The Day the Love Died

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The Day the Love Died Relationship Failure and the Aesthetic Moment in the Fiction of The Savoy
Addcox, J. Stephen
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (67 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.A.)
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University of Florida
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Committee Chair:
Snodgrass, Chris G.
Committee Members:
Gilbert, Pamela K.
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Subjects / Keywords:
Aesthetics ( jstor )
Death ( jstor )
Love ( jstor )
Marriage ( jstor )
Masculinity ( jstor )
Mothers ( jstor )
Narratives ( jstor )
Poetry ( jstor )
Victorians ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
aesthetic, periodical, savoy, symons
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
English thesis, M.A.


Soon after the Oscar Wilde trials of 1895, Arthur Symons was commissioned by Leonard Smithers to assemble, along with Aubrey Beardsley, a new periodical. 'The Savoy' was the result of this request, and though it lasted for only one year (January to December 1896), the eight issues of this magazine have continued to attract critical attention. However, this attention has tended to focus on the poetry, art, and nonfiction; with the prose fiction, while not being entirely neglected, taking a backseat to the rest. Critics, particularly Karl Beckson, have recognized a significant focus among these stories on narratives of failed relationships, but beyond this surface observation little has been said about why this trend appears in 'The Savoy.' Drawing from the phrase 'dying to know' that George Levine uses in his study of Victorian scientific epistemology, I argue that the metaphorical 'death' of each relationship serves as a conduit for the presentation of aesthetic insight, or the aesthetic moment. Furthermore, coming as it did so soon after Wilde?s conviction, 'The Savoy' has also been criticized for its 'aggressive heterosexuality' targeted to a primarily male audience. As editor, Arthur Symons has drawn much of the criticism due to the often overtly sexual nature of his poetry. However, in these stories it is women who preside over the ending of the relationship by resisting the 'aggressive heterosexuality' of the male protagonists--in this way, women provide access to the aesthetic moment while simultaneously asserting their opposition to masculine-centered forms of sexual power. Through an examination of several short stories that Symons selected for publication in 'The Savoy,' I suggest that his editorial criteria, while choosing from 'as many 'schools' as possible,' are defined by narratives in which the female power to end a relationship leads to aesthetic moments which underscore the fallibility (rather than the ascendancy) of aggressive masculine heterosexuality. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2008.
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Adviser: Snodgrass, Chris G.
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J. Stephen Addcox

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2008 J. Stephen Addcox 2


To my family. 3


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Even now, so near the beginning of my academ ic journey, I feel like an actor at the Academy Awards with more people to thank than time to thank them. My parents, Jim and Anne Addcox, come first, for their lif elong love and gracious support when I made the income-killing decision as a junior in high school to major in English literature instead of pursuing medical school. My siblings, Kyle, Hanna h, and Elizabeth have always been my very good friends and have helped me in more ways than I can reme mber. I must thank my wife, Anna, and daughter, Lily, who are daily inspirations and sources of great encouragement and love. My colleagues and fellow Victorianists, Rachel Slivon and Brittany Roberts, ha ve patiently and supportively listened to all my complaints about research and writing difficulties. I also thank my mentors and professors at Texas A&M University, Drs. De nnis Berthold and Mary Ann OFarrell, who both gave their time, advice, and encouragement to me as a young scholar. Finally, it is difficult to quantify the extent to which my professors at the University of Florida have contributed to this project. Dr. Pamela Gilberts advice and conversation have been extremely helpful. My final thanks go to my director, Dr. Chris Snodgrass, whose invaluable guidance and feedback with each draft urged me forward, making this proj ect much more than I had first envisioned. 4


TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................... 4 ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... ...............6 1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ ....8 2 REKINDLED RELATIONSHI PS: FAILURE RESUMED ..................................................17 3 ABORTED RELATIONSHIPS: FAILURE TO LAUNCH ...................................................29 4 LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS: UTTER FAILURE ........................................................43 LIST OF REFERENCES ...............................................................................................................60 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .........................................................................................................67 5


Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts THE DAY THE LOVE DIED: RELATI ONSHIP FAILURE AND THE AESTHETIC MOMENT IN THE FICTION OF THE SAVOY By J. Stephen Addcox May 2008 Chair: J. Stephen Addcox Major: English Soon after the Oscar Wilde trials of 1895, Ar thur Symons was commissioned by Leonard Smithers to assemble, along with A ubrey Beardsley, a new periodical. The Savoy was the result of this request, and though it lasted for only one year (January to December 1896), the eight issues of this magazine have continued to attr act critical attention. Howe ver, this attention has tended to focus on the poetry, art, and nonfiction; with the prose fiction, wh ile not being entirely neglected, taking a backseat to th e rest. Critics, particularly Ka rl Beckson, have recognized a significant focus among these stories on narratives of failed relationships, but beyond this surface observation little has been said a bout why this tr end appears in The Savoy. Drawing from the phrase dying to know that George Levine uses in his study of Victorian scientific epistemology, I argue that the metaphorical dea th of each relationship serves as a conduit for the presentation of aesthetic insi ght, or the aesthetic moment. Furthermore, coming as it did so soon after Wildes conviction, The Savoy has also been criticized for its aggressive heterosexuality targ eted to a primarily male audience. As editor, Arthur Symons has drawn much of the criticism due to the ofte n overtly sexual nature of his poetry. However, in these stories it is women who preside over th e ending of the relationship by resisting the aggressive heterosexuality of th e male protagonistsin this way, women provide 6


7 access to the aesthetic moment while simultane ously asserting their opposition to masculinecentered forms of sexual power. Through an examin ation of several short stories that Symons selected for publication in The Savoy, I suggest that his editorial criteria, while choosing from as many schools as possible, are defined by na rratives in which the female power to end a relationship leads to aesthetic moments which underscore the fallibility (rather than the ascendancy) of aggressive masculine heterosexuality.


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Those familiar with the power ballads of the 1980s will remember a particular song entitled, Dont Know What You Go t (Till Its Gone), by the band Cinderella, which is, for the most part, a standard piece on the pains of br eaking up. However, despite the hackneyed wording of the songs sentiment, the lyric and the title draw a significa nt connection between epistemology and loss. In essence, the song suggests that it wasnt un til the relationship had ended that the narrator was able to recognize its positive aspects. Yet the narrator paradoxically claims in the songs refrain that it is only the s ong itself (Now I know what I got / Its just this song), and not the failed relationship, of which he can claim knowledge and possession. Thus, for the songs male speaker, the absence of th e relationship has simultaneously generated a greater awareness of its qualities and a capacity for artistic creation. George Levine, in a study of Victorian scie ntific epistemology, draws his title from a similar phrase, that of dying to know. While his work primarily examines the history of objectivity as a scientific ideo logy in Victorian England, I have begun with Cinderellas power ballad in an effort to demonstrate that the liminal positioning inherent in the claim only in death can one understand what it has meant to be alive, has a wider impact than on the intersections between science and narrative (Levine 2). Th e penultimate chapter of Levines book draws comparisons between the scientific writings of Karl Pearson and Walter Paters The Renaissance (1873). In discussing The Renaissance a book which greatly influenced the development of lateVictorian aestheticism, Levine argues that Paters assertion that somehow one can actually isolate, locate, [and] particular ize moments from the flux is predicated upon the notion that it is possible to salvage the knowable from the flux of experience by way of a radical ascesis (Levine 266). Pater, in his famous Conclusion to The Renaissance posits a connection 8


between loss and knowledge: While all melts unde r our feet, we may well catch at any exquisite passion, or any contribution to know ledge that seems [] to set th e spirit free for a moment (Pater 211). In this discovery of knowledge as all melts, Pater in troduces the moment, thereby connecting knowledge acqui sition, loss, and a brief temporal event. While the influence of his Conclusion on the development of late nineteenth-century Decadence has been well documented, there has been scant examination of how Paters connecti on of loss and knowledge manifests itself in the fin de sicle. This is especially important, since it was in the 1890s that many students of Paters aestheticism established themselves. I will argue that we can locate a similar link in the prose fiction selected by Arthur Symons for publication in th e short-lived periodical The Savoy (1896). In his biography of Symons, Karl Beckson char acterizes the fiction of The Savoy as preoccupied with failed relationships, in particul ar failed marriages ( A Life 129). The observation is certainly accurate, a brief survey of the fiction published in the magazi ne reveals that more than half of the stories directly confront the breakdown of romantic or marriage relations hips, while the remainder often address such moments in a tange ntial or marginal way. This being the case, what is the significance of this trend, especia lly for a journal whose critical acclaim has largely been focused on its art and poetry?1 Unfortunately, Beckson only provides a cursory explanation, attributing this thematic trend to the new interest in psychological explorati on (129). Upon a closer review it becomes clear that while there may be an interest in the psychological in these stories of failed relationships, it is in th e very failure, in the death of the relationship, that these stories locate aesthetic moments of insight, much as Pate r describes. Add itionally, in many of the stories 1 Critics such as Stanley Weintraub, who figuratively renamed The Savoy to The Beardsley in his re-issue of selections from the magazine, have perpetuated the focus on The Savoy s art. (Aubrey Bear dsley served as art editor, and drew all the magazines covers.) Additionally, many of The Savoy s contributors, such as Ernest Dowson, W. B. Yeats, and Arthur Symons, have been prim arily remembered for their poetry, leading to a greater focus on the verse over the prose fiction. 9


it is the woman who initiates (or perpetuates) the break. In these heterosexual relationships women are granted a high degree of control, and due to the causality between relational failure and the acquisition of insight, women become the arbiters of aesthetic knowledge. Becksons brief section on The Savoys short fiction indicates that he finds this interest in psychological explor ation generally across The Savoys many contributing authors, but there is no clear explanation of why such an inte rest would exist across such a varied group. Obviously, as editor, Symons was in control of who was published, and yet even he ostensibly intended to establish a group of contributors who were chosen from as many schools as possible ( Savoy 8: 91). This view that The Savoy was highly diverse has persisted in the criticism; Margaret Anne Daniel s recent article on Symonss edito rship of the magazine had this to say about the authors Symons chose to publish: Symons assembled in The Savoy a truly unique sample of fin-de-sicle culture, introducing young writers and ar tists soon to be canonical and forgotten alike, but giving them a chance. [] The Savoys overall strength is not that it has all of anything, but that it has something of everythingexcellent examples of everything from its times. The Savoy preserves and presents perfectly representative samples of the variety of literary formsaesthetic, symbolist, decadent, realistic, and naturalistice xperimental with in [sic] English literature during the 1890s. (166) Similarly, Barry Anthony describes Symons and his companion editor, Aubrey Beardsley, as having managed to collect together an amazingl y varied group of contributors and to produce one of the most important of all avant garde pub lications (44). And speaking more generally of Symonss efforts to legitimize decadence with his 1893 essay, The Decadent Movement in Literature, Joseph Bristow observes that modern criticism has had considerable difficulty in trying to comprehend why Symons grouped such a motley crew of writers together under the same banner (67). So the question remains: how does such a motley crew manage to produce a body of short fiction that shar es so many of the same narrative components? Hilary Fraser, 10


