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The Spoils of Poynton and the Properties of Touch Author(s): Thomas J. Otten Source: American Literature, Vol.

71, No. 2 (Jun., 1999), pp. 263-290 Published by: Duke University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2902811 . Accessed: 07/03/2011 10:17
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Thomas J. Otten


The Spoils Poynton theProperties of and

n taking TheSpoilsofPoynton up (1897),mypurin pose is to get at some meanings Henry Jamesthatcriticism's obsession with vision madehardto see. Rather has thangazingat a or of a system surveillance, essayseeksto spectacle diagramming my the dwellwithin mostintimate world spacesofthematerial -spaces in which distance vision the that inevitably implies narrows the and senseoftouch takesover. what might we think as a of Only through of tactile can the it reading thisnovel we beginto uncover meanings holds a history thebody thebody'sobjects. for of and At first be glanceit seems TheSpoilswouldmoreprofitably discussed in termsofvision; whether think it as pointofview we of or displayor surveillance voyeurism, or that'sthe sense we talk aboutwhenwe talkaboutHenry James. Then,too,the objectsthe novel's title names-theLimoges Wedgewood, cabinets and the and in seemto fulfill a straightforward thecode of tapestries-may way In Veblen's conspicuous consumption.Thorstein Theory the of Leisure are visual:the purposeofacquisition Class,commodities primarily is to produce "spectacular a effect," "studious a exhibition expenof from useful siveness" thatdemonstrates others to one's exemption of And that activity.1 so it is a matter some interest TheSpoilsrefocuses thesense oftouch, on rather thanvision, that and peatedly most while habits theeyeare notexactly the of slighted, figure they in with most coordination thehand. The movements frequentlytheir characteristicthenovel oneslikefingering, of are handling, fondling, one'shandstogether Mrs.Gereth arranging, gathering, rubbing (as in in and sometimes nervous continually does, sometimes delight
American Volume Number June1999.Copyright 1999by Duke Literature, 71, 2, (C Press. University

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withTheSpoils, agitation); James's famously "grasping imagination" turns theliteral ofgrasping. to act Mrs.Gereth Indeed, specifically privileges touchovervision, castingin tactiletermsthe intimate she in withthe knowledge has ofherobjects: "Blindfold, the dark, I another. Likewise, when 2 brushofa finger, couldtellone from with becomes after their FledaVetch reacquainted theobjects transto the widowed her lation Ricks, siteofMrs.Gereth's banishment, a of of seemswholly matter touch: he veryfingers recognition "[T] on herglove, had at of resting theseatofthesofa, thrilled thetouch she a texture couldrecognise, would an oldvelvet brocade, wondrous a without her haverecognised among thousand, dropping eyeson it" in (71). As thesequotations suggest, novelhas a greatinterest the of between human the handandtheobjects that lie thepoint contact to immediately adjacent it;it zoomsin on someofthehand'smost them a surprisingly levelofsigto ordinary movements, raising high or The nificance, at leastofnarratability. Spoilsis fullofcharacters with for hats or busying themselves stalling timeby fiddling their withthe tea things; the of testing quality chinaby giving a few it their on each other, "raps"with knuckles; leaning objects and,often, in of for each handsandwrists support times stress; grabbing others' or to demonstrate even as loyalty affirm affection; smearing varnish, the Fleda imagines tasteless Brigstocks with"their do, ownhands" as a pastime rainy on days(35,7). In TheSpoils, is then, James committed making to visible moment a in which visionis largely subordinated. noveltakesuponitself The the project seeinghowfinely of detailed accountit can render an of the tactilerelationships between it personsand things; is as if his wants see howintimate portrayal whatThePortrait to of James between selfandthe the ofa Lady'sMadameMerlecallsthe"flow" it objectsthatlie outside can become(3:287). My general purpose hereis to offer analysis keepsfaith an that with James's ownparticuI larity: wantto stayinsideacts ofacquiring usingobjectsand and so to avoidthedistancing effects must that result whenwe consider nineteenth-century in termsof display culture and the abstracting effects must that result whenwe consider interms "commodity it of " culture.Employed shorthand a vastworld objects, latter as for of the incritical inmuch samewaythat discourse the phrase operates Marx does it argued exchange-value inpolitical economy: deprives objects oftheir sensuous" them as "objects not "coarsely properties, casting

of and TheSpoilsofPoynton theProperties Touch 265 "3 but essay, then, of ofutility" instead "bearers value. I seekinthis as of and sensuous" properties thespoils, to to conserve "coarsely the of that and identify larger the political socialstructures thought are embedded within sustained thoseobjects'verygrainsand by and textures. The particular socialstructure delineated willbe class,along here and In like with someofitscognates, tasteandrefinement property. a endless slightly and focuses seemingly the recent essayMary Poovey of that staledebateovertheconcept class by observing thisdebate on conset centers whether class describes objective ofmaterial "an or a way ditions" constitutes instead modeofself-understanding, of a "I seeksnotto one's "articulating placein a socialhierarchy. Poovey within debate instead showhowitreflects this but to takea position within incoherence whatshe calls "classificaa certain foundational that a between and description theory makes tory thinking":tension unstable and one. classbotha perpetually powerful concept a deeply because In other be words, whileclass willalways opento question will to as there always an "interpretive be element" whatitpresents or it dismantled sum"puredescription," can neverbe thoroughly becauseits empirical contents it theshading give marily dismissed While to ofa stubborn howthisepistePoovey attempts show reality.5 Enin itself seventeenth- eighteenth-century and mology established comes theory, owncontribution my glishstatepolitics economic and to for how almost theendoftheprocess describes, I want show at she thistension between and theory description outinthelivedexplays I of out novel represents.willarguethat perience classtheJamesian of ofthesmallest touches gestures and a conception emerges double and class:at oncea set ofstandards can be articulated rationalthat truth is indisputably that even and ized,promoted, shared, a bodily I this unsharable. that through realbutabsolutely Further,willargue from the the of doubleaccount language class becomesinseparable how of And language identity. I willclosebyshowing boththetouch it for of world imofclass andtheconcern thespecifics thematerial with which in gesture seemingly renunciatory pliespersist thefinal, I draws a close.As themoments have to theJamesian typically plot I with sensing the hand. at already glanced suggest, begin in so One reasonthehandfigures prominentlyTheSpoilsis that and reflect hand;theyanticipate invite the theobjectsat its center like its touch. withhandles, teacupsand cabinets, Theyare things

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like the orwith contours reflect shapeofthewholebody, sofas that or like are that, vases andfigurines, scaledto be and chairs, things there with. Significantly, are "not toyed arranged hand,fondled, by the arts at are decorative many pictures" Poynton; valuables mostly are (22). These objects enamels cabinets and likebrassesandchina, of of record thedetails thebody;theyanticipate oband a material In needs and characteristics. an extraordinary essay, jectify bodily or of instance imagination making Philip Fisherarguesthat"every from of the separable the installs conditions thebodyintomaterial from self.6 The human the body'sattributes bodyand detachable A within has cup, suggests, arethusembedded objects. coffee Fisher of the shape and movements thethumb and a handlethatreflects Its and that against mouth. size,dimensions, the fingers, a rim fits and its the evenbody reflect about human facts materials appetite, tastes, of "thefeatures the cup can temperature. Thus, Fisherconcludes, be a human imagenearby"; by only understood preservinghovering to evenwhen seenalone."7 "thecupis adjacent thebody the thatimply close presence Fisher'sviewof objectsas things of ofthehuman the exactly interests TheSpoilsand bodymatches its While thewaysin which thisnoveltypically arranges materials. referred as a museum-and a placewhere to so Poynton sometimes is thanused-it is reallythe use of objects objectsare seen rather between of that and the narrowness the distance personand thing to thenovelrepeatedly emphasizes (147,214). Indeed, takethe obas way. jects wholly objectsofvisionis to takethemin thewrong of with Whilefrom startFleda values the experience "living the Mona's initial to response the them, usingthem," them, touching visitto Poynton "sitvisual;she spendsher first spoilsis strictly in likea boredtourist fine scenery" (156,25). Andwhile there ting contrasts between Waterbath-the thenoveldrawsnumerous tacky in the of homeoftheBrigstocks-and splendors Poynton, bothcases of thus be atWaterbath to itstresses nearness peopleandobjects; the to whileto be at Poynton is to be subjected an "intimate ugliness," (6, is to be in "warmclosenesswiththe beautiful" 12). Similarly, invites she thatshe "shall whenMrs.Gereth Fleda to Ricks, writes for the being[there] a week" havewarmed place a little simply by inthedecorofthe the on (61). Underlying emphasis thedifferences fascination thecloseproximity with of-the three housesis James's of environments. narrowness thespacebetween -persons andtheir

