Preferred Citation: Christ, Carol T., and John O. Jordan, editors Victorian Literature and the Victorian Visual Imagination. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1995 1995.


Victorian Literature and the Victorian Visual Imagination

Edited by Carol T. Christ
and John O. Jordan

Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford
© 1995 The Regents of the University of California

Preferred Citation: Christ, Carol T., and John O. Jordan, editors Victorian Literature and the Victorian Visual Imagination. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1995 1995.



JAMES ELI ADAMS is Assistant Professor of English and Victorian Studies at Indiana University and co-editor of Victorian Studies . He has published a number of articles on Victorian literature and culture and is completing a book entitled Bold against Himself: Rhetorics of Victorian Masculinity .

MIRIAM BAILIN is Assistant Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Her Sickroom in Victorian Fiction: The Art of Being Ill was published by Cambridge University Press in 1994. She is working on a literary and cultural history of Victorian pathos.

SUSAN P. CASTERAS is Curator of Paintings at the Yale Center for British Art and has organized many exhibitions of Victorian art, including A Struggle for Fame: Victorian Women Artists and Authors; Pocket Cathedrals: Pre-Raphaelite Book Illustrations; Victorian Childhood; and Richard Redgrave . A member of the History of Art faculty at Yale, she has published extensively in the field of Victorian art, including books entitled English Pre-Raphaelitism and Its European Contexts, Images of Victorian Womanhood in English Art, and English Pre-Raphaelitism and Its Reception in America in the Nineteenth Century as well as numerous articles and essays in Victorian Studies, the Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, and elsewhere.

CAROL T. CHRIST is Professor of English and Provost and Dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Finer Optic: The Aesthetic of Particularity in Victorian Poetry and Victorian and Modern Poetics and the editor, with George Ford, of the Victorian section of the Norton Anthology of


English Literature . She is at work on a project on death in Victorian literature.

GERARD CURTIS is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Essex and lectures in art history at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College (Memorial University), Newfoundland. He is the author of "Ford Madox Brown's Work: An Iconographical Analysis" and "Dickens in the Visual Market." Currently he is researching the relationship of image to word in Victorian culture.

JUDITH L. FISHER is Associate Professor of English at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of "Annotations to the Art Criticism of William Makepeace Thackeray" and co-editor of When They Weren't Doing Shakespeare: Essays in Nineteenth-Century British and American Theater . She has recently finished a study of language and perception in Thackeray's art criticism and fiction, titled Thackeray's "Perilous Trade."

JENNIFER M. GREEN is Assistant Professor of English at George Washington University. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the Journal of Narrative Technique, Victorian Literature and Culture, Victorians Institute Journal, and Victorian Studies, among others. She is completing a book on photography and representation.

ELLEN HANDY is an art historian and critic and teaches at LaGuardia College, CUNY. Her research encompasses many aspects of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art, particularly photography. Most recently, she organized an exhibition for the Chrysler Museum titled Pictorial Effect/Naturalistic Vision, which presented the work of two Victorian photographers, H. P. Robinson and P H. Emerson.

MARGARET HOMANS is the author of Bearing the Word: Language and Female Experience in Nineteenth-Century Women's Writing (1986) and of essays on nineteenth-century literature and on contemporary feminist theory. The essay in this volume is part of a book project on Queen Victoria and Victorian culture.

SUSAN R. HORTON'SDifficult Women, Artful Lives: Olive Schreiner and Isak Dinesen, In and Out of Africa is scheduled to appear in the fall of 1995 from the Johns Hopkins University Press. Her previous publications include Interpreting Interpreting, The Reader in the Dickens World, Thinking through Writing, and various essays on literary theory, literacy, and Dickens. A past president of the Dickens Society, she is Professor and former Chair of English at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.


AUDREY JAFFE , Associate Professor of English at Ohio State University is the author of Vanishing Points: Dickens, Narrative, and the Subject of Omniscience (University of California Press, 1991) and of essays on Victorian literature. She is at work on a book about sympathy and representation in nineteenth-century British literature and culture.

JOHN O. JORDAN is Associate Professor of Literature and Director of the Dickens Project at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has published articles on several Victorian writers, including Dickens, as well as essays on modern African literature and Picasso. He is co-editor, with Robert L. Patten, of Literature in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century British Publishing and Reading Practices, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

ROBERT M. POLHEMUS is Howard H. and Jesse T. Watkins University Professor in English at Stanford University. He is the author of Erotic Faith: Being in Love from Jane Austen to D. H. Lawrence; Comic Faith: The Great Tradition from Austen to Joyce; The Changing World of Anthony Trollope, and, most recently, an author and co-editor of Critical Reconstruction: The Relationship of Fiction and Life . He is at work on a book about parent-child relationships in fiction, faith in the child, and representations of children in literature and art.

LINDA M. SHIRES , Associate Professor of English at Syracuse University, is the author of numerous essays on Victorian literature and of British Poetry of the Second World War (1985), co-author of Telling Stories: A Theoretical Analysis of Narrative Fiction (1988), and editor of Rewriting the Victorians (1992). A 1993–94 Guggenheim Fellow, she is currently writing a book on careers in the Victorian literary marketplace and editing the new Penguin edition of The Trumpet Major .

RICHARD L. STEIN is the author of The Ritual of Interpretation: The Fine Arts as Literature in Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pater (Harvard University Press, 1975) and Victoria's Year: English Literature and Culture, 1837–1838 (Oxford University Press, 1987) along with other writing on nineteenth-century British literature and the fine arts. He is working on a study of Victorian iconography. He has been a member of the faculty at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently Professor and Head of the Department of English at the University of Oregon.

Author most recently of Reading Voices: Literature and the Phonotext and of numerous articles on Victorian fiction and film, GARRETT


STEWART is James O. Freedman Professor of Letters at the University of Iowa.

RONALD R. THOMAS is Associate Professor of English and Chairman of the Department at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Among his publications are Dreams of Authority: Freud and the Fictions of the Unconscious (Cornell University Press, 1990) and a number of articles on the novel, including studies of Dickens, Collins, Stevenson, and Beckett. He is currently writing Private Eyes and Public Enemies: The Science and Politics of Identity in American and British Detective Fiction, a book investigating the genre's involvement with emerging technologies of criminal identification in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition to teaching at the University of Chicago, he has been a Mellon Faculty Fellow in the Humanities at Harvard University.



Carol T. Christ and John O. Jordan

Jonathan Crary, in his book Techniques of the Observer, describes a reorganization of vision in the nineteenth century, a change that created a new model of the observer, embodied in aesthetic, cultural, and scientific practices.[1] Identifying a number of new optical devices invented near the beginning of the century, Crary argues that they indicate a profound change in ideas of seeing central to the construction of modernity. Crary concentrates his analysis on devices that create optical illusions: the thaumatrope, in which a card having on its opposite faces different designs is whirled rapidly to combine the designs in a single picture; the phenakistoscope, in which a disk with figures on it representing different stages of motion is whirled rapidly to create the impression of actual motion; the zoetrope and the stroboscope, later developments of the phenakistoscope; the kaleidoscope; the diorama; and the stereoscope, which combines pictures taken from two points of view to create a single image with the illusion of solidity or depth. One can add to Crary's list a number of other nineteenth-century optical inventions that projected, recorded, or magnified images: the camera lucida, which projects the image of an object on a plane surface; the graphic telescope, which adds magnification to the operation of the camera lucida; the photographic camera; the binocular telescope; the binocular microscope; the stereopticon, a nineteenth-century precursor to the slide projector; and the kinetoscope, an early motion picture projector.

Much in the standard literary history of the nineteenth century supports Crary's claim that an analysis of vision gives crucial insight into the way the Victorians constructed experience. Nineteenth-century aes-


thetic theory frequently makes the eye the preeminent organ of truth. John Ruskin's Modern Painters, with its detailed descriptions of clouds, water, rocks, air, and trees, provides the most encyclopedic example of the authority many writers vested in the eye. "Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion—all in one."[2] In "The Hero as Poet," Carlyle writes, "Poetic creation, what is this too but seeing the thing sufficiently? The word that will describe the thing follows of itself from such clear intense sight of the thing."[3] Likewise in "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time," Arnold describes the ideal in all branches of knowledge: "to see the object as in itself it really is." The effort of the Pre-Raphaelites to represent religious subjects with minute attention to visual detail reflects a similar faith in seeing.

Poetic theory, accordingly, emphasized what John Stuart Mill called the poet's power of "painting a picture to the inward eye."[4] In his review of Tennyson's first volume of poems, Arthur Henry Hallam defines the "picturesque poet," "whose poetry is a sort of magic, producing a number of impressions, too multiplied, too minute, and too diversified to allow of our tracing them to their causes because just such was the effect, even so boundless and so bewildering, produced on their imaginations by the real appearance of Nature."[5] A character in Mrs. Gaskell's Cranford, enthusiastically praising the visual accuracy of Tennyson's poetry, says it was Tennyson who taught him that ash buds are black in the beginning of March. As Tennyson's legendary fidelity to visual detail suggests, word painting, or what Hallam terms the picturesque, is central to nineteenth-century poetic style. Biographical evidence abounds of poets' quests for visual experience—Wordsworth's hiking tours, Hopkins's journals, Tennyson's falling to his knees in the grass to observe a rose through a dragonfly's wings. Furthermore, there is a close partnership between poetry and painting. "Ut pictura poesis" could stand as a motto not only for Rossetti's paired sonnets and pictures but also for the large body of Victorian poetry about paintings.

The visual experience important to the poetics and poetry of the nineteenth century was also valued in the novel. In "The Art of Fiction" Henry James provides what could stand as a summary statement of the nineteenth-century novel's attempt to picture what it represents:

The air of reality (solidity of specification) seems to me to be the supreme virtue of a novel—the merit on which all its other merits . . . helplessly and submissively depend. If it be not there they are all as nothing, and if these be there, they owe their effect to the success with which the author has produced the illusion of life. . . . It is here in very truth that he competes


with life; it is here that he competes with his brother the painter in his attempt to render the look of things, the look that conveys their meaning, to catch the color, the relief, the expression, the surface, the substance of the human spectacle.[6]

Similar moments, in which the novelist defines his or her art in terms of painting, occur in the works of many nineteenth-century writers. George Eliot's famous chapter in Adam Bede in which she compares her art to Dutch painting provides an example—the pictures "of an old woman, bending over her flower pot, or eating her solitary dinner, while the noonday light, softened perhaps by a screen of leaves, falls on her mob-cap, and just touches the rim of her spinning wheel, and her stone jug" or the village wedding, "where an awkward bridegroom opens the dance with a high-shouldered broad-faced bride, while elderly and middle-aged friends look on, with very irregular noses and lips."[7] That Eliot's novel only partially embodies the aesthetic ideal she describes here does not lessen the significance of the visual analogue she chooses. Or we can turn to Hardy, who finds in the 1880s in impressionist painting a model to which he aspires in his fiction. He writes in his journal, "The impressionist school is strong. It is even more suggestive in the direction of literature than in that of art . . . the principle is, as I understand it, that what you carry away with you from a scene is the true feature to grasp."[8] Beyond finding analogues to their work in painting, novelists formed actual partnerships with illustrators. Dickens's work with Phiz and Cruikshank and Thackeray's design of his own illustrations demonstrate the closeness between verbal and visual art in the nineteenth-century novel.

This brief account of nineteenth-century visual culture establishes its importance; the meaning of all its prominent features is far harder to assess. Two very different accounts have been given of the history of the visual imagination in the century. One has stressed the predominance of realist modes of representation, culminating in photography and, in the twentieth century, the cinema. The other has emphasized a break with realism, an increasingly subjective organization of vision leading to modernism.[9] Often the same writer can be used to support either model. Ruskin's minute cataloguing of the truth of rocks and trees and his many declarations of the necessity of accurate vision seem to place him squarely in the objectivist camp, yet he erects the argument of Modern Painters in defense of Turner. Similarly, George Eliot repeatedly represents herself as a scientist mirroring the reality she depicts, yet she represents perception as necessarily individual and subjective. Likewise the optical inventions of the century do not support a single model.


Jonathan Crary argues that the optical devices he describes show a new subjective model of the observer emerging in the early nineteenth century, but the photograph, the binocular telescope, and microscope seem to tell a different story, in which optical inventions extend our powers of objective observation.

A comprehensive study of visuality in the nineteenth century, one that would try to understand the relationship of what seem to be different constructions of the observer, has yet to be written. The only two books that attempt a comprehensive argument are Crary's account and Martin Meisel's Realizations: Narrative, Pictorial, and Theatrical Arts in Nineteenth-Century England .[10] Whereas Crary bases his argument on optics, Meisel identifies formal similarities between fiction, painting, and drama, which cut across medium and genre and, he argues, constitute a common nineteenth-century style. This style, according to Meisel, unites pictorialism with narrative to create richly detailed scenes in painting, in theater, and in the illustrated novel, scenes that at once imply the stories that precede and follow and symbolize their meaning.

With the exception of Meisel, no critic has tried to give a general account of visuality in nineteenth-century British art and literature. There are, of course, hundreds of studies that illuminate various aspects of the nineteenth-century visual imagination—studies of the image or description in individual writers or groups of writers, studies of painting or photography, book illustration, the sister arts, landscape, the picturesque the list could go on.[11] But few writers have attempted to link these fields of inquiry to develop a comprehensive account.

The time is now ripe for such an attempt. The development of interdisciplinary scholarship has created useful models for moving across different fields of inquiry and discourse. Influential theoretical formulations by Lacan (on the gaze), Foucault (on surveillance), and Debord (on spectacle) have given new impetus to the study of vision and visuality in a variety of cultural and historical contexts, in eluding literary studies.[12] The groundbreaking work of Roland Barthes on popular culture and on photography has encouraged others to read visual images as "texts," using the tools of semiotics and ideological critique.[13] Psychoanalysis, feminism, film theory, and media studies have all contributed to our understanding of what Martin Jay calls the "scopic regimes of modernity," a phrase he uses to designate the contested terrain of visual theories and practices since the Renaissance.[14] Practitioners of the "new art history" draw readily on literary theory as well as on literary texts in developing their arguments,[15] while the recently founded journal Word and Image shows an interest in the relationship of pictorial


and verbal representation. Furthermore, post-structuralist criticism has motivated a concern with analyzing the representational status of the image in literature and in literary theory, complicating, even deconstructing, the opposition between objective and subjective, mimesis and imaginary construction.[16]

The essays we have collected for this volume concern the relationship between the verbal and the visual in the nineteenth-century British imagination. We have limited our compass to the Victorian period, and we have organized the volume around topics central to an analysis of visuality and the Victorian imagination—the relationship of optical devices to the visual imagination, the role of photography in changing the conception of evidence and of truth, the changing partnership between illustrator and novelist, the ways in which literary texts represent the visual. Each of the essays either addresses a particular relationship of the Victorian visual imagination to Victorian literature or shows how the visual is consequential for studies of Victorian writing. Together they begin to construct a history of seeing and writing in the Victorian period.

From this history, a number of conclusions emerge. Primary among them is that neither an exclusively subjective nor an exclusively objective model provides a sufficient explanation for the Victorian idea of visual perception. Rather, the Victorians were interested in the conflict, even the competition, between objective and subjective paradigms for perception. The ideas that most powerfully engaged their imagination were those such as perspectivism or impressionism that could simultaneously accommodate a uniquely subjective point of view and an objective model of how perception occurs. George Eliot's famous image of the pier glass in Middlemarch provides a good example of such an accommodation:

An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify even your ugly furniture by lifting it into the serene light of science, has shown me this pregnant little fact. Your pier-glass or extensive surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a housemaid, will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in all directions; but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination, and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun. It is demonstrable that the scratches are going everywhere impartially, and it is only your candle which produces the flattering illusion of a concentric arrangement, its light falling with an exclusive optical selection.[17]

Pater's impressionism, most powerfully articulated in the conclusion to The Renaissance, provides another example of a model of perception that


combines scientific objectivism with a personally singular subjectivism. He begins his analysis by representing physical life as "a combination of natural elements to which science gives their names." These elements are in perpetual motion in a set of processes, "which science reduces to simpler and more elementary forces." Human access to this world of elements and processes—the scratches on the pier glass, as it were, in Eliot's metaphor—can only come through the individual's impression, his or her candle. Thus, Pater observes, "The whole scope of observation is dwarfed into the narrow chamber of the individual mind."[18]

The optical instruments so popular among the Victorians demonstrate a similar tension between objective and subjective models of vision. Susan Horton's essay on optical gadgetry and on the representation of seeing in Dickens, which begins this collection, provides a rich analysis of the competition between Romantic and empirical conceptions of vision in the Victorian period. Her essay leads to the insight that optical gadgets were not arrayed on one side or the other of this conflict. She shows that for Dickens they provided a means to contemplate the conflict, indeed, to experience it. Like Eliot's pier glass, like Pater's impressionism, optical gadgets used science to derive a subjective spectacle.

As Horton's essay suggests, the question of what the visible reveals fascinated and preoccupied the Victorians. A second conclusion that emerges from this collection of essays is the importance of the visible trace as evidence, both in broad empirical terms and in a narrower legal and judicial sense. We all have in our stock of Victorian images the picture of Sherlock Holmes and his magnifying glass. In his essay "Making Darkness Visible," Ronald Thomas calls Holmes "the essential Victorian hero who is known above all for his virtually photographic visual powers." Holmes, Thomas argues, seeks "to make darkness visible . . . to recognize the criminal in our midst by changing the way we see and by redefining what is important for us to notice." Holmes thus also shows the tension between uniquely personal and scientifically determined observation. Such interest in the visible clue could paradoxically lead to a greater emphasis on circumstantial evidence than on an eyewitness account. In Strong Representations: Narrative and Circumstantial Evidence in England, Alexander Welsh argues that plots centered on carefully managed circumstantial evidence, "highly conclusive in itself and often scornful of direct testimony," constituted the most prominent form of narrative in the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.[19] Welsh's argument might seem to contradict the importance we are attributing to the visual because circumstantial evidence does not derive from direct


visual experience of the event. On the other hand, circumstantial evidence often derives from a visible trace. It thus shows the Victorians' fascination with the way the visible could reveal events of which we have no firsthand visual knowledge.

This interest in visual knowledge in part motivated the pictorial style that Martin Meisel has so exhaustively and richly detailed. A number of essays in this collection confirm the collaboration between narrative and picture that Meisel defines as the matrix of Victorian style. Miriam Bailin's analysis of ekphrasis in Tennyson's Enoch Arden, Judith Fisher's account of the uneasy partnership between image and text in Thackeray, Richard Stein's essay on urban iconography, Susan Casteras's examination of paintings depicting the urban poor, Robert Polhemus's reading of John Everett Millais's painting The Woodman's Daughter together demonstrate how consistently the Victorians pictorialized narrative and made pictures tell a story.

This partnership is not stable throughout the period, however. The early Victorian novel reflects a relatively homogeneous pictographic culture in which text and illustration carry equal weight. This complementary relation between text and illustration is described by two essays, by Gerard Curtis and Judith Fisher, at the beginning of our collection. By the end of the period, however, this partnership no longer existed, disrupted in part by the advent of photography, whose representational claims differed from those of painting and drawing. Curtis argues that the harmonious relationship between writing and drawing, or between pen and pencil, deteriorated gradually during the century until it was destroyed by photography, which replaced the pen illustration and wood-block print as the novel's visual analogue for truth and communicative value. Late-Victorian fiction, as Garrett Stewart argues in the last essay of the collection, reverses the tendency of earlier writing to move from the verbal to the visual, emphasizing instead the textuality of the visual image and leaving fiction less firmly attached to its visual analogues. The pictorial style that Meisel claims as characteristic of the age has been radically altered.

As both Curtis and Stewart observe, the advent of photography plays a central role in changing the relationship between picture and text. Although we group the essays specifically on photography, it plays an important role in many of our authors' arguments. Because the photograph seemed to offer a transparent record of the truth, it assumed a representational authority that rivaled that of text and of graphic art. Its transparency, however, was often illusory. As both Jennifer Green and Ellen Handy show in their essays, the photographer carefully composed


his pictures to focus on what was important to his design and to exclude what he wished to repress. Although photography in many ways initiated and motivated a break with earlier Victorian visual culture, its tensions between objective and subjective models of vision paradoxically resemble those of that culture. The very claims that the photographer could make for the transparency of representation, however, increased his power to mythologize the elements he presented.

In its ability to construct a social mythology, photography became an important tool for mapping different social worlds. Because it claimed documentary power, photography could construct, classify, and build a relationship to images from exotic social worlds, whether those of the urban poor, foreigners, or even criminals. A number of our essayists demonstrate this use of the camera—Handy in Thomas Annan's photographs of the Glasgow slums; Stein in Adolphe Smith's and John Thomson's collection of texts and photographs, Street Life in London; Green in P. H. Emerson's photographs of the Norfolk Broads; and Thomas in police photography. As Thomas observes, the notion of the photograph as evidence and authentication allowed it to become not only a tool of social knowledge but a weapon enabling social control.

The social functions photography assumed depended in part on transformations in the media—the ease of mechanical reproduction, the prevalence of cheap printing. Readily available and easily reproduced, the photograph transformed the social function of the portrait. What had been a declaration of a socially privileged identity could become an instrument of control and detection and a product for commercial distribution. Public figures could widely distribute images and thus construct an identity in new ways. In their essays, Margaret Homans, Linda Shires, and James Adams all analyze the public figure as a spectacle. The new possibilities of being seen in photographs, often reproduced in print media, created new ways of building power and significance. Even the ideal of the sincere, unselfconscious writer, as Shires and Adams show, involved the author in a theatrical manipulation of his or her image. The author could use the media to commodify his own life in a seemingly unprecedented manner, creating images of identity as a spectacle that could be widely reproduced.

As Susan Horton observes, the nineteenth century devised rationales to legitimate spectatorship as a dominant cultural leisure-time activity. Although the interest in the spectator seems to take its motivation from the optical gadgetry that so fascinated people of the period, it had a far broader cultural importance. It was directly linked to the development of a consumer culture, but, even more important, spectatorship gave


access to cultural life in general. Audrey Jaffe's essay on A Christmas Carol shows how social sympathy emerges from the spectator's relationship to spectacle. She argues that Dickens's text is paradigmatic not only for the nineteenth but also for the twentieth century because of the way spectators, cast as the observers of a series of visual representations, gain access not merely to their better selves but also to a set of social relationships and values.

Jaffe's essay, like many essays in this volume, locates in Dickens the paradigmatic writer for her argument. In part the focus on Dickens is an accident of occasion: these essays were originally papers delivered at the 1992 Dickens Conference in Santa Cruz. But Dickens's predominance here has more to justify it than the fact of the conference. In his partnership with illustrators, in his pictorialization of narrative, in his fascination with optical gadgetry, and in his uncanny anticipation of twentieth-century cinema, Dickens, more than any other nineteenth-century writer, provides insight into the multiple aspects of the Victorian visual imagination.

For their assistance at different stages in this project, we are grateful to Linda Hooper, Lark Letchworth, and Heather Julien of the University of California Dickens Project and to Barbara Lee and Betsy Wootten of Kresge College, University of California at Santa Cruz. Special thanks go to Murray Baumgarten and to Paul Alpers for their encouragement and advice.



Were They Having Fun Yet?
Victorian Optical Gadgetry, Modernist Selves

Susan R. Horton

Every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably.
Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History"

Solomon Gills repeatedly insists to his nephew Wall'r that he is old-fashioned, that the world has gone past him. But in one way he is one of Dickens's most modern characters. When we first catch sight of him, he has red eyes from looking through the lenses of all those optical gadgets in his shop, eyes "as red as if they had been small suns looking at you through a fog; and a newly-awakened manner, such as he might have acquired by having stared for three or four days successively through every optical instrument in his shop, and suddenly came back to the world again, to find it green."[1]

Those red eyes place him in distinguished company. Three of the most prominent students of vision in the 1830s and early 1840s either went blind or permanently damaged their sight by staring into the sun: David Brewster, inventor of the kaleidoscope and improver of the stereoscope; Joseph Plateau, who studied the persistence of vision; and Gustav Fechner, one of the founders of quantitative psychology. Sol Gills does not go blind. But Dickens, in his portrait of him, produces a verbal version of the piercing confrontation of eye and sun that art historian Jonathan Crary identifies in the late paintings of Turner.[2] Placing the sun in Old Sol's eyes—his name itself a pun—Dickens then turns the reader into a spectator at this transposition.

In the Dickens world this kind of play with visuality is not unusual,[3]


and that is the point. Dickens's narration regularly turns readers into watchers of characters watching one another watching, often watching one another's reflections. On the final page of Bleak House, Esther Summerson's response to her husband's question whether she ever looks in the mirror is "You know I do; you see me do it" (880). The Lammales' marital partnership in Our Mutual Friend is based on an intricate system of scheming and sparring we often watch in the mirror in which they watch each other: "Her eyes . . . caught him smirking in it. She gave the reflected image a look of the deepest disdain, and the image received it in the glass" (260). At young Paul's christening breakfast, Dombey's image is caught in the chimney glass that "reflects Dombey and his portrait at one blow" (52), and readers' first view of Miss Tox's room in that same novel is through the glass over the portrait in her locket, where the "deceased owner of a fishy eye . . . balance[s] the kettle holder on opposite sides of the parlour fireplace" (84). It is not Sydney Carton we see standing before the revolutionary tribunal, but his reflection in a mirror, that "throws the light down upon him. Crowds of the wicked and the wretched had been reflected in it, and had passed from its surface and this earth's together," we are told, and the courtroom itself is represented precisely as if it were one of the dozens of rotundas in operation in mid-century London housing static or moving panoramic or dioramic shows (A Tale of Two Cities, 70–71).

Extended verbal versions of Velázquez's Las Meninas, Dickens's novels are also perspectival reflections on the problematics of empirical vision far more complicated than the woodcuts and engravings meant to illustrate them. This consistent interest in visuality makes a great deal of Victorian prose "modernist" well before the visual arts, and makes "nature, " as the art historian Rosalind Krauss suggests, "the second term of which the first is representation."[4]

Three large questions concern me here: (1) What inspired all this looking at looking? (2) How were Victorians coming to terms with their increasing interest in watching their own watching? (3) What consequences were brought about by the rationales Victorian viewers devised to justify a happy spectatorship and to come to terms with the unreliability of vision?

Walter Benjamin provides my inspiration. Benjamin believed difficult times require major acts of imagination and improvisation, particularly Imaginative acts in which the present moment is projected into the past and the past moment brought forward into the present so as to dissolve the deceptive distance criticism produces between the two. For Benjamin this dissolution is the crucial critical move, since the critical distance


we so carefully cultivate has effectively shut us off from the lessons the past most wants to teach and the present most needs to learn.

A look at scientific experiments carried out in the early nineteenth century is a good place to begin to understand the legacy of Victorian visuality. From 1820 to 1840 huge numbers of experiments were conducted on the physiology of the eye and on the processes of vision; the more that was learned about vision, the more unreliable it seemed to be. Between 1791 and 1798 Goethe wrote frequent letters to Schiller, reporting on the results of his work on the physiology of the eye. Two volumes of these letters were eventually published, entitled The Theory of Colors . They appeared in English translation in the 1830s and would, I surmise, have been brought to the attention of the average English reader through George Henry Lewes's Life and Works of Goethe, which appeared in Britain in 1855. The Theory of Colors proved so popular that it was often reprinted through the century. In it, Goethe insisted over and over that sense impressions depend solely on the sensory nerves excited, not on the external stimuli impinging on them. The Theory of Colors included explicit instructions enabling readers to experience what came to be called the persistence of vision: shift the eye back and forth from a blue circle to a yellow one, and it "sees" a green one that is not there. During the 1830s other experimenters were discovering that the retina could be made to "see" light when sufficient pressure was applied to the eyeball, that the eye would "see" light if exposed to electrical stimulation, and that a blow to the head would make a person "see" light.

These experiments were not centralized in one branch of science, and the resulting findings were frequently published in popular magazines like La Nature, a Victorian version of Popular Science, rather than in specialized journals. Once empirical science had demonstrated how easily the eye could be tricked, an explosion of optical gadgetry and optical toys was inevitable. Optical gadgetry was not invented during the nineteenth century, but until the later eighteenth century the technical means for tricking the eye had been fairly limited. One of the earliest and most popular forms of illusion-generating devices was the phantasmagoria. During medieval times shadows cast on walls with smoke and candlelight had given spectators the frisson of contact with the ghosts and phantoms of the spirit world. During the nineteenth century, these phantasmagorias experienced a resurgence in popularity, and the forms in which they existed grew more numerous. Using one of the increasingly popular magic lanterns, showmen turned a darkened room in which a transparent screen had been dropped between an audience and a lantern filled with one or another form of illuminant into a quite so-


phisticated version of a phantasmagoria. If the slides were of the "dissolving" or "sliding" type, ghosts would appear to open and close their mouths, eyes to shift, skeletons to advance and retreat.[5]

"Apparently one of the ghosts has lost its way, and dropped in to be directed. Look at this phantom!" says the narrator of Our Mutual Friend (148). Phantoms and apparitions materialize and dematerialize regularly throughout A Tale of Two Cities . The Monseigneur's thoughts are described as having been produced out of a process of "vapouring" (226–27), a formulation that would undoubtedly have invoked in Victorian readers the phantasmagoria's smoky gases. Descriptions replicating the phantasmagorical experience enhance Dickens's mysteries:

The fire of the sun is dying. . . . shadow slowly mounts the walls, bringing the Dedlocks down. . . . upon my lady's picture . . . a weird shade falls from some old tree, that turns it pale, and flutters it, and looks as if a great arm held a veil or hood, watching an opportunity to draw it over her. Higher and darker rises shadow on the wall—now a red gloom on the ceiling—now the fire is out. (Bleak House, 564)

Twentieth-century interpretive strategies have turned into complexity—prefigurations of revelations, representations of the Freudian dream space—what for Dickens may have been primarily verbal representations of the phantasmagorical experience. Some of the psychic charge generated by Dickens's novels originates in his maneuvering readers so that they oscillate between recognizing that the ghosts that appear are figments of a character's overwrought imagination and discovering that seeming ghosts or phantoms are simply characters seen imperfectly, from a distance.[6] Part of Victorian readers' pleasure in these novels would have been recognizing in the verbal text their own visual experiences with optical gadgets and toys.

But the responses these evocations of optical gadgetry generated were as complex and various as the gadgets themselves. The kaleidoscope had been invented by Sir David Brewster around 1815, and even this simple toy seems to have produced radically differing reactions. For Baudelaire, and later still for Proust, it suggested wonderful possibilities: "To become a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness [may be] the goal of the lover of universal life," Baudelaire muses. But for Marx and Engels, writing their German Ideology between 1845 and 1847, the kaleidoscope was a fit metaphor for the dangers of faulty perception, "a sham, a trick done with mirrors. Rather than producing anything new, it repeats a single image" and is "entirely reflections of itself."[7]

No short essay can explore all the optical gadgetry nineteenth-


century viewers experienced, let alone analyze the epistemological changes its existence brought about. "People seem to think the camera will do anything," confides one of the street entertainers Henry Mayhew interviews in London Labour and the London Poor . "After their portrait is taken, we ask them if they would like to be mesmerised by the camera, and the charge is only 2d."[8] All they had to do was sit perfectly still and stare into the lens until the mesmerism took effect. After two or three minutes most subjects found that they grew dizzy, their eyes watering, and they gave up. The showman kept the 2d. The scam succeeded in no small part because subjects assumed that their own bodily frailty, not the camera, had let them down. The eyes may fail; the camera never does—a point to which I will return.

L.-J.-M. Daguerre invented the static panorama in the 1820s. The multimedia diorama appeared at the same time. In the first, viewers sat in one spot while pictures rotated around them; in the second, the pictures remained stable while the two concentric rotundas of the amphitheater housing them and the audience were moved easily in a circle "by a boy and a ram engine."[9] In both devices a combination of layered flat planes and movement produced the illusion of three-dimensionality. The zoetrope arrived in the 1830s, and in 1834, the stroboscope, the flicker of light and motion in each prefiguring moving pictures. The iconoscope, a vacuum-tube precursor of the television, appeared about the same time. Unless Victorian photographs lie, by 1850 every well-appointed Victorian parlor had a stereoscope or two, offering viewers an experience of what came to be called the reality effect. By century's end, enterprising manufacturers seem to have decided that three-dimensional nudes were the stereoscope's best subject matter, thus proving the essentially erotic, voyeuristic connection between optical gadgetry and spectatorship that I consider later in this essay and guaranteeing the banishment of the stereoscope from genteel drawing rooms.[10]

Contemporary art historians like Rosalind Krauss and Jonathan Crary argue that all these optical gadgets were more than playthings. They were embedded "in a much larger and denser organization of knowledge and of the observing subject," as Crary suggests.[11] He devotes a significant portion of his Techniques of the Observer to analyzing the epistemological implications of the camera obscura, a darkened box with a small aperture to let in light, which projected images from outside onto one of the inside walls. The image produced was an exact replica (albeit inverted) of what the eye would see if it looked directly at the object being reflected. The camera obscura, then, delineated a position for the observer (inside, enclosed, private, quite literally "in the


dark"), a position Crary argues became "a precondition for knowing the outer world." The dark isolated center where the viewer sat came to constitute the single definable point from which the world could be logically deduced and re-presented.[12]

In fact from its earliest appearance the camera obscura had existed in two quite different forms: as a darkened room, in which a spectator sat, and as a handheld version (see Figs. 1, 2). Still, the connections Crary makes between the vantage point the camera obscura requires and nineteenth-century urgings toward "right seeing," and between right seeing and right thinking, are visible everywhere in Victorian prose. "The right thing in the right place is beautiful; the right thing in the right place is Truth," proclaimed the nineteenth-century photographer P. H. Emerson.[13]

Clearly, the twin discoveries that the eye could be tricked and that anything could easily be distorted when presented through different lenses or by positioning the viewer in a different spot can be seen to be the simplest explanation for the urgent advocacy in so much Victorian writing of "right seeing" and "right perspective." These twin discoveries are also the simplest explanation for the frequent warnings against those illusory perspectives that might trick us into wrong thinking. Marx and Engels in The German Ideology:

The social structure and the state are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite individuals . . . not as they may appear in their own or other people's imagination, but as they really are . . . . Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc.—real, active men. . . . If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-processes as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process. . . . The phantoms formed in the human brain are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life-process, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises [emphasis added].[14]

Writing of events in 1852 in The Eighteenth Brumaire, Marx notes "the Constitution, the National Assembly, the dynastic parties. . . . the thunderfrom the platform, the sheet lightning of the daily press . . . all has vanished like a phantasmagoria before the spell of a man whom his enemies do not make out to be a sorcerer."[15] One of the most popular slipping slides for phantasmagorical spectacles throughout the nineteenth century was of ships foundering in a storm at sea, often accompanied by such "sheet lightning."[16]

Like the phantasmagorical spectacles to which Marx alludes here, experiences with the camera obscura were nothing new. The device had


been described as early as the tenth century by Alhazen (abu-'Ali al-Hasan ibn-al-Haytham).[17] But its popularity surged after 1815, and in whatever form people encountered it, it too changed the way they saw. There was the camera obscura with a handle inside that the spectator could turn, swiveling the mirror attached to it and thereby reflecting images from all quarters outside the box. "You could watch it all," notes Olive Cook, "without yourself being seen, and because the people and objects in the picture are so curiously diminished and so strangely lifted from their actual surroundings into the picture rectangle they take on a significance which they do not have when seen normally by the naked eye."[18] Traveling coaches were built with lenses in the top. With the blinds on the windows completely drawn they became camera obscuras on wheels,[19] allowing the passenger inside to enjoy what must have been a deliciously panoptical spectatorship, something Dickens may well have had in mind early in A Tale of Two Cities as the Monseigneur watches the spectacles of want and hunger outside in splendid detachment as his carriage rolls on to his country estate.

Camera obscuras reflected actual objects back at the observer—though upside down. But the magic lantern substituted a reflected image for a direct one, and wherever one looks in Victorian writings, one sees writers struggling to resist not only the seductive appeal of reflections but also an increasing reliance on reflections for a sense of self identity. One major evidence of Teufelsdröckh's dark night of the soul in Carlyle's Sartor Resartus is his recognition that he has become a kind of reflection junkie: "How . . . could I believe in my strength, when there was as yet no mirror to see it in?"[20] Every child in the playground yelling, "Watch me! Watch me!" to her caregiver is Teufelsdröckh's inheritor. For us moderns, heirs to a century's worth of experiencing the self not just as viewer but as viewed, it seems that increasingly the fully experienced experience must be a mediated one. Late-twentieth-century intellectuals have legitimately made much of the Foucauldian surveillance practiced by the colonizer on the colonized; the gaze of males on females, of dominant on subaltern. But were there space here to bring forward all the instances in Victorian prose in which "private" identity seems to require a public audience for its production—Dombey's, Teufelsdröckh's, Sidney Carton's—another piece of our epistemological inheritance from the nineteenth century would become clear.

If some of the forms of camera obscuras and magic lanterns Crary discusses did not appear or change during the nineteenth century as dramatically as he suggests, one dramatic change did occur. In earlier centuries phantasmagoria and magic lantern show spectators had


been manipulated from "outside," by a showman. But spectators at nineteenth-century magic lantern shows could see the mechanical device, often being seated on the same side of the screen as the magic lantern, so that part of their enjoyment was the making of the spectacle itself. The Boston Globe wood engraving from circa 1885 (Fig. 3) shows people producing their own magic lantern show, for instance. One contemporary advertisement for a magic lantern designed for home use promised that "Everything necessary is provided and the whole apparatus can be set up without interfering with the furniture or fixtures."[21] In her memoirs Harriet Martineau recollects the magic lantern of her childhood: "I used to see it cleaned by daylight and to handle all its parts, understanding its whole structure; yet such was my terror of the white circle on the wall, and of the moving slides, that to speak the truth, the first apparition always brought on bowel-complaint."[22]

While "handl[ing] all its parts," one could have the extraordinary experience not only of seeing the world through the lenses of optical gadgets and toys but also of being a spectator occupying two places at once: the double experience of having an experience and of watching that experience from the outside, exactly what we moderns parody when we catch ourselves watching ourselves watching, experiencing ourselves experiencing, and ask, "Are we having fun yet?" Rosalind Krauss talks about the "beat" or "throb" of this inside/outside ("I'm in this experience; I'm watching this experience") as it is replicated by the slats of the zoetrope.[23]

Crary suggests that the Victorians were caught between two models of vision: that of the empirical sciences, which were proving the eye of the observer unreliable and subjective, and that of the various romanticisms and early modernisms, which posited the observer as an active, autonomous producer of his or her own visual experience.[24] Predictably, the share of contradictory models created some unease, and the insistence of people like Darwin that one trust the empirical precisely when it was proving itself unreliable led to some interesting interventions. John Ruskin argued against any mediation between the eye and the object it rests upon. But he argued for what he called "the innocence of the eye" even as his writings worked to persuade others to see, not with their own "innocent" eyes at all, but through those wonderfully elaborate rhetorical lenses he was perpetually fashioning for them. Matthew Arnold, by lodging our critical responsibility in our "see[ing] the object as in itself it really is," in his "Function of Criticism at the Present Time"—despite Victorians' increasing uncertainty of the visual as a grounding for truth—can be understood as advocating the Kantian sub-


lime: he insisted, that is, on an essence hidden behind appearances. If appearances lie, if the visual is not to be trusted, one needs a proper guide telling one what one ought to assume is "there" in what is seen. That proper guide of course is reason, and reason requires the surrender of both imagination and empirical vision. This trajectory can be followed unbroken to today's debates over the canon, and the appeal of the argument that one needs to be taught to rely on others to tell one where to look, and what to see, becomes altogether explicable.[25]

But a post-Kantian subjectivity was already around as Arnold was writing. Marx and Engels begin The German Ideology by attacking "Young-Hegelians" like Carlyle (and presumably Arnold) because "the phantoms of their brains have got out of their hands."[26] Marx and Engels do not so much deny the existence of an essence behind appearances, unavailable to empirical vision, as make identifying that "essence" our most urgent work. Personal interpretation of what the eye sees takes precedence over reason because it constitutes our best means to grasp the material conditions of our lives: "The 'essence' of fresh water fish is the river. But it ceases to be its essence when the river is made to serve industry, and dye from tanners flows into it."[27] The specters or phantoms of the phantasmagoria become Marx and Engels's subject as well: "It is self-evident that 'spectres' . . . are merely the idealistic expression of conceptions. . . . The image of very empirical fetters and limitations."[28] That the empirical might actually constitute "fetters" is echoed in The Gründrisse, in which Marx chides Mill for not seeing as clearly as he might precisely because he is looking too close and has "lost his way in eclectic, syncretic compendiums."[29]

Nine years after Arnold published his "Function of Criticism at the Present Time," Pater would insist in his preface to The Renaissance that "the first step towards seeing one's object as it really is, is to know one's own impression as it really is." Later still, Wilde would address this same Kantian struggle in his Dorian Gray . "It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances," Lord Henry notes, adding that "the true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."[30] Recognizing the violence implicated in all calls to the sublime, he confesses, "I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable."[31]

As mid- and late-Victorian prose writers struggled to come to terms with the fallibility of the visual as grounding for the true, the Victorian public were attending optical shows in droves, were regularly inviting street lanternists into their parlors and drawing rooms for party entertainments, or were renting or buying gadgetry of their own. Richard Altick's Shows of London is the best of the many surveys of the public


shows. And nearly any good study of the prehistory of photography and motion pictures considers optical gadgetry for home use. There were biscuit tins with slats in their sides that, when emptied, became a zoetropic wheel. Newspapers frequently contained a pattern readers could cut out, fasten into a circle, and turn into a zoetrope. Milton Bradley was producing zoetropes by 1870 (see Figs. 4, 5).[32]

Those of course were for home use. As for public spectacles, Olive Cook notes that as many theaters housing dioramas or panoramas existed

in London one hundred twenty years ago . . . as there are movie theatres today. In Leicester Square, the Strand, at Regent's Park; on Regent, Oxford, Saint James, and King Streets; at Hyde Park Corner, Waterloo Place, the Haymarket, Piccadilly, Adelaide Street. The Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, and Drury Lane all included dioramas in their repertoire. Play productions included entre-acte showings of such things as the "Moving Diorama of the Polar Expedition" just as newsreels used to be shown, or previews are, at movie theatres today.[33]

There was the Betaniorama, the Cyclorama, the Europerama, the Cosmorama, the Giorama, the Pleorama, the Kalorama, Kineorama, Poecilorama, Neorama, Nausorama, Octorama, Physiorama Typorama, Udorama, and Uranorama. These were popular not just in England. In Le Père Goriot a group of young artists speak a species of dialect Balzac calls rama that soon "infects" everyone around them: "La récente invention du Diorama, qui portait l'illusion de l'optique à un plus haut degré que dans les Panoramas, avait amené dans quelques ateliers de peinture la plaisanterie de parler en rama, espèce de charge qu'un jeune peintre, habitué de la pension Vauquer, y avait inoculée. 'Eh bien! monsieurre Poiret . . . comment va cette petite santérama ?'" Soon, Vautrin notes, "Il fait un fameux froitorama, " to which Bianchon responds, "Pourquoi dites-vous froitorama ? il y a une faute, c'est froidorama ." Their banter is interrupted only by the arrival of a fine "brotherama."[34]

Dickens's novels contain specific references to moving panoramas and dioramas and to peepshows, for instance, the Battle of Waterloo Peep Show in Our Mutual Friend, which could be transformed to show another battle if the showman simply altered the shape of the Duke of Wellington's nose—a bit of information Dickens may have lifted directly from one of the interviews with street performers in Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor : But other references are less obvious. Young David Copperfield leaves the theater at Covent Garden after seeing a production of Julius Caesar, "revolving the glorious vision all the way." Modern readers may assume that "revolving" just describes


his turning an idea around in his head, but Davy immediately confesses, "I was so filled with the play, and with the past—for it was, in a manner, like a shining transparency, through which I saw my earlier life moving along" (286). Olive Cook notes that from 1826 to 1850 "many exquisitely painted transparencies" appeared.[35] Exactly which "shining transparency" Dickens has in mind here is impossible to tell. During his lifetime he would have had access to the "Opening of the Thames Tunnel" peepshow; "The Great Exhibition of 1851" peepshow; "The Coronation of Queen Victoria" peepshow; "The View of London" panorama of 1829, continuously shown until 1875, which simulated the view from the dome of St. Paul's while it was being repaired; the "Ruins in a Fog" topographical diorama in Regent's Park (1827); and the "Mount Etna" panorama in Regent's Park, which continued to be shown until 1885. This last was particularly affecting since it involved not only sophisticated lighting effects but also the simulated effect of spewing lava.[36] Dickens may have been remembering the gigantic transparent pictures by Daguerre first exhibited in the Eidophusikon: magical extravaganzas, combining effects of sound, music, and motion, that were exhibited under changing light in a cylindrical room with a single opening in the wall like a theater proscenium, the room itself slowly turning, moving the spectators from one part of the picture to another, giving the impression the images were animated.

In its earliest years, around 1830, the Eidophusikon had exhibited topographical or architectural scenes ("The Valley of the Sarnen in Canton Unterwalden, Switzerland," or "The Interior of Trinity Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral"); somewhat later, battle pieces ("The Fall of Sebastopol," "The Battle of Solferino," and "The Burning of Moscow") became popular; and as late as 1890 scenes such as "The Battle of Waterloo" and full-size panoramas and dioramas commemorating outstanding social or historical events, like the "Crowning of Queen Victoria," showing the queen marching stately up the aisle to her coronation, were still being shown. The popularity of such entertainments ended when the structures housing them disappeared, nearly always and inevitably because the lamp or gas jet illumination needed for the shows sent the buildings up in flames.[37]

So many of these buildings disappeared and so many of these "magic transparencies" disintegrated after 1860 that we can easily overlook how often and how literally Dickens describes the experience of panorama, diorama, and magic lantern show. Insofar as we do, we miss some of his comedy. If most transparencies represented edifying scenes, Davy's seeing his young life as an appropriate subject for one of them accentu-


ates his entirely illusory sense of his own self-importance—as it also suggests his seeing himself as a spectator at his own life, something to which I will return shortly. We might also miss the poignancy of Dickens's description of Mrs. Gradgrind in Hard Times, "look[ing] (as she always did) like an indifferently executed transparency of a small female figure, without enough light behind it" (16), and the especial poignancy of her death, when "the light that had always been feeble and dim behind the weak transparency, went out" (200).

In Our Mutual Friend, as Silas Wegg examines the human and animal miscellany in Mr. Venus's bottle and bone shop, the reader might recognize Dickens's replication of the experience of attending a static panoramic spectacle. Wegg, like the spectator at such a panorama, turns his head around and sees "humans warious. Bones, warious. Skulls, warious. Preserved Indian baby. African ditto . . . Cats. Articulated English baby . . . Glass eyes, warious. Mummied bird. Dried cuticle, warious. Oh dear me! That's the general panoramic view."

As early as the late eighteenth century the enterprising Belgian showman Étienne Gaspard Robertson had mounted his magic lantern on a trolley with rails. By placing it behind a translucent screen, he produced images that could be made larger or smaller and figures that appeared to "come forward" (as the magic lantern was moved forward on its trolley) and "retired" (as it was moved hack). Mayhew's interviews with traveling showmen in London Labour and the London Poor suggest mid-nineteenth-century street showmen took their shows indoors at night and during cold weather, and Dickens's description of Venus and Wegg holding "the candle as all these heterogeneous objects seemed to come forward obediently when they were named, and then retire again" (81–82) turns them into showmen of exactly this type.

But if human beings make culture—all those optical gadgets, the panoramic shows they made possible, and the nineteenth-century novels and essays that allude to them—culture also produces human beings. The optical gadgets Victorians produced made particular beings of them . Like movies in the twentieth century, optical gadgetry in the nineteenth was a commercial activity. No one forced Victorians to pay to experience the magic lantern slides of itinerant street lanternists or to buy magic lanterns; to visit the Rotunda of London to experience static or moving dioramas or panoramas; to hire psychics to frighten them with phantas-magorias projected on their parlor walls; or to buy zoetropes and phenakistoscopes, any more than anyone forces us today to line up for tickets to the latest Terminator . As Christian Metz notes in his Lacanian study The Imaginary Signifier, the optical gadget industry includes not just the


gadgetry itself and those who run or sell it, but also "the mental machinery . . . which spectators 'accustomed to' [it] have internalized historically and which has adapted them to the consumption" of the images produced by it.[38]

Victorians were paying to see the world differently and to experience the joys of spectatorship; and what they were paying for was undoubtedly changing them. They were experiencing, for one thing, as Jonathan Crary suggests, the driving of a wedge between the real and the optical; between seeing and believing . The mystery plots of nineteenth-century detective novels, Wilkie Collins's magnificent Moonstone (1868) and Woman in White (1859–60), for instance, rely on readers' accepting without question the fallibility of empirical vision. In The Moonstone, Rachel Verinder really "sees" Franklin Blake steal the moonstone from her sitting room; Gooseberry really "sees" Mr. Luker pass off the diamond in the bank to a swarthy sailor with a beard. They really do. But seeing produces no necessarily accurate representation of what is afoot in the world. Watching, being watched, comparing what one "thinks" one saw with what actually is, staying alert for disjunctures between the thought and the reality are activities that constitute the woof and warp of Woman in White .

I looked round, and saw an undersised [sic ] man in black on the door-step of a house, which, as well as I could judge, stood next to Mrs. Catherick's place of abode—next to it, on the side nearest to me. The man did not hesitate a moment about the direction he should take. . . . I waited where I was, to ascertain whether his object was to come to close quarters and speak. . . . To my surprise he passed on rapidly, . . . without even looking up in my face as he went by. This was such a complete inversion of the course of proceeding which I had every reason to expect on his part, that my curiosity . . . was aroused, and I determined on my side to keep him cautiously in view, . . . without caring whether he saw me or not, I walked after him. He never looked back.[39]

Despite all this minute attention to the empirical, neither Walter Hartright nor anyone else ever sees what is so obvious about Anne Catherick and Laura Fairlie. Seeing is not necessarily believing; and the optical is not necessarily the real. Similarly, in some of our most interesting contemporary courtroom trials video footage that might seem irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence can be proved to be anything but. Any good defense lawyer, any good prosecuting attorney, knows that a jury can be convinced that what it sees is not what is.

No spectators are entirely comfortable knowing that the eye is fallible—or seeing themselves as spectators. Spectators need what Metz


calls a sanctioning construction, something that makes it "all right" to be just a spectator; a genealogy of such constructions can itself be easily constructed. People in the Middle Ages enjoyed their ghosts and specters conjured with mirrors, clouds of vapor, and noises of thunder produced by the rattling of tin—like those produced by wandering trege-tours like those in Chaucer's "Franklin's Tale"—and they too required a sanctioning construction. Medieval spectacles were presided over by priests and magicians. Many of the earliest optical devices were invented by clerics who were also scientists. Athanasius Kircher, who invented the magic lantern around 1640, was a Jesuit priest, and the earliest showmen were often priests or conjurers.[40] They depicted scenes like "the devil rising up to tempt Adam and Eve" or "Noah at the Flood." The spectacles were said to illustrate the work of the Devil, and watching them was supposed to make the viewer fear the Devil's sorcery. Many of the glass transparencies surviving from early-nineteenth-century phantasmagorias and magic lanterns depict biblical scenes or scenes designed to teach a moral lesson: the Prodigal Son, Death seizing a miser, Noah's Ark, and "the Evils of Drink," a dissolving slide showing a beautifully dressed woman being transformed into a horrible skeleton (Fig. 6).[41]

But between 1820 and 1840 less edifying scenes became subjects for popular viewing: a rampaging bull; Napoleon in retreat from Moscow.[42] As the subjects for spectacles changed, the sanctioning construction did as well. Science became the new "god," blessing spectatorship in the Victorian age. Nineteenth-century performances were almost always preceded by a brief lecture by the lanternist or projectionist on the wonders of the technology and science that made the performance possible. The hated "Mr. Barlow" of Dickens's essay of that name from The Uncommercial Traveller is the obsessive teacher, who can ruin even a beautiful night sky because he cannot resist turning it, and everything else, into "a cold shower-bath of explanations and experiments." Mr. Barlow is reported to have "invested largely in the moving panorama trade," and Dickens owns that "on various occasions" he had identified Barlow "in the dark with a long wand in his hand, holding forth in his old way." Barlow's obsession with turning everything into a science lesson is precisely why Dickens professes to "systematically shun pictorial entertainment on rollers" (341). E. P. Thompson's history of the rise of Methodism and other Evangelical religions among the Victorian working class suggests to me that optical spectacles might have become one of the few acceptable forms of entertainment. Even the strictest of Evangelicals allowed for—indeed required—"the earnest pursuit of useful


information."[43] You could watch those magic lantern shows with an easy conscience if what was "really" happening was that you were being educated in and edified by the wonders of modern technology.[44]

A last look at Victorian visuality turns the lens on us. The Victorian woman who "saw" both a dissolving slide of the evils of drink and her own arm holding the magic lantern "showing" the scene could feel both morally edified and detached, "exonerated" for her guilty spectatorship—she might also feel, perhaps, an erotic tingle—while watching the clothes dissolve before her eyes on the victim of drink and the skeleton appear. She also "really " "saw" her own distance from the scene she "saw." Craig Owens suggests that the modern world did not result from the replacement of a medieval world "picture" with a modern world "picture," but was a consequence of "the world bec[oming] a picture at all ."[45] And in The Painting of Modern Life T. J. Clark discusses the nineteenth century's obsession with making both money and the extreme lack of it visible : "The city and social life in general was presented as . . . a separate something made to be looked at—an image, a pantomime, a panorama."[46] Dickens wanted to make poverty, the confusing city, and its masses of homeless wanderers visible to Victorian readers. But his pictures were being read by an audience identifying themselves increasingly—in part because of their experience with optical gadgetry—as spectators, even more comfortably experiencing themselves as simultaneously "inside" and "outside" their own and others' experiences: that is, "inside" and "outside" sympathy. Readers interpolate or read themselves into the signs they are shown, Althusser tells us.[47] But we do like to watch. Whether we are watching starving Somalians on TV or dissolving magic lantern slides illustrating the evils of drink, our spectatorship and voyeurism always have to vie with, and struggle toward, sympathy.

This is not to say we have become indifferent to suffering. But we have had a century's practice inuring ourselves to others' sufferings and a century's worth of sanctioning constructions that make it difficult for us to resist seeing them as spectacle. A year ago my colleague Linda Dittmar brought to campus the Cuban director Sergio Giral's powerful film The Other Francisco . The film begins with a Cuban playwright reading aloud from the script of a play he has written. This play-within-the-film is a highly idealized history of a slave's suicide, a suicide prompted by the slave's despair over the rape of his lover by the plantation owner's son. But this narrative is broken off, and a new voice enters the film. This new voice confronts the viewer with a more accurate representation of the slave's history, This history is far more horrific, punctuated


by horrendous abuse: beatings, torture, the chopping off of various appendages with a cutlass.

It was clear after the showing of this film that all of us spectators had been powerfully affected by the brutality in the film. Our hesitant attempts at discussion after a long and awkward silence were revealing; what they revealed, I believe, was our late twentieth century's sanctioning construction. Some of us began by wondering whether the machete in the film might not be "a phallic symbol."

If the medieval viewer's sanctioning construction, making comfortable spectatorship possible, was the edification and moral instruction provided by the phantasmagorical spectacle of God or the Devil, and a Victorian viewer's was the edification of science and technology, the unwary modern viewer can now be comforted by the late-twentieth-century sanctioning construction: the allegorizing tendency (and all interpretation, as Northrop Frye told us many years ago in his Anatomy of Criticism, is an act of allegory) that enables us as spectators to avoid, as far as possible, both discomfort and guilt: to "see" in the slaveowner's cutlass a phallic symbol and in police beating a black man, a man resisting arrest.



Fig. 1.
Johann Zahn, camera obscura portabilis (reflex box camera obscura), 
1685. Courtesy of the Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities 
Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.



Fig. 2.
Sketch of Athanasius Kircher's portable camera obscura from the second
 edition of  Ars Magna Lucis Umbrae , 1671. Courtesy of the Gernsheim Collection, 
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.



Fig. 3.
Wood engraving of a home magic lantern show, c. 1885. From the 
collection of Richard Balzer. Photograph by David M. Seifer.



Fig. 4.
Biscuit tin designed to be used as a zoetrope, with slides, England, c. 1920.
 From the collection of Richard Balzer. Photograph by David M. Seifer.



Fig. 5.
Cutout zoetrope from the Sunday Supplement to the  Boston Herald,  
1896. From the collection of Richard Balzer. Photograph by David M. Seifer.



Fig. 6.
"The Evils of Drink," dissolving slides for use in a biunial magic
 lantern, c. 1880. From the collection of Richard Balzer. Photograph by David M. Seifer.



Shared Lines
Pen and Pencil as Trace

Gerard Curtis

Tennyson, in a poetic tribute to his friend the writer and artist Edward Lear, writes:

                        all things fair,
    With such a pencil, such a pen,
    You shadow forth to distant men,
I read and felt that I was there.[1]

Tennyson's tribute makes an essential association between the pen and the pencil, partners in a single act, and the "trace" they leave, which provides a visible imprint of the author's imagination. George Cruikshank's joint portrait of himself and the reforming pamphleteer William Hone, done in 1827 (Fig. 7), provides another vivid image of this partnership. Hone and Cruikshank are seated at a desk in a position of mutual respect and understanding; both are in the act of scribing with pen and pencil (Cruikshank also has an engraving tool beside him). Writer and artist have equal weight in what are seen as analogous activities.

In today's computer age (with the binary code as its root system) such emphasis on the drawn line seems merely fanciful; in the Victorian period, "the line," whether drawn or written, functions as a trace that constitutes the sign of meaning. This essay will examine how during the nineteenth century the textual, or written, line came to dominate while the drawn line diminished in value. By the end of the century, a number of artists felt that the basis of their partnership with writers had dissolved. They battled to reassert the value of the graphic line, a battle reflected in Cruikshank's polemic attack on William Harrison Ainsworth and Charles Dickens in The Artist and the Author (1871–72), in


which Cruikshank claims he was the originator of Ainsworth's Tower of London and Dickens's Oliver Twist .[2]

Two advertisements for elementary textbooks in the original Dickens serials demonstrate the stress the Victorian period placed on the foundational aspect of line.[3] In one, Hannah Bolton's First Drawing Book (advertised in Bleak House, no. 9 [November 1852], p. 3.), drawing (or the drawn line) is seen as aiding the schoolmaster in giving "intelligent assistance to the scholar; and while training the band [emphasis added]," it "will instruct the mind." But even more telling is the advertisement for Elementary Drawing Copy Books (Fig. 8) from Our Mutual Friend . By using this copybook series, students could learn drawing and improve their writing at the same time. The book stresses line as the essential link between writing and drawing, words and image. The book starts by instructing students to copy out the alphabet, so that they learn "the different kinds of lines by drawing Italian letters," and ends by having them draw animals and insects. In these now largely forgotten copybook exercises children, under the guidance of the "writing master," learned the structure of the line.

In these copybooks, textual literacy in elementary education gave rise to visual literacy, and vice versa, through a common source in line.[4] Such a linking of text and image was necessary in a period when the records of commerce depended upon the skills of fine penmanship. Advertisements throughout the century helped promote these skills, essential to banking, legal copying, domestic accounts, general accounting, communication, record keeping, and self-advancement. The Domestic CopyBook for Girls taught the proper woman's hand for writing letters, order forms, and housekeeping accounts, while other guides, such as Business Writing and Pitman's Commercial copy Books, taught a masculine hand for commercial work. Gilbert Malcolm Sproat noted in his 1870 text Education of the Rural Poor that the primary skill to be taught in school, above even reading and arithmetic, was writing: "good handwriting is perhaps the most immediately valuable accomplishment for middle-class boys at their start in life."[5] Robert Braithwaite Martineau's painting of 1852, entitled Kit's Writing Lesson (Fig. 9), visually illustrates this point, with Kit (from Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop ) shown laboring over a copybook, doggedly attempting to imitate fine lettering and thus develop that prerequisite to success, an accomplished "hand."[6]

The first volume of The Universal Instructor; or, Self Culture for All (1880–84) carried a series of articles on penmanship, and the proper training of hand and eye in writing. It mentions that a good hand means much, and it teaches decorative penmanship. The third volume contains


a number of articles on drawing. The first of these begins with the essentials of line work, grounded in geometry and the straight line. The articles progress to shading and then to color.[7]The Universal Instructor thus saw both penmanship and drawing as skills necessary for self-education, self-culture.

In turn, drawing was seen as an essential skill for mechanics, draftsmen, artisans, navigators, and engineers for use in mapmaking, topographic drawing (taught to cadets and military officers for intelligence and geographic purposes), and scientific illustration. Technical and commercial success for the empire was linked, in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to the skillful training of designers in drawing schools.[8] Drawing was taught at workingmen's colleges, where artists like Lowes Dickinson, Rossetti, Ruskin (who had compiled a text of botanical illustrations), and Ford Madox Brown served as instructors. William Blake, whose works exemplify the conflation of drawn and written lines, and who developed a process for printing intertwined script and engravings from the same etched copper plate instead of from set type, trained in a drawing school that stressed commercial design and graphics.[9]

In more practical ways the links between writing and drawing were constantly reinforced in the Victorian city environment. Signwriters delineated text in public spaces, filling in the hand-formed letters with paint and fancy scrollwork. The signwriter (who became largely obsolete with shop-produced stenciled signs) demonstrated that writing was in fact a livelihood.[10] In the London streets the role of the hand in writing was made public in unique ways. Henry Mayhew, in London Labour and the London Poor, recounts the life of a "Writer without Hands" who plied the streets chalking out biblical script with his stumps to earn a living.[11]

The partnership of the textual and pictorial line, begun in the Penny Illustrated Magazine, culminated in the Illustrated London News, one of the great cultural achievements of the Victorian period, as Martin Meisel rightly notes.[12] In its own advertisements of the period the Illustrated London News noted this accomplishment; it "wedded art unto the Press . . . / By pictured paths the eye is lead/ To places where its fruits have birth/ . . . Art by reflection brings to view all the brains inventions." The poem goes on to state that art's pencil shall "shed luster on the pen."[13] In 1844 William Andrew Chatto noted that the process of engraving, used to illustrate the news, had given the "very age and body of the time, its form and pressure."[14] Chatto explains how the age has


been shaped by connecting the woodblock line to the press. The pun on "pressure" further links the two, with both characterized by the action of pressing and imprinting. John Ruskin, in his "Academy Notes, 1875," claimed that "our press illustration, in its highest ranks, far surpasses—or indeed, in that department finds no rivalship in—the schools of classical art."[15]

A letter from a nineteenth-century teacher stresses the value of the drawn line as both a technical skill and an aid to develop the poetical and imaginative eye of the child in school. Having just discussed maps as an educational tool—a tool, we should note, that casually unites image and text—the teacher states:

By these and other means we attempt to enrich and cultivate the minds, the hearts, the imaginations of our boys. "What!" some will say, "cultivate the imagination of peasants! What have they to do with imagination?" They have to do with it because the Almighty has bestowed it. . . . You know that we teach in our schools the elements of lineal drawing. Beside this, I encourage, by gifts of pencils and blank books, any of our boarders who has a turn for drawing, to amuse himself by sketching from nature. . . . Now I do not want to make of them artists . . . ; but I wish them to look on nature with a religious—nay, with a poetical eye.[16]

In the eighteenth century the unity of textual and pictorial line was the province of the writing master, as in William Chinnery's Writing and Drawing Made Easy (c. 1750) or George Bickham's Drawing and Writing Tutor; or, An alluring introduction to the study of those sister arts. Containing examples, both in penmanship and in drawing, etc. (Fig. 10). As Bickham's subtitle suggests, writing and drawing join the "sister arts." George Bickham and his son published a number of books on penmanship, and in their works the student learned, through repetitive exercises, skills like calligraphic striking and how to turn line into a decorative motif. Examples of nineteenth-century children's penmanship books show how calligraphic flourishes could be used to devise pictures and drawings of animals.[17] Educational training in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century stressed, through such exercises, the aesthetics of a written graphic line that easily flowed between text and image. Highlighting these ties were works like John Hemm's 1831 Portraits of the Royal Family in Calligraphy (Fig. 11). It consisted of a series of drawn royal portraits, with the clothing, surroundings, and name formed from a swirl of calligraphic pen strokes and "strikings."[18]

In his Curiosities of Literature, Isaac Disraeli complained that writing masters (like Hemm, one assumes), through their exuberant line work, were claiming a place at the Royal Academy as artists. Like engravers


(who were fighting a similar battle for recognition), writing masters, according to Disraeli, believed that they ranked with the painter and sculptor,[19] reflecting in their own eyes the true value of the graphic line in the nineteenth century.[20]

In Line and Form, Walter Crane claimed that "Line [w]as a Language," capable of expressing movement, force, action; recording natural fact; and appealing to the emotions.[21] According to Crane, the forming of letters was good practice for drawing:

Writing, after all, is but a simpler form of drawing, and we know that the letters of our alphabet were originally pictures or symbols. The main difference is that writing stops short with the acquisition of the purely useful power of forming letters and words, and it is seldom pursued for the sake of its beauty or artistic qualities as formerly: while drawing continually leads on to new difficulties to be conquered, to new subtleties of line.[22]

Crane here privileges the drawn line over the simpler written line, going on to note the essential links between them when he says that

Letters can be taken as the simplest form of definition by means of line. They have been reduced through centuries of use from their primitive hieroglyphic forms to their present arbitrary and fixed types, though even these fixed types are subject to the variation produced by changes of taste and "fancy."[23]

Kate Field's Pen Photographs of Dickens' Speeches attempts with the pen what the photograph was achieving in visual communication, for in this work she uses line and text to convey the power and intonation of Dickens's dramatic readings of his own novels. She links blocks of text to each other with diagonal lines to indicate rising and falling vocal patterns, to create almost a musical scoring of speech. In 1864 Alexander Melville Bell devised a system of what he called visible speech, in which pictures, accompanied by diagrams, indicated a series of mouth and breath patterns (Fig. 12). These pictures allowed one to learn languages purely through mouth positions and breathing. (The young Alexander Graham Bell learned Mohawk this way.)[24]

Dickens's serials contained a number of advertisements for penmanship courses, lessons that would teach professional business and writing hands to those who needed them (Fig. 13). In the example I have chosen, a hand holding a quill is poised above paper in the act of writing. This image is repeated in numerous self-portraits of artists and countless portraits of authors whose "hand" is pictured at a similar moment.[25] The very business of the British Empire turned on the traces left by these "hands": mechanical diagrams, engravings, illustrated logbooks,


drawings from expedition artists (in Wilkie Collins's Woman in White, Hartwright, the drawing master, leaves England as an expedition artist), church script, shorthand (for which there were specialized journals, some containing examples of Dickens's own shorthand script), the writing in accounting books, export and import accounts, governmental and legal documents (done in their own legal script). The writing and drawing master taught these new scribes of the empire to record in pen and pencil the very accounts, records, and images that fed and nourished it.

As if to insist on the importance of script, Dickens in his novels stresses the power of the written line over the printed typeset line. In Bleak House, for example, a letter in legal script to Esther Summerson is reproduced, giving the documentation added import and relevance. In the serial version of Sketches by Boz, sections of handwritten "official" script were used in an advertisement, placed by Dickens, to authenticate the legality of his warning to piraters of his novels. Wilkie Collins uses similar "hand"-scripted passages in The Woman in White for a death certificate and a tombstone inscription.[26]

The linking of penmanship and drawing extended beyond illustrated novels and books. The Hudson Bay Company archives contain James Isham's Observations on Hudson's Bay of 1743.[27] Here, on opposing pages are neat penned lines of observations on life around Hudson Bay and "descriptions and illustrations of methods of trapping, weather, and flora and fauna." The illustrations are crude, with only a few colors used, but, like Michael Faraday's later travel logs and scientific notebooks, Isham's book shows how drawing and writing were seen as joint methods of capturing data.

The increase in autograph collecting provides further evidence of the value placed on line in the nineteenth century. The painter W. P. Frith noted the price of fame for artists and writers meant being besieged by autograph seekers; and once an autograph was garnered, it joined others in a parlor table autograph book for the appraisal of the collector's colleagues. What the nineteenth century witnessed was the growth of a popular desire to see and collect these original marks and traces for their cachet value. The Birmingham Journal in 1875 noted how thousands of people lined up outside a bookseller's shop just to see a single page of the manuscript of one of Dickens's novels that was put on display. The Illustrated London News of 1912 reproduced facsimiles of manuscript pages from Edwin Drood and David Copperfield to celebrate the centennial of Dickens's birth, while the Christian Science Monitor reproduced a facsimile letter and signature from Dickens.[28] The manuscript of George


du Maurier's Trilby was eventually placed in a special crystal display case for its many admirers.[29]

In turn-of-the-century publications like Collingwood's Ruskin Relics, aspects of Ruskin's life are represented by incorporating various "lines" within the text: facsimiles of Ruskin's writing, facsimiles of his musical scores and markings, and reproductions of his drawings and maps. Collingwood notes in his introduction that such diffuse elements give a full and rounded picture of Ruskin. John Forster, too, combined various types of line in his Life of Dickens to convey Dickens's character.

Most notable of all these line collections was the short-lived journal the Autographic Mirror (Fig. 14), which displayed facsimiles of musical scores of significant composers, signatures (Dickens's appeared twice), selections of manuscript pages and letters, and drawings by well-known artists. The journal also included Mexican Mixtec codices and their "hieroglyphic signs."[30] Throughout one sees "line" as a collectible and shared commodity, uniting sound, image, and text. Transcending cultural boundaries, as in the Mixtec codices, line becomes a collectible universal communicant. Thomas Webster, R. A., supplied a sketch of his hand and his autograph to the journal, providing "one of his sketches, a hieroglyphic united with his autograph 'Witness my Hand.'"[31]

Philip Hamerton wrote in The Graphic Arts (1882):

All writing, whether careful, or careless, is drawing of some kind. . . . Rapid handwriting is not merely like sketching, it is sketching. The same strong marks of idiosyncrasy which are to be found in the sketches of artists exist in handwriting, and there is the most various beauty in handwriting. It is curious, considering how few people give a thought to these matters. . . . People write legibly or illegibly, elegantly or inelegantly, but they seldom put letters together which do not go well with each other. There are instances of incongruity, but they are rare. In general they are prevented from occurring by the unities of taste and habits which form the identity of each of us, so that we acquire a personal style in penmanship as we do in the use of language.[32]

Hamerton continues:

Suppose that you have to write a letter. You take a sheet of white or toned paper and dip your pen in black ink. You then write away rapidly and your pen leaves the black fluid wherever it has passed in the shape of free lines . What you are really doing all the time is sketching, though you do not think of it under that name. You are sketching the forms of letters, hurriedly and inaccurately, perhaps, but still so that the intended forms are perfectly recognizable by anybody who can read that kind of writing. This pen process


is one of the important forms of graphic art . . . and it is quite an artistic process [emphasis added].[33]

In magazines like Punch, initial letters to articles showed how typographic, written, and drawn lines could be linked in an image (Fig. 15). The covers or title pages of Dickens's serials often combined image and text. The lettering of the title page of Little Dorrit (Fig. 16), done by Phiz, for example, with its chains and bricks, echoes the novel's themes of prison and confinement. Such lettering strengthens the reader's illusion that the printed novel is a manuscript, thus relinking the typography to the original act of writing. Edwin Drood contains a similar use of the illustrator's script as a visual device. Such devices occur in all the serial issues of Dickens's novels, with the illustrator's cover design and the captions (seemingly handwritten) beneath the illustrations reasserting the presence of the graphic hand (echoing what Webster had made graphic through his hieroglyphic hand in the Autographic Mirror ).

In The Clothing of Clio, Stephen Bann has noted how Charles Reade's Cloister and the Hearth (1861) utilizes an illustration of a set of clasped hands within the body of the text. Here the illustrated hands actually break into the middle of a sentence, becoming attached to the reading process, and blending the illustrative and narrative languages operating in the novel.[34] Reade tells us that the hands are there for the illiterate parents in the novel to read. But whereas Bann emphasizes Reade's narrative strategy in uniting the visual sign here with the textual, there is a more fundamental link between the drawn and written line occurring. The illustration is drawn by the same hand as the letters that the parents cannot read.

A critic of the period, in the Saturday Review, noted how the modern illustrated book he was reviewing was part of the new "hieroglyphics" sweeping Victorian society. The initial letters in Punch, Cruikshank's illustrations, the chains and brick in Phiz's lettering for Little Dorrit, illustrated magazines like the Graphic and Cornhill, and Charles Reade's Cloister reveal a "hieroglyphic-pictographic" culture based on a language of ideogram, pictogram, and phonetics (Fig. 17). By the mid nineteenth century, the graphic arts were seen as an extension and evolutionary development of picture writing and the hieroglyph. The social Darwinist Herbert Spencer, as Walter Crane pointed out, praised the English graphic press on this basis.[35]

At this point, I would like to return to Cruikshank and his portrait illustration of himself and Hone. By the latter half of the century the unity he depicted between the drawn and written line had been dis-


rupted.[36] Cruikshank's own polemic article, "The Artist and the Author," provides vivid evidence of this development. Cruikshank claimed for himself a role in originating Dickens's Oliver Twist and Ainsworth's novel The Tower . He claims, not that he has written the novels themselves (as some critics have asserted), but that he was more than a mere illustrator, that he was an equal partner, an artist (as the title "The Artist and The Author" suggests) working with the author, stimulating his visual imagination (for example, showing Dickens models, ideas, and locations central to the story of Oliver Twist ). There is no doubt that early in the century Ainsworth and Dickens had recognized such a partnership with Cruikshank. Ainsworth's Magazine of June 1842 featured an advertising poem celebrating Cruikshank's association with Ainsworth in producing the magazine:

Cruikshank! I do rejoice to see thy name
Reckon'd with Ainsworth's in the roll of fame!
Union most pregnant! that with grace doth bind
In faithfull bonds such pencil and such pen—
Kith bond to kin, and neither less than kind.[37]

In illustrating Dickens's Sketches by Boz, as in the print entitled "Public Dinners," Cruikshank showed both himself and Dickens in the act of observing London life; in another he showed himself and Dickens floating off together in a balloon above their admirers' heads.

It must be remembered that in the first half of the nineteenth century, Dickens started out providing simply the letterpress captions to the then famous artist Robert Seymour's print series the Nimrod Club (which would be taken over by Dickens for his first novel, Pickwick ). As if to verify the importance of the artist to the author at the beginning of the century, Dickens, in his original manuscript of Oliver Twist (Forster Bequest, Victoria and Albert Museum), wrote George Cruikshank's name immediately under his own at the beginning of each division of his manuscript. Dickens's later manuscripts did not feature the illustrator's name so prominently.