Stephanie Green, and Judith Johnstons study, Gender and the Victorian Periodical provides several helpful insights into these questions. In their book Fraser, Green, and Johnston point to the presence of a uniquely individual house style in each journal to explain the hom ogeneity of particular publications. This house style is dictated by the editor (in this case, Arthur Symons), and it becomes the dominant discourse, establishing a set of standards which [] most nearly represent how that journal wishes to present itself to the public (78-79) Generally the house styl e is introduced in a prefatory statement from the editor, in which he or she describes the kind of periodical this is, [] promises to maintain a high standard and implies the kind of audience it aims to reach (8687). Drawing from Lynne Warrens study, Woman, Fraser, et al. show th at editorial comment allows the editor to shut down the range of possible meanings in a periodicals discourse by showing the reader how to interpret them (85-86). The Savoy s editorial preface both works against and confirms these conclusions; wh ile Symons specifically emphasizes the new magazines varied contributors, he also appeals to an intelligent readership who values good art. We have no formulas, we desire no false unity of form or matter. We have not invented a new point of view. We ar e not Realists, or Romanticists, or Decadents. For us, all art is good which is good art. We hope to appeal to the tastes of the intelligent by not being orig inal for originalitys sake, or audacious for the sake of advertisement, or tim id for the convenience of the elderlyminded. We intend to print [] no fiction which has not a certain sense of what is finest in living fact []. We could scarcely say more, and we are content to think we can scarcely say less. (1: 1) Symons, while highlighting The Savoy s freedom from a unity of form, points out that the magazine will fulfill an aesthetic of good art. As his chosen house style, the ideal of good art manifested itself in the short stories as aesthet ic moments that, while generated in seemingly disparate narratives, underscore feminine power over masculine heterosexuality. 11


It is well known to schol ars of the 1890s that The Savoy first appeared not long after the infamous trials of Oscar Wilde concluded. As such, it became necessary for journals like The Yellow Book and The Savoy to distance themselves from anything associated with Wilde. In the case of Symonss editorship, The Savoy incorporated aggressive heterosexuality in order to distance itself from the taint which Wilde s ignominy had cast over the ideas of decadence (Brake, Subjugated Knowledges 148). Laurel Brake argues that th is heterosexuality is evident in the numerous examples of short stories, draw ings, [and] poems which treat performing women or women as the object of the gazes of males (1 53). Indeed, the very fi rst story published in the magazine appears to be just such a tale; To Nancy is an epistolary narra tive of an older painter who becomes obsessed with a pube scent actress. Anne Margaret Daniel concludes that To Nancy appears to have been included to refute any [] suggestion that The Savoy might be read and [] enjoyed by New Wome n (170). But Laurel Brake goe s even further, extending the observation to include more than just New Wo men: most nineteenth-century women readers would have found the contents of Symons, Sm ithers, and Beardsleys venture offensive (Brake, Subjugated Knowledges 150). Brakes argument that The Savoys editorial policy was inherently male-centered provides, at least, an explanation for the magazines publishing history. Of the more than forty literary contributors, only six were women, confirming its reputation as a magazine written by men for a male read ership from a masculine perspective. Conclusions about The Savoys unsuitability for women readers are not limited to contemporary criticism; a devastating blow to The Savoys survival came when the bookseller W. H. Smith refused to stock the magazine, beca use the retailer found Yeat ss series of articles on William Blake inappropriate for their a udience of young ladies (quoted in Yeats, Autobiography 195). While the decision by a ma jor distributor to stop selling The Savoy may 12


have sealed the magazines financial downfall, it al so gave credence to the view that the contents Symons selected for publication were best read by a masculine audience. Modern critics have seemed particularly willing to accept the premise that The Savoy would have been offensive to women readers of the 1890s; in effect, they have perpetuated W. H. Smiths judgment. However, I would argue that the stories in The Savoy consistently undermine masculine heterosexual power through the persistence of women characters who refuse to countenance courtship or continued relationships. Rather than pl acing women in the margins of The Savoy the stories that Symons selected position women as symbolic gatekeepers for the narratives aesthetic moment of insight; in this way, The Savoy, through Symonss editorship, uses narratives which appear masculinecentered to overcome notions of masculine roma ntic and sexual ascend ancy. Although Symons selected stories written mostly by men, The Savoy consistently presents a narrative of masculine power being diminished through roma ntic interactions with women. The way in which The Savoy stories achieve aesthetic mome nts may, at first glance, seem dubious. If the failure of heterosexual relationships leads to an aesthetic moment of insight, how is it that women are not mere impediments that must be brushed aside in order to reach this moment? In these stories, I will argue, only through the womans termin ation of the relationship can an aesthetic moment of insight occur. Th e path to knowledge lies in relational death as indispensably carried out by women characters.2 Just as for Victorian scientists such contingent qualities as bias and ambition were allegedly d isplaced by a self-effaci ng duty to disinterested empirical research, so in many Savoy short stories, the termination of relationships sees romantic sexual desire displaced by separation and refusal. 2 In his introduction, Levines use of dying to know, is dissociated from its literal meaning: not dying literally in the body [but] in the sense that all those contingent qualities that constitute life for everyone are displaced (15). 13


Literature had, of course, drawn upon the languag e of death to describe romantic failure well before The Savoy, and within Victorian literature many pieces link death and failed relationships. George Merediths Modern Love (1862) draws a direct connection between the impending failure of marriage and death: Like sculptured effigi es they might be seen / Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between; / Each wi shing for the sword that severs all (14-16). Similar language is found in Ernest Dowsons T he Eyes of Pride, as the male protagonist bemoans his realization that It is so much easier to die for the wo man you love than to live with her ( Savoy 1: 55). A sustained romantic relationship becomes even more painstaking than death, and separation or death is recogni zed as the only way to avoid this incredible difficulty. This recognition comes to Dowsons prot agonist like an intuition, a moment of insight suggested through an invocation of death (55). For Arthur Symons the connections between aesthetic moments of insight and metaphorical death began before he started editing The Savoy, and a precedent of associating aesthetic moments with metaphorical death exists in his prior work. Following Paters aesthetic philosophy, Symonss early critical writings emphasize the importance of capturing particular moments. In his book, An Introduction to the Study of Browning (1887), Symons characterizes Brownings poetry as capable of r eveal[ing] the soul to itself by the application of a sudden test, which shall condense the long trial of years into a single moment []. These moments of intense significance [] are struck out in Mr. Browni ngs poetry with a clearness and sharpness of outline that no other poet has achieved (9). In the same paragraph, Symons quotes Pater, The poetry of Robert Browning, says Mr. Pater, is [] the poetry of situations. Embedded as this quotation is in Symonss analysis of Browning, Symons reads Paters situations as synonymous with his moment. 14


Four years later, in 1892, Symons published a collection of poems, Silhouettes that employs Paterian logic even more. R. K. R. T hornton finds that in th ese poems Symons invokes a much more Paterian moment than in the ea rlier poems []. For Brownings way of seizing the moment in the actions and reactions of peopl e, Symons has learned to substitute a precise detailing of externals, seizing the moments with things (Decadent Dilemma 138). However, by the time Symons was working on The Savoy, his focus on moments had shifted away from the things of Thorntons analysis towards a more connected moment that conflates aesthetic insight with a terminal finality. In the magazines seventh i ssue, Symons published his own nonfiction piece Isles of Aran, which was a trav el narrative describing a trip he took to Ireland with Yeats. His experience of th e western Irish isles leads to an important moment wherein the earlier emphasis on externals is being repl aced by an ethereal moment of insight. I have never realized less the slipping of sand through the hour-glass; I have never seemed to see with so remote an im partiality, as in the presence of brief and yet eternal things, the troubling and in significant accident s of life. I have never believed less in the reality of the visible world, in the importance of all we are most serious about. One seems to wash off the dust of cities, the dust of beliefs, the dust of incredulities. (7: 79) For Symons the reality of the visible world seems to crumble away in the midst of a unique aesthetic moment. His emphasis on the ethereal paints a ghostly pictur e in which death and terminality are ever present harbingers of each moments brevity. So while Symonss insight is captured in a moment, he cannot escape the recogn ition of the limitations inherent in the visible world, and thus the process of wash[ing] off the dust allows for greater knowledge and insight. Just as the visible world acts as an impedi ment to Symonss aesthetic insight in this experience, so are the ro mantic relationships in The Savoys fiction brushed aside by women characters. In doing so both the characters in and th e readers of these stories observe the extent to 15


16 which supposed masculine heterosexual dominance is subordinate to feminine control. Symonss editorial selections appeal to his idea of the aesthetic moment while also introducing narratives that subverted the aggressive masculine hetero sexuality supposedly required in the aftermath of Oscar Wildes trials. The stories I will focus on can be roughly cat egorized according to the type of romance contained in each narrative.3 These are not static categories, and they should be understood as general guiding thematic narratives rather than ha rd and fast labels. The first is stories that attempt to rekindle an earlier romance which, for varying reasons, had previously failed or been put on hold. The second category are stories about romantic rela tionships that seemingly end before they begin, stories of missed opportunities or deliberate termination of a potential courtship in its early stages. Fina lly there are stories about relationships that go awry in a more familiar fashion: the divorces, the break-ups, and the infidelities. My discussion will follow these categories as a way to organize the stories into groups that share simila r narrative and thematic qualities. 3 This study encompasses slightly less than half of the total fiction published in The Savoy The remainder do not address failed relationships to such an extent that would justify including them. For a complete listing of all the fiction see Weintraub, The Savoy: Nineties Experiment which has reprinted the Ta ble of Contents from each issue. Some of the issues have also be en archived electronically on Google Books.