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in Buttouch also emphasized TheSpoils is becausethespoilshave thesenseoftouch built them, into in instilled them themoment at of " their creation. Theyareallworks thehand: of "wrought substances, like"oldgoldsandbrasses"; carved objects, ivories cabinets; like and hand-decorated, china;or handwoven, tapestries like like (58). The objects "figured," are "chastened" refined a highdegreeofinand to is tricacy; Poynton thussaidtobe "written great in syllables colour of andform" "thehandsofrareartists"-asifitpossessesnotonly by theindividualityliterary of but style also theidiosyncrasies handof writing 22). Anditis precisely (78, becausetheobjects possessboth therefinement theidiosyncrasiesthehandmade Fledacan and of that "kn[ow] themeach by every inchoftheir surface every and charm oftheircharacter" (73). Onlythe worked surface thatreflects an individual touch contains swirls nubsandnuances, improthe and the visations irregularities, allowfor and that intimate acquaintance; the relics"ofWaterbath, "maddening largely purchased department at stores bazaars, toouniform, mass-produced,possessa and are too to "know" "character" onecanreally that (19). Thus,thehandmade objectsimultaneously embodies physical the actions its makerand the physical of characteristics its user;it of reaches backward forward, and link formingphysical between a the In handoftheartisan thehandoftheconnoisseur.8understanding and objectsin thisway, and in adopting handmade a crucialtest the as ofworth, Spoils The follows emphases the of typical thecommentary on craftsmanship proliferatesthecentury's In TheDecothat at end. bookform, Edith Wharton OgdenCodman and their conclude survey oftheprinciples interior of with chapter bric-a-brac on design a that matches thisstrand James's of novelbothin its disparagement of themass-produced worst curseofmodern ("that civilization-cheap as and copiesofcostly horrors," Wharton Codman it) andin its put to of Fine objectsreveal tendency evaluate objectsin terms touch.9 "themaster-artist's have"thedistinction," personal hand"; they "the that whatWharton Codmanrepeatand quality," comesonlyfrom of with edlycall the"touch" the"virtuoso" 191).What's (195, wrong machine-made is lacktheartist's "individual reproductionsthat they the and that of stamp," "skilful handling" improvisation is thework theall-important "finger-tips" (192-94). LikeJames's reflects moment of novel, Decoration Houses The a of
rationofHouses,publishedthe same year The Spoilsfirst appeared in

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in intensified interest a distinct and shift the aesthetics interior of the ofhousehold design. Emphasizing careful discrimination artifacts andtheneedfor the shaping interior to according therulesofarchitectural proportion, Wharton Codman's and manual seeks to sweep awaymid-Victorian clutter stressing unified by designsbased on a new appreciation the architectural of a roomand forsurfor lines facesunbroken the"piling ofheterogeneous into by ornament" a up ofincongruous effects" TheDecoration Houses "multiplication (xx). of of thusstyles itself something a consumer's as the guidefor Gilded Age (onethat does at onepoint between actually tasteful distinguish and vulgar uses ofgilt[192-93]).Such an attempt guideacts of to thatthe end ofthe century not and is acquisition display suggests so muchan era ofunbridled nor appetites evena timedefined a by of tension between and processes commodification their Veblenesque critique insteada timeofgrowing but self-consciousness the over and of consumption accumulation goods-a time whenactsofacquisition wereprecisely coded,differentiated, values. assigned varying Likethebodythatgenerates uses them, elements decor and of the are itemized a highly of detailed one by system thought, that forms modern tastes delineates and modern In of styles consumption. these The respects, Theory the of Leisure Classdoes notdiffer significantly from Decoration Houses: The of bothtreatises seek to diagram sysa temoftastethatgoverns and acquisition use; bothtextsmarkout theaesthetic, that social,andeconomic a of patterns underlie welter Giventhistendency toward of thinking domestic space in terms ofcarefully delineated and consciouspatterns thisnewly heightened ness ofaccumulation,is notsurprising thedebut it that issueofone readersnotwhattheyneed decorating magazine beginsby telling butwhattheyneed to get rid of.The lead article the premiere in in issue ofHouseBeautiful, whichappeared 1896,defines "sucthe cessful house" as one "whereit is evident thatthought been has used everywhere," so "thesundry ofpoorfurniture bad and bits or whichsurvive from earlierperiod, are the gifts pictures an or of but friends" must relegated theattic. be well-meaning misguided to Objectsthathavebeen unthinkingly accumulated mustgivewayto that reflect highdegreeofexpertise that a nothobjects so together 911 Spoils, the ingwill"break effect. The which had a James for time to thought call TheHouseBeautiful, beginsby teaching essentially

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thesamelessons, portraying Brigstock the homeas an example a of house"smothered" "abominations" then with to and shifting Poynton, theultimate example thehouseartfully of arrayed 19). Likethe (7, interest magazine's publishers, James probably had hopedto capture by invoking whathad becomea catchphraseforthe aesthetically inclined,phrase Walter a that Pater usedin TheRenaissance, that had had givenan American decorating its manual title, thatOscar and Wildehadusedas thetitle oneofthelectures gaveinAmerica for he when wasserialised the it peared in Atlantic Monthly, gestures toward thevogueforantiques and so connects novelto thehandbooks the andmagazine articles offered that advicefor collectors.13 Perhaps thereis notmuchdistance, then, between James's novel andthe"female magazine" thecluelessMrs.Brigstock that buysin the train station herwayto Poynton enthusiastically on and offers to sharewiththe extremely unenthusiastic Gereth(36). Like Mrs. Wharton Codman, and James tooka critical viewofwhat former the callthe"fads" "affectations" culture decor; magazine and ofthe of the that Mrs.Brigstock to seems"so clever," with patterns vulgar its for innovations antimacassars, justmadeitsdebut, so itaplike has and to pealsbyitsverynovelty an audience like which, Mrs.Brigstock, "tr[ies]to pass off grossavidity a sense ofthe beautiful," a as an on audience which newlessonsofrestraint proportion the and have beenlost (27). Yetthere other are of strands interior-decorating discoursetoward which James seemsfarless skeptical. fact, one In to House contributor seemeda mostsympathetic he voice.An Beautiful article theGrueby on a Company, Bostonpottery workshop, begins notin Bostonbut in Blois,witha longquotation the thatexhorts to traveler paya visitto M. Ulysse, potter a whoseworkcomesas from a relief what"we all know" be "an age ofprose, machinto of In of of ery, wholesale production, coarseand hasty processes." the ofM. Ulysse'sshop,one appreciates "family the likeness ceramics and widevariations" allowone to escape from that mass-produced even beartestament "a greater to searchfor uniformity as they per" 14 fection. Thisvignette, HouseBeautiful writer 's is reveals, thework ofHenry in James-theconcluding passageofa chapter hisA Little Tourin France(1884).The article's in continues the same author the both its register, praising Boston-made pottery for simplicity-its of outlines" "unnatural and avoidance "tortured fantastic shapes"in 1882.12 Likewise,The Old Things, titleunderwhichthenovelapthe

