science fiction just as assiduously perpetuates a myth of no progress; it guarantees the stability of certain social relations despite technological advance; and in this sense it typically naturalizes the technologies of gender, sexuality, and race, by casting these human constructions outside the realm of the properly technological and historical.

Tracing the nineteenth-century foundations of science fiction means looking away from America, to the work of Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells, and yet a few American texts also opened up some basic avenues of enquiry. Edward Ellis's Steam-Man of the Plains (1868), a dime novel, initiates a fascination with the technological elimination of human labor that attains its most complete expression in Isaac Asimov's I, Robot (1950) and his three "laws of robotics," which adjudicate relations between the human and the technological. Edgar Allan Poe's Balloon Hoax (1844) and Hans Pfaal (1835) inaugurate an emphasis on travel that, in E. E. Smith's Skylark series, beginning with The Skylark of Space (1928), becomes intergallactic, providing writers with a new realm of exploration, made limitless with Asimov's invention of "hyper-spatial" travel in the 1940s. And Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889) introduces time travel as a means of highlighting the effects of technology. In L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fail (1941), Twain's dystopian vision becomes utopian: the American hero finds himself transported from Mussolini's Rome to Justinian's Rome, where, with the reinvention of the semaphore telegraph and the printing press, he both prevents the Western Interregnum and establishes social justice. De Camp never addresses the absence of such technological resolution to the modern Western crisis, his hero remains in the safety of the past, but his novel exemplifies science fiction's increasing tendency, in the 1930s and 1940s, to address contemporary crisis explicitly before displacing it, spatially or chronologically, and providing its readers with the pleasure of scientific resolution. The splitting of the atom in 1938 realized many of the achievements and anxieties science fiction had been predicting for years, and it made the earth itself the most obvious new stage for adventure. By the 1950s, science fiction films take the 1950s as their very point of departure, developing a variety of monsters released or -361- created by atomic explosion, notably The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Them!, where ants appear as the first of Hollywood's giant insects.

In contrast, the first chapter of Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Princess of Mars (1912), serialized the same year as his Tarzan of the Apes, tries to compensate for American history: John Carter, a Virginian who fought in the Civil War and then found himself a captain "in the cavalry arm of an army which no longer existed," has ventured West and become a wildly successful prospector in Arizona, where his partner is attacked by Apaches, from whom Carter himself takes refuge in a cave. By means of psychic projection, he ends up on Mars, this planet of war becoming, as it were, the new locus of American "adventure" — American adventures, both military and economic, having all but played themselves out within the continental United States. His strength and prowess enable him to resolve the conflict between the red and green races of Mars, to liberate the greenmen from their despotic ruler, and to defend the princess he loves from repeated assault; he thus reclaims, beyond the closing Western frontier, the chivalry of the Southerner. The logic of empire that underlies Burroughs's Martian novels (eleven in all, concluding in 1942) more obviously informs his Pellucidar series, beginning with At the Earth's Core (1914) and Pellucidar (1915), in which David Innes brings both American technology and the American political system to the primitive peoples residing in the Earth's hollow center. If H. G. Wells, during Africa's partition, tried to give his readers some sense of the horror of being colonized in The War of the Worlds (1898), then Burroughs, in contrast, insisted on the heroics of colonial subjection.

It is, of course, a racist axiom that makes this heroism possible, rendering global conflict as a Social Darwinist battle of races, and insisting on the priority of the body to the point where, despite any technological marvel, the first and final sign of superiority is always physical. The warlord John Carter is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, "broad of shoulder and narrow of hip," and David Innes, American emperor of Pellucidar, is a comparable physical specimen (as is, of course, Tarzan, that noble savage whose nobility derives from his aristocratic parentage). More obviously, it is the ethnographic and biological attention to the creatures of Mars and Pellucidar that grounds Bur-362- Bur-'s fiction in the body, and in racial history: the red and green races of Mars can be traced back to one "very dark, almost black" race, and one "reddish yellow race." And in all Burroughs's work, it is the threat of interracial abduction that emerges as the most heinous crime that his heroes must prevent: Carter must save the red, almost humanoid Martian princess from the sexual assault of a bestial green jeddack. That the popularity of Burroughs's first novels occurred between the extraordinary success of Thomas Dixon's The Clansman (1905) and D. W. Griffith's filmic version of the novel, The Birth of a Nation (1915), makes obvious sense, for the Martian novels also depict a white Southern male reestablishing racial order.