CHAPTER 2 REKINDLED RELATIONSHIPS: FAILURE RESUMED The stories of failed rekind lings are unique among the thr ee groups, since the characters of these stories, in a sense, fail twice. In some cases the first failure is included in the narrative, while in other cases it is only alluded to through the present narrativ e. Among these stories memory plays an important role as the male and female protagonists ofte n recall their previous encounter(s) differently. These st ories achieve their aesthetic mo ment through a reassertion of one memory over another as the relationship fails. The mans romantic memory becomes subordinated to the womans rea lization that the relationship is no more. One of the more prominent contributors to The Savoy, Ernest Dowson, has two stories that fit this description: The Eyes of Pride and Countess Marie of the Angels. As these are also the first two stories of this kind published in the magazine, they se rve as an appropriate opening. Dowson has been primarily recognized for his work as a poet, and yet Arthur Symons observed that he was the only poet I ever knew who cared more fo r his prose than his verse (Symons, Ernest Dowson xxii). It is also significant that a Daily Chronicle review of Dowsons 1895 collection of stories, Dilemmas praised his ability to [embody] with great skill and charm the conception of life as a series of moments and emotions and of certain crises arising th erefrom which have an artistic interest of their own (Longaker 8). Dowsons Countess Marie of the Angels, which was published in the second issue of The Savoy, tells the story of a retired English colo nel, Sebastian Mallor y. He has recently returned to Europe, retired from service in India, and, as a new civilian, makes his way back to Paris in an effort to rekindle a childhood roma nce with Marie-Joseph-Angle de la Tour de Boiserie. Dowson focuses much of the narrative on Mallorys idealized memories of Marie from their childhoodsan effect which Chris Snodgra ss has termed aesthetic memoryand it is 17


through this memory that Dows ons protagonists routinely seek to forestall the potentially destructive evolution of their relationships by transforming them into timeless tableaux of an idealized past or eternal present, set free a nd perpetually sequestere d from human action (Snodgrass, Memorys Cul-de-sac 37). In placing aesthetic memory within the larger context of Dowsons other works, Snodgrass draws a conn ection between Dowsons narratives of failed relationships and the Schopenhauerean manifestati on of the Fall, where happiness is real only as a function of absence (38). And, as Snodgrass points out, the titular charact er of Countess Marie of the Angels suggests just this very idea when she ultim ately rejects Mallorys attempts at romance. However, before Mallory fails with Marie, Ma ries own marriage fails; the story is one of a woman who is caught in a marriage from which th e male protagonist believes he can save her. Indeed, Mallorys first attempt at saving Marie occurs soon after her husband, Raoul, has fallen into ill repute, having gambled away th eir money. Marie is separated from Raoul and Mallory comes to her in an effort to build a relationship, but she turns him away. Now that her husband has died, Mallory returns for a second attempt, but Marie diminishes his hopes before they even meet face to face. A letter she l eaves at his hotel makes him realize that his pilgrimage was a self-deception (2: 181). In this letter, Dowson establishes feminine power over the relationship through the primacy of language. Before Mallory has the opportunity to present his request to Marie, her letter convinces him of the futility of his journey. Embedded within the recognition of this failure is an understanding of their separation, He c ould feel now, after all those years of separation, that she had been to him in some sort a genius actually angelic affording him just that salutary ideal, whic h a man needs to carry himself honourably (180). While the failure of the relationship is a crisis for the characters involve d, it is also the conduit 18


through which knowledge is accesse d. Mallorys crisis of aesthetic memory leads him to the recognition, voiced by Marie, th at there are some renunciations which are better than happiness (182).4 However, Maries statement does not fully explain why such renunciations are better than happiness, although there is an answer within Maries own past. The narrator emphasizes that it was Marie s iron-featured old grandmother [who] resolved long ago that the shattered fortunes of a great house [] were to be retrieved by a rich marriage (175). R. K. R. Thornton and Monica Bo rg aptly recognize that Marie, in refusing Mallorys overtures, takes charge of her life, subverting a course of action which would have led a childhood romance to end in a second marriag e (xxvi). First throu gh her letter and then later at their meeting, Mallory is confronted wi th the recognition that Marie would have lowered herself if they had been married, that marriage would force Marie to diminish in both his estimation and hers. Dowson is not drawing a comparison between the two characters based on class, rather he is underscoring the insight of a man who realizes a woman can say no and be the better for it: You [Marie] are different to other women, you always knew best the needs of your own life. I see now that you would have be en miserable (182). All the aestheticized memories that Mallory has recalled throughout the narrative would undoubted ly be contradicted in marriage, as would Maries assertion of her independence. Thus, through her refusal, Marie introduces Mallory to an understanding of his memorys failings while simultaneously positioning herself as an assertive and paradoxically positive influence. Since both agree that any marriage between them would not have gone well, th e failure of the roman tic relationship is, in this case, recast in a positive light, not the leas t due to the acquisition of knowledge and insight to which its failure gave access. 4 Snodgrass calls this statement the ide fixe of Dowsons love stories (29). 19


Dowson believed his first story published in The Savoy, The Eyes of Pride, was one of his best (Adams 111). The story concerns the romance of Rosalind Li ngard and Mr. Seefang (who possesses no given name in the story); they qui ckly fall in love, get engaged, and then just as quickly their engagement falls apart. In the first half of the story, Seefang recollects their whirlwind romance as he storms home after th e dissolution of their e ngagement, and in the second half, Seefang and Rosalind reunite for the first time while attending a dinner party five years later. As a painter who comes from the upper class, Seefang finds Rosalinds beauty compelling, but it also repel[s] him in a girl of his own class, although he would [like] it well enough in women of less title to respect (1: 53). Undersco ring the potential for the relationships failure, Dowson exposes Seefangs re fusal to act on his distaste for Rosalind, even after she warns him about her pers onality, Im not a nice girl, I ve told you so before (54). As such, it is Seefang who fails to recognize the obvious and inevitabl e demise of their relationship. Unlike Seefang, Rosalind reali zes the impending failure of th eir engagement, and, at their reuniting, it is she who seeks to enforce their separation. In their first courtship, Dowson underscores this through a moment between the two when Rosalind, observing their surroundings, alludes to the potential for failure. When she looked up, the sun, moving westwards, lit up the valley opposite them, illuminated the white stones of a village cemetery. Her eyes rested upon it. Presently she said: Oh, my dear, let us be kind to each other, bear and forbearThats the e nd of it all. (55) The presence of such clear death imagery in th e cemetery, coupled with Rosalinds awareness of the end of it all, are heavy markers which denot e her keener sense of the relationships future. Meanwhile, apparently oblivious to the implicati ons of his statement, Seefang replies that it would be easier if they were dead together [ ] lying there quietly, out of the worry of things (55). Since they do not desire phy sical death as a way to achieve a harmonious relationship, the 20


only course available is a metaphor ical death through ending the re lationship. Of course, all of the memories of their first courtship are bei ng filtered through Seef angs anger after their breakup, and yet, his memory credits Rosalind with the initial recognition that their romance is headed for failure. In a sense, Seefangs anger ov er their failed relationship is fueled by his understanding that Rosalind was right: That hi s anger was out of all proportion to her wrongdoing he knew, and his knowledge merely infl amed his passionate resentment (56). As such, Dowson calls into question the legitimacy of his bitterness over Rosalinds taking constancy too much for granted (56). While his memory of their first romance locate s the insight into its inevitable failure with Rosalind, their reunion five years later crystallizes romantic failu re through momentary aesthetic insight. Rosalinds desire for constancy is sa tisfied when she marries the decrepit Lord Dagenham whose capacity for infidelity (and even marital consummation) is very likely hindered by his partial paralysis. In the interim, Seefangs paintings have garnered great acclaim, and the former lovers eventually meet upon his return to London from the Continent. Standing together on a balcony during an evening gathering, Rosalind protests Seefangs reco llections of the past, That was over and done with years and years ago. It is no use maddening ourselves. [] we may not meet againtell me about yourself, your life, all these years (61). But Seefang turns the conversation back to Rosalind s marriage, and she admits that it has not been a success. In a revealing statement, Rosalind tells Seefang, I have done tried to do my duty to him [her husband] (61). Effectively admitting that th e marriage has not been consummated, Rosalind unwittingly opens the way for Seefang to attempt a re clamation of their romance. He is certainly capable of giving her what her aged husband cannot. Her statement leads to a silent moment of 21


insight, wherein they both recognize this potential, and yet it is Rosalind who tries to diffuse Seefangs passion. A fresh silence intervened, nervous and un easy: each feared to dissipate it, for each was instinctively conscious of wh at gulfs of passion lay beneath it, irretrievable chasms into which one uns tudied phrase, one word at random, might hurl them both. She was the first to make the venture. (61) Language is given performative power in th is moment, and Dowson suggests that words themselves have a potential energy capable of th rowing Seefang and Rosalind together. In this moment it would seem that any word which either may speak must inevitably fling them into a chasm of passion. Rosalind defiantly breaks the silence with words that clearly demonstrate her willingness to control and negate whatever desire may exist between them. Using what has now become a rather ubiquito us phrase in the ending of relationships, she asks if they can just be friends. But these word s, strive though they may against temptations to intimacy, are an error as Seef ang passionately kisses her (62). This moment of contact fuels Seefangs aesthetic memory, and he futilely beckons her to go away with him: Look at the park, Rosalind! Its a mist, and dark; you can guess at the trees, believe in the grass; pe rhaps its soft and new there,its vague and strangewould you plunge into it now with me, darlinginto the darkness? (62). While Rosali nd has already recognized that ther e is no lasting romance to be had between them, Seefang continues to pursue her. Rather than aestheticizing the past into a misty and mysterious garden, Rosalind balks at S eefangs admitted incapacity for fidelity: How little you respect me! You need not have told me that your reputation is infamous: I have heard of it: is it true then? (63). Throughout their meeting it is Rosalind who consistently resists renewing their previous romance, while Seefang continues to seek romance. Dowson suggests a degree of courage in Rosalind th at Seefang does not possess, sin ce it is she who first speaks following their silence and it is she who, through that moment, most consistently realizes that 22


their romance cannot last. In a sense, the moment of insight first convi nces Rosalind of their incompatibility, while Seefang must cling to a me mory that glosses over their difficulties. Her last spoken words, So this is the end? are delivered in an expression less voice, which cannot entice Seefang to attempt another advance (63) An empty voice is all that can communicate properly to him the dissolution of their relationship; thus does the woman deny a renewed relationship while also serving as an interpre ter of the aesthetic moment for Seefang. While Rosalind attempts to establish the end of thei r romance in that moment, Seefang can only recognize that same fact when Rosalind forces his acknowledgment. Unlike Dowsons stories, Mutability, by Theodore Wratislaw, is about a rekindled romance that ends in an engagement, but with a clear indication that this engagement is not a happy ending. The storys protagonist, Algern on Deepdale, with obvi ous correspondences to the Algernon of Oscar Wildes The Importance of Being Earnest is a man who gets around. Among his social circle in London are innumerable women with whom he [has] relations of some kind, making Deepdale much more indicati ve of the masculine-oriented narrative and audience that contemporary critics have read into The Savoys fiction (5: 52). Due to his roaming ways, Algernons story concerns more than one failed relationship. The primary romance opens the story with Deepdale proposing to a young Miss Helen Gray, a woman he has just met while spending some time at the coast. Gray, surprised that he proposes to her so quickly (Why cannot you be patient? You have only known me for th is little time and yet you want everything or nothing, at once. [40]), refuses him, and Deepda le returns to London to discover that another romantic relationship has gone wrong. This s econd failure is in many ways far worse; Deepdales affair with the married Mrs. West ham results in her preg nancy, but her husband, being away at sea, will return too late to be convinced that he is the father. Rather than face his 23