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andfor variation eachpiece-its avoidance "themonotony the of of of machine-made wares."Each pieceis thusan "individual effort" pos"thewonderful of sessing charm personality"; bearsthe"stamp each ofindividuality. "15 writer ThatHouseBeautiful's quotesJames an arbiter taste as of makesthe essayremarkable suggests, (it amongother things, that "Henry James" already had becomea proper namefor certain a sort ofrefined but the respects article couldnot discrimination), in other be moreordinary; of hundreds essayslikeit appeared theend of at In thecentury. theselittle and ornaments essayson pewter garden and formative ofasset andwrought leather Tiffany glass,a deeply takesshape;it is notjust thatgood objectsreflect their sociations but makers' touch, thatin touch'spresenceor absencethe whole is matter individualityat stake. a Houseand Garden of As on article beaten metal-work it,fine reveal "themarks theman, of puts objects his skill,his idea ofform design, originality"; factone his "in and almost feelsthata glimpse his character temperament reof and is "16 vealedinhiswork. Or,as an article garden in on pottery thesame "onealways feelsthelife-giving magazine explains, personal touch" intheobject madebyhand, "visible the mark" "thehuman and of eye This alignment touch itstraceswith of and individuality pervades late-nineteenth-century aboutinterior writing decorating objets and and d'art;it linksthe tastesofHouseBeautiful Houseand Garden which writers, tend toward Arts Crafts the and movement, those with ofWharton Codman, adopt and who more formal Continental models. in Similarly,hisAmerican lectures OscarWildeassociates "senseof a " with individualism" craftsmanship reveals "delicacy hand. 18 that a of in Joined their of advocacy thehandmade thevaluesthey and locate within aestheticism, it, classicalstyles, Artsand Crafts furand are ther joinedin seeingthehandmade objectas a living thing. Praising theintegration Grueby of with floral ornament its pottery's stylized House "so form, Beautiful's essayist has notes, cunning beenthehand thatthe vases often seem to be emerging from theirownfoliage, likeliving things.""19 Likewise, Decoration Housesdevelops The of a wholevocabulary links "expressiveness" objects that the of with the artisan's the usedtotalkabout homefurnishings hand; language thus becomesa language animation. as Mrs. Gereth of Or, putsit, the to know they return touch the spoilsare "living things me;they me, ofmyhand"(31).
" brainand hand. 17

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It is precisely becauseobjectsare thought capableof"returning" one's "touch"-ofacting uponone,in other words-that handthe madecomesto seem suchan urgent matter. in an era in which For machine-made goodsmultiply rapidly, worry that so the is their users willbecomemechanized well. More exactly, is the extreme as it regularity factory-made of furnishings-their uniform linesand unvariedsurfaces-that troubles commentators home decorating. on "The life-giving personal touch" lostin "themachine-made is accuracyofto-day," onewriter as putsit;a "purely mechanical process" hand."20 Commenting thisdifference on between crafted manuand factured goods,a Houseand Garden editor clarifies assumptions the thatlie behind criticisms themachine-made: straight of of the line themachine-made object "wearies" becauseit"beatsonthesame us nerveswiththe same monotonous inevitable and touch.""Dispiriting"and "dreary," "monotony an unchanging frustrates the of line" 21 our"natural for and for and craving stimulus rest, variety variation. Perhaps thisexplains all whyMrs.Gereth speaksofherreactions to designas iftheywerenotmatters tastebutmatters what of of she callsher"nerves" In representing painful (3). her to "sensibility" ugly the decor, novel moves into realm thesomatic, the of construing tastenotas a matter mere of preference ofphysiological but reactions instead(4). So refined heraesthetic is sensethatMrs.Gereth can't "leave her ownhousewithout perilofexposure"(as ifbad design wereone ofthosediseasesyou catchfrom lowerclasses); the the effects Waterbath while of cause "herface to burn," "depressing" in thewallpaper herbedroom ruins sleep (12,6, 7). These conher structions couldbe dismissed melodramatic were as overstatement it notthattheycapture nineteenthfairly precisely some common the between century waysofunderstanding relation housesandtheir inhabitants. as figuring loss ofherobjects an "amputation" Just the as so reflects ideathat the of decoris a bodily extension itsinhabitants, toodo Mrs.Gereth's reflect a references herownnervous to system how typical ofexplaining housesbecomesuchextensions, how way thedetails designshapethedetailsofthebody(69). Indeed, for of the Catharine Beecherand Harriet BeecherStowe,understanding in one requires the and understanding other, so theyinclude their tionofthe nervous of witha diagram the brain system, complete and spinalcord.22 writers the secondhalfofthecentury, For the of
domestic manual The American Woman's Home (1869) an explanacannot "transmit. . . the idiom, the enthusiasm,of the creator's

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the that physiological effects thehouseseemso strong sometimes of between difference bodyandhousesimply dropsout,as whenPoe's to Roderick Usherattributes quality "sentience" the house the of in thathas "moulded" him, whena character Stowe's1871novel or "havenerves over all Pinkand White Tyranny suggests thatwomen Gilman's their of Perkins house[s],"or whenthenarrator Charlotte "The Yellow is Wall-Paper" (who,like Mrs. Gereth, keptawakeby the ugly wallpaper) imagines bodylikeherownbehind "sprawling a sin" "confuse the artistic that flamboyant patterns committing every the with their horror. "23 eye"and"irritate" nerves "optic of such formulations Amongotherthings, suggestthe primacy in evenstrictly visualimpressions touch thinking about begin design; in onesbecausetheycause changes thebody's to soundliketactile in of This emphasis reactions, the organization its nervous system. is when on the shaping powerof interiors all the moreemphatic In on in rooms The actualtouchis at work. their chapter children's that suchrooms Decoration Houses, of Wharton Codman and propose serveas scenesofthechild'saesthetic they teach initiation; should lessonsinbeauty," tothe brain sense a "daily "communicating child's mental physical and restlessness" ofreposewhichdiminishes (175, the 180).Objetsd'artfurther advance thisgoal ofcontrolling child's "The possession something motions: of that valuable, maynot bodily be knocked but be with careandrestored its to about, must handled in looked will... cultivate thechild that habit of placeafter being at, which be carefulness order and as toward may defined goodmanners "a bookcasewith inanimate objects"(177). Likewise, well-designed in of it glassdoorsis a valuable factor thetraining children"; teaches with that booksmust handled be and the "respect" aidsindeveloping loveofgoodbindings, whichis the sortofrefinement must that be on instilled early (181, 177). In emphasizing training thehand,TheDecoration Houses the of of in latenineteenthfallsin linewith turn the toward manual training the from brain the century pedagogy; indeed, neural pathsrunning to the fingertips becamethe favored locale ofeducaphysiological In torsofthetime. thetheories Friedrich of the of Froebel, inventor thekindergarten, sense perceptions thebeginning all of are simple itself ofthechild'sintimate learning; abstract thinking develops out contact blocks, with which Froebel of thought as obbeads,andsticks, of and are the jectified properties mind. Grasping holding thus child's

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very first lessons.24 theturn thecentury, DeweyandMaria At of John Montessori both combined this emphasison manualtraining (or "object-teaching,"itwas sometimes as called)withan emphasis on theinstructional of possibilities thehome;theobjects lifeofthe and house-activities like sewing, baking, decorating, gardeningand lessonsin artsand sciences.Montessori particular in are thefirst the stressed tactile of her to aspects education, urging readers "teach thechildhowto touch" cothrough exercisesdesigned develop "to of ordinated movements thefingers"; Wharton Codman, like she and in the emphasized needto discipline handby "educating the youth towards their -that for gentleness surroundings is,inrespect objects 25 in to [and]buildings. As William James explained hisTalks Teachers onPsychology of (1899),"all thosemethods concrete objectteaching which theglory ourcontemporary are of schools" "confer precision" on thechild'smovements; train handto adaptitself the to they the with characteristicsa givenobject fostering of by "acquaintance the properties material of things" byabsorbing child's and, the attention, "26 the "reduce teacher's functions. disciplinary Objects don't imply body, just a a then; rather, imply specific they one ownspecifibody, that been trained match has to itself their to cations attributes. and Whenthetouch theartisan of comestogether with touch theuser, userreplicates precision delithe of the the and ofthemotions went In that into making theobject. other of cacy the words, doesn't a teacupthesamewayone graspsa tumbler, one lift a calibration Mona'smother, are that whose"bigknuckles" a threat to the Poynton china,is incapable making of (35). In thisrespect, Monais hermother's the of maiden" Waterbath daughter; "massive is nearly thatinteriors impervious the sortof shaping to pressure at suchas thoseat Poynton whom exert: "Shewas a person pressure a givenpoint causedto expandin thewrong infallibly place instead " Monahas of... theright of one"(199, 27). As "a product Waterbath, beenraisedamong or and that durable expendable so has are objects not the set but acquired only wrong ofhabits alsothewrong physique (15). "Tall" and "long-limbed," bodyis bothtoo largeand too her when "force habit" the of athletic; takesover, the"reflex it's action of thecustom sport" of that's work, thefinely at not tuned appreciative touchesthatcharacterize "little" when Fleda (9, 36). Significantly, Mrs.Gereth whatMonawilldo whenPoynton hers,she is imagines assumesthatthe objectsthatmust"be handled withperfect love"