Simplistic as his adventure formula may seem, the simplicity still characterizes far more substantial works. George Allen England's Darkness at Dawn (1912), the first novel of a trilogy, provides a very different type of plot, but one that manifests the same ideology. In England's first science fiction story, The Lunar Advertising Co. (1906), technological advancement takes place within the modern economy: the moon, as a giant projection screen, becomes America's premier billboard. But in the trilogy, the economy disappears along with human civilization: an engineer and a stenographer wake up in a New York skyscraper to find themselves the last two humans alive in a world that has been destroyed by an "Epic of Death." They are soon attacked by "demoniac hordes" of black, apelike creatures with a "trace of the Mongol," and Allan Stern, "the only white man living in the twenty-eighth century," must defend himself and the woman he grows to love against racial extinction. Facing a world "gone to pieces the way Liberia and Haiti and Santo Domingo once did, when white rule ceased," Stern nurtures his "deep-seated love for the memory of the race of men and women as they had once been." Finally, in the last of the novels, The Afterglow, he establishes a new social system among the other survivors they encounter, a system in which man is free at last because of the elimination of money, the proliferation of scientific thought, and the introduction of the English language, that "magnificent language, so rich and pure," its purity mimicking the racial purity achieved once the "horde" has been "wiped out." More precisely than Burroughs's work, then, England's trilogy occupies the ideology of its era, most familiar in Theodore Roosevelt's claim, from The Winning of the West (1899), that "the -363- spread of the English-speaking peoples over the world's waste spaces has been…the most striking feature in the world's history." And England's novels exhibit the same contradictions as does Roosevelt's ideal of the "strenuous life," a call away from "overcivilization" that is still a call to "civilize" the world. For only in the face of civilization's demise does Allan Stern retrieve the ideals of "labor and exploration" and transform himself from the "man of science and cold fact" into a man who can feel the "atavistic passions"; only in defending the woman he loves does the "engineer" become an "American." The triumph of civilization simply leaves "man civilized" with no "other" against which to define himself; it leaves the hero and his world in a nonnarratable state.

This nonnarratable state is the very topic of John W. Campbell's prologue to Islands of Space (1930). In the typical history of science fiction, Campbell's editorial work at Astounding, begun in 1938, appears as the moment when science proper became the subject of science fiction. But just as this history itself writes that moment as an adventure — the hero Campbell rescuing science fiction and inaugurating the so-called Golden Age — so too his own fiction foregrounds the problem of adventure despite its greater scientific realism and its location of technology within an American corporate economy. Islands of Space begins by summarizing the previous endeavors of Transcontinental Airways: having initiated interplanetary travel and landed on Venus, the corporation found that, though "similar to Earthmen," the "Venusians" had blue blood and double thumbs, making them "enough different to have caused distrust and racial friction, had not both planets been drawn together in a common bond of defense" against the Black Star, Nigra. The Nigrans, functioning as the absolute other that cements comradeship, have been defeated, making the world of science uninteresting: "The War was over. And things had become dull. And the taste of adventure still remained." While there is some possibility that "commerce over quintillions of miles of space" will satisfy this taste, the band of scientists soon find themselves involved in an interplanetary confrontation far from earth. They settle the dispute, adjudicate interplanetary relations, offer their technology to the winning side as a means of ensuring further peace, and thus establish American technocratic, neo-364- colonialist hegemony. The corporate adventure remains a fantasy of domination.