social downfall, Deepdale decides to join a fr iend who is traveling to Norway, escaping the ignominy of Mrs. Westhams pregnancy and leaving her to her misery. While he is away, Mrs. Westham commits suicide and leaves a note describing their relationship. In some ways, the plot bears resemblance to other Victorian narratives wherein the male protagonist absents himself for a time because of relationship problems. In Lady Audleys Secret for example, George Talboys runs away to Austra lia when his marriage sours, and like Deepdale and Westham, Talboys returns to find that his wife has died (although in his case this turns out to be false). This correspondence between the two na rratives may not have been as coincidental as it seems, because the first woman Deepdale spea ks to upon returning from Norway is one Lady Audley. She alludes to the new beauty (Helen Gray) with whom Deepda le had once fallen in love [] and [] forgotten all about it, before pr ophesying that he will f all in love with her again (45). R. K. R. Thornt on describes the characters in Mutability as behaving with a consciousness of sexual power, and the story is brutally anti-idealistic ( Caprices 7). I would argue that this consciousness of sexual power is primarily locat ed in Deepdale, and to ascribe such a quality to the entire cast of characters somewhat misrepresents the narratives progression. The brief moment in which Deepdale loses his consciousness of sexual power occurs immediately after he discovers that Westham has committed suicide. While angry at first, Deepdales emotions precipitously shift to a deep empathy for Mrs. Westham; this is a singular moment of insight, which Wratislaw introduces for an otherwise unsympathetic character. He was overwhelmed [] with remorse. Why had he not stayed and helped her? He forgot how weary of her presen ce he had been, and reproached himself only for his leaving her to her trouble. What misery she must have endured! What a beast he was! Would he have to go through life with the consciousness of having committed the most callous of murders, of having caused the death of the one woman who had really loved him, wearisome though she was! (47) 24


In effect, this moment for Deepdale signals a fu lfillment of Levines title, dying to know, since his recognition of his contribu tion to Westhams death induces a deeper understanding of her turmoil prior to suicide. Deepdales insight is compounded by the letter that Westham leaves behind; similarly to the letter Colonel Mallory receives from Marie, Westhams writing impresses Deepdale as much saner and less effu sive [] than he exp ected, [] both dignified and pathetic (47). Like Marie, Mrs. Westhams saner underst anding of Deepdale and their relationship surprises and affronts his contro lling sexual power. Unlike the masculine gazing narrator who renders th e object of his view into vers e, a common theme among much of The Savoy s poetry, in these stories it is the women who wield control over language, and as such, the knowledge to which their use of language grants access. However, the epistemological avenues that Deepdale accesses thr ough the death of Mrs. Westham are quickly forgotten as he pursues He len Gray. Similarly, Gray does not rely on her memory of their first encounter and Deepdales hasty proposal to solid ify her refusal of his advances. Even his crime agains t Mrs. Westham, made public by the publication of her letter at the inquest, does not [overwhelm Gray] with horro r, and she actually inte rprets her reaction to his behavior as evidence of her love for him (50). In describing the romance between these two characters, Wratislaw still demonstrates the sign ificant insights that are available through the termination of Deepdales relationship with Mr s. Westham and her subsequent death. Perhaps the most poignant insight that these two characters (Gray and Deepdale) demonstrate is their capacity to forget: Deepdale forgets his empathy with Westham, and Gray forgets her astonishment at Deepdales first rash proposal. The metaphorical (of the re lationship) and literal (of Mrs. Westham) deaths break through to their consciences and are then brushed aside. When Gray accepts Deepdale, he smile[s] to himsel f in triumph, and yet Wratislaws narrative 25


undermines this triumph; the disastrous result of Deepdales last triumph (with Westham) foreshadows the potential conclu sion to his relationship with Gray (51). In other words, Wratislaws story underscores the dangers inherent in forgetting the aesthetic insights that a relationships dissolution provides. Within these three stories of rekindled ro mance, Symons has chosen narratives that emphasize the womans power to terminate the re lationship and her control of language as a means to do so. Symonss later criticism in The Romantic Movement in English Poetry (1909) describes an anxiety st emming from the power a man loses to the woman he loves; Symons characterizes Keatss views of love thus: With the woman one loves one admits all ones enemies. Think: all ones happiness to depend upon the will of anot her, on that others fragility, faith, mutability; on the way life comes to th e heart, soul, conscience, nerves of someone else []. It is to call in a pa ssing stranger and to say: Guard all my treasures while I sleep, for there is no certainty in the world beyond the certainty that I am I, and that what is not I can never draw one breath for me, though I were dying for lack of it. (300-1) T. Earle Welby, in his early st udy of Arthur Symons, finds para llels in this passage with Symonss own poetic representations of romance. Symons, Welby argues, is very largely the poet of love remembered. [] It is not only that he looks back on old experience, actual or imaginary. When the present [] would be most absorbing, [Symons] is found projecting himself years forward in order to be able to gaze back at it. The present is appreciated as it will be when it is the past (37). In light of Wel bys observation, Symonss ed itorial decisions with respect to these stories of rekindled romance become clearer. In effect, romance (or love) remembered is an experience of recalling something that has ended, so that Symons becomes the editor, as well as the poet, of the ended romance. Dowsons clear reverence for the romance 26


remembered, and aestheticized memory in particul ar, must have appealed to Symons, since he included Dowsons work in every issue of The Savoy, save the final number.5 On the other hand, Theodore Wratislaws pr otagonist, Algernon Deepdale, can barely remember his experiences from one romance to th e next, since, as we see, he has completely forgotten Helen Gray upon his return from Norw ay. However, he relies on false memory to finally seduce Gray. You know now why I went away. Can you not guess what I suffered all the time, knowing that I had lost you, you who were ever like a star in my dark heaven? Think now what my life will be without the one hope that filled me for so long, the one thing that made me live. I have lost thatand I have lost everything. It is my own faultand yet not so much my fault as perhaps you think. It was my own sin, and I must pay for it. (51) While Symonss review of Keats emphasizes the power of the woman in a romantic relationship, Deepdale, unlike Dowsons protagonists, does no t carry the insight he gained through Mrs. Westhams suicide over to his subs equent relationship with Miss Gr ay. He has, narratalogically speaking, no memory at all. While believing he ha d terminated the affair with Mrs. Westham on his own terms, her reclamation of power thr ough both her suicide and her letter blindsides Deepdales (perceived) detached masculine contro l. Wratislaw is examining the character of a man who, despite the insights he accesses through Westhams deat h, is able to forget very easily, and he relie[s] on this ability to preser ve him from any future outbreaks of conscience (48). Like the aesthetic memori es of Mallory and Seefang, Deepdale constructs an aesthetic memory of his need for Helen that contri butes to her capacity to forget as well. In these stories of failed rekindled relationships, Dowson and Wratislaw invoke aesthetic memory in the acquisition of knowledge thr ough relational death. Dows ons narratives are limited to the conflict of masculine aesthetic memo ry with a feminine resistance to romance and 5 The last issue of the The Savoy only included work by Arthur Symons and Aubrey Beardsley. 27


28 the resulting relationship failure, while Wratislaw e xplores a relationship that is rekindled after a separate failed romance. Mutab ility, as its title suggests, is concerned with the problems encountered when memory erases or willfully ov erlooks the insights of the aesthetic moment. In all three stories, Symons has selected narrativ es in which women demonstrate their power over masculine romantic control, and through their exertion of that power, aesthetic moments of insight are attached to failed relationships and be lie the fallibility of masculine aesthetic memory as a tool to rekindle a past romance.


CHAPTER 3 ABORTED RELATIONSHIPS: FAILURE TO LAUNCH While the rekindling of a past romance relies heavily on memory, the second group of stories that Symons selected we re concerned with unsuccessful fi rst attempts at romance. In these narratives a male protagonist pursues a pa rticular woman, and the aesthetic moment is embedded in the womans rejection of him. Rather than characterizing women as objects, Symons selected stories whose aesthetic moment s challenge masculine categories of feminine beauty and propriety. The first story published in The Savoy To Nancy by Frederick Wedmore, is just such a narrative. Wedmore continues the events of T o Nancy in a follow-up story in the second issue, The Deterioration of Nancy. I will address both of these stories together, since the overarching narrative between the two stories more fully illustrates how Clement Ashtons relationship with Nancy Nans on develops. I previously mentioned Anne Margaret Daniels par ticularly negative assessment of this story, but it seems unlikely that Symonss selection of the story to lead off his new journal was based in a fetish for justpubescent music hall girls (Danie l 170). Unlike Daniels cursory dismissal of Wedmores story, J. J. Duffy has argued that Wedmores fiction po ssibly served as inspiration for James Joyces work in Dubliners ; Duffy finds that Wedmores earlier short fiction exposes a momentary experience in a familiarly Paterean effort to capture the essential quality of fragile human relationships (145). Duffys comparison between Pa ter and the fragility of relationships bears particular importance for my argument that Sy monss editorial criteria depended greatly on a Paterian version of the dying to know cons truct. Wedmores fiction, according to Duffy, focused on the very same kinds of dying through his emphasizing of relational terminality. The relationship between Clement Ashton, an older painter, and Nancy Nanson, the young actress, is an age disparate one, and Wedmore us es the epistolary mode to tell his story. In 29