Dickens, without success, had advocated that the Royal Academy consider line engraving an art, and Cruikshank its prime representative. An early reviewer of Oliver Twist commented on the joint value of illustrations and text in telling the story, suggesting that Cruikshank be elevated to the Royal Academy on the basis of his engravings. The failure of the Royal Academy to recognize the graphic arts and the graphic artist may have led to the eventual degrading of the medium. More than anything in the century, however, the rise of photography spelled the


end, for with it the engraver slipped from "implied" artist to popular illustrator of mass-market imagery. Line art became, by the end of the century, secondary to the line of literature and the silver halide dots of photography. The subtle paradigmatic shift in the relationship of the written to the drawn line was visually represented by a change in the volume covers of the Illustrated London News . Prior to 1857 Art and Literature are shown hand in hand, surveying the world (Fig. 18 echoes Cruikshank's and William Hone's positions of equality). After 1857 Art is shown as subordinate, behind Literature and looking over her shoulder, to the text, for guidance (Fig. 19 echoes Dickens's textual takeover of Seymour's pictorial Nimrod Club ).

James McNeill Whistler complained in 1888 that contemporary critics and writers on art had gone overboard in viewing art as "more or less a hieroglyph" and in allowing art to be subsumed by literary analysis rather than by artistic and aesthetic merit.[38] Both Henry Blackburn, in 1893, and Joseph Pennell, in 1896, mention the collapsing role of, and the lack of respect for, the pictorial image, illustration, and the graphic artist. For Blackburn and Pennell, photography had become the main competition, mass production of images and the growing importance of the author having further diminished the role of the graphic artist. Because of the hack illustrator, as they noted, the work of the true artist had cheapened.[39]

That photography directly challenged the pencil line is evident from William Henry Fox Talbot's Royal Society talk of 31 January 1839, titled "Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing, " or "the process by which natural objects may be made to delineate themselves without the aid an artist's pencil [emphasis added]." In 1844, when Talbot produced his photographically illustrated text The Pencil of Nature, he inserted a notice to the reader, similarly worded to deny assistance from engravings or "any aid from the artist's pencil."[40] The challenge to the writer's pen would take longer, but it too was on its way. As Alexander Graham Bell was to point out in his effort to develop the phonograph, its invention and perfection would "be a contribution to the world's utilities of little less consequence than the invention of printing."[41] The pen line and type were to have their successor in a device that would capture the voice. The phonograph and photograph, two inventions of the nineteenth century, would thus shift humans, after thousands of years of dependency, away from the drawn and the textual line (whether written or printed).

The challenges to the artist's pencil from photography, hackwork, and the rising importance of the author led, as Blackburn noted, to "the


dragging of our national reputation in the mire "; the deterioration of illustration became a "serious matter."[42] This concern echoes Cruikshank's earlier concerns in "The Artist and the Author," where the writer has gained credit and fame while the position of the artist has diminished. For Blackburn, the art of printing, mass literacy, and the stress on the written hand had led by the 1870s to "some neglect of the art of expressing ourselves pictorially."[43] He further notes how the emphasis on writing has caused children to lose their "freedom and power of expression." With this drawing talent lost, "the [natural] hand is gone forever" and is instead chained to parallel lines of scribing.

What one is left with, then, by the end of the nineteenth century, is the obverse of the illustration of Hone and Cruikshank discussed at the beginning of this essay. The artist was now battling with the author, as in Figure 20, where the two figures are shown standing on the pages of an open book with their respective instruments, the pen and pencil, as giant swords. The winner in the battle of the lines was, as Blackburn had foreseen, the writer; in schooling, the enforced hand of writing won out over drawing. And the illustrator of this fencing image? It was none other than George du Maurier, who had suffered hardship as an illustrator, and who had, at long last (around the time this illustration was published, in fact), achieved financial success and fame as the author of Trilby (a novel where artists are "captured" in print).[44]

Numerous arguments in the late nineteenth century defended drawing as a necessary skill. Mary Barton in 1890 gave priority to drawing over writing in education, feeling that "art should come before literature" since drawing led to writing (she recurred to the analogy of hieroglyphs and picture writing). She adds that art dominates because "Drawing is a Universal language."[45] Barton further notes that "Writing and Drawing are connected in a way that needs no demonstration, although something has yet to be done to bring the fact into practical recognition."[46]

There is no doubt that for Crane, Blackburn, Barton, and Hamerton drawing was a universal language, able to surmount the linguistic limitations of text through what was perceived as the universal iconics of the drawn image, and the self-referential indexicality of the graphic trace. They linked the pictorial with the textual and typographic, giving mark priority over signification, making writing a subset of drawing. They claimed that writing, after all, derived from drawing, pictographics, and hieroglyphics, and that the graphic image was a much truer extension of a hieroglyphic tradition. Thus the image and the word are intertwined, "connected through a long descent with the


hieroglyphic inscriptions of the ancient Egyptians, and the picture-writing of still earlier times," in Crane's words.[47] And Crane felt that these graphic hieroglyphs "carried picture-writing into another and more complex stage," giving expression to the Victorian age and becoming the common language of the period.[48]

Holman Hunt goes so far as to say that drawing is not only essential to any child's basic education but also leads to

all the symbols essential for instruction. Drawing is, in fact, the primal symbol of all; for the alphabet—after all its mutations . . . still bears intelligible pictures of the objects which originated the sounds intended, or suggested the meaning to be conveyed . . . the letter S represents a serpent, whose hissing gives the sound; . . . the letter U is said to be a picture of a bull's horn, the bellowing of this animal being the vowel-note.[49]

Hunt goes on to note how the pen and its movement are the same for writing and drawing. Like Barton and Crane, he demanded that drawing be taught in school, so that the child could be fully educated to appreciate and understand language and its pictographic structure. And while the iconic structure Hunt gave the alphabet might seem naive in one respect, there was strong support for his views on the merits of drawing as an educational tool and its role in releasing the imagination from the tight strictures of a purely alphabetic/literary education. Drawing, it was felt, would reawaken in the writer the graphic "visibility" of text, its indexical "truth" (both of which Sterne and Blake had explored, and which the Dadaists, Cubists, and Surrealists were to "rediscover").

Yet these claims by Hunt, Barton, and Blackburn on the role of drawing were defensive, responding to a shift in the value of, and the relationship between the "lines" of illustration and text; illustration failed, and one can argue that the visual graphic imagination ended up becoming (as Blackburn seemed to imply) a more textual imagination. The hieroglyphic culture that Blackburn and the others desired had flourished briefly in the first half of the century but thereafter went into decline. Blackburn's hope had been that the new era of photography would allow manuscripts of novels to be reproduced in facsimile, thus eliminating the need for printing at all (except for cheap "Penny dreadfuls") and relinking the written line to the drawn line. This, for Blackburn, would allow the author's hand to be part of a new reading process.[50]

Photography, however, did not replace printing, as Blackburn had hoped. Rather it replaced illustration as it increased in value through the century as the new "image" of reality. Photography also took away


something far more significant: the ability of the graphic arts to transport the visual imagination beyond pictured realities, beyond the power of the eye, as with such real/imagined front-page illustrations as those showing Dickens at the site of the Staplehurst rail disaster (Fig. 21), or a conflagration inside Haworth Castle (a scene no human could have witnessed). Ultimately photography describes reality through a mechanical chemical pointillism, whereas drawings, engravings, and woodcuts enable the imagination to inscribe and open virtual realities, leaving, in their lines, traces of the visual imagination.



Fig. 7.
George Cruikshank, "Home and Cruikshank," in  Facetiae and Miscellanies,
 London, 1827. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Board of Trustees
 of the Victoria and Albert Museum.



Fig. 8.
Advertisement for  Elementary Drawing Copy Book s from Our Mutual Friend,  no. 12 (April 1865). 
Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Trustees of the Dickens House Museum.



Fig. 9.
Robert Braithwaite Martineau,  Kit's Writing Lesson,  1852. London, 
Tate Gallery. Photograph courtesy of the Trustees of the Tate Gallery.



Fig. 10.
"Capital Strokes and Letters," from George Bickham,  The Drawing and Writing Tutor  (London: John Bowles, c. 1740),
 plate 1. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum.



Fig. 11.
John Hemm, "George the Fourth," from  Portraits of the Royal 
Family in Calligraphy
 (London, 1831). Photograph by the author, 
courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum.



Fig. 12.
"Organic Formation of the Principal Elements of Speech," from Alexander 
Melville Bell, Visible Speech,  1864. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the
 Curator, Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, Baddeck, Nova Scotia.



Fig. 13.
"Writing, Book-Keeping, &c.," advertisement from serial issue of  Edwin 
 no. 5 (August 1870), 19. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Dickens
 House Museum, London.



Fig. 14.
Page from the Autographic Mirror  (issued weekly from 1865), 183. Photograph
by the author, courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum.



Fig. 15.
Initial letter T  from "Punch's Essence of Parliament,"  Punch  62 (17 
February 1872): 67. Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Librarian, 
University of Essex Library.



Fig. 16.
Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), title page to Charles Dickens's  Little Dorrit,
 serial issue nos. 19 and 20 (1857). Photograph by the author, courtesy of the 
Dickens House Museum, London.



Fig. 17.
Volume cover for Punch  26 (1854). Photograph by the author, courtesy 
of the Librarian, University of Essex Library.



Fig. 18.
Volume cover for the  Illustrated London News  27 (1855). Photograph 
by the author, courtesy of the Librarian, University of Essex Library



Fig. 19.
Volume cover for the  Illustrated London News  57 (1870). Photograph 
by the author, courtesy of the Librarian, University of Essex Library.



Fig. 20.
George du Maurier, "An Edition de Luxe!"  Magazine of Art,  1890.
 Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the 
Victoria and Albert Museum.



Fig. 21.
Staplehurst railway accident, cover of the  Penny Illustrated Paper  9 (24 June 1865).
 Photograph by the author, courtesy of the Librarian, University of Essex Library.



Image versus Text
in the Illustrated Novels
of William Makepeace Thackeray

Judith L. Fisher

British book illustration in the nineteenth century can be neatly divided into two periods: from 1800 to mid-century, Isaac and George Cruikshank and Phiz and Thackeray drew on Hogarth's allusive and allegorical representations and on the great caricaturists James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson to create "speaking" pictures. From the 1850s on, primarily through John Everett Millais's illustrations of Trollope's novels (but also through secondary artists such as Richard Doyle, who illustrated Thackeray's Newcomes and Frederick Walker, who illustrated Adventures of Philip ), a style deriving from English genre painting emerged that increasingly subordinated the image to the text.[1]

My use of the term "subordinated" suggests one significance of this stylistic shift and explains why we no longer expect novels to be illustrated. Once an illustration simply reinforces the text, it can easily dwindle into mere decoration—as it does in the ornamental style of Kate Greenaway. Thus illustration came to be identified with light literature and children's books (where, interestingly, the significant image is reviving in the work of such artists as Maurice Sendak).[2] The caricatural style offered its reader-viewers an additional narrative voice, making the image as important as the text. This seeming parity incited some volatile exchanges between illustrator and writer, as when Cruikshank claimed that his illustrations were the germ and genius of Dickens's Oliver Twist and William Ainsworth's Tower of London .[3] The Cruikshank-Dickens quarrel, pursued after Dickens's death by Cruikshank and John Forster (Dickens's friend and biographer), illustrates the uneasy marriage of the caricatural style and the novel. Caricature takes liberties: the impudent pen of the artist exposes the foibles of the familiar subject. Cruikshank's


determination to maintain his artistic independence is not surprising, considering that he was an established caricaturist before he started illustrating novels.

The case of Thackeray is different, more interesting, and ultimately more suggestive. Here is an artist who developed as caricaturist-illustrator and novelist simultaneously. J. H. Stonehouse's catalogue of Thackeray's library, compiled for its auction in 1864, describes book after book as containing Thackeray's "illustrations" or "caricatures "in the "spirit" of the text. Thackeray drew in everything, from Fielding's Joseph Andrews to Baedeker's Handbuch für Reisende in Deutschland, und dem Oesterreichischen Kaiserstaat —as if he could not read without seeing .[4] As illustrator of his own works, Thackeray saw the relation between image and text as a self-conscious dialogue, emphasized in the subtitle of Vanity Fair, "Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society." The drawing between chapters nine and ten of the "narrator" unmasking dramatizes Thackeray's self-awareness—the face of the melancholy fool behind the mask is Thackeray's own (Fig. 22).

The nature of the dialogue between text and image varied; as J. R. Harvey, Joan Stevens, Patricia Sweeney, and others have noted, the illustrations add metaphorical comment, extend the story, alert the reader to significant patterns, and supply visual types for the characters.[5] Thackeray's most successful illustrations, aesthetically and interpretively, do not "illustrate" the text at all.[6] The illustrations to Vanity Fair, The History of Pendennis, and The Virginians and the pictorial capitals in The Adventures of Philip create alternative story lines, presenting countervoices to Thackeray's narrations.

These countervoices encourage self-conscious seeing/reading in the ways they speak against the text and among themselves. Often the illustrations do not conform to any one convention of representation: they are both mimetic and metaphoric. Martin Meisel describes Thackeray's style as a synthesis of opposites, "uniting a concrete particularity with inward signification, the materiality of things with moral and emotional force, historical fact with figural truth, the mimetic with the ideal" (36). As the reader shifts between text and contrasting image, the interpretive options multiply, allowing simultaneous but diverse meanings. The eye cannot move to the illustrations for a confirmation of the story because the illustrations both fix an image and evoke interpretations beyond those contained in the language. Thus, while contemporaries such as Henry Kingsley called Thackeray's illustrations "a key to the text," they function less to unlock what is in it than to galvanize the reader's own interpretive abilities.[7] Ultimately, to read Vanity Fair, Pendennis, The Vir-


ginians, or The Adventures of Philip without Thackeray's illustrations is to read a novel other than the one Thackeray intended and to lose one of the great pleasures a Thackerayan novel offers: moving between word and image, the reader shares the narrator's ability to manipulate the story.[8]

Thackeray most closely follows the tradition of subordinating image to text when his illustrations evoke sympathy but avoid sentiment.[9] The "eye of sympathy" gives us a character's visual perspective and, without words, creates a sudden understanding of an emotional state. An intratextual illustration early in Vanity Fair works strongly to create sympathy for Amelia by showing us what she sees when she visits George's house before her father's bankruptcy. Chapter 12 criticizes the two Miss Osbornes' and Miss Wirt's disdainful dismissal of Amelia by showing us the unsympathetic women she sees (Fig. 23). The text above reads, "And this day she [Amelia] was so perfectly stupid and awkward that the Miss Osbornes and their governess, who stared after her as she went sadly away wondered more than ever what George could see in poor little Amelia" (100). The reader, however, seeing the unsympathetic, harsh faces that Amelia sees, automatically agrees with the narrator's comment below the illustration, "Of course they did. How was she to bare that timid little heart for the inspection of those young ladies with their bold black eyes?" The illustration—much more hostile than the narrator—suggests just how unyielding Amelia finds the Osbornes.

While the untitled intratextual illustrations are drawn in a nonmetaphoric, mimetic mode, they do not simply reinforce the text. The "eye of sympathy" that modifies our reading by giving us a sudden understanding of how a character sees, giving us that character's perspective, can suddenly reverse our involvement with the character and thrust us out of the text. The intratextual illustration that introduces Lord Steyn in chapter 37 acts against the text to create a shock that further reflection transforms into ironic surprise (335–36). In the first edition, at the bottom of the recto page, the reader is treated to the description of Becky arranged as an artwork:

The fire crackled and blazed pleasantly. There was a score of candles sparkling round the mantelpiece, in all sorts of quaint sconces, of gilt and bronze and porcelain. They lighted up Rebecca's figure to admiration, as she sate on a sofa covered with a pattern of gaudy flowers. She was in a pink dress, that looked as fresh as a rose; her dazzling white arms and shoulders were half covered with a thin hazy scarf through which they sparkled; her hair hung in curls round her neck; one of her little feet peeped out from


the fresh crisp folds of the silk: the prettiest little foot in the prettiest little sandal in the finest silk stocking in the world. (335–36)

The reader's eye then moves to see what Becky is seeing: Lord Steyne, who has been innocuously introduced previously as her audience: "The great Lord of Steyne was standing by the fire sipping coffee" (Fig. 24). Steyne's leering, loutish appearance contrasts sharply with the "dainty" language of Becky's picture. The effect is to reveal the deceitfulness of Becky's art—a disguise that now seems obvious in the language itself. The overuse of diminutives and superlatives ("little feet," "prettiest little loot," "prettiest little sandal," "in the world"), the hackneyed simile "fresh as a rose," the slip in taste suggested by the "gaudy" flowers on the sofa argue that the narrator wants us to question the sincerity of this picture. The juxtaposition of illustration and text jolts us into questioning the entire value of Becky's picture making. If this is her audience, can her art be genuine? Both Becky and Steyne are morally discredited: Becky by preening for such a man and Steyne by exhibiting his brutal nature. Thackeray's use of the word "great" to describe Lord Steyne recalls Fielding's redefinition of it to describe Jonathan Wild; Thackeray had explored the redefinition in "Caricatures and Lithography in Paris."[10] An instinctive revulsion from Steyne makes readers reassess Becky's efforts as they are described. The antagonism between image and text allows readers to recognize how they, too, can be drawn in by Becky's art. Readers are thus both alerted to Becky's machinations and made aware of her potency.[11]

Such interaction between text and illustration often turns a simple sketch into a metaphoric "realization." I exclude from this category overtly symbolic illustrations such as the pictorial initial in chapter 61 of Vanity Fair, where the cluttered hearth with no fire, slippers carelessly flung, and doll (puppet?) on the mantelpiece symbolize John Sedley's death. Such drawings are independent of the text and create their own iconography from the details of daily life. Quite different are illustrations that seem to be simple reifications of the text but which become symbolic as the reader/viewer moves between text and drawing. A clear example of this is a simple intratextual illustration of the Chevalier Strong blacking his boots in volume 2, chapter 23, of Pendennis . On the same page he refuses to procure yet another loan for Clavering because he has given his word to Lady Clavering: "the Chevalier said that he, at least, would keep his word, and would black his own boots all his life rather than break his promise" (2:227). Only in this context does the


drawing become an emblem of Strong's integrity, in sharp contrast to the intratextual illustration of Clavering begging money from Altamont in the preceding chapter. The essential characters of the two men are crystallized in these pictures, which become "signs" of their moral quality.

Patterns of such "signs" develop as tacit commentary that gradually builds a consistent counterpoint to the text. In chapter 25 of Vanity Fair, Becky, Rawdon, George, and Amelia are at Brighton, and Becky and Rawdon are in the process of fleecing George. The intratextual figure shows George and Rawdon at cards, with Becky standing at George's shoulder, gazing down with a sly smile (212; Fig. 25). On the preceding page, the narrator had given us another word picture of Becky: "She was looking over her shoulder in the glass. She had put on the neatest and freshest white frock imaginable and with bare shoulders and a little necklace, and a light blue sash, she looked the image of youthful innocence and girlish happiness" (211). This Becky is depicted in the full-page illustration "A Family Party at Brighton" opposite the intratextual (Fig. 25). In this combination of text and illustration, then, Becky's knowing expression undercuts her "innocence." The intratextual figure, following the narrator's description of Becky's watching "kindly" over George while he plays écarté, actually shows her sly calculation. The text hints at its own disagreement with the representations when the narrator describes Becky "fixing on a killing bow." Her "kindly" look is actually a "killing glance," just as her bow is both hair ornament and sexual weapon—as her reference to George as "Cupid" also suggests. Thus Becky is "betrayed" by the illustration, in which her sly smile emphasizes the irony of the narrator's descriptions of her kindness and anticipates the destructiveness of her flirtation with George.

In fact, Thackeray's famous ambivalence about Becky is partly resolved for the reader of an illustrated text. By either offering information omitted in the text or actually countering the text, as in the illustrations in chapter 25, the illustrations of Becky betray her posturings and undermine the narrator's excuses. She is consistently portrayed as a sharp-featured, narrow-eyed woman, as in the illustration at the end of the first number, "Mr. Joseph Entangled," where her face resembles that of number 32 in Henry Siddons's Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture and Action (1807).[12] Throughout the novel, Becky is visually represented as either "False Gesture" (Fig. 26) or "Menace" (Fig. 27; number 29 in Siddons), sharing the slanted eyebrows, narrow eyes, and aquiline features of these figures. The continuity of the expression acts as an independent piece of information for readers, telling them not to be deluded


by their own impulses to sympathy and warning them not to accept either Becky's or the narrator's justifications of her actions, for example, "if she did not get a husband for herself, there was no one else in the wide world who would take the trouble off her hands" (17). We see her first leaving school with this wicked smile and next at the Sedleys, while in the meantime the narrator has asked us to accept her as a "picture of gentle unprotected innocence, and humble virgin simplicity" (emphasis added, 19). Obviously something is askew because the only picture the reader sees is that of the conniving Becky, as in chapters 7, 17, 25, 36, 67. The consistency of Becky's representation would have reminded readers of each monthly installment of the "real" Becky, but it would also have keyed for them passages of narrative irony. Ultimately, this consistent value-laden image encourages an ironic reading of passages that do not necessarily invite ironic reading, or even a denial of the narrator's description. The illustrations force the reader to ironize the narrative, especially because the other characters are taken in by a face that readers cannot see as honest or attractive. Moreover, this consistent representation suggests that to a discerning eye Becky's nature cannot he disguised. In a brilliant touch of irony, Becky the expert actress (or mimic) is visually "shown up" by Thackeray's pen, which transfers interpretive power to the reader, especially in the absence of an overtly ironic text. The narrator's ambivalent attitude toward Becky does not align with the consistently hostile representation of her. Readers must determine for themselves how to interweave the visual and the verbal.

Becky's self-deceit is betrayed when the illustrations present information she neglects. Just as Rawdon, George Osborne, and the younger Sir Pitt are blind to Becky's nature, Becky's only perspective is that of her own self-flattering mirror. Her two letters to Amelia in chapters 8 and 11 show us her blindness. In the letter in chapter 8 Becky describes going in to dinner without mentioning her scowling face and scolding manner (Fig. 28). The reader sees this missing information, but Amelia does not; thus we are early alerted to Becky's selective perception. While Becky's omission here is deliberate, her ignorance of Mrs. Bute's plot is just that—ignorance fostered by her own vanity. Becky reports her dance with Rawdon to Amelia as a triumph while the reader clearly sees it as Mrs. Bute's scheme. The irony is emphasized when Becky includes her own drawings of her rivals (Fig. 29). She has an acute eye but no peripheral vision, so to speak.

Such consistent representation and recurring patterns of juxtaposition between images and between images and words are visual dialogues, which develop into voices echoing that of the narrator, not really


outside the text but not totally embedded within it. As the images become more overtly symbolic, as in the pictorial capitals, they become more independent of the text. Joan Stevens describes the narrative function of the pictorial capitals in particular as predictive, "foreshadowing events, offering generalized comment on the action, embodying by means of a traditional reference the basic moral implications of what lies ahead, or, at a shallower level, adding a simple visual dimension to forthcoming words" ("Thackeray's Pictorial Capitals," 116). However, the illustrations—initials, intratextuals, and full-page—also function retrospectively and accumulate meaning. Some of the patterns they establish have already been noted by Robert Colby and Joan Stevens ("Thackeray's Pictorial Capitals," 126–28), who have followed the military motif in Vanity Fair from the equestrian statue on the cover to Becky as Napoleon in chapter 64, including the various mock "campaigns" in text and illustration.[13] Catherine Peters has also noted the recurring motif of church and home in the background of outdoor scenes in Vanity Fair .[14] Both the military and religious patterns reify textual metaphors—for example that of Becky the "intrepid campaigner" as Napoleon.

These visual metaphors offer comments on the story not acknowledged by the narrator. Patterns such as the equation of Becky with Napoleon visually unify the chapters and bridge the monthly parts. John Harvey, in Victorian Novelists and Their Illustrators (84–86), and Joan Stevens, in "Thackcray's Vanity Fair" (30–31), both note the continuity and comment between numbers 4 and s in Vanity Fair, where the image of "Love on his knees before Beauty" in chapter 15 alludes to the intratextual figure of Sir Pitt on his knees before Becky in chapter 14. The ironic image ending number 4 contrasts with the initial to chapter 15, which shows a young boy worshiping at the altar of Love while an imp peers around the initial E (128–29). What Harvey and Stevens do not note is the subtle play between word and image and the connotations of "picture." Becky and Sir Pitt are carefully positioned beneath portraits: Pitt beneath an eighteenth-century profile, Becky beneath an imprecise image of a woman whose expression recalls Becky's usual scowl—absent in this case. The text under the tableau, "Rebecca started back a picture of consternation," which at first seems to suggest that this scene is contrived, is followed by the line that says Rebecca "wept some of the most genuine tears that ever fell from her eyes" (128). The very sincerity of Becky and Sir Pitt aligns with the falsity suggested by the pictures. Sir Pitt's lust is not love, and Becky's consternation is caused by her losing a fortune, not a lover. Again, the illustration subtly betrays her, like those


linking numbers 2 and 3 in chapters 7 and 8: number 2 closes with a vignette of a little girl building a house of cards, and number 3 opens with an image of Becky gazing at the portrait of Sir Pitt's first wife (64–65). The point is clearly the futility of Becky's ambitions. A similarly ironic commentary connects chapters 10 and 11: the caricature of the swain wooing the shepherdess emphasizes the falsity of the "Arcadian Simplicity" of life at Queen's Crawley (84). The historiated initial which opens chapter 12, the first chapter in number 4, continues this parody of Becky and Rawdon, as the mile marker and the swain's finger signal the departure from "Arcadia and those amiable people practicing the rural virtues" (97).

These examples of illustrations that unify chapters and parts fit into larger visual patterns that develop throughout the novels. Pastoral love in eighteenth-century costume in Vanity Fair and Pendennis, children in Pendennis, the theater and puppets in Vanity Fair and Pendennis, and the narrator-as-clown echo the verbal "languages" of literary conventions discussed by John Loofbourow.[15] Like the illustrations that betray characters, these patterns act as an ironic mirror, turned outward from the story to show us alternative truths of character and event. The motif of children in the chapter initials of Pendennis suggests the characters' lack of control while manifesting the authorial control that produces the visual coherence of the sequence. For example in the text concerned with the death of Helen Pendennis (numbers 18 and 19, volume 2, chapters 17 to 21) the initial W in chapter 18 depicts a priest reading in a graveyard while a gravedigger ominously plies his trade in the background. Although the chapter relates the continental holiday after Pen's illness, the initial prepares the reader for Helen's death. The implicit prediction becomes visual reality in chapter 19, whose initial O contains Helen dead in bed with a Bible on her chest. Chapter 20 shows Pen sitting at a table with the lawyer handing him Helen's will, and chapter 21 suggests Pen's immaturity, his lack of self-knowledge, in a gruesome illustration of two children—Pen and Blanche?—playing cat's cradle on Helen's grave. The realism of the illustrations in this sequence accords with the somber subject, but the final metaphoric initial offers ironic perceptions unavailable to Arthur Pendennis, who is diminished and controlled by this ironic "mirror" of his efforts.

Thackeray's "ironist's mirror" constantly reminds readers that they are reading one version of a story. The narrator's assertion in Vanity Fair that "the world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face" (9) denies the traditional role of the artist's mirror: to reflect empirical reality. Perhaps that is why Thackeray described the


glass he turned outward on the world as "warped and cracked" and advertised Vanity Fair as "brilliantly illuminated with the Author's own candles" (xiv).[16] Thus Thackeray's clown looks at his own reflection because the external world, represented by the characters and story, is reflected and illuminated by the "lamp" of the author's ego (Fig. 30). In fact, Thackeray's "clown" in the 1848 title page is not a clown at all; he is wearing the costume of a fool or jester, closer to that of the pantomime harlequin. Moreover, Thackeray's draftsmanship is ambiguous enough to suggest that the fool in motley sees himself in a cracked mirror. Thackeray's mirror was "cracked" because he knew his imaging was no true reflection. Not only does a mirror show you images backward; but also how you hold it determines what you see.

The motley fool of Vanity Fair is not the only character trapped by his mirror. The two illustrations juxtaposed in the Garland edition (but not in the first edition) are the Fool and the drawing of Becky finally revealing George as a shallow fool: she shows Amelia his letter, written before he went to battle, asking Becky to run away with him. Amelia has already written Dobbin, asking him to return; nonetheless, this revelation shatters her idealized image of George. And this triumphant Becky has defeated herself by her own fixed perspective, starting as early as those youthful letters to Amelia. This juxtaposition connects the story to the narration of the story. Just as Amelia's idealized image of George traps her in a version of reality that reflects her romanticism but not George's character, so, too, the narrator can only tell a story that is a version of the way he sees the world.

Vanity Fair 's true Narcissus is George Osborne, who opens chapter 13 by gazing at himself in a looking glass over which is superimposed a massive "I"—emblematic of his egotism and closed perspective (104; Fig. 31). But this emphatic "I" is actually the narrator, who perforce is also egoistic and reminds us of the gazing fool on the title page. Thus mirrors in Thackeray's illustrations suggest that all representations are ultimately self-representations. And in fact the narrator's attempts at absolute "truth" are undermined by illustrations that visualize narrative uncertainty. Vanity Fair, Pendennis, and The Virginians all contain illustrations that parody the narrator's sources of information: letters, rumors, gossip, and eyewitnesses.

The image of the clown undercuts narrative stability to hint at an escape from solipsism. To move from mirror gazer to harlequin is to escape from an illusion of stable reality that ultimately imprisons individuals in their own gaze or self-fashioning and into the manipulation of their own interpretations of reality. Individuals may still be isolated,


but they have more power, and, if they wish, they can create illusions of Community—as Thackeray's narrator does between himself and his "friendly" reader.[17]

Pendennis dramatizes this process. Pen changes from a self-absorbed mirror gazer to melancholy fool: or from character to narrator. Pen's first essay in public dandyism, in chapter 18 of the first edition, is marked by Thackeray's illustration of him admiring himself in his academic robes in his tutor's mirror:

he put the pretty college cap on, in rather a dandified manner and somewhat on one side, as he had seen Fiddicombe, the youngest master at Grey Friars, wear it. And he inspected the entire costume with a great deal of satisfaction in one of the great gilt mirrors which ornamented Mr. Buck's lecture room. (1:167)

In volume 2, chapter 16, Pen ends this first, sexual, phase of his would-be writer's narcissism when he resists the temptation to seduce Fanny Bolton. Appropriately, his thwarted desire consumes him in an actual fever—Thackeray here makes wonderful use of his own brush with death while writing Pendennis . He has to have his head shaved and, in ironic counterpart to the earlier illustration, the intratextual figure shows us Pen "sadly contemplating his ravaged beauty" (2:148) in a small mirror on his dressing table. Pen's social vanity is thwarted in much the same way; his honor will not let him accept the fortune and seat in Parliament his uncle's blackmail has obtained for him. If he marries Blanche, it will he in a small, plain way. The ironic reward of such integrity is to become the fool. Pendennis ends with a visual harlequinade—not referred to in the text—that illustrates Pen's entry into the world of the ironist. Pen moves into the pictorial capitals (heretofore reserved for metaphoric comment), a literal and symbolic movement out of the boundaries of "story" and "event." Pen's discovery of his own acting during the course of the novel is visualized in his appearance as Harlequin, which disqualifies him as "character," lifting him from the fixed perspective of those who do not know they are "acting" in a story to the detached, ironic perspective of narrator. Pen's last illusion is one that he actually recognizes as an illusion: his election campaign for the seat of Clavering. While the reader, aware of the Major's blackmail, which makes the seat available for Pen, knows more than Pen at this point, Pen does know that his election antics are theater. The "consummate" hypocrisy of Pen "acting" to gain people's favor (2:269) is not mimetic theater but pantomime—extravagant and self-aware theater that transforms ordinary life into fantasy. The initial to volume 2, chap-


ter 27, depicts the traditional pantomime characters Harlequin, Clown, Columbine, and Pantaloon on the hustings, parodying the conspiracy between actors and audience who act the part of not acting (Fig. 32).[18]

When the masked harlequin of the election in this chapter unmasks in chapter 34, he is easily recognizable as Pendennis (Fig.33). Harlequin-Pen, whose costume echoes that of the 1844 pantomime Harlequin Crotchet and Quaver; or, Music for the Million, gazes questioningly at a masked lady as if asking her whether she too will unmask and what will be revealed when and if she does. The "D" encasing Harlequin-Pen and the lady begins Pen's letter to Blanche, asking her to drop her mask of romance. Harlequin-Pen here holds the magic bat, which has the power to transform all the characters in the harlequinade. Pen no longer wears his mask because he knows enough not to believe in his roles. He has discovered that his ambition to shine as an M.P. was founded upon his uncle's blackmail of Blanche's stepfather. To retain the honor he has prized all his life, Pen must settle for a more limited private life. But his triumph is to transform himself without bitterness and to see the humor of his own self-deception. "He laughed to think of how Fortune had jilted him, and how he deserved his slippery fortune. . . . It amused his humor; he enjoyed it as if it had been a funny story " (emphasis added; 2:332). The narrator's term "story" tells us Pen is starting to turn his own life into a text—and any reader familiar with Thackeray knows that for him this is the basic process of fictionalizing. Paradoxically, Pen acquires the clear-sightedness that will make him an author by recognizing that acting is inescapable but that one can choose one's roles.

The initial to volume 2, chapter 35, interprets for us Blanche's inability to emerge from her roles (Fig. 34). The lady has unmasked, but Harlequin has been superseded by Clown, recognizably Pen's rival, Henry Foker. The intratextual figure that follows depicts a "discovery scene" straight from melodrama. Pen refuses his assigned role, however, and simply laughs once again at his own gullibility and Blanche's scheming. His laughter, the irony of his conversation with Blanche, and his eventual willingness to be cast as the villain demonstrate his confidence in an identity that exists independent of others' expectations. In pantomime Harlequin, unlike the clown, wields the magic bat that can transform himself and others—just as the narrator controls his story or the manager his puppets. Harlequin masked is an anonymous actor, subject to the story like any other puppet or stage character, but unmasked he is the melancholy moralist who tells a tale. The harlequin image is Thackeray's developed image of the Vanity Fair clown-as-narrator.


Harlequin without his mask is known to present a very sober countenance, and was himself, the story goes, the melancholy patient whom the doctor advised to go and see Harlequin—a man full of cares and perplexities like the rest of us, whose Self must always be serious to him, under whatever mask or disguise or uniform he presents it to the public.[19]

This sequence places Pen and the narrator in and outside the tale, unable to escape from their perception of the story because that story is their perception. Pendennis complicates the relation between appearance and self because Pen unmasked will become Thackeray masked.

The fool preaching to other fools on the title page of Vanity Fair does not suggest this same edge of ironic control. Donald Hannah describes Thackeray as "both puppet-master and one of his own puppets, pulled by the same strings, actuated by the same motives which animate his own figures."[20] But the puppet frame was conceived toward the end of the serialization; it was an afterthought, not part of Thackeray's original plan. Without this frame, the fool seems less in control, especially when compared with a possible model for this engraving. An engraved scene from the 1844 pantomime Harlequin Crotchet shows a clown lecturing "on soap suds." Although he does not stand on a barrel, the clown is elevated above his crowd and is behind a washtub. In composition the two works are very close. The self-consciousness of pantomime is suggested less by this title page than by the famous sketch of Thackeray "unmasked" at the end of chapter 9. But the clown illustrations in Vanity Fair only imply authorial power. The clown balancing on the W in chapter 27, the clown leading the parade of clowns in chapter 40, and the clown on stilts being rocked by another clown in chapter 49 connect the narrator to the characters more than to the reader or to the narrator's modes of telling. More self-conscious about authorial control is the initial to chapter 2, showing a boy and girl peering into a peep show, which suggests the writer's power to manipulate what the reader sees. The egoism of such control is clearly the focus of the narrative "I" above the sketch of George looking in the mirror in chapter 13. But while subjective perception is an entry into "reality," it is never a definitive entry, and this uncertainty is depicted in chapter 37, where the clown balances the narrator's "I" on his nose (Fig. 35). The "I" that tells us the story is unstable because it cannot be sure of what it tells.

Subjective modes of knowledge such as letters, reading, and gossip characterize Thackeray's narration—and his illustrations emphasize the parallel between the epistemologies of characters and narrator.[21] Jones at his club in chapter 1 of Vanity Fair, Pen hearing himself in print in


volume 1, chapter 36, and the Major in the same chapter reading the Pall Mall Gazette —all image readers' own reading. Rawdon and Dobbin reading the letters we have just read in the text draw readers into the perspective of the characters but cannot counter the general ironic distance (chapters 15, 42). The servants listening to Amelia play the piano (chapter 4), Briggs and Firkin overhearing Sir Pitt proposing (chapter 15), Gumbo lying about Harry's wealth (chapter 16), and Parson Stack gossiping about George and the Indian woman (chapter 55) in The Virginians parody the narrator's culling of information and our own interpretive activity as readers who make our own stories from the bits and pieces we are given.

The self-consciousness evinced by the illustrations in Pendennis tells us that even when Thackeray seems to offer a more stable and conventional narration than in Vanity Fair, he still looks askance at his own story The resulting "story" is incomplete and untrustworthy because image and text destabilize each other. A process of reading and seeing evolves that compels readers to endlessly revise what they have read and seen. Readers become aware of the interpretive strategies they apply to create stable stories and thus realize how much "story" depends upon interpretation. The tension between image and text constantly warns readers about the danger of self-deception—their own as well as the characters', "the dangers of creating from half-sight a self-flattering version of the world."[22] The deliberate contrasts between image and text and the presence of metaphoric patterns argue that Thackeray intended his readers to read self-consciously. Paradoxically, the incomplete "versions" of characters and events that constitute a Thackeray novel free readers from entrapment in their own web of interpretations. Ultimately, to read a Thackeray novel without its illustrations is to miss the imp looking over your shoulder, holding a mirror to your own reading.



Fig. 22.
W. M. Thackeray, The Narrator unmasked,
 Vanity Fair  (1848), chapter 9.
 Reproduced by permission of Garland Publishing, Inc.



Fig. 23.
W. M. Thackeray, Amelia and the Miss Osbornes,  Vanity Fair  (1848), 
chapter 12. Reproduced by permission of Garland Publishing, Inc.



fig. 24.
W. M. Thackeray, The great Lord Steyne,  Vanity Fair  (1848), chapter 37. 
Reproduced by permission of Garland Publishing, Inc.



Fig. 25.
W. M. Thackeray, A friendly game of cards 
and "A Family Party at Brighton,"  Vanity Fair  
(1848), chapter 25. Reproduced by permission of 
Garland Publishing, Inc.



Fig. 26.
M. Engels, "False Gesture," from Henry Siddons's adaptation 
of Engels's  Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture
 and Action,
 1807. Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Coates 
Maddux Library, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.


Fig. 27.
M. Engels, "Menace," from Henry Siddons's adaptation 
of Engels's  Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture 
and Action,
 1807. Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Coates 
Maddux Library, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.



Fig. 28.
W. M. Thackeray, Going in to dinner,  Vanity Fair  (1848), chapter 8. Reproduced by permission of Garland Publishing, Inc.


Fig. 29.
W. M. Thackeray, Mrs. Bute's scheme and Becky's rivals,  Vanity Fair  (1848), chapter II. 
Reproduced by permission of Garland Publishing, Inc.



Fig. 30.
W. M. Thackeray, "The Letter before Waterloo" and The Fool and his mirror,  Vanity Fair  (1848), 
frontispiece and title page. These illustrations were not juxtaposed in the first edition; "The Letter 
before Waterloo" was near the end of the novel. But this placement does capture the 
narrator's ambivalence toward his story. Reproduced by permission of Garland Publishing, Inc.



Fig. 31.
W. M. Thackeray, George and his beloved,  Vanity Fair  (1848), 
chapter 13. Reproduced by permission of Garland Publishing, Inc.



Fig. 32.
W. M. Thackeray, On the hustings,  The History of Pendennis  (1850),
vol. 2, chapter 27. Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Coates Maddux Library, 
Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.



Fig. 33.
W. M. Thackeray, Dear Blanche,  The History of Pendennis  (1850),
 vol. 2, chapter 34. Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Coates Maddux Library, 
Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.



Fig. 34.
W. M. Thackeray, Pen's harlequinade,  The History of Pendennis  (1850), 
vol. 2, chapter 35. Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Coates Maddux Library, 
Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.



Fig. 35.
W. M. Thackeray, A delicate balance,  Vanity Fair  (1848),
 chapter 37. Reproduced by permission of Garland Publishing, Inc.



"The Right Thing in the Right Place"
P. H. Emerson and the Picturesque Photograph

Jennifer M. Green

Unlike the work of the early great Victorian landscape photographers, Peter Henry Emerson's late-nineteenth-century visions of rural southeast England offer no startling geometries or precocious angles. Scenes more reminiscent of Impressionist paintings than of anything in photography's own short history, they illustrate their author's early claims for photography as a naturalistic art. Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads (1886), Emerson's first published photographic book, was in fact a practical account of his theories, with its own labors of picture making and writing neatly divided: where the photographs provided "art for lovers of art," the accompanying text was to be "illustrative of and somewhat complementary to them . . . depicting in words, surroundings and effects which cannot be expressed by pictorial art."[1]

The book appears aptly named, with its equal emphasis on representing human and animal life in its surrounds of marsh, fenlands, and coastal waters. Further, in its deliberate efforts to counter the studied theatricality of photographs such as those by Henry Peach Robinson, Emerson's experiments in naturalism succeed: the pictures are, for the most part, unposed, and there is a freedom, as critics have noted, from artificiality and sentimentality.[2] Emerson's aim was to use the camera impressionistically, to record neither the literal facts of the self-conscious documentary nor the simulated events of Robinson's studio, but rather to create a sense of human vision—to work, in other words, against the notion of the camera as a tool of perfect record and to claim it instead as an agent in naturalistic and aesthetic creation.

Yet the relation between life and landscape on the Norfolk Broads is one not of aesthetics but of labor; and labor provides the true subject


of these pictures. Between Emerson's theories of photography and his conceptions of landscape, however, that subject vanishes into the picturesque, the laborers themselves reduced to mythical, powerless creatures, faceless models of charming work. Further, despite Emerson's interest in the conditions of the rural poor, any vestiges of social commentary that might be offered by the camera are denied by the accompanying text, which invites a generalized aesthetic response to the photographs. In later books, such as Pictures of East Anglian Life (1888), the text forgoes aesthetic considerations, documenting, instead, the frequently grim details of working life on the Broads; but in a striking imbalance, the accompanying photographs in this and other books by Emerson present increasingly romanticized and abstracted views of life in rural Norfolk and Suffolk.

The tension that complicates our response to Emerson's work can be traced to the divisions and shifts in his own attitudes toward photography. His book of theory, Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art (1889), made the claim that "All good art has its scientific basis";[3] the same year Emerson argued before the Camera Club for the importance of distinguishing art from science, for art "differs from science fundamentally."[4] More dramatically, Emerson was to renounce altogether his views on photography's position among the fine arts, recanting in January 1891 in a black-edged pamphlet that announced "The Death of Naturalistic Photography" and modifying his earlier theories so drastically, with a new chapter entitled "Photography—Not Art" in a later, much revised, edition of Naturalistic Photography, as to almost invalidate his own original claims.[5] Much of what one can say about Emerson's photographic theories during the late nineteenth century, then, can be refuted by his own words, in which he engaged in a continual assessment and reassessment of photography's status with regard to other art forms. It is possible to trace the development of those theories, but my emphasis here will instead be on a particular element of his photographs that appears to remain constant.

After briefly considering how Emerson's photographs chart the theories he laid out in the early editions of Naturalistic Photography, I argue that the text accompanying the early pictures subverts their subject matter by focusing attention on aesthetics and urges a reading of the photographs that overlooks the human labor at their center. Emerson in his first book "frames" life on the Norfolk Broads—invests it, in other words, with arguably false significance. But I also make the more far-reaching argument that the tension in Emerson's works between text and photographs that shaped all his books and indeed his entire photo-


graphic career is in fact an inevitable and necessary element of the picturesque; Emerson's work offers its own explanation for the appeal of this kind of photography to the late-Victorian imagination.

Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads was printed on white vellum, and bound in green morocco—"a thick, handsome volume, which any person of artistic taste may feel proud to own," observed the Photographic News .[6] It contained forty platinum prints, interspersed with lengthy commentary on individual photographs, related events, or more general subjects, and concluded with an essay on landscape art by the landscape painter T. F. Goodall, Emerson's friend and companion on the Broads. The albums, available in standard and deluxe editions, were issued in limited printings; the negatives and printing plates were destroyed by arrangement with the publishers.[7] The work was a collector's item, available to a select few.

For the most part, the prints map out the theories later expressed in Naturalistic Photography . According to this work, the fundamental purpose of artistic photography is to reveal the inner reality of its subjects, a revelation made possible by the photographer's intimacy with the subject. Predictably, Emerson scorned the creations of weekend photographers who roamed the countryside in search of views: "The student who would become a landscape photographer," he writes, "must go to the country and live there for long periods; for in no other way can he get any insight into the mystery of nature" (Naturalistic Photography 1890, 245). The photographer must, in fact, aspire to a Wordsworthian relationship with nature, which requires both appreciation and inner discipline: "You must . . . train your feelings," he instructs, "for, as John Constable said, 'the art of feeling nature is a thing almost as much to be cultivated as the art of reading the Egyptian hieroglyphics'" (1890, 250).

The art of feeling nature does not preclude some interference on the part of the photographer representing it; on the contrary: "The objects must be arranged so that the thing expressed is told clearly and directly" (1890, 248). Thus the search for a view becomes the search for potential, a potential recognizable only by one versed in the "mystery of nature." As for the subject itself, it must fulfill three requirements before it merits being photographed: "The subject must have pictorial qualities, it must be typical, and must give aesthetic pleasure" (1890, 250). While together these three will ensure truthfulness in representation, such representation has nothing to do with the world of facts: "the fewer facts we record in Art, and yet express the subject so that it cannot be better expressed, the better" (1890, 298).


Essentially, then, Emerson advocates both an intuitive and a familiar knowledge of the subject that will enable the photographer to decide what is typical and what, therefore, may be deemed truthful (truth being construed here as the consequence of repetition); he recommends an attention to the pictorial that is based on the understanding that the best pictures are the most beautiful; and he calls for a Keatsian leap in which the photographer assumes that what is beautiful is most true. As Goodall puts it in the closing essay to Life and Landscape, "beauty consists in appropriateness; the right thing in the right place is the beautiful thing. Truth is beauty" (77).

Artistically, Emerson holds that truths are best conveyed with a minimum of detail. And in his photographs there is indeed less rustic paraphernalia than we see in Robinson's work. Excess is, instead, provided by the prose, which in certain places overwhelms the reader. Here is Emerson, to use his own criterion, at his most "typical":

Perhaps the great charm to be felt in this country is the ever-changing aspect of the landscape. One tide gives us the peculiar heavily clouded sky so often depicted by Gainsborough, with here and there a glint of sunlight shimmering on the high line of the full river, and on the innumerable small repetitions of the surrounding dikes . . . Every day, and many times a day, the picture changes. One moment the commons seem desolate and deserted by all life; the next they are beautiful, as if clothed by magic with varied tints of sunlighted gorse and spring flowers; while horses, magnificent in their freedom, career over hill and dale . . . scattering by their wild ungoverned paces the gentler herds of kine. At another moment, a fierce rainstorm sweeps down and seems to wash all brightness away. Yet another day. . . The river is there flowing high in the middle distance; the dikes are full, but there is no silver in the landscape today; the soft gradations are all in dainty greys, and russet browns, and sober greens. (quoted in Newhall, 32)

Two things are worth noting here. First, his highly visual response to the scene. The countryside to Emerson is already "landscape," pictorial, two-dimensional. "Landscape" is a loaded term, of course: "the perception or poetic re-creation of landscape," Carole Fabricant writes, "is always inextricably bound up with broadly political considerations, whether or not they are openly acknowledged."[8] As John Barrell notes, "we can speak of the 'landscape' of a country, but in doing so we introduce, whether we want to or not, notions of value and form which relate, not just to seeing the land, but to seeing it in a certain way—pictorially."[9] Landscape as a way of seeing depends upon the taming or controlling of the wild: the act of depiction in pictures or words or both is one of simultaneous domestication. For Emerson at the close of the


nineteenth century, the landscape of the Broads is both wild (there are horses) and cultivated (there are cows). It is also continually changing, an idea to which I return later.

In its tribute to what is essentially an already painted scene, the passage raises a question pertinent to the photographs in Life and Landscape: what is their intended relationship, not only to nature, but to art? Was it Emerson's intention to render photographically what eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century painters such as Gainsborough and Constable had accomplished on canvas (thus rendering incidental the relationship of his photographs to nature)? Was he trying to reconceive his own relationship to nature through the very different medium of the camera? That question is best answered, I think, by considering the human figures in his landscapes that frequently provide the subject of his work. The first plate of Life and Landscape, "Coming Home from the Marshes," shows four laborers apparently returning after a day's work (Fig. 36). To explain the photograph, Emerson writes:

To the left stretch masses of golden-ochred rush, to the right the rich greens of the marshes, and throughout winds the river, a vein of the deepest cobalt, while overhead roll masses of snow-white cumuli flying before the wild west wind. Along the marsh wall comes a group of labourers returning from their short day's work. Typical specimens these of the Norfolk peasant,—wiry in body, pleasant in manner, intelligent in mind. Their lot, though hard, is not unpleasant. . . . They have just returned from cutting the reed. Protected by their long marsh-boots, they may be classified as "waders," for they spend much of their time standing in water up to their boot-tops. Nevertheless they are happy and healthy. (10)

Emerson the naturalist thus classifies the specimen for the field observer. Both the appearance and the behavior of the human subjects of Life and Landscape (a "healthy, merry crew") are described: "Shy of strangers at first, they improve on acquaintance. . . . 'It is a sweet and civil country'" (10). The laborers are, it seems, representatives of a type whose very existence guarantees the health of England. But they are also, inescapably, part of the landscape Emerson describes, along with the marshes, rushes, river, and clouds, and despite their central position in the photograph, they are no more important than these. One obvious difference, of course, is that Emerson required the cooperation of his human subjects in making this photograph and presumably set up his camera shot before the subjects were permitted to walk toward him.

"By far the most difficult branch of photography," wrote Emerson, "is that in which figures occur in landscapes" (1890, 251). The conflict between the desire to control figures in a landscape and the wish to


represent them truthfully was much debated by photographers during the 1880s; numerous articles on the subject in photographic journals attest to the relevance of Emerson's concern. Part of the difficulty, according to one way of thinking, was the urge to include human life at all: People cannot take a river view, complained one reviewer of landscape photographs in the British Journal of Photography, "without giving an offensive prominence to the inevitable fisherman, rod in hand." The better option is to get the angler "to retire beyond the grasp of the lens, leaving the rod and basket on the bank to represent him." The journal advises that figures "occupy the least important and weakest part of the subject as regards its interest; let them be placed on different levels if possible and in various and contrasting positions, and let them be subordinate to and aid the general sentiment of the landscape."[10] Andrew Pringle, a member of the Photographic Society of London, wrote that "If figures are to be in a landscape they must be . . . 'of the picture, and not merely in it.' . . . The figures must be useful to the landscape in some way."[11]

Photographers who think this way select figures carefully for their service to the landscape as well as for their visual charm. Such figures were not always easy to find. In his book on landscape photography, Robinson writes of

a picturesque model caught wild, but too stupid to be of any use. Naturally she had a delightful smile, and although I tried all I knew for a fortnight to overcome her timidity—mixed her with tame models, as they train wild elephants—she remained camera-shy, and I could do nothing with her. I did the next best thing. I bought her clothes.[12]

What Robinson means here is not that he purchased clothes for her, but rather that he paid her for her outfit, with which he could then equip someone of his own class exported to the scene. By using the term "tame models" (albeit in jest), he implies that the "wild" (original) subject is only an amateur, whom the "tame" professional can represent with greater authority. Robinson preferred to use models—upper-middle-class women or even paid professionals who were pleased to play shepherdess for a day. Their clothes had to be genuine and could be "obtained at first hand from the original wearers" (1896, 98). The original wearers, though, rarely feature in Robinson's pictures, since "it is not easy to explain what you want to a fresh caught peasant" (98). On the other hand, "With a well-trained model," he notes, "you can get nearer to nature than nature herself " (98).

This was precisely Emerson's desire. In Naturalistic Photography he


urges students, "never forget . . . the type; you must choose your models most carefully, and they must without fail be picturesque and typical. The student should feel that there never was such a fisherman, or such a ploughman, or such a poacher, or such an old man, or such a beautiful girl, as he is picturing" (1890, 251). Despite the urge to outdo nature, however, Emerson photographed only persons wearing their own clothes, in surroundings familiar to them. And in Life and Landscape he shows his subjects at work, catching eels, mowing the hay, cutting reeds. Whatever the activity, the labor provides at least the titular subject of the photographs: "Taking Up the Eel Net," "Quanting the Marsh Hay," "Poling the Marsh Hay," and so on.

In thus representing rural life, Emerson seems to have been following what Barrell claims was an established notion in both literature and the visual arts of the late nineteenth century, that "the actuality of the life of the poor could be represented only by images of them at work and that to depict the poor at rest was to sentimentalise or to pastoralise them."[13] Barrell finds this notion

a prescriptive, not a descriptive, constraint: it is not so much that the poor always do, but that they always should, work; and its survival into the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as a check against sentimentality, has meant that it has also become a barrier between seeing the poor as simply workers with no other identity, and the possibility of seeing them as men with their own choices to make, and a disposition to do other things than the toil they were born to perform. (92)

In Emerson's efforts to portray a world of georgic labor rather than idyllic repose the individual laborer is invariably sacrificed to the generalized image of work. While the photographer, as Barrell suggests, avoids the charge of sentimentality, his pictures invite a consideration of the subjects that has little or nothing to do with the conditions within which they labor. In almost all the photographs they have their faces turned down or away from the camera; or they are in shadow, or far enough away so that we cannot see their faces. The majority of Emerson's photographs thus show labor not in individual but in abstract terms: the workers are a part, not a distinct feature, of the landscape. Instead of standing out as individuals, they blend into their surroundings.

"Rowing Home the Schoof-Stuff," in Life and Landscape, shows a figure in a rowboat against a tranquil evening sky, his oars appearing to rest upon solid water (Fig. 37). Two-thirds of the picture in fact consists of water, brighter than the evening sky, which gives back the clear and


empty gleam of a mirror. In comparison with this expanse, the dim cottages and trees at the water's edge seem small, nested like birds in the marshes. The Broadsman is placed almost exactly at the center of the photograph, the perfection of his shadow in the water suggesting immobility rather than the homeward motion of the title. As still as the reeds over which he gazes, he bisects the horizon, joining sky and water, while his resting oars take the eye to right and left of the boat, to reeds and houses and again back to his dark mass at the center. The identity of the man himself remains, meanwhile, in the context of the photograph, not so much a mystery as an irrelevance.

Later works, such as Pictures from Life in Field and Fen (1887), aestheticize labor to such a degree that not only the identity of the workers is obscured but also the precise nature of their work. "The Mangold Harvest" is such a study, in which the bent backs of the workers and their occupied hands are sufficiently distanced to allow an impression of harmony rather than muscular discomfort (Fig. 38). In this book, with its epigraph from Millet, Emerson's text is concerned wholly with art and photography, while the pictures must speak for themselves. "Art is a language," he writes, "and pictorial art is the expression by means of pictures of that which man considers beautiful in the world around him" (9).

It seems highly likely that artistic aspirations played a part in displacing labor from the center of Emerson's photographs.[14] Nevertheless, social as well as aesthetic theory required the distancing of the reality of labor from the images of the land. As Aaron Scharf observes, the photographs of Life and Landscape show "honest folk content with their lot—a confirmation of Victorian values. Indeed," he adds, "the figures in the silvery, dreamlike landscapes are so much at one with nature that they appear physically to grow out of the earth itself."[15] Like Hardy's Tess, whose spirit rises within her as "automatically as the sap in the twigs," there is no boundary between workers and the terrain they inhabit.[16] Hardy might indeed be writing of Emerson's photographs when in that novel he describes how "a field-woman is a portion of the field; she has somehow lost her own margin, imbibed the essence of her surrounding, and assimilated herself with it" (137–38). Of no more consequence than a marsh heron, an eel, a cottage, yet as necessary to the elements of the picturesque as all of these, the figures in Emerson's landscapes, like Hardy's women, have had their individuality sacrificed to their aesthetic appeal as types.

The text of Life and Landscape participates by directing the eye toward generalities rather than specifics, toward adulation rather than consider-


ation. One such example is "Poling the Marsh Hay," which is striking for its central figure of a woman who pauses in her work of bearing away some hay (Fig. 39). The impact of the picture, which is unusual in that the woman directly faces the camera (although her glance is directed away), grows out of the forbidding darkness of the sky and the gloom of the surrounds, the indistinct figures behind the woman, and her temporary pause against a threatening sky.[17] Goodall's accompanying essays "Marsh Hay," however, bears little relation to the image and not only omits any mention of the woman but also emphasizes the picturesque qualities of the summertime laborers at the expense of the difficulties of the work:

Splendid the mowers look, as they sweep down the tall rank herbage; their loose shirts, of white or blue cotton, with sleeves turned back to the elbow, gleam in the sunshine; their legs are encased in the tall marsh boots, without which they could not work in comfort on the swampy soil. Strapped to their backs are their hones; wide, soft felt hats cover their heads, picturesquely shadowing their faces. Superb is the action of the men as they bend to the heavy work, or, standing with booted legs wide apart, hone their scythes, or wipe the gathered moisture from their faces. (45)

"Poling the Marsh Hay" has become one of Emerson's better-known pictures, but for reasons that have little to do with the images created here by Goodall of a freshly laundered and sunny peasantry sweeping through the grass. The text refers to a generalized image of work not merely overridden by the photograph but emphatically negated by it. By way of explaining the bleakness of this particular photographic version of his rural idyll, Goodall explains:

On a dull November day some poor peasants are bringing home the remnants of their crop, which, left too late, has been caught by the autumnal flood, and lain for weeks soaking in the water. When the water fell, the sodden heaps were moved, and placed on the marsh wall to dry, and they are now poling them away to the litter stack. (46)

This, then, is the year's end, a somber final image of the cycle of seasons that can be most pleasingly recalled, not in the photograph, but rather in the text; not, in other words, through visually documented details but rather through generalities that invite the reader to dwell on the picturesque qualities of imaginary work.

Hard as it is to determine the extent to which a text directs a reading of an image, there is obvious tension here between words and picture, as well as evidence of the continual struggle between Emerson's efforts to represent visually the truth of the thing and his subsequent denials


that the truth is to be sought in the accumulation of empirical detail. In later works, such as Pictures of East Anglian Life, the imbalance between text and image of "Poling the Marsh Hay" seems, though preserved, to be reversed, as the landscapes tend toward impressionism and away from the detail of Life and Landscape . Figures are further marginalized or absent altogether, while the much lengthier and more detailed prose, through its heightened attention to the harshness of rural existence ("from our point of view," writes Emerson, the peasant's life is "fearful"), implies a documentary responsibility on the part of the photographer and an intention that is largely unrealized by his photographs. In other words, Emerson's books demonstrate progressively a split between notions of what photography ought to do and what might actually be done with it.

Despite the divergence of pictures from texts, Emerson's books fuse the duty of photography—which was, Elizabeth Eastlake claimed in 1857, "to give evidence of facts, as minutely and as impartially as, to our shame, only an unreasoning machine can give"[18] —with its artistic potential, through their appeal to the picturesque. What is picturesque, of course, may not always be true; that is to say, a picturesque object or moment does not necessarily represent a general state of affairs. Emerson's desire for a subject that is both "picturesque and typical" thus pulls two ways, since the picturesque may resemble, not the everyday instance, but something outside nature; its point of reference is art, and its relation to beauty accidental. For while beauty aspires, as Wolfgang Kemp has written, to the "smooth, bright, symmetrical, new, whole, and strong," the picturesque—that which is picture-worthy—is in the province of time and thus by its very essence associated with decay, age, and mutability. "According to this [late-seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century] system of classification," Kemp claims, "whatever was in the process of decay was potentially picturesque, because one could detect in it more, and more obvious, signs of wear and irregularity."[19]

Emerson's affection for the picturesque was inevitably shaped by his eighteenth-century models, whose landscapes reflect the lists of picturesque objects compiled by contemporary aestheticians who praise "Gothic cathedrals and old mills, gnarled oaks and shaggy goats, decayed cart horses and wandering gypsies."[20] The "Willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts, and brickwork" that Constable claimed to love are represented in the slippery walkways, stagnant waters, shabby thatch of the cottages, and aging hulls of boats in Emerson's photographs.[21]


ruined water mill provided him with the perfect instance of the picturesque: a useless and decaying link with the past made interesting by its patterns and shadows to the reader who knows nothing of its former function (Fig. 40). Goodall writes appreciatively in Life and Landscape of an old boat, "bleached, blistered, . . . worm-eaten, [and] neglected," (37) while Emerson describes (admittedly ironically) "a picturesque cottage with rotten and leaky roof and dripping walls—a damp fever den."[22]

Clearly, rotten planks, decayed cart horses and ruined water mills have little utilitarian merit. The picturesque, however, requires that even that vestige of utility be denied. Thus it make sense that labor in Emerson's photographs is valued for its aesthetic properties, not for the work itself. In fact, the job itself is abstracted to type, so that the eel catcher or hay poler becomes a mythological worker, defined by the work and undifferentiated from it. As Ruskin observes, for the creator of the picturesque, utilitarian associations are both a distraction and an irrelevance. Whatever the lifelong hardships of a particular human subject, to the "heartless" trafficker in the picturesque he "has at last accomplished his destiny, and filled the corner of a sketch, where something of an unshapely nature was wanting."[23]

Thus Emerson's photographs, ostensively preoccupied with work, are largely emptied of their social and economic significance. But they also meet the requirements of the picturesque in the more general sense that they record the decay of a way of life and of a social order. Paradoxically the pictorial photograph works aqainst the dynamism of decay, enforcing stasis onto the mutability of the picturesque and framing it with nostalgia. Photography arrests decay, in a static, suspended moment. By virtue of its very medium, the poignancy of whose images lies in their relationship to time, picturesque photography figures the always already lost; for Emerson, what was lost was a particular social system, the right thing in the right place, a certain symmetry that heralded art and ordered the landscape and, not coincidentally, assigned different functions to words and pictures.

Despite their mutual unease, the text and the photographs of Life and Landscape are assigned roles of equal importance: the labor, as Ellen Handy has observed, is divided equally between them (183). After Life and Landscape, however, we witness a gradual peeling away of language from image, a widening gap between the aesthetic and utilitarian functions of Emerson's books. In his later works—particularly Marsh Leaves (1895)—the photographs make no pretense at recording the working lives of laborers or the conditions of the rural poor. They offer instead


images abstract to the point of impressionism, whose preoccupation is with light, shade, shape, and distance, but rarely with human existence (Fig. 41). Indeed, these pictures are startlingly beautiful in part because they reveal a nature isolated, silent, kaleidoscopic in its range of shapes and largely untouched by human interference. By contrast, Emerson's later writings increasingly recognize the lives lived out within the frame of his photographs. His apparent goal at times is to deny or adjust a reader's response to the fragile beauty of the images. The divergence of text from image makes the effect of Emerson's later work ultimately Ironic, for in this divergence his photographs figure the very modernism whose rising tide they try to stem.

By contrast with much domestic photography of mid-century, and in keeping with the tradition of the picturesque, Emerson's fin-de-siècle pictures emphasize, not acquisition, but loss. The photographs of his early books, like the writings of the later, claim to record work, to image an era but ultimately do neither so much as they display the uses of naturalism in the service of nostalgia. His increasingly apparent failure to connect words to his pictures, or pictures to the words, suggests a perceived fracturing of word from thing and of word from representation—the demise of naturalism, in short, and the advent of modernity.

Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads received good reviews. The Photographic News praised Emerson for "endeavouring to form a real and truthful school of photographic representation."[24] The Amateur Photographer heralded its publication: "the issue of this book marks an epoch in the history of book-making. . . . such perfection of photography, such perfection of reproduction processes, and such perfection of artistic feeling have never before been brought together."[25] Ultimately, of course, one must follow Barrell's directive and ask what is being claimed in these pictures about the rural poor. If the reviewer for the Photographic News thought the pictures "truthful," what was it about life that the pictures confirmed? If the Amateur Photographer found perfection in the feeling, what was the name of that perfect feeling?

The truthfulness of Emerson's photographs depends upon the desire of those who view them for a world in which it is only natural that certain people work on the land—natural, because these people are as much a part of the land as the trees. Emerson's landscapes counter social instability with images of stasis like those of Gainsborough and Constable. But because of his medium, Emerson's version of rural life at the close of the century had greater potential for verisimilitude: his deliberately pictorial photographs denied that photography must be used in


the service of documentary while it used its documentary resonance in the service of the photographer's own mythology.

From its beginnings, photography had figured in the debate between what we may loosely term the schools of realism and romanticism. Indeed, the power of a photograph as a text lay precisely in its potential to be identified either as proof of the nature of the world's existence, which is nothing beyond what we see, or as proof that the world cannot be so represented —that its true nature must somehow be absent from any representation. For its first fifty years the art-science debate had defined photography variously as descriptive or interpretive, expressive or prescriptive, romantic or realist, scientific or artistic. Instead of resolving those issues, the end of the century argued them more vigorously, in part because of an increased and mutual influence of photography and other art forms. "It is quite probable," the reviewer of Life and Landscape for the Photographic News wrote, "that the historian of fifty years to come may set down the present time as that period at which the artist and the photographer began to considerably influence each other."[26]

That influence had been at work since the invention of photography and had always been controversial. Robinson in his memoirs refers to the 1860s, however, as a time when "the opposition to art in photography was at its fiercest."[27] The objections raised to applying artistic principles to photography suggest genuine concern about what photography ought to be permitted to do. Its foremost duty, according to one school, was to represent truth in its entirety. But as early as 1853 photographers eager that photography rise above mere mechanical production challenged that duty, while journals frequently debated questions of technique as a pretext for examining more fundamental disagreements about the role of photography in art. "I do not consider it necessary that the whole of the subject should be what is called in focus, " wrote one practitioner; "on the contrary, I have found in many instances that the object is better obtained by the whole subject being a little out of focus, thereby giving a greater breadth of effect, and consequently more suggestive of the true character of nature."[28] These comments caused, as Eastlake describes it, "no little scandal" (460).

"Hitherto the chief aim of the photographer seems to have been a biting sharpness of detail in the negative," wrote Goodall in Life and Landscape, but this "is generally quite fatal to the result from an artistic point of view" (79). O. G. Rejlander defended his practice of playing with focus by observing that a photograph was a representation, and not the thing itself: "If the old masters had finished the skin up to the 'focus,' they would have literally reproduced a model instead of pre-


senting to our imaginations a Madonna."[29] The debate over focus articulated a philosophical divide between those who would see the world as the camera could show it and those who held that the full truth about the world must be sought beyond its surface. Moreover, the play of the artist's imagination was impeded by the prolific details made possible by photography; such details, wrote one contributor to the Journal of the Photographic Society, were not pleasing:

they rather excite wonder as optical curiosities. The chemical and optical means of producing photographic images have in fact been brought to greater perfection than the artist requires for the production of effect by means of those broad masses of arranged and contrasted light and shade which, under proper management, indicate character sufficiently, and leave the imagination to fill up deficiencies.[30]

The American Journal of Photography went so far as to claim not only that it was acceptable to remove the distraction of unnecessary details in photography, but also that an absence of such details was in fact proof of artistic worth: "sacrifice of detail in the unessential parts of a picture, is always evidence of artistic feeling."[31] Artistic feeling itself was inspired by the attempt to photograph truthfully—to photograph what people saw, rather than what was really there. "All at once the fundamental distinction between Science and Art dawns upon us," stated Emerson. "We cannot record too many facts in Science; the fewer facts we record in Art, and yet express the subject so that it cannot be better expressed, the better."[32] "If photography is to be art," wrote John Bartlett, it "must represent nature as it is presented to our senses, not as things actually are. . . . The law of the persistence of vision must not be violated."[33]

Although Emerson's use of and theories on soft focus varied considerably during his photographic career, his work was generally in accordance with Bartlett's view His photographic theory was based upon Helmholtz's optical theory as well as his own observations that "the eye sees most sharply in the center of the field of vision" and "nothing in nature has a sharp outline";[34] his aesthetic was thus fed both by science and by his faith that truthfulness is best served by an attention to feeling at the expense of detail. But because for Emerson the truthful image was invariably the most beautiful, his photographs make beautiful—and hail as picturesque—that which represents the truth as he sees it; and he sees it in the preservation and the framing of a serene and stable agrarian order. The picturesque, which is transitory and mutable, is, ironically, used by the photographer to preserve and stabilize and fix the right thing in the right place.


To observe the conundrum of Emerson's vision is to claim no new insights into the workings of pictorial photography, a reactionary genre that has fallen into disrepute for the essentially political reasons I have described. Emerson's photographs, however, do more than chart the uses of the picturesque in the services of mythmaking. The tensions surrounding photography throughout the nineteenth century made of it a site for debating the very nature of representation. The inconsistencies of Emerson's work illuminate some of the issues at stake in this debate. The images themselves, however, suggest neither unrest nor dissent, and affirm only an orderly, harmonious, and ultimately even ethereal vision of English rural life.



Fig. 36.
P. H. Emerson, "Coming Home from the Marshes." Platinotype. 1886.  From Life and Landscape on the 
Norfolk Broads,
 plate 1. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 37.
P. H. Emerson, "Rowing Home the Schoof-Stuff." Platinotype, 1886. From  Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads,
plate 21. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 38.
P. H. Emerson, "The Mangold Harvest." Photogravure, 1887. From  Pictures from Life in Field and Fen,  plate 4. 
Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 39.
P. H. Emerson, "Poling the Marsh Hay." Platinotype, 1886. From  Life and Landscape 
on the Norfolk Broads,
 plate 17. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 40.
P. H. Emerson, "A Ruined Water Mill." Platinotype, 1886. From  Life and Landscape 
on the Norfolk Broads,
 plate 11. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 41.
P. H. Emerson, "Marsh Weeds." Photogravure, 1895. From  Marsh Leaves,
 plate 6. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Dust Piles and Damp Pavements
Excrement, Repression, and the Victorian City in Photography and Literature

Ellen Handy

As both liquid and solid waste accumulated at a remarkable rate in Victorian cities and posed urgent problems of disposal, anxieties about (and fascinations with) excrement took various forms of expression in both life and art. The excretory process and its products were as unmentionable in most social contexts as they were inescapable. How then could they be figured in a novel or in a series of photographs? In both its naming and visual imagery, prose adopts strategies for evading and transforming waste different from those available to photography, which possesses a directly indexical relation to the world it represents. How are photography's and fiction's evasions of—and preoccupations with—excreta and urban sanitation both imaged and concealed? And how do the antithetical categories of wet and dry operate in these representations?

Lytton Strachey, in his memoir of the childhood home he first knew in 1884 (69 Lancaster Gate, London), described its late-Victorian sanitary facilities:

The one and only bathroom was . . . perched, with its lavatory, in an impossible location between the drawing room and the lowest bedroom floors—a kind of crow's nest—to reach which, one had to run the gauntlet of stairs innumerable, and whose noises of rushing water were all too audible from the drawing room just below.[1]

The eminently Victorian position of this lavatory was all too proximate to the drawing room, but unspeakable to anyone lacking the naughty desire to reject convention that actuated Strachey and his Bloomsbury cronies. This passage serves well to locate the social position of the very


topic of excrement in polite society, yet a great distance lies between the bourgeois Stracheys' lavatory and the squalid arrangements of the urban poor. The historian F. B. Smith, writing of the outskirts of early-nineteenth-century London, noted that

one of the great divisions between the respectable and the unrespectable was where and how one relieved oneself. . . . Only the very respectable had an earth-closet or a midden. The rest just relieved themselves in the fields, while "the back streets, courts and other eligible places are constantly found strewed with human excrements."[2]

Although to the Victorian social crusader such behavior was mentionable, it was not so to the novelist or photographer. Both Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend and Thomas Annan's Photographs of Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow brought imagery of human waste dangerously near to the drawing room, but only by employing evasive strategies. Much recent work in Victorian social history reminds us how omnipresent this subject matter must sometimes have seemed. Anthony Wohl has written pungently that "by mid-century Victorian England was in danger of becoming submerged in a huge dung heap of its own making. . . . To stand close to a defective sewer today is to recapture the essence of early- and mid-Victorian towns."[3]

These "towns" were all characterized by growing slum areas, which, like lavatories in middle- and upper-class consciousness, were not always acknowledged or apparent but were always threatening to obtrude themselves upon public or polite notice. Engels noted in The Condition of the Working Class in England that

Every great town has one or more slum areas into which the working classes are packed. Sometimes, of course, poverty is to be found hidden away in alleys close to the stately homes of the wealthy. Generally, however, the workers are segregated in separate districts where they struggle through life as best they can out of sight of the more fortunate classes of society. The slums of the English towns have much in common. . . . [The streets] are filthy and strewn with animal and vegetable refuse. Since they have neither gutters nor drains the refuse accumulates in stagnant, stinking puddles.[4]

Edwin Chadwick's Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain confirmed, with a plethora of description, that the filthy culs-de-sac of British slums greatly resembled each other in their overcrowding and proliferation of infectious diseases.[5] But the stinking puddles and animal refuse of those slums were seldom, if ever, apparent in literary or visual artistic representations.

Freud, writing on repression in 1915 and employing an image redo-


lent of the compost heap, noted that desire develops "in a more unchecked and luxuriant fashion if it is withdrawn by repression from conscious influence. It ramifies like a fungus, so to speak, in the dark and takes on extreme forms of expression."[6] John Kucich has argued that Dickens's notoriously divided sensibilities evidence, not repression and unresolved conflicts, but "a coherent strategy of representation," a deliberate employment of the fungal ramification Freud mentions.[7] Kucich's theme is Dickens's repression of violence, not of excretory functions, but his presentation of repression as other than a silencing of proscribed desire is valuable in addressing different and larger questions, including the functions of repression in visual representation. Pictorial and narrative strategies necessarily differ, but there are important parallels between Dickens's and Annan's treatments of the presence of excrement in the city.