As science fiction begins to address the historical moment of its own production, the politics of such fantasies — politics per se — become more explicit and more explicitly resisted, as in When Worlds Collide (1933), a novel by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie that rewrites the Depression as a natural disaster. News of a planet's trajectory toward earth is first encountered in the papers as "something novel, exciting," but the ensuing panic requires careful governmental management: the unemployed are "corralled en masse" to build shelters in the heart of the country, away from the coasts, which will disappear in the first tidal waves. A great migration from the coasts to the plains (reversing the historical migration from the Dust Bowl) transforms even millionaires into "Oakies," driving "with their treasures heaped around them." The president shows "the good sense to kick politics in the face and take full authority upon himself," and his radio reports ("we stand now on the brink of a situation from which we cannot hide") suggest a commitment to reason abandoned elsewhere, such as Germany, where fascists have begun to execute both communists and Jews. But even such "non-political" acumen, of course, cannot forestall humanity's devastation. Outside any governmental auspices, a scientific "League of the Last Days," the focus of the novel, has secretly developed two rocket ships to take five hundred of the world's best minds to another planet, leaving "the hordes" (science fiction's ubiquitous "hordes") behind. Thus, the heroes of the novel accomplish their own eugenicist ends, but with a rational means that appears to stand fully outside politics (what the novel assesses as good and bad politics)and to stand outside economics — to stand for science itself. This account of the scientists' escape can be read as an allegory of science fiction's escapism — an effort to erase such earthly matters as fascism and depression while ultimately rewriting them.

The complications of technological resolution, which is to say technocratic domination, eventually become the object of science fiction's own scrutiny. In Fritz Leiber's Gather Darkness (1943), a "Hierarchy" rules Megatheopolis by duping "the masses" with scientific "miracles"; in Jack Williamson's The Humanoids (1947), "the virus -365- of science" appears in the form of robots who protect human beings to the point of denying them all pleasure. But these explicit challenges to science and its myth of progress may tell us less than the adventure formula's inability to understand that narrative of progress outside other narratives — of racial, economic, and national conquest. While Jean-François Lyotard, for one, has suggested that the postmodern moment is a time when the metanarrative of science (the grand narratives of speculation and emancipation) faces a legitimation crisis, that crisis already inheres in science fiction, which can find no grounds for science outside its ability to serve as an instrument and sign of power.

Unlike science fiction, which, with its focus on technology, necessarily confronts the idea of "modernization," the Western at its most formulaic simply preserves an unspecified American space and time within which gunslinging heroes can conquer villains and win hearts. Max Brand's first Western novel, The Untamed (1918), further delocalizes its action with references to mythology, which continued to provide him with metaphors, themes, and plots that universalize the protagonist's heroism rather than restricting it to any historical West. Proclaimed by Publishers Weekly as "the king of the pulps," so prolific as to need twenty pseudonyms, Frederick Faust, most famous as "Max Brand," accomplished such feats of productivity — writing over a hundred Western novels, working in all the popular genres (and inventing Dr. Kildare), inspiring as many as five movies in a single year (1921) — that it is little wonder his Westerns, purged of complication, have paradigmatic value. In Hired Guns (1923), for instance, Billy Buel, a gunman who loves to fight and hates to work, is hired to fight in Gloster Valley's nine-year family feud over the identity and possession of Nell (a Western Helen of Troy). His courage, gunmanship, and personal code of ethics resolve that feud and win the heart of the beautiful girl, with whom he leaves the valley. Just as the novel's isolated community stands outside time, so the hero stands outside the community, resolving its conflicts only to flee. The narrative syntax — the outsider establishes social justice, then returns to the outside — remains the staple of the adventure formula, which depicts a need for social change, but a change that must come from without, and from an individual's changeless heroism. -366-

This syntax underlies far more complex renditions of the Western, such as John Ford's, Stagecoach (1939), which, reestablished the pop, ularity of the Hollywood Western in the sound era. Based on a story by Ernest Haycox, Ford's film, displaying the desert crossing of a stage from Tonto to Lordsburg, isolates the passengers, consisting of social,outcasts, into a society of their own (a microcosm that has been read allegorically as "America," the country struggling against the natural world). The most socially disreputable of the characters (a prostitute, an alcoholic doctor, a gambler), threatened by Apache attack and faced with the birth of a child, reveal a humanity and a morality that far surpass the Victorian principles of the town, represented by the Ladies' Law and Order League. The opening scenes of the movie allow us to glimpse their lives within society, but the outlaw hero of the story, Ringo Kid (John Wayne), appears only once the. coach is well on its way: he looms up, as if from nowhere, isolated by the camera with Monument Valley as a backdrop; he appears as if from nature itself, more completely beyond the confines of the town. And once he secures the passage of the stagecoach, and, in a shoot-out, avenges his brother's death, he leaves the social order again, riding off to the Mexican border with the woman he has come to love (the prostitute), both of them "saved the blessings of civilization," as the doctor says, watching them take off. (At the same time, the doctor, who has sobered up to deliver the baby, accepts the offer of a drink, reestablishing his own exteriority.) Thus, while defending civilization against the uncivilized Native Americans, Ringo defends himself against Civilization by (as Huck Finn would have it) lighting out for the territories.