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modern notion of to willbe replaced onesanswering "somevulgar by movements (19). obviate needfor the precise the'handy,"' onesthat opposite sigis and ThatFledaVetch Mona'sbodily behavioral is nalledby her name alone: a vetchis a plantthattakes its form to outside itself. its from another plant, adapting structure something of figure forth; that Fleda'sis thesortoffigure theinteriors Poynton a "like as James preface, character putsit in the NewYorkEdition in apprehension the of beenlatent one'sfirst FledaVetch surely had theme"ofthe precious, intricate objects(xii). Whenshe is in the the and physical motions replicate contours house,Fleda's smallest her visit of around onherfirst she spends her; properties theobjects the with time fondly brasses" "sit[ting] theVenetian and "finger[ing] a palm"(22). Whenshe designs pieceof velvets heldin a loving just of altar cloth Poynton, at after embroidery thepattern an oldSpanish her in of the detailsofthe house pattern behavior the mostliteral the of ways;her handsimitate motions the handthatcreatedthe original artifact (60-61). is what As thesecontrasting attributes FledaandMonasuggest, of of of live atstakeinthedesign thehouseis thedesign thebodiesthat in it.Indeed, homeinon the handbooks thetimeoften of decorating with public spaceslikeentypically, begin they body they as progress; movetoparlors bedrooms, endwith objects and the and trance halls, existclosest thebody, bric-a-brac does TheDecoration to like (as that Eastlake's Hints and (as ofHouses)orclothing utensils does Charles Taste As their onchildren design and onHousehold comments [1868]). suchwriters assumea malleable body, that one lends especially show, of one itself the shaping to influence artifacts, thatcan be madeto in conform theidealtype itsmannerisms habits. to and of This wouldseem to be a fundamentally different account the the of than onethatsees decoras a matter indibodyanditsobjects In guidesat and decorating vidualself-expression. designmanuals on to theendofthecentury, emphasis adhering newly an demarcated withan emphasis the individuality one's of on standards competes As writer it,"uniformity last is the choices. oneHouse Beautiful puts on to for either homes, outwardly thing earth be sought in different "27 to orinwardly, as itis inpersons. Yetthishomage theuniquejust nessoftheindividual between model a floor-plan a guide and appears of to chinamarks-between articles designas a matter construing it of to with idealtype: an and expertise theshaping behavior accord is thustinged with irony colorsanymass-market discourse that the

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in paragraph The A self-deconstructing ofindividuality.masterfully almost directly: addresses tension this Decoration Houses of for to to a Before beginning decorate roomit is essential consider to it the whatpurpose roomis to be used. It is notenough ticket as "drawing-room," designation "library," with somesuchgeneral of tastesandhabits thepeoplewhoareto or"den."The individual or it be into account; must not"a library," it be occupy must taken but or best "a drawing-room," thelibrary thedrawing-room suited is of to themaster mistress thehousewhich beingdecorated. or has in Individuality house-furnishing seldombeen moreharped which finds Thatcheaporiginality time. uponthanat thepresent in to things uses forwhichtheywerenotinexpression putting the is with whereas latter tended often confounded individuality; from not peopleat the consists in an attempt be different other to in cost ofcomfort, in the desireto be comfortable one's own but large it way, eventhough be thewayofa monotonously majority. a It seemseasierto mostpeopleto arrange roomlike someone ownneeds.Men,in these else's thanto analyze express and their demands, beare becausetheir than matters, less exacting women, tendency are by sidesbeingsimpler, uncomplicated thefeminine than towant havethem, rather tohave becauseother people things are (17) things becausethey wanted. of being construed a matter as slides here from Individuality to of peoplewhoare individuuniqueness a matter beinglikeother in touchby giving to the als; you give yourroomsthe individual by formulae large followed "a monotonously majority," theclass by thiscontradictory of individuals.28 Within logic,womeninevitably moreinclined imitation, to thought playa specialpart;sincethey're of both hazards indiscriminate the of duplication other they epitomize for more disciplined, carefully and people's things thepotential more imitation yieldan "individualized" to decor.Whilewomen studied rooms with of clutter bad needlepoint "decorations thecotillonand favor accounts, possess turn-of-the-century they also,in many type," in Elliswrote themorehighly refined Havelock capacities; sensory women tactile sensibility are "there be little can doubt as regards that in to Women thushavethehigher powers making superior men."29 entails. the"exacting" discriminations gooddecorating that In thetransformation ofindividuality theclass ofindividuals, into

that A Sexual Characters of Man and Woman: Study Human Secondary

276 American Literature the properties touch- especiallywomen'stouch- come intoelaboof

rate play. haveseenthat We mark their objects users, they that confer ownphysical uponthehandtheir characteristics. figure forth They an idealbodyand conform handand its motions thatbody's the to But standards. thisemphasison living to a standard up operates
alongside or,rather, from operates indistinguishably - an emphasis

on personal Wharton Codman's and almost uniqueness. oxymoronic phrase, "individual stamp," captures perfectly, this forcinglink a between stereotyped itsopposite the and (192).As ithandles handmade their the with their objects, handis stamped idiosyncrasies; signsof uniqueness off ituntil human rub on the bodycomesto seemas artas that fully crafted thethings surround Thuswe find it. Mrs.Gereth ifshewereherself object: "no described as an contains ornaPoynton ment effective its... mistress," is always so as who "thegreat piece inthegallery" 73). (47, Butthisis notthe onlywaythe discourse decoraccounts of for theindividualizing The handthatis marked objectsalso touch. by marks as them; oneHouseBeautiful writer explains, "indiachieving in in viduality homes"means "staying [one's house] as muchas into possible; living things shape,as itwere, making and them adapt to themselves looklike one."30 the individually As ownedobjectis its the handled, edgesweardown; boundary between bodyand the itsproperty dissolves. lossofMrs.Gereth's The things be figured can as an "amputation" because the edges ofherbodyand her objects havemelded the together (69). Conversely, Brigstocks' habitof bad varnishing housemakestheir their things durably impervious the to effects touch, use,ofthepassageoftime; Eastlake of of as in explains Hints Household varnish "destructive all artistic is on of effect" Taste, because "thesurface woodthuslacquered neverchangeits of can colour, acquirethatrichhue which one ofthechief or is charms of oldcabinet-work."931 from Far as of serving a material register one's personal varnished woodperpetually retains slightly the alien touch, that feeling invests newobject. any Butjustas making one's own"individual" choicesturns to be out of a matter making choicesother the individuals make,so too does one'spersonal turn tobe anactthat giving objects out stamp conforms to an established pattern. Objectsof desirein TheSpoilsbear the marks their of previous around "relics" Mrs.Gereth's the of owners; aunthover presence, perfume,touch. . . a soul,a story, life" "a a a a

of and TheSpoils Poynton theProperties Touch 277 of

have LouisQuinzemight fondly brassesthat the (55,249).To "finger to by to oneself a tradition meansofthe thumbed" literally attach is the thesebrassesepitomize individualizing sense oftouch;indeed, in the as transmit absofunction objects The Spoils of inasmuch they (22). The longtradition embodied the monarch in luteuniqueness to power-andthusthepower endows touch with healing that royal in this pereffect change thebodyofanother-reinforces suggestion, in objects figure significantly also herethat haps.32 onemight note But ghosts poltergeists and of phenomena; late-century accounts psychic furniture, and crockery, moving themselves clattering by manifest spirit bringing objectsto the seance table (one discriminating proAs find duceda pairofSevressaladtongs).3 FledaandMrs.Gereth stuffs" and worn bleached to where "little the when they move Ricks, forth of auntfigure tender tell-tale things" themaiden "melancholy for a ghostly a a leavesa residue, trace, pattern the aura,ownership at handto follow (248). Or,as Fleda putsit,theobjects Ricksspeak
to Mrs. Gerethwitha "voice" thatshe "listen[s] to . . . unawares"as