the first installment Ashtons is the only voice we hear and the entire text is a single letter, but in the follow-up story both Ashton and Nanson contribute letters to the narrative At the close of the first story, Ashton urges Nancy to avoid growing into the ki nd of woman who, in Ashtons estimation, men cannot wrong since these women have wronged themselves too much, so he urges her to Go the straight wa y! (41). But the title of the se cond story, The Deterioration of Nancy, clearly indicates that Nancy has not quite followed Asht ons advice. While critics have read the story as an example of masculine obse ssion and chauvinism, I would argue that what Ashton sees as the deterioration of Nancy herself is actually the deterioration of the false relationship he has set up with an imagined version of Nancy. Ashton first encounters Nanson in a theatre, and he is struck by her maturity for a girl of only thirteen (perhaps fourteen ). The portrait advertising her performance gave the impression of a girl of seventeen, and so Ashton is su rprised to find an actre ss so young who can be represented as much older (33). As a painter, Ashtons desire to have Nanson sit for him is an effort to correct this, to represent the delightfu l outside of [her], the side the public might itself see, if it had eyes to really see (37). But his pa inting also seeks to capture her; at the time of Ashtons first letter Nanson has just turned sixteen years old, and he seeks to hold her in limbo between girl and woman.6 While seeking to preserve her, Ashton simultaneously fends off potential admirers since she is a bare sixteen, apparently oblivious to the irony that he also desires access to the young actress (39). As Laur el Brake argues, Ashton is an experienced, upper-class portrait painter, accredited and authorized to gaze scientifically at the female body and study the female mind [] so th at the trope of spectatorship is both theatricalthe actor and 6 He desires to accomplish through painting what Charles Dickenss humorou s Mr. Vincent Crummles attempts in reality with his daughter, Miss Ninetta Crummles, the infant phenomenon in Nicholas Nickleby The narrator reveals that the infant phenomenon, though shor t of stature, had a compara tively aged countenance, and had moreover been precisely the same age [] for five good years. But she had been [] put upon an unlimited allowance of gin-and-water from infancy, to prevent her growing tall (283). 30


the audienceand that of visual art, the artist and his model (Brake, Subjugated Knowledges 156). However, if his authority to gaze is based in a scientifically disinterested view, Ashton certainly fails to achieve neutrality in his obser vations. To some extent, this is related to his desire to know too much. A scientific principle of the twentieth cen tury, Heisenbergs Uncertainty Principle, provides a helpful construct for examining how Ashtons attempts to know and observe Nancy Nanson are unsuccessful. Succinctly defi ned, the Uncertainty Principle says that a scientist cannot accurately determine an object s present position and momentum (direction of movement) simultaneously (Cassidy). In the same way, although Ashton seeks to know both who Nanson is in the present and where she is headed (what she will become), Wedmore reveals that Ashton cannot dictate Nanc ys character or behavior. I am not going to prophecy what you ma y be; but I tell you what you are. The real You, you know: something better and deeper than that which those seven pastels, any or all of them togeth er, show youmy delighted notes of your external beauty; touched I think, with so me charm of grace that answers well to your own; and mimicking, not badly, th e colours and contours of your stage presence. Nothing more. Chance gleamsan artists snap shots at Miss Nancy Nanson, vocalist and da ncer, at sixteen. (34) While Ashton appears to swear off prophecy in favor of representing the present, he relies exclusively on the past to construct this real Yo u and later projects th e real Nancy of the present into the future; in othe r words, contrary to his statement above, he prophesies. As an interested observer, Ashton attempts to construct a complete understanding of Nancy Nanson that he can describe, represent, and ultimately control. Even if she deviat es from the straight way, Ashton claims the power to present that narrative without any in terjection of Nansons own voice. 31


Coming to the close of his letter, Ashton asks Nanson if she has considered her future before proceeding to inform he r of his particular vision. Have you ever lain awake, in the gr eat, long darkness, and watched [] a processionthe people of your Past and all your Future? [] Last night, it seemed to me, the dark was peopled with your enemies; with your false friends, who were comingalways comingthe una voidable crowd of the egotistical destroyers of youth. (40) In thus attempting to encapsu late Nanson within a knowledge dominated by his own discourse, Ashton establishes the precise conditions n ecessary for the cessation of his supposed relationship with Nanson, which will generate insight from failure. In the context of the Uncertainty Principle, in an attempt to know both where she is and where shes going simultaneously, Ashton soon discov ers that he knows neither. This is the basic thrust of Wedmores sec ond story in the series, The Deterioration of Nancy, which, as I have already stated, might be better understood as a t itle describing Ashtons experience upon discovering that the Nancy Nanson he desires in the first story does not precisely align with the Nancy Nanson who res ponds to his correspondence in the second story. Unlike the previous story, Wedmore inserts himsel f (or an editorial character who has collected the letters) into the story and notes that the young ladys are the more numerous and the shorter letters (2: 99). The statement, while seemingly a simple observation, belies a consistent aspect to these letters, which is that Nanc y is given very little room to establish herself. Her letters are often only a few sentences, filled with minu tiae about her performances. The key moment, however, comes in her shortest letter of all: You were always kind to me. Mother is wild. And you, you will never forgive me From Nancy (105). There is litt le else in the st ory to elaborate upon what it is that Nancy has done, but Ashton ca nnot place this event in the present, even though his reply seems to have been written quite soon after Nancys letter. He bemoans the 32


deterioration, the slow change [] that must be coming or have come (105). This deterioration has either occurred or is about to occur, but it cannot be in processin effect, Ashton now describes Nanson in such a way that her presen t position is impossible to write: I havent the heart left to sketch in words a sure decline ( 105). Earlier, Ashton seems to hint at his romantic feelings toward Nancy when he alludes to taking her out of the theatre, si nce he has the money to do so, but any such desire is surely ruined in this moment by Nansons no nspecific indiscretion. In the post-script to his letter, Ashtons understanding of Nanson appears to shift away from an idealized theatre girl toward a recognition that the real Nancy exists in the contrast between the wildness of the theatre and your ha ppy quietude (107). He proceeds to describe a vision of Nancy at home with her family, but un like the times that she has been a model for Ashtons paintingin this aesthetic moment, Ashton is no longer a part of Nancys life. While Ashton still aestheticizes Nancy in his mind, this moment realizes a physical and emotional break between them. The Nancy of this moment is seated at home with her friends (your uncle, the plumber; [] a celebrity of the Halls; [] somebody else, who was nice to you []; some comrade you were fond of [107]), but Ashton is absent. It is only after Nancys transgression effectively ends his desire for her, that Ashton can remove himself as the gazing artist and reach toward an understanding of Nancy from afar. Wedmores editing narrator claims The re was reason to apprehend that the Correspondence closed with this letter. One other note [] in the round hand of Miss Nanson has been discovered (108). In essence, Nanson has the final word in the narrative. Now that this deterioration has occurred, Nancy confirms that Ashton now understand[s] the curious mixture that [] is [] Nancy (108). So the in sight derived from this scientific romance was that of the variability of Nanson, her unknowability in an artists studio, and Ashtons 33


paradigmatic approach of assi gning particular feminine characteristics to Nancy through his painting and writing only built a false version of Nancy. Only after their relationship ends, and Ashton accepts Nancys deteriorated behavior as a part of her, can he describe rather than impose upon Nancy. As such, the story becomes less about a perverse masculine desire for young girls, and more about the capacity of discours e to capture the object of observation. In this case, the object belies the faulty observations recorded in the first story through her deterioration, which is actually a record of Ashtons deteriora ting vision of Nanson. While Wedmores story is about the alleged deterioration of the female protagonist, the sole woman writer to contribute to The Savoy s short fiction, Olivia Shakespear, wrote quite a different tale. In the two parts of her Beautys Hour: A Phantasy, the plain faced Mary Gower discovers that she has the power to transform herself into a b eautiful (and de sirable) woman. This transformation, effected through the exertion of pure will, allows Mary to enter into a social circle previously closed to her. Unlike Nancy Nanson, Mary Gowers change leads to a distinct rise in status, especially in the eyes of those men with whom she is acquainted. Still, both stories involve a quest for an authent ic self, in that both narratives describe how these women confront stereotyped masculine understandings of who they are (P. C. James 225). For Mary Gower, the failure of her (potential) relationship with Gerald Harman ends her quest, because implicit in that failure is her refusal to accep t Harmans presumptive masculine vision of her identity. Mary Gower works as a secretary for the w ealthy Lady Harman, as such, she is a little higher than a servant, interacting more socially w ith the family in some ways, but still very much an employee. Mary knows that her appearance does not satisfy the cultural standard of feminine beauty; she is constantly being told she looks i ll, which only means [she] look[s] ugly (4: 12). 34


Additionally, she is in love w ith Gerald Harman, Lady Harmans eldest son, but her love is rendered grotesque by the accident of birth which made [her] an unattractive woman (12). Then Mary accomplishes the impossible while sitti ng at home one evening; through a sheer force of will her face and body change, becoming ast oundingly beautiful. Recogni zing that this could be her chance to break through the barrier which prevents her from ascending the social ladder, Mary seeks assistance from an old friend, Dr. Trefusis. He agrees to escort her to a party at the Harmans in her new form and with a new identity, Mary Hatherley. Gerald is smitten, and she leads him on, enjoying the attention she receives from all quarters. Claiming that she spends the entire day cloistered away as a committed painte r, Mary is able to re sume her work during the day while continuing her high society exploits in the evening. However, even though Gerald recognizes a similarity between Mary Gower and Mary Hatherley, it is the beautiful face that makes a difference in the whole pe rsonality (5: 18). Her discovery that Geralds love for Mary Hatherley hinges entirely on external beauty disillusions her to the en tire prospect of his affection, and she ultimately chooses to aba ndon Mary Hatherley forever in favor of Mary Gower. In her article on Beautys Hour, Phyllis Connors James makes an important connection between Shakespears story and Pa ters essay on Aesthetic Poetry, in which he associates the sense of death and the desire of beauty [and] the desire of beauty quickened by the sense of death (Pater 227; James 226). In Shakespears st ory the sense of death as it connects to beauty is twofold: there is Gowers renunciation of Hatherley but also Hath erleys renunciation of Gerald Harman. As James phrases it, Mary Hather ley metaphorically dies only to be displaced by Gowers beautifully idealized truth and goodness (226). While this is not a major component of her argument, James points out an important li nk between truth (or epistemological insight) 35


and death. As in Victorian epis temology, where Levine shows that descriptions of scientists like Newton and Darwin often conflated the subjective and the objective, or even subordinated the objectivity of scientific inquiry to the subjective nature of the inquisitor (27), the transformation from Mary Gower to Mary Hatherley wills th e fusion of subjective and objective experience (P. C. James 227). It is Mary Go wers will, or self-discipline, which enables her to change: I [] fell to looking into my own eyes again, with the yearning, stronger than it had ever been before rising like a passion into my face. Then something happened []. My reflected face grew blurred [] and [] there grew a new face, of wonderful beauty (4: 13). Just as Victorian scientists claimed that self-discipline, rather than an innate genius, was the key to their success, so Marys transforma tive capacity comes from her will to change rather than from some embedded power or magic. In her new form, however, the question of identity becomes difficult to navigate. The story is written in the first person, beginning with Mary Gower, but as sh e starts to transform more regularly, Mary starts to have trouble maintaining a consistent narrative perspective as either Hatherley or Gower. The narration switches between referring to either incarnation in the third person: I saw a great deal of Gerald, in the character of Mary Hatherley [] he was not much at home during the day; and Mary Go wer had no speech with him alone (5: 19). Shakespear presents a peculiar narrative dilemma in this passage, for if both Mary Gower and Mary Hatherley are third person characters to the first person narrator, then who precisely is narrating the story? This confus ion is only resolved in the decision to end Mary Hatherleys relationship with Gerald Harman; in essence, th e narrator conflates her decision to establish a single identity in Mary Gower with her decision to prevent Gerald Harman from continuing his courtship of Mary Hatherley. In an aesthetic moment of identity reclamation, Gower recognizes 36