From 1868 to about 1871 Thomas Annan (1829–1887) photographed in the slums of Glasgow, which was then the most overcrowded city in Europe, and consequently renowned for its epidemics and the appalling state of its slums. Chadwick, among other observers, noted that the conditions in Glasgow were "the worst of any . . . in . . . Great Britain."[8] Irish and other immigrant workers lived in elaborately subdivided tenements, most dating from the seventeenth century, packed together in the heart of old Glasgow in the parish of St. Mary Tron. An 1843 article in the Artizan described the area

south of the Triangle and west of the Saltmarket, as well as in the Calton, off the High-Street, etc.—endless labyrinths of narrow lanes or wynds, into which at almost every step debouche courts or closes formed by old, ill-ventilated, towering houses crumbling to decay, destitute of water and crowded with inhabitants, comprising three or four families (perhaps twenty persons) on each flat, and sometimes each flat let out in lodgings that confine—we dare not say accommodate—from fifteen to twenty persons in a single room.[9]

These dangerous and insalubrious slums were to be torn down by authority of the Glasgow City Improvement Act of 1866, which provided for demolitions in the old city to make way for new "dwelling houses for the mechanics, labourers, and other persons of the working and lower classes"—the first municipal renewal project in Great Britain.[10] The work was initiated by John Blackie, lord provost of Glasgow, and demolitions began in 1868, despite Blackie's removal from office by a newly enfranchised electorate disappointed by the heavy tax burden this ameliorative project entailed.[11] This slum clearance had various motivations. The frequency of cholera epidemics was to be reduced by eliminating


the overcrowding that breeds contagion, and a pure water supply was piped from Loch Katrine to the area. But there were commercial as well as public health concerns, such as the building of large metropolitan railway terminals, which necessitated the incursion of the train lines into the center city.[12]

Annan was commissioned by the city officers responsible for implementing these improvements to document the slums before their destruction. A successful commercial photographer specializing in architecture, he had begun his career as a copperplate engraver, took up calotype photography in 1855, soon switched to the glass negative technique, and subsequently made a point of learning new processes as they were developed. The cumbersome glass plates he used as negatives for most of his photographic work had to be processed immediately on location, and he converted a hansom cab to serve as his portable darkroom when he photographed country houses, church windows, or the closes. Annan's glass negatives required as much light as possible and long exposures by today's standards. He was unable to photograph indoors, and practical flash lighting for photography had not yet been invented.

Parallels exist between Annan's work and that of Charles Marville (1816–1879), who photographed for more than twenty years in Paris under the jurisdiction of the Baron Haussmann, who was systematically transforming Paris into a modern city of uninterrupted mobility for both military maneuvers and civilian traffic. A whole constellation of grand Imperial projects was documented by official photographers to create imperial propaganda as well as a historical record of this period. Marville photographed before, during, and after the razing of insalubrious slums and the building of broad new boulevards in their stead. Maria Morris Hambourg has written that Marville was "very much Haussmann's man, quite in sympathy with the rigorous, relentless logic of the prefect's plan."[13] But whose "man" was Annan, what was being documented by his photographs, and by whom were they meant to be seen?

Although a public civic commission, Annan's work was seen by a relatively limited audience. Unlike Dickens, whose fictions had a genuine mass audience, Annan worked for the record rather than for a public. In 1871 an edition of perhaps fourteen copies of Annan's suite of photographs was privately published, and in 1877 each trustee of the Glasgow City Improvement Acts received a personal copy of the pictures they had commissioned. Other copies were distributed to libraries and civic bodies in Glasgow and elsewhere. Final editions appeared in 1900, with the addition of historical text. The high cost of photographic


publishing made these albums (in which each plate is an original photographic print) more suitable for institutional collections than for the parlor tables of middle-class homes. And though the buildings being destroyed were judged architecturally distinguished enough to merit recording before their disappearance, it is unlikely that public interest in their pictorial record would have been widespread. The British archives were much less comprehensive than those of the French, and these pictures were exhibited to the public only once, at the Kelvingrove Park Museum.[14]

Much that was observed by the reformers who visited these slums with pen in hand eluded Annan's camera. His pictures repeatedly depict the approaches to the closes, or interior courtyards of tenements, eloquently conveying the sodden dankness of the wretched area. Close, No. 61 Saltmarket (Fig. 42) is one of the starkest of Annan's photographs. In it, a dead-end alley culminates in an ominous rectangle of darkest black that offers no real escape from the narrow space whose walls rise up abruptly out of the frame. The very bricks of these walls seem permeated by unwholesome moisture, and puddled liquid is prominent in the foreground. Chadwick quoted a local source's description of passages like these:

We entered a dirty low passage like a house door, which led from the street through the first house to a square court immediately behind, which court, with the exception of a narrow path around it leading to another long passage through a second house, was occupied entirely as a dung receptacle of the most disgusting kind. Beyond this court the second passage led to a second square court, occupied in the same way by its dunghill; and from this court there was yet a third passage leading to a third court and a third dungheap. There were no privies or drains there, and the dungheap received all the filth which the swarm of wretched inhabitants could give; and we learned that a considerable part of the rent of the houses was paid by the produce of the dungheaps. Thus, worse off than wild animals, many of which withdraw to a distance and conceal their ordure, the dwellers in these courts had converted their shame into a kind of money by which their lodging was to be paid.[15]

Closes, Nos. 97 and 103 Saltmarket (Fig. 43) depicts one of the courtyards between buildings secluded from the streets that are described in the quotation. But the dung heap is emphatically absent. In Close, No. 31 Saltmarket (Fig. 44), a more typical image, a man leans against a wall as it curves toward a hidden vanishing point. One of Engels's "stinking, stagnant puddles" is just behind him.

In selecting subjects for photographs, Annan invariably evaded the


contagion-breeding muckheaps. His images normally emphasize the narrow, recessive, and distinctly uninviting passages (called wynds) leading to the closes rather than those courts themselves. The resulting compositional formula was visually striking, but insufficiently so to explain the frequency of its occurrence in Annan's oeuvre. The closes themselves were the more characteristic architectural elements, and in their broader spaces the light necessary for photographic exposure would have been more plentiful. Their absence from the photographic series suggests deliberate evasion. It is difficult to draw conclusions without knowing the specific instructions Annan received from the trustees of the City Improvement Acts. While the courts and dung heaps were the main preoccupation of the makers of the written records of Old Glasgow, Annan may have considered that his own medium would render excrement too vividly for decorum. Photography, in its short history, had not yet developed its own hierarchy of pictorial subjects and values, but those of Academic painting were freely appropriated and applied by photographers. Photography was already being skillfully used as a medium of propaganda and selective concealment rather than as an instrument of purest objectivity, as the carefully edited photographic record of the Crimean War demonstrates. Like any medium of representation, photography could deny circumstance and bowdlerize unpleasant reality; indeed, its inherent accuracy and detail of rendering provided even more motive for so doing.

Historians of photography have argued whether Annan's pictures are artistic productions or the precursors of the socially engaged documentary photography practiced by Jacob Riis, Lewis Hine, and others in the United States from the 1890s to the 1920S. Margaret Harker, trying to establish Annan as an appealing auteur, wrote of his work that "Individual prints, when carefully matted, are very attractive indeed, especially of those subjects which have a natural pictorial quality, and where the human wretchedness is not so obvious."[16] Presumably she prefers the drier views. A more astute reader of these photographs, Julie Lawson, described Annan as struggling with an ethical dilemma as he photographed the closes, seeking "a way of seeing in which morality did not become enmeshed with accusation, and formalism was not the threshold to indifference."[17] Surely, however, these words describe the earnest struggles of late-twentieth-century viewers to assimilate the photographs to history rather than the issues confronting Annan in the slums as he worked.

In preference to the dung heaps, Annan's photographs emphasize details like the primitive outdoor sinks (mandated by an earlier sanitary


reform) attached to many of the buildings for rudimentary washing, especially of clothing. Such a sink is visible affixed to the wall at the right in Close, No. 80 High Street (Fig. 45).[18] Recently laundered garments of varying kinds are strung on what look like flagpoles above the narrow alley. Lawson suggests that the inclusion of laundry in many of Annan's photographs is meant to redeem the reputation of the poor, who were often stigmatized as dirty,[19] and she may be right. But the spatterings of wetness in the gutter and the foreground is as likely to have come from urine poured into the sink to drain into the gutter as from futile attempts at cleanliness. As one account grimly noted:

In our opinion, the privy (a public facility in the back yard) is in no case a sufficient provision for flatted tenements. It is never used, and the result is that every sink is practically a water closet, and the stairs and the courts and roofs of outhouses are littered with deposits of filth from windows.[20]

Contagion and filth are thus evoked through liquid waste rather than the omnipresent but unacknowledged solid wastes. Annan must have taken great pains to avoid including the dunghills in some of his compositions; I imagine him doing so by actually standing against one, turning his back to it, perhaps with the legs of his large camera's tripod balanced on its lower slopes. How else could he have photographed in those narrow confines without showing the dung heaps? This hypothetical scene is an emblem of the repression operating in both Annan's and Dickens's work: the unmentionable, undepictable subject is inescapable at close quarters. A report of 1839 (quoted by Engels) said of the dung heaps in the closes of Glasgow that "No one seems to have taken the trouble to clean out these Augean stables, this pandemonium, this nucleus of crime, filth and pestilence in the second city of the empire."[21] It is unlikely that such a Herculean cleansing was undertaken solely for the sake of Annan's photographic activity. It is just possible, however, that his photographing was timed to occur immediately before the demolition began, and that the owners of the mountainous dung heaps had evacuated them beforehand. Such literal means were necessary to shape camera images of the closes, while the novelist had relatively more flexibility in representing unacceptable subjects.

An unwholesome seeping moisture of unspecific origins is prevalent in Annan's pictures, a kind of surrogate for what is not shown. In Close, No. 128 Saltmarket (Fig. 46) the moisture gleams about halfway back into the represented space, just beyond the rickety exterior staircase descending at the right. The liquid streams through the gutter along the righthand side of the picture, advancing toward the foreground and con-


trasting with the rigid and static architectural forms that close and govern the composition. Although Dickens portrayed London as awash in a flood of filth and miasmic exhalations, his rendering of excrement differed from Annan's by denying the dampness of the substance. No insinuating trickles moisten Dickens's towering piles of dry mounded "dust."

Charles Dickens published Our Mutual Friend in parts between May 1864 and November 1865, only a few years before Annan's photographic work in the closes of Glasgow. The novel's scope encompasses many quarters of London as well as the Thames-side and northern slums and waste grounds, while Annan's study was restricted to a single district. Dickens sketched the degrading effects of wealth in different guises; prominent among his motifs is that of the dustheaps (and, even more grotesque, the corpses of the drowned) as a source of prosperity. Dickens represents the entire city as a functioning organism; in the hidden, dangerous world of the closes Annan suggests a cancer within that organism. Catherine Gallagher has described how in Victorian society "the body came to occupy the center of a social discourse obsessed with sanitation, with minimizing bodily contact and preventing the now alarmingly traversable boundaries of individual bodies as either valuable or problematic."[22] The emergence of excrement from bodies; its concealment in chamber pots, privies, and sewers; and its possible failure to remain suppressed—all were the sources of anxiety and fascination pertaining to the social, urban body as much as to an individual one.

For Annan, waste (like darkness) was an attribute of poverty while for Dickens, whose ironic, less literal, vision preferred symbols to simple exemplars, waste was equated with money. In each case, evil was presumed; Dickens's plot works to establish the corrupting potential of wealth, whereas Annan's photographs depict the unhygienic degradation of poverty. Yet neither referred directly to the principal elements of the waste Dickens so euphemistically called "dust," that is, the human and animal excrement that threatened to overwhelm the densely populated cities where the poor lived close packed like animals in slaughter yards, and where armies of horses provided transportation while contributing to the filth in the streets. By around 1850 those horses deposited approximately twenty thousand tons of manure in the streets of London per annum.[23] Indeed, it is estimated that six hundred horses were employed in the dust- and night-soil-collection business alone![24] Jane Jacobs, in her classic study The Death and Life of Great American Cities, quotes from an essay by H. B. Cresswell, an architect, that recalled London in 1890:


But the mud! And the noise! And the smell! All these blemishes were [the] mark of [the] horse. . . . The whole of London's crowded wheeled traffic—which in parts of the City was at times dense beyond movement—was dependent on the horse: lorry, wagon, bus, hansom and "growler," and coaches and carriages and private vehicles of all kinds, were appendages to horses. Meredith refers to the "anticipatory stench of its cabstands" on railway approach to London: but the characteristic aroma—for the nose recognized London with gay excitement—was of stables, which were commonly of three or more storeys with inclined ways zigzagging up the faces of them [their] middens kept the cast iron filigree chandeliers, that glorified the reception rooms of upper and lower middle class homes throughout London, encrusted with dead flies and, in late summer, veiled with jiving clouds of them.[25]

Like the flies around the filigree chandeliers linking horse manure to fashionable receptions, the nuisance of equine by-products in the streets is amusingly insinuated by Dickens into an absurd dinner table conversation in the novel. Mr. Podsnap inquires whether an uncomprehending French visitor has perceived any public evidence of the effects of the British constitution:

"I Was Inquiring . . . Whether You Have Observed in our Streets as We should say, Upon our Pavvy as You would say, any Tokens—"

The foreign gentleman, with patient courtesy, entreated pardon; "But what was tokenz?"

"Marks," said Mr Podsnap; "Signs, you know, Appearances—Traces."

"Ah! Of a Orse?" inquired the foreign gentleman.[26]

Where did the droppings of London's horses go? What happened to human waste, produced in staggering quantity by the constantly growing city? Cesspools and sewers retained, then drained some of this matter, often directly into the Thames, but solid, towering dung heaps also appeared on the outskirts of the city. Our Mutual Friend 's Mr. Boffin, the Golden Dustman, is the inheritor of his former employer's superbly lucrative dust yard, which purveyed "coal-dust, vegetable-dust, bone-dust, crockery dust, rough dust and sifted dust,—all manner of Dust."[27] But few of these varieties (apart from coal dust) would have been plentiful enough to make the dust mountains Dickens describes, and none of them would have been commercially attractive to purchasers. Most of the "dust" bought and sold in Victorian cities was excrement, valuable as a component in agricultural fertilizer. As an 1839 investigation of the Glasgow slums Annan was later to photograph reported, "the centre of the court is the dunghill [of the tenement], which is probably the most lucrative part of the estate to the laird in most instances, and which it


would consequently be deemed an invasion of the rights of property to remove."[28] The peculiar architectural plan of Glasgow, with its warrens of closed courts, led to the sequestration of dung heaps, whereas in London these depositories were more commonly displaced to the outskirts of the city. Dickens was well aware of this, though he presented the mounds of organic filth as "dust" in Our Mutual Friend . In 1851 a description that served as one of the sources for the Boffins' dust yard appeared in Household Words . The region described lies between Battle Bridge and Euston Square:

"It's a rum place, ain't it?" remarked the dustman. "I am forced to come through it twice every day, for my work lays that way; but I wouldn't, if I could help it. It don't much matter in my business, a little dirt, but Hagar Town is worse nor I can abear."

"Are there no sewers?"

"Sooers? Why, the stench of a rainy morning is enough fur to knock down a bullock. It's all very well for them as is lucky enough to have a ditch afore their doors; but, in gen'ral, everybody chucks everythink out in front and there it stays. There used to be an inspector of nuusances, when the choleray was about, but, as soon as the choleray went away, people said they didn't want no more of that suit till such times as the choleray should break out agen.[29]

Henry Mayhew's authoritative account of the life and work of dustmen in London Labour and the London Poor stated that "The dustmen, scavengers, and nightmen are, to a certain extent, the same people."[30] Dustmen collected ashes and household rubbish, scavengers went freelance through the streets and garnered horse droppings and any other lucrative detritus they might come upon, and night-soil men worked under regular contract to remove the accumulated human waste from privies and dung heaps. Thus as many twentieth-century critics have noted, while Dickens wrote that Mr. Boffin's wealth derived from "dust," other substances are certainly implied. In 1941 Humphrey House pioneered open discussion of the "dust" in Our Mutual Friend by writing that "One of the main jobs of a dust-contractor in Victorian London was to collect the contents of the privies and the piles of mixed dung and ashes which were made in the poorer streets; and the term 'dust' was used as a euphemism for decaying human excrement, which was exceedingly valuable as fertilizer."[31] The actual monetary value of the waste so collected has not yet been charted accurately by historians. Chadwick's Report considered whether entrepreneurial waste collection was economically viable:


It might have been expected, from the value of the refuse as manure (one of the most powerful known), that the great demand for it would have afforded a price which might have returned, in some degree, the expense and charge of cleansing. But this appears not to be the case in the metropolis. . . . The cost of removal, or of the labour and cartage, limits the general use or deposit of the refuse within a radius which does not exceed three miles.[32]

Whether or not collection efforts were profitable in practice, however, the belief in the economic value of this waste was widespread. In Can You Forgive Her? (1860–61) Trollope's comic character Mr. Cheese-acre of Oileymeade speaks lovingly of the valuable muckheaps on his property, hoping thereby to induce a lady to accept his suit. And in Orley Farm (1864–65) the young heir to the eponymous property reveals his impractical nature in his desire to pursue two inappropriate careers: philology and scientific farming. In the cause of the latter, he orders ruinously expensive guano from Liverpool rather than sensibly preferring the locally available product. Charles Kingsley's fascination with chemical transformations in Yeast (1850) led to strangely overwrought praise of sewage as "vast stores of wealth, elaborated by Nature's chemistry, into the ready materials of food; which proclaim, too, by their own foul smell, God's will that they should be buried out of sight in the fruitful, all-regenerating grave of earth."[33]

Christopher Hamlin has argued that the chemist Justus von Liebig is the key figure in the Victorian discussion of waste disposal, putrefaction, and decomposition of solid waste.[34] Chadwick, for instance, quoted Liebig to the effect that it was "astounding" how little care was taken to preserve night soil as manure for agricultural use.[35] But many schools of thought concerning issues of sanitation existed. Hamlin cites "A Letter on Sewage" written in 1870 by a visiting American, who

soon found that partisan violence was not confined to republics alone, nor to political parties, nor could theology ever produce bitterer denunciations than were poured out by one party upon another on this subject. If I had not been amused, I should have been indignant at hearing men whose works I have read for a quarter of a century, and thought were men of consummate wisdom, sagacity and coolness, using language worthy of Billingsgate toward an unlucky and persistent supporter of the "earth-closet" idea.[36]

While the larger social questions of sanitation and the chemical processes of organic decay were the subjects of heated and passionate debate, the quotidian reality of excretion and of filth in the cities was drastically less acceptable as a subject of public comment.


Thus Dickens, using evasive, allusive terminology, rendered repellent excrement as euphemistic dust, suggesting at once industrial production and the state to which Christian burial services announce all flesh is to come. Though "dust" was not the usual term for animal and human waste, he seized upon its possibilities. He described the region of the dustheaps (near the present-day St. Pancras Station) as "a tract of suburban Sahara, where tiles and bricks were burnt, bones were boiled, carpets were beat, rubbish was shot, dogs were fought, and dust was heaped by contractors."[37]

While Dickens desiccated humid massy excrement through language, Annan diluted it through pictorial metonymy, indicating the presence of waste in the slums through the slicks of noisome moisture in the foregrounds of his pictures. Both Dickens and Annan transformed the unspeakable matter into other substances, but Dickens did so more simply, through naming. Like Poe's purloined letter, it is always in plain view. Annan, on the other hand, practiced a subtler transformation, because he was unwilling to commit this substance to the camera's only too accurate and unevasive rendering. He could not allow it to appear at center stage in undisguised form. But the real nature of Dickens's "dust" was not always concealed. Not ashy grit but moist effluent, it is emphatically fecal in origin. In a portentous passage, Dickens figured the Boffins as prosperous dung beetles:

And now, in the blooming summer days, behold Mr and Mrs Boffin established in the eminently aristocratic family mansion, and behold all manner of crawling, creeping, fluttering, and buzzing creatures, attracted by the gold dust of the Golden Dustman.[38]

The shit that draws the flies may be solid, but it is also oozing and damp. The Saharan dryness Dickens posits at the beginning of the book gives way by its end to a description of waste that is moist-er, a closer approximation of the liquid filth of Annan's photographs. When the evil Silas Wegg is finally punished by Sloppy, "dust" is revealed as excrement, which makes its first direct appearance in the novel, ostensibly by happenstance:

Mr Sloppy's instructions had been to deposit his burden in the road; but, a scavenger's cart happening to stand unattended at the corner with its little ladder planted against the wheel, Mr S. found it impossible to resist the temptation of shooting Mr Silas Wegg into the cart's contents. A somewhat difficult feat, achieved with great dexterity, and with a prodigious splash.[39]

That splash (an impossible sound for dry dust to make) and the presence of that scavenger's cart confirm Dickens's fascination with the omnipres-


ence of excreta in the Victorian city. Is this the return of the repressed? Or has Dickens evaded the strictures of convention rather than repressed consciousness of the proximity of filth to the society that produces it? He does not remove it from conscious consideration; rather, he constantly draws attention to it. Kucich argues that repression in Dickens is "a rhetorical figure. Far from concealing its operation—as a classically Freudian mechanism of representation would—repression in Dickens actually names itself as repression and details its function, assigning itself a specific set of meanings and values."[40] Dickens's strategy here is in fact visual, while Annan's is metaphoric; the textual description of the dustheaps is as vivid and precise as photography is customarily reputed to be, while the photographs suggest their subjects by surprisingly indirect and associative means. In an odd episode toward the end of the novel, Lavinia Wilfer and her mother and her suitor travel through the city in a coach. Reproving her mother for her inability to loll comfortably, Lavinia says:

But why one should go out to dine with one's own daughter or sister, as if one's under-petticoat was a blackboard, I do not understand.

"Neither do I understand," retorted Mrs Wilfer, with deep scorn, "how a young lady can mention the garment in the name of which you have indulged. I blush for you." . . .

Here, Mr Sampson, with the view of establishing harmony, which he never under any circumstances succeeded in doing, said with an agreeable smile: "After all, you know, ma'am, we know it's there." And immediately felt that he had committed himself.

"Really, George," remonstrated Miss Lavinia, "I must say that I don't understand your allusions, and that I think you might be more delicate and less personal."[41]

Dickens did not "indulge" in the name of the excrement that pervades Our Mutual Friend as it pervaded London itself, and he did not blush either. Like Miss Lavinia, he was capable of making an allusion that he immediately refuses to acknowledge. But as his narrative rolls like that carriage through the streets of the city, waste splashes, crossing sweepers remove "Traces" of "Orses," and bugs swarm where the stench rises from the manure piles of Battle Bridge.

Annan's photographs, also unblushing but perhaps more ambiguous, depict similarly fetid aspects of a smaller section of a city, lying close by the broad, relatively clean boulevards of commerce and public life. High Street from the College Open (Fig. 47) depicts such a thoroughfare, off which lie many of the wynds and closes pictured in the photographs I have discussed. The broad pavements and modern gas lamps suggest a


clean, well-ordered city. But—exceptionally—in the foreground near the gutter lies a dark irregular mass, perhaps one horse's contribution to the befouling of the city's streets.

Although Ruskin once opined that "a good sewer is far nobler and a far holier thing . . . than the most admired Madonna ever painted," such frankness was unusual outside the sanitary reform movement in Great Britain.[42] In France, the relation of waste, sewage, daily life and art was seen differently. The Paris sewers were among the wonders of Second Empire engineering and were visited by crowds of tourists. Flaubert, whose sleep was sometimes troubled by the nocturnal visits of the cesspool cleaners to his house, nonetheless expressed interest in their operations and recognized a parallel between their work and his own. He wrote to Louise Colet that "The artist must raise everything to a higher level; he is like a pump; inside him is a great pipe reaching down into the bowels of things, the deepest layers. He sucks up what was pooled beneath the surface and brings it forth into the sunlight in giant sprays."[43] To set art and sanitation into relation in this fashion is to reveal a directness unparalleled in the work of Annan or Dickens. Transformed yet present in the foreground of both Our Mutual Friend and Photographs of Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow, excrement is acknowledged as a memento mori emblematic of the human condition and as the inevitable by-product of the healthy functioning of the city, but never as a metaphor for the content of artistic production. The waste accumulated by the city, like that of the individual, was a source of inspiration because of the anxieties it elicited; for Annan as for Dickens, those anxieties become organizing principles of art very different from Flaubert's cathartic spray from the cesspool of the unconscious.



Fig. 42.
Thomas Annan,  Close, No. 61 Saltmarket,  1868–77. Albumen silver print
from glass negative. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 43.
Thomas Annan,  Closes, Nos. 97 and 103 Saltmarket,  1868–77. Albumen 
silver print from glass negative. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 44.
Thomas Annan,  Close, No. 31 Saltmarket,  1868–77. Albumen silver print 
from glass negative. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 45.
Thomas Annan,  Close, No. 80 High Street,  1868–77. Albumen silver
 print from glass negative. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 46.
Thomas Annan,  Close, No. 128 Saltmarket,  1868–77. Albumen silver print 
from glass negative. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Fig. 47.
Thomas Annan,  High Street from the College Open,  1868–77. Albumen silver
 print from glass negative. Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California.



Making Darkness Visible
Capturing the Criminal and Observing the Law in Victorian Photography and Detective Fiction

Ronald R. Thomas

In photography, process reproduction can bring out those aspects of the original that are unattainable to the naked eye yet accessible to the lens, which is adjustable and chooses its angle at will. And photographic reproduction, with the aid of certain processes . . . can capture images which escape natural vision.
Walter Benjamin

Sherlock Holmes, whom Watson refers to in the first tale of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as "the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has ever seen," exemplifies the essential Victorian hero who is known above all for his virtually photographic visual powers—the literary detective.[1] The detective's unique talent is an uncanny ability to see what no one else can see, to "capture images," as Benjamin says of the technology of the camera, that otherwise "escape natural vision."[2] Holmes has this power, he tells Watson, because of his specialized knowledge: he knows where to look and what to notice. "You appeared to read a great deal in her which was quite invisible to me," Dr. Watson notes characteristically to Holmes just as the great detective reveals his observations about a client. "Not invisible but unnoticed, Watson," Holmes replies. "You did not know where to look, and so you missed all that was important."[3] What we see, Holmes says, is governed by conventions, which make portions of the world visible to us and determine what is worth our attention (and what is not). The trained eye of the great detective alters those conventions of vision and exposes to us, as Holmes does to Watson and his clients, what had previously been hidden from view. Like another remarkable Victorian


visual apparatus, the camera, we might think of Holmes (and the "sharp-eyed" detectives he represents) as the literary embodiment of the elaborate network of visual technologies that revolutionized the art of seeing in the nineteenth century. Just as the popular iconography of Sherlock Holmes invariably identifies him with the magnifying glass, he and these other literary detectives personify the array of nineteenth-century "observing machines" (from the kaleidoscope to the stereoscope to the camera itself) that made visible what had always been invisible to everyone else.

The camera, John Tagg contends, "arrives on the scene vested with a particular authority to arrest, picture and transform daily life; a power to see and record"—a claim that might be applied with equal accuracy to the simultaneous arrival on the cultural scene of the literary detective.[4] Together, camera and literary detective developed a practical procedure to accomplish what the new discipline of criminal anthropology attempted more theoretically: to make darkness visible—giving us a means to recognize the criminal in our midst by changing the way we see and by redefining what is important for us to notice. Not only did the literary detective and the camera shape the emerging science of criminology and the techniques that made the criminal mind visible to the public eye, but they also played an important role in the process Jonathan Crary calls "a complex remaking of the individual as observer into something calculable and regularizable and of human vision into something measurable and thus exchangeable."[5] In that process, the mechanism of the camera became one of the detective's primary means for identifying a suspect and defining that suspect as an observed object as well as an observing subject, whose normalcy or deviance could be perceived and managed in the eye of a machine. Focusing on the uses of photography in Bleak House and in the first tale in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I explore in this essay the implications of the remarkable correspondence between the history of the camera and the history of the literary detective in nineteenth-century England to understand how those converging histories rendered persons both visible and invisible, observers and observed.

When Holmes bewilders Watson (as he constantly does) by looking at his client—or at a suspect, or at the scene of a crime, or even at Watson himself—and seeing things invisible to everyone else, Holmes typically responds to his partner's demands for an explanation by asserting, "I see it, I deduce it."[6] Holmes's vision, that is, is not innocent or objective, but is "deduced," reasoned out, rationalized, managed. It is the product of a certain way of knowing. "You see, but you do not observe,"


Holmes reproves Watson. "I have both seen and observed" (11–12). In what Holmes sees, and in what he deems important, the master detective teaches us (as he teaches Watson) not just to see, but to "observe"—in the sense of "observing" the law, that is, conforming to certain ways of seeing. Holmes, and others like him, enable us to see through their powerful lenses—the lenses, we might say, of their cultural power and authority. While these detectives train us to see as they do, subjecting us to a process of constant visual correction and to their own superior visionary powers, they must also remain uniquely privileged sites of vision themselves. To that end, the regime of visual correction they impose upon us involves the validation of photography as a technique of surveillance and discipline, an endorsement that may well have led to the widespread deployment of photography in actual nineteenth-century police work and to the transformation of the camera from an artistic device for portraying and honoring individuals to a powerful political technology with which to capture and control them.

In 1841, slightly more than a year after Louis-Jacques Daguerre and Henry Fox Talbot each announced the invention of the modern process of photography, Edgar Allan Poe "invented" the modern detective story and published the first of its kind ("The Murders of the Rue Morgue"). In the intervening year, just before he wrote his famous series of three detective stories, Poe published three essays on photography, two of them in the same magazine in which "The Murders of the Rue Morgue" would later appear.[7] In the first of these essays, Poe proclaimed photography "the most extraordinary triumph of modern science," a form of representation that far superseded language in approximating reality itself and achieving "a perfect identity of aspect with the thing represented."[8] For Poe, the photograph did not simply represent its subject; it attained an ontological equivalence, a "perfect identity" with its referent. But in fact, as the use of photography in detective fiction often makes clear, a photograph can completely redefine the identity of its subject, depending on how the photograph is composed and viewed. Poe's own fictive "observing machine," Auguste Dupin, demonstrated this principle clearly when, through the lenses of his distinctively tinted green spectacles, he alone was able to see the purloined letter that had been hidden in plain view in the lodgings of the ambitious politician who stole it. Dupin's all-seeing gaze, itself obscured from the sight of others by those tinted lenses, detected what had been invisible to everyone else and brought to light what was determined to be absent from the minister's rooms.[9] Dupin knew that the solution to this political


crime was deeply related to the fact that some things "escape observation" only by being "too obtrusively and too palpably self-evident."[10] In his eyes and through his lenses—as if through the lens of a camera—this escape route is revealed and the surface of things is recaptured and re-presented to us for a more careful scrutiny. Holmes's frequent admonitions to Watson only substantiate Dupin's claim and validate his example, reminding us that what we see in a photograph—what is visible to us there as anywhere else—depends on where we look and on what we notice, on the ideological interests with which we view it and establish (in Holmes's words) what we deem important about it.

When the figure commonly regarded as the first detective in the English novel appears for the first time in Dickens's Bleak House, his gaze seems to substantially transform the field of vision upon which it falls, much as Dupin's had done a decade before.[11] Mr. Bucket emerges magically in the pages of Bleak House out of the darkness of a lawyer's rooms in a flash of light and in an explicably "ghostly manner," looking, to the hapless man he was scrutinizing and interrogating, "as if he were going to take his portrait."[12] "Appearing to [Mr. Snagsby] to possess an unlimited number of eyes," the detective Mr. Bucket seems to those on whom he looks to "take" their portraits instantaneously through his powerful lenses, a perfect description of what only the revolutionary new machine called the camera was capable of doing (281). As if to reinforce the comparison, once he takes Snagsby's measure in this scene, Bucket arms himself with a bull's-eye lantern and conducts the bewildered man through the darkened streets of Tom-All-Alone's in search of a boy, flashing his light on a series of faces, ruins, alleys, and doorways, creating the equivalent of flash photographs of these scenes of urban blight, just as he had done earlier when he seemed to take the portrait of Snagsby himself (Fig. 48). The photographic analogy is further substantiated when Bucket finally "throws his light" on the paralyzed Jo, who "stands amazed in the disc of light, like a ragged figure in a magic lanthorn" (280).[13] When the detective mysteriously appears yet again, at the Bagnet household to arrest Mr. George, Bucket is described once more in terms that call to mind a photographic mechanism: "He is a sharp-eyed man, a quick keen man—and he takes in everybody's look at him, all at once, individually and collectively, in a manner that stamps him a remarkable man" (593).

This power to look at and to take in the look of everyone else in a flash of light stamps Bucket as remarkably like the new portrait cameras that were beginning to appear everywhere in England at the time Bleak


House was being written. They proliferated so rapidly because of an important technical development in the photographic process. According to Beaumont Newhall,

a new era opened in the technology of photography in 1851, with the invention by Frederick Scott Archer, an English sculptor, of a method of sensitizing glass plates with silver salts by the use of collodion. Within a decade it completely replaced daguerreotype and calotype processes, and reigned supreme in the photographic world until 1880.[14]

Invented in the year before Bleak House began publication, this new wetplate process moved photography solidly into the commercial world (Fig. 49), as innumerable high-quality prints could now be made from a single negative (the daguerreotype process required a different exposure for each print). Such an advance in technology not only made portraits quicker and cheaper to produce but also made possible two Victorian photographic sensations that had far-reaching sociological implications: the carte de visite (a personal photographic calling card) and, later, the larger-format cabinet photograph (in great demand at first for theatrical professionals' publicity photographs and later adopted by the general public). Both of these forms of mass-produced portraiture became popular among the middle classes, widely distributed to friends, avidly collected, and proudly displayed in family albums as substitutes for the more costly oil portrait, commissioned only by members of the wealthiest and most fashionable families. As a result of this emerging photographic technology and its attendant commercial products, then, the personal portrait was rapidly transformed from a sign of aristocratic privilege and wealth to a mode of middle-class commercialism and entertainment.[15]

The historical coincidence of the invention of this technology with the appearance of the literary detective is important; more telling, however, is the description of the first police detective in the English novel in terms of this particular technology. The detective appears in the Victorian popular imagination, that is, looking like a camera. As Sherlock Holmes and the others who followed Bucket would confirm, the detective as a popular literary hero promoted the notion of photography as a benign form of police work. But the resemblance between the function of the literary detective in the novel and that of the portrait camera carries with it a hidden threat to personal privacy as well as a clear benefit to public safety. In the person of Mr. Bucket, photography is implicitly represented not simply as an instrument for artistic representation or as a remarkable scientific achievement, but also as a technology designed


for surveillance and control, a technique with which to arrest its subject. When Bucket, who is able to be everywhere at once and to take in everyone instantaneously in his "unlimited" gaze, "mounts a high tower in his mind" and gazes across the landscape, he is like a powerful camera, taking the portraits of all those he sees and carrying the prints with him wherever he goes (673). Long before mug-shot files or rogues' galleries became part of the customary ritual of criminal investigation and identification in police departments, Mr. Bucket seems to have established such an archive in the photographic portrait gallery of his mind. "He has a keen eye for a crowd," the narrator informs us; and as Bucket "surveys" the details of the city scene in search of a suspect, the narrator indicates that the detective gazes with special interest "along the people's heads" that fill it, and that "nothing escapes him" (627).

The "taking" of portraits plays an important part in the mystery surrounding the true identities of Esther Summerson and Lady Dedlock in Bleak House and in the investigation conducted by one of Mr. Bucket's amateur-counterpart detectives, Mr. Guppy. The first evidence we have of the filial relationship between Esther and Lady Dedlock, in fact, is provided by Lady Dedlock's portrait. Guppy's initial glimpse of it during his tour of the Dedlock estate in Lincolnshire causes a spark of recognition, provoking the law clerk to ask the servant conducting the tour whether the portrait has ever been engraved—whether, that is, it has ever been mass-produced for public consumption (82). Indeed it has not, he is told; many have asked to engrave it, but all have been firmly refused. Still, "how well I know that picture," Guppy persists. "I'll be shot if it ain't very curious how well I know that picture" (82). Though this is his first visit to the Dedlock estate, Guppy cannot be persuaded that he has not seen this portrait somewhere before. "It's unaccountable to me," he insists; "I must have had a dream of that picture." It is as if the amateur detective, Mr. Guppy, possesses a degraded version of the professional detective's photographic powers, his unconscious operating like a primitive camera producing blurred and unfocused images in his memory. The special function of the professional, Bucket, is to bring that unconscious power into consciousness, making clearly visible to Guppy (and to us) the images and relations seen formerly only through a glass, darkly.

Indeed, those very images will prominently reappear later in Guppy's investigation of Lady Dedlock and her relation to Esther Summerson. When Guppy's collaborator Mr. Jobling (also known as Weevle) takes up residence at Krook's shop to spy on him, Jobling decorates his room with copper impressions of fashionable ladies, pictures taken from a vol-


ume called The Divinities of Albion, or Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty . Among this august collection, it turns out, is a reproduction of Lady Dedlock's portrait. That portrait, since it has presumably not been engraved, may have been reproduced by some primitive photographic process. Indeed, copper plates could be made at this time by using an early photographic technique. But regardless of how this reproduction has been made or where its original came from, its presence in Jobling's rooms indicates that Lady Dedlock's image was "shot" and escaped her own control once it was disseminated into the world as public property. Mechanically reproduced and publicly displayed, that portrait, as honorific as its original may have been intended, now not only threatens Lady Dedlock's privacy but also usurps her control over her secret identity. Guppy's inexplicable familiarity with the original portrait of Lady Dedlock stems from his seeing Esther in it; but he may also presciently see Lady Dedlock's photograph in Lady Dedlock's portrait . If so, what he sees in addition, but resists recognizing, is the dissolution of the "aura" of "authenticity" and privilege (in Benjamin's terms) inscribed in her aristocratic identity. Whether Guppy knows it or not, in his eyes and on Krook's walls the portrait becomes a mug shot, a wanted poster that silently announces Lady Dedlock's dark past and Sir Leicester's unfortunate fall as Bucket will publicly announce them later on.

This visual representation of Lady Dedlock is, then, more threatening to her station than the much dramatized fear surrounding the discovery of her handwriting and signature as they appear in the lost letters to Captain Hawdon, letters relentlessly pursued by Guppy and Jobling, Krook, Tulkinghorn, and Smallweed and finally confiscated by Mr. Bucket himself "That's very like Lady Dedlock," Guppy says to Jobling of her gallery portrait. "It's a speaking likeness," he adds (396). And when Jobling chimes in, jokingly, that he wishes it really were a speaking likeness so that they could have some fashionable conversation with it, Guppy reprimands his friend for being flip and insensitive to "a man who has an unrequited image imprinted on his art" (397). Although the more dispassionate professional detective Mr. Bucket has mastered better than Guppy the technology of mentally imprinting images, even he is deceived later in the novel (at least momentarily) when Lady Dedlock assumes the appearance of a laboring woman and thereby temporarily eludes his gaze. For his part, Guppy's outrage at the lack of respect shown Lady Dedlock's portrait predicts what his friend's picture gallery reveals—that the conventions of class distinction as a social mechanism by which to authentically identify persons are an illusion. Or so we must infer when Guppy concludes the "taking down" of the portrait of Lady


Dedlock from his partner's wall, clutches the copy in his hand, and proclaims that he has taken down its original a peg or two as well: referring to this "divinity" now as no more than a "shattered idol," he identifies the image he holds in his hand with his newly found power to "associate" himself with a previously unreachable class of people. "Between myself and one of the members of the swanlike aristocacy whom I now hold in my hand," he says, "there has been undivulged communication and association" (495). The "Galaxy Gallery," like the rogues' gallery that would follow it (Fig. 50), renders the portrait degraded graffiti for the decoration of a bureaucrat's rooms and the exposure of criminal minds. The movement in the novel from the oil portrait of Lady Dedlock proudly hung in her estate to the mass-produced plate of that portrait printed in a magazine to an image pasted on the wall of a law clerk's rooms recapitulates the nineteenth-century transformation of portraiture from an authentic sign of aristocratic status to a mechanical image of middle-class self-representation and, finally, to a clue for criminal investigation.

"Photography," Benjamin would say in his famous essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," "can bring out those aspects of the original that are unattainable to the naked eye yet accessible to the lens," and "can put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself."[16] This fate, of course, is precisely that of Lady Dedlock's portrait in Bleak House . As I will explore more extensively later in this essay, it is also the presupposition upon which photography was eventually appropriated by criminologists to understand the criminal mind as well. Furthermore, as Benjamin argues, the "aura" of the original work of art was fundamentally challenged by a mechanically reproducible art like photography, bringing into question the cultural value invested in the whole concept of authenticity . "The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity," Benjamin says, and since with the advent of photography any number of prints can be made from a single photographic exposure, the idea of the "authentic" print ceases to make any sense (222–24). The association of the printed portrait of Lady Dedlock with her class status (eventually determined to be "illegitimate"), means that what is true of the "authentic" original work of art is also true of the "authentic" noble classes it represents. Benjamin suggests as much when he claims that "the instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production, the total function of art is reversed" from a social practice based on ritual to another kind of social practice—one based on politics (224). The replacement of the fashionable family solici-


tor and confidant in the Dedlock household by the police detective and informant registers that reversion from social ritual to political action. As an agent of the state, Bucket is explicitly invited to be a spy in the Dedlock home, a function Tulkinghorn had taken on surreptitiously in his ritualistic role as family counselor.

In the case of detection that eventually comes to dominate the plot of Bleak House, the threat of Lady Dedlock's duplicated image to the aura of the ancient Dedlock family is as great as that of her disreputable past. The stability of authentic identity (as figured in the anxiety over illegitimacy in the novel) and of the authentic aristocratic class (as symbolized in the "plating" of the original oil portrait) comes under attack in the novel. Indeed, the court's seemingly inherent inability to determine the authenticity of the Jarndyce will only reinforces the reader's sense that traditional institutions have failed as enforcers of cultural continuity and that new structures must develop to perform that role. Standing in the place cleared by the technology of the camera, then, the detective officer Mr. Bucket enters to solve a mystery of identity when the court fails to decipher the mystery of the will. By so doing, Mr. Bucket not only represents a new cultural authority but also defines its power as springing, not from the preservation of traditions, but from the production of images. He popularizes a picture of the detective as the expert professional who authenticates what the ancient court and the traditional oil portrait are no longer empowered to authenticate, discriminating between the real thing and the impostor with his own brand of instantaneous photographic portraiture.

Bucket is distinguished not only by his eyes but also by his insistent forefinger, which, like the finger of Allegory engraved on the ceiling of the murder victim's rooms, is constantly pointing, directing others to look in a certain place, to see what he sees in the way that he sees it. The detective is more than a sharp-eyed observer; he allows, even requires, others to observe in the way he does. At the scene of the murder Bucket investigates, the figure of Allegory is described in this way: "There he is still, eagerly pointing and no one minds him. . . . All eyes look up at the Roman, and all voices murmur, 'If he could only tell what he saw'" (585). Bucket accomplishes exactly what Allegory cannot: he points out what he sees, proceeds to tell it, and commands everyone else to mind him by seeing things his way. Like the camera, Bucket is a technology not only of observation but of representation as well. So effective is his pointing finger in these linked processes that it disciplines the vision of others, constraining their eyes into a certain field, focusing them on a specific object or person or detail. "Look again," he says to Jo when the


boy identifies Mademoiselle Hortense as his mysterious female visitor (282). "Look again," he insists, as he directs Jo to look only at the woman's hands this time, then to look only at her rings, in a gradual process of zooming in and framing and focusing the field of Jo's vision, a process that causes the boy to revise his first conclusion and affirm that these are not the hands of the woman who visited him that night. Compared with the hand he looks at now, that of the mysterious night visitor, Jo decides, "was a deal whiter, a deal delicater, and a deal smaller"; and unlike the maidservant's common jewels, the lady's brilliant rings were "a-sparkling all over" (282). Bucket corrects Jo's vision so that the boy sees what he could not see before: these are working-class hands rather than the hands of gentility, and these are cheap rings rather than the precious jewelry of a lady. In the course of having his vision corrected, that is, Jo is also made to look hard at and acknowledge the signs of class difference that distinguish a mere woman from a lady, a French maid from one of the "Divinities of Albion."

Ironically, the detective seems to contradict the ideological implications of the very technology he embodies here. As the camera democratized the human image and transformed the portrait from an exclusive possession of the privileged classes to a commodity easily attainable by the middle class, Bucket's vision seems rather to reinforce the visual signs of class distinction in this scene. We might view Bucket's later failure to recognize Lady Dedlock when he pursues her with Esther through the streets of London, however, as an implicit critique of that sign system's authenticity and dependability, or at the least as an indication of its limitations. In failing to realize that the lady had simply changed clothes with a working-class woman, Bucket, like Jo in this earlier scene, wrongly assumed that the clothes make the lady, that the visual signs of gentility constitute dependable evidence of someone's identity.[17] Together, these two incidents illustrate the real force of the analogy between camera and detective: the way both signal the transformation of the visual image from a self-celebration and an index of self-proclaimed authenticity to a form of bureaucratic surveillance and identification whose decoding demands the interpretive expertise and authority of a professional. They demonstrate that what we see and how we value it result from mechanisms and conventions that can be altered as dramatically as changing a camera lens alters the field of the eye's vision.

When Mr. Bucket arrests Mademoiselle Hortense, another working-class woman who had once disguised herself as a lady, the detective is said to make "no demonstration except with the finger" as he shows the


accused murderer where to sit. "Now, you see," Mr. Bucket informs the woman he now refers to as "the foreign female," "you're comfortable, and conducting yourself as I should expect a foreign young woman of your sense to do. So I'll give you a piece of advice, and it's this, Don't you talk too much. You're not expected to say anything here, and you can't keep too quiet a tongue in your head. In short, the less you Parlay the better, you know" (648). Bucket then explains to Sir Leicester that the woman's guilt "flashed upon me, as I sat opposite to her at the table and saw her with a knife in her hand" (649). In another of those seeming flash photographs or magic lantern images that imprint themselves on his mind, Bucket sees the culprit's guilty hands in the constricted way he taught Jo to see, indicting her with his finger and silencing her with the tale that only he can tell.[18] And yet, as he speaks for the class by whom he is employed in this scene, he also speaks for the nation, projecting the guilt for the crime upon the body of the "foreign female," whose distinctively foreign manners and appearance form the visual evidence that justifies his suspicions of her. For all the complications of his character, Bucket is the single figure in Bleak House who is able not only to see through its infamously impenetrable fog, but to speak out of it as well—at once visualizing and telling the truth that otherwise mains invisible.

While Bleak House was written after the advent of photography, it is set in the decade prior to Daguerre's and Talbot's announcements of their inventions. Dickens admired photography and knew as much about it as about the detective police, even if Bucket did not. Dickens even published articles on the subject simultaneous with his publication of Bleak House . His great detective, we may argue, stands in for the dreamed-of but as yet unrealized photographic technology in the novel (as the camera and its anonymous operator replace the detective in Fig. 51). What the narrator of Bleak House says of the railroad might also be said of photography: "As yet such things are non-existent in these parts, though not wholly unexpected" (654).[19] Just as the detective's ubiquity and mobility anticipate the eventual pervasiveness of the railroad throughout the provinces, his visionary powers anticipate those of the portrait camera and the collodion photographic processes of the 1850s. "The eye," Dickens quotes a real detective as saying in a Household Words essay published the year before Bleak House, "is the great detector."[20] Dickens refines the point by adding that "the experience of a Detective guides him into tracks quite invisible to other eyes" (369). And in another piece on the subject of criminal detection that appeared in the same journal soon after the novel was published, Dickens argues that if


we were only "trained" to look correctly, we (like Bucket) would be able to recognize the criminal simply by looking at him. "Nature never writes in a bad hand," Dickens says. "Her writing, as it may be read in the human countenance, is invariably legible, if we come at all trained in reading it."[21] The detective's sharp eye and his persuasively pointing finger are the agents Bleak House offers for that training, teaching us to see the unseen in Lady Dedlock and in Mademoiselle Hortense as well, just as Bucket teaches the once-blind Esther to see the unseen when he brings her face-to-face with Lady Dedlock's corpse and points out to the daughter the body of her mother disguised as a working-class woman, lying on the grave of her nameless father. Throughout the text, Bucket's camera-eye does more than perceive and portray; it disciplines.

The transformation of the camera from an agent of celebration to one of surveillance that Dickens negotiates in Bleak House is equally detectable in his treatment of the subject of photography in the pages of Household Words around the time of the novel's publication. During the 1850s, Dickens published two essays on the topic in his weekly journal. The first, "Photography," which appeared in 1853, about midway through the monthly publication of Bleak House, contains descriptions of the photographer and his "mysterious designs" that strongly resemble those of the detective in Dickens's novel.[22] The writers of the article marveled at the achievements of this new technology, regarding it as both a magical art and a new science, dwelling on the amazing procedures by which the photographer was able to produce effortlessly "a thousand images of human creatures of each sex and of every age—such as no painter ever has produced" (54–55). The speed with which these portraits "burst suddenly into view" causes considerable awe in the authors, who affirm that it "would have given labour for a month to the most skilful of painters" to produce such results (55, 58). The preoccupation in the article with photography as an advanced form of portrait painting recalls the centrality of the portrait in Bleak House and Guppy's obsession with the image imprinted on his mind and hanging in Krook's rooms. Despite its comparisons of the photographer's magic to the portraitist's skill, however, the article also manifests something ominous about the powers of this new technology. The photographer is referred to as a "taker of men" who, when asked about the origin of all these photographs—these "innumerable people whose eyes seemed to speak at us, but all whose tongues were silent"—affirms of the subjects that "they have all been executed here" (55). Unlike the oil portrait, somehow, the photograph not only silences its subjects but takes their lives as well.


This more threatening power of the photographer becomes the focus of an article on photography that appeared in Household Words only four years later, provocatively titled "Photographees."[23] Told from the point of view of the portrait photographer, it describes the camera's various subjects—the "photographees"—whom the photographer "composes" and ranks in order of their difficulty to capture in his lens. The article culminates with a description of the portraitist as policeman, recounting the time when the photographer was engaged to shoot "the most unwilling sitters whom I ever took"—a group of prisoners from "a certain north country gaol" (354). The pictures were commissioned to assist the authorities in recovering any of the prisoners who might escape the prison; the camera was deployed to "capture" their likeness and imprison them in "a portrait gallery of felons" (354). "The photographees did not like my interference one bit," the photographer affirms. "The machine seemed to remind them exceedingly of a bull's eye lantern, to which they had a very natural repugnance" (354). Like Mr. Snagsby looking in the glaring bull's-eye of that other "taker of men," Mr. Bucket, these subjects are arrested by the eye that takes their portrait and assures their imprisonment, intuitively recognizing the executionary power this technology exerts over them.

If the first detective in the English novel is described as a camera, it was not long before the camera was described as a detective. A few years before Sherlock Holmes was introduced to the English public in 1887, a device called the "detective camera" was introduced into the market-place in England. So named because it could be hidden in a walking stick or behind a buttonhole, the detective camera could be owned and operated by anyone without subjects' even knowing they were being "taken." Some of these new handheld cameras were advertised at reasonable prices in the very magazine that first published the Holmes stories, and some were even the subject of articles in that magazine about "the curiosities of modern photography" and its use in solving crimes.[24] In the same volume of the Strand in which the first story of the Adventures was published, in fact, there also appeared an article on the "warranted detective camera," titled "London from Aloft," which hailed the machine's new improvements and looked forward to the day when "in time of war . . . one might snap the merry camera on the wrathsome foe below in all his dispositions and devices, and in good safety drop the joyous bombshell on the top of his hapless head—foresooth what fine thing must be that!" (Fig. 52).[25]

That the camera was imagined as a weapon of national defense as well as a source of truth could hardly be more graphically described than


in this instance, where the snap of the shutter gives way to the explosion of the bombshell. Also in 1887, moreover, Blitzlichtpulver —flashlight powder—was invented in Germany for flash photography, which used guncotton and magnesium powder to provide an often dangerous explosion of light. At the same time, the dry-plate, fixed-focus photographic process of the detective camera was being perfected by Kodak, replacing the wet-plate process developed in 1851 and enabling amateurs and journalists alike to take instantaneous candid snapshots of people without their consent. So widespread was the practice that eventually the New York Times was prompted to complain about the invasion of privacy from "Kodakers lying in wait."[26] In England, meanwhile, the Weekly Times and Echo applauded the formation of a "Vigilance Association" in 1893 whose sole purpose was the "thrashing of cads with cameras who go about in seaside places taking snapshots of ladies emerging from the deep."[27] Self-appointed vigilante groups were formed, that is, to police the unauthorized deployment of this policing technology. In light of this response, the term "detective camera" appeared most appropriate for these devices, since in taking someone's picture, these cameras, like the private eyes they were named after, also took possession of the subject's identity and took authority over the presentation of the self.

It is equally appropriate, then, that photographs should play a prominent role in the accounts of the greatest English literary detective. In the very first story of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes ("A Scandal in Bohemia"), the master detective is not hired to recover a missing gem, protect a threatened head of state, or investigate a murder. He is commissioned by a king to procure a photograph. The possession of the photograph is of such "extreme importance," Holmes's client predicts, that it will have a significant "influence on European history" (15). The personal photograph, this tale acknowledges, has profound historical and political implications. When the king of Bohemia appears in disguise in the beginning of "A Scandal" to request that Holmes protect him from ruin by the actress with whom the king had become romantically entangled, Holmes immediately sees through the king's disguise. He does not see, however, why the king is so concerned that the "adventuress" will blackmail him and destroy his plan to marry the princess of Scandinavia because, it appears to Holmes, this Miss Irene Adler has nothing "to prove" the "authenticity" of her claims against the king's reputation. Handwriting can be forged, Holmes assures him, personal notepaper stolen, the royal seal imitated. There is really nothing to worry about. But when Holmes learns that the king has had a photograph


taken of himself in the company of the woman in question, the detective recognizes the danger. "Oh, dear!" he exclaims. "That is very bad! Your Majesty has indeed committed an indiscretion. . . . You have compromised yourself seriously" (17).

The usually unflappable Holmes's extreme reaction to the power of the photograph to authenticate and to threaten is striking here, especially since immediately before his interview with the king, Holmes himself has (like his predecessor, Detective Bucket) been described to) us as a kind of camera. Not only is Holmes introduced by Watson in the beginning of the story as "the most perfect reasoning and observing machine the world has ever seen," but he is also identified by the doctor as a "sensitive instrument" in possession of "his own high-power lenses" (Fig. 53), which are capable of "extraordinary powers of observation" (19). It is only fitting, then, that the object of Holmes's quest in the first of his adventures should be a photograph. And it is just as appropriate that at the conclusion of his investigation Holmes should request of his royal client another photograph (of Irene Adler alone in evening dress) as payment for his services. The purpose and the end product of the detective's labor, in other words, are equated in this tale with the purpose and end product of the camera.

What is it, then, that this powerful, personified camera "sees" and fears in the photograph he sets out to take on behalf of his client? Paradoxically, not only does Holmes recognize the photograph as a piece of incontestable evidence, as a genuine index to truth and "authenticity," but he also perceives it immediately as a powerful weapon with which the truth can be manipulated. "The photograph becomes a double-edged weapon now," he observes to Watson when he learns of Miss Adler's sudden marriage to an English lawyer named Godfrey Norton. "The chances are that she would be as averse to its being seen by Mr. Godfrey Norton, as our client is to its coming to the eyes of his Princess. Now the question is—Where are we to find the photograph?" (25). Even if Irene Adler's new circumstances make her prefer to suppress rather than reveal the photograph in question, the picture remains a dangerous weapon, and the king is still willing to "give one of the provinces of my kingdom to have that photograph" (18). The king realizes that this image of himself must be possessed so that it can be disowned. He is convinced that the history of Europe is at stake. In a narrative in which no one is quite who they appear to be, where the client, the detective, and the suspect all wear disguises, this ultimate visual index of"authenticity" can be deployed as a deceptive weapon. It must be bought, Holmes first recommends when he learns of Miss Adler's possession of


the photograph; failing that, he says, it must be stolen. Even if this particular picture is no longer a direct threat against his client, Holmes knows that whoever possesses it controls the truth—and can thus influence the course of history.

When Holmes first considers the photograph the king engages him to retain, before even seeing it he realizes that, like him, it represents a powerful representational technology. It may stand at once as a proof of "authenticity" and as a "weapon" of manipulation that gives its possessor significant power. But in the other photograph of Irene, which replaces the first, he sees exactly what the king sees—the woman. He sees the essential qualities of the feminine captured in a single image. "To Sherlock Holmes," Watson begins the narrative cryptically, referring to Miss Adler as the subject of this photograph, "she is always the woman." Irene Adler holds this privileged place for Holmes, we are led to believe by Watson, because the great detective who spurns all emotional involvement is romantically attracted to her—and only to her. This attraction explains why in the first of the adventures, Holmes uncharacteristically fails to attain his objective and is deceived himself. Emotional involvement produces "grit in a sensitive instrument" like Holmes, Watson tells us, "or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses" (9). This is why "A Scandal in Bohemia" is the exception that proves the rule of the great detective's infallibility, and why, having been outwitted by Irene Adler, Holmes henceforth remains a resolutely cold and unemotional "machine." But such an explanation only begs the question. Why is Irene Adler the sole woman to catch Holmes's eye (and put the crack in his lens)? Why does she stand for "the woman" in his mind?

Irene Adler has this power for the perfect observing machine because for him she is first and foremost a photograph. Or, to be precise, she is two photographs: the one Holmes was hired (and failed) to obtain and the one he requests (and receives) as payment for his services. Irene Adler outwits Holmes by substituting the second photograph for the first. Since for Holmes, she was said to always be the woman, it is only right that she should deceive him and foil his plan by disguising herself as a man, thereby forcing the detective to give himself away unawares. Irene is a threat not only because she is a commoner who can embarrass royalty, but also because she is the woman who can be mistaken for a man—because she challenges the detective's perceptions of her and her conformity to certain gendered codes of behavior. As Bucket is deceived for a moment by a lady's disguise as a laborer, Holmes is momentarily deceived by a woman's disguise as a man. That brief lapse foils Holmes's


whole plan of attack and denies him the photograph he originally set out to possess.

In the course of explaining his plan for solving the case to Watson, Holmes indicates that he knows exactly how women behave, and that this knowledge is the basis of his entire strategy: they are "naturally secretive," he declares to Watson, and this distinctively female characteristic will trick Irene into showing him where she has hidden the photograph. "When a woman thinks that her house is on fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she values most. It is a perfectly overpowering impulse, and I have more than once taken advantage of it" (28). Holmes concocts his scheme, confident that women are perfectly predictable creatures ruled by instinct and impulse, fundamentally unlike the men who know how to take advantage of these traits. When Irene appears at Holmes's own front door dressed as a young man in a coat and hat rather than as a woman in evening dress, therefore, Holmes literally does not see her. He observes her but he does not see her, because he observes the visual laws that prescribe the way a woman should appear rather than describe the way she is. Holmes had reasoned that a cabinet photograph of the kind he sought was too large to be hidden on Irene Adler's person. So large did the image loom in his mind, it would seem, that he sees only the photograph when he should be seeing her body. As it turns out, the photographic image was not hidden on Irene's body; her body itself was hidden (at least from Holmes) by the photographic image of her as "the woman" as it was imprinted on his mind.

When Irene Adler foils Holmes's plan to recover the photograph and sneaks away with it, she leaves behind a note that explains how she fooled him into giving himself away. "Male costume is nothing new to me," she says. "I often take advantage of the freedom which it gives" (31). "As to the photograph," she goes on to explain, "I kept it only to safeguard myself, and to preserve a weapon which will always secure me from any steps which he might take in the future." Like male costume, the photograph that puts the woman in the same frame with the king serves as a cloak of freedom for her. But the resourceful actress also leaves behind for the king this other photograph "which he might care to possess"—the one of herself in evening dress. It is Holmes, however, not the king, who wants this picture of the woman alone in what we might call "female costume." In this photograph, Irene Adler may be safely captured as the more predictable feminine sexual object Holmes imagines (and desires) her to be. "This photograph," Holmes says, he "should value even more highly" than the crown jewels the king offers


him in payment for his troubles at the end of the case. If the first photograph in the case is a weapon Irene Adler will use to safeguard and secure herself, this second photograph is a weapon Holmes can use to safeguard and secure his image of the woman. "And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to her photograph, it is always under the honourable title of the woman," Watson repeats in the tale's final sentence. For Holmes, that is, the photograph does not just represent the woman; it is the woman. Tucked away in his file, the photograph becomes a replacement for the person. But this photograph is also a reminder to us, if not to Holmes, that the Victorian ideology of gender blinded even the most perfect observing machine in the world, that it produced limitations on vision that even Holmes had to "observe."[28]

In many of the Holmes stories that follow "A Scandal in Bohemia," photography figures prominently as a means to secure an identity, unmask an impostor, or substantiate an accusation in "The Man with the Twisted Lip," "Silver Blaze," "Yellow Face," and "The Cardboard Box," for example. Fittingly, however, in the first story of the last Holmes volume, The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, a photograph of a woman is once again the object of Holmes's investigation, and once again photography is acknowledged not only as a form of evidence but also as a weapon of manipulation. As in the earlier case, Holmes is hired to defend the honor of a royal client who wishes to remain anonymous. But "The Case of the Illustrious Client" offers an ironic commentary on its predecessor, for in the later case the avid collector of photographs is neither the detective, nor the client, nor the police but an internationally renowned criminal—"the Austrian murderer," Baron Gruner. Among the cruel man's vices, it seems, is womanizing, an activity Gruner records in a book of photographs. "This man collects women," we are told by one of his victims "as some men collect moths or butterflies. He had it all in that book. Snapshot photographs, names, details, everything about them."[29] Just as police departments and detective agencies were assembling books of criminal mug shots to aid their investigations, this criminal keeps an archive of his illustrious victims' portraits, which he uses to blackmail the women once he has disposed of them. "The moment the woman told us of it," Holmes says of this book of photographs, "I realized what a tremendous weapon it was" (998). In this case the weapon of photography is aimed at the British royal family rather than a European monarch, and at the risk of his own life Holmes rescues that weapon from foreign hands. Whereas "A Scandal in Bohemia" threatens Holmes's reputation by handing him one of his rare defeats, this other case threatens his very life when his snapshot-collecting


antagonist seriously wounds him. In both cases, however, the detective is hired to obtain photographic evidence for "an illustrious client," aligning himself with the interests of an ancient nobility by getting control of a modern technology.[30]

In these foundational texts in the history of Victorian detective fiction, photography both observes and defends late-nineteenth-century European class privilege (as Lady Dedlock's portrait becomes a clue in the detection of her common "criminal" past) and gender difference (as Irene Adler challenges Holmes's "natural" categories of differentiation between men and women as exhibited in her photograph, even as she threatens European royalty). Realigning the framework of patriarchal power and defining themselves as the rightful replacements for debased legal authorities, Bucket and Holmes represent new forms of privilege and power, qualities invested now in a class of professionals (like themselves) who are legitimized by their expertise rather than their birth. These literary detectives not only represent that class but also secure and safeguard it with the high-power lenses through which they observe the world and convert it into images subject to their expert surveillance. Repeatedly, the technology they embody is focused upon the body of a woman, the representation and possession of which either enables the maintenance or threatens the subversion of established categories of class and gender.

Throughout these narratives of detection and enforcement, then, the photograph figures as a contested site of power and representational authority, just as it increasingly did in actual police practice in the nineteenth century. Assertions like Poe's about photography's scientific character and its power to capture rather than simply represent the real prefigured these eventual applications of photography to criminal identification, prisoner documentation, and courtroom evidence. As the texts examined here demonstrate, however, in addition to popularizing this notion of photography as evidence and authentication, detective fiction also made clear that the photograph could be a weapon for control and coercion.[31] Indeed, police work was one of the first public uses to which the new technology of photography was put when the portraitist Mathew Brady was commissioned in 1846 to photograph criminals for a British textbook on criminology.[32] Later in the century, police departments in Europe and America alike adopted Alphonse Bertillon's archival system for organizing criminal information, a system based on the portrait parlé, or "talking picture," a card consisting of a photograph of the criminal accompanied by a set of vital statistics by which he could be identified with certainty (Fig. 54). Whatever the suspect might claim


about himself, the assumption was, his photograph could "talk" too, and would invariably tell the real truth about him.

The links between the methods of Bertillon and those of Holmes are clear enough to be registered explicitly in the Holmes stories themselves. When in "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty" Holmes speaks with Watson about Bertillon, he expresses his "enthusiastic admiration of the French savant."[33] Later, in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (a tale in which identifying a family portrait plays a central role), Holmes's client refers to Bertillon and Holmes as the two "highest experts in Europe" in criminal investigation, citing Bertillon as "the man of precisely scientific mind" and Holmes as the "practical man of affairs."[34] Indeed, their careers were almost exactly contemporary since Bertillon was just rising to prominence in the Paris Prefect of Police office when Holmes was introduced to the public in the pages of the Strand . Holmes, the practitioner of Bertillon's theory, was also the popularizer of his method, which included the application of photography to police work. As is demonstrated by the widespread deployment of the portrait parlé (or mug shot) and the rogues' gallery as forms of criminal identification, photography was appropriated in the nineteenth century by police and detective forces alike as an instrument of dependable intelligence and as a basis for conclusive proof, effectively transferring the suspect's right to tell his own story to an official agent of the government.

If Bertillon's use of photography to distinguish one individual from another depends upon and reinforces the authenticating virtues of photography, however, Sir Francis Galton's somewhat earlier introduction of composite photography to render the portrait of a "criminal type" emphasizes photography's disciplinary and controlling powers. One of the more imaginative and revealing deployments of photography in the emerging science of criminology, Galton's composite photography sought to visualize and "bring into evidence" all the traits of the typical criminal, much as criminologists like Lombroso or Havelock Ellis did in identifying the "stigmata" that mark the "born criminal." When Ellis uses one of Galton's composites as the frontispiece to the first edition of The Criminal, the pioneering book on criminal anthropology in England, he makes the relation between the two fields of inquiry explicit (Fig. 55).[35] The observing machine Galton invented, like those of Dickens or Doyle, disciplined the observer's eye, making certain invisible features visible and making certain visible features disappear. Galton's account of the technique's capabilities seems to invoke Dickens's and Doyle's descriptions of their visually gifted detectives: "A composite portrait represents the picture that would rise before the mind's eye of


a man who had the gift of pictorial imagination in an exalted degree."[36] Galton first described the procedure for making these photographs in 1878, in a paper tracing the idea to a stereoscopic technique in which cartes de visite from two different people were used to create the illusion of a single face with the attributes of both persons. He gradually refined the procedure to superimpose many portraits of criminals on a single negative to produce pictures of what he called a criminal type. The images so produced "represent not the criminal," he cautions, "but the man who is liable to fall into crime" (224). "These ideal faces have a surprising air of reality," Galton would nevertheless maintain. "Nobody who glanced at one of them for the first time would doubt its being the likeness of a living person, yet, as I have said, it is no such thing; it is the portrait of a type and not of an individual" (222).

The machine Galton devised to achieve this visualizing power was based on a principle of redundancy. When he photographed the carefully registered portraits of various criminals in succession on a single plate, he reasoned that whatever traits were common to all the criminal faces would reinforce one another and appear with more definition on the final print, while the eccentric features of a single individual would appear only once and therefore would effectively disappear in a blur on the final print: "The effect of composite portraiture is to bring into evidence all the traits in which there is agreement, and to leave but a ghost of a trace of individual peculiarities" (7). "I have made numerous composites of various groups of convicts, which are interesting negatively rather than positively," he continues. "They produce faces of a mean description, with no villainy written on them. The individual faces are villainous enough, but they are villainous in different ways, and when they are combined, the individual peculiarities disappear, and the common humanity of a low type is all that is left" (11). In Galton's reasoning, as in his photographs, the individual becomes ontologically secondary to the primary reality of the type of which he or she is an example, even though the type is itself constructed from the assembled individuals.

For Galron this "type" is not a fiction even if it is a construction. Indeed, the composite photograph his camera produces appears real to many people because, Galton argues, in a sense it is. The composite photograph reveals some essential truth, it "brings into evidence," as he puts it, truths otherwise invisible to the eye. Galton uses the rhetoric of the "type," the "ideal," and the "generic" to suggest the higher reality of an abstract yet authentic human norm, compared to which individuals are reduced to ghostly traces, existing literally as mere shadows of the more substantial type. Instead of the photograph's "perfect identity"


with the subject it represents that Poe proclaimed, Galton's composite photograph achieves greater reality and truth than its individual subjects ever could. For Galton, the photograph of the type is the real thing, and whatever constitutes the individual is reduced to an insignificant blur:

Composite pictures, are, however, much more than averages; they are rather the equivalents of those large statistical tables whose totals, divided by the number of cases, and entered in the bottom line, are the averages. They are real generalisations, because they include the whole of the material under consideration. The blur of their outlines, which is never great in truly generic composites, except in unimportant details, measures the tendency of individuals to deviate from the central type. (233)

In Galton's hands, the camera is wielded like a weapon to enforce and defend a particular conception of the criminal type and of reality as well. His images not only make the deviant equivalent to the criminal, they train every individual to be subject to the tyranny of types (normal and criminal) and to view every other individual with the eyes of a suspicious detective. By taking persons out of their concrete historical circumstances and locating them in some timeless zone of photographic reality, Galton is able to investigate the mind as well as the body of the criminal and to expose us to the process at the same time. "My argument is," he asserts,

that the generic images that arise before the mind's eye, and the general impressions which are faint and faulty editions of them, are the analogues of these composite pictures which we have the advantage of examining at leisure, and whose peculiarities and character we can investigate, and from which we may draw conclusions that shall throw much light on the nature of certain mental processes which are too mobile and evanescent to be directly dealt with. (232)

It is easy to see how a technique that so seamlessly elides the barrier between imagination and fact and ignores any fundamental distinction between individual identity and collective "character" could be put to use in Galton's argument for a policy of eugenics to improve the race and to fortify the nation. Indeed, the book in which Galton first used the term "eugenics" and elaborated its principles begins with a chapter describing the technique of composite photography and its importance in demonstrating how "the innate moral and intellectual faculties" are "closely hound up with the physical ones" (Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development, 1883). It is also easy to see how the authenticating and disciplinary function of photography suggested by the perfect observing machines Mr. Bucket and Sherlock Holmes (who merely moni-


tored gender and class difference) could develop into a nightmare of policing and control aimed at purifying a race and typing individuals. Like their literary counterparts, Victorian scientists made use of Victorian cameras to teach the world to see in new ways, to observe laws of vision that often obscured as much as they illuminated. The photograph and the literary detective, like the fingerprint and the entire discipline of criminology, may be thought of as allied forms of cultural defense in which the bodies of persons were systematically rendered into legible texts and then controlled by the experts, who alone knew how to read them. When we look at those nineteenth-century photographs, and at the machines that took them, we must remember that these images were generated to make us notice certain things about history by making us blind to other things.



Fig. 48.
Engraving by R. T. Sperry from Helen Campbell,  Darkness and Daylight; or,
Lights and Shadows of New York Life
 (Hartford, Connecticut: A. D. Worthington, 
1892), introducing the chapter by Thomas Byrnes from the "Famous Detective's Thirty 
Years Experiences and Observations." The engravings for the book were made 
"from photographs taken from life expressly for this work, mostly by flash-light." 
Recalling the scenes of Inspector Bucket in  Bleak House,  the flash of the detective's 
bull's-eye here resembles the flash by which the original photograph would have been taken.



Fig. 49.
George Cruikshank, wood engraving of Richard Beard's public photographic 
portrait studio in London, 1842, the first such studio in Europe. Beard franchised the 
business throughout London and the provinces between 1841 and 1850, by which time 
the considerable fortune he had accumulated was exhausted by protracted lawsuits 
against infringers of his copyright. Photograph courtesy of the Gernsheim Collection,
 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.



Fig. 50.
Jacob A. Riis, "Photographing a Rogue: Inspector Byrnes Looking On." Byrnes's
 use of the portrait for his famous rogues' gallery anticipated the widespread use of the
 portrait parlé  of Bertillon in police departments and the files of mug shots that would
 form the basis of criminal records in Europe and America. Photograph: The
 Jacob A. Riis Collection, Museum of the City of New York; used with permission.



Fig. 51.
Drawing by R. T. Sperry, "An Unwilling Subject—Photographing a Prisoner for the 
Rogue's Gallery at Police Headquarters" (1892). This engraved version of Figure 50
 (demonstrating Byrnes's technique of coerced and resisted portraiture) replaces the 
detective at the left in the photograph with the photographer and his camera, suggesting 
their interchangeability. Like Figure 48, this engraving illustrates the 
chapter of Byrnes's recollections in  Darkness and Light .



Fig. 52.
Honoré Daumier, "Nadar Raising Photography to the Height of Art,"
lithograph, 1862. Nadar is credited with taking the first aerial photograph (in 1850) and
 was as one of the first to use arc light for flash photography in the early 1860s. As the
 Strand Magazine  article attests, the aerial photograph would, in 1890s England, become 
a form of national surveillance and defense as well as an elevated art. Photograph courtesy 
of the Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, 
The University of Texas at Austin.



Fig. 53.
D. H. Friston's frontispiece for the first edition  A Study in Scarlet  is the first
 depiction of Sherlock Holmes. It pictures him with the high-powered lens with which he
 would always be identified.



Fig. 54.
In this illustration from Anthropologie Métrique, the book Alphonse Bertillon 
co-authored with A. Chervin (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1909), the camera resembles
 a machine of execution or interrogation as much as a form of representation. Bertillon's 
system was deployed by law-enforcement agencies, anthropologists, and even
 missionaries to monitor, scrutinize, and control the criminal (or foreigner).



Fig. 55.
The frontispiece for the first edition of Havelock Ellis,  The Criminal  (1890),
 employs one of Sir Francis Galton's composite photographs to represent "the criminal type."



Victoria's Sovereign Obedience
Portraits of the Queen as Wife and Mother

Margaret Homans

[Acknowledging] one important truth [will make a successful marriage]—it is the superiority of your husband as a man. It is quite possible that you may have more talent, with higher attainments . . . but this has nothing whatever to do with your position as a woman, which is, and must be, inferior to his as a man.
Sarah Ellis, The Wives of England, 1843

Since the Queen did for herself for a husband "propose,"
The ladies will all do the same, I suppose;
Their days of subserviency now will be past,
For all will "speak first" as they always did last!
Since the Queen has no equal, "obey" none she need,
So of course at the altar from such vow she's freed;
And the women will all follow suit, so they say—
"Love, honour," they'll promise, but never—"obey."
1841 London street ballad

What made it possible, at a time when women were meant to "obey," for a woman to occupy the throne of England for sixty-three years and to leave the monarchy's domestic and international prestige, if not its political authority, enhanced? Despite notable exceptions, women were never meant to be Britain's monarchs. The throne is patrilineal. Dorothy Thompson indicates how peculiar it is "that in a century in which male dominion and the separation of spheres into sharply defined male and female areas became entrenched in the ideology of all classes, a female in the highest office in the nation seems to have been almost universally accepted."[1] Adrienne Auslander Munich points out in particular that the idea of "maternal monarchy seems absurd," an outrageous mingling of separate spheres that created a "gap in representability" to be filled by one paradox after another.[2] And yet


it is also arguable, by analogy with Nancy Armstrong's contention "that the modern individual was first and foremost a woman,"[3] that—quite apart from the historical accident of Queen Victoria's reigning from 1837 to 1901—the modern British monarch was first and foremost a woman: to be specific, a middle-class wife.