hand"(249). itguides "infallible her in chapter This appealto thesupernatural TheSpoils' penultimate stretches thenoveldiagram of whereas earlier is a curious moment; the formation touchand hence of class withsome real clarity, of shadowy, of suggests thetouch classis something that herethenovel in even It's ghostly, unreal. as ifclasscan'tquitebe located anything in to operates a mysteriously apprehensible the sensesbutinstead as way; goodthings, Fleda does,"bydiextrasensory yourecognize magazines like and rectinspiration," ifyouhaveto ask (ortoconsult reads),you'llneverknow(138). As Flauthe ones Mrs. Brigstock taste bert's and "What comestois that it discover, Bouvard Pecuchet But "tellsyouhowyou get it."34 ifthislate is taste,"and nothing in Flaubert identifiedthe chapter TheSpoilsrepeats mystification that that are by suggesting class distinctions based on something class it also and simultaneously anchors resists identification-then Mrs.Gereth's within distinctions firmly reality meansofthehand. by as decoration Rickshas been as hurried unconsidered her of and turns of was but decoration Poynton calculated, thisdifference outto makeno difference because,as Fleda tellsher,she "make[s]things to in spiteof[her]self"; needs"only be a day Mrs.Gereth 'compose' to or twoin a place withfour for sticks something comeofit,"for stamp(249). to "infallible hand" leaveitsindividual her"admirable,"

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to Her class is so mucha partofherthatit has little do withconin scious actionbut insteademergesmostfully those"unwitting" whenherhandoperates ifbyrote;class thusbecomes as moments the locatedin the nervesand burieddeep within body, something govern (248). Class seemsrealbecauseit "borrow[s] thehandthey that from very the has start of from realm the theappearance reality to bodyitself," to mind, physical the compelling reality thehuman of adopt precept ElaineScarry's.35 a like constructed contingent class can assumethe and Something if of incontestable inevitable itcanbe reand appearance something of is then. as described physiology, Thisstrategy redescriptiongiven in on PrinJames's a starkrendition the chapter habitin William In class becomespartofthebody ciples Psychology.thisaccount of in weara groove thenervous system just actions becauserepeated oncetraversed a nerve-current" by as water doesa river bed;a "path so the thanbefore," that is "scoopedoutand mademorepermeable follow path that the timewe facesimilar circumstances, nerves next becomesa matter reflex.36 principle of The the until actionfinally of "in which, the is underlying adaptation the"plasticity" matter, this weak of meansthe possession a structure widesense oftheword, to but not to enough to yieldall at enough yield an influence, strong once" (110).This is a widedefinition indeed;it couldjust as easily it a out describe socialorder it does bodies.In fact, turns to be as of thathave "bethe structuring principle both.Habitsare actions in until think about comeembodied the... nervous system" we don't certain but actions, them tell you anymore; "cannot " howyouperform never are makesa mistake" (125,120).Butoncethey set, your "hand structure, one means semirigid a plasticity habits hardtomodify; are can'tacquire but fluid. Thusa socialclimber that malleable hardly is the of vocaltonebecausehe can'tunlearn "nasality" his thecorrect "the He even early training. can'tdresslikea gentleman though mertheir 'swell"' chants offer waresas eagerly himas to theveriest to as keepshimwithin becausean "invisible as strong gravitation, law, this hisorbit, arrayed yearas he wasthelast;andhowhisbetter-bred him contrive get the things to theywearwillbe for acquaintances till is a mystery his dying concludes, "the James day" (126). Habit, its conservative enormous of agent." precious fly-wheelsociety, most of of from uprisings Itis what "savesthechildren fortune theenvious it from mixing" (125). thepoor"; is what social "keepsdifferent strata

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"the "down among" Class structure habit, habitis written is and molecules" the"nerve-cells" of (131).Becauseitis sucha thoroughly bodily matter, class is incontestable. because it is such a thorBut it inexplicable others to oughly bodilymatter is also mysteriously In words, body the ensures whosebodiesdon't already "know." other its that classwillbe seen as indisputably evenas italso ensures real it the aspectthat mystification. Perhaps is becauseofthisamorphous marks Principles occasionally refers morevisiblesortsofbodily to
like scars and brands:"Every smalleststroke. . . leaves its neverso

little scar";habits "endure theendoflife, thescarofa wound"; to like (as "whatis early'learnedby heart'becomesbranded-in it were) the upontheCerebrum" 117, (131, 117).Passagesliketheseconceive of of marks individual of idenformation habitsin terms thevisible from thatouter are tity; suchcomparisons suggest marks extruded an inner that core,a suggestion TheSpoilsalso makeswhenFleda in considers Mrs.Brigstock similar terms: of Fledahad notyetbeenconfronted thequestion thesortof with no Mrs.Brigstock was.... She was really somehow sortof person but to anything thatit was pink, a mindit wouldbe possible and As it describe had fashion. only onebeenableto mark ina similar yellow there nature madethisorgan had neither green bluenor nor to like was nothing know by:itstrayed bleated an unbranded it and sheep.(172) puts Thispassage, small a massofcollapsed distinctions, thematter ofsocialdistinction nearly The on incontestable grounds. "individual thatforms basis forevaluating the objectsherebecomesa stamp" and attribute so a basisfor and describing psychological physiological the to of sinceit's usually applied living persons; figure thebrand, fleshand since it markssomething property, expressesexactly as in thisequivocation between Further, reshaping persons things. and the the languageused to describepersonsafter language used to will describe the thatpersons objects, logicofthispassageensures be more less unimaginable from or the class-apart from traces apart ofmaterial of class that things serveas an index distinction; andidenare with each other thatnotto be a tity so enmeshed confused) (or member theclass ofindividuals to be "somehow sortofperof no is son at all." In WaiChee Dimock's on class thinking depends words,
person at all.... She had a face ofwhichit was impossibleto say

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on metonymy, "a kindofcross-mapping, a cognitive traffic between" different "ontological orders"-a claimthatperfectly characterizes thispassage'sbraiding-together ofskin, mind, marks, social objects, class,andpersonal identity.37 will One more example helpto showhowtouch, bodily and marks, habits work together collapse distinction to the between identity and Prints Galton class. In hisFinger (1892),Francis famously proposes theridges thetipsofthefingers theinfallible on as mark personal of in identity. is less often What noticed this text that is Galton's account links thesemarks both with senseoftouch with marks the and the of of class.The fine discriminationscrucial thediscourse decor so to are in madepossible, Galton's account, thephysiological that by fact the nerves in and forward tactile congregate theridges so are projected with outer the the intoclose contact world; further, ridges"engage withthe roughness" different of and themselves surfaces so assist us in distinguishing material one from another.38 Becausetheridges also form fingerprints serveas an incontestable, the that unchanging " the of "criterion identity, notion theindividual of touch comestorest ona physiologically verifiable ground (2). Because he conceived themas indicesofidentity, of Galtonexwouldcorrelate withsuch broadways of pectedthatfingerprints as wererichly mixed. categorizing persons class.Butherehisresults In one sense,fingerprints no relation class; no pattern, bear to so faras Galton coulddiscover, moretypical a farm is of worker a or or thisconclusion somewhat gentleman an idiot.Galtonconsiders and preliminary, so leavesopenthepossibilities moredatawill that of reveal mark class (19) andthat "general the the shapeofthehand" willalsoprove revealing (197).Yetevenwhile draws tentative he this of he conclusion noncorrelation, finds thatfingerprints revealclass Becauseitis not, true anyway. strictly speaking, that prints the don't cometoreflect work does-or doesn't over time the one change; they do. On thehandsoflaborers, prints "obliterated" thecalthe are by lusesthat form through "constant the pressure their of peculiar tools"; on thehandsoftailors seamstresses, example, ridgesof and for the theleft are forefinger "often temporarily destroyed theneedle." by But since moderate manual servesto heighten ridges, activity the the prints the usually on idle glovedand often handsofladies are bodies-whichso often only "faintly developed" (59). Likenovelistic reveal classthrough shape,size,andcoloroftheir the their hands-

