Drawing on queer theory, this study locates unorthodox desire in Henry James with a special focus on his two most deliberately queer novels,
The Bostonians and
The Princess Casamassima. Jacob Jacobson shows how queer desire in these texts is exploited beyond the personal to solicit pawns for subversive causes. More than banal prattle, anarchism and feminism are viable threats to the status quo. By subtly depicting the potency of the politics of same-sex erotics, James legitimates queer desire. If fictional deaths are possible metaphors for sex, Jacobson argues that Hyacinth’s unlawful suicide can be concurrently read as a veiled act of licentious masturbation. Hyacinth recovers through death both his body politic and his body erotic in what is James’s biggest challenge to patriarchy.
Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2000. 233 pp.
Contents: Queer desire in Henry James with a special focus on the politics of erotics in The Bostonians and The
Princess Casamassima – A re-reading of Hyacinth’s death and Verena’s abduction – Hyacinth’s suicide as masturbation in
an act of appropriation of his body erotic – Verena must suffer an assault on hers.