The characteristics required of the monarch of a nineteenth-century parliamentary democracy were those also required of middle-class wives, and if a married woman had not occupied the throne for most of the century, the monarchy would have needed some other way of associating itself with wifeliness. Just like a middle-class wife, the monarch was obliged (beginning in the seventeenth century, but increasingly so) not to intervene in politics. Like a middle-class wife spending her husband's income, she was expected to spend the wealth of her nation in a manner that displayed both its economic strength and her dependency.[4] She had to serve as public, highly visual symbol of national identity and of her nation's values, just as a middle-class wife might be expected to display her husband's status. She had to be available for idealization and, by the same token, to be manifestly willing to relinquish active agency in political affairs, so that others could perform remarkable deeds in her name, as when, for example, in 1871 Disraeli presented the crown of empire to his Fairy Queen. As the nation's wife, Britain's nineteenth-century monarch had to be a married woman.

To look at the matter from another angle, female monarchy posed numerous representational problems, as Munich argues, but those problems and others could be resolved if the queen was a wife. Britain, finding itself under female rule, capitalized on the desire to limit female power by making that the alibi for limiting (but not eliminating) the monarchy's powers and entitlements. By presenting herself as a wife, Queen Victoria offered the perfect solution to Britain's fears of both female rule and excessive monarchic power. At the same time, as if in compensation, the monarchy acquired what is granted to middle-class wives in exchange for their loss of economic and social autonomy: that ambiguous resource early Victorian ideologues call influence.[5] Through Victoria, the monarchy embraced the limitation of its powers to symbolic ones, and flourished as a result.

Historians generally agree that the Victorian monarchy succeeded—that is, survived into the twentieth century when other European monarchies disappeared—despite Victoria's unpopularity from the death of Prince Albert to the first Jubilee, thanks to its popular representation as middle-class, domestic, and patriotic, in contrast to the profligate and foreign royalty of the previous generation (see Thompson, 87). In this


essay I explore some specific ways in which Victoria's gender and marital status enabled such representations during the early part of her reign, simultaneously creating the appearance of limited female and monarchic power and expanding the monarchy's symbolic power and ideological influence. The monarchy succeeded because of its transformation into a popular spectacle during the nineteenth century; during that time the association of royal spectacle and middle-class practices and values came to seem the permanent hallmark of the royal family.[6] This spectacle depended for its effectiveness on Victoria's gender. A woman is perhaps more readily transformed into spectacle at any historical period; the Victorians, in the period I examine, were treated, specifically and paradoxically, to the spectacle of royal domestic privacy, a privacy that centered on the ever-plumper figure of their queen as wife and mother.

Victoria's marriage to Prince Albert both enabled and complicated her impersonation of the woman her nation needed. Just as Victoria both functioned publicly as the nation's wife and was herself, in private, a wife, she both publically impersonated a domestic woman and really was one. But these public roles are inversely, or at any rate not causally, related to the private versions of them. On the one hand, to pursue the analogy to Nancy Armstrong's argument that the modern individual was a woman, Victoria could be said to have had no larger share of power than that of the average woman Armstrong has in mind, a conduit for the sort of power a Foucauldian reading attributes to all—great, perhaps, but unrelated to individual empowerment or agency. On the other hand, she was unique, a woman whose life was related to ordinary female domesticity only by analogy and masterful tricks of representation, with powers that included her having—if any individual could be said to have it—individual agency. If it was not because she was a domestic woman that she appeared to be one, it was still because she was an ordinary woman in another sense: her representational powers could not exceed those of any other citizen. She could only manipulate her image to the extent that her culture made it possible for her to do so.

Queen Victoria's resemblance to a middle-class wife made her seem ordinary, but the meaning and effectiveness of that resemblance depended on the contrast with her extraordinariness. As she acknowledges in a letter, her ordinariness is at once genuine and deliberate, that of a unique individual empowered to be exemplary: "they say no Sovereign was more loved than I am (I am bold enough to say), and that , from our happy domestic home —which gives such a good example.[7] She represents palatial Balmoral Castle and Osborne House—purchased and renovated at great expense to the nation—as homes and herself as an ordi-


nary woman who adored her husband and took an uncommon interest in raising her children. For state occasions she preferred wearing a bonnet to wearing a crown, and she preferred her wedding lace and veil to the robes of state.[8] For her Jubilee procession in 1887 she horrified her family by refusing to wear anything more glamorous than her black widow's dress. But the rituals for which she chose such costumes were no less costly for her dowdy tastes, and a queen in a bonnet cuts a very different figure from a commoner in a bonnet; in Victoria's case, the crown is visible by its absence.

Whether Victoria's own agency constructed this imposture or it was constructed for her by social forces operating independent of her can never be established. Her choosing to seem ordinary may have been both the act of a remarkably shrewd and inventive monarch, accurately discerning the only route available to effective monarchical power, and the role given her by the culture that produced her. The most that can be said is that she performed certain gestures of self-representation in concert with other representations of her in the media, gestures that were legible and efficacious only because they coincided with representations already in place.

Sarah Ellis's writing on the newly crowned Victoria suggests that for her contemporaries Victoria both produced "the royal image" and was subjected to the Victorian construction of her as of all women. Ellis sees Victoria at once as the epitome of the "influence" that serves as the alibi for containing women within the domestic sphere, not differentiating between Victoria's powers and those of her female subjects, and as unique authorizing agent of that containment. The women of England must "prove to their youthful sovereign, that whatever plan she may think it right to sanction for the moral advancement of her subjects . . . will be . . . faithfully supported in every British home by the female influence prevailing there."[9] Victoria is at once an exemplary construct of Victorian ideology and its fantasized author.

Queen Victoria appears to have shared with her subjects a collective fantasy about her own powers and her agency that is to be identified neither with a specific state or royal authority nor with the cultural power all subjects have. Whatever individual agency monarchs have takes the form, by the time of Victoria, of influencing ideological shifts. For Victoria this power lay in manipulating the spectacle of royalty, as well as in being manipulated by it. Serious-minded middle-class domesticity was becoming the behavioral norm for her nation, and in acting for the public like members of the middle class, Victoria and Albert could be said to have "encourage[d] trends which were already devel-


oping" (Thompson, 87–88). She helped her nation to become powerful and prosperous by helping it see itself as a middle-class nation, just as she smoothed the transition to a wholly symbolic monarchy that would have taken place with or without her in the nineteenth century.

For Victoria's monarchy to become and remain popular, the potential disadvantage of a woman on the throne—specifically, the fears of female rule that a queen regnant would inspire—had to turn into an advantage for the monarchy's middle-class imposture. This, Victoria's early marriage made possible (while, as we shall see, it also perpetuated those fears in other, though less potent, forms). It was possible for her subjects to read her marriage as no different from any other, as a form of privatization through which women were defined as the complements and subordinates of men. Her marriage subdued anxieties about female rule and at the same time made her a model for the middle class because gender hierarchy was becoming a hallmark specifically of the middle-class family. When Sarah Ellis writes that a wife must recognize "the superiority of [her] husband as a man," in the passage quoted as the first epigraph of this essay, she directly addresses, and simultaneously constructs, the category of middle-class wives. Ellis's interest, like Victoria's, was explicitly in shaping the emerging middle class, and gender hierarchy in Victoria and Albert's "happy domestic home" would have helped establish the middle-class nature of that home.

Popular representations of Victoria at the time of her coronation betray enormous and sometimes self-contradictory anxieties about female rule. Such apprehensions and the urgent need to see Victoria controlled by a husband are complexly dramatized in a pair of broadsheets from this time. In one, titled "Petticoats for Ever" and headed by the image of an enormously fat, menacing-looking woman (Fig. 56), two characters, Kitty and Joan, hold a conversation about the "wonders" the new queen will do "all in favour of the women." There will be a Parliament of women (with names like "Mother Mouthalmighty") and an act passed providing "that all women, married or single, are to have a roving commission, to go where they like, do as they like, and work when they like . . . and [that they] shall have . . . a gallon of cream of the valley each to drink health to the Queen." The fear is specifically of female bodily excess as well as of political misrule, although the threat posed by female rule is here defused by comic exaggeration.

Another, and opposite, popular strategy for relieving anxieties about Victoria's accession was in effect to deny that a female monarch would rule at all. A second broadsheet, "The Coronation" (Fig. 57), represents the sentimental possibilities of seeing the queen as a simple woman.


Celebrating her sincerely on her coronation day, this doggerel inserts Victoria firmly into the female sphere as dutiful daughter ("Tho' Victoria does the sceptre sway, / Her parent may she still obey") and into her female role as genetic link between generations of men: "E'er she resigns all earthly things, / Be mother to a line of Kings." The broadsheet closes with the image of a coronation, but it is, oddly, of a king, not a queen. The queen is merely a consort (it seems) sitting uncrowned next to him as he receives the crown, as if to suggest the role England would prefer for Victoria, whose portrait at the top of the page represents her as young, sweet, and unthreatening. But even this soothing image may betray an attendant fear: if the queen acts only as consort, as the closing image seems to hope, then the same image presents the danger that an actual consort may act as king. Taken together, the two broadsheets suggest that female rule is inescapably disadvantageous: being queen may give her powers improper to a woman, or a proper woman may be too weak a monarch.

After Victoria's marriage, although it was constructed largely to allay fears of female rule and transform it into a source of middle-class imagery, these twin anxieties—that Victoria would exceed her domestic role and fail to do so—continued to surface, as the doggerel quoted as the second epigraph to this essay suggests. Victoria did, however, promise to obey Albert, contrary to the verse's assertion ("her promise to 'obey' the Prince was heard throughout the Chapel"[10] ), and its erroneous emphasis on her refusal to obey may stem from either the fear of such a refusal or, indeed, a wish for it. It would not do for Victoria to appear too much a private woman and Albert's subordinate, for fears of Albert's foreign loyalties were just as potent as fears of a woman's rule (see Thompson, 36–41). Another cartoon from the time of the marriage, titled "Trying It On" (Fig. 58), emphasizes the equal and opposite risks of her status as wife. This cartoon, in which Albert poses admiringly before a mirror wearing the crown of England, expresses the anxiety that the suspect foreigner—because (as he puts it in the cartoon's text) "vat is yours is mine, now ve are married"—will take over the monarchy. His threat may be in part defused by the presence of the mirror, which feminizes him by representing his vanity, and by the presence of sports equipment that suggests it is all just play, but Victoria looks on horrified and helpless. Victoria's marriage did on the whole consolidate the image of her as an ordinary and unthreatening woman, but representations of the royal couple had to balance reassurances of Victoria's domestication with those of her sovereignty.

Victoria herself wrote ambivalently about the prospect of marriage in


the abstract, and her feelings in some ways echoed those of her subjects. Anticipating those who feared Albert's taking over the monarchy, Victoria wrote in her diary:

at present my feeling was quite against ever marrying. . . . marrying a subject was making yourself so much their equal. . . . I said I dreaded the thought of marrying; that I was so accustomed to have my own way, that I thought it was 10 to 1 that I shouldn't agree with any body.[11]

That she soon decided to consider marriage anyway suggests that she understood it as a giving up of personal autonomy that would nonetheless maintain or increase her powers. Most immediately, she wanted to get her dominating mother out of her household, and the only way to do so with propriety was to marry, thus substituting fur her mother's rule another form of subordination, probably a greater one, and gaining one power only by losing another. A larger motive may have been her desire to stabilize her image as queen of a middle-class nation. Here again she enhances her particular form of rule, her power as symbol, only by taking the risk of giving away her power over herself.

Perhaps in response to both popular anxieties and Victoria's own worries, representations of Victoria and Albert once they were married—commissioned portraits, cartoons, and other popular images alike—helped to disseminate a complex picture of royalty's superordinary domesticity, publicizing the monarchy as middle-class and its female identity as unthreateningly subjugated yet somehow reassuringly sovereign. That there was such a congruence between commercial and commissioned works suggests the reciprocal shaping, between the queen and her subjects, that I am arguing for: while the popular press enacts its power to shape her as England's middle-class queen, she too shapes her subjects in her own image. These images also support my argument that Victoria chose to hold her power in the only way open to her, by giving her power away.

These images play on two conventions of hierarchy, one related to Victorian portraiture, the other, to protocol. First, height conveys power, so that portraits with both husband and wife seated or standing "naturally" represent the husband as the more authoritative (recall that Prince Charles had to stand on a step to tower appropriately over Lady Diana in their nuptial portrait). Typically in Victorian marital portraits the husband stands while the wife sits (or occasionally, in a convention that reads in essentially the same way, he sits center stage while she leans deferentially against the back of his chair), to emphasize their difference and perhaps also to suggest her bodily weakness and his strength.


This convention runs counter to the second, however, that the monarch may sit while others stand, while no one may sit in her presence unless invited. Victoria's sitting or standing, in other words, can represent, simultaneously and ambiguously, her power as sovereign and her subordination as wife. Complicating the question is the Victorian revival of chivalric conventions, whereby the woman's elevation may represent not her power but "a tactical inversion of the real relations of power . . . a strategy for reconciling women to the facts of gender relations [in marriage], that they are called goddesses by the men because they are going to have to treat the men as gods."[12] Placing a woman on a pedestal, as is well known, does not necessarily mean giving her an advantage. Victoria loved an 1843 portrait of Albert in full armor and commissioned double portraits and a statue of the two of them in Anglo-Saxon dress, suggesting her identification with the days of chivalry.[13] Where her image is elevated, therefore, it is hard to say whether that elevation connotes royal authority or symbolic femininity; indeed, by conflating these two possibilities, such images suggest that feminine idealization is the only form monarchic power can take. Moreover, confusingly, because Albert himself was often represented as feminized by his role as consort (proposed to by Victoria, dependent on her wealth, and described by her as "beautiful," an "Angel," with "a cheek like a rose"), his elevation may mean conventional male supremacy—or it may mean that he is the woman on the pedestal.

While numerous cartoons of Victoria and Albert around the time of their marriage represent them at a standoff—she powerful through sovereignty, he powerful through masculinity—many popular portraits of the royal pair thereafter represent them with their family, surrounded by increasing numbers of rosy-cheeked children. In Figure 59, the frontispiece to a songbook, Victoria is seated, engrossed in the baby she holds in her lap, to identify her with the private female sphere. Albert's arms enclose Victoria as well as the children, and his gaze directly returns that of the viewer, to suggest that he takes in the public as well as the private realm, like any Victorian husband and man of business. Although the words "God Save the Queen" appear prominently, no one wears a crown. A rural scene below the portrait connotes ordinary domestic pleasantness, but it also elevates the royal family to the heavens, to make them an object of veneration, in the manner of a Renaissance Assumption of the Virgin. This is the apotheosis of the royal family as middle-class folks, with the queen imaged as governing, paradoxically, by removing herself absolutely from the sphere of government.

This representation occupies one extreme of the range of contempo-


rary images, which show Victoria domesticated and Albert firmly ensconced in the role of protective and superior Victorian husband. Figure 60, while also domestic, at first suggests a contrast. Victoria's figure is the higher of the two, centered in a throne-like structure, while the far from patriarchal Albert on all fours indulgently plays "horsey" with his children. Victoria makes no intimate visual or bodily contact with her children, in contrast to her absorption in her children in "God Save the Queen." Perhaps, however, Albert's subordination in this scene—he is tugged along by his cravat, decked with flowers, and used as a prop for baby's delight—is all play, thus connoting the reverse of subordination, a reading supported by the light tone of the drawing and by the pose of Victoria's bending, yielding, and smiling figure. But I would suggest that the picture makes even more explicit than "God Save the Queen" how Victoria used her domestic position to reign. Framed by the words "To the Queen's Private Apartments: The Queen and Prince Albert at Home," the picture exemplifies Victoria's apparent desire to have her subjects witness her private life, to perform it as a spectacle and model, as the stage-like setting of the picture suggests. Paradoxically, the more privatized and ordinary her family life appears, the more effective it is as an instrument of ideological rule. The more she appears as a bending, yielding wifely figure, the more her subjects grant her the power to model their lives.

Portraits commissioned by Victoria herself present a similarly ambiguous relationship between Victoria and Albert. In an early Landseer portrait (Fig. 61), which Victoria called "very cheerful and pleasing," Victoria stands while Albert is seated, in body-revealing clothes, surrounded by the paraphernalia of hunting. Dogs gaze up at him adoringly, and the toddler Vicky, their first child, toys with one of several dead birds as she stands at the far end of this animal group, mirroring her mother's position. The dog between Albert's legs especially suggests his phallic dominance of the scene. The signs of female domesticity are here displaced by the signs of masculine prowess, and Victoria's pose mirrors not only that of her tiny daughter but also that of the dogs: she seems to wait attendance upon Albert as they do. The unfeminine authority that might be suggested if she stood above him is countered by these manifold indications that she is like any loving Victorian wife, deferring to her husband's centrality, not towering above him—the elevated symbol of domesticity for whom he performs his chivalric, manly deeds rather than the family decision maker. Moreover, the rule that none may sit in the queen's presence strengthens the suggestion that here she wishes to be seen as wife, not queen. Paradoxically, their posi-


tioning must reverse the usual husband-wife pose for him to be read as husband and her as wife.

Nonetheless, the open door framing the picture at the far right serves as a reminder that this model Victorian domestic privacy is being deliberately exposed and that Victoria's deference in the picture may have other meanings in the context of its display. Indeed, it could also be argued that the composition rises triangularly toward her and that all eyes really are on her, not on Albert. While the domestic femininity of her form is emphasized by her elaborate lacy dress, his body, on display as a masculine body, could nonetheless be said to be feminized, in that bodily display is itself feminizing. The Byronic tights he wears represent the costume of an earlier age and of outmoded aristocratic pleasures. Real men—prime ministers and businessmen, for example—after 1820 wore pants, so that costumes like Albert's here look romantic and effete.[14] It is unusual for a hunter to be shown indoors, as if his masculinity had been captured and tamed by Victoria's coercive domesticity. Turning the paradigm of chivalry the other way, we could say that Victoria is not diminished here by her symbolic elevation. For a parliamentary queen, symbolic power—a woman's power—is the only possible form of royal authority. Perhaps what is really on display here is not (or not only) Victoria's domestic deference toward Albert, but (or but also) her supremacy over a feminized Albert and an adoring nation.

This ambiguity receives a somewhat different emphasis in perhaps the most famous portrait of the family, painted in 1846 by Winterhalter (Fig. 62), who, along with Landseer, was the chief portraitist to the royal family.[15] Here both Albert and Victoria are seated, this time in regal attire, on throne-like chairs in a formal, stagy setting. Despite the presence of five active children, the parents' expressions are more business-like than cordial. The painting mingles the genre of conversation piece with that of the formal state portrait, and the setting heightens the ambiguity (as to privacy and publicity) we have also seen in the Landseer painting and in the cartoon To the Queen's Private Apartments . While the children in the right foreground seem to tumble about in a domestic space not unlike that in the Landseer portrait, albeit in their best clothes, the left background framing Victoria and Albert is an idealized and undomestic combination of "fine turquoise-blue skies" (specifically requested by Albert) and formal drapery.[16] Are Victoria and Albert public or private, indoors or out, onstage or not? Privacy is being publicized here, and public life privatized. This ambiguity is echoed by the painting's locations: it hung in the dining room at Osborne, Victoria and


Albert's most home-like home, but it was also engraved by Samuel Cousins and therefore enjoyed wide public circulation.

The painting's formal ambiguities reinforce those of the figures' poses. Although Albert is seated closer to the picture plane and obstructs part of Victoria's figure with his elegantly clad leg, Victoria wears a crown while he does not, and their relative heights have been misrepresented so as to make Victoria almost as tall (against her chair and also in the picture plane) as Albert, despite the shrinking of perspective. Furthermore, in exact contrast to "God Save the Queen" (Fig. 59), it is now she who gazes unflinchingly out at the spectator, while her husband's gaze is absorbed by his child. Of course, the look shared at some distance between father and eldest son differs greatly from the mutual gaze of mother and infant in "God Save the Queen"; it suggests patrilineage and the passage of power from father to son rather than cozy parental love. Yet Victoria's steely gaze looking out between them reminds the viewer that it is her line, not Albert's, that is importantly continued in their son, and that patrilineage in this case is subordinate to other principles of hierarchy. Her arm around her son thus conveys both domestic maternity and royal lineage, just as the setting conveys both state formality and domestic intimacy.

Although the picture represents her in just about as authoritative and regal a pose as she was willing to occupy in family portraits of this period, and although Victoria was known to have "loved" this picture,[17] in the sketch she made of it, she revises her own figure in significant ways (Fig. 63). She has made her head bow further and more yieldingly toward her son and perhaps has changed the direction of her gaze from out at the viewer to down toward her son, and she has removed or elided the crown on her head. Appreciating Winterhalter's relatively regal and public vision of her, she nonetheless domesticates it further. Or perhaps she liked the picture because she saw it in the way that she sketched it, as more domestic than it is.

By 1860 in England, costly and traditional oil portraiture had lost ground to a newer method of representation, for "hand-tinted portrait photographs were being praised as 'truthful beyond the artist's power.'"[18] Along with its relative cheapness and availability, photography's claim to offer greater realism made it the middle class's favored method of recording itself (the representation of itself as "the real" was part of the middle class's strategy for making its values normative for all classes of British society), and the royal family began to commission photographs too.[19] And just as photography supplanted oil painting, so


trousers supplanted knee breeches and hose as Albert's habitual portrait costume, while Victoria's dress rarely suggests her rank. These photographs, in their striking difference from the oils of just a decade earlier, may represent the fruition of Victoria's efforts to be portrayed as a middle-class queen; even so, they adjust Victoria and Albert's relationship in similarly ambiguous ways.

Of the many available images, I will discuss three made shortly before Albert's death—two Mayall photographs and one by a Miss Day, in each of which Victoria and Albert are dressed as an ordinary wealthy middle-class couple. Day's photograph was engraved for public circulation, and Mayall's images were made explicitly to be published as cartes de visite.[20] In the image by Day, taken at Osborne House on 26 July 1859 (Fig. 64), Albert leans rather casually against a wall, looking an exaggerated distance down at Victoria, holding his hat, in a pose that suggests disengagement and even weariness, while she gazes up at him intensely with an expression of agitation and needfulness. She may be seated, but her attitude suggests that it is not with the precedence of a queen but rather with the humility and even bodily weakness of a worshipful, yearning wife. The first of the Mayall photographs, taken at Buckingham Palace on 15 May 1860 (Fig. 65), seems at first glance to reverse this hierarchy: Albert sits and Victoria stands. But he sits confidently with legs crossed, looking up at her while holding a book as if interrupted in reading, while she stands with eyes downcast, her pose apologetic, almost servile, her arm on his shoulder, her figure partly obscured by his. She stands, but her relative height in the picture plane does not convey power or precedence. Another pose from the same session has her seated and him standing, yet he faces the camera with his arm cocked on his hip, while she looks down at the book in her lap, as if to demonstrate that the same marital hierarchy can be read in opposite poses. Because of the recurrence of servility here, it is perhaps surprising to learn that yet a third photo from the same session, posed almost identically to the first (she stands, he sits), was captioned "The Prince verifies a reference" when published by the Picture Post Library. On the one hand, his verifying a reference makes him the authority to whom Victoria defers, and that is what her stance conveys in each of the images from this session; on the other hand, that he is verifying a reference reminds us for whom he works: Victoria Regina. Does the caption disguise servility as mastery; or does the pose disguise mastery as servility?

Finally in the last Mayall photograph, made six months before the prince's death (1 March 1861; Fig. 66), Victoria stands on a step so as to look almost on a level into his eyes. Does the democratizing potential


of photography influence the content of the image? Perhaps, but his top hat and her hatlessness and lowered umbrella (and of course her crownlessness) re-hierarchize the carefully dehierarchized pose, and the ostentatious failure to conceal the machinery by which she is made to appear his height suggests that the very idea is a sort of somber joke. Another photograph from the same session represents them at their different heights: he appears about a foot taller. Seated below, standing over, or standing on a level with him, Victoria in each of these images conveys proper wifely humility and subordination toward her husband—sometimes even abjection—rather than sovereignty. Yet in the context of their dissemination these photographs could be read as we read the two cartoons (Figs. 59, 60) and the Landseer painting, as a display of her female subordination that reinforces her ideological rule. In the pictorial medium of the middle classes, Victoria and Albert assume increasingly the guise of the middle classes, their clothes and, most important, their rigid gender hierarchy; and, paradoxically, the declassing and gender subordination confirm Victoria's highest ambition, to lead by her example a middle-class nation.

In the years following Albert's death in 1861, Victoria's almost groveling worship of his image became central to royal iconography, and the emphasis in the late photographs on his height and her servility seems simply to continue after his death, in exaggerated form. Figure 67, an 1862 photograph taken by Prince Alfred at Windsor, shows Victoria and Princess Alice with a bust of Albert that rises above and between them, Victoria in heavy mourning in a pose of extravagant, upward-turning devotion. (Similar photographs pose this bust with different groupings of family members, and it is usually above them all, although sometimes at one side of the composition.) This pose is anticipated by that in another photograph (Fig. 68), taken of Albert, Victoria, and Princess Vicky on her wedding day, in which, again, the stolid Albert towers above and between the two women, who seem undifferentiated—both nervous, with downcast eyes, both crowned, both busty, in similar white dresses. Photography may have its democratizing effect, but democracy here means adherence to middle-class norms, and photographic democracy puts Victoria on a level, not with her husband, but with ordinary Victorian wives, who are lower in status and in stature than their husbands—or with her daughters, who became the consorts that some early cartoons (such as "The Coronation," Fig. 57) wished Victoria herself had been. Where the Winterhalter portrait tricks the viewer into seeing Victoria's sovereignty as well as her ordinary wifeliness, photography exposes her ordinariness even more than her sover-


eignty. Or—to turn the photograph of worshiping Albert's statue another way—does placing him on a lofty pedestal mean reducing him, in all the ways chivalry reduces the women who are so placed?

That ambiguity reminds us again that posing as ordinary was Victoria's mode of sovereignty: to put her ordinariness on royal display for popular admiration. Paradoxically, she holds her sovereignty because of the popularity she accrues by appearing as an ordinary wife: she rules in the only way she can, by giving over her authority. If she wanted to promote a worldview in which the middle-class wife's subordination underwrites middle-class supremacy, she became both the agent and the product of her own ideological designs. Her portraits not only testify to her skill and that of popular image makers in manipulating conventions for representing gender difference and class status, but also record the ideological complexity of the problem, for art and for the queen herself, of representing a queen regnant in an era desiring to see the end of female power.



Fig. 56.
"Petticoats for Ever." Broadsheet, c. 1837. From Louis James, ed.,  English 
Popular Literature, 1819–1851
 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), 340.



Fig. 57.
"The Coronation." Broadsheet, c. 1837. From Louis James, ed.,  English
 Popular Literature, 1819–1851
 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), 341.



Fig. 58.
"Trying It On." Woodcut, c. 1840. From Dorothy Thompson,  Queen Victoria:
 The Woman, the Monarchy, and the People
 (New York, Pantheon: 1990), 40.



Fig. 59.
W. J. Linton, "God Save the Queen." Wood engraving of a picture by H. Warren used
 as illustration for the  Illustrated Book of British Song  (1842). From Dorothy Thompson,
  Queen Victoria: The Woman, the Monarchy, and the People  (New York: Pantheon, 1990), 45.



Fig. 60.
To the Queen's Private Apartments: The Queen and Prince Albert at Home.
 Lithograph, c. 1844.



Fig. 61.
Sir Edwin Landseer,  Windsor Castle in Modern Times: Queen Victoria,
 Prince Albert, and Victoria, Princess Royal,
 1841–45. Oil on canvas. The Royal Collection, copyright 1993 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.


Fig. 62.
Franz Xaver Winterhalter,  The Royal Family in 1846 . Oil on canvas. 
The Royal Collection, copyright 1993 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



Fig. 63.
Queen Victoria's sketch of Winterhalter's  Royal Family in 1846 . The 
Royal Collection, copyright 1993 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



Fig. 64.
Miss Day, photograph of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Osborne, 26 July
1859. The Royal Archives, copyright 1994 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



Fig. 65.
J. J. E. Mayall, photograph of Queen Victoria and Price Albert,
15 May 1860. Copyright 1994 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



Fig. 66.
J. J. E. Mayall, photograph of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 
1 March 1861. Copyright 1994 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



Fig. 67.
Prince Alfred, photograph of Queen Victoria and her second daughter, 
Princess Alice, with a bust of Prince Albert, 1862. Copyright 1994 Her 
Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



Fig. 68.
Williams, photograph of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their 
daughter Victoria, Princess Royal, on her wedding day, 25 January 1858. Copyright 
1994 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



The Author as Spectacle and Commodity
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Thomas Hardy

Linda M. Shires

The century that elapsed between the late 1820s, when Elizabeth Barrett published her first volume of poems, and the late 1920s, when Thomas Hardy published his last volume of poems, saw highly dramatic shifts affecting the construction of nineteenth-century literary authority in British culture. Artists who had formerly thought of themselves as following a vocation increasingly saw themselves as leading a life that was potentially as commodified or commercial as that led by professionals in other fields.

To be sure, the process of gaining literary authority during this period was affected by many material changes in the literary sphere, as well as by individual investments of energy.[1] These changes included the new construction of various readerships, the shifting status of a genre such as poetry (from center to margins), different types of book production and distribution, and the sharp increase in published women authors. But material facts about the changing literary sphere cannot fully explain why the author as a public figure became a spectacle or why authors themselves so frequently explored the issue of visibility in their texts. Nor is it usually possible to trace in an author's life one particular moment when an assumption of literary vocation turned into a need, conscious or half-conscious, to control self-presentation and representation by others.

But at least three intertwined social phenomena did alter the shaping and living of public identities. Commencing in the eighteenth century, these phenomena intensified in the nineteenth: the waning importance of a host of authorities, both secular and religious; changes in the meaning and value of public space, and, a wedding of the two prior changes:


public figures whose fame rested on their exploitation of themselves as spectacles.

In describing the aftermath of the 1789 French Revolution, Leo Brandy speaks of a "gap of public gaze."[2] And indeed, even after monarchy reasserted itself in the early nineteenth century, the waning influence of established civil authorities and a persistence of class struggle led to the rise of a new host of public figures—military men, scientists, authors—who gained fame differently than they might have in the past. Early-nineteenth-century men such as Napoleon and that Napoleon of poets Lord Byron illustrate how authority now had to be visibly worked for and how visibility itself had to be courted. A successful career no longer depended just on merit, or inheritance, or connections. It depended on being seen—seen at certain places, with certain people, and in particular outfits or poses. As we know; the Victorians worshiped celebrities from Wellington to Nightingale, even unwinding the shrouds of corpses in their Carlylean quest for some authority to gaze upon.

In addition to the weakened influence of secular and religious authorities, the meaning and value of the public sphere itself changed dramatically from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. Demographics, economic alteration, geographic migration, and changes in printing techniques all worked to form new audiences and new relations between author, supporters, and text. The patron or patroness was replaced by the literary mediator: publisher, editor, man of letters. Nor was the audience composed of members of the same class or profession. Rather the public splintered into audiences: a large and diverse public, rural and urban, marked by divisions of status, class, and gender and specific readerships. In this increasingly divided yet anonymous public sphere, writers had to work harder to get attention and keep it. The public arena, ever more confusing in its vast multitudinousness, was transformed into a stage where one could display oneself, but also protect oneself, by acting roles.

To many Victorians, self-display through acting implied deceit or an inability to be what they thought of as "truly" sincere. Indeed, Matthew Arnold seems to speak for many Victorians when he laments the chance of really ever communing with another or with himself deeply at all—in public places on in private. In poems such as the Marguerite poems, "A Summer Night," "The Buried Life," "Lines Written in Kensington Gardens," Arnold yearns for a calm and wise passivity, which he, like Thomas Carlyle, locates only with divinity or those he considers heroic geniuses, such as Shakespeare. Average men and women "trick'd in dis-


guises" ("The Buried Life") might "play" at life, but would remain "alien" to themselves and to each other.[3] Acting multiple roles, then, could be a curse as well as a blessing, for it deadened what Arnold saw as the deep feelings of the heart. Acting could even point to a radical instability of the self.[4] As James Eli Adams points out in his contribution to this volume, the cultural opposition of theatricality, visibility, and surfaces to inwardness, withdrawal, silence, and depth is a complicated phenomenon that can appear in many guises. Yet the opposing sides are always in some way connected to each other.

Victorian literary authority was constructed interactively, then, among authors and audiences as part of a larger cultural paradigm centering on commodities. Indeed, in the nineteenth century the commodity became the "coordinating frame within which different forms of social life—economic, political, psychological, literary—were grouped."[5] Public fame increasingly depended on personal attributes and the reproduction of images. By the end of Hardy's career, when the boundaries between private and public selves had dissolved almost completely, the authorial self—his pets, his house, his marriages, his opinions on contemporary poets—became as important a commodity as his texts.

It is just this commodification of the writer that William Powell Frith's The Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881 (Fig. 69) satirizes. On the one hand, Frith clearly wishes to document the plethora of celebrities assembling at the Royal Academy private viewing during a typical show of the 1880s. Among the notables in this painting are Gladstone, Browning, Langtry, Terry, Irving, Trollope, Wilde, and Millais. Yet Frith uses this institution—the Academy itself and the yearly event there—to focus on spectacle and self-display. If the dignity of the event and the crowd flatten out contrasts, still the painting brilliantly questions the borders between the public and the private. It insists on the importance of status by representing a private view of the new exhibition to invited guests. It also questions, however, the nature of such "collective privacy" by showing what the viewers have come to view and by asking what they have ended up viewing. Paintings? Each other? Each other viewing paintings? Oscar Wilde?

Frith sets up a contrast between two kinds of authors in his deliberate placement and depiction of Trollope and Wilde. Anthony Trollope, at the left with top hat, surrounded by people looking at paintings and at their catalogues, is involved in the same activity, but catches a look at Oscar Wilde. The aesthetic master, with a flower in his lapel, also uses his book, but those around him stare at or worship him as he gazes dreamily at paintings. Here we have two types of literary authority set


up in a deliberate generational, gendered, and stylistic contrast. Trollope is represented as the hardworking, older, manly man of letters, whereas Wilde is the feminized, feted dandy, gazed at and fawned upon by a circle of mostly female and young admirers.[6] He is as much an object for viewing as the pictures on the wall.

The painting encapsulates for us how Victorian literary authority was constructed in the public arena as an occasionally active and an occasionally more passive spectacle of authorial power. If we arrange Victorian writers according to what we might call a "spectacle spectrum," figures as different as Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, and Oscar Wilde would, paradoxically enough, appear close to each other. Whether in his prose, in his editorial work, or in his readings, Dickens took pleasure in performance, fully trusting to the vitality of his imagination and his dramatic skills. Carlyle created himself as a heroic man of letters even as he searched for heroes in whom to believe. And whereas he too sold his imaginative productions and himself as a unit, Wilde went one step further by selling himself to the public as an imaginative production, and a compellingly charismatic one at that.

At the other end of this "spectrum" we might also find writers seldom associated with each other. Not only Trollope, or the Brontë sisters, say, but also some of the major Victorian poets resist being drawn into active spectacle. Neither Christina Rossetti nor Alfred Lord Tennyson, for instance, sell their first imaginative productions with the gusto of Dickens, or parade themselves so vigorously before crowds as Carlyle and Wilde do. To be sure, Rossetti performed as an artist's model and Tennyson enjoyed declaiming his poems to small groups of admirers. But both couched self-dramatization in a rhetoric and stance of withdrawal. Their poems, too, repeatedly take up what they view as the highly problematic relationship of authority, self-display, and identity. The power of the speaking "I" emerges most often in their texts through masks, through some relationship with static or dead bodies, or through outright refusals of participation.

Perhaps the most powerful refusal of active spectacle on the part of a speaker occurs in Christina Rossetti's poem "Winter: My Secret." There, the speaker is erotically stimulated by shutting out her listeners from a putative secret, the author upholds the decorum of privacy, and the poem ironically deploys the act of withholding, as it demonstrates that withholding contributes to the mystification of commodities. Secrecy and advertised uniqueness stimulate desire. As Braudy points out: the middle-class Victorian audience is among the first to become excited by the refusal of its gaze, as well as by the reflection of its gaze (398, 402).


The Victorian author, then, can succeed with an audience either by actively engaging in spectacles of theatrical self-display or by withholding.

More interesting than the cultural opposition itself or any groupings of authors, however, is the dialectical or embattled engagement of such seemingly ambivalent impulses in a single author. With individuals, of course, negotiations differ in type and intensity at differing moments in a career. It is precisely this conundrum of the need to shape the self through display but also to remain somehow sincere that Elizabeth Barrett and Thomas Hardy confront repeatedly in their careers as authors.

To find favor with an audience, artists such as Barrett and Hardy had to create public literary personae while they were also being created as memorable identities through critical and literary discourse. If they did not help to create themselves in the public eye, passive spectators could easily become bored or intensely voyeuristic. Fame might elude the artist or spiral out of his or her control, as Barrett feared it would, for example, when Mary Russell Mitford published her recollections, including Elizabeth's reaction to her brother Edward's death by drowning, the single most traumatic event of her life. Barrett felt her audiences would misunderstand her art if Mitford's recollections encouraged them to dwell on one life event. Barren and Hardy were instrumental, I am arguing, in helping to select the very discourses by which they were defined in a public rhetoric of the literary sphere. Literary and life choices they made helped to mold their self-representations within available cultural codes about lives, careers, and art, but they also had to shape their work and careers as somehow distinctive.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Thomas Hardy consciously monitored the performative nature of their careers. A Victorian author's relationship to spectacle—whether textually or interpersonally—would have been determined by many variables, including temperament, gender, genre choice, and specific or multiple audiences. Both Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Thomas Hardy experienced alternating moments of attraction to spectacle and withdrawal from it, an oscillation of which they seemed acutely aware and which they resolved differently with regard to what each considered a deeper spiritual or political truth.

Although both Barrett Browning and Hardy invested in a rhetoric of self-deprecation in their early careers and both attempted to follow a Vergilian, step-by-step literary vocation, they were profoundly attracted to men and women engaged in self-display, both those who made spectacles of themselves and those who had become spectacles by virtue of their public roles. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's long-standing attraction to George Sand illustrates her pull toward the self-dramatic. "I would


give anything to have a letter from her, though it smelt of cigars," confides Barrett in a letter to her intimate Mary Russell Mitford.[7] The date is 1844, the occasion, Moxon's publication of Barrett's volume Poems, in which she offers her two sonnets to George Sand. As the confidence to Mitford suggests, Barrett's concern with spectacle and authority has everything to do with sex, gender, and the model of non-English literature. Indeed, she wrote to Mitford that she was enthralled, visually and emotionally, by contemporary French novels: "My whole being aches with the sight of it [the "conflagration" of French literature],—and when I turn away home, there seems nothing to be seen, it is all so neutral tinted and dull and cold by comparison."[8] She is conscious of keeping her readings a "secret" (Miller, 144) in her father's house.

It is therefore all the more significant that Barrett's male friends, notably her literary advisor, John Kenyon, and the literary critic of the Athenaeum Henry Chorley, advised her against publishing the sonnets to Sand because her public approval of such an unconventional woman writer might seriously harm her rising reputation. But for Barrett, as for many other women of her day, Miss Mitford not among them, Sand was a "magnificent creature" (Raymond and Sullivan, 222) about whom she loved to read and gossip and with whom she desperately wanted to connect, both publicly and privately (Raymond and Sullivan, 150–51). "I wont die if I can help it," she proclaimed, "without seeing George Sand" (Raymond, 245).

The two sonnets to Sand are most interesting, however, not for their unabashed heroine worship, but for their utter ambivalence about Sand's Byronic self-display. The sonnet "To George Sand: A Desire" represents her as a figure of excess: she is both a "large-brained woman and large-hearted man," a roaring lion and an arena slave (lines 2–4), an angel and a whore (lines 7–11).[9] But this woman dressed like a man, this doubly gendered creature, proves deeply troubling to Barrett. In spite of her fascination with a woman who seems to occupy both sides of every binary, Barrett remains troubled by charges of immorality leveled against Sand. Instead of considering self-display and sexual transgression as aspects of what she calls Sand's "genius" (line 12), however, Barrett anxiously tries to separate genius from public spectacle by locating it elsewhere. If Sand is a woman of oppositions on earth, her genius resides in heaven, above all divisions and all gossip. Truth and worth transcend spectacle and earthly fame in this highly characteristic Victorian rhetorical gesture.

In the second sonnet, "A Recognition," Barrett Browning goes further in rejecting self-display. She considers Sand's cross-dressing a vain


denial of her "woman's nature" (line 2). Just as in the first sonnet Barrett wishes Sand's genius to earn her angel wings, here she maintains that God will oversee the most crucial unsexing: through death and entry into heaven, Sand will be unsexed. Although Barrett is lured to spectacle, and drawn to the erotics of both gender transgression and same-sex love, she refuses to look at what is before her. She banishes her anxiety that Sand's genius may, in fact, be androgynous or bisexual or, what seems even worse, nothing more than spectacle by invoking higher truths.

Barrett eventually found a use for female self-display, though, in "Lord Walter's Wife," a poem William Thackeray rejected for publication in the Cornhill magazine shortly before her death. The female speaker of this poem, a mother and wife, refuses to sit passively by when one of her husband's friends flirts with her in front of her little daughter. Offended by his shallow praise of her as "far too fair" (line 6) for a woman, which disguises only thinly the cruelty he displaces onto her—"able to strangle my soul in a mesh of / your gold-colored hair" (lines 7–8), she shocks him by entering into a pushy flirtation of her own. When he then intimates that she is nothing but a "harlot" (line 49), she exposes his hypocritical practice of a sexual double standard.

By having Lord Walter's wife re-engender spectacle as a male game, Barrett Browning could defend the official ideologies of heterosexual love and motherhood but also attack the male's treatment of woman. While in the sonnets on Sand, Barrett rejected female spectacle as an affront to a female purity, she now could enlist a female speaker to support that purity. But at the same time, she features a woman who must adopt a role and act like a whore to preserve a sexual purity that the male double standard is trying to corrupt. In a brilliant double move, then, Mrs. Browning asserts domestic virtue and contentment, while Elizabeth Barrett exposes the patriarchal system's defilement of the very domesticity it professes to endorse. Domestic happiness itself seems a show in which male self-displays remain a grotesque featured act.

In rejecting "Lord Walter's Wife" as unsuitable for "my squeamish public," William Thackeray likens the poem to an "Aching tooth" that has to be pulled.[10] He pays courtly tribute to "dear, kind, Mrs. Browning," whom he knows personally and even admires. But he also indulges himself in excessively violent imagery. Ironically enough, by refusing to publish the poem, or, as he puts it, by "cutting the victim's head off," Thackeray produces in the publishing arena an analogue for the double standard Barrett Browning points to in the domestic arena.

With "Lord Walter's Wife," then, Barrett Browning dramatizes her


anxiety about spectacle. In her response to Thackeray, she states that her viewpoint may not be wrong even if his "paterfamilias" standpoint may have to be voiced. "I am not a fast woman—I don't like coarse subjects, or the coarse treatment of any subject," responds Barrett Browning, "but I am deeply convinced that the corruption of our society requires, not shut doors and windows, but light and air." She proceeds to argue that "it is exactly because pure and prosperous women choose to ignore vice, that miserable women suffer wrong by it everywhere."[11]

In one sense, through her poem "Lord Walter's Wife" Barrett Browning becomes a George Sand, playing male and female parts and using spectacle to attack what she perceives to be a male-driven system of performance. Defining spectacle in narrowly in terms of sexuality, she agrees that female self-display, often prompted by male egotism, can be degrading. But she can also find a use for a female-initiated female self-display. As a "pure" woman and as a writer, she can confront her audience with the politics of spectacle, instead of merely indicating her ambivalence about it. For she makes spectacle accountable to what she perceives as an objective truth: the double standard.

Thomas Hardy, born three decades after Elizabeth Barrett, displays a similar attraction and aversion to spectacle. But for him spectacle is connected with class as much as with issues of gender. And even more important, he is far less able to believe in any truth other than that which is subjective . He moves closer, then, to a public culture in which truth, objective or subjective, is a relative: a culture where spectacles has become all

In his early days as a writer, when slowly earning the respect of the chief editors and publishers' readers in London, Hardy's anonymously serialized Far from the Madding Crowd was received as the work of another female George—George Eliot.[12] In January 1874 the reviewer for the Spectator, responding only to the novel's first published part, concluded: in every page of these introductory chapters there are a dozen sentences which have the ring of the wit and wisdom of the only truly great English novelist now living."[13] To be taken for George Eliot, which might appeal to another young novelist, proved intolerable to Hardy. He was not imitating her, he insists. Yet it is difficult not to read more Hardy's denial, for he continued to grumble about the mistaken attribution for the rest of his life. Inasmuch as Hardy indicates a wish to preserve his own identity, he also stages this confusion about authorship because, at this moment in his career, he is still deeply unsure how to market his talent.[14] He has no notion what his authorial identity might be or how to construct one.


To some degree, Hardy's rural background, his self-education, and his early dependence on experienced men in the literary sphere position him like a woman in the marketplace. Indeed, these characteristics might equally describe George Eliot herself. It is clear that Hardy regards his class as a great disadvantage; it remains unclear whether he feels that it feminizes him (see Gittings and Millgate). But his anonymous publication of Far from the Madding Crowd almost guarantees that his audience will mistake the name, sex, and status of the author. Indeed, the favorable reviews of the novel repeatedly stress the rural dialogue and incident, comparing Hardy to Eliot. Then, confronted with his own desire to be George Eliot, woman of letters, Hardy acts like Barrett when she confronts her attraction to the highly visible George Sand, woman of letters. He defends against a public revelation of his desire for her fame.

Driven to assert his independence from the premier woman novelist whose authority he cannot evade, Hardy immediately switches to another type of novel, thereby losing the audience willing to assess him in terms of established greatness. He turns desperately from Far from the Madding Crowd, a pastoral with an educated narrator, to an urban comedy of the upper classes, The Hand of Ethelberta . He casts aside his budding persona as the creator of Wessex because he thinks it might doom him to inferiority as a regionalist writer. With Ethelberta, argues Penny Boumelha, Hardy "takes on in a self-conscious fashion what was unquestionably, throughout the nineteenth century, the predominant mode of social mobility of the heroine: the marriage plot."[15]

Yet with Ethelberta, the tale of a poetess-novelist-storyteller who attains wealth and status by hiding her class background from her suitor and his family and who then achieves literary fame by hiding her identity from her readership, Hardy faces head-on his ambivalence about his class origins, his identity, and fame. In presenting the story of a woman writer, Hardy also recasts George Eliot's negotiations with literary authority. But more important, the novel allegorizes Hardy's own desires for fame while confronting the relationship between "truth" and authorial spectacle.

In this reading, the "hand" of Ethelberta assumes a variety of meanings, not just "hand in marriage" or "playing one's hand" in a social game, but also "hand of the past"; Hand as the maiden name of Hardy's mother, Jemima, who was concerned with the education and rise in status of her children; or "the writing hand" of an author.[16] Finally, "hand" is a part of the body—in this context, a metonymy for the female body, or even a dismemberment, as if Ethelberta's hand could at once


represent the whole and function separately from the rest of her. The title may also encode Hardy's recent marriage to Emma, since he gives his heroine the initials of his first wife, whom he credited with emotional support (he also pilfered from her diaries in his early writing career). Any way we choose to read the title, it seems clear that with The Hand of Ethelberta Hardy explores the reciprocal relationship between his life, illusions, and self-constructions, and the authority and identity of a storyteller.

In an intelligent and tempting argument about Ethelberta that responds to Robert Gittings's negative assessment of the novel, Peter Widdowson has suggested that we should regard this work as "a self-reflexive novel of a highly complex order" that "exposes the lies" of the systems of class and gender. He argues that it can enable us to see the same kinds of exposures in Hardy's other fiction (157). Yet Widdowson appears to equate the exposure of systems—Hardy's of deceptive cultural categories and his own of the rigidities of humanist criticism—with a locating of truth.

The Hand of Ethelberta is self-conscious, to be sure, but Hardy is not the driving truth teller Barrett Browning. Although he associates truth and honesty with origins, as if he were an even wiser, sadder version of William Wordsworth, his intense fascination with lies, misunderstandings, ironic twists, and deceptions, related in his mind to arbitrary failure and success, is also connected frequently to self-misunderstandings. Perhaps, then, the truth does not exist at all. Hardy seems both more skeptical and more playful than Widdowson seems to allow.

Hardy's own explanation of his purpose in The Hand of Ethelberta, in the much later ghostwritten Life, cannot be entirely discredited. There he explains that he "took the unfortunate course" of rushing into another novel after Far From the Madding Crowd, "before he was aware of what there had been of value in his previous one: before learning, that is, not only what had attracted the public, but what was of true and genuine substance on which to build a career as a writer with a real literary message."[17] Surely Hardy's phrase "true and genuine substance" refers, not to ethics or metaphysics or even geology or genealogy, but to a fact, namely that in his early life he lived among rustics and had not yet, when he wrote Ethelberta, concluded that he might as well exploit that fact for the rest of his novel-writing career. Rather, he had just retreated from such an intuition by switching from pastoral to drawing room comedy. To speak of a "real literary message," or "true and genuine substance" in explaining how Ethelberta came to be written is merely


to tell the reader lies she or he wishes to hear. Hardy realizes early and keeps relearning that in the commodity marketplace one conceptualizes and shapes oneself largely in response to one's audiences. Hardy's remarks in the Life on the publication of Ethelberta fit perfectly with his many false denials of active social climbing. It is part of Hardy's self-promotion to insist that there is some truth or genuine substance in his writing and beliefs. But that "substance" is shifting and shifty. Like Ethelberta herself, who lies and acts, "wishing her fiction to appear real," Hardy "discovered the full power of that self-command" (132) which allowed him to rise in the literary world and sold him to eager buyers.

When at last Hardy the novelist recognizes the full value of his mythic construction of Wessex, he takes on the power of the spectacle he has staged. In becoming his landscape, Hardy blends man and mask beyond retrievable identities. He manages this blending, I would argue, until the final trio of novels, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, and The Well-Beloved, when his disgust with his audience becomes so deep and the encroachment of modernity so marked that he destroys the ritual community of narrator and character, author and reader established by realist fiction. He thus challenges the present commodity market.[18] To put it differently, he pushes fiction as far toward lyric poetry as it can go at this time without its narrative structure collapsing entirely.

It is important to follow Hardy into his later years, however, since he was preoccupied for more than half his career with poetry. Hardy's elegy for Queen Victoria opened his volume Poems of the Past and Present in 1901. In this poem, "V. R. 1819–1901: A Reverie," as much about fame and time as about Victoria, Hardy stages a new spectacle and gains a new identity, his identity as a twentieth-century poet, a nineteenth-century relic. He notes Victoria's "purposed Life . . . / serene, sagacious, free" (lines 8–9) and predicts that her best deeds, now "hid from our eyes" (line 13), will yet be known.[19] But the truth is that Hardy has no particular interest in enumerating Victoria's deeds or her virtues.

Hardy, a now famous and wealthy novelist, reputed in 1881 by the British Quarterly Review to have taken up "the falling mantle" of "the greatest living novelist" (Widdowson, 20) after the death of George Eliot, has reentered the field of poetry. Having come to terms with literary authority as spectacle, by half-creating Wessex and creating himself as Wessex, Hardy feels free to turn back to his first love, poetry of subjective impressions. And when he moves into that field again, there is no premier poet to stand in his way. Tennyson is dead, Browning is dead, Arnold is dead, and Rossetti, Greenwell, and Ingelow have died


without ever filling the evacuated throne of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Hardy has outlived the Victorians' laureate and their would-be laureate as well as their very long-lived Queen.

Ostensibly deferring to Victoria in the poem as the object of the funereal pomp and circumstance she has rightly earned, Hardy actually uses her, even replaces her, if you will, as the central Victorian spectacle. For with the death of this monarch, the passing of her authority, and the end of her historical era, the gap of public gaze enlarges substantially. Hardy seems to recognize what he certainly exploits for the next twenty some years, namely that he can become something even more than Wessex. He does not have to rely on just a half-real, half-created geographical region. Hardy inherits from Victoria what George Eliot, living or dead, could never bequeath: a black dress. For in becoming the plangent widow/widower of the nineteenth century, the man who never expected much, Thomas Hardy, the elegist of a time gone by and a place despoiled, can also become the object elegized, a living relic of a "purposed" past. Lionized, much visited, the great man of Dorset survives as the ruler of a Victorian England. In fact, Hardy becomes such a spectacle that tourist picnic packages are organized to visit him at Max Gate, his novels are performed onstage, and the rights to Tess, that voyeur's paradise, are bought for two silent films.

Hardy spends much time in his final years honing his image, ghostwriting the narrative of his life, the one book he had said he would never write. Hardy's ostensible refusals of spectacle, coupled with his self-aggrandizements, have ensured his fame as one of the greatest of English literary commodities.

But Elizabeth Barrett Browning made spectacle accountable to what she believed in as objective truth. To strip "the veils" from the "paterfamilias" as she put it, proved a risky business indeed.[20] This earnestness, coupled with the contemporary public drama of her private life, means that, in spite of the recent feminist resuscitation of her poetry, her audience, for the most part, persists in attending to the romance of Mrs. Browning, the rescued maiden of Wimpole Street, and not to her complex political poems of self-effacement and self-assertion.[21] Attempting to be honest and direct, Barrett Browning earned less lasting literary fame than Hardy, who fairly early in his career grasped both the arbitrariness of fame and the value of controlling all aspects of his performance.



Fig. 69.
William Powell Frith,  The Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881 . Oil on Canvas, 40 1/2 × 77 in. Last known owner 
Major A. Rolphe Pope. Photograph by Donald D. Breza from William Gaunt,  The Restless Century  (New York: Praeger, 1972), plate 144.



The Hero as Spectacle
Carlyle and the Persistence of Dandyism

James Eli Adams

"The Dandiacal Body," Carlyle's savagely witty attack on dandyism in Sartor Resartus (1833–34), has long been recognized as a crucial document in the early Victorian construction of a distinctively middle-class culture. In Carlyle's satire, the dandy becomes the grotesque icon of an outworn aristocratic ethos, a figure of self-absorbed, parasitic, purely ornamental existence, against which Carlyle evokes a heroism founded on a superbly self-forgetful devotion to productive labor. But the dandy and the Carlylean hero are far less securely opposed than this familiar account suggests. The dandy, I want to argue, haunts Carlyle's writings less as an emblem of moral indolence or economic parasitism than as an arresting figure of theatricality, which incarnates a problematic of audience and authority central to Carlyle's vocation as a writer. Far from presenting an assured "nonchalance," as in Jerome Buckley's conventional account, Carlyle's dandy is an anxious, almost plaintive, creature.[1] His sole desire, Teufelsdröckh says, is "That you would recognize his existence; would admit him to be a living object; or even failing this, a visual object. . . . Your silver or your gold . . . he solicits not; simply the glance of your eyes . . . do but look at him, and he is contented."[2] Carlyle thus seizes the paradox that Carnus would echo more than a century later: for all the dandy's defiance of convention, in Camus's words, "he can only be sure of his own existence by finding it in the expression of others' faces."[3] The dandy is a theatrical being, and as such is antithetical to the ideal of the Carlylean hero, whose essential self-hood is typically bodied forth in a "savage" disregard for social decorum and the public gaze. At the same time, however, the dandy's very theatricality clearly figures a powerful impulse in Carlyle


the aspiring writer—an impulse Carlyle wryly acknowledges in early caricatures of both dandies and himself as acolytes of an ascetic religious order. "They affect great purity and separatism," Teufelsdröckh remarks of the dandy "tribe," "distinguish themselves by a particular costume . . . ; likewise, so far as possible, by a particular speech . . . ; and, on the whole, strive to maintain a true Nazarene deportment, and keep themselves unspotted from the world" (207). But it takes one to know one: throughout his early correspondence Carlyle imagines himself—and his hero, Teufelsdröckh—as just such a spectacle of estrangement from "the world." In early 1833, for example, when Carlyle was pondering a permanent move to London, he wrote to a friend there: "If I break forth in Cockney-land, like some John Baptist, girt about with a leathern girdle, proclaiming anew with fierce Annandale intonations: 'Repent, you cursed scoundrels, for &c &c,' ye will not think it miraculous."[4] While repudiating the dandy's coat in favor of the prophet's mantle, Carlyle nonetheless imagines his vocation in emphatically visual terms: he, too, will be making a spectacle of himself, outwardly distinguished from the dandy only by the particulars of his own idiosyncratic costume and idiom.

The dandy's desire for visibility thus comes to figure an aspiration closely akin to Carlyle's own longing for literary authority. To be sure, the affinities between the dandy and the literary prophet were frequently borne out in the successful careers of Victorian men of letters. Disraeli, Dickens, and Matthew Arnold—to name just three—all made early claims to social distinction and dissent in the form of a dandyism that would eventually be overshadowed, but not necessarily superseded, by the authority accorded to their writings as social criticism. Baudelaire, the dandy's greatest apologist, trenchantly grasped and idealized the social logic informing this connection. Dandyism, he contended in "The Painter of Modern Life" (1862), is a distinctly contemporary heroism, "the last spark of heroism amid decadence," which responds to the crisis of authority that structures so much Victorian social discourse. Amid the transition from aristocracy to democracy, dandyism atises in a spirit of "opposition and revolt" to affirm "a new kind of aristocracy" anchored in personal distinction rather than economic or social status.[5] Baudclaire's dandy thus manifests visually, and as "a kind of religion," a claim to cultural authority that would resist the ever more powerful reign of the marketplace and bourgeois respectability.[6] This is a figure remarkably akin to the Carlylean man of letters, who is likewise engaged in a project of anxious self-construction and is eager to claim and transfigure the space of cultural authority left vacant by the waning of tradi-


tional models. The dandy, one might say, incarnates with special vividness the quest for visibility that, as Linda Shires notes in the preceding essay, "The Author as Spectacle and Commodity," is an increasingly prominent feature of nineteenth-century literary careers.

For Carlyle, however, that same quest profoundly threatens the ideal of essential self-hood on which heroism is founded. The charismatic authority to which Carlyle himself aspires can he confirmed only by the submission of an audience, yet any appeal to "the world's suffrage," as Carlyle puts it in Heroes and Hero Worship (350), undermines the self-forgetful integrity of the true hero. The dandy epitomizes this corrosive predicament since he incarnates the Carlylean demon of self-consciousness in an emphatically public arena. Thus, while Carlyle repudiates dandyism as a social phenomenon, his writings remain incessantly preoccupied with the dandy as a figure of masculine identity under stress. In this regard, "the Victorian epitaph of the Regency dandy," as Ellen Moers called "The Dandiacal Body," also anticipates the remarkably persistent afterlife of the dandy in Victorian writing.[7] This persistence of dandyism is registered in the works of male Victorian writers who represent heroic masculine vocations as self-conscious spectacles. Like the dandy, these writers seek to represent forms of value and identity that are beyond social mediation and the laws of the market; yet their works inevitably reinscribe those authorizing forces by presenting heroic activity as a form of theatricality responsive to a public gaze.[8] The shared preoccupation takes widely varied forms, since it addresses shifting relations of hero and audience, and the figures on which I focus are chosen in part to stress that variety. The spectacle of the Carlylean hero, which Carlyle deploys as a visual and linguistic affront to bourgeois decorum, is developed by Dickens into an exploration of secrecy under hostile surveillance, and in Pater is transmuted into an image of the critic as charismatic priest, beckoning his audience toward initiation into arcane experience. As a group, however, these very different writers all represent heroic masculinity and its attendant disciplines as an aesthetic project offered up to an imagined public gaze.[9] The prominence of the hero as spectacle confirms a persistent affinity between dandy and prophet, and thereby makes plain that "the hero as man of letters" is a far inure complex, anxious, and unstable norm of gendered identity than most recent criticism allows.

Over against the figure of the dandy, Carlyle typically represents his heroes as spectacles of wholly unselfconscious labor. As Carlyle mocks the paradoxical deference to public opinion inherent in the dandy's theatri-


cality, he proposes for his own heroes an absolute self-forgetfulness. But the rigor of the ideal may be measured by the remarkable power Carlyle accords to the audience: the autonomy and integrity even of heroic self-hood are jeopardized whenever the hero becomes conscious of himself as a spectacle. Of course such a suspicion of theatricality is a recurrent structure of Western discourse; Samuel Johnson, for example, whose career was such an important model for Carlyle, frequently represents the professional author's exposure to the pressures of the marketplace as a demeaning theatricality like that of prostitution.[10] But Carlyle is distinctive in his tendency to push this mistrust to its logical extreme: at points in his writings, any utterance that finds a receptive audience is suspect, because the audience itself is presumed to be debased. "Thought will not work except in Silence; neither will Virtue work except in Secrecy," Teufelsdröckh proclaims (164). Thus Carlyle's repudiation of spectacle is closely bound up with his celebrations of "the great Empire of Silence, " as he puts it in Heroes and Hero-Worship: "Let others that cannot do without standing on barrel-heads, to spout, and be seen of all the market-place, cultivate speech exclusively,—become a great forest without roots" (449).

In his pervasive resistance to self-conscious self-display, Carlyle's puritanical inheritance is reinforced by the legacy of romanticism and its celebration of fidelity to personal vision. This legacy helps to explain why Carlyle's attacks on the dandy so strikingly parallel Mill's exactly contemporary insistence in "What is Poetry?" that the true poet is oblivious to any audience: "no trace of consciousness that any eyes are upon us must be visible in the work itself"[11] Mill's lyric poet shares with the Carlylean hero the challenge of affirming integral, autonomous self-hood in modern life; poetry that fails to display the requisite authenticity is deprecated as a mode of theatricality, mere "oratory." An even more suggestive analogue to Carlyle's attacks on the dandy is an exactly contemporary poem, Tennyson's "St. Simeon Stylites," in which a figure drawn from early Christian asceticism stages a similar preoccupation with heroic spectacle. Here, too, an aspiring hero's pursuit of a divinely authorized self-transcendence is apparently compromised by an appeal to worldly spectators. Critics typically read Tennyson's monologue—much as they have read "The Dandiacal Body"—as a satire of self-regarding monomania. But like Carlyle's attack on dandyism, which similarly satirizes the conflation of asceticism and spectacle, Tennyson's apparent satire is animated by the poet's uneasy proximity to its object. Tennyson in "St. Simeon Stylites" represents the very anxiety enter-


tained by the speaker of In Memoriam in lyric 21, when he imagines a hostile audience commenting on his display of grief: "He loves to make parade of pain."[12] The comment embodies two distinct but closely related apprehensions: first, the fear that the poet might seem indecorous or "unmanly" by expressing his grief; second, that his grief will seem, not spontaneous utterance, but calculated performance—an exorbitant theatrical "parade of pain." Precisely this latter objection sums up most commentary on Tennyson's aspiring saint, but Tennyson clearly feared its application to his own activity as a lyric poet.[13]

For Tennyson as for Carlyle, then, a crisis of authority is figured as a moment of self-conscious visibility, in which the poet's or prophet's claim to divine inspiration, and the essential selthood that derives from it, would he exposed as a vain, calculated appeal to an earthly audience, and the aspiring hero be judged a monomaniac or "quack." (Carlyle himself suggests the parallel in Past and Present [1843], where he attacks the histrionismn of failed "liturgies": "Stylitisms, eremite fanaticisms and fakeerisms; spasmodic agnostic posture-makings. . . ."[14] ) In this sense, Carlyle's wry account of himself as John the Baptist in Cockney-land stages a shaping anxiety of his career: is the prophet's stance truly founded on a divinely authorized identity, or does it betray a theatrical appeal to the public gaze—that abject dependence epitomized in the figure of the dandy? This challenge is taken up in Carlyle's descriptions of heroic appearance, which consistently drive a wedge between the hero's demeanor and social decorum. Thus Cromwell, for example, intimates his heroic stature by disrupting the elegance that surrounds him: "Rude, confused, struggling to utter himself, with his savage depth, with his wild sincerity; and he looked so strange, among the elegant Euphemisms, dainty little Falklands, didactic Chillingworths, diplomatic Clarendons!" (Heroes, 442). The figure that is "rude," "wild," "strange"—leading attributes of nearly all Carlylean heroes—seems to affirm an elemental social autonomy, and thus an essential manhood, by its very resistance to the forms of civility. "Virtue, Vir-tus, manhood, hero -hood, is not fair-spoken immaculate irregularity" (443). This rhetorical strategy develops Carlyle's insistent opposition between the real and the sham, the hero and the quack, as a contrast between "savage depth" and polished, theatrical surfaces. But that strategy is echoed throughout Victorian literary and social discourse, within which moral authority is typically located in a charismatic subjectivity or interiority that is bodied forth in verbal and visual disruptions of social decorum. Thus Ruskin, for example, will echo the "savage depth" and "wild sin-


cerity" of Carlyle's Cromwell in his celebration of the "savagery" of Gothic architecture; Charlotte Brontë similarly attributes irresistible moral force to Jane Eyre's quiet but tenacious affronts to decorum.[15]

In this context, Carlylean spectacle has the cultural centrality Nancy Armstrong illuminates in her account of the invention of a classless subjectivity in late-eighteenth-century discourse, a subjectivity constnicted in opposition to what Armstrong calls "the aristocratic body."[16] Although Armstrong identifies this phenomenon with the creation of the domestic woman, Carlyle's writing clearly attempts to claim and reconfigure the authority of that subjectivity for masculine heroism. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a single piece of writing that exemplifies Armstrongs scheme inure explicitly than Sartor Resartus, which constructs Teufelsdröckh as a disembodied subjectivity, emphatically opposed to "the dandiacal body" as depth is to surface. And that construction would come to shape contemporary reception of Carlyle, not only in such grandiloquent labels as "the Sage of Chelsea," but also in visual representations. Julia Margaret Cameron's haunting photograph of Carlyle in 1867, for example, turns the sage of Chelsea into an icon of Thought, removed from any distracting signs of social affiliation, by isolating the famous countenance in soft focus in an enveloping darkness. That strategy is tellingly analogous to the narrative "chiaroscuro" that Carlyle deployed in creating the disembodied and deracinated Teufelsdröckh.

But this same insistence on the social autonomy of the Carlylean hero-prophet leads to subtle discords when the figure is represented in a densely specified public context. Ford Madox Brown's panorama of Victorian labor, Work, probably the most famous visual tribute to Carlyle's "gospel of work," inadvertently raises an awkward question: as Carlyle slouches against a railing at one edge of the canvas, apparently in casual conversation with the theologian and Christian socialist F. D. Maurice, just what sort of work is he engaged in? The catalogue of Brown's exhibition in 1865 anticipated just this question, describing Carlyle and Maurice as those who "seeming to be idle, work, and are the cause of well-ordained work and happiness in others."[17] Ironically, however, even this apology represents the prophet as an outwardly passive but profoundly efficacious source of impetus and guidance, whose work is thus closely akin to the "influence" of the domestic woman.[18] And when Carlyle's own influence seemed to fail, this unstated convergence became a focal point of contemporary attacks. Thus W. J. Courthope complained in 1874 that Carlyle's influence had been an enervating, effeminizing force—that his attacks on "present action of every kind"


had in fact given rise to a "gospel of inaction" that led directly to the "culture" of Arnold and Pater.[19]

In a profound historical irony, Carlyle's attack on the dandy as a "No-man" left his own vocation exposed to similar attack. How does one attach a normative masculinity to a model of heroism that inheres less in action than in a mode of being—or rather, that makes being itself a mode of action, much along the lines of the dramatic monologue? Carlyle anticipates the challenge in Sartor: "For the shallow-sighted, Teufelsdröckh is oftenest a man without Activity of any kind, a No-man; for the deep-sighted, again, a man with Activity almost super-abundant, yet so spiritual, close-hidden, enigmatic, that no mortal can yet foresee its explosions, or even when it has exploded, so much as ascertain its significance" (76). Is the outwardly idle literary man truly a seer, or merely another form of dandy? The model of the prophet, with its attendant rhetoric of "wild" and "savage" integrity, speaks directly to this concern.[20] Yet this model cannot be disentangled from the theatricality that informs all ascetic discipline. The hero always works (in the Miltonic phrase that Carlyle frequently echoes) in his "great Taskmaster's eye"; in this regard, the Carlylean hero, like the desert eremite, is on display even in the midst of solitude. But in an age less assured of such transcendent surveillance, the aspiring hero's court of appeal becomes the eye of the British public. And that self-conscious appeal to an earthly audience, Carlyle insists, brings the sure ruin of the hero's mission. "If he cannot dispense with the world's suffrage, and make his own suffrage serve, he is a poor eye-servant; the work committed to him will he mis -done" (Heroes, 350). The appeal to an audience reflects a poverty of faith, a lack of confidence in one's "own suffrage," which in turn ushers in the reign of the dandy: "Genuine Acting ceases in all departments of the world's work; dextrous Similitude of Acting begins. . . . Heroes have gone out; quacks have come in" (402).

In effect, then, Carlyle struggles to disown all the theatrical associations bound up with one of the radical verbs of his thought—"to act." But how is one to separate "Genuine Acting" from its "dextrous Similitude"? And how is an audience to recognize the difference? The distinction is ostensibly enforced by the hero's persistent affronts to social decorum; the hero, that is, confirms his divine inspiration in part simply by defusing the suspicion that his behavior could be motivated by anything else. Hence an often overlooked satisfaction for Carlyle in the prophet's role: his sense of divinely authorized vocation could draw strength from his familiar early experiences of feeling himself an alien in his own country Indeed, one can guess that this concerted association


of integrity with the position of the outcast, "wild" prophet, whether Orson or Ishmael or John the Baptist, informs not only the distinctive and difficult prose style, but also the increasingly violent and rebarbative rhetoric of Carlyle's later career. That rhetoric preserves the integrity of the rebarbative prophet by distancing an increasingly eager public embrace of the sage of Chelsea. In this respect, Carlyle is faithful to a potent logic in his own writings: the prophet whose claims are readily acknowledged is typically a quack in disguise. For the prophet, one is tempted to say, nothing succeeds like failure. Even here, however, Carlyle cannot extract himself from the paradoxical dynamic captured in his wry description of himself as John the Baptist: to preserve his autonomy, and to defuse the suspicion that his prophecies are mere quackery, and his acting merely theatrical, Carlyle constantly remakes himself and his heroes as spectacles of estrangement from the world.

In effect, then, Carlyle's concern with spectacle captures the stresses of self-consciousness in an emphatically social dynamic. In most accounts of Carlyle, self-consciousness is treated as a solitary, private predicament, one aspect of the all-encompassing "speculation" that draws the seeker into a bottomless "vortex" of introspection, in which all belief is drowned. This emphasis is in keeping with the traditional approach to Carlyle as a religious sage, whose attacks on self-consciousness represent (broadly construed) a repudiation of Cartesianism. But Carlyle's representation of the dandy teases out the tropes inherent in "self-reflexion" to figure self-consciousness as the awareness of oneself in the mirror of an audience's gaze—a mirror that in Carlyle's accounts has a seemingly irresistible power to undermine the autonomy and integrity of heroic selfhood. Carlyle's ascetic stylistics, that is, enacts an unceasing struggle between an ideal of essential selfhood and an identity mediated by an audience—that decentered, unstable identity vividly figured in the Carlylean dandy.

But of course the autonomy of the aspiring hero is inevitably compromised by self-consciousness. As Carlyle concedes in Sartor, the silence that would manifest heroic self-sufficiency is "nearly related to the impossible talent of Forgetting" (37). And the impossibility of such self-forgetfulness entails that "Genuine Acting" can never be entirely severed from its "dextrous Similitude," theatricality. Like Tennyson's aspiring saint, the Carlylean hero-prophet can conceive of heroic self-transcendence only in a form that subverts the aspiration, as an appeal to an audience. Carlyle deftly acknowledges the predicament in Heroes and Hero-Worship, when, for example, he recounts an anecdote of Chatham, who, forgetting in the heat of Parliamentary debate that he is act-


ing the role of a sick man, "snatches his arm from the sling, and oratorically swings and brandishes it!" (402–03). The irony is unexpectedly complex. Carlyle might seem to claim that Chatham inadvertently exposes his own theatricality when the "fire" of commitment burns away self-consciousness and he forgets the demands of his role. But in fact the passage describes the exchange of one role for another: the flourish of Chatham's arm does not express some essential self but answers to the demands of oratory. And Carlyle goes on to suggest that such a condition is paradigmatic of struggling heroism. "Chatham himself lives the strangest mimetic life, half hero, half quack, all along. For indeed the world is full of dupes; and you have to gain the world's suffrage!" (403).

Contradictory imperatives—one must dispense with the world's suffrage, but one must gain the world's suffrage—are inscribed throughout the elaborate, sometimes self-baffling rhetorical strategies of Carlyle's writing. "The thing we called 'bits of paper with traces of black ink'," Carlyle remarks in "The Hero as Man of Letters," "is the purest embodiment a Thought of man can have"; writing is the mode of labor most faithful to "the true thaumaturgic virtue" of man, the least distorted or contaminated by mediating forces (393). And if, in the credo from Sartor, "Our works are the mirror wherein the spirit first sees its natural lineaments" (124), writing is the truest mirror. It is important to give that trope its due weight: as an escape from disabling self-consciousness, work ideally also would displace the literal mirror that figures so powerfully in the mock-aristocratic ethos of the dandy, reflecting to the beholder not the corporeal body but the "natural lineaments" of spirit. But even the Carlylean hero must find something more than his own image in the glass: he, too, requires an observer to acknowledge his achievement. Hence Carlyle's preoccupation in his early correspondence with trying to imagine what audience—if any—his works might find. As he wrote to Mill, pondering that "dangerous instrument," irony, "I cannot justify, yet can too well explain, what sets me so often on it of late; it is my singularly anomalous position to the world. . . . I never know or can even guess what or who my audience is, or whether I have any audience: thus too naturally I adjust myself to the Devil-may-care principle" (Letters, 6, 449). Like so many of Carlyle's accounts of his own writing, this seems to disclaim any suggestion of concern for his audience; vet "the Devil-may-care principle" mockingly signals the self-reflective calculation informing even what are ostensibly the most spontaneous or impulsive features of Carlyle's prose. As in his self-portrait as John the Baptist in Cockney-land, Carlylean irony perpetually stages "a singularly anomalous position to the world." One's


book, like one's self, is never wholly one's own, but is constructed as an ongoing transaction with an audience, real or imagined.

In stressing the visibility of the dandy, then, Carlyle points us to the central preoccupations and rhetorical strategies of his own self-fashioning. As it represents the failure of essential, autonomous selfhood, Carlyle's preoccupation with the hero as spectacle cannily anticipates the Lacanian understanding of language as a self-estranging specularity, in which every human being constantly and vainly looks to discover a coherent selfhood.[21] But the mirror worlds of both Lacan and Carlyle render in visual terms the predicament staked out in Hegel's master-slave dialectic. The master—whether Carlylean hero or Lacanian subject—depends on the recognition of the slave to confirm his mastery, and thereby becomes locked into the worldly rivalry he had ostensibly transcended in his very identity as master. Carlyle's account of the dandy renders this paradox as satire. But Tennyson's poetry reminds us that some version of Hegel's paradox is endemic to post-Romantic conceptions of authorship, which are riven by a conflict between the ideal of transcendent genius and the demands of the marketplace—the conflict captured in Tennyson's representation of the poet as a spectacle.