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Galton's bodiesarewhatever areallthewaydown their they to fingera tips;Galton cannot imagine handthat doesnotreflect classeven its when evidence his would seemtosuggest otherwise. Given thistendency think thehandas botha class indicator to of and as possessing incontestably an individual mark, is no wonder it thatGaltonenvisioned timewhenclass couldbe regulated a and stabilized through fingerprints. Outlining practical the applications ofhiswork, Galton to recommends travelers emigrants the that and colonies leave their behind finger-prints them a token their as For of identity. ina largepopulation ours, like whosemembers migrate all quarters to oftheearth, instances numerous menwho,having the are of left their homesin youth, a difficulty their find on return after many and claimsto kinship property. some alien Or years,in proving scoundrel from himself be thelong-lost to foreign parts mayassert rightful claimant an estate to heldinprevious security others by on thesupposition hisdecease.39 of The handcan provide physical the basisfor classbecauseitpersists of the and throughout vagaries economic, social, physical mobility. It is thepoint which at one'straining, shaping one'shabits, the of can be referred someinherent to can to attribute, be referred a natural and mark so linked with something unchanging (eventhough Galton elsewhere allows it As that doeschange). inTheSpoils, classbecomes into built thestructure, tissue, thebody; becomes category the of it a thatalignshabitual actions with material bodily shapewith objects, in discovering eachan adequate metonym theother. for ButifGalton throws sharprelief metonymic into the construction ofclass,thenhe also reflects considerable the strain class thinking at undergoes theend ofthenineteenth For are century. there really twoaccounts classatwork Finger in of On Prints. theonehand, class is conceived a relation as a among cluster objectsand attributes, of a relation elements belong different that to orders so can and among never can quitefit together, never bounded be into together a stable In class relieson a chainofmetonymic entity. thisaccount displaceit of ments; is something an endlessshellgame,since it is never identical anyoneoftheelements correlates. to it Classthuspartakes ofthesubstance bodiesandobjects of while never reducible to being While irreducibility this to anyofthem. makesclassdifficultcritique,

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it also makesit difficult verify: to class proves largely unsusceptible Galton to thekindsofunwavering correlations seeks,as bodiesand their and environments prove be never to origins, objects, customary instable relation oneanother. to Because class inevitably splinters its constitutive into elements, his Galton evolves secondwayoftreating is it class,which to reduce of toa matter tautology: fingerprints confirm classbecause your your of and they prove arewhoyouare.In a world "alienscoundrels" you in contested needsto construe heirs,class thinking identity terms be when cannot pried classthinking becomes confused and that apart; in it of threatened,takesrefuge thesimplest equations. ThusGalton's a of world and its contextmovesfrom richevocation thematerial tingencies-touches, traces,scars,abrasions-toan unambiguous, inalienable mark. TheSpoils Poynton follows samemovement, for this of and someof likeFinger the same reasons; it thatclass is coming Prints, worries and so it reducesthe equivocal apart, and themultiplicitous the to and inalienable thesingular. Whatis mostthreatening TheSpoils in is registered beingthreatening as becauseitis so numerous; largely as Mrs.Gereth is in putsit,the"world full cheapgimcracks this of in awful thrust at one at everyturn"(31). Epitoage, and they're mizedbythedepartment-store oftheBrigstocks figured wares and as theinvasion a "foreign of it of army," is thevery multiplicitymass culture threatens undermine that to to claims class distinction (116). at we Similarly, thefurthermost ofthistext see portrayed edges the efficient of lowerclasses alongwiththe management theeconomic worry they that won't prove manageable enough. WhenMrs.Gereth the to lies transports spoilsfrom Poynton Ricks, partofhertriumph in thewayshe has manipulated-"t[aken] of"-servants hold loyal to Owen,just as Owenhas earlierreturned Poynton tackle to "to a tenant theproperty on whosecoursewith" Gereths the "had not beenstraight" 50-51).These anxieties overmultiplicity the and (76, of unmanageabilityclass snapintosharpfocusin one ofthenovel's scenes or,moreprecisely, some ofthe smallest in smallest details of one of the novel'smorecompelling scenes. Uncertain whether lost Owen to Mona or decisively himfrom they've separated her, FledaandMrs.Gereth at a London station thechapand part railway tercloseswith Mrs.Gereth that haveindeedlost suggesting ifthey

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Owenandtheoldthings, thenat least"We can always, timegoes as on,talkofthem " together. "Ofthe spoils-?" Fleda had selecteda third-class compartment: she stooda moment intoit and at a fatwomanwitha looking basket whohadalready taken possession. she "Always?" said,turningagainto herfriend. "Never!" exclaimed. gotintothe she She and carriage twomenwith bags andboxesimmediately followed, blocking doorand window longthatwhenshe was able to up so lookoutagainMrs.Gereth gone.(233) had The aesthetic social"horrors" Mrs.Gereth and that continually invokes become herefor moment, thenovel's real a as deepbackground pushesitswayintotheforeground.thispassagelightly If presages theoutcome thecontest of overthespoils Fleda'splaceis occupied common bya largewoman with it objects-then also registers much moreemphatically incoherence class,as Fleda's physical the of refinement senseofaesthetic and discrimination tobe awkwardly prove matched mismatched) hereconomic (or her by status, "third-class" As carriage. Anthony Giddens argued, has class is a modeof"struca turation," processbywhich economic are relationships translated intoostensibly non-economic socialforms. Hence,class always fits elements together thatneverfittogether exactly, class markers as likerefinement away float from their economic referents.40 This smallsceneat therailway station suggests bothsomeofthe larger strategies shapeTheSpoils someoftheanxieties that and that lie behindthe novel'sobsessivereferences social distinctionsto anxieties thatits larger are strategies meant manage. to The novel keepspointing toward realms culture escapeitsmanagement, of that thatlie just beyond reachof its ability render to the themcoherent:unruly crowded and tenants, railway stations, "smelly cottages," "smellier the shops" (180). Withthesemoments, novelrepresents class as bounded intoan entity simultaneously and revealsclass as an entity thatkeeps falling these moments apart.In otherwords, in which novelwanders the outside drawing the roomgiveclass an as as edge, so to speak;theyallowclass to be conceived spatial, with borders. something recognizable thesemoments Indeed, might be saidto sketch class alongthelinesofsomeofTheSpoils'characteristic vesselslikecabinets teacupsthatmaterialize or the objects:

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of and social properties control containment.41 The Spoilsalso But and makesit clearthatedgesfray, meld, weardown, unravel; when finds narrative thismaterial its class becomes property analogue, hardto maintain a boundedentity. as WhenFleda movesbeyond she Mrs.Gereth's drawing room, getsmixedup in-and so insuffifrom-a world thatis materially ciently distinguished confusing (as at theOxford bazaarorthetrain and Street station) in needofregulation(as at hersister's house,whereherbrother-in-law curate the "witha fork too soiled a tablecloth" "scandalous on the diagrams drains" [180]ofthelocalconvalescent home). withcertain class as an entity boundaries leads to acConceiving in moments knowledging porous how thoseboundaries ifcertain are; in giving a shape,ofsorts, TheSpoilssucceed class edges and then also are of thosemoments revealthatsuch margins points traffic, to thisis whythenovelchooses,as a susceptible blurring. Perhaps sortofcompensatory to move, devote mostofitsenergies making to within class,staying a inside boundaries are the that discriminations In neverdrawn uncovered veryfinally. other words, having classes the in thatescape its expertise, noveltakesrefuge the activity of a discriminations within single making class,developing elaborate its distinctions between Fleda andMonaandbetween Mrs.Gereth and Mrs.Brigstock compensation theconfusionsencounters as for it elseof where. thissustaining But principle thenovel also a conceptually is a to the confusing itis hard imagine classthat one; takesinboth ideal If andheropposite. thedistinction between Fleda and Monamakes class legible-bydramatizing theirdifferent it qualities-then also an inadequate in makesclass seem since description, membership a givenclass turns notto guarantee specific out any attributes all. at Hereonceagainwe see that classacquires socialforce its through its of descriptive inadequacy, incoherence; its consisting no particular account always is and class attribute, inJames's opento question so needstobe reasserted. always But evenas TheSpoilsexposesand reliesupontheincoherences of class, it ultimately renders class as something unquestionable. LikeGalton's novel endsbycentripetally account, James's gathering of the disparate stuff class intoa singleinalienable together bodily Andlike Galton's account and like its ownearlier fact. representato tionsofclass,thenovelendsbyappealing theindisputable reality beforeshe of touch,albeitin a ratherdifferent register. Shortly