both her separation from Hatherley and her power (through Hatherley) to terminate Harmans relationship with Hatherley. I was more wretched than I had ever been when I was only Mary Gower: I grew to hate the other Marys beautiful face; her smile; the gr acious turn of her head; her shapely hands: I grew to hate all this with a passionate intensity that frightened me. I seemed to have realized Mary Hatherley in a strange, objective way, as distinct from myself: she was the woman Gerald Harman loved; she was the woman I should have been, and was not; and then came a heartstricken moment when I knew she was the woman who had done both Gerald and another a wrong that might never be undone. (5: 20) Gowers objective realization of Hatherley allows her to place culpability for the failed relationship solely at the feet of the beautiful Mary. The only remaining task for Mary Hatherley is to bid goodbye to Gerald Harman, after whic h the veil of the present which masks the dim future, will be lifted to reveal the lesser ways of life, [] wh ere Peace may be seen stealing (5: 25, 27). Through her revocation of Hatherley, Gowe r recognizes the power of time to fade memory and that those who loved me had l oved before, and would love again, and she specifically instructs Harman that when [Hatherley is] only a memo ry, go back to Bella; for [he] loved her (5: 27). In this instance, Shakespear demonstrates the power that a woman wields over masculine desire, for it was Bella whom Gerald abandoned to pursue Hatherley. The metaphorical death of Mary Hatherley allows Shak espear to contradict the masculine assumption that a female is alwa ys defined in terms of her sexual expe riences with a man: prior to, during, and in the absence of (P. C. James 233-34, emphasis mine). In this case, Mary Gower defines herself by the absence of Mary Hatherley; indeed, her identity is founded in an explicit rejection of the very system which would dictate her valu e based on her desirability in the eyes of men. Beautys Hour is not a singular movement against a masculine economy of desire in The Savoy (P. C. James 225), since both Wedmore and Shakespear, although to varying degrees, 37


establish that female identity is outside the control of the masculine, even when (in Wedmores case) the male holds sway over the majority of the narrative. The capacity of women to break away from masculine stereotyping is primarily accomplished through aesthetic moments that occur due to a womans decision to terminate an attempt at romance. Finally, Rudolf Dirckss two stories, Ellen and Doctor an d Patient, serve as brief but appropriate endings to my disc ussion of the aborted attempt at romance. Unlike the two-part stories above, these are both stan d-alone narratives and yet they address very similar themes. To an extent, Doctor and Patient can be read as a hypothetical sequel to Ellen, in that the narrative of Doctor and Patient concerns a poten tial trajectory for the character of Ellen after her story ends. Symons selected Ellen for inclusion in the first issue of The Savoy, while Doctor and Patient appeared in the fourth. The titular character in the first story, Ellen, is a waitress at a small caf, but unlike her coworkers, Ellen rarely receive[s] the little attentions [from men] which the other girls among themselv es proclaimed (103). A very lonely woman, Ellen has reached a point where death would seem to be the only relief from her distress, and she suspects that she possesses qualities which would be fatal to her retaining the affections of a husband (104). Soon, however, the r egular attendance at the tables at which she serve[s] of a certain man begins to attract the attention of the other girls, who then begin to imply that Ellen is carrying on a flirta tion (105). Ellen begins to imagine wh o he is, what he is like, and the idea of speaking to him, of sharing with him her whole confidence, seize[s] upon her, and so eventually she asks him to meet her after the caf closes one evening (106). He agrees and they spend the evening walking through the city; Elle n tells him about her life, without really knowing why. He walks her home, and when they reach her door, she experiences a significant moment of realization. 38


She paused a moment, and then proceed ed rather abruptly: I dont want to be marriedI dont like men, as a rule at least, not in that wayI think I should always be happier remainingindependent. She gave a little shriek of delight at a thought which suddenly occurred to her, a flash of mental illumination, wh ich enabled her to divine the source of all her perplexities, which instantly en abled her to solve the problem of her happiness; a thought which filled her poor empty heart. I think, she said, softly, if I had a baby, my very own, I should want nothingnothing in this world more than that! (108) Her companion leaves her alone at her flat af ter this revelation, apparently sealing Ellens decision to remain without a romantic relations hip. Rather than put herself through the social institutions which would require marriage in order for her to have a baby, Ellen clearly has decided to step out on her ownto have a child w ithout the requisite romance. As with the other narratives, this moment of insight occurs as she leaves her unnamed male companion, making it clear that there is no romance to be had from her. Coming from an editor whose poetry did not shy away from representations of sexual encounters, and in a jour nal which allegedly takes its stand[on] the masculine assertion of sexua lity, (Brake, Pater 287) Dirckss story contradicts these generalizations. Rather than usi ng Ellen as an object of sexual desire, the male character serves as a sounding board for Ellens desires. Among these stories of romance, Symons has not established a st andard of masculine sexual supr emacy; Ellens plan to have a child takes precedence over whatever sexual encounter the male companion may envision with her. As she enters her flat, her companion asks if she is living alone, and she answers in the affirmative while retreating in to the passage without turning (108). Although her retreat into the flat may appear to be an invitation, the ma le character recognizes he r power to deny access to her body. He followed her a couple of paces, and then stood with one foot on the doorstep. He looked into the passage, but could not make out whether she were standing there in the dark or not. He wondered if she were standing there. Then taking the handle of the door he drew it gently to, and went down the street. (108) 39


As Ellen disappears into her chambers, the male character realizes that he cannot make her out. Dircks indicates that because the man cannot s ee Ellen, his capacity to enter the flat is removed. Thus the fact that he cannot pursue Ellen into her chambers allowing her to be separate, implicitly affirms his recognition of her power over their relationship; either she reveals her presence to him or th ere is no romantic contact. While the end of the very short-lived relations hip in Ellen leads to an insight about the creation of life through pregnancy, Doctor and Pa tient, apropos of the epistemological link to death, concerns a death-bed revelation. However, Di rcks takes this common moment in literature and reverses it so that the dying man becomes th e priest to his doctors confession. Philip, the doctor, tells his dying friend and pa tient, Frank, of an illegitimate child he fathered before his marriage. At the time he refused to marry the childs mother, Beatrice West, abruptly ending the relationship. However, rather than using the pregnancy for blackmail, West allows him to contribute to the support of the ch ild, while tak[ing] nothing [] for herself (89). It is from this that I draw the comparison to Ellen, whose choice to have a child seems based in a strong feminine independence in which a marriage or a male bread-winner is not required. But now Philips son has grown old enough to earn his ow n living, and Beatrice r efus[es] any further assistance [] and forbid[s] him to see his son again (90). The insight that Philip receives comes when he reveals Beatrices id entity to Frank, who, with his dying breath surprises his doctor. Yes, Iknew Beatrice WestI loved herI wouldhave married her The doctor shot a quick, star tled look of inquiry into his friends eyes in which there beamed a brilliant light, a light, which, as he looked, became fainter and fainter, flickered a little and then went out for ever. (90) 40


In this case, the knowledge gained is a direct result of two events: fi rst, that Philips contact with his son and Beatrice is unceremoniously terminat ed, and second, that Philips close friend is dying. In other words, it is the cessation of the fili al relationship which sets in motion the events bringing Philip to the moment when he learns that Frank, a friend who he thought had never loved, would not have allowed vague, undefine d suspicions to preven t marriage (89). Unlike many of these stories, Beatrice tr ied to convince Philip to marry her while she was pregnant, but her termination of the relationship eighteen years later comes just as Philip finds himself most wanting to be involved in their lives. While Beatrice has not forgiven Philip, through Franks dying words Philip obtains a greater measure of understanding for his friends experience: that he spent a life lov[ing] in va in (89). While the story does con cern an assertion of masculine heterosexuality, the moment of dying to know sp eaks more to the restraint of that sexuality. Franks willingness to marry Beatrice is based in love, while it is clear that Philips would have been an act performed out of coer cion, whether social or moral. In any case, Dircks conflates the insight brought out through a terminated relationship with a literal repr esentation of Levines argumentative metaphor, that of dying to know or knowledge as gained through Franks physical death as well as the termination of hope and desire in Beatrices rejection of Philip. For the women in these failed courtships, me n are consistently using their notions of feminine beauty and desirability to control the relationship. However, these narratives give an alternative to the masculine control over roman tic desire; the women prot agonists all refuse or terminate their relationships, a nd, in so doing, allow for an aesth etic insight into their own identities and relational power. Both Mary Gower and Nancy Nanson generate identifying moments, wherein they are separa ted and distinguished from the masculine characterizations to which they have been subjected over the course of the narrative. For Ellen, she realizes her own 41


42 resistance to the tendency of some of the caf girls to marry the young men who came there (104). While she will require a sexual encounter to have the child she desires, it is clear that marriage will not be a part of her plan. Finall y, Philip, through Beatrice Wests termination of contact with him, and through Franks death, come s to realize his selfis hness towards Beatrice, and the unrequited love that his friend had for her.