Nonetheless, in Stagecoach, as in Hired Guns, the hero's union with a woman provides the sense of closure denied by this escape; and as Laura Mulvey has said of Western films, "marriage" functions to sublimate "the erotic into a final, closing, social ritual." But the Western's resistance to society — most vociferous in its attack on business interests and Eastern decadence — is exemplified not least by the formula's tendency to exclude this "social ritual" from the plot itself, to project the possibility of "marriage" into an unknown future (the possible basis of an Edenic society elsewhere), or to idealize love outside this social institution. Points West (1928), written by "B. M. Bower" (Bertha Muzzy Sinclair, the one woman who consistently -367- worked in the genre), portrays as its heroine a "fighting cowgirl" who is very much the fighting cowboy's equal; their relationship is á based on a type of filial rivalry that negates the typical asymmetry of the gender code and thus the threat of domestication; nonetheless, as the novel closes, Billy simply has his "eye on the girl," and marriage as such (that social mark of change) remains excluded from the pages of the novel. More simply, in Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), which defines the "love of man for woman" (noticeably not between man and woman) as "the nature, the meaning, the best of life itself," the hero and heroine disappear together into the uninhabited Surprise Valley, the "nature of life" dissolving into nature. And if this marginalization of marriage suggests the thoroughness with which the Western resists society, with which it resists the idea of its hero's socialization, then the status of law, explicitly addressed in one novel after another, more clearly confirms the idea that existing social institutions stand in the way of happiness and success. The hero of Eugene Manlove Rhodes's Barnsford in Arcadia (1913) puts the matter simply: law "rouses no enthusiasm in my manly bosom," he claims; "I am endowed by nature with certain inalienable rights, among which are the high justice, the middle, and the low." It is only this endowment that enables every Western hero to establish a justice that transcends law. In Owen Wister's The Virginian (1902), it is the very voice of the law, the voice of Judge Henry, who legitimizes extralegal activity, the vigilante justice of the West: "far from being a defiance of the law," the judge argues, "it is an assertion of it."

This extrainstitutional status of true law and true love converges with the extrasocietal status of the adventure hero, and the atemporal and atopian action, to make the adventure formula not just escapist but a lesson in escapism: a study in the need for the individual to get beyond society. But this is true only of the Western at its most formulaic. In fact, Wister's novel, which marks the advent of the modern Western, finally suggests an altogether different emphasis — not on the separation of the hero from society, but on his integration. The Virginian, indebted less to the dime novel and more to Cooper's Leatherstocking tales and the American historical romance (as Wister suggests in his preface), provides the modern formula with its basic semantic elements (above all the cowboy, a loner, a "handsome un-368- grammatical son of the soil") and the ideology of Anglo-Saxonism and individualism. But its plot concludes by locating the hero within society, the family, and the economy. Furthermore, Wister locates the story in a specific time and place, Wyoming, between 1874 and 1890, and implicitly addresses a moment in recent history: the Johnson County War (1892) between cattlemen and homesteaders. The love story between the cowpuncher and the Eastern schoolmarm resolves the antinomies that structure every Western (East/West, civilization/ nature, society/individual), and just as she learns the necessity of the West's code of violence ("how it must be about a man"), so too he learns the beauty of Shakespeare and Scott. Both characters change before their marriage, and the Virginian himself rises within the cattle industry: he begins as a hand on Judge Henry's ranch, advances to manager, becomes the judge's partner, and, with the coming of the railroad in the 1890s, ultimately establishes himself as "an important man, with a strong grip on many various enterprises and able to give his wife all and more than she asked or desired," the sort of "important man" who will later serve as the formula's embodiment of evil. Wister reports these last two stages of success hastily, in the closing pages, but they serve to foreground the fact that The Virginian is an economic novel: its central dispute, between the Virginian and Trampas, is a dispute between management and labor; by serving Trampas "an intellectual crushing," the Virginian suppresses the organization of men against the judge's interests. Thus, the outsider (who, as a Virginian, is actually an outsider to the West) serves to stabilize an economic "civilization" within which he occupies a central place.