TheSpoils Poynton theProperties Touch 285 of and of

learnsthatOwenand Mona have indeedmarried, Fleda returns to hersister's house,whereshe imagines from the"reconstituted afar of "Thusagainshe livedwith[thespoils]," splendour Poynton": the in of memory which instills hera kindof"equilibrium." motions The fine-tuned manual by training becomewholly here internalized: "Her excitement composed pulsesas swift fineas therevoluof was and tionsofa spinning she supposed was going top: she but round, went roundso fastthatshe couldn't even feelherself move" (234-35). James's language herepartakes thevocabulary fin siecleaesof of de thetic theory, particularly ofBernard that Vernon and Berenson, Lee, other theorists empathy heldthatthesensations theperof who of ceiving bodypattern themselves after contours a work art. of of the As Lee putitinan 1897essayon"Beauty Ugliness," work art and a of makesitsbeholder "realise wholeorganism active opposing a of and movements" herbreathing, as consense ofbalance, and muscular tractions pattern themselves after vase or painting cathedral the or In she sees.42 histheory what called"tactile of he values,"Berenson argued painting's that our appealliesinitsability intensify graspof to thethird dimension. of Relying uponthetheory "ideated sensations" Wundt and Hermann Helmholtz, von which developed Wilhelm by heldthatthesense oftouchis stimulated whenwe lookat physical Berenson theorized thatlooking paintings our objects, at involves whole bodies:"ourpalmsandfingers accompany eyes";as I gaze our atpainted are figures, retinal "my impressions immediately translated intoimagesofstrain and pressure mymuscles, resistance in of to "43 of all myweight, touch overmybody. Andbecauseartaccelerates ourprocesses perception,endows with "further of it us the pleasures ofself-consciousness"; it heightens awareness thesensations our of us to about pulsing through as we attend theoutside world, bringing in an "exhilarating ofincreased sense capacity theobserver."44 In explaining material how objects be transformed a mode can into ofconsciousness, Berenson's the of theory replicates contours James's which plot, movesfrom intimate with material world contact the to therefined state that both and call of bodily James theorists empathy Like who Lambert "equilibrium." TheAmbassadors' Strether, feels "in a change"deep down" his ownorganism" after brushwith his FledaattheendofTheSpoils Parisian culture, possessesan enriched consciousness herownperceptual of is of powers, "conscious an adin abletofeel"(22:75, 10:248).Henceatthenovel's vantage being 79;

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end the objectsofclass are rendered inalienable as property: propin erty the sense ofan attribute, insteadofan objectthatmustbe to life or movers unjust subject thehazardsofeveryday likeclumsy in law inheritance or eventhefire that gutsPoynton TheSpoils' last a must scene.In other be words, senseofone'sownbodily processes I theultimate private property.45 theendofmyargument,have If,at returned to thedeeply us familiar conception theJamesian as of plot thegrowth consciousness, I hope it is witha strengthened of then graspofthat plot's bodily material and interests.
Notes I 2 ThorsteinVeblen,The Theory theLeisure Class (New York: Penguin, of 1979),111,135. in HenryJames,The Spoils ofPoynton, The Novelsand Tales of Henry James,New York Edition,24 vols. (New York: Scribner's,1907-1909), 10:31;further references James'sfiction to thiseditionand appear to are within text;I includevolumenumbers the parenthetically whenreferring to textsotherthanThe Spoils. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critiqueof PoliticalEconomy, vol. 1, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York:Vintage,1977), 138. Michel de Certeau makes the thanI do, referring the criticalterm"conpointeven moresuccinctly to sumers"as "euphemistic" because itbegs thequestionofhowindividuals deploywhat theyconsume (The PracticeofEveryday Life,trans.Steven Rendall [Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of CaliforniaPress, 1984], I xii). In makingthis argument, mean to question the model of visual and vicarious consumption thatJean-Christophe Agnew establishes in his important essay "The ConsumingVision of HenryJames" (in The Culture Consumption: CriticalEssays inAmericanHistory, of 1880-1980, ed. RichardWightman Fox and T. J.Jackson Lears [New York:Pantheon, 1983],65-100). Whilemyemphasisin thisessay on whatAgnewcalls the "internalization" commoditiesis clearlyin the spiritof his approach, of I argue thatthere is much to be gained by closely detailed analysis of the worldof thingsand, further, thatthere are reasons to distrust the that all Jamesiancommentatorsemphasis on vision and detachment withJameshimself-have maintained. beginning of Mary Poovey,"The Social Constitution 'Class': Toward a Historyof " Class: Literary Classificatory Thinking, in Rethinking Studiesand Social ed. Formations, Wai Chee Dimock and Michael T. Gilmore(New York: ColumbiaUniv.Press, 1994), 15.

TheSpoilsofPoynton the Properties Touch 287 and of 5 6 Ibid.,20. Philip Fisher, "A Humanism of Objects," in Making and Effacing Art: Modern American Art in a Culture Museums(New York:OxfordUniv. of betweenthe body Press, 1991),233. Two otheraccountsofthe relations TheBodyin Pain: and its objectsI have found inspiring Elaine Scarry, are TheMakingand Unmaking theWorld of (New York:OxfordUniv.Press, Four Essays on 1985); and Norman Bryson,Lookingat the Overlooked: StillLifePainting(Cambridge:HarvardUniv.Press, 1990). Fisher,"A HumanismofObjects,"243-44. For a muchfuller accountofthislink,see Scarry,TheBodyin Pain, 243326. Scarry argues that "the act of human creatingincludes both the creatingof the object and the object's recreatingof the human being" I by who uses it (310). In whatfollows extendScarry'sargument showing how thisprocess ofrecreation realizes class distinctions. EdithWhartonand Ogden Codman Jr., The DecorationofHouses (New York: Scribner's, 1897), 186; further referencesto this work appear within text. parenthetically the of disJust Veblennoteswithhorror "endlessvariety architectural as the tress" thattypifies modernhouse (Theory theLeisure Class, 154), the of so too do Whartonand Codman note the economics of emulation-the "tendencyto wantthingsbecause otherpeople have them,ratherthan to have thingsbecause they are wanted" (DecorationofHouses, 17) that distortcontemporary tastes. Veblen's belief that "the simple and unadornedarticle is aesthetically the best" places him on the cutting edge ofdesign and makes The Theory theLeisure Class a surprisingly of reliable guide for the aestheticallyinclined (152). For a valuable discussion of the relationbetweenJames and Veblen, see Ross Posnock, The Trial ofCuriosity: James, and theChallenge of Henry James,William Modernity (New York:Oxford Univ.Press, 1991),259-61; fora discussion of how critiques of commodity culturewere themselvescommodified, see Jonathan James,BritishAesFreedman,Professions Taste: Henry of Stanford Univ.Press, 1990), theticism, Commodity and Culture(Stanford: 81-82, 102-11. December 1896,1-2. H. B. H., "SuccessfulHouses," HouseBeautiful, Stools See ClarenceCook, TheHouseBeautiful: EssaysonBeds and Tables, and Candlesticks (New York:Scribner's,1878). in For one example, see Alice Morse Earle, China Collecting America to (New York:Scribner's,1892),whichrefers collectablesas "spoils" (3). Arthur HouseBeautiful, December 1898,3. Russell,"GruebyPottery," Ibid.,6, 7-8, 4, 8. " Houseand Garden, November AmalieBusck,"Beaten Metal-Work, 1902, 572. House and Garden, Samuel Swift, "American GardenPottery," July 1903, 33, 34.