That struggle for authority has a still more mundane and pervasive counterpart in Victorian discourse as it informs the Victorian preoccupation with defining the true gentleman. As the ideal of the gentleman grows increasingly latitudinarian, at least in theory, it also gives new urgency to the seemingly banal challenge of distinguishing between sincerity and performance. If the status of a gentleman is not inherited but is instead realized through behavior, how does one distinguish the "true" gentleman from the aspirant who is merely "acting" the part? With the rise of an ideal subjectivity defined (unlike the Augustan gentleman) in opposition to theatricality, the subtle but profound divisions between gentleman and dandy assume increasing importance. Indeed, the dandy persists in Victorian moral discourse as a sort of Derridean supplement to the gentleman. Both figures define themselves in resistance to economic competition, or (more broadly) to economic schemes of value; both ideals at least in principle repudiate self-interest, claiming devotion to a rigorous and impersonal code of duty (thus the ascetic pretensions of dandyism that Baudelaire celebrates and Carlyle mocks). Whereas the code of the Victorian gentleman is ultimately religious, that of the dandy is fundamentally social. Carlyle stresses this distinction in mocking the anxious visibility of the dandy which marks him with the theatricality purged from the true gentleman (or


Carlylean hero), whose authenticity is manifested as an absence of self-consciousness. As Charles Kingsley put it, the "secret" of the gentleman was "very simple, if one could attain it; but he attained it by not trying to attain it, for it was merely never thinking about himself."[22] Kingsley here enlists Carlyle's "anti-self-consciousness theory" (Mill's phrase) to enforce a familiar Victorian mystification of social authority. Like many middle-class men, Kingsley repudiates aristocratic notions of the "gentleman born," yet he implicitly appeals to a new version of that concept when he disowns the anxious self-consciousness of the aspiring gentleman. The mystification is founded on the ability to separate the true gentleman from the dandy—his inauthentic, because theatrical, shadow.

By the end of the century, the difficulty of distinguishing gentleman and dandy will be celebrated as an exhilarating paradox; for Wilde the true gentleman's identity is always a pose. In mid-Victorian literature, however, the potential complicity of the two figures is repeatedly represetned as a mark of profound social and moral disorder.[23] This preoccupation is perhaps most obvious and sustained in Dickens's Great Expectations, but it informs the obsessive representation of disaffected, deracinated men of privilege throughout Dickens's later fiction. A Tale of Two Cities (1859) situates the concern in especially clear relation to Carlyle. The novel is famously indebted to Carlyle's French Revolution, but less often noted is the broadly Carlylean quest for a vocation that Dickens's hero, Sydney Carton, enacts, one figured in the very image of a wanderer in the wilderness that typically distinguishes the Carlylean hero: "Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honourable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance."[24] The "mirage" is a social incarnation (appropriately hazy) of the virtues that distinguish Carlylean earnestness: "honourable ambition self-denial, and perseverance." Carton glimpses from afar an image of vocation, that Carlylean mirror in which he will finally discover the lineaments of his spirit. His progress toward his glorious end thus seems to reenact the historical displacement of an aristocratic (or dandiacal) idleness by a distinctively bourgeois heroism.

Yet Dickens's portrait of Carton reproduces the complicity of dandy and hero suggested in Sartor Resartus . Indeed, as the central male characters exchange places in the novel, the positions of dandy and hero are reversed. In this novel of mirrors and doubles, Carton makes his entrance as Darnay's "double of coarse deportment," whose "especially reckless" and "careless" manner bespeaks a radical lack of self-discipline redundantly emblazoned in his "careless," "slovenly," "torn" attire.


Much as Brummell would have protested such regalia, Carton is clearly a Carlylean dandy-dilettante, inasmuch as he is a standing affront to the "earnestness" so vividly engraved in Darnay's countenance. At the same time, however, Carton's disregard for decorum is a feature he shares with the Carlylean hero, in whom it likewise affirms a tenacious integrity and potential self-sufficiency, which will of course support Carton in his crowning self-sacrifice.[25] For Carton as for Carlyle, one's capacity for redemption is measured by one's capacity for contempt of the existing order—including (and perhaps most important) self-loathing. And of course Carton's ultimate triumph will be that of the literally self-made—which is to say,re-made—man, who confirms the profound affinities of dandy and prophet. In taking Darnay's place on the scaffold, Carton strikingly realizes the power of pure appearance: it is an eminently theatrical achievement, a triumph of impersonation, realized through Carton's capacity to capture the gaze of an eager public "curiosity" (363) that is riveted by his features, but is incapable of fathoming them. As it confirms the authority of an identity wholly mediated by a public gaze, Carton's triumph emulates that of the Carlylean dandy. At the same time, however, Carton's self-fashioning builds on a truly heroic capacity of self-denial—ultimately, of self-annihilation. For the reader, as for the young seamstress who alone detects Carton's impersonation, the spectacle on the scaffold is not Evremonde, but a more general image of triumphant manhood, Everyman, modeled on Christ. Indeed, the presence of the young seamstress seems designed in part to encourage just this abstracting gesture—to make the reader see the particular triumph of the "stranger" as a manifestation of divine will: "I think you were sent to me by Heaven" (363).

Carton's specularity (and that of Dickensian heroism generally) differs importantly from Carlyle's in its motivation, which in turn reflects the very different context in which Dickens imagines the hero as spectacle. When Carlyle contemplates his permanent move to the alien world of London, he imagines himself concertedly making a spectacle of himself, proclaiming his alienation in the guise of a latter-day John the Baptist. In revolutionary Paris, Sydney Carton does not have to incite such attention; he cannot help becoming the object of a gaze, since the Revolution, as Catherine Gallagher has pointed out, functions in the novel as an omnipresent stare.[26] Under such surveillance, Carton's only path to efficacious heroism lies in trying to become, so to speak, merely a sight rather than a spectacle; he must avoid arresting that omnipresent stare until he has the opportunity to remake himself as the simulacrum of another man. So pervasive and bewildering is the surveil-


lance in this world of mirrored pseudonyms and disguises—Jacques upon Jacques upon Jacques—that a form of intimacy can be established simply as a momentary lapse of the play of impersonation, or even, paradoxically, by addressing someone as "stranger." This is the word uttered by the young seamstress to signal her recognition, as they are about to leave the prison, that Carton is not whom he purports to be—or rather, that he possesses a selfhood apart from his role as "Evremonde" (347).

Carlyle, too, frequently insists on "the mystery of a Person," but as an ontological attribute, an index of the divine origin that can never be fully fathomed by any human being (Sartor, 99). In Dickens's novels such mystery principally takes the form of a social structure, secrecy, which is generated by, and in turn sustains, a pervasive dynamic of surveillance. That surveillance is of course what makes Dickens's novels so responsive to Foucauldian readings. As Gallagher points out, A Tale of Two Cities shares with the Revolution the belief that hidden identities and plots lurk everywhere, and hence that every human being requires investigation; both novel and revolution are sustained by these premises. This shared preoccupation shapes the famous opening of the novel's third chapter, where the narrator announces the "wonderful fact" that "every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other," and that death marks "the inexorable consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality," the secret that is Everyman's "natural and not to be alienated inheritance" (21). In thus linking secrecy with mystery and death, Dickens energizes the vigilant reflexivity of surveillance throughout the novel.[27] To contemplate the opacity of another person is always to be reminded of one's own secrets, and thus of the disjunction between outward appearance and some "inner" identity, a disjunction that creates the possibility of exposure. In this passage, then, Dickens follows Carlyle in urging that secrecy is not merely a social strategy but an ontological condition. In doing so, however, the novelist augments his professional resources, since he lays claim to a limitless supply of secrets to be fathomed. In thus naturalizing secrecy, moreover, Dickens implicitly aligns himself with the paranoid revolutionary imagination, for whom appearances are always hiding something; from such a perspective, there are no innocent spectacles.

In a sense, contemporary critics are all complicit with Dickens's revolutionaries; we are all out to penetrate appearances. But Dickens's is not the only possible response to a hermeneutics of suspicion. In the early writings of Walter Pater, we can see a writer developing at almost


exactly the same time a very different set of rhetorical strategies out of a shared preoccupation with mystery and spectacle. In effect, Pater's self-construction embraces the implicit theatricality of ascetic discipline that Carlyle struggles to disown. This emphasis informs even the characteristic "reserve" of Pater's protagonists, an attribute that incorporates an imagined public gaze in the construction of those apparently solitary subjects: one can be silent in private, but reserve characterizes subjects in relation to an audience. Much recent criticism would read such reserve principally as a mode of defense against hostile surveillance. But reserve may also embody a deliberately, even ostentatiously, public withholding of information; onlookers, whether readers or spectators, assume that the reserved subject is concealing something that, by virtue of being concealed, must be important. But to the audience that assumes every surface is hiding something, and that every secret is "special," the mere intimation of a secret becomes a source of fascination, inviting an audience to invest the rhetoric of concealment with secrets of its own.

Wilde sets forth this strategy more tendentiously: "What Dorian Gray's secrets are, no one knows. He who finds them has brought them."[28] But a vivid precedent for Wilde's rhetorical enticement is established in Pater's "Leonardo da Vinci" (1868), where Pater lays claim to critical authority by intimating his possession of "strange" and "sinister" secrets about Leonardo's art (and hence the artist) that he never fully discloses. Leonardo, he urges, seems "the possessor of some unsanctified and secret wisdom," whose art is "a cryptic language for fancies all his own."[29] As a gesture of fidelity to Leonardo's enigmatic images, such ostentatious reticence resembles the rhetoric of mystery in Dickens's novel, whose very tropes Pater appropriates. Here, too, subjectivity resides in what Dickens calls "the depths of this unfathomable water" (21), the realm epitomized in Pater's account of the Gioconda, who "has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her" (99). But in Pater this rhetoric of mystery also works to rival and even displace the "fascination" of Leonardo's painting; Pater's prose, that is, would emulate Leonardo's images in suggesting that his words also have a meaning "far beyond the outward gesture or circumstance" (93).

In this sense, I have argued elsewhere, Pater's prose strategies can be seen as a mode of reserve that is responsive to forms of self-presentation in middle-class Victorian life, forms from which Pater elicits a transgressive theatricality that Wilde will exploit more extravagantly.[30] Here I want to argue that Pater develops this strategy out of a concerted engagement with Carlylean spectacle, which begins in Pater's earliest surviving essay, "Diaphaneitè" (1864). This is an unlikely conjunction if


one associates Carlyle's influence with echoes of his distinctive voice. But what Carlyle offered Pater and many other aspiring men of letters was an imaginary structure that gave social form and significance—what we now call "visibility"—to literary careers not focused on the production of poetry or fiction.

The very title of "Diaphaneitè" signals Pater's preoccupation with literal as well as social visibility, which the essay connects to a Carlylean model of heroism. Pater sketches a "character" of consummate psychological harmony and integrity, an ideal clearly indebted to Carlyle's insistence that self-consciousness is a mark of disease. Indeed, the opening paragraph signals an increasingly explicit revision of Carlylean heroism when it clearly alludes to Carlyle's influential diagnosis: "As if dimly conscious of some great sickness and weariness of heart in itself, it ["the world"] turns readily to those who theorise about its unsoundness."[31] The perfect integrity and autonomy of the diaphanous character rebukes such sickness, but those who possess that character also incite the violent hostility reserved for the "revolutionist." "Poetry and poetical history have dreamed of a crisis," Pater writes, "where it must needs be that some human victim be sent down into the grave. These [those who possess the diaphanous "character"] are they whom in its profound emotion humanity might choose to send" (253). As throughout Pater's writings, particularly his late Imaginary Portraits, cultural renewal is associated with the violent sacrifice of the agents of change. Here he seems to imagine a Dionysian ritual sacrifice shading into the Christlike atonement embodied in Carton's fate in A Tale of Two Cities . And indeed, in this very early essay Pater calls on a revealing "poetical history" to illustrate the sacrifice he envisions: "'What,' says Carlyle, of Charlotte Corday, 'What if she had emerged from her secluded stillness suddenly like a star; cruel-lovely, with half-angelic, half-demonic splendour; to gleam for a moment, and in a moment be extinguished; to be held in memory, so bright complete was she, through long centuries'" (253). Writing from the secluded stillness of Brasenose College, the young Oxford don turns to Carlyle's French Revolution for a model of his vocation, but he finds it, not in Mirabeau or in what he calls the "dim blackguardism" of Carlyle's Danton, but in Charlotte Corday, Thus at the very outset of his career Pater envisions his vocation under a public gaze; and his conception of his triumph is uncannily like that of Sydney Carton.

But Pater also elicits more openly the stresses of gender informing Carlyle's and Dickens's representations of heroism as self-conscious spectacle. In "Diaphaneitè," as Carolyn Williams points out, Pater represents a "paradoxical union of sheer passivity with 'unconscious' activ-


it."[32] But this conjunction also describes the Victorian ideal of domestic womanhood, as well as the paradox of Carlylean heroism—recalling not only Sydney Carton on the scaffold but also the representation of Carlyle as one of those who, "seeming to be idle, work, and are the cause of well-ordained work and happiness in others." Whereas Carlyle recoils from this potential conflation of feminine "influence" and masculine heroism, Pater concertedly blurs the boundaries. He boldly appropriates for his enterprise a powerful emblem of gender transgression, a woman of decisive and murderous action whose crowning achievement was to become an unfathomable starlike spectacle of heroic self-sacrifice, cruel-lovely, half-angelic, half-demonic. The title and governing trope of "Diaphaneitè" reinforce this identification of the critic's agency with a spectacle that fascinates an audience by confounding its gendered decorums. "Diaphaneitè" may at first suggest an ideal of transparency, an effort to dispel the mystery and secrecy that so fascinate Dickens. In this light, Pater seems to be extending Carlyle's celebration of sincerity as the first attribute of the hero. "The artist and he who has treated life in the spirit of art," Pater writes, "desires [sic ] only to be shown to the world as he really is; as he comes nearer and nearer to perfection, the veil of an outer life not simply expressive of the inward becomes thinner and thinner" (249). But Pater concedes to the audience much greater authority than Carlyle; the leading "desire" here is not so much fidelity to an inner self as the presentation of that self to "the world. Furthermore, although "the veil or mask" that divides inner and outer life might disappear at some Utopian vanishing point, that veil also defines the very realm of interiority that is the basis of Pater's self-construction as a critic. In a world without masks, there would be no "inward" life at all; nothing would be held in reserve, because there would be nothing to withhold. In fact, whatever transparency Pater imagines for his critical persona tends to be that of what he elsewhere calls "receptivity," which is the transparency of a one-way mirror, allowing "the transmission from without of light that is not yet inward" (251).

Thus Pater in his earliest surviving essay associates his critical enterprise with icons of gender transgression; more precisely, he underscores the construction of critical subjectivity as the masculine appropriation of attributes conventionally denominated feminine. This strategy anticipates the more daring subversion of gender that distinguishes the powerfully homoerotic rhetoric of the Leonardo essay. But even in that essay, Pater pays a characteristically oblique tribute to Carlyle's example—one that subtly collapses Carlyle's rhetorical opposition of


dandy and prophet. The seductive "fascination" that Pater discovers in Leonardo's art—and seeks to reproduce in his own prose—is for Pater epitomized in one particular image. It is incarnated in Leonardo's John the Baptist, whose "treacherous smile . . . would have us understand something far beyond the outward gesture or circumstance" (97). As in Carlyle, John the Baptist is a persona of the critic. But in Pater's rendering, Carlyle's rebarbative prophet has given way to a figure who anticipates the dangerous enticements of the fin de siècle. One might object that Pater's St. John derives less from Carlyle than from Gautier, who explicitly likens the prophet to the dandy. But the figure nonetheless reaffirms the logic that Carlyle found so unsettling: the prophet in the wilderness and the dandy shadow each other with remarkable persistence as spectacles of masculine estrangement from "the world."

These figures of masculine vocation bear out Geoffrey Galt Harpham's argument that ascetic imperatives are central to cultural discourse, and that programs of ascetic discipline are always aesthetic projects.[33] But the kinship of prophet and dandy in Victorian discourse also suggests how the play of such discipline complicates familiar, gendered categories of Victorian cultural history—most notably, the Carlylean man of letters. "Carlyle has led us out into the desert," Clough famously complained to Emerson, "and has left us there." For Clough the desert was a place of moral confusion and betrayal; the writings of Carlyle, Tennyson, Dickens, and Pater, however, remind us that the desert also has a long history as a realm of anxious, incessant masculine self-fashioning. It is an arena especially fitted for the hero as spectacle.



Street Figures
Victorian Urban Iconography

Richard L. Stein

Spell Checks

"Give me," said Joe, "a good book, or a good newspaper, and sit me down afore a good fire, and I ask no better. Lord!" he continued, after rubbing his knees a little, "when you do come to a J and a O, and says you, 'Here, at last, is a J-O, Joe,' how interesting reading is!"
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

I begin with the question this essay is designed to answer: how do we read cities? Of course, an attentive reader may wish to object. Which cities? Why read? Who is "we"? In fact, those questions are buried in the original one; I will suggest some ways they can be exhumed, and applied to some nineteenth-century texts. Before doing so, I want to stress that the same issues underlie contemporary urbanology, if I can use a fancy word for a commonplace activity. How often do we explain that "I'm a city person," or boast of our "city smarts"? It is not only New Yorkers who refer to home base as The City, to suggest not merely that there can be no other but that all others must be understood in terms of that Neoplatonic model—to which few measure up. If there is a city "look," is there not also a city looking, a glance by which one urbanite surveys, acknowledges, and then promptly ignores another? Even if there is not, do we not (like Bloom in the butcher's shop) imagine there is? Populated cities populate our consciousness, and our self-consciousness. The very habit of generalizing urban experience, our urban experience, is one of the ways "we" define identity in a culture preoccupied by the erosion of self in mass society. Perhaps the question


should have been, not how, but why do we read cities? If so, one answer could be that we read them to show that we still can read—that is, that we can read—that there are still "we's" to do the reading.

But there still may be objections to that last word: why reading? One answer has to do with the rise of discursiveness in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and more specifically with the concurrent interrelation of increasing literacy and increasing urbanization, the former skill increasingly necessary for the latter process and increasingly implicated in the growing complexity of life it involves. Remember Nicholas Nickleby surveying help-wanted placards at the General Agency Office; as any member of the MLA can attest, even job searching requires special tactics. Henry Mayhew begins London Labour and the London Poor with a quasi-anthropological account of his subjects as the last descendants of primitive nomadic tribes. But his four volumes of dense prose and statistics suggest that they could just as easily be characterized as hunters and gatherers of information, not unlike himself. The urban process makes data processors of us all. The city demands special skills, including the mastery of specialized languages. In Dickens's first urban novel, Oliver Twist makes this discovery at the city limits when he encounters the Artful Dodger and his "flash" vocabulary. Every successful Dickensian hero learns a similar lesson—not mastering the language of the streets but mastering the streets like a language, and mastering language as part of the education that guarantees increased mobility through and within the city. This explains one connection between Pip's education and his oarsmanship, tokens of his increasingly swift progress across the urban map. It helps explain another distinction between his literate mobility and the rootedness of Joe Gargery, who comes up to London only on urgent missions, and whose incapacity for such adventure is signaled early by his rough, simplistic progress among lexical landmarks. For Joe, reading is an exercise in deciphering print to yield up letters, searching for crude versions of his own name and in the process reducing it from three letters to two. Pip in London expands himself and his prospects, acquiring a new "Handel" (the name bestowed by his cultured friend, Herbert Pocket) that carries him beyond the palindromic circularity of his own first reading of himself. He gains a more complex verbal identity—a six-letter name that like narration links different "characters," one requiring an ability to reimagine the self through witty allusion and familiarity with the civilized arts.

But not without a struggle. As the irony of the Dickensian title forewarns us, the balloon of hope must be punctured, and just as Pip seems prepared to rise with it high above his past. The vertical-spatial meta-


phor is very much a part of the rising and falling action of the novel, especially in the telling chapter when Pip's expectations reach the end of what Dickens calls their second "stage" and he hears a "footstep on the stair" leading up to his chambers. In the figure of Magwitch, Pip confronts his lowly origins and the chief figure of his nightmares, an image of his past and a dimension of an identity he had struggled to escape. But this return of the repressed is also an encounter with someone we could call, more simply, a figure from the streets, one whose power of impressing himself on the imagination derives to some degree from his being simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, known and unknown, a fragment of childhood memory now merged with the urban uncanny. As he first surveys his benefactor in this second encounter, Pip can only describe him in relation to recognizable types, what George Cruikshank called in a volume of drawings "London Characters." The description focuses on general impressions, skin color and clothes, the stuff of caricature. "Moving the lamp as the man moved, I made out that he was substantially dressed, but roughly; like a voyager by sea." Later, as Magwitch sleeps, Pip wonders whether, or how often, he had encountered him before: "I began either to imagine or recall that I had had mysterious warnings of this man's approach. That, for weeks gone by, I had passed faces in the streets which I had thought like his. That, these likenesses had grown more numerous, as he, coming over the sea, had drawn nearer."[1] This Nabokovian linkage of memory and hallucination also suggests the necessary mechanisms of Pip's recently urbanized gaze—the instinctive resort to stereotypes, the compulsive creation of distance. The clue to the process resides in those odd verb tenses. How could it have been possible, in the few weeks before he reencountered Magwitch, for Pip to have "passed faces in the streets" which he "had thought like his"? Not insofar as Pip was explicitly recalling the memory of this or any particular man. Rather, because the likeness he remarks on here is generalized. Meeting Magwitch in his chambers, Pip sees not an individual but a type, a type of the same sort one sees—or thinks one sees—in sizing up the random figures encountered in the daily hustle of urban life. City seeing always requires a quick and comprehensive transformation of people into Others, into forms that are simultaneously more recognizable and more anonymous than they might have been otherwise, into what Pip calls "faces in the streets." What Pip remembers seeing is himself not seeing, not seeing in response to the seen unseeable quality of the figures who surround us in the density of city streets. And how can we see clearly, in an individuated way, when doing so only defines our proximity to those others, only suggests that as ur-


banites we are street figures too? Random faces, random names—persons impersonal, like figures of speech—whiches (as Joe Gargery might say), in every sense (and spelling) of the word. At the crisis of his expectations—and this is what makes it a crisis—one of these figures climbs out of anonymity and threatens to reclaim Pip, not merely for the past and his own repressed memories, but for the streets he thought he had kept at a distance.

Invisible Cities

"To carry out an idea[!]" repeated Miss La Creevy; "and that's the great convenience of living in a thoroughfare like the Strand. When I want a nose or an eye for any particular sitter, I have only to look out the window and wait till I get one."
Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

Perhaps nothing seems more natural than to speak of Dickens and cityscaping, or to do so in relation to what this volume calls the Victorian visual imagination. Few writers are so strongly associated with descriptive, graphic detail—or with that special urbanographic form we think of as Dickensian London. But what about Nicholas Nickleby? It is nearly a critical cliché to observe that this is not an urban novel, even though the main action takes place in and around London. It is not really a novel of place, either; aside from the large shifts of location to Yorkshire and Portsmouth, there is little temptation to "plot" the action against a map. For that matter, and in spite of Michael Steig's study Dickens and Phiz,[2] I would argue that in the Dickensian corpus this does not qualify as a particularly graphic novel: it is not a source of famous descriptive set pieces, nor is it organized around either decisive moments of pictorial drama (like the mob scenes in Oliver Twist or Barnaby Rudge or A Tale of Two Cities ) or idylls of reconciliation (as in Bleak House or David Copperfield ). But the main point I want to emphasize is that these two qualities, these two lacks, are related. The relative invisibility of London in the novel is both cause and effect of its avoidance of a range of pictorial effects Dickens employed more extensively in other works produced at roughly the same time. It is not simply that the easiest means of suppressing London is suppressing the visual, or vice versa. The motives for that mutual suppression are linked in turn to the conception of Nicholas Nickleby as book and as character—to the


conception of Nicholas (if I can use this term) as an action, as a career, as a role.

To suggest what I have in mind, I turn to illustrations, always a sensitive register of the ways Dickens engages the contemporary visual imagination. I take that engagement for granted: rather than discuss the inevitably complex relation of image and text, I want to suggest something about the relation of both to the densely visual world of the city, and the relation of that density to Victorian conceptions of self. Consider two representations of the sort of urban scene we associate with many Dickens novels: George Cruikshank's drawing of "Oliver claimed by his Affectionate Friends," and Phiz's illustration, for Nicholas Nickleby, of "A sudden Recognition, unexpected on both Sides" (Fig. 70). There are clear parallels between the illustrations and the situations to which they refer. In these early novels, as later in Great Expectations, London stands for potential abductions; the jumble and confusion of the streets threatens to reclaim us from the hard-won security of domestic shelter—to take hold of us, to bring us down, or (to use a metaphor chosen with Magwitch in mind) to reach out its hands. In Nickleby, it is Smike who is most susceptible to this threat. Our hero—and this is one of the ways in which he fills that role—remains above and apart from the crowd, mediated for him figures like Newman Noggs, a "fallen" gentleman who by virtue of his descent can mingle with the heterogeneous confusion of the urban mass. To some extent that is Noggs's job; to some extent, it is a fate he has embraced, a vantage point from which he can extend a helping hand to his venerable, vulnerable friend. Phiz illustrates the relation in the scene where "Nicholas starts for Yorkshire" (Fig. 71), an image that in spite of its title really centers on Noggs. Nicholas here is bent and inert, his features nearly obscured, not so much in anticipation of his impending life at Dotheboys Hall as from the strained "position" he has been forced to occupy already in this first immersion in urban life. For him to fill the role of hero, a less chaotic setting is required, one represented by the structured paradigm of the theater, where under the grandiose tutelage of Vincent Crummles he learns to assume a "character" within a limited and highly conventionalized space. Two more illustrations delineate the distinction: "Nicholas Hints at the Probability of His Leaving the Company" (Fig. 72) and "Nicholas Congratulates Arthur Gride on His Wedding Morning." Both, in effect, place him onstage, for the private, domestic interior is as much a theatrical scene as the one set in a playhouse. Such images provide a literally graphic reminder that this is a novel concerned with the hero's position, the hero as position. What defines Nicholas as a character is less his


psyche than his role, his place in a stylized tableau of alternatives and possibilities.

I am arguing that Nickleby generally suppresses the urban setting and graphic technique we associate with other Dickens novels. The reason has to do with the character of the hero, with the risks he would incur if placed, or represented, in too direct or too prolonged contact with the physical realities of London life. Perhaps more than in any other Dickens novel, the city of Nickleby threatens the very possibility of character, a stable sense of self; it is a place where nothing is more difficult to establish or maintain than a secure identity, the ability to "position" oneself. The nature of the risk is suggested when Nicholas ventures into the streets to search for a "position" in the other sense of the word. He "mingle[s] with the crowd" on "one of the great public thoroughfares of London" as he wanders toward the General Agency Office. Dickens makes it clear that the journey would be dangerous for anyone less totally self-absorbed: "a man may lose a sense of his own importance when he is a mere unit among a busy throng, all utterly regardless of him."[3] But Nicholas can resist "speculating on the situation and prospects of the people who surrounded him," just as he can remain skeptical of the agency's promise to supply "places and situations of all kinds." It is precisely his suspicion of such claims that will finally get him a job, following conversation with another uneasy reader of the agency ads:

"A great many opportunities here, sir!" he said, half-smiling as he motioned towards the window.

"A great many people willing and anxious to be employed have seriously thought so very often, I dare say," replied the old man.

"Poor fellows, poor fellows!" (449)

What immediately bonds Nicholas and Charles Cheeryble is their common sympathy for such victims, which is also to say their common distance from the world that produces them. When Nicholas refers to the "wilderness of London," Charles vigorously approves the phrase. "'Wilderness! Yes it is, it is. Good! It is a wilderness,' said the old man with much animation." (450). Out of such fellowship Nicholas comes to find a position in but not of London—in the urban pastoral world of a "quiet, shady little square" (456) that for Tim Linkinwater offers a better view than any place in England. This is one of the rare urban settings in the novel that Dickens represents in detail, although his description (468–69) emphasizes the difference between this "desireable nook" and the rest of London. Yet even here, as on the Yorkshire coach, Nicholas is represented by Phiz with his face averted, as if he must com-


pulsively bury his nose in work. Even in this refuge one must exert an effort to keep the confusion of the city wholly at a distance, as Newman Noggs discovers when he tries to follow Madeline Bray's servant and ends up pursuing another instead. Lacking Nicholas's firm sense of self, or the anchoring force of habit suggested in Tim Linkinwater's name, he is lost in the urban maelstrom—a new man who can easily become no man, another casualty of the similarity of street figures and urban types.

The episode of the mistaken servant—we might call it the Bobster Bungle—suggests another important connection between the invisibility of London in this novel and the curious general avoidance of urban pictorial detail. For here, in exaggerated Cockney comedy, Dickens explores the perils of resemblance, and the uncertainties surrounding representation as such. I do not want to make too much of one mistake. Newman may have been simply inattentive, or drunk—confused by urban topography, urban motion, and that second servant. But these explanations remind us of the indistinguishability of street figures, the interchangeability of city lives. Cecilia Bobster parodically doubles for Madeline Bray: only child, mother dead, father a "ferocious Turk." In a sense, she suggests what Madeline might become outside the precarious shelter of her father's home, how easily she could be misrepresented, or mistaken—that is, taken for someone or something else. Even Noggs, who remembers Bobster by Lobster, in a sense dehumanizes her; certainly Gride would have treated her as a consumable delicacy. But Miss Bray herself, in her quasi-professional artistic enterprise, is producing consumer goods, practicing a commercial art. It is one more token of her desperate condition: replication of certain kinds seems suspect. As in the case of "the little miniature painter," it is an activity associated with the decline—or should I say reduction?—of art and the artist, representation too closely affiliated with the streets.

Perhaps, then, Mrs. Nickleby is not wholly foolish in attaching some sort of stigma to Miss La Creevy. The remarks I quoted as the epigraph to this section suggest the extent to which her portraits involve a dissolution of personage, a supposed representation of identity that in fact reconstitutes it from a collage of borrowed characteristics. As she explains to Kate, "What with bringing out eyes with all one's power, and keeping down noses with all one's force, and adding to heads, and taking away teeth altogether, you have no idea of the trouble one little miniature is" (114). What she calls "Character Portraits"—pictures that represent their subjects in a variety of fictitious roles—assume the total malleability of character, or its total lack of meaning, as if self were as


interchangeable as costume. No wonder her customers for this genre are "only clerks and that," urban nobodies who want to become urban somebodies, whose choice of roles is only between different grades of anonymity. In Nickleby, the visual—especially portraiture—seems déclassé, as if the proliferation of representational imagery could erode social and moral distinctions. Or perhaps Dickens is concerned by the proliferation of similarity itself, or simulacra—the proliferation of copying, of nonbiological reproduction. Things should not be made to seem too much alike. The only unqualified form of resemblance we encounter in the novel is the uncanny twinship of the Cherryble brothers, a replication so absolute as to suggest the conventions of religious art. Indeed, one of their roles is to transform a world of commercial replication into something higher and more ordered: they are not simply using money to make more money but are conducting business philanthropically so that even a countinghouse can take account of human character. With them Dickens asks whether a real city can be idealized, an ideal city made visible. What sort of figures might order the confusions of London? Is there a higher form of representation that can be in the city but not of it, a monument to the integrity of moral character that reorders the space in which real characters must live their lives?

Monumental Mapping

You, the Patriot Architect,
You that shape for Eternity,
Raise a stately memorial,
Make it regally gorgeous
Some Imperial Institute,
Rich in symbol, in ornament,
Which may speak to the centuries,
All the centuries after us,
Of this great Ceremonial,
And this year of her Jubilee.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "On the Jubilee of Queen Victoria"

Here I want to move west, from the pump in the square outside the Cheerybles' countinghouse to the much more fashionable strip of land at the southern edge of Hyde Park—the site to be occupied in 1851 by the Crystal Palace and, two decades later, by the Albert Memorial—the same site, filling the same symbolic space. And while briefly deferring an explanation of that last phrase, I want to emphasize the


special role of memorial architecture in a disorderly, jumbled, "provisional" space like that of nineteenth-century London.[4] For a monument like the Albert Memorial performs its most general symbolic function by centering our attention in a city that has no center—no visible topographical or moral center, for point of orientation by which everything else is defined. To some extent for Dickens, this absent center, this lack, is London, a city whose profusion of detail simultaneously stimulates and threatens his imaginative powers. This is the London he sums up in the famous phrase that opens Bleak House: "Fog everywhere." A phrase and not a sentence, since the problem of this novel, this city, is a lack of ordering structures, moral and grammatical, the lack of any principles of light or architectonic stability that is signaled by the book's title. Like the "dark house" of In Memoriam (which appeared just before Dickens began work on the novel), the building called Bleak House embodies a failure of embodiment, a traditional structure drained of traditional significance: it is a body without a soul, a place that cannot be comprehended in any coherent way, an artifact that symbolizes nothing except its own resistance to symbolic order. To such chaos Dickens responds (at the end of Bleak House ) by imagining another building of another kind. He was not alone in using architecture to satisfy such essential needs.

The Victorians constructed imposing monuments to many of their most imposing ideas and beliefs; some of these are monuments to the very idea of such expression, monuments to monumentality itself.[5] The Albert Memorial may be the most striking example of this impulse—a monument I want to consider not simply as an example of the Victorian visual imagination but also as an expression of its power and status, a representation of the role of art within contemporary public life and the life of the modern city. To do so, I emphasize the space it fills—the actual, physical space at the edge of Hyde Park, the moral-symbolic space somewhere in the disorienting blur of nineteenth-century urban life. For the memorial both occupies and redefines space. Occupies it, quite literally, as a finished project, part of a map. But it also functions, more abstractly, as a map—not only filling but representing space, articulating the relations between places, picturing a world larger than itself. I mean in part that the memorial site—like any project on this scale—reconfigures the ground on which it is placed. But something more takes place, since its own iconography makes us aware that this particular site extends outward, into London and toward the rest of the world. From within the city it refigures the city and reimagines the relations of the various figures who people its thoroughfares in a complex global


network. Here, then, is the missing center around which all else can revolve, once and perhaps for all time; in this way, the monument's ambitious claims extend beyond space alone. As a "memorial" it articulates a vision across time, through a kind of prospective memory that locates the present between idealized future and past. I am suggesting that we view the Albert Memorial as a Bahktinian "chronotope," a geo-historical time machine that suspends our motion in time and space to set it going again according to new principles.

Gilbert Scott designed it as a tribute to the late prince's piety, leadership, wisdom, taste; his dedication to the arts and sciences; his sense of history; and his vision of Britain's role in an emerging international community. Each of those attributes is acknowledged through a separate set of symbolic markers—ranging from angels to animals, from portraits of British artistic notables to representations of the nation's most essential commercial skills, from figures of the arts and their celestial muses to examples of their practical applications in daily life. Albert himself, head bowed beneath a starry dome, holding a catalogue of the Great Exhibition, seems torn between the contemplation of high moral truths and the execution of ambitious industrial projects—thinking globally, acting locally, as our contemporary parlance would have it. But of course Albert's local projects had global implications: the Great Exhibition collected the "Arts and Manufactures of the Nations of the World," according to its own ambitious epithet. Appropriately, then, the memorial is surrounded at the points of the compass by allegories of four continents, each represented by the figure of a native in a complex, but starkly realistic, sculptural design. And it is precisely in the iconography of these figures at the edge of the design—these literally marginal, "foreign" natives at the borders of a highly Europeanized allegorical apparatus—that a mapping process locates London in a larger world and defines the place of those who approach this imagery from the streets. That is the crucial point too often overlooked in discussions of this project: this public art functions in public space and refers at least as much to a public world of living people as to the attributes and ideals of a certain dead white male. Its crowded heterogeneous grouping of figures must be understood in relation to the heterogeneity that is the modern city, its mass of imagery in relation to urban mass experience. The elaborate map it creates is one that includes its spectators, includes us.

The linkage between Albert and the public is established in several ways. The dedicatory inscription, proposed by Victoria, identifies this


as a joint tribute from the queen "and her people," as if to suggest that in the act of memorializing, differences of rank begin to dissolve. Indeed, "her people" might as well read "his children," since the governing metaphor of the whole design is something like what we now term family values. They are implicit even in the idealization of Albert's aesthetic interests: as his central position in the plan suggests, he was not just involved in important artistic projects but fathered them; his very affiliation with the sister arts can be understood as a lofty form of kinship. And the monument is organized to expand this domestic cliché to global proportions, its corners depicting the corners of the world. Paternity, then, reaches fruition in empire: the bordering figures of native women and children represent colonialism as one big, happy, growing family, ordered under the benign influence of the arts and sciences.

But what sort of order is that—how does it work? The memorial offers us few clues, except the fact of order—solid, stable, global, almost magical in its scope. Perhaps the dynamics of Albertian order are mystified deliberately. After all, the subject is a mere prince consort, a man of boundless influence and limited authority. The design alludes to this paradox and in so doing comments on more than Albert alone. Representing the prince as the aesthetic center of the world not only dissociates him from certain forms of power but seems to disavow the power of power itself—as if the word might be understood to mean little more than art or thought, truth or beauty. But the imagery that suggests the beauty of power also discloses the power of beauty. Gilbert Scott liked to refer to the colonial outposts at the edge of the site as "continental sentiments," as if they merely depicted idealized worlds, the figures of Albert's dreams.[6] But the detailed and realistic portrait groups demonstrate that imagination shapes actual places and actual lives, through various more and less aesthetic practices that are shown to be interrelated by the very symmetry of the design. Surrounding the prince are figures of industrial arts and territories, ranged in concentric circles that represent them as analogous, sites of labor and production, sources of wealth and power (Fig. 73). Or this, at least, is the implicit logic of what might be called (I borrow Mark Schorer's phrase) the memorial's analogic matrix. Even in the abstracted contemplation of a catalogue, then, Albert is enmeshed in an interlocking network of industry, finance, and colonial rule; even an aesthetic prince inhabits the world of entrepreneurial capitalism. The monumental syllogisms identify him with both a constitutional and a commercial monarchy, fixed at the center of interrelated circles of production and consumption like the master gear


in some great industrial machine.[7] Thus, while the memorial idealizes an art of leadership, it also acknowledges a global political economy of art.[8]

This discourse on art and power reaches its point of greatest density in the sculptural groups at the edge of the monumental site, each organized around the figure of a woman personifying a continent. These are the chief foreign bodies in this largely domestic design, and it is precisely the relation of foreignness to physicality that charges them with political and iconographic significance. They are, in a literal sense, gendered subjects, figures of simultaneous sexual and political desire: America bare breasted, Africa nearly so. Four continents are depicted in recognition of their contributions to the Great Exhibition. But J. H. Foley's statue of Asia most clearly expresses—or should I say exposes?—the linkage between these different forms of art, industry, politics, power, and lust (Fig. 74). India is shown "unveiling herself as alluding to the great position she took in the exhibition of 1851" (Bayley, 55). In effect, the continent—"unveiling India," as the figure became known—puts herself on display as a tempting consumable delicacy. Subjection is willing, it seems, especially subjection to mild aesthetic power. The kneeling elephant beneath her echoes the same fantasy—in the words of the handbook to the memorial, "the prostrate animal typifying the subjection of brute force to human intelligence" (Bayley, 103). But it is difficult not to notice a less gentle form of power at work. India offering herself—as woman, artifact, and natural resource; as the jewel in the crown of empire;[9] as landscape and people—suggests the connections between imperialism, exhibitionism, and rape. And they are implicit elsewhere. Mythological Europa is most clearly involved in a rape scene, although we might never guess that from the modest representation of the woman and the bull. Again, it is the symmetry of the memorial design that underscores the relation between these places and these experiences: as Africa or India, so America or Europe. The analogical structure of the site defines the whole world as a theater for imperial ambition and imperial power—a power that can be simultaneously magnificent and violent. And if this suggestion seems unsettling when applied to the "distant" sites of empire, it becomes all the more so when the memorial's juxtapositions define a relationship between colonial power and the power operating in modern arts and manufactures. Suddenly, the distance between imperial and industrial subjects collapses. Even the free, modern world of England is subject to the global sweep of Albertian vision and the power it implies.

By now it should be growing clear that the memorial is a map that


can function in reverse—leading us outward toward a colonial globe only to return again to the imperial context of modern urban life. Thus it is crucial to remember that it is a London monument, of and for the city. The representation of the imperial globe can be seen as simultaneously mapping England, its land and its people, for it depicts the operation of a power that can be exerted in other ways, in other places, over other subjects, abroad and at home. Perhaps it already has been exerted, since power is exercised in this very display, in the mapping that locates us, as urban spectators, within the circuit of imperial aesthetics. Perhaps the real point is that these monumental analogies depict not so much the inert existence as the continuing extension of power—its steady replication and metamorphosis, into various forms and various places, over new spheres and new subjects. And interpretation is one stage in that process, the stage most necessary to confirm our own participation, or complicity, in an imperial mythology and the social conditions out of which it is produced. Hence we are "given" those relatively ordinary realistic sculptures at the edge of the design—figures of the powerless. In part, they represent our presence, as subjects of socio-economic and iconographic authority.[10] They are also reminders of our own capacity to subject and colonize others, to treat them as Others—"natives" related to the London poor Henry Mayhew described as descendants of foreign nomadic tribes. Scott was attentive to the compass position of the various elements of the design, so it may be significant that the groups representing the most primitive reaches of empire, Asia and Africa, stand at what we might call the east end of the memorial, linked to the part of the city associated most often with the poor and third-world immigrants. It certainly is significant that this interaction of iconographic types takes place in Hyde Park, where the interaction of social classes had provoked so much uneasiness in the commotion surrounding the Second Reform Bill of 1867, or even in the discussion of cheap admission to the Great Exhibition in 1851. John Leech's famous Punch cartoon on different classes of visitors to the Crystal Palace (Fig. 75) makes light of the social mingling that proved so serious a topic for many Victorians—like Matthew Arnold, who regarded one notorious example of it in Hyde Park as anarchy. The Albert Memorial treats the same problem with no trace of Punch 's humor or Arnold's hysteria, locating the interaction of different human types within a stabilized framework, on a site that has been carefully redesigned and redefined. Now all visitors, rich and poor, British and foreign, can be spectators together in a Hyde Park carefully mapped as an area for enlightened leisure, a neutral space between the class-specific regions of Greater London and


its expanding suburbs, a zone reserved for the dispassionate contemplation of social relations and social limits.

I have called the memorial a time machine, but it is no less a power machine, a device for simultaneously representing, exerting, and rearticulating authority. It is not so much an objective presentation of certain fixed global facts as a symbolic restatement that in the very act of representing the imperial world extends and solidifies its sway. Hence the intricate detail of the memorial iconography: it invites interpretation, solicits interpreters. Reading this imagery, entering the iconographic precincts of this miniaturized aesthetic-imperial city, we participate in its divisions and exclusions. It is, then, a monument not to Albert alone but to the methods (iconographic, psychological, sociological, disciplinary) by which his memory is preserved, a monument to the place of aesthetics in the broad spectrum of practices we might term the Victorian arts of social control. It reminds us that these arts function in a circuit, not only extending outward to the edges of empire but also returning to articulate the art of power, and the power of art, at home. Viewing the memorial from the edge, we all become subject to the colonizing power of Victorian culture, street figures ranged along the receding avenues of empire.


To see clearly is Poetry, Prophecy, and Religion, all in one.
John Ruskin, Modern Painters

I have been asking how we read cities. Now I must ask whether we ever really do. Can there be such a thing as "reading" when the text itself is so problematic, so complex, so overlain with the multiple screens of our own perceptions? Can we look at New York without seeing Los Angeles, or Santa Cruz, or Woody Allen's films? Could the Victorians look at London without seeing other places, real or imagined,[11] as close as a remembered countryside or as far away as exotic colonial capitals halfway around the world? The last question becomes increasingly important as the century progresses: it is difficult to focus on any point of the map when one has been schooled to think internationally. How can one read a city in an imperial century? The Albert Memorial imports colonial imagery into a monumental urban grid derived in part from other responses to subjected native peoples abroad—themselves first "seen" in terms of models originally conceived in En-


gland. The city we think we see is already contaminated by those we think we have forgotten.

The same complex circuit of perception and memory recurs throughout the various nineteenth-century efforts to "know" the city and its inhabitants. Even photography—the art form that seems to be most simply and directly representational, most radically innovative, least mediated by the human operation of its technologies[12] —participates in this process, and only "reveals" a city that had been discovered and defined elsewhere, in prior traditions of representation. I will close by considering briefly the complex, global, matrix of perception that structures one of the most important examples of early urban photography, a volume that makes explicit claims to a radical realism (claims that have been reasserted by virtually all subsequent photographic historians and commentators on the book). Street Life in London —a socio-journalistic collection of texts and photographs examining the poorest corner of the city—was published in 1877, just after the completion of the Albert Memorial. The book presents the collaborative work of Adolphe Smith and John Thom(p)son[13] —the first providing a text in the tradition of Mayhew and perhaps Dickens, the second (although, as we will see, he wrote some of the text as well) supplying the powerful images that gave the book its celebrity as a classic of sociological photography and reformist sympathy. The photographic historian Roy Flukinger writes of Thomson's "serious commitment to his subjects and his art . . . his compassion."[14] The preface to Street Life makes the point first, in case we miss it in the rhetoric of images alone: "as our national wealth increases," we cannot "be too frequently reminded of the poverty that nevertheless still exists in our midst." "The Authors" acknowledge their debt to Mayhew but insist that the "facts and figures" of London Labour and the London Poor are "necessarily ante-dated," above all by the "precision of photography. The unquestionable accuracy of this testimony will enable us to present true types of the London Poor." And to present them in true settings as well: "We have selected our material in the highways and the byways, deeming that the familiar aspects of street life would be as welcome as those glimpses caught here and there, at the angle of some dark alley, or in some squalid corner beyond the beat of the ordinary wayfarer" (Thomson, 1969, preface). Street Life alters London Labour by shrinking the role of text while expanding that of illustration, and by replacing Richard Beard's simple woodcuts of isolated figures (themselves based on daguerreotypes) with photographs showing people in surroundings we can see in detail (Fig. 76). Here, perhaps for the first time, we actually see street figures, figured on the streets. As


one modern reprint insists, "Thompson's photographs seem designed to let the reality of London speak for itself, as if the photographer felt these facts were drama enough, needing no theatrical touches from his hand."[15] Flukinger makes a similar assessment: "Thomson captured his subjects in situ, arranged in a naturalistic manner and looking as if they were depicted instantaneously from everyday life. By keeping the people in their day-to-day context and by having them relate to each other and to their environment, he brought Realism [sic] into the documentary photograph" (Flukinger, 83).[16] My own response to these images is more qualified: they express a powerful sense of social reality while also suggesting the presence of the camera and photographer in explicitly dramatic "scenes," arranging bodies and commanding attention. The fixity needed for a long, clear exposure also produces a sense of artificiality, and with it a sense of social hierarchy. Thus, even with the democratizing aim of journalistic exposé, the authority of the camera intrudes itself—organizing bodies, controlling action, creating distance. Standing behind the camera, we remain outsiders, tourists. It is as if we are seeing "foreigners"—and the effect would be the same even if "we" were nineteenth-century Londoners seeing the images when they first appeared. These photographs, despite or because of their self-proclaimed politically sympathetic impulse, exoticize London, as if the East End were a distant corner of the world—as if it were Chinatown. And if this perspective seems in part a function of our own associations with the camera—the invariable companion in our travel and leisure activities—that "modern" notion of socio-photographic perspective also has a history, one that begins to emerge in this volume of Thomson's and from its antecedents.

In the early 1860s John Thomson left Edinburgh for Asia, setting up photographic studios on the island of Penang and later Singapore, where he photographed "a broad variety of races, including 'descendants of the early Portuguese voyagers, Chinese, Malays, Parsees, Arabs, Armenians, Klings, Bengalees, and Negroes from Africa.'" He soon tired of studio work, concluding that "the most interesting subjects for his photographs lay in the streets and countryside outside his studio."[17] Thomson produced nine books of photographic exploration in eastern and southeastern Asia, India, and Cyprus, developing a technique that attempted to fit his Western background to the special demands of Eastern experience. His essays acknowledge a real difference in Eastern and Western aesthetic principles, and at least claim to take it seriously. The result, according to Stephen White, the photographic historian who is his main biographer, is a method that expresses the tension between the


two perspectives. Thomson thought of composition in Ruskin's terms: "literally and simply, putting several things together, so as to make one thing out of them" (White, 40). He insisted that his own "share in the composition is very very small indeed; I have only permitted nature to do what she is always willing to do, if photographers do not stand in her way."[18] For White, one consequence is an avoidance of the "traditional Western view of nature as subordinate to man. Thomson's own view of the relation of man and nature is more Eastern than Western. In seeing himself as the medium or interpreter of a scene to be photographed, he does not set himself above his subject." The same principle is visible in his photographs of people (Fig. 77): "the poorest farmer, or simplest beggar, has a dignity which he seeks to capture. Thomson portrays his subjects just as they lived in their own worlds" (White, 41). Hence, in Street Life in London, "The hopes and aspirations, values and needs of those portrayed were recognizeable to readers of other classes. . . . Through his China work, Thomson had become so adept at posing people in a natural way that the scenes appeared entirely spontaneous" (White, 31).

Those are loaded terms, and hardly new ones. The emphasis on spontaneity restates an ideology that had been part of the history of photography since the publication of Fox Talbot's pioneering collection with its revealing oxymoronic title, The Pencil of Nature .[19] Thomson's title makes a parallel assertion of realism, yet perhaps also hints at a qualification. The phrase "Street Life" itself suggests a category of pictorial convention, something like "living genre scenes." Part of the fascination of these images—all the more powerful for being set in the recognizable, random activity of modern urban life—is the juxtaposition of formality and the accidental, the palpable illusion of spontaneity. The reality is just stagy enough to unsettle our first impulse to offer a straightforward socio-moral reading. Much as in Nicholas Nickelby, thecity is overlain by the theater, and simple "seeing" replaced by what Jonathan Crary has called techniques of the observer. Similarly, Thomson's sympathetic humanitarian politics are articulated by the machinery of a new technology, a modern art that (much as in the case of the Albert Memorial) is defined partly in relation to the imperial globe. For to a significant extent Thomson's celebrated urban realism derives from the methodology of his Asian documentaries;[20] these sympathetic glimpses into familiar daily life grow out of a highly developed colonial gaze, embedded in the relations of class and racial types. Once again, "reading" the city involves an exercise of power—a power first defined elsewhere and always understood as international in its reach. Thomas


Prasch, who examines the same "mirroring" effect, has shown that Thomson's account of Asian peoples imposed "the social categories applied to the working class of Victorian England."[21] No wonder, then, that in Thomson's London pictures all the figures become "examples" of something, "true types" as in Mayhew: the very formality of the photographic iconography suggests that to respond to them requires some larger set of generalizations, those, for example, of the sociologist or anthropologist.[22] In this sense, our apparent proximity to the poor in early documentary photography simultaneously involves a new distance—and a new technique of distancing—related to, but not wholly derived from, the technological possibilities of the medium itself. Street figures must be refigured—or disfigured. We see them through a particular lens, and from a particular angle, as Others and in terms of other Others still.

Thomson's own written contributions to Street Life in London refer to his Asian experiences at several points; Prasch suggests that the comparison of Mongolians with the "London Nomades" who form the subject of the first plate prepares the way for an anthropological racial politics that recurs throughout the book (15–16). At times the allusions seem far more innocent. In his most extended and most curious reference to Asia, Thomson compares the popular reaction to floods in Lambeth and China to argue (perhaps with both Mayhew and Dickens in mind) that

The Chinese, who are eminently an agricultural people, turn the dust and refuse collected within their abodes to better account than we do in London. . . . If a body of Chinese emigrants had to deal with the garbage of a city so vast as London, we should find many of the poorest lands around the metropolis transformed into gardens and markets stocked with even a more abundant supply than we already possess of the choicest fruits and vegetables.[23]

The traveler measuring the commercial possibilities of urban conditions discloses the vantage point from which he views these London natives, a position of superiority we are invited to occupy as well.[24] In part, then, this nineteenth-century anticipation of Margaret Thatcher's Victorian social theories assesses the potential "value" of the poor to the nation. The glance toward China effectively classifies the London poor as a discrete national/racial unit, whom we are to evaluate according to their collective contribution to "the rest of us." Street Life in London implies the same stance, depicting its gallery of human curiosities with a starkness that almost compels us to regard them as foreign. The allusions to other people in other places, other "subjects," only intensify the effect:


the documentary close-up creates its own form of distance. A Thomson photograph, like the Albert Memorial, is an urban time machine that moves us simultaneously nearer to and farther from the streets. Equally important, it helps define a new methodology of urban perception and representation, an iconography of social realism that has stayed with us. These apparently transparent images structure the world they represent and the way we view it. Surveying London through this lens, we learn what it means to "see" the city through the representations of it in the most radically modern art. We learn, that is, to see locally and think globally, to locate the "realism" of urban photography in a complex circuit of information, a highly articulated structure of perception and allusion.

In this sense, documentary photography did not so much transform as replicate the basic conditions of Victorian urban art and nineteenth-century realistic representation more generally.[25] If there is a common thread linking all the modes we lump under the category of realism, perhaps it is a reflexive insistence upon their own limits as realism, upon our own limited access to the real. Cities may have been the most familiar sites for early realist works precisely because they were so closely associated with that reflex of double vision, that sense of what we can and cannot see, can and cannot represent directly. Victorian urban iconography repeatedly reminds us of our position within, and distance from, urban life, repeatedly insists that the city is a simultaneously familiar and foreign world.[26] Typically, then, the Victorian urban artist struggles to be in but not of the city, to find a way to keep vivid close-ups at arm's length. The very idea of a more direct representation, of a pure, simple urban artist remains suspect, too closely implicated in the world one seeks to depict: a figure like Miss La Creevy is symptomatic of what Dickens regards as the power of London to miniaturize our lives and our work, and we find similar suggestions in other places and other forms of art. Thomson's image of the urban photographer suggests a related discomfort with a role not unlike his own—one of several "Clapham Common Industries," as the accompanying text is captioned, in which the artist becomes another proprietor "Waiting for a Hire" (that is the phrase attached to the donkey keeper shown here in Fig. 78). The very existence of a volume like Street Life in London is predicated on the value of putting art to work in the city; yet the conjoined texts and images cannot avoid acknowledging—or else, do not manage to repress—an uneasy recognition that all city work can be reduced to the same level, that even the arts can be compromised by excessive lingering on the streets. Is that the hidden warning behind the threadbare group


of Italian street musicians huddled in awkward poses? It is as if all urban artists become foreign artists, alien and impoverished, as if urban art and the urban artist operate under an inescapable threat. No wonder Nicholas Nickleby concludes with another imagery, in another world—a dreamy, pastoral setting deliberately located outside the territorial ambitions of realism—where urban conditions are only a memory, where texts are always stable and benign, and where no street life exists to complicate the way we look, the way we live, or the way we see.



Fig. 70.
Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), "A Sudden Recognition, Unexpected on Both Sides,"
 from Nicholas Nickleby,  1838-39. Photograph courtesy Department of Special
Collections, Knight Library, University of Oregon.



Fig. 71.
Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), "Nicholas Starts for Yorkshire," from  Nicholas Nickleby,  
1838–39. Photograph courtesy Department of Special Collections, Knight Library, University of Oregon.



Fig. 72.
Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), "Nicholas Hints at the Probability of His Leaving 
the Company," from Nicholas Nickleby,  1838–39. Photograph courtesy
 Department of Special Collections, Knight Library, University of Oregon.



Fig. 73.
Gilbert Scott et. al., Albert Memorial, 1872. Photograph courtesy Conway Library, 
Courtauld Institute of Art.



Fig. 74.
J. H. Foley, Asia,  Albert Memorial, 1872. Photograph courtesy Conway 
Library, Courtauld Institute of Art.



Fig. 75.
John Leech, "The Pound and the Shilling," from  Punch  20 (14 June 1851).
 Photograph courtesy The Department of Special Collections, The Knight Library, 
University of Oregon.



Fig. 76.
John Thomson, "Covent Garden Labourers," from  Street Life in London, 1877. 
George Eastman House.



Fig. 77.
John Thomson, "Street Amusements and Occupations, Peking," from
  Illustrations of China and Its People,  1873–74. George Eastman House.



Fig. 78.
John Thomson, "Clapham Common Industries: 'Photography on the 
Commons' and 'Waiting for a Hire,"' from  Street Life in London,  1877. 
George Eastman House.



Seeing the Unseen
Pictorial Problematics and Victorian Images of Class, Poverty, and Urban Life

Susan P. Casteras

The representation of poverty in Victorian art—and how audiences responded to the subject—subtly shifted in some respects during the queen's long reign. The urban poor were not a new theme in British art, but the blending of this underclass with middle-class personages and preoccupations in Victorian narrative art made for some decidedly compelling pictorial results. Added to this were the demands and popularity of narrative painting, which was a dominant art form in the 1850s and 1860s especially. The anecdotal and sentimental content of Victorian depictions of so-called everyday life, however, was undercut with ideological as well as iconological meaning, as attested to by the evolution of the treatment of the city and its poor and the polarization of classes and behavior that it sometimes represented. While the general urban setting has been studied in various contexts in scholarship by Ira Nadel and F. S. Schwarzbach, H. J. Dyos and Michael Wolff, and Julian Treuherz, for example, there remains other uncharted territory to be scrutinized in the visual representation of class conflict and anxiety in a selective strand of imagery to be explored in this essay.[1] Thus, the latent voyeurism of artistic "gazing" into the face of the city and its denizens especially how Victorian art often erected invisible barriers between personages of different classes, reveals the complex, underlying attitudes of many middle-class viewers toward urban subject matter.

The idea of life in the contemporary city—not a real public event but the artist's construction of a scenario—permeated Victorian genre painting from mid-century through the 1880s. During this long period, the experiences of urban life were visually encoded so as to acknowledge both the visible and invisible city and its denizens. Although literary and


historical studies have addressed numerous aspects of this crucial urban site, little has been written about images that document one of the basic paradoxes of urban congestion and psychological isolation—from the perspective of the middle and lower classes—or about the distribution of the power of looking in Victorian depictions of the metropolis. This essay investigates that distribution of power in urban images of seeing, touching and not touching that were often imbued with meanings of social authority and control by the artist and audience alike. Because the subject is vast, however, only selected examples will he analyzed that "map" or "refigure" city life as a response to urban chaos and explore the impact of encroachments on an individual's sense of personal dignity or privacy, notably the social and physical discomfort manifested in body language, expression, and psychological state. The interactions and tensions between classes are tangibly evident in the visual details, socially coded messages, and class and psychosexual dynamics of this group of paintings. In each case, the presence of the middle class as viewer—depicted or implied—injects considerable additional meaning into the conceptual framework of urban visuality offered in this essay and testifies to some of the main social transformations and crises faced by Victorians.

Not surprisingly, there was no single notion of the city to define its multiple facets and personalities. Victorian artists, like their literary counterparts, tried to convey the contemporaneity of city life by organizing and arranging the complexities of urban experience, not as reportage, but rather as an aesthetic and necessarily artificial construct and pictorial composition. The images examined in this essay chronicle how the city overwhelmed people of all types and classes, how art reflected a flux of fragmented impressions—of traffic, movement, crime, disorder, danger, anxiety, and social differences. Viewers responded to this onslaught of impressions by looking at yet overlooking human beings, by touching and not feeling—in some instances by seeing only what they wanted to see in art as in real life. In other words, they processed and selectively "saw" not only what art represented, but also what the actual city presented as part of its daily fare of hard-to-take realities.

A fairly benign pictorial encapsulation of some common Victorian middle-class attitudes toward the urban poor can be discerned in John Everett Millais's parody of a "battle of the pavements" in his 1853 drawing The Blind Man (Fig. 79). Here a charitable voting lady leads across a busy street a blind beggar wearing a placard inscribed "pity the blind." The turmoil her noble efforts cause shocks the lady behind her, who registers fear that someone will be trampled by the traffic. Normally, the


young woman might navigate the street tentatively and genteelly, perhaps arm in arm with a companion of her rank, averting her gaze and pressing her handkerchief to her nose to avoid noxious smells and persons. But in this picture she is emboldened to do a good deed. Amid the clot of carriages and people, this naive young woman, rather like a modern female gladiator in skirts, attempts to halt a rearing horse merely by holding her dainty parasol aloft. The horses, with their blinders on, perhaps represent society's response to the indigent. As all this commotion takes place, another beggar, a crossing sweep, vies for attention—a cheeky, scruffy young lad, right out of the pages of Punch, who takes this opportunity to panhandle. He stretches out his hand in almost comic contrast to the blind man's dog, straining in the opposite direction to lead his master across the busy street. With her gloved hand the young lady touches and guides her companion. She does not look at him or at anyone else, however, but only at her animal adversary; nor does she respond to the grotesquely grinning sweep, who may actually be expediting the pair's crossing. The inclusion of a stationer's shop in the background may serve ironically as a reminder that neither the blind man nor the boy, undoubtedly illiterate, can read or write; the blind man must rely on others to produce his pitiable placard and lead him out of danger, while the child must also depend on the kindness of strangers. The man's very blindness, however, may be what enables the young woman to act so forcefully. He cannot see her, and to lead him she need not look directly at him; although he is a stranger, she can, moreover, take his hand precisely because he cannot see, cannot, indeed, stare at her inappropriately or entreatingly. This canceling out of gazes seems to liberate the young lady to ignore her fear of strangers and perform an act of charity. The drawing is entitled The Blind Man, but it also suggests the blindness of spectators to the reality of street paupers.

Middle-class apprehensiveness about the city, its busy streets, menacing denizens, and interminable hubbub is pointedly expressed in William Maw Egley's Omnibus Life in London (1859; Fig. 80), which incisively represents the paradox of seeing without seeing, touching without feeling.[2] In it, middle-class riders are pressed together in an omnibus, a recent innovation in transportation that created, in effect, a spectacle that moved through the streets bearing colorful advertisements. The spectator is placed inside this claustrophobic conveyance as if one end had been cut off to provide a voyeuristic slice of life. With the exception of one child on an adult's lap, no one looks out at the viewer. Every occupant, however, looks uncomfortable; the result is the


essence of busy mercantile London—its middle-class tradesmen, shoppers, gentlemen crowded into a single conveyance—all in a state of collective discomfort. The access to omnibuses was egalitarian (if one could afford the fare), but this equality created a tangible awkwardness, for the purchase of a ticket could not bridge class differences. Egley's fictional crowd is mixed and highly self-conscious about what would now be termed body language and territoriality.[3] Each person seems acutely aware of the presence and body of other passengers, and the painting is replete with awkward and uncomfortable angles, glances, and positions.

For example, the older woman in the foreground, left, leans slightly forward to pick up a nosegay atop a large hatbox. She also juggles a large umbrella as she looks toward the child opposite her. The man beside her, inconvenienced by her paraphernalia, seems to have contorted and pressed himself as far back as possible to gain some room and perch a basket on his knees. Next to him another top-hatted gentleman folds his long body and legs, apparently peering at the prettily demure girl in the foreground. One rather weary-looking woman sits near the door; beside her a young man in dapper dress fixes his eves upon the young lady opposite him, the end of his walking stick touching his lips (a rather autoerotic gesture). The beautifully delicate veiled young woman reads a book, her veil a transparent harrier between her and others; her decorum, her lowered eyes, and her absorption in her book serve a similar purpose. Her deliberate avoidance of unwanted gazes does not deter the gentleman opposite her from staring. The bench on the right also includes a woman with a child sprawled on her lap and a girl with elaborate curls, hat, and dress. (A man on the bench is visible only by his hat.) No one aside from the man with the cane and possibly the older woman seems openly to acknowledge the other people—those on the omnibus even seem to ignore the arrival of new passengers, notably a handsome voting woman with an open parasol. The females in particular try to maintain their reserve and territoriality. The older woman's gloves "protect" her from touching, but she is apparently oblivious to the advertisement for men's trousers above her head that for the viewer seems both indecorous and amusing. (The advertisement nearly seems to kick her in the head, and although one can hardly imagine the lady talking about men's trousers in polite public conversation, her shawl does touch her male neighbor's legs.) The veiled woman takes refuge in her reading, while the woman with the children looks down at them protectively. The men generally look physically but not psychologically uncomfortable—with the possible exception of the "forward" young man, who


may be wishing he could sit next to the lady he admires. The women try to be inconspicuous and invisible, despite their voluminous dresses and accessories.

The anxiety of being looked at and approached by strangers is communicated throughout the work—from the old woman's gloved hand to the insular family grouping to the defensive activity of reading. As subsequent examples will confirm, this middle-class aloofness and avoidance of contact is very different from the numbed pain and look of the poor. However, in Omnibus Life the passengers can hurtle through the streets, past the poor and sights that bother them, to the safety of home or other destinations—they need not stop for long to confront unpleasant urban realities. If their privacy is invaded and they seem temporarily trapped in a crowded vehicle, it is not for long; nor is their uneasiness akin to that of the poor, for whom the city looms like a prison. The carriage itself, furthermore, functions as a theater of both personalities and commodities, with its advertisements. Omnibuses were typically covered with advertisements and their occupants were susceptible consumers, especially unmarried women, who were ironically commodities in their own way on the marriage market.[4]

With its images and bodies, commercial as well as human, the painting offers a visual catalogue of city sensations, middle-class personages, and acquisitiveness. The well-off are defined by their possessions as well as by their social position, and the carriage is appropriately crammed with things as well as people. While other examples in this essay primarily explore class differences, Omnibus Life portrays sexual tensions too, thus forming part of the unspoken vernacular of the city way of looking and ignoring inappropriate behavior or, for women, the invading glances of the opposite sex.[5] In Egley's painting, the women passengers' anxieties about social mingling and contamination, their social dis-ease, even within their own class, are almost palpable. Given that women without chaperones increasingly went out on their own by means of public transportation, this social withdrawal is understandable. For on the omnibus there was a great deal of unavoidable body contact, more touching than on the ballroom dancing floor, and confrontations with strangers still required control of eye contact and posture and demeanor; such bourgeois images stand in contrast to the postures of defeat and shame in depictions of the lower classes in other paintings to be discussed.

The middle and upper classes often register visually the social discomfort of randomly encountering people whom Pip in Great Expectations described as mere faces in the streets. In William Powell Frith's For


Better, for Worse (1881; Fig. 81), for example, the "better off" and "worse off" awkwardly mingle in the street after a wedding that occasions an opulent display of costume, posing, and ritual. Girls on a balcony bid adieu to their newly married friend, while flower girls and family below enact their own good-byes.[6] The partygoers ignore the uninvited "lower orders" who witness the leave-taking; even the girl with a basket of flowers and the boy in the sailor suit seem amazingly unaware of the ragged children only a few inches away from them. The bridegroom acknowledges his surroundings only by doffing his hat (whether to the pretty girls above or as a general response to the hail of good wishes, hats, and slippers is unclear), but his new wife walks into the carriage and her new life without looking behind her or to either side. The other wealthy wedding guests seem equally oblivious to the poverty-stricken souls around them, from the wistful maid behind the bridegroom to the crowd of figures in the distance who press forward. The bobby maintains symbolic order, perhaps necessary because of pickpockets, and keeps the classes separate as the rich enact their "private" celebrations and farewells. However, in the shadow of this event, yet in the very foreground behind the carriage—urban reality again intrudes, in the form of both a shoeshine boy watching someone else's good fortune and an impoverished family gazing at the wedding party from behind the brougham. This family is closely bound together despite their barefoot state (old shoes, meanwhile, are tossed at the newlyweds). The father touches his son and the mother cradles the baby, but the upper-class members of the drama seem not to notice them. They provide an ironic, grim contrast between the "haves" and "have nots," perhaps underscoring how the marriage vows alluded to in the title include loyalty to one's spouse even in dire circumstances. The contrast between the gaunt, dirty family and the elegant couple and their well-wishers is psychological as well as physical; the gap between the two sides is further highlighted by the setting: this representation of a lack of human charity and compassion takes place in the very shadow of a church.

This theme seemed to haunt Frith, who had pursued it earlier in Poverty and Wealth (private collection), which, as the Art Journal commented in 1888, "shows a carriage and pair, containing ladies and children, who are being stared at by the ragged crowd around a fishmonger's shop."[7] As in For Better, for Worse, a private carriage waits to transport the affluent away from whatever might frighten or disturb them. But much more is going on in this painting than the Art Journal recorded, especially from a modern perspective. The children in the carriage are well-dressed, if not overdressed; safe in their mother's arms


and elevated from passersby in a conveyance that will shortly remove them from this scene, they can afford to be curious about what the "other half" is doing nearby. In fact their interest—whether curiosity, or charitable impulses, or a combination—has roused one mother to turn her head slightly in response to a question asked by a child, who points toward the fishmonger's stall. Another woman in the carriage tends to a toddler and does not look up at all, while a third turns her back entirely on the matter as she prepares to enter the carriage (the driver also has his back to the scene). This lady is followed by a male servant who carries a large toy Noah's ark (a Christian plaything suitable even for the Sabbath), purchased from a nearby store. The boy standing in the carriage already seems to have benefited from the woman's generosity: he holds a toy horn rather imperiously like a scepter in one hand. As the carriage prepares to depart, a group of mostly children gathers at a fishmonger's with baskets to fill with food they will sell or eat. The men in the stalls do not even look up at the children, some barefoot, one an orphan clad in black. The children themselves, except for one cheeky boy, do not look at their rich counterparts—they seem too busy trying to survive. Two older women stand at the end of the queue, one in rags looking up and scowling at the carriage.

No real rancor, hostility, or radicalism is depicted here or in other images of the "have nots"—just penury and hopelessness. Whether or not the wealthy lady with an open parasol is gazing at a specific group—for example, at the widowed mother and children in the foreground—is unclear. But it is evident that the children of privilege in this painting lead sheltered lives, with adults to guide and indulge them, in obvious contrast to the poor child leading a younger one or the children supporting themselves on the streets. The physical gap between the classes present in For Better, for Worse is less marked in this composition, where two groups slightly overlap on the sidewalk. The power of looking is nonetheless carefully balanced, with the two classes ultimately going in opposite directions. Moreover, in Poverty and Wealth the presence of the comfortable class seems to bother only two figures, a child and an old woman who gaze back at their social superiors. In both of Frith's paintings, the carriage gives some of the safety and security of a home; it is an emblem of prosperity as well as a means to literally distance protagonists from scenes of stark penury. More than Frith's 1881 painting, Poverty and Wealth reflects a social dis-ease among classes, which here do not merely ignore one another but seem disturbed by their proximity, a point driven home especially by the innocent children who take note of what adults have presumably learned not to see.


The paradox of seeing but not seeing and the concomitant fears of the underclasses were expressed not only in Victorian images of the city but also in other contexts, as in Thomas Faed's poignant From Hand to Mouth (1879; Fig. 82), subtitled "He Is One of the Few That Would Not Beg." The main character is an unemployed veteran, who, rather than rely on charity, makes a meager living, aided by two exhausted children by his side, by entertaining passersby with a monkey and music. Here too there is a palpable gap between the social classes. The veteran stands, proud but gaunt, wearing rags and worn shoes. His eyes are lowered as he digs for a coin to buy a few paltry items in a shop. The girl beside him is so weary that she crumples to one side, bent over—or shamed—by her hunger, fatigue, and status. The boy, equally dolorous, repeats to some extent the man's pose; he holds a string attached to the group's livelihood, a scruffy little monkey who actually bridges the space between the "haves" and "have nots." The background, right, is occupied by some men glimpsed through a doorway as they talk and read. Their very self-sufficiency contrasts directly with the stark plight of the veteran.

The left side of the canvas is occupied by a lady, who has deferentially been seated and is the center of a very different vignette of comfort and ease. Perched on a chair (in contrast to the girl slumped on a dirty basket), she seems overembellished, almost upholstered, with fabric and accessories. Behind her a black page boy stands with a pet dog, both symbols of conspicuous consumption. The page is as much enslaved by the economic system—and dependent upon the largesse of those well-off—as the boy beside the veteran, who, also like him, is in charge of an animal, but one that is neither a pet nor a status symbol but instead an integral contributor to the poor family's wage earning. It is unclear whether the black child watches his counterpart; the dog he monitors, however, clearly maintains its distance from those less fortunate, and the affluent little girl instinctively turns her back on them, looking to her mother for solace or counsel. The mother does not look directly at the group either, but her tender reassurance of her child and her thoughtful expression perhaps suggest some inward compassion.

On the other side of another barrier, the store counter, a young woman—perhaps a member of the shopkeeper's own family—adjusts a curtain, her status as a worker in contrast to the sedentary leisure of the privileged female customer. The objects at this end of the counter (flowers and trinkets) suggest frivolity or decoration, whereas those at the other end are essentials: tools and food. All these objects reinforce the stark differences between the two sets of people, their class, and the


invisible barrier between them. Only the monkey bridges this gap, and while the dog registers some curiosity, no one moves to break through the class barriers, so to speak. Interestingly, the only visual link between the two polarized sides is provided by the shopkeeper behind the counter, whose suspicious frown oddly allies him with the little dog's askance expression. Behind the shopkeeper a woman carries out her duties without reacting to the situation and "wears" a tray, not a fancy hat, on her head.

The shopkeeper's suspiciousness—almost hostility—punctuates the composition, whose overall somber mood is created by the mother's averted glance, her daughter's anxiety, the tradesman's contempt (perhaps mixed with pity) for the vagrant, and the stoicism of the veteran. Arguably, the shopkeeper represents the belief that only the "deserving" poor should be aided, a common distinction Victorian audiences and readers made about the needy.[8] All in all, From Hand to Mouth reverberates powerfully, a trenchant microcosm of class attitudes and the symbolic zones they occupy in a composition, socially as well as psychologically and physically.

The phenomenon of neglecting the "lower orders" as invisible human "debris" on the streets was represented in many outdoor vignettes of specifically urban distress besides those by Frith. Another revealing picture is Edward Clegg Wilkinson's Spring, Piccadilly (1887; Fig. 83), which depicts a site near Hyde Park Corner where women peddle their wares to passersby. Some of these street sellers have already settled into attitudes of withdrawal; the figure slumped at bottom left, for example, seems to have at least temporarily ceased peddling and to have yielded to depression and despair. The expression of the older, seated, woman is hard to read, but her younger companion seems affected by the scene before her, in which the standing figure offers a posy to a well-off mother and child with their backs literally to her. The mother appears to urge her child along and seemingly shuns the pleas of the woman selling flowers; but all that is really known of the two affluent strollers is their elegant attire, hats, and accessories. Only one figure in the painting is shown actively looking. She watches the pair walk by and appears aware of the tangible gap between the classes, rendered here by a column of air and by the contrast between the flower seller's extended bare arm and the mother's covered arm. The rigidity of the little girl's pose parallels that of the mother, and this unmoving quality is further reinforced by the alignment of the mother's arm with the line of vertical lampposts beyond her and the posts at right. Here, as in From Hand to Mouth and other examples, the invisible wall the artist has erected be-


tween the classes acknowledges the one that exists in contemporary urban life.