CHAPTER 4 LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS: UTTER FAILURE The final group of stories I want to discuss are those in which an established relationship, most often a marriage, breaks down. These failures are the most serious and carry with them extreme and many times violent consequences Embedded within these failures, and the moments of insight they incur, are several criticisms of the social systems which the institution of marriage often perpetuates. Sp ecifically, the aesthetic moment s tied to relationship failure consistently reveal the inadequacy of the sy stem of patriarchal lin eage and inheritance. Anonymously published in the second issue of The Savoy, A Mere Man concerns Leonard Standish and his marriage to Aime Cardross. Before their wedding, Standish approaches a friend, Lady Jane Graham, to ask her about unspecified rumo rs regarding Aime, but Lady Jane allays his fears, claiming that Aimes beauty make s people attack her character since they cannot attack her face (2: 31). Howeve r, during their first year of marriage Leonard finds himself increasingly uncomfortable with Aimes erratic behavior and unbecoming social circle. In addition to the excessive attentions given to her by one Bernard Chitty, it soon becomes clear that she is also an alcoholic. The author s deployment of the aesthetic moment in the narrative is placed such that it foreshadows Le onards near responsibility for his wifes alcoholism. Moments before Aimes first return home from a late ni ght of drinking, Leonard finds himself giving money to a poo r woman he sees on the street. In coming out into the Strand he saw a woman in rags, emerging from the door of the public house, and he stopped in th e act of getting into his hansom to throw her a half-crown. The baby she clut ched to her breast had attracted his notice, but he felt half as hamed of the deed. (38) Significantly, the woman to whom he gives a half-crown is leaving a pub and carrying a child she is the alcoholic mother. However, through Le onards shame at giving her money, the author suggests that this is not an act of charity but a conscious co ntribution to a serious problem. 43


Leonard is, in a sense, feeding her habit. The womans solitude (a male companion is not mentioned) also alludes to the solitude Le onard will soon experience. This moment, which stands apart from the otherwise insular narrative, brings together two as pects of Leonards life that will play a significant role in the unravel ing of his marriage. Soon after this encounter Aime returns inebriated, after having earlier in the day told Leonard she was pregnant. This aesthetic moment for Leonard locates the failure of the marriage at the beginning of Aimes downward spiral rather than at the end, and it foreshadows Leonards inability to get her to stop drinking. It would be easy to read th is story as a reflec tion on women as weak-w illed, without selfcontrol, and in need of a masculine presence to keep them in line. On the surface, Aime certainly has little about her wh ich is commendable. Her excessive drinking while pregnant is enough to make any current reader cringe, and her flippant disregard for Le onard in almost every respect does seem to affirm, through a negative example, a masculine version of sexuality that subordinates the feminine. The moral contrast between Aime and her husband is further bolstered through the narrators characterization of Leonard as up to date in all but his immorality, and the little there ha d been of that was decidedly behind the times (26). So when Leonard discovers that Aime has run off with Be rnard Chitty (who is also married), leaving him to care for their child himself, it would seem that Leonard is a complete victim. However, even with the apparent moral delineation between th e two, Aimes destruction of their marriage reveals a certain degree of culpability in Leonard. In his article A Moments Fi xation: Aesthetic Time and Di alectical Progress, Paul Fox draws a distinction between the linear concep tion of time, with its seemingly oppositional progressive/ regressive binary and the Decadent s ynthetic concept of time [] that privileged 44


the aesthetic moment (177, 173). As a process of synthesis, the Decadent concept of time emphasizes what is aesthetically pertinent to the de triment of all else; thus, Pater, an example to many of the fin de sicle writers, is seen to renegotiate history, forgetting what [was] inconvenient and [] reinterpreting from an always present perspe ctive the so-ca lled facts of the past (Fox 179). In a sense, this is the same romanticized process th at Leonard engages in before he marries Aime (and during their marriag e as well); in the beginning, he chooses to ignore the potential issues that he has heard might arise, in favor of an idealized notion of marriage, and even after Aimes problems b ecome clear he shield[s] her [] from the consequences of her own misdeeds (40). This inab ility to use a realistically logical linear notion of time to understand his marriage is underscore d near the moment that Aime leaves. After accusing Aime of flirting with Bernard, Leonard finds himself alone, lay[ing] on the smokingroom sofa and tr[ying] to think, but consecutive thought w[ill] not come (47, emphasis mine). Leonards lack of consecutive thought opens him to the possibili ty of a Paterian aesthetic moment which, as a creative expedient, a ffords the individual the capacity to live unburdened by a sense of the past that bears down upon every aspect of existence (Fox 182), thus leading to the failure of his marriage. Through the coalescing of Leonards remembrance of the Paris races a year ago and driving over the Yorkshire moors w ith the realization that Aimes letters might be useful in an action for divorce, Leonard Standish begins to cr eate a new focus for his life in his son (52). However, even this comfort from the pain of a broken marriage is fleeting. While the recognition of fetal alcohol syndrome did not co me about until the twentieth century, Leonards question to Aime soon after th eir sons birth seems foreboding. Hes not ill, is he? 45


No, you idiot, quite well and health y. Arent you my angel? Leonard, you have got to kiss him, too. He put his arm round his wife and drew her near him, first. She pushed him laughingly away. His face flushed. She had been kissing her baby with a breath that was perfumed with brandy. The discovery turned him sick. (42) Leonards fears that his son is sick, while not sp ecifically connected to his wifes alcoholism, seem to be related to his own sickness at Ai mes breath, associating her drinking with illness. Even with a lack of modern knowledge a bout alcoholism, many authors prior to 1896 argued that alcohol could harm infants in uter o. Erasmus Darwin, writing in 1791, warned of the dangers to lineage from alcohol: All the diseas es from drinking spirituous or fermented liquors are liable to become hereditary, even to the th ird generation, gradually in creasing, if the cause be continued, till the family becomes extinct (171). In this case, Darwin indicated that the damage is only terminal if the drinking continues thr ough several generations, but Axel Gustafsons 1884 book, The Foundation of Death: A Study of the Drink Question whose title is clearly indicative of its position, made an even starker claim. The children of men and women who are given to drink have always a weak constitution, are either delicate and ner vous to excess, or heavy and stupid. In the former case they often fall victim s to convulsions and die suddenly, or become prey to water on the brain, and la ter to pulmonary phthisis. In the latter case they are seized by strophy, and sink into imbecility. (Gustafson 174) Gustafsons book has an entire ch apter on the dangers that alcohol poses to heredity, and these dangers are couched in fears of degeneration, but also satisfaction, since the children of alcoholics will, due to illness or impotence, leav e no mark on the human race in the long term. The author of A Mere Man is making a cl ear statement that Leonards son is not well and may not survive, destroying the lineage th at his marriage established. The storys ending clarifies this, as Lady Janes husband tries to console her sin ce Leonard has the kid, you know, after all (52). Yet Lady Jane recognizes that her husband makes this observation as only a 46


childless man could have, so that the narrative en ds with the understandi ng that the comfort of having a son is only good enough for a man who has no children in the first place. While Lady Janes husband is primarily focused on the viability of the continuance of the family, the narrator underscores the insufficiency of this supposed comfort. Though Aimes behavior is far from admirable, the story demonstrates the exte nt to which a woman can effectively end a relationship, while simultaneously showing how ineffectual her husband is at stopping her. The death of their marriage is signifi ed in the aesthetic moment wher ein Leonard gives money to the apparently alcoholic woman on the st reet; although it is an act of charity, his fear that he may be feeding her habit is directly duplicated in hi s unwillingness to assert masculine control over Aimes self-destructive behavior. As a mere ma n Leonard Standishs pa triarchal authority is destroyed, and through the disso lution of his marriage he comes to recognize his own powerlessness: I am such a coward of the future (51). Hubert Crackanthor pes only story in The Savoy, Anthony Garstins Courtship, also involves a pregnancy. This is one of the few stories, along with Mutability, in which the romance is successful, insofar as Anthony Garstin convinces Rosa Blencarn to marry him. But her acceptance is under duress and, as a conse quence, Garstin finds himself permanently estranged from his mother. In 1904, eight years after Crackanthor pes untimely death, Symons wrote that his stories were written with the one intention of being true to his artistic conception of life, and with no more cheris hed hope than that of vindicating the claims and possibilities of art, of removing perhaps some restricti on, of at least making way for liberty ( Prose and Verse 118). On this story in particular, Symons claimed to have felt when it came into [his] hands in the summer of 1896 [] something almost like a r eaching out in more or less a new direction (117). This is one of the few moments when Sy mons commented specific ally on his reasons for 47


selecting a particular story, and even though this statement lacks any detailed rationale behind the storys selection, it does show Symonss inte rest in literature that attempted to forge new territory for art. Additionally, Henry James wrote of Crackanthorpe after his death in such a way as to bring further significan ce to the general idea of dying to know as it relates to The Savoys fiction: Hubert Cracka nthorpes death, for those who knew him, could only give him more meaning and, as I may say, more life (xiii). Specifically, James finds in the few volumes Crackanthorpe produced during his truncated career a distinct air of anticipated experience [that] shines out with a great light (xiv). Crackanthorpe clearly pr oduced significant work during his life, but he also had an impact in his death. To an exte nt, James describes the experience of coming to an insigh t through the death of another. The story itself does not i nvolve a literal death but c ontinues the use of failed relationships to signify metaphorical death. Ant hony Garstins Courtship takes place in rural Cumberland, a setting which, as David Crackanthor pe has noted, bears a resemblance to Hardys Wessex as a literary microcosm (149-150).7 Anthony Garstin is a shepherd and goatherd, who shares a house with his mother; while she owns the property, he is the primary worker. Though this has been their situation for many years, at forty-six Anthony realizes his chances of marrying are dwindling. Fortunately, Rosa Blencarn, the parsons niece, is bonny enough for [Anthony], although she is also pursued by the less scrupulous townsman, Luke Stock ( Savoy 3: 18). David Crackanthorpe describes Anthony as an idealist and a romantic lover [who is] not lovable, which results in Rosas eventually leaving town with Luke, despite her flirtations with Anthony (151). 7 Hubert Crackanthorpe was David Crackanthorpes great uncle, and it was due to his family connection that David was able to collect enough material to write th e first biography of Hubert Crackanthorpe since his death. 48


While the surface narrative very obviously (from the title alone) is th at of a heterosexual relationship from a masculine pe rspective, embedded aesthetic moments continually undermine that aspect of the story. One such moment occu rs immediately following Anthonys initial failure to woo Rosa; walking across the fields he begins to question the ideas of faith and providence. He sat smoking; pondering, with placid and reverential contemplation, on the Mighty Maker of the wo rlda world majestically and inevitably ordered; a world where, he argued, each objecteach fissure in the fells, the winding course of each tumbling streampossesses its mysterious purport, its inevitable signification At the end of the field two rams we re fighting; retreating, then running together, and, leaping from the ground, bu tting head to head and horn to horn. Anthony watched them absently, pursuing his rude meditations. And the succession of bad seasons, the slow ruination of the farmers throughout the country, were but punish ment meted out for the accumulated wickedness of the world. In the olden time God rained plagues upon the land: nowadays, in His wrath, He spoiled th e produce of the earth, which, with His own hands, He had fashioned and bestowed upon men. (29) Crackanthorpe presupposes Symonss later definition of symbolism as Garstin realizes that each object [] possesses [] its inevitable significati on. This introduction of a semiotic component to the narrative is interrupted by the fighting rams which represent the animalistic nature of the competition between Luke Stock and Anthony for Rosas affections. Thus does Crackanthorpe criticize courtship by characteri zing it as a violent and wild co mpetition, further undermining the supposed privileging of masculine heterosexual romance in The Savoy. Meanwhile, Garstin attempts to explain away this moment thr ough an invocation of Biblical retribution. The theological justification for the poor performance of the agricultural economy serves as a way to rationalize his failure to succeed with Rosaif God is set against the world, then one can assume that there is a divine logic to the chaos of misfortune. Yet Cr ackanthorpes narra tive voice makes Gods punishments seem vile and unfaireven an appeal to G od amounts to nothing more than another form of violence. 49