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288 AmericanLiterature 18 Oscar Wilde, "Artand the Handicraftsman," Miscellanies, Robert in ed. Ross (London: Methuen,1908), 299, 302. 6. 19 Russell,"GruebyPottery," 20 Swift, "American GardenPottery," 34. 33, 21 A. W. B., "Notes and Reviews," House and Garden,November 1903, 251-52. Beecher Stowe,TheAmericanWoman's E. 22 Catharine Beecher and Harriet Conn.:Stowe-DayFoundation, Home (1869; reprint, Hartford, 1987), 108. 23 Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall ofthe House of Usher," in Poetry and Tales, ed. PatrickF. Quinn (New York: Libraryof America, 1984), 327, 328; A HarrietBeecher Stowe,Pink and WhiteTyranny: Society Novel (BosPerkinsGilman,"TheYellow ton:RobertsBrothers, 1871),147; Charlotte and OtherStories,ed. RobertShulman (New York: Oxford Wall-Paper" Univ.Press, 1995), 5, 9. on 24 On Froebeland his influence education,see Michael StevenShapiro, Child'sGarden:The Kindergarten Movement fromFroebelto Dewey (University Park:Pennsylvania State Univ.Press, 1983),20-23. 25 Maria Montessori,The Montessori Method, trans.Ann E. George (1912; reprint, New York:Schocken,1964), 185,145, 163. See also JohnDewey, in The School and Society, "The Child and the Curriculum" and "The Schooland Society" (Chicago:Univ.ofChicago Press,1956), 12-18,40-47, 127-28. 26 WilliamJames,Talksto Teachers Psychology to Students Some on and on et ofLife'sIdeals, ed. FrederickH. Burkhardt al. (Cambridge:Harvard Univ.Press, 1983), 31,43-44, 31. in 27 MaryAbbott, "Individuality Homes," House Beautiful, February1898, 93. as 28 The DecorationofHouses' renderingof individuality imitation links the design book to Wharton'slater fiction, to particularly the careers of Undine Spragg,who invariably "want[s] what the otherswant" (The ed. Custom theCountry, StephenOrgel [New York:Oxford of Univ.Press, findshimself"saying 1995], 64), and Newland Archer,who invariably all the thingsthatyoungmen" in his "situationwere expected to say" ed. R. W. B. Lewis [New York: Collier, 1986], (The Age of Innocence, 82). For an earlierimportant readingof The DecorationofHouses in the contextof Wharton'sfiction, Amy Kaplan, The Social Construction see ofAmericanRealism (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1988), 77-80. as effort writeherself to out Kaplan treatsDecoration partof"Wharton's in of the privatedomestic sphere and to inscribea public identity the marketplace"(67). 29 Whartonand Codman,DecorationofHouses, 132; Havelock Ellis, Man and Woman:A Studyof Human SecondarySexual Characters, 4th ed. of (London:WalterScott,1904), 124. On thephysiology thefemaletouch, see CynthiaEagle Russett,Sexual Science: The VictorianConstruction

TheSpoilsofPoynton the Properties Touch 289 and of of Womanhood (Cambridge:HarvardUniv.Press, 1989), 42-46; Russett pointsout thatthisis an area ofcontention, withsome scientists finding thatmen possess the sharpersense oftouch.On the traditional refining office the femalehand,see Lori Merish,"'The Hand ofRefined of Taste' in the FrontierLandscape: Caroline Kirkland'sA New Home, Who'll Follow? and the Feminizationof American Consumerism,"American Quarterly (December 1993): 485-523. 45 in Abbott, "Individuality Homes," 91-92. ConsiderJames'scommenton Lamb House, whichhe leased the same year TheSpoilsappearedin book form(a lease the novel's royaltiespresumably helped to pay): "I have lived intomy littleold house and garden so thoroughly thattheyhave become a kindofdomiciliary skin,thatcan't be peeled off without pain" (quoted in Leon Edel, Henry James:A Life [New York: Harper & Row, 1985],643). Charles L. Eastlake, Hints on HouseholdTaste,4th ed. (1878; reprint, New York:Dover, 1969),83-84. On this tradition, see Marc Bloch, The Royal Touch:Sacred Monarchy and Scrofula Englandand France,trans. E. Anderson(London:Routin J. ledge & Kegan Paul, 1973). Bloch notes that objects touched by the monarchwere also thought possess healing power and thatvestiges to ofthe mythsurvivedin Englandintothe end ofthe nineteenth century (222-23). See FrankPodmore,Studiesin Psychical Research(London: Kegan Paul, 1897), 67. James'sown account of a piece of hauntedfurniture-inthis case a writing desk-is the story"Sir DominickFerrand"(1892). Gustave Flaubert,Bouvardand PMcuchet, trans.A. J.Krailsheimer(Harmondsworth: Penguin,1976), 144. Scarry,TheBodyin Pain, 125. William James, The Principlesof Psychology, FrederickBurkhardt ed. et al. (Cambridge:Harvard Univ.Press, 1983), 113; further references withinthe text. The Principles'chapteron habit appear parenthetically drawsheavilyon the language and imageryofworkby the physiologist William Benjamin Carpenterand other neuroscientists. Such borrowings are easily traced, and I have not noted them when they occur; theirplentifulness suggeststhe extentto whichJames'schaptercrystallizes a widelyshared set of assumptionsabout how the body becomes acculturated. Wai Chee Dimock, "Class, Gender, and a Historyof Metonymy," in Rethinking 59. Class,ed. Dimock and Gilmore, Francis Galton,FingerPrints (London: Macmillan, 1892), 63; further references thisworkappear parenthetically to within text. the Francis Galton,"Identification Finger-tips," Auby Nineteenth Century, gust 1891, 303-4. See also FingerPrints:"Is this upstartclaimantto property trueheir,who was believed to have died in foreign the lands?"


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290 AmericanLiterature (149). Galton'suse ofthe word"claimant" here would have conjuredup images of the celebratedTichborne Claimant,ArthurOrton,who appeared in England in 1866, claimingto be the long-lost heir to a large fortune. Anthony Giddens,The Class Structure the of AdvancedSocieties(London: Hutchinson, 1973), 105. This is the place to address what may seem to be an obviousproblem withTheSpoils,one thatF. 0. Matthiessen raised fifty years ago. Matthiessencomplainedofa mismatch betweenFleda's originsand her refinement, a "lack of congruity of between the environment whichwould have produced [such] a characterand the traits the authorhas imputed her (Henry to" James:TheMajor Phase [London: Oxford Univ.Press, 1944], 90). To argue in thisway is to faultthe novel fornotholdingclass together and, ultimately, faultclass itself not to for holdingtogether. One of mypointsin this essay is thatclass is indeed incoherent thatits incoherencemakes it a mostresilient but concept. My thinking hereis indebted Susan Stewart, Longing: to On Narratives of theMiniature, Gigantic, Souvenir, Collection the the the (Baltimore: Johns HopkinsUniv.Press, 1984). VernonLee and C. Anstruther-Thomson, "Beauty and Ugliness," Contemporary Review,October 1897, 567. For more on the aesthetics of see empathy, the essays collectedinEmpathy, Form,and Space: Problems in German Aesthetics, 1873-1893, ed. and trans.HarryFrancisMallgrave and Eleftherios Ikonomou (Santa Monica, Calif.: GettyCenter forthe Historyof Art and the Humanities,1994); RobertVischer's "On the OpticalSense ofForm"(1873) is especiallypertinent here. Bernard Berenson,Florentine Paintersof the Renaissance (New York: Putnam's, 1896), 14,50. Ibid.,10. My argument here is similarto Jeff Nunokawa's account of the vicissitudesofproperty theVictorian in novel,especiallyto his claimthatnovel economies achieve an ultimatestability transforming by into property objects ofthe femaleimagination; TheAfterlife Property: see of Domestic and Security theVictorian Novel(Princeton: Princeton Univ.Press,1994), 13-15.




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