When the representative of the middle or upper class is removed from a composition and poverty itself is the focus, the pictorial results could be even more intense. One of the most gripping visual validations of the sense of defeat and utter loss of self-worth among the lower class is undoubtedly Frank Holl's large Newgate: Committed for Trial (Royal Holloway and New Bedford College) of 1878. This painting captures an almost cinematic moment, complete with an unforgettably trenchant depiction of a battered wife at the mercy of her Rasputin-like, violent, almost feral husband, whose hands and crazed face seem barely contained behind prison bars. In response to his gesture, his wife grasps her baby tighter, and her own hands, convulsively clutching and fearful (ironically punctuated by the gleam of her wedding ring) are far more expressive than her blank face, which suggests that she is beyond pain and incapable of reacting any longer to the threats of an abusive spouse. Her protective maternal instincts have clearly been aroused, but she looks at neither her victimizer nor the viewer; this kind of seeing/not seeing ultimately constitutes as powerful a statement as any narrative might achieve.

In Egley's paintings the middle class can prevent the invasion of its privacy and bypass the realities of the city itself, and in Frith's the affluent class is programmed to overlook the urban crisis, but the works of other artists record incursions into the underworld of the city. Sometimes these artists produced illustrations for contemporary periodicals like Once A Week . In 1869, for example, the talented George John Pinwell drew "A Seat in the Park" (Fig. 84) for this magazine, an image in which various levels of society come together in a public place. In the center sits a top-hatted gentleman, who, unlike other similarly clad men striding purposefully in the background, sits forlornly in self-absorbed despair, his stooped shoulders and unfocused eyes conveying his dejection. Around him others interact: a soldier flirts with a woman (perhaps a nursemaid) at left, and an impoverished mother and child at right take temporary refuge on this park bench. These two are street musicians, the woman holding a violin and her son, nearly collapsed, gaunt, and sickly, a tambourine. Another indigent mother and child (still another broken family adrift in the city) at far left counterbalance the one on the bench; a differrent kind of "mothering" is perhaps represented by the well-dressed girl who tends a pram and its occupant while her nurse-maid evades the attentions of her soldier admirer. Except for this attempt at flirtation, no one in these groups regards anyone else, thereby


forging another link in the pattern of urban dissonance and social disease so commonly found in Victorian imagery. All seek repose and comfort, yet neither the bench, the bleak day, nor the "neighbors" nearby offer any solace.

Gustave Doré's illustrated book London, a Pilgrimage, published in 1872, conveys an even gloomier, almost sinister, urban existence. Doré produced not documentary illustrations but imaginative visions of the city, the result of his desire as an artist to explore the mysterious recesses of London and to enter regions allegedly traversed by few outsiders. Modern historians have suggested that the poor creatures represented by Doré, as well as those in the pages of the Graphic, the Illustrated London News, and other periodicals, were not, in fact, exaggerated; but whether the subject was "real" or not, it was probed increasingly in the 1870s by journalists, artists, and others for whom the city was a laboratory in which to study social problems and pathology. In Doré's illustration "The Bull's Eye" huddled, wasted souls react like wounded animals to the piercing scrutiny of a lantern "gaze" trained upon them by a London bobby and the authority figures and interlopers he represents. Such images make the reader a voyeur, who by the very act of looking at Doré's illustrations joins forces with the authority figures and even with the crusaders for reform who scrutinized and judged lower-class lives. Yet Doré also produced illustrations for this project that created a sense of distance between himself and what he saw, an aesthetic distance readers and viewers were invited to share. One such image is "Asleep under the Stars" (Fig. 85), which, according to Doré's collaborator Blanchard Jerrold, was triggered by something Doré personally observed: "He had been deeply impressed with the groups of poor women and children we had seen upon the stone seats of the bridge one morning. . . . By night it appears in his imagination the scene would have a mournful grandeur."[9] Unlike some of the pain and dislocation conveyed in "A Seat in the Park" and other examples, this image seems aesthetically drained of the suffering and upheaval of the city. The calm sky above, the starry night creating a canopy over the hard stone "bed," the sense of cosmic order, the lack of intervention by outsiders, all these elements tend to isolate and minimize the dislocation and distress of the homeless. In addition, by showing all the figures asleep, Doré lessens their possible threat, for in sleep they are rendered vulnerable and powerless, unable to stare at viewers and make them feel guilty (or curious). Moreover, with their somewhat generalized features, they seem anonymous and unintimidating.

The role of Doré and his reader/viewer was that of amateur sociolo-


gist, explorer, or crusader, but the city Doré delineated seemed more ghoulish and alien than savage. In contrast, perhaps the most complex and profound encoding of the pathology of the city, its fragmentation, and demoralization, is Luke Fildes's commanding 1874 Royal Academy entry entitled Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward (Fig. 86). It is not known whether Fildes knew Doré's or other contemporary artists' friezes of urban humanity, but in his own tragic panorama Fildes chose to remove almost entirely the element of middle-class self-consciousness. Instead, he concentrated on the human aggregate of urban dislocation and dehumanization. Moreover, this tour de force synthesizes most of the points made thus far about the psychology of seeing and being seen in an urban context and must have evoked for contemporary viewers similar scenes they had witnessed on the streets of London. In fact, as various reviewers remarked in 1874, this work seemed almost single-handedly to usher in a new era and a new way of looking at urban reality.[10]

The image began as a small illustration entitled "Houseless and Hungry" for the inaugural issue of the Graphic in 1869, but when it was painted nearly life-size and shown at the Royal Academy in 1874, its authority as an urban icon was magnified and its mood intensified by the visual language of the figures and their postures, which communicated the confusion, destructiveness, ugliness, facelessness, and hopelessness of the city experience. Indeed, the authenticity of feeling and looking embodied in this painting endow it with an almost epic quality that transcends the sentimentality, didacticism, and voyeurism of most other Victorian depictions of city life. As the Art Journal reminded its readers, "a little while ago it would not have occurred to any of our painters to make such an effort" to portray this difficult subject and to penetrate the density of sordid urban life and crowds.[11] Fildes captured these invisible and random faces, people, and acts in a carefully constructed scene of human "untouchables" and debris, a mélange of words, signs, and bodies that have been consummately orchestrated, seemingly for a purpose larger than that of high art alone. Fildes explained that an actual scene had inspired the original engraving, although he used models for various figures in the composition.

The setting is a drab subterranean corridor of modern hell, peopled by nearly life-size unsmiling figures with the scale, posture, and smell of the distressed, disenfranchised, and doomed. In this gritty mono-chromatic collage of impressions of urban poverty, the "untouchables" confront viewers and trigger reactions of shock as well as pity, with protagonist and spectator alike assaulted to varying degrees by the


overwhelming intensity of city life. The painting owes its most arresting effect to the glut of painful details that underscore the isolation, the vulnerability, and the numbed withdrawal of almost every figure. Beyond illness, deprivation, or disease, the forces of demoralization have wrought their indelible effects on these applicants for charity, whose body postures alone convey their awareness that they are anonymous and invisible and that their dire poverty has made them no better than human refuse in the London streets.

In Fildes's powerful fatalist vision, none of the degraded, depressed figures really looks at the others. According to contemporary interpretations, the gentleman at far left has just arrived from the country; a police officer helps him in his effort to find his errant son. He is the sole adult to register a reaction to this scene, and his look of astonishment presumably reflects how viewers might respond as well. The policeman is attentive and helpful to the man precisely because he is a respectable gentleman and not one of the "great unwashed" in line for charity. In the foreground an evicted woman braving the falling snow with her children bends her body downward somewhat like a fallen woman type. The text accompanying Fildes's "Houseless and Hungry" engraving of this scene described her as a battered wife married to a man now in prison for his mistreatment of her.[12] Like her counterpart in Holl's Newgate canvas, she grips her baby tightly, her splayed hands a reminder of the rough treatment she has received. Her little girl, clad in rags and ill-prepared for the cold (like the other little girls in this picture), stares uncomprehendingly out toward the spectator. This child is the only person who does so, presumably because she has not yet learned that she is not respectable and thus, to the Victorians, not worthy of notice. Other wasted, debased souls cloak themselves in invisibility. At the far right stands a group of men, one a veteran on a crutch evoking comparison with his proud counterpart in Faed's From Hand to Mouth . Next to these men plotting criminal acts is a mechanic's family; they stand squarely beneath a notice board (above them a sign advertises a twenty-pound reward for a pug dog) and cling to one another. All the members of this family of paupers lower or hide their faces (the sick mother weeps into a handkerchief) and close their eyes against their pain. An orphan boy, said to have been "bred in tile gutter," stands between them and the group of men at far right; in the cold he twists and turns like an agonized animal.[13] There is no adult with him to notice or care—no one to whom he can turn, and his tortured, starving eyes look to one side, not out at the viewer. Beside the mechanic's family a drunkard sleeps standing up, his hat nearly falling off. Other unfortunates and broken families


huddle near the doorway, from which various bobbies emerge to do their jobs. Ironically, the only nonhuman in the composition, the dog at far right, is the sole creature (like the dog in Millais's drawing) to respond reasonably to these conditions of despair and privation: he contorts his emaciated body violently (like the unprotected boy), snarls, and gnaws on a bone he has somehow managed to procure. The passive humans, by contrast, are beyond pain or hostility (like the battered wife in Newgate ) and have retreated into psychological and physical numbness. Having learned that their voices will not be heard, they cumulatively form a lugubrious human frieze, an oppressed mass, of painted who almost deferentially accept their invisibility. Despite the small, rather fragmented groups into which they band (more powerfully than in Pinwell's illustration), the figures form a united front, partly because they touch out of necessity—they have herded together like animals, and presumably also move closer together to generate body warmth. Seeking shelter in a charity ward, they attempt to ease their internal pain by turning inward physically and mentally, but nonetheless on some levels they are shown as psychologically "naked."

The psychological distance of these passive figures in Fildes's masterpiece was partly complemented in the Royal Academy 1874 catalogue by a description accompanying the work, written by Charles Dickens about workhouse applicants: "Dumb, wet horrors! Sphinxes set up against the dead wall, and none likely to be at the pains of solving them until the general overthrow." As contemporary reviews affirm, this painting caused a considerable sensation at the Royal Academy precisely because it offered viewers a new kind of empathetic closeness to the poor—not face-to-face, but in the realm of fine art. Some critics rejected the subject of this work as repulsive while others admired its emotional veracity. The Athenaeum commentator, for example, assessed the subject as "grim . . . , sad beyond measure. . . . Here is a view of a street near, and really under, a lofty archway, like those by which so many railways span . . . all in a drizzle of rain, and foul with smoke." Here stand various groups of people

of all ages and states of health, but all wretched and forlorn,—the undergrown, the half-starved London urchin . . . , the mournful widow, the man of ailing age, the sot. . . . It is a dismal, pitiable set of folks that Mr. Fildes has put before us, and not a few will see the miseries of their fellow-beings for the first time in these personations. From the burly, kindly-looking policeman . . . to the most completely lost wretch who stands on the pavement or leans against the grimy walls, there is not a figure that is not genuine in design or faithful and true in sentiment. . . . Few men will


turn away without long study of this mournful presentation of the debris of London life, and many will not fail to say, "What can I do to better this state of things?"[14]

Such heartfelt responses to Fildes's moral and social mise-en-scène of the cityscape suggest the mixture of Victorian middle-class compassion, anxiety, and selective awareness of the grim poverty that existed and was documented in other realms. The shift in tone in Victorian perceptions of the city in art from the 1850s to the 1880s is acute and generally reflected in the differences between the limited vision of Millais's "lady bountiful" and the social avoidance of looking, touching, and feeling in Egley's omnibus and later images of almost operatic intensity by Faed, Doré, Holl, and Fildes. By the 1870s, and especially in the searing psychological truth of Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward, the numbed powerlessness and the sense of dislocation and depression reverberated convincingly for critics and viewers alike. Rarely is there any sign in Victorian art, however, of insurgent or revolutionary protest or action by the poor; instead, the victims are humiliated and made passive and silent by their circumstances. Whether or not spectators' consciences were aroused, they undoubtedly learned something from these outsiders and their graphic representation in art. The middle-class traveled often by omnibus, carriage, and other means, shutting their eyes at least partly to what they saw; and the message of their selective vision was not lost on the underclasses fictionalized in art, where they are shown as closing their eyes as well so as not to see or be seen. Nonetheless, their "unseeable" qualities and slumped body postures confirmed shame, self-loathing, and sense of nullification as they attempted to resist succumbing to the ravages of urban life. As Fildes's tour de force reminds viewers even today, there is no escape for the poor from the horror vacui, merely an endless queue of waiting, being watched, and enduring judgment by real-life viewers on the street and visitors to the art gallery alike.



Fig. 79.
John Everett Millais,  The Blind Man,  1853. Pen, pencil, sepia ink, and wash. 
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.



Fig. 80.
William Maw Egley,  Omnibus Life in London,  1859. Oil on canvas. The Tate Gallery, 
London/Art Resource, New York.



Fig. 81.
William Powell Frith,  For Better, for Worse,  1881. Oil on canvas. The  Forbes  
Magazine Collection, New York.



Fig. 82.
Thomas Faed, From Hand to Mouth,  1879. Oil on canvas. Wadsworth
 Atheneum, Hartford, Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Summer Collection. 
Photograph by Joseph Szaszfai.



Fig. 83.
Edward Clegg Wilkinson,  Spring, Piccadilly,  1887. Oil on canvas. Laing Art 
Gallery. Newcastle upon Tyne. Photograph courtesy Witt Library,
 Courtauld Institute of Art.



Fig. 84.
George John Pinwell, "A Seat in the Park." Wood engraving from 
Once a Week,  26 June 1869. Photograph courtesy Yale Center for British Art.



Fig. 85.
Gustave Doré, "Asleep under the Stars," 1872. Wood engraving from 
Gustave Doré and Blanchard Jerrold,  London: A Pilgrimage  (1872).



Fig. 86.
Luke Fildes,  Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward,  1874. Oil on canvas. Royal 
Holloway and Bedford New College. Photograph courtesy Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art.



John Millais's Children
Faith and Erotics:
The Woodman's Daughter (1851)

Robert M. Polhemus

I want to claim that John Millais did in his painting what Dickens did in the novel: made the child a crucial Victorian subject of faith, erotics, and moral concern, and imagined perceptions and conceptions of childhood that have great historical significance. Like Dickens, Millais was a chief and effective apostle in the development and rendering of what I call faith in the child, an emotional conviction, almost religious in nature and prevalent in modern civilization, that meaning, hope, value, and even transcendence can be found in children and our relationship to them. Like Dickens, Millais did nothing more important and far-reaching than take children as subjects and objects to represent. No eminent English painter before him had drawn so many or made them so central to his art. Tellingly, his landmark painting from the early development of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, the highly controversial Christ in the House of His Parents (1849–50; Fig. 87), shows Jesus as a typical Victorian working-class boy. Dickens, ironically, hated the picture, finding it blasphemous,[1] but historically it indicates perfectly how reverence for a supernatural God could be transformed into the representation of a realistically imagined child as a focal point of interest, concern, and—by implication—faith. Besides this picture, I refer in this essay to other famous Millais works featuring children from the span of his long career: The Woodman's Daughter (1851), A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford (1857), My First Sermon (1863), My Second Sermon (1864), Cherry Ripe (1879), and Bubbles (1886), but I mean to concentrate on The Woodman's Daughter (Fig. 88), which I see as an image of especially radiant cultural meaning and importance.[2] It conveys a view of


children and their subjectivity that can be seen to have world-historical resonance.

Briefly, my argument about The Woodman's Daughter in particular and other Millais paintings of children in general is that (1) they render a new and intensifying fascination with childhood and the condition of children; (2) they express the strong cultural desire to idolize and aestheticize children, to identify faith with childhood, and to honor childhood as a time of innocence and potential virtue; (3) they make the well-being of children a touchstone of good; (4) they portray children as a desirable but time-doomed and menaced state of being and children as adorable, lovable, and beautiful but also appetitive, vulnerable figures requiring vigilant adult concern and responsibility; (5) they eroticize and sexualize childhood; (6) they represent the predictive power of children's experience for later life; (7) by juxtaposing the image of children with an explicit or implicit narrative text that extends chronologically beyond childhood and the depicted moment, they show childhood conceived of, and perceived from, a retrospect of adult knowledge, memory, and fate—in other words they depict childhood narratively and retrospectively in a way that opens up psychoanalytic points of view and insight; (8) they make problematic conventional ideas about "proper" social station and class division. The Woodman's Daughter especially illustrates how Victorian art and literature were forming and rendering the inseparability of faith in the child and a growing sense of the potential abuse and victimization of the child—shaping, that is, a projective and sacrificial role for the child in culture. And Millais, in this painting, better than in his later, more patently commercial and sentimental work, portrays the joy and pathos of childhood with a complexity that evokes many of the conflicts and contradictory feelings that childhood arouses in modern culture.

At first sight, it may seem surprising that Millais rooted this Pre-Raphaelite "Babes-in-the-Wood" in sordid sexual scandal and tragedy. He took his subject from Coventry Patmore's poem "The Woodman's Daughter,"[3] which tells the pathetic story of Maud, a country girl who, in the 1844 version of the verse narrative that the painter knew, gets pregnant by her upper-class lover, the squire's son, and drowns her baby and herself (Patmore, in subsequent shortened versions that he authorized for publication—see the Collected Poems [124–29]—retained the suicide, but suppressed the infanticide, having Maud drown herself before giving birth): "The shadow of her shame and her / Deep in the stream, behold!" Maud first appears as an industrious young woman at her spinning-wheel living happily with her old father, but then changes:


"And village gossips say she knows / Grief she may not avow." Then come the lines and images that Millais chose for illustration:

Her secret's this: In the sweet age
When heaven's our side the lark,
She follow'd her old father, where
He work'd from dawn to dark,
For months, to thin the crowded groves
Of the old manorial Park.

She fancied and he felt she help'd;
And, whilst he hack'd and saw'd,
The rich Squire's son, a young boy then,
Whole mornings, as if awed,
Stood silent by, and gazed in turn
At Gerald and on Maud.

And sometimes, in a sullen tone,
He offer'd fruits, and she
Received them always with an air
So unreserved and free,
That shame-faced distance soon became

The poem, however, features childhood only in these three of its nineteen stanzas. It dwells on Maud's later despair at her ill-fated affair and on the act and natural setting for her watery suicide, whose details form a perfect "prequel" in theme, imagery, and tone for Ophelia (1852), Millais's masterpiece of the following year.[4] In the earlier painting, the threat of destruction from sex exists, but so does the potential for love, affection, and faith in the natural goodness and promise of childhood to dissolve the cruelties of sex, desire, and the inequities of social life. The picture anticipates the sexual disaster of the poem, refocusing it in childhood. We have here what is so often essential for faith, a morally and aesthetically appealing sacrificial victim who offers the hope of redemption. Religion, in the form of "suffer little children," is mixed with erotic love.

The Woodman's Daughter also anticipates Edward Burne-Jones's famous King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid (1884), which makes a mature, highly sexualized, lower-class virgin the object of a male gaze, aristocratic fixation, worship, and compulsive erotic desire.[5] Millais's stress on childhood experience as crucial and his projection of sexual and social drama in images of children are both original and striking. If we are fated to live in a world where early events shape life and character, a new focus on children might inform and possibly reform predetermined


stories of humanity that had been so often repeated. Set the picture next to the poem, and we can see that Millais portrays basic Freudian thought: childhood and its personal history of sexual desire appear as entwined determiners of fate. Moreover, Millais portrays the crisis of libido à la Marx, as inseparable from social history and class. The picture eroticizes and socializes childhood, even as it infantilizes social and personal erotics to bring them home. Newly emphasizing the representation of children's life, Millais sanctifies childhood as all-important.

The painting emphasizes both the spontaneous goodness and the erotic fixation of childhood. How, specifically, might we interpret it? Suspense hangs over the composition—moral suspense. The children are not yet lost. One viewer-response could be to feel that empathy with them and their condition might save such beings and better the world. The focus of positive moral feeling lies in the hopeful expression of the girl making friends with a boy of higher station and in his gesture, begrudging as it is, toward crossing the social chasm; more broadly it lies in the beauty of growing nature, including children, that fills the frame. Children, as Millais took pains to show, breed sentimentality, and sweetly optimistic readings are possible even if we know the gloomy poem. For example, Spielmann, the first serious Millais scholar, smugly writes (betraying his own class bias), "This charming illustration of the earlier verses of Coventry Patmore . . . gives no hint to the climax of the poem, that points the moral of the incompatibility of class and class" (89)—to which we might feel like responding "Not!" or "Bubbles!"

The picture can, however, be read as a hopeful and pretty bridge over the troubled waters of class. On one level, it may seem to offer a charming world where children act out innocently roles that in later life carry more disturbing meanings. We may find that the attractiveness of the children, to us and to one another, call imply a dissolving of class boundaries. Nature—good and happy nature—is stronger than culture. But when put in a cultural context, the picture can just as easily be seen as a pedagogy for seduction and an upper-class male's first exercise in propositioning a poor girl. The painting call imply a sophisticated knowledge of the sexual history of nobles and peasant girls, of chevaliers and woodmen's daughters; it suggests subjects and social patterns that a generation later would produce such reform agitation as William T. Stead's "Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" campaign to raise the age of female consent from thirteen to sixteen and keep working-class virgin girls from being sold into prostitution for rich men's pleasure.[6] It points up the power of class to destroy the natural feeling of children, the power of the male to exploit the female, the power of sexuality to inform


and ravage life. Victimization as well as virtue figures here: noblesse deceives as well as noblesse oblige.

Millais portrays faith in the child and potential corruption too in the bright, sinister wood of hereditary power and economic inequality. He is refiguring Eden and rendering the genesis of the Fall in childhood. The sire-gardener-woodman labors away, unable to protect the daughter, and the snake in the vivid green foliage is incipient sexual attraction fused with the trappings of wealth, which—not incidentally—have their own irresistible allure. The cold, beautiful, upper-class boy can be read as an original sinner, but possibly redeemable. He is shyly bribing this girl in her plain, spattered dress and work shoes. He looks as if he expects her compliance to his will. From one point of view, The Woodman's Daughter works on our sympathies like an ur-Save-the-Children poster. From another, it shows the promise that childhood and our concern for the flourishing of children carries with it: the faith, hope, and charity of natural religion. Help this nice girl might be one of its messages: If the world is to be good rather than evil, such a girl must flourish. Another might be This girl can save this boy.

Another message I read is Juvenile eroticisminfantile sexuality with its consequencesis the force that creates and ruins earthly Eden . The picture appeals to the desire for, and myth of, childhood innocence and, at the same time, suggests the unconscious power of the sexual imagination. The boy's stiff phallic arm holding the berries big with seed, the phallic tree against which he leans, the phallic switch in his hand, and the girl's cupped hands ready to receive the fruit show that the nineteenth-century child is not just father of the man and mother of the woman but, more particularly, father of the phallus and mother of the womb. The child is parent of both sexual destiny and the symbolic order. What seems daring and noteworthy is that Millais makes both children dramatic, seductive, libidinous subjects as well as objects, engaged with each other and with their erotic life, which is as real as the growing green things he paints. This girl and boy are sensual beings with a sexual life (the work, by the way, makes a mockery of the later, doubtful Freudian concept of "latency"). Not only are children objects of an appropriating gaze, as children are in so many later Millais pictures, but they are also here rendered as gazing, desiring beings. They fix on each other. Put quite simply, the picture shows that a child may be lovable and good but subject to the dangerous, animating fixation of her own and others' desires. A child's sexed and sexualizing life holds fate and faith in the balance. The effect of the picture is to render childhood precious, to reverence it, but also to show it as fleeting, erotic, and in need of protec-


tion. What we value as pure and loving can quickly change to what is impure, impious, and fallen. Childhood, like sex, is problematic and ambivalent: Is it innocent, candid, and full of love, like the girl, or grasping, gorgeous, proud, cruel, and spoiled, like the boy?

The nuanced Fascination of each figure with the other and the lack of touch—the distance—between the two stand out. The girl is dazzled by the boy, who looks at her in a calculating manner. Tension abounds between the virtue of the girl, representing the desire for intercourse among people whose good natures might overcome class harriers, and the imperiousness of the boy, who, intrigued and curious, wants homage and gratitude from the girl, wants some kind of an exchange with her, but hesitates to come close. His attitude is like that of a rich youth bargaining with a prostitute or a successful artist cajoling a model; it is a miming of ambiguous attraction, a tableau of seduction with child actors. Victorian children, like whores and models, could be procured; and such children, as the Pre-Raphaelites well knew, often grew up to be whores and models.

Here are inure of the thousands of words this picture might be worth: He: "I'm handsome, rich, fair, male, and dressed in all my red-white-and-blue finery—a little lord of creation. I carry concealed from you now a limber switch, a little weapon to wield as I like. I'm the keeper of fruit, the hearer of the seed, and hold enticing strawberries; take them, but if you think I'm going to demean myself, you have no sense of rank or privilege.

She: "Thank you. I like your regard. The fruit you offer cherry-ripe, cherry-ripe I'll eat. It looks delicious and so do you, the loveliest thing I've ever seen, Let's be friends, let's play, let's explore these woods as intimates. You're lonely and I'll make you happy. See, I've turned my back on my father and have eyes only for you."

The eye, says Joseph Brodsky, identifies not with the self's body and mind, "but with the object of its attention."[7] If that is true, our eye identifies with both the smitten, glamour-starved gaze of the girl and the cool evaluating gaze of the privileged boy. Millais's art here brings us to identify with their desire, not merely to objectify the images of these two children. Meanwhile, symbolic omens of Fallen nature and predatory death lurk obscurely in the sunny, pleasant scene of the present: the feathers of a dead bird at the boy's foot, the fat, doomed conies in the wood, the chopped stump in the foreground, and the tree about to be struck by the woodman's poised axe. Iconographically the woodman is both Father Time and the Grim Reaper, hewing away at growing life; for time and death, according to the poem, will soon cut down the


daughter. The girl in the composition is fixed between the blade of her father's swinging axe and the fatal fruit at the end of the boy's rigid arm: they make a sight line right through her heart.

The woodman himself, in Millais's perspective, is diminished in authority, a background figure looking small in relation to the idle, opulent boy. Labor and leisure contrast. Notice that the woodman grips a tool, but the boy holds fruit and a whip (almost literally "the carrot and the stick"). The only visible metal, often a symbol of masculinity in art, shows in the boy's belt buckle and in the woodman's axe head. Metal, here, signifies work fir the lower class, but ornament for the ruling class. The gaudily belted lad, leaning against a tree, has berries to give away, but the beltless laborer, lifting his powerful, veined arms in the service of property, has no fruit For his daughter. Intent on his work, unaware of, or complicit in, the drama of seduction behind him, the father must acquiesce passively, it seems, in whatever transaction is taking place. The demeaned parent is looking the other way.

The picture finely represents an important but much ignored subject: the relationship between class and sexual choice. As Patmore and Millais show us, there is no such thing as safe sex for the woodman's daughter. Sexuality, sexual freedom, sexual options, power, status, and money are deeply intertwined, as are violence, natural growth, pleasure, what you wear, color, and commodity transactions. The meanings and emotional rhetoric of the painting come through as inevitably various and mixed—even irreconcilable: Guard that nice girl! Don't take her virtue for granted. But still, she needs better clothes. Beware of that disdainful, pretty, scarlet boy and fantasize about him obsessively. Sex often means what power and wealth want you to do for them—or what they want to do to you—so watch out for the old erotic games of the privileged, see how and where they develop, and dream compulsively about them.

These children are fixated on one another, and erotic fixation—desire, libido—takes shape in childhood. That fixation comes both from curious, trusting good nature and from the selfish desire for mastery; it Comes from the codes of culture children must learn, and from the fascination with the other in social existence. It comes out of child psychology, in which, For example, the pleasure principle plays, the absence of the mother is present, the sexual parts and infantile concern about them figure but are imaginatively displaced, and the question of power is inseparable From desire.

Millais's later renderings of children, to my eye, rarely, if ever, convey the resonant subjectivity or psychological complexity of The Woodman's Daughter. My First Sermon (Fig. 89), For example, while ostensibly por-


traying the awe that orthodox religion can produce in a child, actually has the relatively simple effect of turning the girl into an icon and objective focus of faith. And in My Second Sermon (Fig. 90), Millais, though showing the ebbing power of Christian orthodoxy, maintains and strengthens the Focus of faith in the child and promotes sympathy, affection, and even identification with her. Both these pictures appear to show the child figure as an object of projection to arouse in viewers effects the painter has carefully calculated.

As opposed to The Woodman's Daughter, in A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford (Fig. 91) the subjectivity lies in the figure of the adult. Sir Isumbras, one of Millais's most popular pictures (though its quality has been debated since it was first exhibited), clearly illustrates the cultural assumptions that children are good, appealing, and likely to be in need of salvation amid that the proper duty of the responsible knight (tested power amid moral authority personified) is to serve the child and to see that children flourish. Actually Sir Isumbras illustrates a bogus text written in false Middle English verse by Millais's friend Tom Taylor; it emotionally colonizes the Middle Ages for faith-in-the-child, projecting modern attitudes toward children's vulnerability, desirability, and centrality back in time.[8] The new Quixote, seeing the children in danger, moves to save them. But what is he saving them from, and why does he look bemused and just a little goofy? This painting, which John Tenniel obviously used in illustrating Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass (1871), is surely a main source of the White Knight in Carroll (Fig. 92), and it helped Dodgson-Carroll, who admired and photographed Millais, to imagine a comic yet noble role for himself as a literary knight-errant to Alice and to children generally. He identified completely with this figure amid the quest for serving children. Given Carroll's well-known passion and pure love for little girls, we can infer from Sir Isumbras the broad cultural phenomenon that faith in children amid the mission both to feature and protect them goes along with their eroticization amid its dangers. The good knight will rush to their rescue, but may look a bit foolish and faintly compromised.

Let me quickly compare The Woodman's Daughter with three other works: Dickens's David Copperfield (1848), which appeared just before the painting, and Millais's own Cherry Ripe and Bubbles .

Like Dickens in the young David—Little Em'ly part of Copperfield and the aftermath with Steerforth's seduction of Emily, Millais imagines childhood as both a prelude to, and a refuge From, sexual and social contamination—a presexual paradise being corrupted by class and in the process of erotic fall. In uncanny fashion, Millais seems to be illus-


trating precisely the spirit and effects of that section of Dickens and its tangled strands of infantile eroticism, faith, and sexual panic. Privileged-class David and lower-class Em'ly fall in love as children, and David recalls:

I am sure I loved that baby quite as truly, quite as tenderly, with greater purity and more disinterestedness, than can enter into the best love of a later time of life. . . .

As to any sense of inequality, or youthfulness, or other difficulty in our way, little Em'ly and I had no such trouble, because we had no future. We made no more provision for growing older than we did for growing younger.[9]

And in the joyous adult response to them Dickens illuminates brilliantly the kind of responses Millais's children might evoke: "We were the admiration of Mrs. Gummidge and Peggotty, who use to whisper of an evening when we sat lovingly . . . , 'Lor! wasn't it beautiful!' . . . They had something of the sort of pleasure in us, I suppose, that they might have had in a pretty toy, or a pocket model of the Colosseum" (40). The "admiration" gets at the conventional hopes that children embody; the "pretty toy" gets at the aesthetic sentimentalization of children; and then, unexpectedly, Dickens's odd, wild trope of the model "Colosseum," prime locus of sacrifice and the massacre of innocents, and a recreation center for a sexually dissolute, decaying civilization, uncovers the sacred, sacrificial, eroticized, and dangerous unconscious emotions playing about children that Victorian art can reveal.

Already falling into sexual retrospective hundreds of pages before he narrates the story of Steerforth's seduction and betrayal, David muses, "There has been a time since—I do not say it lasted long, but it has been—when I have asked myself the question, would it have been better for little Em'ly to have had the waters close above her head that morning in my sight; and when I have answered Yes, it would have been." We are dealing here with an influential brand of religious fanaticism featuring projection and ineluctably tied to the beauty of children, the longing for the innocence of childhood, sexual obsession, and the menace of sexual and class exploitation of maturing children.

I find a complementary and revealing fanaticism in a recent critical response to Cherry Ripe, upon whose figural child has been projected a libidinous subjectivity that makes her into a disturbing sex object (Fig. 93). Replying in Victorian Studies to Laurel Bradley, who contends this "pretty child" was "meant to embody positive attitudes of English culture" and suggests, with an ironic touch, that Cherry Ripe's "benign,


Madonna-like presence, multiplied through modern printing, spreads peace and goodness across both savage and civilized lands,"[10] Pamela Reis argues that Cherry Ripe's huge popularity was due also to its sexuality and "pronounced pedophilic appeal."[11] She writes:

The subject's bold gaze and half-smile are also sexual cues; she engages the viewer impudently, head on. Modern students of kinesic behavior, or body language, classify eye to eye contact accompanied by a smile as a sign of sexual invitation.[12] These visual signals, underscored by the title, legitimate the pedophile's desire. (201)

She adds in a footnote (205):

In cases of child molestation the perpetrator convinces himself that the child is not his victim but rather his complaisant and even eager partner [sic; Reis's masculine pronominal diction seems to show a priori sexist assumptions]. In a recent study of sex offenders by William L. Marshall and Sylvia Barrett we are told:

Just as many rapists think that women secretly want to be raped and are deliberately provocative, child molesters will often say that their victims' actions made it clear they wanted sex.[13]

Juxtaposing the crimes of rape and child molesting with the figure and subject of this painting, Reis continues:

Cherry Ripe's arms are "open," and, to make the message perfectly clear, her hands, pressed palm to palm between her parted knees, form a representation of female genitalia.

The darkness of Cherry Ripe's mitts emphasizes the salacious suggestion of her hands. . . . In Cherry Ripe . . . the dark mitts stand out, draw the eye to, and frame the little girl's hands, implying mature pubic hair around the depicted labia. . . .

My interpretation of Cherry Ripe rests solely on the evidence of sensuality I find in the picture. The child's smile and flirtatious gaze coupled with her hand arrangement held provocatively between the legs constitute a nonverbal request for sexual liaison. (203–04)

"Did Millais consciously pander to the imagination of the pedophile? I think not" (203), muses Reis, who goes on to say—begging a hundred questions—that the suggestive elements must have originated in "Millais's unconscious" (204). She concludes,

Unlike . . . Bradley, who sees reassurance in the "timeless purity of this quintessential English little girl," I see the disturbing presence of a saucy miss whose seductive portrayal grants sanction to the pedophile and provides titillation to those men and women, not attracted by children, who, nevertheless, enjoy the contemplation of sexually ardent femininity.


Astute though she is, Reis, like all critics, ascribes to others what she sces herself Here, she seems to be engaging in a common contemporary practice—replete with contradictions—with regard to children: that is, she in effect seeks to hang on to the ideal of a child's purity even while noting the sexual corruption of the child by adult desire; by so doing she indulges in the joys of iconoclasm, taboo breaking, and righteousness too. The artist (because he is unconscious of what he's doing), the model, and all of us right-minded, healthy viewers are let off the moral hook; the critic is exculpated (because she is above being seduced by the "seductive portrayal"); and some vague, nasty audience of others —pedophiles and the titillation-seeking voyeurs of "ardent female sexuality"—get the blame (never mind the weird twist of a logic by which the picture's sexuality appeals both to pedophiles and to those apparently turned on, not by children, but by sexually active women). Six hundred thousand copies of Cherry Ripe were sold to the public. Were all those Victorians really buying subliminal vaginal messages, perverse sanction, and sexual titillation? It is more likely they wanted icons of a secular religion and reassuring figures that, while not denying the existence and force of adult sexuality, appeared prior to, and free of, its psychological turbulence, its obsessions, its potential violence. Cherry Ripe, from my point of view, does intimate the inevitable eventual development of the child into mature sexuality, and it also has the complex double effect of stressing the beauties and refreshing simplicity of a pre-genital existence while implying that the child will grow up into a sexual future: it suggests a consistency and congruity for a whole human life. It claims, like The Woodman's Daughter —but without the earlier picture's particularity and complex resonance—that childhood is part of erotic history and that sexuality is destiny. But whether Reis and I are right or wrong or both, the really interesting thing may be why we see and say what we do.

I may agree or disagree with Reis and wonder about "nonverbal requests." I may condemn the potentially dangerous irresponsibility of scholars who blithely categorize "eye-to-eye contact accompanied by a smile as a sign of sexual invitation" (never go out shopping with such people!); and I may question the propriety of off-handedly associating the popular appeal of Cherry Ripe with rape and molestation. I may decide that Reis has or has not laid a glove on Millais. Nevertheless, in The Woodman's Daughter I still see erotic gazes, a phallic stiff-arm bearing seedy fruit, and gynecologically cupped hands. Why now are we looking for erotic connotations in Millais and wanting to stress that artists and writers have imagined the child sexually? Why do we make


little Magdalenes, Don Juans, and "Victorian centerfolds" of children? The various answers show important contradictions in our culture and ourselves. Writers, thinkers, and artists have made us more aware of the suffering and exploitation of children. The child has become a fine, appealing ideological figure and a concept onto which we can project our own identity and our own sense of virtue, violation, victimization, lost innocence, and—even—sacrifice. So how "they"—the profit-hungry artists, dealers, middlemen, and hegemonic voyeurs, say, or, more generally, unsympathetic "others"—are manipulating the image of the child can tell me, by analogy, what "they" have been trying to do to "me" and people like "me." Moreover, I can defend a faith: If it is just a matter of adult artists, writers, merchants, consumers, perverts, and bad, misguided people generally sexualizing the figure of the child for their own selfish reasons, maybe we can still hang on to a belief that children really are pure and good—worthy secular successors to such traditional figures of faith as the Virgin Mary and the saints. At the same time, however, I can be daring, advanced, provocative: If I speak of Cherry Ripe and The Woodman's Daughter in terms of "depicted labia," phallic imagery, and postpubescent sexuality, I might take comfort that I am exposing hypocritical, cultural idolatry and taking part in a big, progressive, disillusioning process against dangerously idealizing and reifying flesh and blood—doing the same kind of thing that Freudians analyzing Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Theresa did earlier, that a star sex tease does when she bills herself"Madonna," or that using the term "missionary position" can do.

It may be that religious feeling and idealization are inseparable from the erotic. It may also be that the very figuring of a child as a de facto icon of faith fetishizes the child, makes the idea of the child desirable, something to possess, something to love—and therefore a popular object of libido, cherry ripe for many kinds of exploitation. Millais, alluding to Cherry Ripe, reveals a cold cynicism about children and art that smacks of a new simony, the whoring of faith; he can use people's projections onto the child—sacred, profane, or whatever they are—to make money. He sounds like Chaucer's Pardoner: "For my part I paint what there is a demand for. There is a fashion going now for little girls in mob caps. Well, I satisfy this while it continues; but immediately the fashion shows signs of flagging, I am ready to take some other fashton."[14] He prostitutes his later art not so much to create a sexual fetish of the child as to create a vendible moral fetish and satisfy a nostalgic desire for innocence.

That brings us to Bubbles, whose subject is the innocence, beauty,


and fragility of childhood—a metaphorical bubble in time (Fig. 94). It portrays the child's vulnerability, as does The Woodman's Daughter, but the libido and the complexities of individual children are missing. The poor girl is gone, and the morally suspect rich child has become the soft, sweet bubble blower, a lovely fetish for sentimentalists and a perfect instrument of advertising (Pears' Soap bought the rights to Bubbles and famusly used this picture as a feel-good image to sell its product). Turning the child into a fetish of the good, however, denies children their own separate identities. However much we long to be pious or guiltless creatures of nature we are sensual, needy beings, living in the unstoppable torrent of time, like the little girl in My Second Sermon, who has fallen from pious pose into the physical world of heat, boredom, sleep, dreams, mutability, and materialism—or like the woodman's daughter, who is shown wanting to experience the berries and the boy. There is a psychological flaw in putting faith in the morally air-brushed child because, having all been children, we know somehow that, no matter how we lie to others and ourselves, we were never pure, never metaphysical, never angelic, and an innocent child is, in some dark recess of the psyche, what a perfect saint is—a falsehood, an impossibility, a moral reproach, and a condemnation of the self. Millais's faith has undergone a pharisaical conversion: a rich boy can pass right through the needle's eye of sentimentality.

According to Arthur Fish, "In the course of an interview Millais once expressed himself in these words on the question" why, in his later career, he painted for the most part "children of refinement, of good circumstance"—children such as the girl in Cherry Ripe and the boy in Bubbles:

I should like very much to paint a large devotional picture having for its subject "Suffer little children to come unto Me," I should feel the greatest delight in painting it, but the first question that occurs to me is, what children do we care about? Why, our own fair English children of course; not the brown simous-looking children of Syria. And with what sense of fitness could I paint our Saviour, bareheaded under the sun of Palestine, surrounded by dusky, gypsy-like children, or, on the other hand, translate the whole scene to England? The public is too critical to bear this kind of thing now, and I should be weighed down by the sense of unreality in treating a divinely beautiful subject.[15]

Faith in the child, we see, can easily go the way of other religious faiths into Philistine sellout, vicious intolerance, personal axe grinding, and murderous, abusive exclusion. But nothing so perfectly illustrates the arrogance and mean condescension of Millais's words as the expression


and figure of the boy in The Woodman's Daughter, where the child in retrospect turns out to be father to an aging, snobbish painter. After all, to give Millais his due, he did paint his version of "suffer little children to come unto me": two children fair and dingy, rich and poor, beautiful and common, open and shy, virtuous and sinful, naive and calculating, pure and spoiled, pious and fallen, virgin and sexually curious—for such are children in the kingdoms of the world. Suffer children would seem to mean, if it were to be a real article of faith, to cherish unsentimentally the individuality of children, to try to see them, in personal, social, and historical contexts as having their own points of view, to see their hungers and libidos, and to imagine with sympathy their awful joys and sacrifices and their immense potential for suffering and inflicting suffering. That is what The Woodman's Daughter looks to represent.



Fig. 87.
John Everett Millais,  Christ in the House of His Parents,  1849–50. Oil on canvas, 
34 × 55 in. The Tate Gallery, London, 1994.



Fig. 88.
John Everett Millais,  The Woodman's Daughter,  1851. Oil on Canvas, 
35 × 25 1/2 in. Copyright Guildhall Art Gallery, Corporation of London.



Fig. 89.
John Everett Millais,  My First Sermon,  1863. Oil on canvas, 36 1/2 × 28 1/2 in. 
Copyright Guildhall Art Gallery, Corporation of London.



Fig. 90.
John Everett Millais,  My Second Sermon,  1864. Oil on canvas, 36 × 28 in. 
Copyright Guildhall Art Gallery, Corporation of London.



Fig. 91.
John Everett Millais,  A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford,  1857. 
Oil on Canvas, 49 × 67 in. Board of Trustees of the National Museums and Galleries on
 Merseyside, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight.



Fig. 92.
John Tenniel, "The White Knight." Frontispiece to Lewis Carroll,
  Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There,  1871.



Fig. 93.
John Everett Millais, Cherry Ripe,  1879. Oil on canvas. Photograph:
 Bridgeman/Art Resource, New York.



Fig. 94.
John Everett Millais, Bubbles,  886. Oil on canvas, 43 × 31 in. Photograph:
 Bridgeman/Art Resource, New York. Copyright A&F Pears Ltd., London.



Seeing Is Believing in Enoch Arden

Miriam Bailin

In Enoch Arden Tennyson declares that "things seen are mightier than things heard."[1] Although this dictum has a certain local validity (Enoch has just peered through a window and seen his wife and children gathered around the hearth with his former rival), it strikes a dissonant note as the culminating assertion of a poem that repeatedly represents the power of "things heard." In the immediate context as well, the "mightiness" of sight relative to sound is qualified by the power imputed to the cry of anguish Enoch suppresses at the sight of his dispossession. He

Staggered and shook, holding the branch, and feared
To send abroad a shrill and terrible cry,
Which in one moment, like the blast of doom,
Would shatter all the happiness of the hearth.
(lines 763–66)

The apparent inconsistency in the poem's expressive preferences draws attention to the long-standing debate in Western aesthetics about the relation and sometime rivalry between the verbal and the visual arts. The subject, always implicit in Tennyson's intensely pictorial poetry, is explicit in his frequent use of ekphrasis, the verbal description of a work of visual art or, in its broader sense, the verbal emulation of any visual experience.[2] Herbert Tucker notes of Tennyson's English idylls (among them Enoch Arden ) that "a certain sisterly rivalry between the visual and verbal arts has typified ekphrastic poetry since Homer. . . . Some such rivalry figures into the competition between pictorial space and descriptive time that inspires . . . all the best of Tennyson's idyllic miniatures."[3]


In Enoch Arden the juxtaposition of pictorial tableau and silenced sound in the crucial scene in which Enoch witnesses his usurpation by "that other, reigning in his place, / Lord of his rights" (lines 759–60), would seem to indicate a tension between competing modes of signification more Oedipal than "sisterly" in character. Karl Kroeber suggests, for instance, that the "hyperbolic repression" of Enoch's cry "may be regarded as a kind of desperate protest against the devocalization of art [in favor of spatial form] toward which the Victorian artist, however reluctantly, is carried."[4]

Despite these muted or overt suggestions of interartistic strife in Enoch Arden, Tennyson invokes the rivalry between "things heard" and "things seen" precisely to insist, to the contrary, that a picture is like a poem and a poem like a picture. Such a claim, in itself, was wholly consonant with the contemporary taste for interartistic experimentation and, according to Martin Meisel, with "the pervasive collaboration of narrative and picture in the culture, as the matrix of a style and as a way of structuring reality."[5] Tennyson himself is credited with the frequent "fusion of the auditory and the visual,"[6] and with "programmatically ignor[ing] such distinctions as Lessing's between the essential temporality of poetry and the spatiality of painting."[7]

I am interested here in what Enoch Arden reveals about Tennyson's stake (and that of the Victorians more generally) in insisting on the convertibility rather than the contention of signifying modes. As I hope to demonstrate, the poem's narrative and descriptive procedures collaborate to suspend all the potential rivalries that the poem invokes—aesthetic, social, economic, sexual, and even evolutionary—and to render them equivalent and interchangeable. The peculiarly Victorian brand of sentimentality that the poem so unabashedly displays and which made it popular throughout Europe, rests upon just such a collaborative effort—the aesthetic shaping by which "potentially aggressive, painful things" are charmed "into acquiescence and friendship."[8] Implicitly at work in this transformation of the aggressive into the acquiescent is the protective severance of the realm of representation from social and economic processes that were marked by arbitrary injustice and by the dissolution of traditional structures.[9] The artificiality of the poem, its highlighting of its status as a poem-picture, signals this divorce between cultural values on the one hand and unassimilable social experience on the other.

The basic story of Enoch Arden has the structural simplicity and inevitability of a ballad. Enoch Arden, a fisherman in a small English seaside village, wins the hand of Annie Lee at the expense of her other suitor,


Philip, the miller's son. A series of untoward circumstances—the development of a larger port to the north, competition with another fisherman ("Another hand crept too across his trade" [line 110]), and an accidental injury—cause Enoch to fail in his trade. Against the wishes and premonitions of his wife he embarks on a China-bound merchant vessel in the hope of bettering their fortunes. Enoch is shipwrecked on the return voyage and spends ten years on a tropical island waiting for a ship to rescue him. Meanwhile Annie, awaiting his return, is wooed after a decent interval by the now prosperous Philip, who has become a second father to Enoch and Annie's two surviving children—a sickly baby died after Enoch's departure. In the tenth year of Enoch's absence Annie consults the Bible for a sign of his fate and opens randomly to the text from Judges that reads, "under the palm tree." When in a dream she sees Enoch sitting under a palm tree, she concludes that he has died and gone to heaven, whereupon she weds Philip and has a child by him. Enoch, rescued at last, returns, broken and bowed, to hear from his "garrulous landlady" about Annie's marriage and then to see his family in their happy home. Vowing not to expose his presence ("Not to tell her, never to let her know" [line 782]) he slowly fades away, leaving instructions to the landlady to tell his story to Annie and his children after his death, but not to let his wife see his "dead face."

Tennyson's rendition of this simple and, by 1864, familiar plot is, according to Walter Bagehot's contemporary (and by no means complimentary) account of it, "a rich and splendid composite of imagery and illustration."[10] Recalling Bagehot's emphasis on the poem's pictorial values, Gerhard Joseph has called Enoch Arden "a veritable gallery of genre paintings."[11] Indeed, the most celebrated of its many descriptive passages—the family tableau presented to Enoch's gaze through the lighted parlor window—would very likely have called to Victorian readers' minds the conversation piece, or informal group portrait, whose long history in Western art has been chronicled by Mario Praz;[12] its Victorian incarnation was ridiculed memorably in Thackeray's Vanity Fair seventeen years before the publication of Tennyson's poem.[13] It is a portrait genre appropriate to Tennyson's reconciliatory aims because it links speech to sight. This is what, stooped in the darkness of Philip's yard, "Enoch saw":

    For cups and silver on the burnished board
Sparkled and shone; so genial was the hearth:
And on the right hand of the hearth he saw
Philip, the slighted suitor of old times,
Stout, rosy, with his babe across his knees;


And o'er her second father stoopt a girl,
A later but a loftier Annie Lee,
Fair-haired and tall, and from her lifted hand
Dangled a length of ribbon and a ring
To tempt the babe, who rear'd his creasy arms,
Caught at and ever missed it, and they laughed;
And on the left hand of the hearth he saw
The mother glancing often toward her babe,
But turning now and then to speak with him,
Her son, who stood beside her tall and strong,
And saying that which pleased him, for he smiled
(lines 738–53)

The carefully composed symmetries of the brightly lit scene framed by the window and described from the point of view of the unseen spectator, as well as the allusion to a popular portrait genre, invokes, like much of the poem's imagery, the topos of ekphrasis to which I have already referred. The family scene, presented in this manner, achieves the spatial and temporal fixity of the pictorial; Enoch, in a sense, confronts a representative happy family removed from the harrowing contingencies that have etched themselves so visibly on his own person.[14]

Recent discussions of ekphrastic poetry have stressed its inherent expression of frustration and desire vis-à-vis the object it seeks to translate into language. Wendy Steiner defines ekphrasis as a "stopped moment" in which "a poem aspires to the atemporal 'eternity' of the stopped-action painting or laments its inability to achieve it."[15] Murray Krieger has called it "our unattainable dream of a total verbal form, a tangible verbal space."[16] And W. J. T. Mitchell writes that ekphrastic poetry, which "displaces literary space from the level of inscription to that of description, is . . . obsessed with its spatial object as a figure of utopian desire and funereal mourning."[17] An example of this longing for the "unspeakable other" characteristic of literary pictorialism can arguably be found here in Enoch's desiring and mournful relation to the family tableau, which embodies his ideal of domestic harmony, comfort, and prosperity even as it negates his own existence, and in Tennyson's own poetic aspiration in Enoch Arden to the visual ("things seen")—an aspiration that would seem to negate his own verbal and aural powers.[18]

A comparison with Tennyson's most influential predecessor's more famous example of ekphrasis—"Ode on a Grecian Urn"—however, serves to point up how Tennyson first arouses and then resolutely defuses the form's competitive or frustrating implications. It may also substantiate Karl Kroeber's assertion that the Victorians in general "resisted


the . . . self-contesting uncertainties" of Romantic art.[19] For whereas Keats mines to the full measure of its poignancy the rift that the urn presents to the viewer—between life and art, mutability and permanence, and verbal and visual art—Tennyson suspends the differences that constitute the rift and replaces exclusion and loss with commutability. The insistent voice in Keats's ode that keeps inciting us to interrogate the urn, to contrast what is there with what is not and to elicit the particulars of its legend, is absent in Enoch Arden, and the negations implied by the visual object's omissions affirmed by the communally acclaimed sacrifice of Enoch to the veracity of the tableau's represented reality. Like the picture of Dorian Gray in reverse, Enoch bears the marks of time and fate in order to preserve the picture's appearance of serene immutability. What is lost through Enoch's silence is, in a sense, narrative itself, the story of a particular family enmeshed in a (scandalous) set of circumstances that his cry of pain and rage would set in motion. Even here, however, Tennyson intervenes to ease his reader's desire for full requital, as well as to allay the tensions he invokes concerning the relative powers or expressive capacities of narrative and picture. The Keatsian "little town" never speaks its own absence from the urn, nor do the poet's questions about it get answered ("and not a soul to tell / Why thou art desolate, can e'er return"). But Enoch's story is told in full to "the little port" when that story can no longer complicate or contest the visual representation of the family harmony that enjoined his earlier silence. The protective frame is kept intact, transferred from the spatial tableau to the carefully shaped narrative recited within its posthumous frame by Enoch's landlady. That story, in fact, is what wins Enoch the costly funeral whose sublime vulgarity has been the despair of commentators ever since. Stories may be both shown and told, it seems, as long as their representational modes do not contest each other's cogency or signify each others lack.

In Keats's "Ode" even the scene on the urn itself, "Cold Pastoral" though it is, tells of unfulfilled desire figured in the form of a race. In Tennyson's poem, on the other hand, desire and competition are excluded from both pictorial representation and narrative. Tennyson presents pictorially a vision of achieved familial harmony—a still life with conversation—and narrates a story neatly concluded by deathbed blessings. Only the baby's reach can be said to exceed his grasp as he snatches at the ring and ribbon dangled from his sister's hand. Enoch's painful experience—the treasure he has "caught at and ever miss'd"—is recreated in the tableau as child's play. At every point, Enoch Arden offers in place of struggle, competition, and incommensurate otherness the


stylized deferments and suspensions of the laureate's art: a picture-poem and a poem-picture.

Although the power of the window scene seems to declare the primacy of the visual over speech in the immediacy with which it conveys truth and presence, the poem repeatedly identifies the visual, not with direct apprehension, but with pictorial convention and its stabilizing fixity of impression. The same may be said of Enoch's return, which is revealed not by the visceral cri de coeur with its direct material power to shatter the tableau, but by the posthumous "tale" composed by the landlady in accordance with Enoch's directions. Tennyson's narrative poem as a whole—its formality of diction, its carefully regulated symmetries and redundancies, its distancing temporal frame (the narrator informs us that the poem's events took place a century before) and its allusions to prior versions of the story—repeatedly registers its status as literary artifact just as the window scene announces the pictorial conventions that govern its presentation and reception. The form of the idyll itself, as Robert Pattison has described it in his discussion of Tennyson's sources, is characterized in part by its emphasis on artifice and emotional distance: "The framing device, coupled with the allusive nature of the poetry and its often idealized or decorated situations, compels the work to be studied as artifact instead of as inspiration."[20] Like Annie's biblical signs and dream visions the poem asks to be read as cultural code.

But in an irony that reveals the mediations and silences of art, Annie's allegorical reading is erroneous (Enoch is not dead but literally under a palm tree), and the symmetrically composed relations and static identities of the family tableau are not the whole truth. The marriage is bigamous and the baby illegitimate. "Things seen" in Enoch Arden are no more direct than "things heard," nor, as I have already suggested, does the poem imply that they should be so. The tableau, Annie's dream, and the poem as a whole, depend for their intelligibility, unity of meaning, and affective force on their status as recognizable cultural constructs, even cultural clichés. As Michel Beaujour argues in his discussion of descriptive figures, "both paint-pictures and word-pictures are variants of cultural clichés or commonplaces that transcend, precede or cut across any simple opposition between the visual and the verbal."[21]

Although John Ruskin found Annie's false reading of a true sign the "saddest and strangest thing" in the poem and "so like human life,"[22] Tennyson's poetic style in effect makes that false reading (despite its apparent fortuitousness) fully consistent with, even requisite to, the poem's own hermeneutics. We are encouraged to read verbal pictures as if they figured, if not a transcendent realm of being, then at least the


"atemporal 'eternity' of the stopped-action painting." As Wendy Steiner notes of ekphrastic poetry, its "foiling of narrativity automatically triggers symbolic interpretation."[23] Moreover, the meaning Annie derives, however incorrect, is apposite to time whole poem's reliance, both rhetorically and thematically, on a common cultural store of images and prior texts. (There are, according to P. G. Scott, at least eighteen explicit quotations of the Bible alone.[24] ) Seeing may be believing, but believing—internalized conventions—can also determine what is seen. Underlying Annie's "vertical" exegesis of both dream-vision and text, for instance, is the belief that there cannot be two husbands for one woman, two fathers for one family, two competing significances for one reality. It is not finally important that Annie errs in interpreting her vision, because in so doing she legitimates her own betrothal to Philip, his adoption of her children, and her financial dependence upon him. Her "cultural" reading of the sign wins out over its "true" significance and its profoundly disruptive potential. In any case, description of the island on which Enoch has been stranded as an "Eden of all plenteousness" parallels and thus seems to confirm, if not the letter of Annie's heavenly interpretation, then certainly its spirit. She can hardly be blamed for privileging conventional signs and equivalences in her reading when the poem itself insists on the same methodology to establish its own cultural and emotional legibility.

The overdetermination of structure that characterizes Enoch Arden —part of time ornateness about which Walter Bagehot complained in his famous review of the poem—assists in shaping the equivalences by which the poem suspends and defuses antithesis, competition, and struggle. Juxtaposition replaces sequence, and pervasive parallelisms allow the substitution of persons, places, and signifying modes without any fundamental alteration in the overall scheme of things. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose . The opening lines of the poem both establish this dictum as a narrative principle and exemplify the pictorial values that sustain it.

Long lines of cliff breaking have left a chasm;
And in the chasm are foam and yellow sands;
Beyond, red roofs about a narrow wharf
In cluster; then a mouldered church; and higher
A long street climbs to one tall-towered mill;
And high in heaven behind it a gray down
With Danish barrows; and a hazelwood,
By autumn nutters haunted, flourishes
Green in a cuplike hollow of the down.


These "ostentatiously pictorial" lines could easily be taken for another ekphrastic set piece based on a recognizable genre of painting, in this instance the sentimental picturesque typical of the period.[25] The scene unequivocally invokes the widely recognized and accepted conventions of the picturesque landscape with its characteristic "prospect," its ruins, its foaming torrents and humble dwellings, its contrasting chasms and fertile downs.[26] The picturesque style participates in or, more appropriately, doubles the poem's collaborative strategy by the comforting suspension of antagonistic forces—of transience and continuity, and of the domestic human world and the impersonal forces of nature. The picturesque genre also doubles Tennyson's method by its often-noted capacity to render pleasurable to the eye the social and economic plight of the rural poor.[27] Tennyson's verbal tableau with its participial suspensions of time, its positioning and repositioning of the reader's viewpoint, and its decorative manner of description, all lift the scene out of the temporal scheme that it seems otherwise to insist on. The ephemerality of physical life is presented as a spatial rather than a temporal sequence with the Danish barrows at the top, the moldering church, and the village below. The successive habitations and eras described in the simultaneous present of the descriptive mode reinforce the poem's reassuring premise that each loss is compensated by recurrence and that the nutters will always return to the down. The setting thus achieves the timeless quality of the tableau whose "heightened energy," according to Beaujour, "propels the mimesis of decay into the heaven of cautionary essences."[28] Whatever melancholy is associated with age and decay is incorporated into the fully conventional reception of picturesque composition with its emphasis on emotional effect—specifically, in its mid-Victorian version, on nostalgia for an idealized past.[29] The scene prepares us for both the ruin of Enoch and the endurance in the concluding domestic tableau of the "clean hearth and . . . clear fire" (line 192) he sought to perpetuate by going to sea.

Enoch's gorgeously described tropical island, despite its supposed opposition to the rustic and homely fishing village, shares the latter's picturesque timelessness. Instead of Danish barrows and a chasm to the sea Tennyson describes a "seaward-gazing mountain-gorge" (line 554). And in keeping with the poem's efforts to subdue any suggestion of conflict, the uninhabited island is not the site of "Nature red in tooth and claw" but rather a paradise filled with life "so wild that it was tame" (line 553)! Enoch's island exile is static, composed, and like the family tableau repels through its commanding presence any effort to go beyond or breach its limits. The fate of the two sailors shipwrecked with


Enoch serves as a cautionary tale to that effect. One dies of wounds incurred in the wreck, the other through his frantic attempts to escape: "In those two deaths [Enoch] read God's warning 'wait'" (line 567).

Victorian critics (with the notable exception of Bagehot) praised the sustained descriptive passages of the poem for their realism, for their precise, detailed transcription of visual experience, and for the emotional truth they convey. But the primacy of these passages among the elements that constitute the poetic, narrative, and emotional structure of Enoch Arden rests, not on their overtly referential claims or on their inscription of mood or character, but on their status as artistic representation and, in particular, their own rhetorical identity and procedures as description. They function primarily, in other words, as textual ornamentation, as interventions on causal succession, and as reversible textual units. As Paul Valéry put it, using a telling comparison between description and landscape painting, "the invasion of literature by description was parallel to that of painting by landscape . A description is composed of sentences whose order one can generally reverse: I can describe this room by a series of clauses whose order is not important."[30] In Enoch Arden, by virtue of its densely descriptive form—its verbal spatiality—order is not important. Sentences, narrative sections, even people and their relations to one another are equivalent, reversible, subject to change while remaining, in essence, the same. In the first scene the young Annie, Philip, and Enoch play house, with the boys each playing husband to Annie "turn and turn about." And in a scene that directly parallels Enoch's later despairing view of Annie and his successful rival through the window, Philip watches in mute agony, from a hidden vantage point, as Enoch woos the willing Annie ("Philip looked, / And in their eyes and faces read his doom" [lines 72–73]). In the series of detached set pieces and descriptive morceaux choisis that make up the bulk of the poem's narrative, Annie waits for Enoch, Enoch waits on the island to return to Annie, Philip waits for Annie to turn to him, and finally Enoch waits for death.

Ultimately, as the group portrait presented to Enoch's gaze establishes, Philip can replace Enoch as husband and father; Enoch and Annie's "happy years of health and competence / And mutual love and honourable toil; / With children" (lines 82–84) are replicated in the subsequent marriage; the middle-class prosperity Enoch wanted for his family can be supplied by another man; Philip and Annie's baby can replace Enoch and Annie's dead child, and even the young Annie and Enoch are duplicated in their young son and daughter—"turn and turn about." The implicit Oedipal crisis, and perhaps an incipient Electra


complex in the bargain, are negotiated by the implied redundancy and reversibility of roles and by the poem's spatial configuration of chronological sequence. The issue of who is prior is eclipsed or suspended. In keeping with Adam Smith's warning in The Theory of Moral Sentiments about the difficulty of eliciting our sympathies when they are divided between the sufferer of an injury and the object of his resentment,[31] Philip and Enoch occupy each position in turn. In a final revision of Keats's "Ode," we are informed that essentially a happy family is a happy family—"that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." If, indeed, Keats (with or without his urn) hovers in the background of this poem as in so much of Tennyson's work, we might add to the list of anxieties managed by the poem's structural principle of commutability the shadow cast by the precursor on the laureate's own poetic identity and status. Enoch himself may seem the odd man out in this interchanging of roles, at least on the narrative level, but the poem provides him with a restored relationship that does not interfere with the reconfiguration of the family around Philip. His death augurs a reunion with his dead baby, aptly imagined as an encounter with a visual image: "for I shall see him, / my babe in bliss" (lines 893–94). Tennyson's descriptions may be said to have an explicitly referential rather than rhetorical function only when they duplicate, not nature, but paintings—when, in other words, they replicate interchangeable substitutes for the irreducible and unacceptable "real."

Formal repetitions and parallelisms permit these salutary exchanges to take place, but simultaneity threatens the emergence of a scandalous doubleness or competition for the same space. Enoch Arden thematizes this danger when the substitute momentarily occupies the same space as the substituted for, when Enoch, in other words, is brought into the same perceptual field as Philip, thus menacing the intelligibility of the picture. At the level of story this is bigamy, and at the level of representation, incoherence. Enoch alone has the power to collapse the carefully separated and contained tableaux that defer doubleness, rivalry, and desire and to expose the exclusions upon which they are based. His silence and finally his death secure the legibility and stability of both verbal and (implicitly) visual signs and the relations they seek to stabilize. That Enoch manages, during the course of the poem, to be a fisherman who marries out of his class, a disabled worker unfit for his appointed task, a village tradesman displaced by economic progress and new technologies, a failed merchant capitalist, and an aboriginal man (on the island he becomes an inarticulate "savage") begins to suggest what voices are


silenced, and how thoroughly, to maintain the domestic tableau, the art of the laureate.

Who or what is silenced in the process of securing the status quo is precisely the point and returns us to what, on the face of it, seemed the poem's contradictory assertion that things seen are mightier than things heard. The poem does not privilege the visual representation of Philip's successful usurpation of Enoch's family over the landlady's story that recounts it. Rather, it enlists each representational mode to contain the "unspeakable other" of impulsive, unregulated utterance and sensation, whose potential for destruction is simultaneously invoked and suppressed by Enoch's (unspoken) elemental cry. The cry of the dispossessed and its cataclysmic effects on the idealized Victorian family toward which it is directed are verbally present in the lines of the poem but are neither heard nor seen. The picture remains in its protective frame, the violent exposure of its mendacities contained within the poem as a fiction.

Tennyson, in a sense, not only recasts the frustration of the ekphrastic moment in "Ode on a Grecian Urn" as complacency but also rewrites Frankenstein's outraged monster as a martyr to domestic tranquillity. Like Mary Shelley's primitive man spying on the De Lacey family, Enoch, "so brown, so bowed,/So broken" (lines 699–700), spies on a family scene and experiences his own longing and sense of exclusion from the sentimental portrait of domestic loyalty and affection. But, whereas the monster—a product of the Romantic milieu and marginal status of his author—gives way to rage and revenge, "like a wild beast that had broken its toils,"[32] Enoch, in accordance with the Tennysonian revision of Darwin, was so wild that he was tame. The forms of exclusion and the violence of cultural interdiction are both expressed and elevated by the voluntary subjection of the disempowered ("the strong heroic soul" [line 909]) to the cultural domination of the unified composition. If the willing sacrifice of the excluded members of Victorian society offered its satisfactions, one may assume that the apparently seamless transformation of private failure into public triumph had its own comforting effect on an audience for whom economic failure and a steep decline in status were always a haunting possibility. In this sentimentalized version of the free market wheel of fortune there are no losers—everyone is compensated for loss. (In another rhetorical figure that neutralizes conflict, the litotes, Tennyson assures us that Enoch, having ceded his identity and status to Philip, "was not all unhappy" [795].)

If the poem exposes the artifice of social stability and public art, and


perhaps registers a mute protest against what Kroeber calls the poet's "loss of an effective voice, "[33] it also ratifies the necessity of the silence it enjoins. Enoch's repressed cry is represented as both impotence and heroic sacrifice. His silence and death expose the deathly silences of this hyperpictorial poem, but they also ensure his reemergence into the verbal and visual field. Only with Enoch's death—his final silencing—can his story be told and his presence acknowledged. Those much-maligned final lines of the poem, "And when they buried him the little port / Had seldom seen a costlier funeral," have a fitness beyond their ironic reprise of the economic motive that constitutes a persistent theme of the poem. Enoch can complete rather than compete with the family portrait when he, too, is safely incorporated into a tableau carefully arranged to invoke a culturally prescribed set of responses. Made respectable beyond his fondest dreams, and not by chance or inheritance but by his own moral rectitude, Enoch becomes the cynosure of all eyes in the costly spectacle of a Victorian funeral.



Spectacular Sympathy
Visuality and Ideology in Dickens's
A Christmas Carol

Audrey Jaffe

In a well-known essay, Sergei Eisenstein describes literature in general and Dickens in particular as cinema's predecessors because of their evocation of visual effects. Literature, Eisenstein writes, provides cinema with "parents and [a] pedigree,. . . a past"; it is "the art of viewing."[1] What Eisenstein construes as aesthetic development, however, may also be regarded as a persistent "regime of perception in Western culture—one in which appeals to the eye play a significant role in the production and circulation of ideology.[2] An emphasis on visuality, whether literary or cinematic, promotes spectatorship as a cultural activity. But such an emphasis also reinforces, and thereby naturalizes, forms of spectatorship already inscribed in the social structures within which particular cultural representations are produced. The idea of a continuity between literature and film may thus be significant less for what it reveals about the genealogy of cinema than for what it tells about the role of visuality and its literary evocations in defining, reinforcing, and disseminating some of Western culture's dominant values.

A Christmas Carol (1843) is arguably Dickens's most visually evocative text. In its detailed attention to and elaboration of surfaces, its reliance on contrasts between darkness and light, its construction as a series of scenes (a structure reproduced in the images the spirits exhibit to Scrooge), and particularly its engagement with a dynamic of spectatorial desire, the story is an artifact of, and an exemplary text for understanding, the commodity culture Guy Debord terms a "society of the spectacle"; the mechanism of Scrooge's conversion is, after all, spectatorship.[3] Projecting Scrooge's identity into past and future, associating specta-


torial and consumer desire with images of an idealized self, A Christmas Carol elaborates what I wish to argue is the circular relation that obtains between, on the one hand, spectacular forms of cultural representation, and, on the other, persons, objects, or scenes invested with ideological value and thus already surrounded in their cultural contexts with an aura of spectacle. Moreover, an understanding of the story's representational effects helps explain spectacle's peculiar power as a vehicle for ideology. For while A Christmas Carol anatomizes the relationship between an individual subject and spectacular culture, it also unfolds as an allegory of the subject's relation to culture in general—to the realm Clifford Geertz defines as "an imaginative universe within which . . . acts are signs."[4]

A recent revision of A Christmas Carol illustrates the story's circularity. At the end of the film Scrooged (1988), the character played by Bill Murray, who is involved in making a television version of Dickens's story, steps out of television space and into cinematic space to address the viewer "directly." The point of this shift is to frame television space as fictional by seeming to move into a more "real" space, and the point of his address is to direct spectators to do the same: to become engaged with the world beyond television. In telling viewers not to watch television, however, Murray's character reinforces the idea that some medium is needed to send them that message. Implicit in the directive to leave fiction behind and move into the world, in this film and the text on which it is based, is the claim that the way to the world lies through representation.

In presenting Scrooge with images of his past, present, and future lives, Dickens's spectacular text seeks to awaken his sympathy and direct it to the world beyond representation. As a model of socialization through spectatorship, the narrative posits the visual as a means toward recapturing one's lost or alienated self—and becoming one's best self If it fails to explain how the process occurs—how sympathy emerges from identification, and identification from spectatorship—it nevertheless asks its readers' assent to this series of effects. And if, as I argue, Scrooge's sympathetic self emerges from his relation to representation, such is also the implied effect of the reader's relation to the scenes of A Christmas Carol, given the text's explicit analogy between Scrooge's activity and the reader's (the narrator notes, for example, that Scrooge is close to the Spirit of Christmas Past as the narrator is to the reader, "and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow").[5]

Dickens's text, by linking visual representation to the production of individual sympathy and thus, ultimately, to social harmony, both participates in and reinforces the perceptual regime to which Metz refers.


For at stake in the story's appeal to visuality is not just the assertion of a connection between spectatorship and sympathy but also a definition of spectatorship as a means of access to cultural life. Paul Davis has used the term culture-text to describe the rewriting of the Carol to reflect particular cultural and historical circumstances.[6] I wish to argue, however, that the story deserves this name because it identifies itself with culture: it projects images of has come to stand for, and constitutes an exemplary narrative of enculturation into the dominant values of its time.

A Christmas Carol tells the story of a Victorian businessman's interpellation as the subject of a phantasmatic commodity culture in which laissez-faire economics is happily wedded to natural benevolence.[7] And, in a manner that would be appropriate for a general definition of culture but is especially suited to a spectacular society, the story articulates the relation between the subject and culture as a relation between the subject and representation. Scrooge gains access to his former, feeling self and to a community with which that self is in harmony—and, not incidentally, he saves his own life—by learning to negotiate the text's field of visual representations. In the pages that follow, I show how cultural "frames" embedded in the story's images invite the spectator's identification, collapsing sympathy into an identification with representation itself, and how, by making participation in its scenes dependent on such identification, the story constitutes both its idealized charitable self and the ideal subject of commodity culture. A Christmas Carol reconciles Christmases Past and Christmases Yet to Come, that is, by conjuring up an illusion of presence.

The story's ideological project—its attempt to link sympathy and business by incorporating a charitable impulse into its (male) readers' self-conceptions—underlies its association of charitable feeling with participation in cultural life.[8] A narrative whose ostensible purpose is the production of social sympathy, A Christmas Carol resembles those scenes in eighteenth-century fiction in which encounters between charity givers and receivers of offer readers a model of sympathy.[9] Although such scenes had an instructional function, directing readers from the text to the world beyond it, they also engendered strictly "literary" feeling; texts intended to "inculcate . . . humanity and benevolence" provided "a course in the development of emotional response, whose beginning and end are literary."[10] What I have described as a certain circularity in representations of sympathy is thus not new in the nineteenth century. But from the eighteenth-century novel's scenes of sympathy to the scenes of A Christmas Carol, the sympathetic text has both widened its scope and


tightened its grasp on the reader; it has moved from displaying virtue to incite imitation and teach judgment to a relatively select audience to profoundly manipulating the reader's visual sense in what is, in effect, the mass marketing of an ideology about sympathy.

In the Carol, then, the subject is not the man of feeling but the man who has forgotten how to feel; the potential charity giver no less than the beggar requires socialization. Not simply a representation of benevolent acts or an exposition of sympathy's pleasures, Dickens's text situates its readers in the position of the man without feeling in a narrative whose function is to teach him how to feel, and it appeals to them by manipulating visual effiicts in a manner that mirrors Scrooge's own interpellation through spectacle.

The story opens on a world shrouded in fog that gradually dissolves to reveal Scrooge working in his countinghouse. Here, as in numerous other scenes that evoke contrasts between darkness and light or in other ways emphasize appearances, the story draws attention to its own surface and its control over visual techniques (what Metz calls "mechanisms of desire")—its power to let readers, positioned as spectators, see or not see.'[11] In doing so, it seems to create spectacle out of a grab bag of projective or framing devices that it implicitly describes as the property of literary texts. But while suggesting that literature can transform any reality into spectacle, the story focuses chiefly on objects, persons, and scenes that are already spectacular in Victorian culture: invested with cultural value and desire. As the story seems to spectacularize the real, that is, it in fact reinforces the desirability of a series of culturally valorized images and contributes to a sense that nothing—exists at least, nothing worth looking at—outside those images.