The point, then, is that The Virginian finally insists not on the exteriority of the West and the Western hero but on their centrality, their pertinence to modernization's advance. In a Wyoming "as wild as was Virginia one hundred years earlier," Wister's hero, as a latterday Thomas Jefferson, exemplifies for the Eastern narrator the central point of American democracy: "It was through the Declaration of Independence that we Americans acknowledged the eternal inequality of man"; "true democracy and true aristocracy are one and the same thing." The fact that true aristocracy finds itself confirmed by economic hierarchy makes the origin of America coincide with its turn-of-the-century corporate end. In contrast to Brand, who ignores -369- the "modern world," Wister implicitly confirms it, and Zane Grey, who did more than anyone to establish the popularity of the genre, confronts the problem of modernization explicitly, and most compellingly in those novels where the West serves to rejuvenate an individual from the misery of modern warfare. In The Call of the Canyon (1924), The Shepherd of Guadaloupe (1930), and 30,000 on the Hoof (1940), shell-shocked soldiers return to America physically and emotionally depleted, ignored by their government, misunderstood by their friends. But despite grim prognoses from their doctors, a trip West initiates a slow recovery, one in which men learn above all the pleasures of physical work and the superficiality of Eastern life.

The very sight of the Western landscape can inspire change, but the fact that such sights had become a part of Eastern culture turns visualization itself into a point of contest. By 1900, William Henry Jackson was mass-marketing his photographs of Yellowstone; in 1910, D. W. Griffith shot Ramona in Ventura, the very locale of Helen Hunt Jackson's novel (as the film reminds us); in 1917, John Ford included a dramatic mountain pass in Straight Shooting and closed the film with his signature shot of the sunset. But while modern technology had brought the West to the East with an "authenticity" that surpassed the paintings of Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt, for Grey such representations would not do. In The Call of the Canyon, Carley Butch, having ventured to Arizona to see her fiancé, but returning East without him, finds that she hates "the motion pictures with their salacious and absurd misrepresentations." In The Vanishing American (1925), Marian Warner finds that motion pictures have little to do with the truth of the West. The dichotomous imagination of the Western novel here incorporates the Western film into its schemata — East vs. West can be read, likewise, as Western film vs. Western reality — and literature's Sisyphean task of debunking the literary (hardly a task confined to realism) is now compounded by the job of having to debunk the cinematic. And yet, by 1922, when the novel was first serialized, Grey had written sixteen Westerns, and already twelve of these had been made into movies, beginning in 1918 with Samuel Goldwyn's six-reel version of The Border of the Legion. Which is to say: Marian Warner's "impressions of the West" are, in the plot's historical moment, impressions most likely derived from Grey. This irony extends somewhat further: while the cinema, -370- like jazz, can typify the "speed-mad, excitement-mad, fad-mad, dressmad" decadence of the East in The Call of the Canyon, Grey himself was introduced to the far West, in New York in 1907, when he saw the films of Yellowstone produced by "Buffalo" Jones. He then accompanied Jones on a trip to Arizona, recounted in The Last of the Plainsmen (1908), during which he himself served as cameraman.

The Call of the Canyon, for all its romantic antimodernism, situates itself within this modern visual culture, trying to share in what Griffith called the "universal language" of moving pictures. Appearing serially in the Ladies' Home Journal (1921-22), in the midst of full-page ads for Paramount Studios and articles on Griffith's latest success (Way Down East), the novel tries to teach "modern woman" the Western lesson of antimodernity through the image alone, restricting the meaning of the West to the "visual." It is "mere heights and depths, mere rock walls and pine trees, and rushing water" — these mere sights — that transform the "modern young woman of materialistic mind" into an "American woman," dedicated to a life in the home. Grey's "purple prose," in competition with cinematic culture, might be understood foremost as a way of arresting the image, keeping it within the reader's "view" in order to effect a transformation such as Carley's. While science fiction adheres to the logic of adventure despite its espousal of modernization, the Western's most explicit antimodernism all but abandons that logic: only the land itself, an enduring frontier, stands as the unchanging hero.