Spectacle depends on a distinction between vision and participation, a distance that produces desire in a spectator. The early parts of Dickens' story dramatize the elder Scrooge's identification with images of his youth and associate the effect of those images with that of literary texts. The scenes of Scrooge's youth possess an immediacy that the Spirit of Christmas Past underscores by warning Scrooge against it: "These are but shadows of the things that have been,' said the Ghost. 'They have no consciousness of us'" (71). But the text emphasizes the "reality" of these "shadows," reinforcing that emphasis by insisting on the reality of an even more removed level of representation: the characters of Ali Baba and Robinson Crusoe, products of young Scrooge's imagination, not only appear in the first scene but are "wonderfully real and distinct to look at" (72). And their realism seems both to produce and testify to the spectator's ability to identify with representations; ex-


claiming about the adventures of these fictional characters, Scrooge "expend[s] all the earnestness of his nature . . . in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying," his face "heightened and excited" (72). Subsequent scenes produced by the spirit similarly evoke desire and compel identification. The scene of Fezziwig's ball takes Scrooge "out of his wits": "His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self"; he speaks "unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self" (78). If Scrooge's relation to the scenes from the Arabian Nights and Robinson Crusoe is analogous to his response to other scenes from his past and both are analogous to the reader's relation to the text of A Christmas Carol, then literature is here imagined as spectacle, and both are defined as compelling identification while precluding participation.

Although temporal distance and fictionality separate observer from observed in these scenes, the story's emphasis on the realism of what is seen blurs the difference between a spectacularity literature finds and one it creates. Similarly, what the spirits choose to represent as "scene" is often, in effect, already one. Davis amply describes the story's construction as a series of scenes, its use of dream and projection, and its allusions to popular Victorian images (65–66). But its scenes are also related to what Mary Ann Doane calls "scenarios": constellations of persons or objects charged with cultural significance, they are images of images displayed to evoke desire in a spectator who recognizes the values embedded in them.[12] The scenes of Scrooge's boyhood friends, for instance, compel spectatorial desire through their temporal distance and through Scrooge's evident, immediate pleasure in apprehending them. Indistinct as they are, however, they serve chiefly to signify youth and boyhood fellowship and to gesture toward an idealized preindustrial world in which work resembles play. In the description of Fezziwig's ball, similarly, desire is signaled by absorption, the disappearance of the spirit and Scrooge while the scene is being described. But desire is also inscribed in the display of the dance itself, with its stylized emphasis on couples and courtship. Encoding specific cultural values in visionary scenes, surrounding with a golden or rosy light the images that convey them, the story identifies those values with light—and vision—itself and ultimately, as I argue below, with what it calls "spirit."[13]

Encoded in these scenes, then, are some of Victorian culture's dominant values—youth, boyhood fellowship, heterosexual desire, and familial pleasure—their naturalness asserted by means of a strategy that identifies seeing with desiring. For embedded in the scenes are screens of their own: cultural frames that define the contents as desirable. In perhaps


the most powerful example, a scene after the ball, the narrator models desire, moving into the spirit's position and, imaginatively, into the scene itself. He supposes himself one of several "young brigands" playing a game at the center of which is a young woman who might in other circumstances, it seems, have been Scrooge's daughter.

As to measuring her waist in sport, as they did, bold young brood, I couldn't have done it; I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment, and never come straight again. And yet I should have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips; to have questioned her, that she might have opened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush; to have let loose waves of hair, . . . in short, I should have liked, I do confess to have had the lightest licence of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its value. (81–82)

The merging of narrator, spirit, and Scrooge in the speaker's "I" is the narrative's characteristic way of dramatizing the power of its own representations. And the subject of the passage—the impossibility of touching an image whose status as image provokes the desire to touch (and holds out a promise of "value")—might itself serve as a definition of spectacle. But this seductiveness is a function not only of the image's status as representation but also of what Laura Mulvey calls the "to-be-looked-at-ness" of what is represented.[14] What prevents the narrator from touching the woman's skin—the "skin" separating spectator from spectacle—defines both the reality of what is seen and the spectacle's condition as representation; the combination of desire and inaccessibility hints, as well, at woman's status in the real as representation. By framimg the scene as fantasy, the text seems to create what it in fact reproduces: the woman's spectacular quality.

Projection also makes the idea of touch—of breaking the skin of representation—seem faintly—transgressive here. But what is presented is already transgressive in Victorian culture: the image's desirability and untouchability draw upon, and translate into visual terms, the imagined desire of the father for his daughter. Spectacle's necessary distance thus echoes and encodes other prohibitions against touch, prohibitions marking gender codes and familial relations. Desire is both barred by these prohibitions and inscribed in them; participating in that desire, observers become complicit in the scene's cultural dynamics.

Along with mode of representation and content, temporal distance gives the images of Scrooge's past an inherent spectacularity. But what the story offers as everyday reality—Christmas Present—possesses the same projective or illusory quality. It is as if, in order to make Scrooge


and the story's readers desire the real, the text has to offer not everyday life but rather its image: everyday life polished to a high sheen.

The poulterers' shops were still half open, and the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were great round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by. . . . There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made in the shopkeepers' benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed. . . .

Figs are "moist and pulpy," French plums "blush in modest tartness"; there are "Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner" (90). These objects carry the same erotic charge as the woman in the game-playing scene (and desire is once again modeled, in the image of watering mouths); they also similarly suggest temporal distance, with the spectator positioned as not yet in possession of what he sees. But they have these qualities not because they are framed as projections, although they appear in the scenes shown by the Spirit of Christmas Present, but because they are behind a screen already in place: the shopwindow. As in the earlier scene, what the text situates within its literary and phantasmatic frames is already, culturally, framed. Indeed, the idea of "framing" Christmas Present has as its premise the proposition that the real is only desirable—in fact, for Scrooge only visible—when made into representation.[15]

It makes sense, then, that one of Victorian England's most important sites of value—the home—also appears as image, framed by a perception from without that invests it with longing. There is no difference between the frame imposed by the spirit's presence and what a passerby in the streets would ordinarily see:

[A]s Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets, the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens, parlours, and all sorts of rooms, was wonderful. Here, the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner, with hot plates baking through and through before the fire, and deep red curtains, ready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness. . . . Here, again, were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling. . . . (99)

The representational frames Dickens uses to set fantasy apart from reality—the dynamics that give A Christmas Carol its mythic or fairy-tale


quality—turn out to be fully operative in the "real" world: for Scrooge and the spirit as they walk through the streets, the world is a series of such frames, of windows and projective screens.

The reality Dickens (re)presents is thus already encoded as spectacle; it is "to-be-looked-at." The text, by emphasizing the "real" quality of its projections and the projective quality of what it offers at the level of the real, dissolves any sustainable difference between the real and the image. Structuring desire through the imposition of "artificial" projections, on the one hand, and showing that desire is already structured by such projective screens as windows and blinds, on the other, the story effectively demonstrates that the real already possesses the quality of image and shadow—if seen from the point of view of someone positioned outside it. And defining the real as spectacle, the text inevitably positions readers outside it. Focusing on objects already fetishized visually (women, home, and food) and framing the already culturally framed, the story defines reality as spectacle—what one watches and remains outside of; investing its representational surface with desirability, the story turns its readers into spectators and positions them outside everything. At Christmas (and perhaps not only at Christmas), the story seems to say, the world is an image; moreover, it is an image in which spectators seek to see themselves.[16]

This imperative to locate the self within the story's spectacles, associating as it does the representation of the self with the story's other representations, ultimately defines sympathy in the Carol in spectatorial terms, as a relation to representation. Scrooge typically loses himself in the "reality" of what he sees, imitating, for instance, the younger Scrooge's manifest identification. The story presents his watching of these scenes not only as the production, witnessing, and loss of self in spectacle (and, analogously, in reading) but also as the taking on of the image's desire. But the scenes prompt compassion as well: Scrooge's identification with his former self leads to sympathy for that self and, in turn, to sympathy with others, and not only with images. "There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that's all," he says after witnessing the first scene of his boyhood self (73). The narrative of the development of fellow feeling offered here makes the two kinds of sympathy (identification and compassion) appear continuous, as if the opening up of a space between the self and its representation produces a general desire to identify, which can then be detached from the self and shifted to some other identity. Indeed, throughout the story the presence of visual representation is identified with the presence of Scrooge's former self (the sight of


Fezziwig's ball renders him "unconsciously" like his former self), and representation takes on a nostalgic quality, as windows or screens define a temporal distance between observer and observed. The scenes of Scrooge's past always possess more "presence" than he does; the younger Scrooge has a natural ability to identify with representations that the older Scrooge recovers as soon as the scenes are presented to him. In several ways, then, the story ties the ability to sympathize with images to the restoring of a past self to presence.

Positioning Scrooge as a reader and interpreter of cultural scenes, Dickens's story recalls Geertz's definition of culture as a system of signs to be read. But reading in A Christmas Carol includes an element of internalization—or, more precisely, what Louis Althusser calls interpellation, a process he imagines "along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other) hailing: 'Hey, you there!'" In this theoretical street scene, "the hailed individual will turn round. By this mere one-hundred-and-eighty-degree physical conversion, he becomes a subject ."[17] As Althusser maintains, the individual can respond to the policeman's hailing only if already a subject. According to this narrative, if Scrooge learns his lessons with astonishing quickness, he does so because what is represented as learning in fact demonstrates that in his heart he knows them already. Reading, for the spectator of the story's scenes, is staged as the recovery of knowledge the reader once possessed.[18]

Althusser dismisses the narrative structure of his illustration; for the sake of "convenience and clarity," he writes, he has presented in sequential form what "in reality" is not sequential (174). But Dickens's location of spectatorial desire in the speaking commodities behind the shopwindow suggests that the structure of Althusser's example has some significance for the capitalist subject. The images of Christmases Past invite Scrooge's identification and imitation, but access to their reality is blocked by their status as representation. The objects Scrooge sees in the "real" world, however—such as the Norfolk Biffins that ask to be "carried home in paper bags"—are conscious of the spectator, and they explicitly invite participation in the form of possession. Visual representation inscribes the spectator as absence or lack and, in their fullness, these images emphasize that lack. But the relation between spectator and image is reversed, as these commodities call out to the spectator to complete them.

In the scenes of Christmases Past, Scrooge's (and by implication any spectator's or reader's) relation to representation is articulated as absorption and self-loss: to supplement his lack, Scrooge desires the pres-


ence projected by the image. But the images in the window are presented as desiring the spectator, now the consumer, whose completion of the scene depends on recognizing and identifying with their desire. Indeed, the logic of Dickens's speaking commodities seems contradictory at first. When one desires the objects that "speak" to one, the speaking appears to manifest either the external world's acknowledgment of one's individuality (as if, when a commodity says, "Hey, you there!" something essential about the self is being confirmed) or a recognition that the self requires something beyond itself to become individual or complete. In fact, this narrative may be said to display the same "convenient" logic as Althusser's, demonstrating that the individual who becomes a subject already is one. But the apparent contradiction might also be said to elaborate modern capitalism's construction of a temporally diffuse, or narrativized, subject—the kind implicit in the temporal division and reconstruction of Scrooge's life. For such a subject, that is, only the moment of consumption offers an illusion of presence, giving the self that consumes the opportunity to coincide, phantasmatically, with the idealized and temporally detached self projected into the object consumed. In a never-ending narrative of self-creation and transformation, commodity culture works its effects by making its subjects feel incomplete without the objects they may purchase to complete themselves. Through the purchase of commodities, spectators become present to themselves, expressing an identification with representation and perhaps, like Scrooge, seeking the presence projected in images of a former self.[19]

The story's speaking commodities thus literalize and dramatize Scrooge's implicit relation to representation throughout the story. All the scenes Scrooge is shown "speak" to him, positioning him as spectator and as desiring subject. But unlike the other images he sees, the commodities provide him with something to do, enabling him to participate in the circulation of representations the text defines as participation in culture.[20]

By the time Scrooge gets to the third series of scenes shown to him by the spirits, he has become an accomplished reader. He knows he should seek some meaning, as well as his own image, in these scenes, and he does so with confidence.

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit should attach importance to conversations apparently so trivial; but feeling assured that they must have some hidden purpose, he set himself to consider what it was likely to be. . . . Nothing doubting that to whomsoever they applied they had some latent moral for his own improvement, he resolved to treasure up


every word he heard, and everything he saw and especially to observe the shadow of himself when it appeared. . . . He looked about in that very place for his own image. . . . (113)

But his image does not seem to be there; instead there is the shrouded body and a conversation about the profits that can rightfully be made from it, given the way the living person had profited from others. "I see,I see," says Scrooge, thinking he has absorbed the lesson. "The case of this unhappy man might be my own" (117). In a moment, however, the thankful distance implicit in the conventional Christian formula for sympathy—"there but for the grace of God"—is exposed by a too literal literary identification: the case of this unhappy man is his own. The scene projected by the spirit is now the place Scrooge doesn't want to identify. The text teaches not only the need to project the self into the consciousness of others but also the potential unpleasantness of doing so: the desire not to be in the other's place.

And that desire points toward what occupies the position of the real in this text: the images that pose an alternative to the story's scenes of cultural value. For although the story collapses the difference between reality and illusion, turning both into image, the scene of Scrooge's death (and indeed all scenes in which Scrooge appears as his present-day, undesirable self) signifies the real, pointing as it does toward the end of the narrative of Scrooge's actual life rather than toward the ideal life that will replace it. "Yet to come," like serial publication, seems to promise plenitude; Dickens's text dramatizes what Metz calls the ability of cinematic representation to construct a spectator who both identifies with an image and feels temporally distant from it—who, paradoxically identifying with his image, can only "catch up with himself at the last minute" (96). But Christmas Yet to Come projects a grim scene by contrast with the seductive images offered previous to and alongside it. Scrooge is offered the end of the series, the inevitable consequence of a life lived outside the representations presented to him and to readers as life, or as cultural life—indeed, as the identification of the two. A Christmas Carol accomplishes its interpellation of its readers, not, finally, by modeling spectatorship in the person of Scrooge but rather by identifying culture with images and scenes to be absent from which is, effectively, not to exist. Scrooge's death is a metaphor for his absence from representation; more powerfully, it is a metaphor for his absence from culture, defined as representation—as a series of images and structure of significations in relation to which, as he learns to "read" them, his own image takes on meaning. His death realizes and teaches him to


fear the absence from the world of representations he—and we—have been shown.[21]

Dickens's text doubles, by framing, the scenes the spirits project or otherwise show and cultural frames, the windows of shops and of homes. Habituating readers to frames and focusing on the already spectacular, it presents the real as a series of images that exist even in the absence of any visible picture-making technology. Moving its frames in and out of visibility, the story reproduces the logic of the relation between cultural representation and ideology, in which frames are sometimes literal—in pictures, literary texts, or movie screens—and sometimes appear as an inherent effect on objects and vision. A Christmas Carol thus provides an anatomy of the way in which, in a print culture and even more emphatically a "society of the spectacle," cultural values become manifest in—and as—a collection of images. More precisely, they become a way of seeing, in which the real is filtered through cultural frames that precede any particular manifestation of it. Making the Christmas spirit visible and presenting visibility as a threat, the story dramatizes the coerciveness inherent in a culture's ability to endow certain artifacts, persons, and activities with "presence." The conversion of Scrooge's feeling provides an analogue to the story's apparent commodifying power: while alluding to the recovery of the natural, both reveal the absence of anything outside the frames of culture.

The culture from which Scrooge has been absent is, of course, commodity culture; his failure to participate in human fellowship is signaled by his refusal of, and need to learn, a gift giving defined as the purchase and exchange of commodities.[22] The need for conversion that the text stresses and the form that Scrooge's awakening takes resemble what Thomas Haskell has described as the social discipline and character modification effected by modern capitalism, which created the cognitive conditions that made humanitarianism (in particular, the abolition of slavery) possible, conditions such as the development of conscience and the necessity of living "partly in the future," anticipating the long-term consequences of one's actions.[23] For Haskell, the conditions for humanitarianism were created by the "lessons" of the market (551).

Scrooge lacks, Marley's ghost informs him, "the spirit within him [that] should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide" (61). The awakening of this spirit promises him affective relations where he previously had none, as well as improved business prospects. Scrooge's ability to project into past and future teaches him, and is concurrent with, his ability to project himself into the consciousness of


others; both skills indicate possession of a spirit that travels far and wide—a spirit of capitalism, or capitalist sensibility.[24] The investment commodities require in this text is the same as that invited—indeed, compelled—by spectacle (and by literary identification): each attests to the possession of a dispersed self capable of being in several places at once. As the story illustrates in an exemplary fashion, the extension of self required by A Christmas Carol 's humanist ideology also characterizes the capitalist subject's relationship to representation.

Dickens's text implies further connections between capitalism and the spirit that travels far and wide, reintroducing circularity as a characteristic of capitalism's projective effects. Like women, home, and food, the poor in Dickens's text are projections or spectacles of the already spectacular; fittingly, the images most frequently cited as evidence of the story's affective power are the children displayed by the Ghost of Christmas Present, allegorical figures named Ignorance and Want. If, in Haskell's formulation, capitalism produces a spirit that travels far and wide, it also creates the distance between classes that makes such traveling necessary, incorporating distance into daily life and turning immediate surroundings into allegorical figures or projections.[25]

The story's most famous icon, Tiny Tim, figures sympathy in an economy of representation and consumption. Scrooge's macabre remark that the Cratchits' Christmas turkey is "twice the size of Tiny Tim" associates such plenitude with the object of sympathy in a manner that has become paradigmatic for A Christmas Carol itself. Producing and exemplifying the feeling that leads to the gift, Tiny Tim appropriately enough imagines himself, at one point, as sympathetic spectacle: "he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple" (94). Cratchit's family dines off the image that has become, for Dickens's text, the emblem of an inexhaustible fund of sympathetic capital.

And the name for that capital, here, is "spirit." The gift is a visible manifestation of spirit, of a reader's willingness to enter into and identity with the text's circulation of representations. Indeed, this identification helps account for the story's apparently limitless capacity for transformation. Capturing the commodity's potential for sympathy, the story constitutes itself as an endlessly sympathetic commodity, its variable surface reflecting an unchanging ability to embody readers' and spectators' desires.[26]

The marketing of A Christmas Carol extends the story's sympathetic relation to its public even further, If vision's ability to evoke presence serves as a primary way of naturalizing ideological effects in the Carol, the story's annual return may be said to perform the same function by


making specific feelings and activities, including reading or viewing the story itself, seasonal imperatives. The "Christmas book" naturalizes literary production, linking text and author to holiday and season—a season already bound up with ideas of resurrection and eternal presence.[27] With the "deaths" and rebirths of Scrooge and Tiny Tim echoing its annual return, the story associates the idea of Christian renewal with its own form of production. And in a manner that further associates natural life with textual production, Scrooge's life—its ending rewritten by the reader-spectator, who thereby becomes his life's owner and producer—displays all the malleability of the serially published text. Indeed, Scrooge's exchangeable identity, and the story's emphasis on Christmas as a time when identities become exchangeable, may have given both Dickens and Christmas new currency by revealing the fungibility of self and time implicit in both Christian conversion and modern consumer culture.

A capitalist sensibility is perhaps most evident in the story's external and internal refusals of temporality: in the identification with a time of year that ensures its annual return and in the offer to Scrooge, to its readers or viewers, and, theoretically, to the poor themselves of an endlessly repeatable cycle of failure and recovery, figured as an alienation from, and reacceptance into, an ever-forgiving culture. The reader-spectator who identifies with the Christmas spirit identifies with a culture in which that spirit will always be necessary; the self as image is a renewable self, forever holding out the possibility of a new ending. Such an interpretation depends on the idea, not that the story has no effect on the external world, but only that such an effect is never conceived as an ending; it is, rather, part of a cycle to which the story's own representation—now a part of the culture it represents—also belongs. For Dickens, the term "spirit" jokingly yet insistently signals the weakness of the boundary between the invisible and the visible—and warns of the likelihood that the former will manifest itself as the latter.[28] Thus A Christmas Carol returns annually and, more often than not, visibly, with an emphasis (and a relentlessness) it has itself projected. In the story's identification with Christmas and in the repetition this identification ensures, the "culture-text" promotes its own endlessness as well as that of the culture it has helped to create.



Reading Figures
The Legible Image of Victorian Textuality

Garrett Stewart

. . . if literature and painting are no longer held in a hierarchial reflection, one being the rear-view mirror for the other, why maintain them any longer as objects at once united and separate, in short, classed together? Why not wipe out the difference between them (purely one of substance)? Why not forgo the plurality of the "arts" in order to affirm more power fully the plurality of "texts"?
—Roland Barthes, S/Z

Victorian narrative writing often aspires to the visual, now by homage, now by competition, now and then—which is more surprising yet—by what amounts to self-congratulation. Paintings, etchings, journalistic cartoons, dioramas, theatrical spectacles, architectural facades, magic lantern displays, and so on: just as these and other nineteenth-century popular visual phenomena, including finally photography, are to be read as well as seen, so may the art and artifice of literary fiction be visualized as well as read, visualized and promoted from within a given fictional plot.

I want therefore to consider "reading figures" in the sense less of figures who read than of figures for reading. I will be concentrating, not on scenes of textual processing in Victorian fiction, but on scenes of visualization analogized as reading events. Yet I do have in mind figures in both senses, bodies as well as tropes. For the figured reading I mean to investigate deploys the legibility of the human body (that mainstay of visual art) as a metaphor for the site or conduit of textual consumption. I think here of Terry Eagleton's opening sentence in The Ideology of the Aesthetic: "Aesthetics is born as a discourse of the body," by which


he means the whole affective and sensory ensemble previously exiled from philosophy by metaphysics.[1] I get from there to my own topic by imagining the premium placed on the rendered body itself in an aesthetic enterprise called the novel, dedicated to reaching the sensorium of its audience through bodily channels beyond the optical, through what we might call visceral, neural, and erotic (as well as subvocal) recognitions.

My subject is not the aesthetics of visual imagery in Victorian narrative, then, but the poetics of Victorian narrative in visual imagery—as that poetics gets filtered through the representation of another medium's representation of human form and faculties. Ut pictura poesis is therefore not the issue here (as in pictures, so in the poetry of descriptive prose) but rather a kind of inverted ekphrasis (the verbal evocation of visual art). In the ekphrastic passages I examine, the novelist's rhetorical representation of the visual ends up, paradoxically, attempting to present, to make present, verbal reception itself—to textualize response.

To illustrate this heavily encoded state of affairs I want to begin, not with words on a page, but with bodies in space the far end of the representational spectrum. Or almost the far end. For the bodies in question are only syllables in motion to begin with. My text is the charades episode from Thackeray's Vanity Fair, with the novelist's own illustration for the chapter captioned "The Triumph of Clytemnestra." In the scene itself, a staged pantomime of the oriental "Aga" is juxtaposed with a tableau of the Egyptian god "Memnon"—each proper name being only the signifier of another signified—to generate the composite "tableau of the whole": Agamemnon, victim of Becky's dagger in her costumed role as his wife. It is not only the theater of Becky's ultimately lethal ambition that is foregrounded here—masked openly, if you will, by her playacting—but, at a more fundamental level, the very relation of narrative language to staged masquerade in this puppet theater of a novel. Even the external manager at the fair, familiar to us from the prelude "Before the Curtain," is reduplicated within the charade scene as the offstage voice of the "manager of the revels."[2] Yet underwriting all the parallels to the novel as a whole is the scene's mirroring reversal of literary language in process.[3] Here visual tableaux develop a specular rebus that must be decoded into an arbitrarily correlated verbal sequence, and hence into verbal meaning: exactly the inverse process of literary reading, where words (rather than just syllables) abut each other to induce images of the rendered world.

As might happen with any other scene in Thackeray's novel, the cha-


rades episode is augmented all but gratuitously—all but—by the author's own drawings. These include not only Becky in costume but also the later sketch for Becky's "Final Appearance as Clytemnestra" (facing page 662)—this time not a coup de théâtre but a looming coup de grâce. In the novel whose serial publication was subtitled "Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society," the metaphor has become literalized in a pictorial composition that exceeds plot by imaging what has never been worded by the storyline in the first place: a more than metaphoric but less than narrative tableau of Becky's fatal influence upon Joseph Sedley. The plate thereby completes Thackeray's own closural charade of murderous violence, never spelled out in so many words . From this late vantage, the original charades may now seem to play a little differently. The interpretive parlor game of piecing together a semiotic continuum out of the discretely visualized unit in that textual scene of scenes does in one sense genuinely rehearse rather than invert the hermeneutic procedures of the novel as a whole, with its own separate but cumulative scenic increments and their unrendered inference. So, too, bodies textualized—incarnate heroes like Agamemnon converted to mere syllables—embody the textuality of all fictional personae. This is a textuality to which our reading itself like the climactic illustration of Becky, is always in some sense supplemental: a reading in .

From Thackeray's elusive play between bodies and the words that figure them, we may turn to a case of bodily representation that strives to capture the palpable impact, rather than mere inference, of words themselves. In Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray, portraiture comes to signify a kind of narrative writing in engaged receipt: a reading effect. It is in this sense that Wilde's novel defies its hasty dismissal by Françoise Meltzer in Salomé and the Dance of Writing —with its subtitle "Portraits of Mimesis in Literature"—on the grounds that the ekphrastic dimension of the novel (again, the verbal rendering of a visual artifact) is "too contrived to be convincingly unsettling."[4] For what it unsettles are precisely the formal delineations—between painting and writing—on which it would seem to depend. Under scrutiny, the culminating moment of the painting takes shape as a very deliberate illustration of the renowned dictum in Wilde's subsequently drafted preface to the novel: that "It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors"—the audience, in this case, as reader.[5] Just short of this, at the level of textual cross-references between canvas and page, a clear link is forged between the picture The Picture when Dorian's "background" (21, 33) is to be filled in, not by paint but by narrative, with the tragic tale of his


mother. The portrait is similarly textualized when it is later figured as a "diary," a journal of wasting days, in which Basil Hallward will "not have to read long" (120).

To see how the novel plays out this metaphor we must return to the final strokes of the inaugural portrait session after reading through the story's exaggerated textual allegory. Schematically, the persistence of the artifact (the painting as text) leads to the death of the artist, Basil Hallward, by the same weapon (knife—or it might as well have been brush) that will eventually annihilate the subject of the painting, Dorian himself. This happens when, moving to deface the image, he instead obliterates his own bodily reality and decomposes before our eyes. Fulfilled thereby is the reciprocal evacuation of inscribed and inscribing subjects. Such a tandem death of author and referent, painter and painted, leaves only the mediating third term. Such a death must therefore be tracked back to the moment in which the painting comes to final bloom in, and as a virtual scene of, reading, of textual power in reception.

Lord Henry's headlong sermon on hedonism to the dashing young man he has just met, one of his lubricious literary pastiches, bombards Dorian as he stands for the painting, until—whipped up by "Words! Mere words! How terrible they were"' (21)—Dorian wants to suspend the very portrait session that his reaction has at this exact moment brought to an unexpected finish. Improbably enough, too, it is as if Basil the artist, avowedly lost in concentration, has not been present to the stream of Lord Henry's verbal insinuation, for he announces, "I don't know what Harry has been saying to you, but he has certainly made you have the most wonderful expression" (21). Dorian might as well have been reading silently to himself. For the painter it is "just the effect I wanted,—the half-parted lips, and the bright look in the eyes" (88). Here is the quintessential image (in life and in classic portraiture: Rembrandt's Youth Reading, Frans Hals's Reading Boy ) of an impressionable subject in the intoxicated encounter with a private flow of written language: the very picture, that is, of the body's reading (every bit as much as listening to words, mere words. Here, in short, is the late—Victorian novel figuring in pigment the instigations of its own language—and doing so while eliding authorial intent and referential presence (the deaths of Basil and Dorian) from both the plane of representation and the scene of effect. Our heady response to Wilde's Picture is thus on preview in the glossed disposition of response to worded sensualities that the title canvas already depicts. It is a depiction that therefore in every sense draws us in .

In the four decades between Vanity Fair and The Picture of Dorian


Gray, however, even the straightforward possibilities of ekphrastic description (not "word painting" but the wording of another medium's effects) have been expanded by the proliferation of a whole new representational form. Among the things novelistic realism is likely to include in the second half of the nineteenth century is a new mode of mimesis itself. Let us grant that in Vanity Fair and Dorian Gray, respectively, the visual or plastic arts of theatrical masquerade and oil painting, tableau and portraiture—in their conversion of the human body to legible image of narrative legibility on the one hand, of literary affect on the other—are able to condense the impact of prose fiction upon an audience (the novel becoming thereby an advertisement for itself rather than for its sister arts). What, then, about the new visual mode of photographic representation in the latter half of the Victorian century? How is the practice of photography—with its mechanical and photochemical, its primarily automated, relation to the world it indexes—assimilated in Victorian fiction as a metaphor for literary textuality?

Nathaniel Hawthorne was the first major mid-century writer to place photography at the center of his own literary mimesis in The House of the Seven Gables (1851). He did so by way of a character named (of all things) Holgrave who, beginning his career as a mesmerist, takes up photography on his way to apprenticing himself—still without having to do anything much in the way of retooling—as none other than a novelist. Oscar Wilde's inferences about photography are far less direct. Yet if we take a few steps back from Wilde's Picture, we can also catch that novel in this different historical light. In overreaching the limits of traditional pictorial representation, Wilde's conceit of the self-disfiguring portrait has seized upon, even in yanking it awry, a certain logic of the nineteenth century's newest representational medium.

Before the advent of photography, a "person" may have felt her "essence" to be distinguishable from her living image without being separable from it. Photography widened this difference to a rift. It has recently been suggested by Jane Gaines that Wilde's novel is a fable of such things, of photographic disembodiment. Commenting on the novel in passing while pursuing her immediate argument about Wilde's copyright battles in America over the republication of a famous photographic image, Gaines remarks of The Picture of Dorian Gray: "The live model . . . becomes the photographic 'work' fixed in time while the representational image hanging on the wall becomes the living being," a "lifelike" resemblance.[6] Though tempting, this may not seem to comport well with what Wilde himself insists about art's mirroring function, a function that takes as model, not the living subject, but the specta-


tor. Yet such a photographic analogy—for Dorian's caught and held youth—does not disable us from exploring this most arresting function of aesthetic semblance. The analogy, in fact, evokes a primitive paranoia that it resists only by turning inside out.

Photography, we might say, does not steal the soul (as in folk mythology and the beliefs of certain non-Western cultures) but rather isolates the body from it more fully than ever before. What is left hehind by this objectification of the body by the camera's objectif (lens) is precisely a subjectivity . This seems more to Wilde's point. The visible rot of Dorian's picture, as instantaneous in its increments as if it were itself photographically recorded stage by stage, is in fact based on no visible origin or model. What it (re)presents exists only somewhere invisibly, in him who reads it. We may think of it this way: Dorian's body is lifted out of narrative, his portrait shackled to it. Yet here again the painting's "lifelike" temporality is a semblance or mirror "not of life, but of the spectator," not of the body's biodegradable course of aging but of the spirit's horror at this and other degradations. In the career of Dorian's narcissism, voluptuary self-regard has turned sadomasochistic. For the reader as spectator, the rendered degeneration is equally riveting and monitory.

How another nineteenth-century experiment in fantastic narrative, one closer to the disruptive advent of photography and more explicitly concerned with the new medium's relation to temporality (hence narrativity), might handle such matters differently, we are actually in a position to know. I refer to an obscure story that appeared anonymously in the Photographic Art-Journal of 1862, just a few years after Hawthorne triangulated the black magic of mesmerism, photography, and novelmaking in The House of the Seven Gables.[7] "The Magnetic Daguerreotypes" recounts a new method of automatic representation, "superior to the cold, ghastly, shadowy immobility of the mere daguerreotype" (355)—a "living portrait" (355) recorded not by the impression of light but by "electro-galvanic, or more correctly speaking, magnetic" (354) imprint on a steel plate. The resulting "perfect mirror" (353)—in virtually telepathic touch with the original—thus changes with the changes of its subject. Trouble soon develops. The protagonist realizes that the scientist who took two impressions each of both his beloved and himself by retaining one set would be able to see them, the originals, wherever they went, especially in "our most rapturous moments, our most secret delight, our—" (356). Total surveillance thus accompanies a portrait whose self-narrating dimension renders a textual analogy all but inevitable in the story itself For such a perfect mirror of the sitter allows that subject forever after to be "read . . . as in an open book" (355). To a


more loosely gothic, rather than strictly science-fiction, version of a similar premise Wilde will add the extra twist that the transmogrifying portrait, like all art, serves after all to track the vicissitudes of the spectator's own inner reactions rather than the rendered subject's: those of Dorian as self-scrutinizing consciousness rather than of Dorian as once (and still) lovely young man.

The ingeniously paranoid notion of galvanic rather than photochemical traces re-creating an image, and hence opening an extrasensory inroad to time passing, is therefore not at all unlike what Dorian's portrait conjures up. Dorian's belated death only confirms the abiding trope: that a mirroring action going forward independent of the original subject of duplication is itself a mode of death, of ghostly perpetuation. But the magnetic plates offer up something more in the line of the strictly technological uncanny. The separation of corporealized word and bodily image in Thackeray's charades, even as part of their indissoluble narrative fusion, becomes in the far-flung case of galvanic temporality a narrativization of the body itself. From the impersonated figure in theatrical space (Thackeray) through the rendered rather than substituted body on a canvas (Wilde) to the index of the body in a photograph (with its image of a three-dimensional space): this sequence marks an apparent dematerialization of the body From flesh through pigment to imprinted light. But when that light also seems to change with the changes of the model, galvanic photography has recaptured, if almost by parody, a virtually theatrical embodiment of the subject in the limited materiality of two dimensions: like an illustrated novel whose illustrated characters might themselves be imagined to advance the plot on their own two legs.

Far short of this, the analogy between photographic representation and narrative textuality is often deeply ingrained in Victorian narrative, where its cultural pervasiveness may be measured by how easily it can be marginalized within a given text. At the opening of Great Expectations, since Pip's parents have died "long before the days of photography," the boy must resort to a false reading of their features from the incised lines on their tombstone, even as Dickensian mimesis at large quite successfully outdoes the photographic by giving us moving images of characters read into being from mere inscriptions, page after page.[8] In 1861, the year Great Expectations was published, Charles Reade mounts a spectacular anachronism in his fifteenth-century historical saga, The Cloister and the Hearth, euphemizing the treatment of a bawdy chambermaid in his pseudo-documentary tale as follows: "Yet shall she not be photographed by me, but feebly indicated," for she "said things without


winking which no decent man of our day would say even among men."[9] A year later, Mary Elizabeth Braddon in Lady Audley's Secret interposes photography as a cognitive trope between reality and its full-scale aesthetic transformation—a documentary or evidentiary stage between phenomena and their representation in pictorial art: "If Mr. Holman Hunt could have peeped into the pretty boudoir, I think the picture would have been photographed upon his brain to be reproduced by-and-by upon a bishop's half-length [a kind of canvas] for the glorification of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood."[10] At which point, all that photography might have done on the way to such painting, the prose of the passage now seeks to produce.

Photography offers the figure of perceptual and documentary mediation in at least two other, later, Victorian texts that involve the body as the figured site of legibility and hence, ultimately, of persuasive affect. The first is a little-known short novel from 1888 by H. Rider Haggard entitled Mr. Meeson's Will, the second probably the best selling novel of the nineteenth-century, George du Maurier's Trilby six years later. The unfamiliarity of the former story necessitates a plot summary; the anything but obscure thematics of its loaded plot turn that summary to conceptual schema on the spot.

Augusta Smithers is a frustrated best-selling first author, financially cheated by her contractual obligations to the huge Birmingham firm of Meeson's. A series of improbable events precipitates her into love with the proprietor's son—and precipitates her and the father overboard together in the subsequent shipwreck of a passenger liner. Washed to a forlorn shore with him and a few other survivors, Augusta arrives at the moral dilemma of the novel: whether to sacrifice herself, out of love for her fiancé, to allow the dying and now repentent father to write a last will that would reverse his recent disinheriting of the young man. The difficulty is that in the absence of all normal writing materials, the amended will can only be inscribed on her neck and shoulders by a sailor, one Bill Jones, willing to undertake the tattooing assignment. If she had wanted, for instance, "a fancy pictur of your young man, I might manage it on your arm," but for a "doccyment" of the sort in question "one wants space."[11] Instead of indulging herself with an erotic fetish, then, she must in her own person become a legal one.

Augusta of course stalwartly submits to the painful inscription (Fig. 95). She then delivers the signature and dictates of paternal intention into a court of law, where the very admissibility of her text, of herself as text—still sight unseen—is ponderously debated, only to be read into evidence at last in an eroticized spectacle of disclosure that saves the day


and helps unite her with her lover (Fig. 96). This resulting union with her fiancé is witnessed by his embrace of the heroine's body, marked as it is by the material index, the wound, of familial sanction and continuity. From financially abused writer to painfully inscribed text: such is the heroine's sacrificial decline. If woman in the standard Victorian marriage plot may at any point operate merely as signifier of patriarchal intentionality, sign and prize of a hero's coming into his majority, here the fiancée—as corporeal text of the would-be father-in-law's will—is a reductio ad absurdum of that signifying function. In a nightmare contortion of female expressivity, the heroine, once having written to be read, achieves the deserved financial reward of her popular success only after being read in her own person at last.

And read not just by the staring court. For, in her own readable figure, Augusta Smithers becomes the novel's title figure.[12] She stands before us as Mr. Meeson's Will incarnate, heroine of the illustrated novel that the Victorian reader here sees—and I choose the dead metaphor advisedly—to completion. Then, too, the juridical logic implied by this climactic courtroom scene of actionable decipherment cagily doubles for the interpretive signals of a more familiar novelistic rhetoric. The judge, that is, speaking with the dubiousness of a critical reader, nonetheless succumbs to credulity with the ultimate cliché of documentary verification in those exotic late-Victorian thrillers of which Haggard is to become the best-selling master: "The whole tale is undoubtedly of a wild and romantic order, and once again illustrates the saying that 'truth is stranger than fiction'" (262).

In all this, the levels of implication emerge in a form that verges on a fourfold allegory: biological, erotic, generic, and finally textual. The woman's body is always in one sense the conduit for patriarchal succession. So much, first, for woman as wife: potential gestational vessel awaiting the biological imprint of the male will. Second, erotically, the woman's body is immediately reinscribed into just that masculine line of succession as object of desire and exchange. Third, generically, the fetishized female form is the very figure for the spectacle either of family melodrama or of exotic romance, what Barthes calls the "striptease" of narrative disclosure itself. It is only at the fourth—the textual—level that we come around to the promised photographic moment that the reader may have thought this paper was losing sight of.

No, it is the story itself that seems to forget its own photographic twist. For nothing is mentioned during the final courtroom disrobing about a transitional bit of prudent jurisprudence by which the legality of the woman as text can be ratified. The intermediate chapter is called


"How Augusta Is Filed" and narrates the brainstorm by which the Court Registrar hits on "something better than a certified copy of the will," namely "a photographic copy" (213). After the appointed photographer "took two or three shots at her back," he promised "that he would bring a life-sized reproduction to be filed in the Registry in a couple of days" (215–16). The much-reduced novelistic illustrations are of course all we actually see, except as we visualize the life-size Augusta in court, the former novelist as text, embodying her own testamentary declaration. In sum, between the woman as readable writer at the start of the novel and the female body as legible text in the climactic trial by evidentiary ordeal, what has intervened is the photographic equivalent of literary textuality: the character-as print phenomenon, a textual figuration to be archived (or elsewhere marketed) and read upon demand.

In that climactic courtroom illustration, the magnifying glass in the judge's hands is the ultimate tease. Reaching for one of our own, in order to make out the writing that was so clear in the earlier etching (the "I leave all" of the tattooing-in-progress), we find what we might have suspected: that the full and decisive text is mere indecipherable hatchings (see enlargement, Fig. 97). What is legibly incised there is only the woman's body itself, not the signifiers it is supposed to carry. That body is what we are all there, and all we are there, to read.

The default of an illustration's photo/graphic verisimilitude is an irony that plays differently in Trilby . It is as if du Maurier's novel has set out to exploit the three-way linkage introduced half a century earlier by Hawthorne between photography, narrative mimesis, and the dynamics of mesmerism. In the process, Trilby also capitalizes on a late-Victorian tendency in the reading of gothics (and what is Augusta Smithers herself, scarred by patriarchy, but a variation on the gothic prototype of the trapped and tortured female victim?), a tendency that I have come to call the gothic of reading.[13] This is the solicitation of response whereby narrative perversity contaminates aesthetic fascination, whereby in extreme forms plotted monstrosity becomes an image of generic perversity. Such "horrification" of the reader's own libidinal investment unnerves narrative pleasure, exposing it as participatory, collusive, and prurient, not to mention preternatural.

In this context the machinations of photography as mimetic epitome, estranging enough in their own right, often take on the associations of black magic. Concerning this very period, Joss Marsh has shown how the photographic phenomenon is often linked to supernatural manifestations in the popular fiction of the day, to ectoplasmic materializations ghostly doubles, and the like.[14] My own point here is that photography


is linked as well both to the mimetic process and to the rhetorical power involved in the fictional treatment of such manifestations. Stoker's Dracula, for instance, gets his first view of England in a composite set of real-estate photographs of the mansion he plans to buy, taken with Jonathan Harker's trusty Kodak (trademark actually given) and providing the count with the mediated documentary access to a distant place that is refigured by his own telepathic powers as the plot unfolds.[15] All is in turn transcribed for us in that series of piecemeal verbal documents that compose the novel—the novel, in this context of telepathic coercion, as nothing less than a corrective medium . And there is Haggard's She a decade before, whose heroine (her name always italicized as if She were the novel itself) numbers among her immemorial powers the ability to project the mental images generated by her gaping audience onto a magic vessel of water—in the text's transitive phrase, to "photograph" their thoughts "upon" its luminous surface in a "glorified and perfected telepathy."[16] What, we might ask, is a generic potboiler like She ever doing except reading the unconscious mind of its mass audience?

In Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it is a signal point about the demonic Mr. Hyde that, as the lawyer Utterson deeply regrets, he has "never been photographed."[17] Aside from meeting Hyde in the flesh, Utterson's ultimate reading of Jekyll's manuscript sums up the prevailing way in which Hyde has been pictured: as a phantasm of language, Jekyll's obsession with him doubling for our own readerly enslavement . This last term is, after all, the very one that unites Jekyll in his thralldom to Hyde ("I fell in slavery" [85]) to Utterson's preoccupation with hearing and finally reading about it ("his imagination was engaged, or rather enslaved" [37]). There is less difference than we might think between the two conditions, For what is repeatedly stressed as the vicariousness of Jekyll's depravity via Hyde enforces finally the projective logic of Hyde's materialization, to others and to us, as story . Again, the gothic of reading: operating by a macabre logic of dispossession and inhabitation that remains preternatural, parasitic, a shade vampirical.

Suffice it here for du Maurier's Trilby to put some brief seal on a generalization to which the previous evidence would seem to lead: So strong is the Victorian novel's tendency to reflect upon the status of its own presentation and effect that the narrative embedding of other representational forms gets openly subordinated to the host text, to that system of arbitrary signification whose channels of response are known as reading rather than looking. Within this system, the read figure of the typographically rendered and only incidentally pictured body may stand in both for the material legibility of text itself, as in Thackeray and


Haggard, and, as even more obviously in Wilde and (so we are about to find) du Maurier, for literary language's own unsettling affect in consumption.

Toward the end of du Maurier's Trilby, its title figure, former satellite in the orbit of the maestro Svengali's hypnotic power—a female vessel whose tone-deaf singing was transformed under his sway so that she became the toast of the Continent—is slowly wasting away on her death bed, her mind distracted now only by reading, when a package of mysterious origin and contents arrives on the carefully prepared scene. The reader knows by now that the delivered parcel has invaded the space, not just of dying, but of the whole panoply of death's specifically aesthetic anodynes and preparations in the Victorian era. For just before the package arrives, Trilby has been listening to the reading aloud of various improving Christian tracts and sentimental novels, from The Pilgrim's Progress through David Copperfield . "But best of all was for Trilby to look over John Leech's Pictures of Life and Character, just out," a visual as well as verbal rendering of the world she is about to leave.[18] Into the dramatized place—the prescribed domestic space—of the familiar reading habits of Victorian culture, then, the mysterious package is delivered: "At Trilby's request [it] was opened, and found to Contain a large photograph, framed and glazed, of Svengali, . . . looking straight out of the picture, straight at you" (430). ("Straight at you"?—or is it "straight at you "?)

This confrontation with a photograph of the dead hypnotist while still alive is accompanied, as in Thackeray rather than Haggard, by an illustration from the author's own pen—but one that, unlike the photograph, with its emphasized potency, holds no particular spell (Fig. 98). The beautiful Trilby had begun her Parisian career as an artist's model, and so du Maurier's drawings of her might seem to borrow authority from her relation to pictorial representation. This relation does not elevate the writer's own drawings to art so much as position his protagonist on a spectrum ranging from pictorial prototype (in the artists' garrets) to recipient of a picture (Svengali's photograph). As once seen in representation, so she now sees. Reading, of course, is the name for our access to both events. In fact, the inadequacy of the plate that repictures the fateful photograph throws us back on the narrative itself for a closer approximation to the image's posthumous charge. Toward this end as well, the photograph is immediately associated with, even as it displaces, the comforting or distracting literary texts it has come among, for "Trilby laid it against her legs as on a lectern, and lay gazing at it with close attention for a long time" (432; emphasis added). Her body, thus


imaged, is ready to receive the image of his. And reading is what these legible bodies, his to her and both to us, are convened to figure in their mesmeric bond.

Such figuration extends to the narrowest crannies of grammar in the rhetorical torque of that curiously idiomatic phrase "looking straight at you" as it surfaces in the omniscient narrative—with no hint of an indirect discourse that would naturalize it as the thought of the heroine. This passing twist on the familiar direct address of Victorian fiction plays upon the shifting differential between grammatical and specular object, since the phrase invokes a second "person" nowhere present in the scene, but only present to its representation—namely, the reader. Reduplicating the photograph's effect on Trilby, whose body offers its "lectern" and its target at once, this imaged look, even as verbally imaged, is meant to take in "you," the novel's own reader, at the very moment when you, in taking it in, get taken up and over by it. Such is the grammatical (as well as psychophysiological) mystification of du Maurier's storytelling.

This alignment of hypnotic powers undimmed by the medium of representation with the rhetorical grip of narrative language itself may also entail a further parallel between what Svengali does to and with Trilby as human medium and what the text does in addressing us in its own linguistic rather than vocal medium. This further link may occur to the reader, precisely in reading, when the text goes on to stress that in her rapturous swan song, incited by the photograph, Trilby "hardly seemed to breathe as the notes came pouring out . . . as if breath were unnecessary for so little voice as she was using, though there was enough of it to fill the room—to fill the house" (433), that last word a retrospective play on theatrical house as well as residential space. Trilby's almost unbodied articulation may be taken as the paradox of silent, breathless, unvoiced reading transposed into melody. By such a subtly enmeshed textual and musical logic, the musculature of enunciation fills the ambient space (as in reading) with a voice that seems less generated from within than (again as in reading) dictated from the prompting two-dimensional text in front of her, in front of "you."

Moreover, such correlative logic brings home a yet deeper analogy in the passage between photogenesis and rhetoric, visual and verbal materialization. As with Trilby, so with the reader, whose passive reserves of language are only activated as structured formal pattern, in this case as vivid melodramatic narrative, by the manipulative and shaping power of a discourse received from the surface of a two-dimensional representation (opened upon a lap, a table, a "lectern" perhaps) and internalized


in the process as one's own enunciative production. First, Svengali must be textualized within, as well as by, plot—in the only way possible to retain and transmit the partly optical, hence partly visual, source of his mesmeric power—textualized, in other words, by photography. It is then that this described image holding the makeshift place of an opened text (Trilby's body as lectern), and doubled by the actual drawing from the pen of the same author, can be activated as a full rehearsal of the novel's own hold on the reader.

This, too, the illustrative plate serves to illustrate by the precise place of its insertion on the page. For the pictorial image of Svengali is embedded in the ongoing printed narrative as a half-disruptive, half-continuous sector of the textual surface. As the immediately adjacent type is compressed into a column, its indented justification delineates a parallel with the vertical pole of the music stand just visible at the far right of the etching, angled away from Svengali toward an unseen performer at exactly the point of the image's truncation by the encroaching space of print. Typeset narration hereby displaces any sheet music on this podium as the only visible text for the maestro's captivating raised baton—raised for the reader in this sense now, rather than for Trilby.

A brief point of contrast offers itself from a turn-of-the-century fiction. How such a photographic image as that in Trilby operates by doubling the capacity of narrative itself to perpetuate character as affect can be seen by comparison with the alternative deployment of a photograph in what we might term a postgothic fiction, an explicit "horror" story brooded to conclusion in an exacerbated textual density that is often taken to mark the onset of literary high modernism in the British prose canon. In the denouement of Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899), the disingenuous lifelikeness of photography, its transparency of representation, is set in summarizing opposition to—rather than in condensed rehearsal of (as in du Maurier)—the now vexed referentiality of mere words. Bringing back to Europe, as a souvenir of Kurtz, a photograph of his "Intended," Marlow allows his inveterate fetishizing of feminine idealism to be displaced onto the photochemical authenticity of a single icon, a luminous image pitted against the murk of ambiguity that burdens (and of course justifies) the rest of the story. Though Marlow is not ready to admit it, the photograph can scarcely hold its own against narrated encounters transcribed, as it were, in darkness. Its very description undergoes considerable reduction after the novel's serial publication, to become by the 1902 edition (and thereafter) "I know that the sunlight can be made to lie, too, yet one felt that no manipulation of light and pose could have conveyed the delicate shade of truthfulness


upon those features." Here even "shade" as synonym for something like "hue" beclouds the photograph in the very moment when its collateral veracity of form and content is celebrated.[19] In this tale, whose ultimate effect is figured early on as that of an indistinct aureole or "haze" (5), diffusive and opaque like Conrad's own diction, the automated lucidity of photographic inscription in light thus bears a skewed, rather than reduplicative, relation to the text's abiding logic of representation.

As against this highlighted photographic discrepancy in Conrad, the mechanical image of Svengali produces no ironic disjunction in relation to the novel that precedes it—at least until the photograph is repictured in ink. J. Hillis Miller, pressing for an equivalent rhetorical understanding of both visual and verbal images in his examination of the nineteenth-century illustrated novel (concentrating primarily on Dickens, and with no reference to du Maurier), has occasion to paraphrase Mallarmé's anxieties about illustrated literature. Miller's version of Mallarmé closely approximates the fear that ends up being discharged rather than harbored by the rhetorical tour de force of du Maurier's double textuality: "The words on the page . . . make present in the spirit something otherwise absent. If that power is distracted, drawn off in a detour, diverted into an illustration, . . . it will not operate where it ought, . . . will pass into the picture and be present there." The result? "The text will be impotent to work its magic effect of evocation on the mind of the reader, calling forth spirits within it."[20] My own way of paraphrasing this fear of representational competition would be to suggest that the gothicism of psychic co-optation by language runs the risk of being blocked, its "spirits" unevoked, if the pictorial is allowed to get the upper hand.

Despite his own early debts to Georges Poulet, Miller makes no mention here of his work on the "phenomenology" of reading that might be curtailed in this way by graphic distraction.[21] Yet one may well think of du Maurier's telepathic climax (as well as of Mallarmé's anxiety) in considering Poulet's claims for the delegation of subjectivity induced by the reading act. "I am the subject of thoughts other than my own" (56), a process equivalent to spiritual "dispossession," or in other words to usurpation by a "second self" (57). It is precisely this literary sorcery that Mallarmé finds so vulnerable to deflection by the pictorial. Not so in Trilby, of course. This very danger is forestalled by du Maurier's hybrid page, since the rhetorical force of both printed words and printed image (and of the latter, the drawing, as itself an image of a photograph) is neither to deploy nor simply to display the separate persuasiveness of their media. Instead, the supplemental plate comments by prearranged


analogy on the rhetoric of fiction itself, comments on the way in which the avid literary encounter is always occupied not only with but by the psychic apparatus of the other.

A common denominator here emerges within the apparent contrast between du Maurier and Haggard in their figural deployment of the impressed female body in relation to the affective charge of reading. Such is the fluidity of the feminine as trope in the Victorian poetics of male writers, or, let us say, its suspect availability, that it can be recruited to encode both allure and impressionability by turns, the tantalizing accessibility of a text or the reader's permeability to it . (You know how it goes: there is something at least a little feminine about the appeal of stories; there is something at least a little feminine about reading stories.) If, in Mr. Meeson's Will, textual unfolding is feminized to figure the reader's subjective, quasi-erotic fascination with narrative's always titillating procedures, in Trilby the textual recipient is feminized into aggravated passivity to figure narrative's indomitable power over what we are led to think of as the subjected reader.

The photograph of Svengali thus emerges, emerges in regress so to speak, as a reflection of and upon narrative art's hallucinatory aura. The Victorian novel's entire rhetoric of addressed fiction—the strategic hailing of a captive second-person audience—is replayed here, all but parodied, in the mere representation that draws us into it, galvanizes us, and conscripts our own engaged silent voicing of the text—as matched within the scene by Trilby's sudden involuntary vocalizations. By contrast with the monolithic and de-eroticized purity of Marlow's fixed image of woman in the Intended's photograph, du Maurier's textual portrayal of a photographic portrait can be seen as an internal rehearsal of the novel as reading act; at the narrative climax of the tale, the thrall of the photograph resumes the power of narrative in two senses, renews and reviews it, propels it while offering its résumé, its epitomizing reinscription. It is here, in a mirroring duplication hinged about a pivotal narrative moment, that we come upon the late-Victorian representation of hypnosis as the encoded hypnosis of novelistic representation: the gothic of reading, by any other name.

But there is another way to think of, as well as to put, this. So let me float in closing a final hypothesis. I do so in order to address once more, and from yet another angle, my sponsoring questions: how and why the elevation to prominence of pictorial art and technology in the descriptive system of nineteenth-century fiction—with all the burden of derivative visualization this entails—can possibly be unloaded onto the promotion of textuality itself, in particular of writing as read (as of


course it is, by a different route, in Conrad as well). The hypothesis is this: Since photography replaces painting as a touchstone of representational vividness just as high realism in the novel begins mutating into the late-Victorian gothic revival, the mutation can perhaps be understood in part as a way of ceding to photography its privileged mimesis (itself already rendered deceptive by the time of Conrad) without abdicating anything of the novel's impact.

Thus, it may well be that in such late-Victorian fictions of fictional force in disguise—a force less representational than preternatural—we encounter a revealing turn toward modernism's self-confident textual autonomy, where the representational program will be further attenuated by an insistence on the graphic and phonic materiality of language itself. Even in the fin de siècle texts of textual seduction, however, the novel seems only vestigially attached to the venerable tradition of literature's visual analogues. That fictional images derive their often eerie power from the merely legible language inducing us to conjure them is a fact owned up to, so as not to be thought suppressed, by the self-staged gothic of reading. On the brink of literary modernism, the figural stands acknowledged as the strictly figurative. Novelistic illustrations aside, always at least to one side, what you see is what you beget. Never more than with the eroticized and subservient body of the victimized gothic heroine, this is the true guiltiness of reading's pleasure—and the deepest reflex action of its textuality.



Fig. 95.
Mr. Meeson's will in execution (tattooing scene), from H. Rider Haggard,
Mr. Meeson's Will,  1888.



Fig. 96.
Courtroom disrobing, from H. Rider Haggard,  Mr. Meeson's Will,  1888.



Fig. 97.
Detail of Fig. 96.



Fig. 98.
Page from George du Maurier,  Trilby  (including
drawing of Svengali's photographic portrait), 1894.




1. Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990).

2. John Ruskin, Modern Painters, in The Works of John Ruskin, ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (London: George Allen, 1904-12), 3:4.16.28.

3. Thomas Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, in The Works of Thomas Carlyle (New York: Scribner, 1899-1901), 1:104.

4. John Stuart Mill, "Tennyson's Poems," in Literary Essays, ed. Edward Alexander (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967), 105.

5. "On Some of the Characteristics of Modern Poetry and on the Lyrical Poems of Alfred Tennyson," in The Writings of Arthur Hallam, ed. T. H. Vail Motter (New York: MLA, 1943), 186-87.

6. In Henry James, "The Art of Fiction," in Literary Criticism (New York: Library of America, 1984), 53.

7. George Eliot, Adam Bede (Boston: Houghton Mufflin, 1968), 152 (chapter 27).

8. Thomas Hardy, as quoted in Ian Gregor, introduction to The Woodlanders (London: Penguin, 1981), 13.

9. Sec Crary, 3-19, for an account of the two arguments based in art history and the history of technology. Similar arguments can be made about literary history.

10. (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 1983.

11. Some sample titles are Richard Altick, Paintings From Books: Art and Literature in Britain, 1760-1900 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1985); Ann Bermingham, Landscape and Ideology: The English Rustic Tradition, 1740-1860 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986); Rhoda L. Flaxman, Victorian Word Painting and Narrative: Toward the Blending of Genres (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1987); Peter Galassi, Before Photography: Painting and the Invention of Photography (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1981); Michael Irwin, Picturing: Description and Illusion in the Nineteenth-Century Novel (London: Allen and Unwin, 1979); George Landow, William Holman Hunt and Typological Symbolism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979); Richard L. Stein, The Ritual of Interpretation: The Fine Arts as Literature in Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pater (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975); Herbert Sussman, Fact and Fiction: Typology in Carlyle, Ruskin, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1979).

12. Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1981); Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1979); Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, rev, edition (Detroit: Black and Red, 1977).

13. Roland Barthes, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (London: Jonathan Cape, 1972); Image—Music—Text, trans. Stephen Heath (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977); Camera Lucida, trans. Stephen Heath (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981).

14. Martin Jay, "Scopic Regimes of Modernity," in Vision and Visuality, ed. Hal Foster (Seattle: Bay Press, 1988). This volume also contains relevant essays by Jonathan Crary, Rosalind Krauss, Norman Bryson, and Jacqueline Rose.

15. See especially Svetlana Alpers, The Art Of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985); Mieke Bal, Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Norman Bryson, Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Régime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), Vision and Painting: The Logic of the Gaze (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), and Tradition and Desire: From David to Delacroix (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984); Michael Fried, Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980), and Realism, Writing, Disfiguration: On Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). In her first chapter, Ba] provides a useful summary of recent work and of central methodological issues in the field of word-and-image studies.

16. See, in particular, W. T. J. Mitchell, Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), which analyzes various theoretical answers to the questions what is an image and what is the difference between images and words; and Murray Krieger, Ekphrasis: The Illusion of the Natural Sign (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), which argues that the ekphrastic impulse in literary theory is companion to the semiotic desire for the natural sign. For a more distinctly post-structuralist approach to the relationship between word and image, see Françoise Meltzer, Salomé and the Dance of Writing: Portraits of Mimesis in Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987); and J. Hillis Miller, Illustration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992).

17. George Eliot, Middlemarch (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956), 194-95 (chapter 27).

18. Walter Pater, The Renaissance (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980), 186-87.

19. Alexander Welsh, Strong Representations: Narrative and Circumstantial Evidence in England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), ix.

Were They Having Fun Yet? Victorian Optical Gadgetry, Modernist Selves

I owe special thanks to Betsy Wirth, slide librarian at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, for gracious and generous help with this project, and to Richard Balzer, whose privately printed catalogue of photographs of items from his private collection of optical gadgets and toys, Optical Amusements: Magic Lanterns and Other Transforming Images (Watertown, Massachusetts, 1987), first introduced me to some of the magical optical toys discussed in this essay.

1. Dombey and Son, p. 34. This and other references to Dickens's novels are to volumes in the Oxford Illustrated Edition. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

2. Jonathan Crary, "Modernizing Vision," in Vision and Visuality, ed. Hal Foster, Dia Art Foundation Discussions in Contemporary Culture, vol. 2. (Seattle: Bay Press, 1988), 34-35.

3. A staple in the discourse of recent art history, the word visuality does not refer either just to the visual or to the physiological characteristics of vision. To use the word visuality rather than the word vision is to signal an attempt to problematize the act of seeing and to turn into a field of inquiry such issues as how human beings construct and then construe both their seeing and their being seen and, in particular, the ways in which artists take as their subject the nature of seeing itself.

4. Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), 163.

5. Richard Altick, in The Shows of London (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), notes that phantasmagorias opened in London as early as late 1801 or early 1802 and remained popular there for the next two decades (217-18). In Movement in Two Dimensions: A Study of the Animated and Projected Pictures Which Preceded the Invention of Cinematography (London: Hutchinson, 1963), Olive Cook suggests that slides like those described here were extremely popular from 1820 to 1895 (20, 88ff.).

6. In her "Phantasmagoria: Spectral Technology and the Metaphorics of Modern Reverie," Critical Inquiry 15, no. 1 (1988): 26-65, Terry Castle suggests that the phantasmagoria had been invented at precisely the moment in Western history when actual belief in ghosts was giving way to scientific rationalism. By the early nineteenth century, ghosts and specters came to be seen, not as "out there," but as "in here,'' in the mind, Walter Cooper Denby's Philosophy of Mystery (1841) proclaiming "only a difference in degree'' between an idea and a phantom (57). In the "Natural Supernaturalism" section of Sartor Resartus Carlyle refers to the very Cock Lane ghost that Castle suggests had faded from popular belief by the 1760s, insisting nonetheless that "there are nigh a thousand-million walking the Earth openly at noontide" ( Sartor Resartus, ed. Kerry McSweeney and Peter Sabor [New York: Oxford University Press, 1987], 200).

7. Baudelaire and Marx and Engels, as quoted in Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990), 114.

8. Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, ed. Victor Neuburg (New York: Penguin, 1985), 343.

9. See Altick, 165.

10. See Helmet Gernsheim, The Origins of Photography (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1982), for numerous beautiful daguerreotypes or color slides of such nudes or seminudes from the 1850s, designed for use in stereoscopic viewers.

11. See Crary, "Modernizing Vision," 30-31.

12. See Crary, Techniques of the Observer, 30-34.

13. Quoted in Jennifer M. Green, "In Pursuit of Wild Models: P. J. Emerson Frames the Norfolk Broads," Dickens Project, Santa Cruz (August 1992).

14. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, trans. S. Ryazanskaya (Moscow: Professional Publishers, 1964), 11-13.

15. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire (New York: International Publishers, 1964), 20.

16. Cook, Movement in Two Dimensions, 88.

17. Helmut Gernsheim and Alison Gernsheim, The History of Photography: From the Earliest Use of the Camera Obscura in the Eleventh Century up to 1914 (London: Oxford University Press, 1955), 1.

18. Cook, 24.

19. Ibid., 28.

20. Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, 126.

21. Quoted in Cook, 77.

22. Quoted in Cook, 19.

23. Rosalind Krauss, "The Im/Pulse to See," in Vision and Visuality, ed. Foster, 58.

24. Crary, Techniques of the Observer, 69.

25. See Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990); Barbara Claire Freeman, "The Rise of the Sublime: Sacrifice and Misogyny in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics," Yale Journal of Criticism 5, no. 3 (1991): 81-99; and Vassilis Lambropoulos, "Violence and the Liberal Imagination: The Representation of Hellenism in Matthew Arnold," in The Violence of Representation: Literature and the History of Violence, ed. Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse (New York: Roudedge, 1989). Each of these critics considers how writers' invoking of the sublime sacrifices, subordinates, or, as Freeman suggests, "scapegoats'' the imagination.

26. Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 23.

27. Ibid., 55.

28. Ibid., 43.

29. Karl Marx, The Gründrisse, ed. and trans. David McLellan (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), 47.

30. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, in The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, intro. Vyvyan Holland (New York: Harper and Row, 1989), 32.

31. Ibid., 43.

32. That Whoopi Goldberg would undoubtedly refer to the top slide of Figure 4 as an instance of "Negrobilia" should not pass unnoticed here, suggesting as it does another piece of the relation between Victorians and the visual that cries out for exploration: how representations of people of color in popular entertainments contributed to Europeans' construction of others. This topic is explored most notably by Sander Gilman in "Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature," Critical Inquiry 12, no. 1 (1985): 204-42; reprinted in Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race, and Madness (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985).

33. Cook, 31.

34. Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot (Paris: Éditions Gamier Frères, n.d.), 62-63. "As a consequence of the recent invention of the optical illusion called the Diorama, which had quite surpassed the earlier Panoramas, artists and their friends had taken to ending every word they thought fit with 'rama.' A young painter . . . had infected his fellow guests with the habit. 'Well, Monsieur-r-r Poiret, . . . how is your little healthorama?' A bit later, Vautrin observes, 'It's desperately chillyorama,' to which Bianchon retorts, 'Why do you call it coldorama? There's just a little nipporama in the air?'"

35. Cook, Movement in Two Dimensions, 89.

36. Ibid., 40.

37. See Cook, 36-46. Only one of these buildings was still standing as of 1965, Daguerre's London Diorama at Park Square East, Regent's Park, which first opened in 1823. John Nash designed its facade and Augustus Pugin the Elder its rotunda.

38. Christian Metz, The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema, trans. Celia Britton, Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster, and Alfred Guzzetti (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977), 7.

39. Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White, ed. Julian Symons (London: Penguin, 1974), 512. See also The Moonstone, ed. J. I. M. Stewart (London: Penguin, 1966).

40. See Cook, 14-15.

41. Ibid., 81-83. Dissolving slides depicting the evils of drink designed for magic lanterns were popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Numerous collectors have a slide like the one reproduced here as Figure 6.

42. Cook, 85.

43. E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York: Vintage Books, 1966), 740.

44. In his Musical Memoirs, published in 1830, W. D. Parke describes a collaboration between Philip Jacob de Loutherbourg and the painter Gainsborough to produce at the Eidophusikon a performance entitled "Satan Arraying His Troops." Its realistic fake storm, with thunder and lightning, made it especially popular. There was real thunder and lightning outside the theater during one performance. Olive Cook reports that "some of the spectators were terrified, believing this to be a warning sent by God against presumption. . . . But Loutherbourg was transported with pleasure. 'By God, Gainsborough,' he cried, seizing the painter by the arm, 'our thunder's best!'" (30).

45. Craig Owens (quoting Heidegger), "The Discourse of Others: Feminism and Post-Modernism," in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Post-Modern Culture, ed. Hal Foster (Seattle: Bay Press, 1983), 66.

46. T. J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 63.

47. Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes toward an Investigation)," in Lenin and Philosophy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971), 174.

Shared Lines Pen and Pencil as Trace

The images and advertisements from the serial editions of Dickens's novels were photographed from the Sydney A. Henry and Miss M. Henry Collection in the Dickens House Museum, London. Copyright remains with the Dickens House Museum.

My research was funded in part by a Commonwealth Scholarship. I would like to thank Elizabeth Behrens and Carol Christ for their editorial suggestions on versions of this essay, and Joss Marsh and Murray Baumgarten for their encouragement of my research. Dr. David Parker (Curator) and Andrew Bean (Deputy Curator) made accessible various materials and collections at the Dickens House Museum. Chris Short provided valuable assistance in tracking down images and material, and in "scribing" at various times. Special thanks to Reg and Edna Short for their continuing support of my research.

1. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "To E. L., on His Travels in Greece," quoted in Ruth Pitman, Edward Lear's Tennyson (Manchester: Carcanet, 1988), 17.

2. Throughout The Artist and the Author Cruikshank stresses the "partnership" of these productions, as opposed to those other times when his role is that of an illustrator of Ainsworth's or Dickens's ideas. The Artist and the Author originally appeared as a letter in the Times, and then as a pamphlet: George Cruikshank, The Artist and the Author: A Statement of Facts, by the Artist George Cruikshank: proving that the Distinguished Author, Mr. W. Harrison Ainsworth is "labouring under a singular delusion" with respect to the origin of ''The Miser's Daughter," ''The Tower of London," etc., 2nd edition (Covent Garden: Bell and Daldy, 1872).

3. What follows in the next four paragraphs is paraphrased and expanded from my article "The Art of Seeing: Dickens in the Visual Market," in Literature in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century British Publishing and Reading Practices, ed. John O. Jordan and Robert L. Patten (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

4. Copybooks are a neglected area of research for this structural foundation of word and image association. Ambrose Heal's The English Writing-Masters and Their copy-Books, 1570-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1931), is an early biographical dictionary on the tradition of writing masters. See also Stanley Morison, American Copy Books: An Outline of Their History to Modern Times (Philadelphia: W. M. Fell, 1951); and Vivian Henry Crellin's master's thesis on the history of the copybook, and the copybook line, "The Teaching of Writing and the Use of Copybooks in Schools," University of London, 1976. Stanley Morison's numerous texts on handwriting provide historical links between the visual arts and text (see also his introduction to Heal's book). Molly Nesbit has presented research on the subject of French educational training in drawing and line work, particularly as regards the teaching of art and language, and its influence on painters like Picasso, Braque, and Duchamp ("The Language of Industry," During Lawrence Lectures, University College London, May 1991). These lectures enabled me to develop my own thoughts and research in this area; portions of Nesbit's lectures have been published as "The Language of Industry," in The Definitively Unfinished Marcel Duchamp, ed. Thierry De Dove (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991), 351-94.

5. Gilbert Malcolm Sproat, Education of the Rural Poor (London: Robert John Bush, 1870), 33.

6. For a discussion of the role of writing in Dickens's novels, see Murray Baumgarten, "Calligraphy and Code: Writing in Great Expectations, " Dickens Studies Annual 11 (1983): 61-72, and "Writing and David Copperfield, " Dickens Studies Annual 14 (1985): 39-59.

7. The Universal Instructor; or, Self Culture for All, 3 vols. (London: Ward Lock, 1880-84).

8. See Albert Boime's discussion of drawing schools in his Art in the Age of Revolution, 1750-1800, vol. 1 of A Social History of Modern Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), particularly his section on William Blake (309-12).

9. See Boime, 320.

10. An excellent example of the lettering used by signwriters can be found in the color plates of William Sutherland's Practical Guide to Sign Writing (1860), reproduced in A. J. Lewery, Signwritten Art (London: David and Charles, 1989), 17. Henry Mayhew mentions street stencilers in London Labour and the London Poor, 4 vols. (1861-62; reprint, New York: Dover, 1968), 1:4.

11. Mayhew, 3:213-14. Mayhew also discusses the "Screevers or Writers of Begging-Letters and Petitions" who supplied the illiterate with begging letters (1:311) and a "Chalker on Flagstones" who did images of Napoleon and Christ for a living (3:214).

12. Martin Meisel, Realizations: Narrative, Pictorial, and Theatrical Arts in Nineteenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 33.

13. Advertisement for the Illustrated London News, in serial issue of Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit (London: Chapman and Hall), no. 1 (January 1843), 12.

14. William Andrew Chatto, "Wood-Engraving: Its History and Practice," Illustrated London News, 20 April 1844, 251.

15. John Ruskin, "Academy Notes, 1875," in The Lamp of Beauty, ed. Joan Evans (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1959), 136. Ruskin goes on to compare the Academy show of 1875 to "a large coloured Illustrated Times folded in saloons,—the splendidest May number of the Graphic, shall we call it?" (135). The best work of the year, he declares, is a watercolor illustration to a story by the woodblock engraver Mrs. Allingham (136).

16. E. Seymour, in a letter reprinted in Hippisley Tuckfield, Education for the People (London: Taylor Walton, 1839), 150. For maps that display unusual combinations of words and images, particularly from the nineteenth century, see Gillian Hill, Cartographical Curiosities (London: British Library, 1978). Noteworthy examples reproduced in Hill's text include "Hunting in Troubled Waters" (plate 58), where figures and text are used to make up European countries, and the Bellman's map in Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark .

17. Copybooks from the Bowles School, circa 1820-30, are in the Dickens House Museum, London.

18. Examples of copybooks from the Bowles School (see n. 57) showing such flourishes are housed in the Dickens House Museum, London.

19. Isaac Disraeli, Curiosities of Literature, quoted in Heal, The English Writing-Masters and Their Copy-Books, xvi.

20. The painter Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) was the son of a writing master.

21. Walter Crane, Line and Form (London: George Bell and Sons, 1912), 23.

22. Ibid., 4.

23. Ibid., 6.

24. Jack Stephens, Curator of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, Baddeck, Nova Scotia, has kindly provided information on this unique system.

25. I am presently researching the numerous images of scribes, and the transcultural importance of showing the moment of the trace, in cultures ranging from ancient Egypt to the Victorian period.

26. Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (London: Oxford University Press, 1975), 372-73.

27. James Isham's book is in the Hudson Bay Archives, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Tom Koppel, "Treasure-Trove of History," Canadian Geographic, (October/November 1991), shows a photograph of Isham's book (72).

28. Illustrated London News, 10 February 1952, 208, 209; Christian Science Monitor (Boston), 7 February 1912.

29. Joss Marsh (Stanford University), who kindly provided me with this information, also noted du Maurier's importance to the issue of the interrelatedness of the drawn and written line. In 1992 a record price of $1.3 million was set in the United States for a signed portion of a manuscript by Abraham Lincoln.

30. Autographic Mirror (issued from 1865; n.d. for this issue), 130.

31. Autographic Mirror, 26 August 1865, quotation on 37, image on 71.

32. Philip Gilbert Hamerton, The Graphic Arts: A Treatise on the Varieties of Drawing, Painting, and Engraving (London: Seeley, Jackson and Halliday, 1882), 13.

33. Ibid., 302.

34. Stephen Bann, The Clothing of Clio (London: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 155.

35. See Wayne Senner, "Theories and Myths on the Origins of Writing: A Historical Overview," in The Origins of Writing, ed. Wayne Senner (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 2, 15.

36. The disruption was not absolute. See, for example, The Dial magazine, published by Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, with its stylized plates and text, or the expensive and limited publications of the Kelmscott Press.

37. The poem, entitled "George Cruikshank," is signed V.V.D.D. (it appears on the verso of the contents page). Cruikshank's name appeared prominently in the magazine's promotion. Ainsworth's Magazines 1 (June 1842): n.p.

38. James McNeill Whistler, Ten O'Clock Lecture (London: Chatto and Windus, 1888), 17-18.

39. Joseph Pennell, The Illustration of Books (London: Unwin, 1896), II, 26: Pennell believed a second renaissance for the illustrator would emerge out of the present "dark moment" (11); see also his Pen Drawing and Pen Draughtsmanship (London: Macmillan, 1889), 2, 306-07. Henry Blackburn, "Cantor Lectures on the Art of Book and Newspaper Illustration," Journal of the Royal Society of Arts (27 November and 4 and 11 December 1893), 4, 11.

40. William Henry Fox Talbot, The Pencil of Nature (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1844); for the text of the notice, see Robert Lassam, Fox Talbot: Photographer (Dorset: Dovecote Press, 1979), 22.

41. Quotation provided by Aynsley MacFarlene (Area Interpretation Officer), Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

42. Blackburn, "Cantor Lectures," 2.

43. Blackburn, "The Art of Illustration," Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 23 (12 March 1875), 373.

44. See Leonee Ormond, George Du Maurier (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969).

45. Mary Barton, "Art Teaching in Schools," in Transactions of the National Association for the Advancement of Art and Its Application to Industry: Edinburgh Meeting (London, 1890), 438, 444.

46. Ibid., 444.

47. Walter Crane, Of the Decorative Illustration of Books Old and New (London: George Bell and Sons, 1896), 5.

48. Walter Crane, Ideals in Art: Papers Theoretical, Practical, Critical (London: George Bell and Sons, 1905), 90. See also Crane, Of the Decorative Illustration of Books, 208.

49. William Holman Hunt, "The Proper Mode and Study of Drawing.—1: Addressed to Students," Magazine of Art 14 (1891): 81, 83.

50. Blackburn, "Cantor Lectures," 15-16.

Image versus Text in the Illustrated Novels of William Makepeace Thackeray

1. The change in style that signaled the subordination of image to text was in part caused by, and was indicative of, the increasing industrialization of book production itself. With the move from monthly publication to weekly serialization in magazines such as the Graphic, fiction became part of a proto-assembly line. Not only did authors find their labor increasingly controlled by the magazine, and its intended readers, but illustrations were often produced piecemeal. The sketching and engraving of an illustration could proceed simultaneously, with each section passed along after drafting to the engraver, so that neither artist perceived or controlled the whole; thus the ''artist'' disappears into the technician. See N. N. Feltes, Modes of Production of Victorian Novels (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 65.

2. Beardsley and Morris are exceptions to this tendency: Beardsley's "decorations" are distinctly shocking while Morris's illustrated works, such as the Kelmscott Chaucer, harken back to Blake and illuminated manuscripts, not George Cruikshank. But neither artist really involves his images with the narrative process, as Thackeray or Cruikshank did. Thus their excessive decorativeness excludes them from my consideration here.

3. Actually Cruikshank advanced this claim in the 1870s. Shelton Mackenzie first reported it in the American Roundtable, and then Cruikshank seconded it in The Artist and the Author in 1872 (Hilary Evans and Mary Evans, The Life and Art of George Cruikshank, 1792-1878 [New York: Phillips, 1978], 92-96).

4. J. H. Stonehouse, Catalogue of the Libraries of Charles Dickens and W. M. Thackeray (London, 1935). See especially the section "Relics from the Library of W. M. Thackeray," 163-82. For a list of Thackeray's prepublication drawings, done while he was a child and at Cambridge, see Lewis Melville, "Thackeray as Artist," Connoisseur 8 (1904): 25-31, 152-55.

5. J. R. Harvey, Victorian Novelists and Their Illustrators (New York: New York University Press, 1971); Joan Stevens, "Thackeray's Pictorial Capitals," Costerus: Essays in English and American Language and Literature, n.s. 2 (1974): 113-40, and "Thackeray's Vanity Fair, " Review of English Literature 6 (1965): 19-38; Patricia Sweeney, "Thackeray's Best Illustrator," Costerus: Essays in English and American Language and Literature, n.s. 2 (1974): 83-112. Subsequent citations of Harvey's and Stevens's works are given parenthetically in the text.

6. Thackeray drew three kinds of illustrations: pictorial capitals at the beginning of a chapter, usually metaphoric; intratextual illustrations deliberately placed to affect the reading of the text; and full-page illustrations, with titles that seem to be simple realizations of the text. Meisel notes that Thackeray's full-page illustrations are most closely bound by the conventions of straightforward "realization," but there are quite a few exceptions to this rule besides the familiar "Second Appearance of Clytemnestra," especially if one takes Meisel's own advice to look for Thackeray's illustrations as embodiments of states of mind or feeling (Martin Meisel, Realizations: Narrative, Pictorial, and Theatrical Arts in Nineteenth-Century England [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983], 335; subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text).

7. Henry Kingsley, "Thackeray," Macmillans 9 (1864): 360. Kingsley, in nineteenth-century terms, also confronts the paradoxical experiential realism created by Thackeray's self-conscious mode. Vanity Fair merged its fiction with its readers' lives so well that Kingsley felt it "had taken entire possession of us and of the world. Through the exquisite perfection of the art, the art itself was not only ignored, but indignantly denied" (357).

8. The editions of Vanity Fair and Pendennis cited in this essay are those issued by Garland Publishing, complete with all illustrations. All citations are given parenthetically in the text ( Vanity Fair, ed. Peter L. Shillingsburg [New York, 1989]; The History of Pendennis, ed. Peter L. Shillingsburg [New York, 1991]).

9. This is a fairly traditional function for book illustration. Cruikshank, for example, often composed his illustrations from the point of view of one or more characters. A familiar instance of this technique is the illustration "Fagin in the Condemned Cell" for Oliver Twist, where we see the cowering Fagin from Oliver's and Mr. Brownlow's sympathetic point of view.

10. W. M. Thackeray, "Caricatures and Lithography In Paris," Fraser's Magazine 32 (1839): 295-300.

11. The ensuing conversation about the "moral sheepdog" and "shearing" Lord Southdown affirms the moral judgment of readers.

12. As Nina Auerbach notes, the publicness of nineteenth-century life demanded acting that did not seem to be acting: "To be was to be seen" (Nina Auerbach, Private Theatricals [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990], 32). Meisel discusses the handbooks for theater style in Realizations, part 1. Henry Siddons's Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture and Action is actually an adaptation of M. Engels's German handbook. Siddons was the son of Sarah Siddons. The numbering of the illustrations is from an 1822 edition of Siddons's handbook.

13. Robert Colby, Thackeray's Canvass of Humanity: An Author and His Public (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1979), 235.

14. Catherine Peters, Thackeray's Universe: Shifting Worlds of Imagination and Reality (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1987), 169. Peters identifies the church in the frontispiece as the one in Ottery St. Mary, an identification made earlier by S. M. Ellis, who explained it as "an allegorical fancy that amid all the vanities and sins and turmoil of life there remain in the background of memory scenes from far-off happy days of youth and innocence and peace" ("Thackeray's Illustrations: Their Personal and Topographical Interest," Athenaeum [September 1916]: 404).

15. John Loofbourow, Thackeray and the Form of Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964).

16. The Letters and Private Papers of William Makepeace Thackeray, ed. Gordon Ray, 4 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946-54), 2:423.

17. For an excellent discussion of the necessity for role-playing that does not, however, consider the visual role-playing of illustrations, see Edgar F. Harden, "Theatricality in Pendennis, " Ariel 4 (1973): 74-94.

18. English pantomime developed from commedia dell' arte and was a favorite Christmas entertainment. Usually, the play began as a mimetic comedy or burlesque with old Pantaloon, aided by Clown, tying to thwart the love of Harlequin and Columbine. At a crucial moment in the action, the Good Fairy would descend with the magic bat and she or Harlequin (after she gave him the bat) would transform the scene into a harlequinade, an acrobatic chase culminating in the shift of the entire set into a fantasy world. Thackeray suggests some of the extravagance of this transformation scene in the title and beginning of the last chapter of The Adventures of Philip, "The Realms of Bliss."

19. W. M. Thackeray, "Swift," in The Four Georges and the English Humourists, Everyman's Library (New York: Dutton, 1968), 3-4.

20. Donald Hannah, "The Author's Own Candles': The Significance of the Illustrations to Vanity Fair, " Renaissance and Modern Essays Presented to Vivian de Sola Pinto (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), 127.

21. Amy Wilkinson calls such haphazard collection of information a "Tomeavesian" way of knowing the world, after Tom Eaves, a convenient gossip in Vanity Fair who provides the "narrator" with much of his information about high society (Amy Wilkinson, "The Tomeavesian Way of Knowing the World: Technique and Meaning in Vanity Fair, " English Literary History 32 (1965): 370-87. Wilkinson's emphasis is less on these multiple conflicting voices than on the way that gossip, as an epistemology, constructs its own truth, obviating any truth of event.

22. Jerry Williamson, "Thackeray's Mirror," Tennessee Studies in Literature 22 (1977): 134.

"The Right Thing in the Right Place" P. H. Emerson and the Picturesque Photograph

Thanks to Ms. Jacklyn Burns of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California, for her assistance with the photographs.

1. Peter Henry Emerson, with T. F. Goodall, Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads (London, 1886), preface. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

2. See, for example, Nancy Newhall, P. H. Emerson: The Fight for Photography as a Fine Art (New York: Aperture, 1975), 141.

3. Peter Henry Emerson, Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art (London, 1889; 2nd edition, 1890; reprint, New York: Arno, 1973), 210.

4. Peter Henry Emerson, "Science and Art," a paper read to the third annual Camera Club conference, 26 March 1889; published in the American Journal of Photography (May 1889): 170-75; reprinted in the British Journal of Photography, 12 August 1889, 252-55, and 19 August 1889, 269-70; and in Naturalistic Photography, 2nd edition (1890).

5. Peter Henry Emerson, Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art, 3rd edition, revised (London, 1899).

6. Photographic News, 19 August 1887, 514.

7. Newhall, 5. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

8. Carol Fabricant, Swift's Landscape (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), 1.

9. John Barrell, The Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place, 1730-1840: An Approach to the Poetry of John Clare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), 1.

10. "Figures in Landscapes," British Journal of Photography, 13 May 1887, 291.

11. Andrew Pringle, "Selection in Landscape," British Journal of Photography, 17 September 1886, 585.

12. Henry Peach Robinson, The Elements of a Pictorial Photograph (London, 1896; reprint, New York: Arno, 1973), 104. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

13. John Barrell, The Dark Side of the Landscape: The Rural Poor in English Painting, 1750-1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 92. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

14. As Ellen Handy observes, Emerson's photographs at times resemble Constable's works as Barrell describes them, with laborers represented indistinctly, as only a part of the landscape; the artist, writes Barrell, hides "the poor in the middle ground, where we can see their labour but not their expressions" ( The Dark Side of the Landscape, 21; Ellen Handy, "Art and Science in P. H. Emerson's Naturalistic Vision," in British Photography in the Nineteenth Century: The Fine Art Tradition, ed. Mike Weaver [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989], 190).

15. Life and Landscape: P. H. Emerson: Art and Photography in East Anglia, 1885-1900, exhibition catalogue, ed. Neil McWilliam and Veronica Sekules (Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, 1986), 28.

16. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles [1891] (New York: Penguin, 1978), 151.

17. See Handy for a more elaborate and helpful reading of this photograph, 185-87. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

18. Elizabeth Eastlake, "Photography," Quarterly Review 101 (London; April 1857): 466. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

19. Wolfgang Kemp, "Images of Decay: Photography in the Picturesque Tradition," October 54 (1990): 104.

20. Kemp, 105, quoting Walter John Hipple, The Beautiful, the Sublime and the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetic Theory (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1957), 210.

21. Kemp, 105, quoting John Constable, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, ed. Charles Robert Leslie and Andrew Shirley (London: Medici Society, 1937), 118.

22. Peter Henry Emerson, Pictures of East Anglian Life (London, 1888), 119.

23. Kemp, 107, quoting John Ruskin, Modern Painters (London: J. M. Dent, 1906), 9-10.

24. Photographic News, 19 August 1887, 515.

25. Amateur Photographer, 25 March 1887, 145.

26. Photographic News, 19 August 1887, 514.

27. Henry Peach Robinson, Letters on Landscape Photography (London, 1888; reprint, New York: Arno, 193), 12.

28. Journal of the Photographic Society, 3 March 1853, 6.

29. O. E. Rejlander, "Desultory Reflections on Photography and Art," Year-Book of Photography, and Photographic New's Almanac (London, 1866), 46.

30. Journal of the Photographic Society, 21 April 1853, 44.

31. "Our Illustration," American Journal of Photography (February 1887): 30.

32. "Science and Art," American Journal of Photography (May 1889): 172.

33. John Bartlett, "The Short-comings of Photography in Relation to Art," American Journal of Photography (December 1887): 208-9.

34. Emerson, Naturalistic Photography (1890), introduction.

Dust Piles and Damp Pavements Excrement, Repression, and the Victorian City in Photography and Literature

This paper would not have been undertaken without encouragement from my colleague Deirdre d'Albertis, whose stimulating conversation has been very valuable to me during its writing, and to whom I owe many thanks; it has benefited also from comments offered by Lauren Goodlad.

1. Lytton Strachey, ''Lancaster Gate," 1922, quoted in Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey: A Biography (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1986), 45.

2. F. B. Smith, The People's Health, 1830-1910 (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1979), 197.

3. Anthony Wohl, Endangered Lives: Public Health in Victorian Britain (London: J. M. Dent, 1983), 86, 81.

4. Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England [1845], ed. W. O. Henderson and W. H. Chaloner (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1958), 33.

5. Edwin Chadwick, Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain, 1842, ed. M. W. Flinn (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1965).

6. Sigmund Freud, "Repression," 1915, in General Psychological Theory: Papers on Metapsychology, ed. Philip Rieff (New York: Collier, 1965), 107.

7. John Kucich, "Repression and Representation: Dickens's General Economy," Nineteenth Century Fiction (June 1983): 64.

8. Chadwick, 99.

9. "On the Health of the Working Classes in Large Towns," Artizan (October 1843): 230; quoted in Engels, p. 43.

10. Glasgow City Improvement Act, 1866, quoted in A. L. Fisher, "Thomas Annan's Photographs of Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow, " Scottish Photography Bulletin (Spring 1982): 13.

11. Margaret Harker, "From Mansion to Close: Thomas Annan, Master Photographer," Photographic Collector 5, no. 1 (1984): 88.

12. Anita Ventura Mozley, introduction to Thomas Annan, Photographs of Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow 1868/1877 (New York: Dover, 1977), ix. This facsimile edition of Annan's book is an invaluable resource despite the poor quality of the reproductions.

13. Maria Morris Hambourg, "Charles Marville's Old Paris," in Maria Morris Hambourg and Marie de Thézy, Charles Marville (New York: French Institute, 1981), 11.

14. Mozley, v.

15. Dr. Neil Arnott, quoted in Chadwick, Report on the Sanitary Condition, 98.

16. Harker, 91.

17. Julie Lawson, "The Problem of Poverty and the Picturesque: Thomas Annan's Photographs of Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow 1868/1871, " Scottish Photography Bulletin, no. 2 (1990): 42.

18. Such exterior sinks were wretchedly inadequate but nonetheless they represent the most tangible and effective progress of the Glasgow sanitary reform movement to that date.

19. Lawson, 43.

20. Presbytery of Glasgow, Report of the Commission on the Housing of the Poor in Relation to Their Social Condition, 1891; quoted in Andrew Gibb, Glasgow: The Making of a Great City (London: Croom Helm, 1983), 142.

21. J. C. Symons, ''Reports From Assistant Handloom Weaver's Commission," Parliamentary Papers, 1839, vol. 42, no. 159, p. 52.

22. Catherine Gallagher, "The Body versus the Social Body in the Works of Thomas Malthus and Henry Mayhew," in The Making of the Modern Body: Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Catherine Gallagher and Thomas Laqueur (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987), 90.

23. Wohl, Endangered Lives, 81.

24. Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor [1861-62], ed. Victor Neuherg (London: Penguin, 1985), 249.

25. H. B. Cresswell, quoted in Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House, 1961), 341. I am indebted to Michael Young, who directed my attention to this passage. Jane Jacobs helpfully provides a footnote indicating that the "mud" mentioned by Cresswell is a euphemism. Cresswell's essay was published in Architectural Review (December 1958).

26. Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend [1864—65] (London: Penguin, 1971), 179.

27. Dickens, 56.

28. Symons, 65.

29. "A Suburban Connemara," Household Words, 5 March 12 1851, 563. The intermittent attentions of authorities and the public's ignorance about the relation of sanitation to disease cited in Household Words were common, and thus cholera recurred frequently. In Glasgow, there were epidemics in 1832, 1848-49, 1853-54, and 1866.

30. Mayhew, 230.

31. Humphrey House, The Dickens World (1941; London: Oxford University Press, 1960), 167. An extensive body of subsequent literature on this topic exists, without consensus. Rather than rehearsing all aspects of this debate among literary scholars, I have relied upon contemporary sources and the work of historians of sanitation, which seem to me more authoritative in their interpretation of the documentation available.

32. Chadwick, Report on the Sanitary Condition, 118.

33. Charles Kingsley, Yeast (New York: J. F. Taylor, 1903), chapter 15; quoted in Christopher Hamlin, "Providence and Putrefaction: Victorian Sanitarians and the Natural Theology of Health and Disease," Victorian Studies 28 (Spring 1985): 403.

34. Hamlin, 382ff.

35. Justus von Liebig, Agricultural Chemistry (Chemistry in Its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology) (London: Taylor and Walton, 1842); quoted in Chadwick, 123.

36. Henry Bowditch, "Letter on Sewage," Second Annual Report of the State Board of Health of Massachusetts (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1871), 235; quoted in Hamlin, 396.

37. Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, 76. The phrase "suburban Sahara" echoes "suburban Connemara," used in the Household Words thirteen years earlier (see note 29).

38. Dickens, 257.

39. Dickens, 862.

40. Kucich, "Repression and Representation," 65.

41. Dickens, 876-77.

42. Quoted in Wohl, Endangered Lives, 101.

43. Gustave Flaubert, letter to Louise Colet, 25-26 June 1853; quoted in Donald Reid, Paris Sewers and Sewermen (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990), 110.

Making Darkness Visible Capturing the Criminal and Observing the Law in Victorian Photography and Detective Fiction

1. Arthur Conan Doyle, ''A Scandal in Bohemia," in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Harmondsworth: Penguin), 9.

2. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 220.

3. "A Case of Identity," The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 42.

4. John Tagg, The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988), 64.

5. Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991), 17.

6. "A Scandal in Bohemia," The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 11. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

7. These two essay's appeared in the April and May 1840 issues of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, which merged later that year into Graham's Magazine, where "The Murders of the Rue Morgue" was published in April 1841.

8. Edgar Allan Poe, "The Daguerreotype," Alexander's Weekly Magazine, January ,15 1840.

9. For a discussion of what Lacan calls "the fallacious complementarity of the glance" in Poe's tale, see Barbara Johnson's investigation of Lacan's and Derrida's exchange on the subject in "The Frame of Reference: Poe, Lacan, Derrida," in Psychoanalysis and the Question of the Text, ed. Geoffrey H. Hartman (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), 149-71.

10. Edgar Allan Poe, "The Purloined Letter," Selected Tales (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 213.

11. Other, earlier, Dickens novels contained characters who performed investigations. Mr. Nadgett of Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44) is one example, a man also distinguished by his powers of observation: "he saw so much," we are told, "every button on his coat might have been an eye" (chapter 38). Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton (1848) mentions a minor character who is an officer of the Detective Service. But Bucket is generally regarded as the first fictional police officer in the detective branch of the English police force to play a significant part in an English novel.

12. Charles Dickens, Bleak House (New York: Norton, 1977), 275. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

13. That the magic lantern was a device used to create visual images before photography but came into its own once photographic images could be projected by it reinforces the point I make below: since this novel is set before but written after the invention of photography, Bucket stands as a personified harbinger of that technology.

14. Beaumont Newhall, The History of Photography (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1982), 59.

15. For a detailed study of the impact of the carte de visite on European society, see Elizabeth Anne McCauley, A. A. E. Disderi and the Carte de Visite Portrait Photograph (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).

16. Benjamin, 220. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

17. Audrey Jaffe demonstrates how in "The Man with the Twisted Lip" Sherlock Holmes inhabits a similar contradiction. "The story raises the possibility that the gentleman and the beggar are the same only to repudiate it," she claims; "its ostensibly democratizing identification of the two figures, like that of Victorian popular ideology in general, in fact [is] the expression of anxiety about such potential transformation (''Detecting the Beggar: Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry Mayhew, and 'The Man with the Twisted Lip,''' Representations 31 [Summer 1990]: 107).

18. Flash photography would not be practiced regularly until the invention of flashlight powder in Germany in 1887. As early as 1867, however, Timothy H. O'Sullivan would use dangerous and unpredictable magnesium flares to illuminate his subjects in the mines and caves of the Sierra Nevada (see Newhall, 94-95, 133). Once more Bucket seems to anticipate the eventual possibilities and deployments of a technology that had only recently been invented.

19. See T. W. Hill's note in the Norton critical edition of Bleak House, establishing the novel's setting in the 1830s, a finding based upon the development of the railroad in rural England (654).

20. W. H. Wills and Charles Dickens, "The Modern Science of Thief-Taking," Household Words 1 (13 July 1850): 371. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

21. Charles Dickens, "The Demeanor of Murderers," Household Words 13 (14 June 1856): 505.

22. Henry Morley and W. H. Wills, "Photography," Household Words 7 (19 March 1853): 55. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

23. John Payn, "Photographees," Household Words 16 (10 October 1857): 352-54. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

24. John Tagg, The Burden of Representation, 53.

25. "London From Aloft," Strand Magazine 2 (1887): 492-98.

26. Quoted in Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983), 187.

27. Quoted in Asa Briggs, Victorian Things (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 135.

28. Derek Longhurst has argued that women in the Holmes canon are generally rendered as both the agents and victims of criminality based upon a certain conception of "natural" gender difference. Whenever women, who are understood to be essentially passive, become active figures, they violate the natural (as well as the social) order. See Longhurst, "Sherlock Holmes: Adventures of an English Gentleman, 1887-1894," in Gender, Genre, and Narrative Pleasure, ed. Derek Longhurst (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 51-66.

29. Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Case of the Illustrious Client," in The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Garden City N.Y.: Doubleday, c. 1930), 2:990. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

30. So profound was Doyle's own belief in the authority of photography and in its value for protecting ancient powers that he ardently defended his belief in fairies and the spirit world with the evidence of spirit photography. See Doyle, "Fairies Photographed," Strand Magazine 60 (December 1920): 463-68, and "The Evidence for Fairies," Strand Magazine 61 (March 1921): 199-206.

31. Catherine Belsey has shown that this same ambivalence between authentication and manipulation occupies the Holmes stories' frequent textual digressions about their own truth and fictionality. "Through their transgression of their own values of explicitness and verisimilitude," she claims, "the Sherlock Holmes stories contain within themselves an implicit critique of their limited nature as characteristic examples of classic realism" ("Deconstructing the Text: Sherlock Holmes," in Popular Fiction: Technology, Ideology, Production, Reading, ed. Tony Bennett [London: Routledge, 1990], 284).

32. Allan Sekula, "The Body and the Archive," in The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography, ed. Richard Bolton (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989), 348.

33. Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Naval Treats," in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987), 221.

34. Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Hound of the Baskervilles," in The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, c. 1930), 2:672-73.

35. See Allan Sekula's elaborate and informative treatment of the uses of photography by Bertillon (the "compulsive systematizer") and Galton (the "compulsive quantifier"). Sekula makes a case for the centrality of these two figures in establishing the concept of the photographic archive as a means to honor the bourgeois self and delimit the terrain of a threatening other ("The Body and the Archive," 353-75).

36. Francis Galton, "Composite Portraiture," in Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development (London: J. M. Dent, n.d.), 223-24. First published in 1883. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

Victoria's Sovereign Obedience Portraits of the Queen as Wife and Mother

This essay is a shortened version of "'To the Queen's Private Apartments': Royal Family Portraiture and the Construction of Victoria's Sovereign Obedience," Victorian Studies 37, no. 1 (Fall 1993).

1. Dorothy Thompson, Queen Victoria: The Woman, the Monarchy, and the People (New York: Pantheon, 1990), 98. The second epigraph to this essay is quoted from p. 38 of the same work. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

2. Adrienne Auslander Munich, "Queen Victoria, Empire, and Excess," Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 6, no. 2 (1987): 265.

3. Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 8.

4. Thompson argues (98) that whatever popular dislike of Victoria there was arose chiefly from the expense of her growing family to the taxpayers (along with Albert's foreign birth); this point suggested to me the analogy between queen and wife. Thomas Richards argues, with reference to the Great Exhibition and the queen's two jubilees, that the monarch was constituted as consumer and as promoter of consumption: the culture of advertising and the success of the monarchy depended on each other; see The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle, 1851-1914 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990), 17-118. While Richards does not focus on the monarch's gender, Nancy Armstrong argues specifically that Victorian women (but not the queen in particular) were seen as consumers, especially of goods coming in from the empire, whose desires were both dangerous and essential to commerce; see "The Occidental Alice," Differences 2, no. 2 (1990): 3-40. Putting these two arguments together, one might discuss how Victoria's identification with the middle classes came about through representations of her as consumer; this essay instead explores how she came to be constructed as middle class through another mechanism, that of marital hierarchy.

5. See the discussion of the advantages and drawbacks of the assignment of "influence" to middle-class wives in Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 149, 183, and passim.

6. David Cannadine argues that in England royal ritual became elaborate and well staged in inverse proportion to the actual power of the monarchy; see "The Context, Performance, and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and the 'Invention of Tradition,' c. 1820-1977," in The Invention of Tradition, ed. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 121 and passim. For the media's construction of the spectacular ordinariness of the present royal family, see Judith Williamson, "Royalty and Representation," in her Consuming Passions: The Dynamics of Popular Culture (London: Marion Boyars, 1986), 75-89.

7. Letter of 29 October 1844, The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861, 3 vols., ed. Arthur C. Benson and Viscount Esher (London: John Murray, 1908), 2:27.

8. See Caroline Chapman and Paul Raben, eds., Debrett's Queen Victoria's Jubilees, 1887 and 1987 (London: Debrett's, 1977).

9. Sarah Ellis, The Women of England: Their Social Duties, and Domestic Habits (London, 1838; Philadelphia: E. L. Cares' and A. Hart, 1839), 68. See also Elizabeth Langland's discussion of this and other passages in Ellis, in Nobody's Angels: Middle-Class Women and Domestic Ideology in Victorian Culture (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995). According to Langland, Ellis uses Victoria to represent her own claims for domestic women's moral authority.

10. Giles St. Aubyn, Queen Victoria: A Portrait (New York: Atheneum, 1992), 146.

11. Entry dated 18 April 1839, The Girlhood of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Diaries between the Years 1832 and 1840, ed. Viscount Esher, 2 vols. (London: John Murray, 1912), 2:153-54.

12. Laurence Lerner, "Private Feelings: Public Forms (Are Elizabeth Browning's Letters Literature?)," in the manuscript "Disciplines and the Canon," ed. Jay Clayton, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and H.-J. Schultz.

13. St. Aubyn, 130.

14. Anne Hollander, Seeing through Clothes (New York: Viking, 1975), 425.

15. See William Gaunt, Court Painting from Tudor to Victorian Times (London: Constable, 1980), 211-14.

16. Marina Warner, Queen Victoria's Sketchbook (London: Unwin Hyman, 1987), 112.

17. Warner, 112.

18. Patrick J. Noon, "Miniatures on the Market," in John Murdoch, Jim Murrell, Patrick J. Noon, and Roy Strong, The English Miniature (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 201; see also Peter Galassi, Before Photography: Painting and the Invention of Photography (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1981), 12.

19. The royal family's patronage had much to do with the rapid early development of photography, and by the end of her life the queen had amassed 110 albums containing 100,000 "photos" (Victoria's coinage), largely of herself and her family. See Helmut Gernsheim and Alison Gernsheim, Victoria R.: A Biography with Four Hundred Illustrations Based on Her Personal Photoqraph Albums (New York: Putnam, 1959), 256-66; see also Frances Dimond and Roger Taylor, Crown and Camera: The Royal Family and Photography, 1842-1910 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987). On the relation of oils to portrait photography at mid-century, see Lauren Chattman, "Pictures of Privacy: Femininity on Display in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel," Dissertation, Yale University, 1993.

20. Gernsheim and Gernsheim report that "[h]undreds of thousands of Mayall's cartes were quickly sold" (261), and that the English craze for collecting and trading cartes began with Mayall's publications.

The Author as Spectacle and Commodity Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Thomas Hardy

1. With the idea of a "literary sphere," I am following sociologists of literature such as Alain Viala and Pierre Bordieu, who identify a relatively autonomous grouping of institutions, discourses, and forces as a "literary field" in a culture. This "field" is composed and restructured by struggles for legitimacy and control within it. See Pierre Bordieu, ''Flaubert's Point of View'' and Alain Viala, "Prismatic Effects," trans. Paula Wissing, both in Critical Inquiry 14 (Summer 1988): 539-62 and 563-73.

2. Leo Braudy, The Frenzy of Renown (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 398. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

3. Matthew Arnold, "The Buried Life," in Victorian Poetry and Poetics, ed. Walter E. Houghton and G. Robert Stange, 2nd edition (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1968) 446-47, line 21. Other poems referred to are included in the same volume.

4. For a provocative discussion of theatricality and the buried life, see Nina Auerbach, Private Theatricals: The Lives of the Victorians (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990). "The process of living," for Victorians, she says "was the acting of a role; yet it also entailed a fear of performance" (4-5).

5. Thomas Richards, The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle, 1851-1914 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990), 14. These social phenomena are discussed pertinently in relation to the rise of capitalism by Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man: On the Social Psychology of Capitalism (New York: Random House, 1976). On artists and changing market conditions, see Janet Wolff, The Social Production of Art (New York: New York University Press, 1984).

6. Regenia Gagnier has discussed the commodification of the dandy and the late-Victorian society of the spectacle in Idylls of the Marketplace (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1986).

7. Meredith Raymond and Mary Rose Sullivan, eds., Women of Letters: Selected Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Mary Russell Mitford (Boston: Twayne, 1987), 155. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text. For a thorough examination of the important influence of George Sand on English novelists and poets alike, see Patricia Thomsen, George Sand and the Victorians (London: Macmillan, 1977).

8. Betty Miller, Elizabeth Barrett to Miss Mitford (London, J. Murray, 1954), 145, as quoted in Thomsen, p. 44. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

9. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Complete Poetical Works, ed. Harriet Waters Preston (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1900), 103. Subsequent quotations from Browning's other poems are also from this edition.

10. Letter to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 2 April 1861, in Gordon Ray, ed., The Letters and Private Papers of William Makepeace Thackeray (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946) 4:229.

11. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, letter to W. M. Thackeray, 21 April 1861, in ibid. The exchange of letters is on 226-29.

12. See Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy (New York: Random House, 1982); and Robert Gittings, Young Thomas Hardy (London: Penguin, 1978), for detailed descriptions of Hardy's initial sorties into the London literary world and his luck in impressing powerful men such as George Meredith and Leslie Stephen.

13. As quoted in Laurence Lerner and John Holmstrom, eds., Hardy and His Readers (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1968), 23.

14. Robert Gittings, introduction to The Hand of Ethelberta (New York: Macmillan, 1975), 21.

15. Penny Boumelha, "A Complicated Position for a Woman: The Hand of Ethelberta, " in The Sense of Sex: Feminist Perspectives on Hardy, ed. Margaret R. Higonnet (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 244.

16. Hardy's mother, Jemima Hand, Millgate reminds us, was not only a fatalist but also a fiercely determined woman who wished to move her family forward in the world. She, like Ethelberta's family, had been in service. Her ambitions for her eldest son, Thomas, resemble those of Ethelberta for herself But, perhaps even more significant, Jemima kept Hardy supplied with books, including Johnson's Rasselas, Dryden's translation of Vergil, and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress . See Peter Widdowson, Hardy in History (New York: Routledge, 1989), 157. Subsequent citations of Widdowson are given parenthetically in the text.

17. Florence Emily Hardy, The Early Life of Thomas Hardy: 1840-1891, ghostwritten for and edited by Thomas Hardy (London: Macmillan, 1928), 134.

18. John Goode, Thomas Hardy: The Offensive Truth (New York: Blackwell, 1988).

19. Thomas Hardy, The Complete Poems, ed. James Gibson (New York: Macmillan, 1976), 85.

20. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, letter to W. M. Thackeray, 21 April 1861, in Ray (as in note 10).

21. In this closing assessment of Barrett Browning I do not underestimate the importance of her own creation or manipulation of her audience. Anne Thackeray Ritchie, for instance, who from her youth was a devoted admirer of Mrs. Browning, regarded her first as a mother and wife, and only second as a writer. In her widely appreciated Records of Tennyson, Ruskin, and Browning (London: Macmillan, 1892), 208, Ritchie notes that this mother bemoaned the loss (in boxes in transit) of her son's velvet suits more than that of the manuscript of Aurora Leigh . Moreover, by choosing to publish certain poems such as Sonnets from the Portuguese, Barrett Browning helped further the view that her career and domestic life were inseparable—and helped ensure that they were seen as a romance plot. Many reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic held Mrs. Browning in the highest esteem as wife, mother, and poet. For a summary of some of the more famous reviews, see Elizabeth Helsinger, Robin Sheets, and William Veeder, eds., The Woman Question (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), vol. 3, chapter 2.

The Hero as Spectacle Carlyle and the Persistence of Dandyism

1. Jerome Buckley, The Victorian Temper (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), 37.

2. Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus and On Heroes and Hero-Worship (London: Everyman's Library, 1908), 205. Subsequent citations of both works are given parenthetically in the text.

3. Albert Camus, The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt, trans. Anthony Bower (New York: Vintage Books, 1956), 51.

4. Letter to William Olen, 22 February 1833, in The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, ed. Charles R. Sanders (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1970-), 6:334. Subsequent citations from the Letters are given parenthetically in the text. Teufelsdröckh is similarly "a wild Seer, shaggy, unkempt, like a Baptist living on locusts and wild honey" ( Sartor, 21).

5. Charles Baudelaire, "The Painter of Modern Life," in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, trans. and ed. Jonathan Mayne (New York: Da Capo, 1986), 24.

6. This visual dependency complements the dandy's dependence on the economic system for which he expresses disdain—a dependence that Baudelaire readily admits. See Peter Zima, "From Dandyism to Art, or Narcissus Bifrons," Neohelicon 12, no. 2 (1985): 201-38; and Camus, The Rebel, 47-54.

7. Ellen Moers, The Dandy: Brummell to Beerbohm (1960; reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978), 178.

8. The use of theatrical terms to describe social action is laden with conceptual problems that cannot be addressed here. But I wish to preserve the important distinction between "spectacle" and "sight," and use the former term to identify a fantasy not merely of being visible, but of calculated self-presentation to all imagined gaze. See John J. MacAloon, "Introduction: Cultural Performances, Culture Theory" in Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle: Rehearsals toward a Theory of Cultural Performance, ed. John J. MacAloon (Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1984), 1-15; and Dean MacCannell, "Sights and Spectacles,'' in Iconicity: Essays on the Nature of Culture, ed. Paul Bouissac, Michael Herzfeld, and Roland Posner (Tübingen: Stauffenberg, 1986), 421-35.

9. I am thus addressing obliquely a largely tacit paradox in recent writings on gender. While anthropologists and sociologists argue that norms of masculinity across a variety of cultures require, in the words of Pierre Bourdieu, that a man "constantly put himself in the gaze of others" (quoted by David D. Gilmore, Manhood in the Making [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990], 51), psychoanalytic cultural studies influenced by Jacques Lacan hold that such virile display is in fact a feminizing posture.

10. Jonas Barish, The Antitheatrical Prejudice (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981), offers the most comprehensive survey of Western resistance to theatrically. On Johnson's association of the literary marketplace with theatricality, see James Eli Adams, "The Economies of Authorship: Imagination and Trade in Johnson's Dryden, " Studies in English Literature 30 (1990): 467-86.

11. John Stuart Mill, "What is Poetry?" in Literary Essays, ed. Edward Alexander (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967), 56.

12. The Poems of Tennyson, ed. Christopher Ricks, 2nd edition, 3 vols. (London: Longmans, 1987).

13. Tennyson's anxiety is clearly central to the rise of the dramatic monologue as a literary form that, as Herbert F. Tucker, Jr., puts it, "disintegrates the implicit claim of self-presence in lyric into a rhetorical fabric of self-presentation" ("From Monomania to Monologue: 'St. Simeon Stylites' and the Rise of the Victorian Dramatic Monologue," Victorian Poetry 22 [1984]: 125).

14. Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, ed. Richard D. Altick (New York: New York University Press, 197), 230.

15. Joseph Litvak, Caught in the Act (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991), 56, points out that the transgressive theatricality of Jane Eyre reinforces the convention "that dissociates rhetorical (and ontological) power From social power, producing a chiasmus in which the inferiority of oppressed or marginal groups virtually guarantees their latent, but all the more disruptive, eloquence."

16. Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 77-78.

17. Quoted in Alan Bowness, ed., The Pre-Raphaelites (London: Tate Gallery, 1984), 204.

18. Deirdre David, Intellectual Women and Victorian Patriarchy (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987), 14, notes this as a more general phenomenon, but regards it only as a circumscription of the roles available to intellectual women, rather than a tension within "patriarchy" itself

19. [W. J. Courthope], "Modern Culture," Quarterly Review 137 (October 1874): 207.

20. For an account of Carlyle's construction of "the hero as man of letters" as an effort to reconcile conflicting models of manhood, see Norma Clarke, "Strenuous Idleness," in Manful Assertions, ed. Michael Roper and John Tosh (New York: Routledge, 1991), 25-43.

21. On continuities between the dandy and Lacan, see Robert Viscusi, Max Beerbohm, or the Dandy Dante: Rereading with Mirrors (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), 23-30.

22. "His Letters and Memories of His Life," in The Life and Works of Charles Kingsley, 19 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1901), 2:189.

23. See Robin Gilmour, The Ideal of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel (London: Allen and Unwin, 1981).

24. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (New York: New American Library, 1965), 97. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

25. See John Kucich, "The Purity of Violence in A Tale of Two Cities," Dickens Studies Annual 8 (1980): 119-38.

26. Catherine Gallagher, "The Duplicity of Doubling in A Tale of Two Cities," Dickens Studies Annual 12 (1983): 125-45.

27. See Albert Hutter, "The Novelist as Resurrectionist: Dickens and the Dilemma of Death," Dickens Studies Annual 12 (1983): 10.

28. Letters of Oscar Wilde, ed. Rupert Hart-Davis (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1962), 266.

29. Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, ed. Donald J. Hill (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980), 92, 97, 78, 97. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

30. See James Eli Adams, "Gentleman, Dandy, Priest: Manliness and Social Authority in Pater's Aestheticism," ELH 59 (1992): 441-466.

31. Walter Pater, "Diaphaneitè," in Miscellaneous Studies (London: Macmillan, 1910), 251. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

32. Carolyn Williams, Transfigured World: Walter Pater's Aesthetic Historicism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989), 179.

33. See Geoffrey Galt Harpham, The Ascetic Imperative in Culture and Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 19-88.

Street Figures Victorian Urban Iconography

1. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953), 308. The epigraph to this section of text is from p. 41.

2. Michael Steig, Dickens and Phiz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968).

3. Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1950), 185. The epigraph to this section of text is from p. 43. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

4. For a detailed account of the nineteenth-century perceptions of London's irregularity and the characterization of it as a "Provisional City," see Donald J. Olsen, The Growth of Victorian London (London: Penguin, 1979), esp. chapter 1, "A Topography of Values" (16-35).

5. I have discussed one manifestation of this impulse toward monumentality for its own sake in "Remember The Téméraire! " in Victoria's Year: English Literature and Culture, 1837-1838 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 239-71.

6. Stephen Bayley, The Albert Memorial: The Monument in Its Social and Architectural Context (London: Scholar Press, 1981), 100. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

7. Gavin Stamp and Colin Amery cite the original description of the memorial to suggest that the monument is at the "centre of the four quarters of the globe, 'and their production'" ( Victorian Buildings of London, 1837-1887 [London: Architectural Press, 1980], 74).

8. The central imagery of the design connotes value. According to John Summerson, Gilbert Scott "explained it as a medieval shrine or reliquary magnified to the 'natural' scale of which such objects seem to be miniatures" ( The Architecture of Victorian London [Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1976], 70).

9. Here it is worth pointing out that Scott conceived the central arched space of the memorial as a modern version of a medieval reliquary, "the realization in an actual edifice, of the architectural design furnished by the metal-work shrines of the middle ages. Those exquisite productions of the goldsmith and the jeweller profess in nearly every instance to be models of architectural structures, yet no such structures exist" (quoted in Stamp and Amery, 73).

10. Kenneth Clark regards these figures as proof of the pure philistinism" of the memorial: it "has always appealed in the same degree to the same class of people—the people who like a monument to be large and expensive-looking, and to show much easily understood sculpture, preferably of animals" ( The Gothic Revival: An Essay in the History of Taste [New York: Harper and Row, 1962], 189). Robert Furneaux Jordan observes that "the iconography, the literal representation of sentiment, the excess and the pathos are the Victorian aspects'' of the design ( Victorian Architecture [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966], 93).

11. According to Olsen, Victorian London was understood first in relation to the model of Paris (56-59).

12. For a different view of the development of photography, see Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990).

13. The spelling of his name varies, as in Stephen White, John Thomson: A Window to the Orient (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1985); and Street Life in London, text by Adolphe Smith, photographs by John Thompson (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1969). White points out that Smith's own real name was Adolphe Smith Headingly (31). Subsequent citations of both Street Life and White's biography of Thomson are given parenthetically in the text.

14. Roy Flukinger, The Formative Decades: Photography in Great Britain, 1839-1920 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985), 83. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

15. Publisher's note to the 1969 reprint of Street Life in London .

16. Alan Thomas speaks of the "simplicity and naturalness" of Thomson's images and of the photographer's "courage to be simple" ( Time in a Frame: Photography and the Nineteenth-Century Mind [New York: Schocken Books, 1977] 147).

17. Both quotations are from White (9); in the first he quotes Thomson, The Straits of Malacca, Indo-China, and China, or Ten Years' Travels, Adventures, and Residence Abroad (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, 1875), 10.

18. White, 40-41, quoting from "Three Pictures in Wong-nei-chung," China Magazine (August 1868): 52-56.

19. I discuss some social dimensions of this ideology in Victoria's Year, 275-79.

20. Beaumont Newhall observes that Thomson turned from his "pioneering photographic documentation" in Asia to photograph the London poor "in a similar spirit" ( The History of Photography [New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1982], 103).

21. Thomas Prasch, "Mirror Images: John Thomson's Photographic Projects in the Far East and the East End," paper delivered to the Indiana University Victorian Studies Club, December 1990, 15. I am grateful to Dr. Prasch for making his work available to me. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

22. Prasch (5-10) discusses the connections between Thomson's photographic representation of racial "types" and the classificatory practices of Victorian anthropology.

23. Thomson, 135 ("Flying Dustmen"); the discussion of flooding appears in the section "Street Floods in Lambeth."

24. Prasch points out (3-4) that Thomson's Asian documentaries look forward to the commercial progress of the people and places he photographed.

25. Those "conditions"—as Raymond Williams would remind us—include the social and economic conditions that located the nineteenth-century city in a network encompassing the countryside of England and much of the rest of the world ( The Country and the City [New York: Oxford University Press, 1973], 278, passim).

26. On the recurring Victorian image of the city as an unchartable foreign world, see F. S. Schwarzbach, "'Terra Incognita'—An Image of the City in English Literature, 1820-1855," Prose Studies 5, no. 1 (1982): 61-84.

Seeing the Unseen Pictorial Problematics and Victorian Images of Class, Poverty, and Urban Life

1. Among the most generally useful sources on the subject of Victorian artists' interpretations of the city are Ira Nadel and F. S. Schwarzbach, eds., Victorian Artists and the City: A Collection of Critical Essays (Elmsford, N.Y.: Pergamon Press, 1979); H. J. Dyos and Michael Wolff, eds., The Victorian City: Images and Realities (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973); Julian Treuherz, with contributions by Susan P. Casteras, Lee M. Edwards, Peter Keating, and Louis van Tilborgh, Hard Times: Social Realism in Victorian Art (London: Lund Humphries, 1987); and Celina Fox, Londoners (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987) and London—World City: 1800-1840 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).

2. On Victorian attitudes toward poverty, see, for example, Michael E. Rose, The Relief of Poverty, 1834-1914 (London: Macmillan, 1972); and Derek Fraser, The Evolution of the British Welfare State: A History of Social Policy since the Industrial Revolution (London: Macmillan, 1973), 115-28. On the bourgeois cult of cleanliness, see especially Anthony S. Wohl, Endangered Lives: Public Health in Victorian Britain (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973), 72-73.

3. The notion of the crowd as a social as well as political force is explored in numerous recent texts, including Harvey J. Kaye, ed., The Face of the Crowd: Studies in Revolution, Ideology, and Popular Protest (Selected Essays by George Rude ) (London: Harvester/Wheatsheaf, 1988); and Mark Harrison, Crowds and History: Mass Phenomena in English Towns, 1790-1835 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

4. See Thomas Richards, The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle, 1816-1914 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990). I am grateful to Susan Lopez-Aguado, a former graduate student in one of my seminars, for sharing with me her thoughts on this subject.

5. Anxieties about the social discomfort of riding the omnibus were captured in Victorian fiction, too, as in Charlotte Riddell, A Struggle for Fame (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1883), 81-82, where Mr. Kelly, in a fit of "wildest humor" on a West End omnibus, pretends to know a stranger, described as an older gentleman who looked like some "superannuated leader of fashion." The elderly man is so unnerved and upset by Kelly's aberrant behavior that he splutters, turns purple, and proclaims Kelly mad. The conductor is summoned, and the entire omnibus full of passengers "screamed . . . and roared in concern" at this outrageous public conduct. Clearly, Kelly erred by speaking and by ignoring proper behavior and social/psychological distance on an omnibus.

6. See Christopher Forbes, The Royal Academy (1837-1901) Revisited: Paintings from the FORBES Magazine Collection (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974), 52-53. For comments by the artist on the composition, see William Powell Frith, My Autobiography and Reminiscences (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1888), 2:208-12.

7. "The Royal Academy Exhibition," Art Journal 50 (1888): 181.

8. On these distinctions between the so-called deserving and undeserving poor, see Rose, 2-6; and R. S. Neale, Class and Ideology in the Nineteenth Century (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972).

9. Gustave Doré and Blanchard Jerrold, London: A Pilgrimage (London: Grant and Co., 1872), 188.

10. For further information on this painting, see Julian Treuherz, et al., Hard Times, 83-86.

11. "The Royal Academy," Art Journal 36 (1874): 201.

12. See Treuherz, p. 84. Other details are provided in Bernard Myers, "Studies for 'Houseless and Hungry' and the 'Casual Ward' by Luke Fildes, R.A.," Apollo 116 (July 1982): 36-43.

13. As quoted in Treuherz, p. 84.

14. "The Royal Academy," Athenaeum 47 (1874): 602.

John Millais's Children Faith and Erotics:The Woodman's Daughter (1851)

1. Millais's son, John Guille Millais, remarking on the hostile reception of this painting, writes: ''And even Charles Dickens, who in later years was a firm friend of Millais and a great admirer of his works, denounced the picture in a leading article in Household Words as 'mean, odious, revolting, and repulsive''' ( The Life and Letters of John Everett Millais, 2 vols. [London: Frederick A. Stokes, 1899], 1:75).

2. For a painter of his prominence and significance in Victorian life, Millais has received surprisingly little scholarly and critical attention. See, in addition to the indispensable Life and Letters of J. E. Millais, the following works: A. L. Baldry, Sir John Everett Millais: His Art and Influence (London: T. C. and E. C. Jack, 1908); Arthur Fish, John Everett Millais (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1923); Geoffroy Millais, Sir John Millais (London: Academy Editions, 1979); Marion H. Spielmann, Millais and His Works (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood, 1898). Subsequent citations of Spielmann are given parenthetically in the text.

3. The Poems of Coventry Patmore (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), 24-29.

4. For a supporting interpretation of Ophelia, see Robert M. Polhemus, Erotic Faith: Being in Love from Jane Austen to D. H. Lawrence (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 171-73.

5. For my reading of King Cophetua, see Erotic Faith, 76-78.

6. For a discussion of Stead and the issues of this famous case, see Judith R. Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delight (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), chapters 3 and 4; Deborah Gorham, "The 'Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon' Re-Examined: Child Prostitution and the Idea of Childhood in Late Victorian England," Victorian Studies 21 (1978): 353-79; Glen Petrie, A Singular Identity: The Campaigns of Josephine Butler (New York: Viking Press, 1971); Raymond L. Schults, Crusader in Babylon: W. T. Stead and "The Pall Mall Gazette" (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1972); and Charles Terrot, The Maiden Tribute: A Study of the White Slave Traffic of the Nineteenth Century (London: Frederick Muller, 1959).

7. Joseph Brodsky, "In Light of Venice," New York Review of Books 39, no. 11 (11 June 1992): 32.

8. For a discussion of Sir Isumbras and the circumstances surrounding its painting, reception, and further touching up, see The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, 1:311-19.

9. Charles Dickens, David Copperfield: Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Criticism, ed. Jerome H. Buckley (New York: Norton, 1990), 39. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

10. Laurel Bradley, "From Eden to Empire: John Everett Millais's Cherry Ripe, " Victorian Studies 34 (1991): 179.

11. Pamela Tamarkin Reis, "Victorian Centerfold: Another Look at Millais's Cherry Ripe, " Victorian Studies 35 (1992): 201. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

12. Reis is quoting Mark L. Knapp, Nonverbal Communication in Human Interaction (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972), 132.

13. Reis quotes William L. Marshall and Sylvia Barrett, Criminal Neglect: Why Sex Offenders Go Free (Toronto: Doubleday, 1990), 67.

14. Quoted in William Holman Hunt, Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 2 vols. (New York: Dutton, 1914), 2:205.

15. Fish, John Everett Millais, 148.

Seeing Is Believing in Enoch Arden

1. Tennyson: A Selected Edition, ed. Christopher Ricks (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989), line 762. Subsequent citations from this edition of Enoch Arden are given parenthetically in the text.

2. In the more inclusive use of "ekphrasis" I am following, among others, Murray Krieger, Ekphrasis: The Illusion of the Natural Sign (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992); and Wendy Steiner, The Colors of Rhetoric: Problems in the Relation between Modern Literature and Painting (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).

3. Herbert F. Tucker, Tennyson and the Doom of Romanticism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988), 284.

4. Karl Kroeber, British Romantic Art (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 57.

5. Martin Meisel, Realizations: Narrative, Pictorial, and Theatrical Arts of the Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 68.

6. Rhoda L. Flaxman, Victorian Word-Painting and Narrative: Toward the Blending of Genres (Ann Arbor: UMI Press, 1987), 76.

7. Gerhard Joseph, "Tennyson's Optics: The Eagle's Gaze," PAMLA 92 (1977): 423.

8. Peter Conrad, The Victorian Treasure-House (London: Collins, 1973), 76-77.

9. See Catherine Gallagher, The Industrial Reformation of Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form, 1832-1867 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985).

10. "Walter Bagehot on Enoch Arden [1864]," in Tennyson: The Critical Heritage, ed. John D. Jump (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967), 284 (date of publication bracketed in original).

11. Joseph, "Tennyson's Optics," 425. There were, in fact, five illustrated editions of the poem, as well as several adaptations in other media including several popular stage plays and four early motion picture versions. For more information on adaptations, see P. G. Scott, Tennyson's "Enoch Arden": A Victorian Best-Seller (Lincoln, England: Tennyson Research Center, 1970), 19, 22, 23.

12. Mario Praz, Conversation Pieces: A Survey of the Informal Group Portrait in Europe and America (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971).

13. "There was a picture of the family over the mantelpiece, removed thither from the front room after Mrs. Osborne's death—George was on a pony, the elder sister holding him up a bunch of flowers; the younger led by her mother's hand; all with red cheeks and large red mouths, simpering on each other in the approved family-portrait manner. . . . Some few score of years afterwards, when all the parties represented are grown old, what bitter satire there is in those flaunting childish family portraits, with their farce of sentiment and smiling lies, and innocence so self-conscious and self-satisfied" (William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968], 279).

14. The representative character of this scene and its emblematic power are also suggested by an earlier use of it in "Two Voices." In that poem Tennyson presents the scene in reverse—a suicidal man opens his casement window and looks out on the freshness of dawn and the restorative sight of a family (described in similarly pictorial terms) going to church.

15. Steiner, Colors of Rhetoric, 13-14.

16. Krieger, Ekphrasis, xvii.

17. W. J. T. Mitchell, "Space, Ideology, and Literary Representation," Art and Literature I, ed. Wendy Steiner, special issue of Poetics Today 10 (1989): 97.

18. The quotation at the beginning of the sentence is from Ernest B. Gilman, "Interart Studies and the 'Imperialism' of Language," in Art and Literature I, ed. Steiner, 23.

19. Kroeber, British Romantic Art, 1.

20. Robert Pattison, Tennyson and Tradition (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979), 20.

21. Michel Beaujour, "Some Paradoxes of Description," Yale French Studies 61 (1981): 33.

22. The Complete Works of John Ruskin, ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, 39 vols. (London: George Allen, 1909), 36:570.

23. Wendy Steiner, Pictures of Romance: Form against Context in Painting and Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 22.

24. Scott, Tennyson's "Enoch Arden" (as in note 11), 19.

25. The quotation at the beginning of the sentence is from Kroeber, British Romantic Art, 45.

26. Alexander Ross, The Imprint of the Picturesque on Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1986), 27.

27. See, for instance, Kroeber, 44.

28. Beaujour, "Some Paradoxes of Description," 42.

29. Ross, 23.

30. Quoted in Philippe Hamon, "Rhetorical Status of the Descriptive," Yale French Studies 61 (1981): 10.

31. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1969), 87.

32. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein: The Mary Shelley Reader, ed. Betty Bennett and Charles E. Robinson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 100-01.

33. Kroeber, 57.

Spectacular Sympathy Visuality and Ideology in Dickens'sA Christmas Carol

1. Sergei Eisenstein, ''Dickens, Griffith, and the Film Today," in Film Form (New York: Harcourt, 1949), 232-33.

2. According to Christian Metz, the "regime of perception" perpetuated by cinema is one for which the spectator has been "'prepared' by the older arts of representation (the novel, representational painting, etc.) and by the Aristotelian tradition of Western art in general" ( The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977], 118). Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the text.

3. See Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Detroit: Black and Red Press, 1983). Dickens's story has long been recognized for its unabashed celebration of excess and consumption. its alleged commercialization of the "Christmas spirit," and the seemingly infinite adaptability and marketability attested to by its annual reappearance as literary text, public reading, theatrical performance, television production, and film.

4. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 13. See also note 14 for "circularity."

5. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, in The Christmas Books, ed. Michael Slater (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), 1:68. Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the text.

6. Paul Davis, The Lives and Times of Ebenezer Scrooge (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990). Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the text.

7. The term interpellation is Louis Althusser's; I discuss below its relevance to my understanding of Dickens's story.

8. Despite the importance of feminine subjectivity to Victorian ideologies of feeling, A Christmas Carol links charity to the proper functioning of the economy: to a masculine-identified form of power. Relevant here is Kaja Silverman's discussion of the way in which "our dominant fiction calls upon the male subject to see himself, and the female subject to recognize and desire him, only through the mediation of images of an unimpaired masculinity" ( Male Subjectivity at the Margins [New York: Routledge, 1992], 42). Scrooge's miserliness is by implication a corollary of his rejection of female companionship and the family; the story presents Scrooge with images of his own impaired masculinity and permits him to restore himself, through gift giving, as a symbolic father to the Cratchit family ("to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father" [133-34]).

9. I refer to such novels as The Man of Feeling and A Sentimental Journey . The scenes detailing such encounters are themselves "culture-texts," in that they stage confrontations between characters situated in different social contexts and demonstrate emotion's inseparability from social configurations.

10. See Janet Todd, Sensibility: An Introduction (New York: Methuen, 1986), 91-93; and John Mullan, Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

11. See Metz, The Imaginary Signifier, for an account of techniques that emphasize the camera's control over the spectator's vision. In evoking "the boundary that bars the look," Metz suggests, the camera eroticizes seeing, in a "veilingunveiling procedure" that excites the viewer's desire (77). This kind of procedure characterizes Dickens's writing in passages such as the following:

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a church . . . became invisible. . . . In the main street, at the corner of the court, some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered. . . . (52)

This description is less an attempt at mimesis than an evocation of desire for light (and heat). Other scenes, discussed in the text of this chapter similarly depend not so much on minute description as on a "strip-tease" effect that fetishizes the visual (Metz, 77). Dickens's interest in the interrelation of vision and power resembles that of numerous other Victorian novelists. But in A Christmas Carol readers "see" because of a mechanics of projection and a dynamic of spectatorial desire that produce in then a condition of consumer desire and construct the text as commodity. For discussions of vision and power in the Victorian novel and in Dickens, see D. A. Miller, The Novel and the Police (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988); and Audrey Jaffe, Vanishing Points: Dickens, Narrative, and the Subject of Omniscience (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991).

12. Mary Ann Doane, The Desire to Desire: The Woman's Film of the 1940s (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 13-14.

13. The cultural value placed on masculine virility, for instance, is conveyed by the detail that, as the old merchant danced, "a positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves" [77].

14. As Mulvey explains, "In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that it can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness" ("Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema," in Visual and other Pleasures [Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1989], 19). This effect is what I refer to as circularity: in representing woman, A Christmas Carol (and, of course, not only that text) highlights a figure already "coded" for visual impact, culturally defined in representational terms.

15. Thomas Richards discusses the way the Great Exhibition synthesized, in the manufactured commodity, techniques associated with spectacle, such as the play of light on the object and the imposed distance between spectator and object. But the presence of these techniques in the Carol suggests that both Dickens and the Exhibition drew upon forms of representation widely present in everyday life, forms influenced perhaps most significantly by the use of plate glass ( The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle, 1851-1914 [Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1990], 21).

16. This collapse of reality and illusion suggests Baudrillard's simulacra. But I am arguing, not that the commodity form dominates culture, but rather that commodity culture draws its power from its status as an exemplary form of culture—its identity with culture as a system of representations (see Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, trans. Charles Levin [Saint Louis, Mo.: Telos Press, 1981]).

17. Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Toward an Investigation)," in Lenin and Philosophy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971), 174. Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the text.

18. This interpretation offers a solution to what Elliot Gilbert dubs "the Scrooge Problem," "the unconvincing ease and apparent permanence of Scrooge's reformation ("The Ceremony of Innocence: Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, " PMLA 90 [1975]: 22). Scrooge's "ease'' also suggests a projection of the text's ideal reader, compelled, as Scrooge is throughout, by the power of the story's representations.

19. The scene after the ball similarly imagines a consolidation of past and present: its fantasy of "presence" combines "the lightest licence of a child" with a man's knowledge of value.

20. My assertion is not that readers lack agency—that the story's claims are irresistible—but rather that A Christmas Carol, like any other text, will interpellate those subjects who respond to its call, those for whom the text compels or affirms belief in the feelings and cultural truths it represents. My reading thus participates to some extent in the "always already" structure of Althusser's narrative. I do not mean to suggest that such readers cannot read otherwise; my own argument, as well as discussions by Teresa de Lauretis and Kaja Silverman about the way considerations of gender complicate arguments about interpellation, may contribute to such revision. See Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margins; and de Lauretis, Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film, and Fiction (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987).

Silverman's discussion of Jacques Rancière's term "dominant fiction" as a story or image "through which a society figures consensus" (30) helps elucidate the claim I want to make about the Carol —that it figures consensus in the process of identification I outline here. But the best evidence for the story's success at interpellation is the spectacle of social cohesion that takes place around its images each December. Those who resist the spirit of the Carol and of the holiday are, after all, nothing but a bunch of old Scrooges.

21. Vicki Goldberg discusses the idea of images as collective culture in an article about the use, in advertising, of news photographs of catastrophes. "Whole populations," she writes, "have the same mental-image files, which constitute a large part of the common culture" ("Images of Catastrophe as Corporate Ballyhoo, New York Times, 3 May 1992, section 2, 33. Such image repertoires, while increased by the existence of cinema and television, would exist as soon as and wherever images are circulated; Elizabeth Eisenstein also suggests as much in The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 37.

The identity between culture and a series of visual images is reinforced by Dickens's description of his memories of Christmas as a series of images; see Davis, Lives and Times of Ebenezer Scrooge, 66-67.

22. Scrooge does participate in the economic system; Davis discusses the idea that before his conversion Scrooge promotes a "supply-side" economy (chapter 7).

23. Thomas Haskell, "Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility," American Historical Review 90 (1985): 560. Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the text.

24. The serialization of Scrooge's life (its division into past, present, and future) reflects the link between capitalism, serial publication, and the need for "projection"—living partly in the future—that Haskell defines as necessary to a capitalist sensibility.

Haskell (558) quotes Defoe, "An Essay upon Projects," on the connection between business and metaphorical travel:

Every new voyage the merchant contrives is a project, and ships are sent from port to port, as markets and merchandizes differ, by the help of strange and universal intelligence; wherein some are so exquisite, so swift, and so exact, that a merchant sitting at home in his counting-house, at once converses with all parts of the known world.

25. These images reflect the sense in which, by the time of Dickens's story, poverty was a spectacle rather than a visible reality for many members of the middle and upper classes. See Gareth Stedman Jones's discussion of the "separation between classes" in Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship between Classes in Victorian Society (New York: Pantheon, 1971), part 3.

26. A Christmas Carol is concerned with relations between employer and employee—between the businessman and his clerk. But this story of class relations is mapped onto the symbolic context of a patriarchal Christian order, and its cross-class appeal attests to the consensus achieved thereby.

The story allegorizes and, in its own terms, ideally effects the inscription of its readers into Victorian culture's dominant ideological structures. To the extent that those structures remain the same for contemporary readers and spectators, the story may be said to achieve the same effects. But in that context it also serves as a different kind of "culture-text," successfully representing Victorian England for present-day readers precisely because of its ability to condense culture into a series of representations. A Christmas Carol exemplifies the way in which, in a spectacular society, images mediate cultural memory.

27. "We cannot remember when we first knew this story. It is allied in our consciousness to our awareness of day and night, winter and spring . . ." (Davis, 238).

28. A Christmas Carol was the first, and the most frequently performed, of Dickens's public readings. Although the text varied from night to night, the crucial feature of the readings was reportedly the author's impersonation of his characters and his evident identification with the "spirit" of both book and holiday. See Philip Collins, Charles Dickens: The Public Readings (London: Oxford University Press, 1975), 4-7.

Reading Figures The Legible Image of Victorian Textuality

1. Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 13.

2. William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, ed. Geoffrey Tillotson and Kathleen Tillotson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1963), 5-6; 492.

3. Maria DiBattista, in ''The Triumph of Clytemnestra: The Charades in Vanity Fair, '' PMLA 95 (1980), registers the orientalism of the charades as a strategic deflection from those issues central to the novel's tacit critique: "a universal, not a historically localized, cultural pathology: sexual bondage, enslavement, exploitation, and victimization" (829). In her exhaustive thematic treatment, DiBattista characterizes in passing the linguistic dimension of the scene's "'floating signifiers'" (828) that veil rather than reveal meaning, linking the "generic imperative" of the charades—"never to expose reality in the direct light of complete representation" (834)—with Thackeray's muted diagnosis of sexual subjection in the novel as a whole.

4. Françoise Meltzer, Salomé and the Dance of Writing: Portraits of Mimesis in Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 111.

5. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, ed. Donald L. Lawler (New York: Norton, 1988), 3. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

6. Jane M. Gaines, Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice, and the Law (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 43.

7. "The Magnetic Daguerreotypes," Photographic Art-Journal 3, no. 6 (1862): 353-59, is retrieved and discussed in other terms by Alan Trachtenberg, "Mirror in the Marketplace: American Response to the Daguerreotype, 1839-1851," in The Daguerreotype: A Sesquicentennial Celebration, ed. John Wood (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989), 60-73. Subsequent citations of the story are given parenthetically in the text.

8. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, ed. Angus Calder (New York: Penguin, 1965), 35.

9. Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth (London: Collins, 1962), 193.

10. Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret, ed. David Skilton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), 295.

11. H. Rider Haggard, Mr. Meeson's Will (New York: Arno Press, 1976), 135. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

12. Peter Brooks, in Body Work: Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), characterizes the plight of an eponymous heroine from another nineteenth-century novella, Balzac's La Duchesse de Langeais, with a formulation apt for Mr. Meeson's Will as well. A woman only threatened with a branding by a male that is never performed, and who, when dead, passes into memory as if she were merely "a book read during childhood," the duchess locates for Brooks what Haggard's heroine represents more blatantly: "a remarkable example of both the semiotization of the body and the somatization of story" (77).

13. See my article "'Count Me In': Dracula, Hypnotic Participation, and the Late-Victorian Gothic of Reading," Lit 5 (1994): 1-18.

14. See Joss Lutz Marsh, "In a Glass Darkly: Photography, the Pre-Modern, and Victorian Horror," in Prehistories of the Future, ed. Elazar Barker and Ronald Bush (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995).

15. Bram Stoker, Dracula (New York: Penguin, 1979), 35.

16. H. Rider Haggard, She, ed. Daniel Karlin (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 216.

17. Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, ed. Jenni Calder (London: Penguin, 1979), 50. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

18. George du Maurier, Trilby (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1894), 418. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.

19. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, ed. Robert Kimbrough (New York: Norton, 1988), 74. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text. Both the manuscript and magazine version of the text, before Conrad's later revisions, give an overexplicit account of this picture: ". . . sunlight can be made to lie too, yet that face on paper seemed to be a reflection of truth itself . One felt that no manipulation of light and pose could have conveyed the delicate shade of truthfulness upon those features. She looked out trustfully " (Kimbrough, notes, 74; emphasis added to phrases later excised). One readily suspects why the last adverb "trustfully" must have seemed too precise and narrow for the amorphous aura of credence/credulity meant to be evoked. One likes to think, too, that the previous deletion removes any confusion between the Intended as we have her on Conrad's ''paper" and the reductive impress(ion) of the photograph.

20. J. Hillis Miller, Illustration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), 67.

21. Georges Poulet, "Phenomenology of Reading," New Literary History 1 (October 1969): 53-68. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.


Pages in italics have illustrations


Ainsworth, William Harrison 27 -28 35 , 60

Albert, Prince Consort, 170 -82, 186-95

Albert Memorial, 240 -46, 247 , 249 , 251 , 256-57

Althusser, Louis, 15 , 335 -36, 342 n.17

Annan, Thomas xxvi , 112 -19, 122 , 123 -24, 125 -30

Arnold, Matthew, xx , 8 -9, 199 -200, 208 , 214 , 219 , 245


Bagehot, Walter, 315 , 319

Balzac, Honoré de, 10

Barthes, Roland, xxii , 345 , 353

Baudelaire, Charles, 4 , 214 , 222

Benjamin, Walter, 1 , 2 -3, 134 , 141

Bertillon, Alphonse, 152 , 153 , 160, 164

Blake, William, 29 , 38

Braddon, Mary Elizabeth, 352

Brewster, David, 1 , 4

Brontë, Charlotte, 201 , 218

Brown, Ford Madox, 29 , 218

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 198 , 202 -05, 209

Browning, Robert, 208

Burne-Jones, Edward, 291


Camera, xix , 5 , 135 , 138 -39, 146 -47, 154 -56, 161-62, 164 , 261.

See also Photography

Camera obscura, 5 -7, 17, 18

Cameron, Julia Margaret, 218

Carlyle, Thomas, xx , 7 , 9 , 23 n.6, 199 , 201 , 213 -29

Carroll, Lewis (Charles Dodgson), 296 , 308

Chadwick, Edwin, 112 , 113 , 120 -21

Cinema, xxi , xxvii , 327

Clough, Arthur Hugh, 229

Collins, Wilkie, 13 , 32

Conrad, Joseph, 358 -59, 360 , 376n.16

Constable, John, 90 , 92 , 97 , 99 , 109 n.14

Copybooks, 28 , 42 ,56 -57n.4

Crary, Jonathan, xix , xxii , 1 , 5 -6, 7 , 8 , 13 , 135 , 249

Cruikshank, George, xxi , 27 -28, 34 -36, 37 , 41, 60 , 86 n.9, 159 , 235 , 237


Daguerre, L.-J.-M., 5 , 11 , 136 , 144

Darwin, Charles 8 , 323

Debord, Guy, xxii , 327

Dickens, Charles, xxi , xxiv , 1 -2, 10 -12, 27 -28, 31 -32, 33 , 34 , 39 , 55 ,113 , 114 , 153 , 155 , 201 , 214 , 215 , 229 , 247 , 250 , 289 , 359

Barnaby Rudge,236

Bleak House, 2 , 4 , 32 , 135 , 137 -46, 148 , 152 , 158 , 236 , 241

A Christmas Carol,xxvii , 327 -40

David Copperfield,10 -11, 32 , 236 , 296 -97, 356

Dombey and Son,1 , 7

Edwin Drood,32 , 34

Great Expectations,223 , 233 , 234 , 235 -36, 237 , 268 , 351



Times, 12

Household Words,144 , 145 , 146

Little Dorrit,34 , 50

Martin Chuzzlewit,166 n.11

Nicholas Nickleby,234 , 236 -40, 249 , 251 -52, 253-55

The Old Curiosity Shop,28

Oliver Twist,28 , 35 , 60 , 234 , 236 , 237

Our Mutual Friend,2 , 4 , 10 , 12 , 112 , 118 -20, 122 -24

Sketches by Boz,32 , 35

A Tale of Two Cities,2 , 4 , 7 , 223 -28, 236

The Uncommercial Traveller,14

Diorama, xix , 5 , 10 -11, 12 , 345

Disraeli, Benjamin, 214

Doré, Gustave, 274 -75, 278 , 285

Doyle, Arthur Conan, 167 n.31

see also Holmes, Sherlock

Drawing, 27 -39, 42, 44 , 45

Du Maurier, George 33 , 37 , 54 , 352 , 354 -60, 365


Egley, William Maw, 266 -68, 273 , 278 , 280

Eisenstein Sergei, 327

Ekphrasis xxv , 313 , 316 , 319 -20, 323 , 346 , 347 , 348

Eliot, George, xxi , xxiii , xxiv , 205 -06, 208 , 209

Ellis, Sarah Stickney, 169 , 172 , 173

Emerson, Peter Henry, xxvi , 6 , 88 -102, 103-08

Engels, Friedrich, 4 , 6 , 9 , 112 , 115


Faed, Thomas, 271 -72, 276 , 278 , 282

Fildes, Luke, 275 -78, 286

Flaubert, Gustave, 124

Forster, John, 60

Freud, Sigmund, 112 -13

Frith, William Powell, 32 , 200 , 210, 268 -70, 273 , 281


Galton, Sir Francis, 153 , 154 , 155 , 165

Gaskell, Elizabeth, 166 n.11

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 3

Goodall, T. F., 90 , 91 , 96 , 98 , 100


Haggard, H. Rider, 352 -53, 356 , 360 , 362-64

Hallam, Arthur Henry, xx

Hardy, Thomas, xxi , 95 , 198 , 202 , 205 -09

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 349 -50

Holl, Frank, 273 , 276 , 278

Holmes, Sherlock, xxiv , 134 -38, 147 -53, 155 , 163

Hone, William, 27 , 34 , 37 , 41

Hopkins, Gerard Manley, xx

Hunt, William Holman, 38 , 352


Illustrated London News,29 , 32 , 52, 53

Illustration, xxii , xxv , 34 , 35 , 60 -72, 237 -38, 346 -47, 352 -54, 356 , 358


James, Henry, xx -xxi

Johnson, Samuel, 216


Kaleidoscope, xix , 4

Keats, John, 316 -18, 322 , 323

Kingsley, Charles, 121 , 223

Krauss, Rosalind, 2 , 5 , 8


Lacan, Jacques, xxii , 222

Landscape, xxii , 88 -89, 91 -93, 320

Lear, Edward, 27

Lewes, George Henry, 3


Magic lantern, 7 -8, 11 , 12 , 14 , 15 , 19, 22 ,166 n.13, 345

Mallarmé, Stéphane, 359

Martineau, Harriet, 8

Martineau, Robert Braithwaite, 28 , 43

Marx, Karl, 4 , 6 , 9 , 292

Maurice, F. D., 218

Mayhew, Henry, 5 , 10 , 29 , 120 , 234 , 245 , 247 , 250

Meisel, Martin, xxii , xxv , 29 , 61 , 314

Metz, Christian, 12 , 13 -14, 328 , 330 , 337 , 341 nn.2, 11

Mill, John Stuart, xx , 9 , 216 , 221

Millais, John Everett, xxv , 60 , 265 -66, 277 , 278 , 279,289 -302, 303-07, 309 -10

Mitford, Mary Russell, 202 , 203


Optical devices, xix , xxi -xxii, xxiv , xxvi , xxvii , 3 , 4 , 5 , 9 , 12 , 14 , 135


Panorama, 10 -11, 12 , 15

Pater, Walter, xxiii -xxiv, 9 , 215 , 219 , 225 -29

Patmore, Coventry, 290 , 291 , 292

Peepshow, 10 -11

Penmanship, 28 -33, 44 , 45 , 47

Phantasmagoria, 3 -4, 6 , 9 , 10 , 12 , 14

Phenakistoscope, xix , 12

Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), xxi , 34 , 50, 60 , 237 , 238 , 253-55


Phonograph, 36

Photography, xxi , xxv -vi, 35 -36, 38 -39, 88 -102, 113 -18, 134 -56, 179 -82, 247 -52, 345 , 349 , 351 , 352 , 353 , 354 -61

Picturesque, xx , 97 , 98 , 101 , 102 , 320

Pinwell, George John, 273 -74, 277 , 284

Poe, Edgar Allen, 136 -37, 152 , 155

Pre-Raphaelites, xx , 289 , 294

Proust, Marcel, 4

Punch,34 , 49, 51 ,245 , 258, 266


Reade, Charles, 34 , 351

Robinson, Henry Peach, 88 , 91 , 93

Rossetti, Christina, 201 , 208

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 29

Ruskin, John, xx , xxi , 8 , 29 , 30 , 33 , 124 , 217 , 246 , 249 , 318


Sand, George, 202 -04, 205

Scott, Gilbert, 242 , 243 , 245 , 246

Seymour, Robert, 35 , 36

Shelley, Mary, 323

Sister arts tradition, xxii , 27 , 30 , 36 , 37 , 41 , 52 , 53 , 54 ,313

Smith, Adolphe, xxvi , 247

Spectacle, xxvi , xxvii , 172 , 175 , 182 , 198 , 201 -05, 208 -09, 213 -29, 32 , 300 -35, 338

Spencer, Herbert, 34

Stead, W. T., 292

Stereoscope, 5

Stevenson, Robert Louis, 355

Stoker, Bram, 355

Stroboscope, xix , 5


Talbot, William Henry Fox, 36 , 136 , 144 , 249

Tenniel, John, 296 , 308

Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, xx , xxv , 27 , 201 , 216 -17, 220 , 222 , 229 , 240 , 241 , 313 -24

Thackeray, William Makepeace, xxi , xxv , 60 -84, 204

The Adventures of Philip,61

The History of Pendennis,61 , 63 , 67 , 68 , 69 -71, 72 , 81-83

Vanity Fair,61 , 62 -69, 70 , 71 , 72 , 73 -76, 78 -80, 84 ,315 , 346 -47, 348 , 349 , 351 , 355 , 356

The Virginians,61 , 68 , 72

Thomson, John, xxvi , 247 -52, 259-61

Trollope, Anthony, 60 , 121 , 200 -01

Turner, William xxi , 1


"Ut pictura poesis," xx , 346


Valéry, Paul, 321

Victoria, Queen, 169 -95, 184-95,208 , 209 , 240 , 242

Visuality, xxii , 1 , 15 , 23 n.3, 327


Whistler, James McNeill, 36

Wilde Oscar, 9 , 200 -01, 223 , 226 , 317 , 347 -49, 350 , 351 , 355

Wilkinson, Edward Clegg, 272 -73, 283

Wordsworth, William, xx,   207


Zoetrope, xix , 5 , 8 , 10 , 12 , 20, 21

Preferred Citation: Christ, Carol T., and John O. Jordan, editors Victorian Literature and the Victorian Visual Imagination. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1995 1995.