While the objective in and of The Call of the Canyon is to redeem modern woman, in the hard-boiled detective novel she appears unredeemable, threatening the very life of the hero. Only the rejection of women, as opposed to any union with them, provides the sense of an ending. Even in more classical versions of the genre, a "really good detective never gets married," as Raymond Chandler said, with characteristic bluntness. In part, this results from the seriality of the form, the need to maintain the static character of the hero from one adventure to the next: Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote voluminously for the pulps in the 1920s, created Perry Mason in 1933, with The Case of the Velvet Claws, and the extraordinary popularity of the novel prompted eighty-one further cases (more than fifteen bestsellers in the 1930s), most of which portray the lawyer defending a young and naive woman. They thus present a paternal figure who can -371- protect female innocence against crime, the idiosyncrasies of the legal system, and the general chaos of the Depression. Obviously, being married would complicate Mason's physical attraction to his clients, just as any romantic involvement beyond that attraction would compromise his role as the good father who rescues his clients from the wiles of bad men. To survive, the Perry Mason formula mandates its hero's celibacy.

The hard-boiled detective novel brought "adventure" to the heart of the modern city in the 1920s, and it transformed the cerebral art of classical detection into physical action. In a world of gambling and drinking, political corruption and organized crime, it is female sexuality, "woman" as signifier of sex, that functions to generate peripeteia, distracting the hero and thus retarding the process of detection, conflating the pleasures of reading with the hero's sexual pleasure. Only the renunciation of this sexuality can prompt a satisfactory denouement, the end of desire, most severely represented by Mickey Spillane's late contributions to the hard-boiled formula. In I, the Jury (1947), the title of which proclaims its hero's monomania, Mike Hammer finds himself the irresistible object of women's lust; he falls in love with, and he hopes to marry, Charlotte Manning, the woman who turns out to have murdered his partner. The novel's famous closing pages syncopate his sequential revelation of the crime to her, on the one hand, and, on the other, an account of her "selfrevelation" to him, a striptease performed before the.45 he points at her, that performance, the relationship, and the novel itself reaching their consummation as she reaches out to him and he shoots her in the stomach. The scopic regime of the detective formula has become violently scopophilic. Pathological as I, the Jury may seem, it has remained one of the most popular American detective novels, a fact that may stem from its very celebration of an erotics of reading, or its simple, pornographic equation of knowledge and power. But this is only the most extreme version of a misogynist gender code that pervades both the hard-boiled detective novel and Hollywood's film noir, where the crisis of the city is ultimately locatable in the chaos that is "woman."

Before discussing the emergence of this code in the 1920s, I want to point out that "hard-boiled" detective fiction — admired by Sartre and Camus, associated stylistically with Hemingway, and champi-372- oned for its urban realism — has virtually become synonymous with "American" detective fiction and has thus obscured important variants. Mary Roberts Rinehart, for instance, one of the century's most prolific and popular writers, produced the first American best-selling detective novel, The Circular Staircase (1908), quickly followed by The Man in Lower Ten (1909) and The Window at the White Cat (1910). The spinster who assumes the role of amateur detective in the first of these foreshadows Agatha Christie's Miss Marple (English, of course, and considerably older), but she herself harks back to Amelia Butterworth, the heroine of Anna Katherine Green's That Affair Next Door (1897), a "lonely and single" woman, living in Gramercy Park, who "discovers herself" by joining the murder investigation headed by Detective Ebenezer Gryce. While solving the mystery, Rinehart's heroine rescues her sister's orphaned children from suspicion, enables them to marry the individuals they love, and secures their (matrilinear) inheritance. As a vicarious mother, she preserves the components of the familial institution while asserting an ego that does not depend on that institution but on her public rivalry with male professionals. Not only does The Circular Staircase provide an alternative to such celebrations of motherhood as Kathleen Norris's Mother (1911), indebted to Louisa May Alcott and Susan Warner; it also foregrounds its heroine's status as an independent and rational woman by intertextually embracing other genres of "women's fiction," providing,