When Rosa returns alone from Leeds, Ant hony quickly discovers that she is pregnant. His first reaction is as violent as the rams: My God! he burst out, gripping her wrist, an a proper soft fool yeve made o me. Who ist I tell ye? Whos t man? (32). Garstins immediate response is first to consider how Rosa s pregnancy impacts himself and second to find the man who fathered the child. Rosa is onl y, it would seem, tangentially involved in the proceedings of his mind. But as soon as he realizes that T child [can] pass as [his] if Rosa agrees to marry him (which she does), Ant hony has another relationship problem (32). His mother intensely dislikes Rosa, and so he experiences a moment of Paterian aesthetic temporality that coincides with the recognition that he will destroy his relationship with his mother by marrying Rosa. And, as he strode through the village he seemed to foresee a general brightening of prospects, [] a period of prosperity in store for the farmer at last. And the future years appeared to open out befo re him, spread like a distant, glittering plain, acr oss which, he and she, hand in hand, were called to travel together. And then, suddenly, [] he remembered, with brutal determination, his mother, and the stormy struggl e that awaited him. (37) The loss and return of Rosa generates an aesthetic moment, wherein Anthony can envision and experience his future as happy without God, but this happiness can only be reached by infuriating his mother. Garstin tells his mother that he is the father of Rosas child, and that he and Rosa will be getting married. But before accepting his statement, she forces him to swear [] that t is t truth, t whole truth, and noat but t truth, shelp me God, on the Bible, which Anthony does. Still unsatisfied she presents th e Bible again and orders him to Kiss t Book, which he also does (38). Anthonys willful deception during this ritual, under oath and on the Bible, signifies that his earlier apprehensions of God have diminished. His mothers final judgment is 50


humorously ironic: Ye shall niver touch a penny of my m oney; every shillin of t shall go t yer child, or your childs children. [] Ay, Lord u ll punish ye, Tony, chastise ye properly. Yell learn that marriage begun in sin, can end nought but in sin (39) In shunning her own son and shifting her wealth to Rosas child, Anthonys mother ensures th at the heritage of the house (For three hundred years there had been a Garsti n at Houtsey [23]) will come to an end. The end of the relationship with his mother, who di sowns him, in essence severs Anthony from the patriarchal history of his family; rather than re-instituting the lineal heritage with the next generation, the failure of the mother/son rela tionship ensures its termination. So Anthonys aesthetic moments are connected to his loss of patriarchal power; he can envision a happy life with Rosa, but his mother seizes and controls his heterosexual authorit y. Crackanthorpe connects both the failure of the mother/son relationship with the aesthetic vision of better times to come, so that Anthony can only realize his aesthetic moment by ceding hi s status as the authoritative heterosexual male. By the fall of 1896 it was clear that The Savoy was not going to survive to see the next year. But despite the financial difficulties that the magazine faced, Symons still elected to pay out an impressive sum for Joseph Conrads story The Idiots. Later, Conrad himself disavowed the story, and it has since been downplayed among his works as an embarrassing bit of juvenilia (Erdinast-Vulcan 82). Whether or not such judgments are valid, here Symons again selects a piece in which the authors presentati on of time shifts both th rough the dissolution of the relationship and the intr oduction of an aesthetic mo ment. In his 1925 tribute, Notes on Conrad, Symons describes Conrads prose thus: [It] has in it something fantastically inhu man, [] and it is for this reason that it remains a thing uncapturable, a thing whose secret he himself could never reveal; and with this an almost incalcu lable fascination, as of some bizarre masquerade in which the devil plays pra nks, and has thus at least an immovable 51


centre to whirl from. When a soul plays dice with the devil there is only a second in which to win or lose: but the second may be worth an Eternity. (12) Symons offers here his Conradian paraphrase of the aesthetic moment, the second that is worth an Eternity. Earlier in his career, Sy mons used a very similar phrase to describe Browning: Into that one mome nt he crowds the thought, action and emotion of a lifetime (Litzinger 525).8 In this particular story the eternity is almost certain ly death, which both alleviates and enlightens the lives of its victims. The Idiots introduces the first of two violent stories of relationship failure, and in this case the bloody clim ax to the narratives slow crescendo also witnesses a sudden shift of focus onto the women characters. In fact, the moment of aesthetic insight is tied directly to this sh ift as well as to the death of the storys male protagonist. Conrads story is particularly dark; Jean -Pierre Bacadou is a French republican farmer who marries Susan Levaille, and he plans for their future children to help him work the fields. But the first three sons, two of wh ich are twins, all turn out to be simple and thus will never [be] any use (6: 15). Feeling that there must be some way to curb their procreational misfortune, Jean-Pierre, though not a believer himself, decide s to attend mass. The Ploumar parish priest secretly rejoices at the news; Jean-Pierres apparent conversion is politically advantageous, because the priest can now rest assured that t he next communal electi on will go all right (17). Despite Jean-Pierres turn to the church, he feel s as if he has sold hi s soul, and after their fourth child is a girl and similarly handicapped as the others, he abandons the church altogether. Instead he turns to alcohol and anger, shou ting towards the church house late at night. 8 Litzinger and Smalley list this review as unsigned. See Beckson and Munro, Symons, Browning, and the Development of the Modern Aesthetic, for identification of Symons as the author (698). 52


The scene before the church is significant, si nce Conrad uses the phys ical presence of the church building as a marker for the storys aest hetic moment. After Jean-Pierres apostasy, he descends further into drunkenness, and one evenin g he goes home determined to sire a normal son. It is at this moment that Conrad shifts the story, which has been exclusively focused on Jean-Pierre, to Susan and her mother. Unlike Jean-Pierre, whose financ ial future has been founded on the now impossible hope of male proge ny, Susans mother is a woman of business who owns houses in all the hamlets, [] work[s ] quarries of granite, and trades abroad with the Channel Islands (17). Exemplary of a new economic model, Madame Levaille is a selfsupporting woman and has men working for her as la borers. It is while she is at a coastal house and general store, paying her employees, that Su san bursts in soaked and muddy and admits to having killed Jean-Pierre (22-23) Relating the story to her mo ther in a broken, disjointed fashion, Susan describes how Jean-Pierre came home shouting, and so, taking her scissors, she struck him in the throat above the breast-bone (24). At this moment Susan bears a striking rese mblance to other famous mad women, such as Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre, but Conrad allows Susan to maintain her lucidity for a single moment. She runs again from he r mothers house and finds hersel f before the Ploumar church. Above [the outline of the coast], nearly facing her, appeared the tower of Ploumar church; a slender and tall pyra mid shooting up dark and pointed into the clustered glitter of the stars. She felt strangely calm. She knew where she was, and began to remember how she came thereand why. She peered into the smooth obscurity near her. She was al one. There was nothi ng there; nothing near her, either living or dead. (27) Susans recognition of her physical isolation standing on the coast mirrors her social and sexual isolation at the hands of her husband. Whereas Jean-Pierre can only fall over himself while yelling at the church in a dr unken stupor, Susan experiences an aesthetic moment wherein the violent dissolution of her marriage allows for a calming solitude that her life as a domestic 53


woman never provided. As the mother of idiots (24), Susans ignominious notoriety gives the story its name; it is Susan who must personally b ear the blame for their condition, but she resists this categorization by murdering her husband an d violently acting out against the masculine sexual (and economic) urge to procreate, which wa s responsible for her ch ildren. This moment of insight also indicates that Susa n herself does not register among the living or the dead; she has removed herself from the patriarchal and masculin e sexual pressures to become, in effect, a nonperson. After this moment Susan is not as mad as she appears to be. She expresses a desire to explain what happened, to show that Jean-Pierre was going to violently rape her if she resisted his sexual advances. But as she considers her si de of the story while wandering outside, a drunk man named Millot, looking for sex, begins to purs ue her (not realizing who she is or what she has done). Conrad turns the aesthetic moment ove r, and Susan, even in the murder of her husband, cannot escape the irrepressible masculine sex drive. Her aesthetic moment before the church leads to a furious hate for that shade th at pursued her in this world, unappeased even by death in its longing for an heir th at would be like other peoples children (29). Believing that Millots drunken pursuit is that of her husband returned from the dead, Susan finds no escape in her husbands death, because anothe r aggressive male is there to take his place. By murdering Jean-Pierre, Susan discovers that one less man does not terminate masculine desire, and yet the narrative clearly condemns the very thing that she cannot escape. In the end, finding no alternative, Susan throws herself from an ocean cliff. She screams Alive! in one final conflation of those two states which in all places but the aesthetic moment are mutually exclusive (29). Susan seeks to e liminate the threat of her husbands aggressive sexuality by murdering him, and as a consequenc e, the death of their marriage results in her 54


aesthetic momentfor a time she can live without the fear of an overbearing masculine sexuality pursuing her: I want to live. To live alonefor a weekfor a da y (29). But since Conrad does not allow this aesthetic moment to last, Susan kills herself as well. Her final word, Alive! recognizes that death is the only pl ace where she can attain that solitude she desired in life. Thus her final word demonstrates a second aesthetic moment wherein she seeks to achieve her ideal life by dying. The narratives star k portrayal of Susans struggle and demise represents a harsh indictment of aggressive masculine heterosexuality. Fiona Macleods story, Morag of the Gle n, appears in the penultimate issue of The Savoy the last issue to have any outside contribu tors. In a re-issue of Macleods short fiction, published in the early tw entieth century (apparently before the pseudonym was revealed), this story is placed in the volume containing tragic romances. It is a fitting description for the story that will close this discussion of the failed romantic relationship in The Savoy. In fact, Fiona Macleod was actually a pseudonym used by William Sharp, but this was not revealed until after his death in the early twentieth century, so Symonss acceptance of the piece was under the understanding that a woman authored it. In k eeping with the other stories of long-term relationships, there is at the cen ter of the narrative an embedded criticism of the patriarchal system of inheritance and masc uline sexuality. Wendell Harriss br ief assessment of Sharp in his British Short Fiction in the Nineteenth Century describes the story as combin[ing] a primitive code of vengeance with traditional eerie portents of impending death (144). But these portents are much more than literary omens or foreshadowing; they are significant moments precisely due to the fact that they draw aesthetic import from the moment of death. In Morag of the Glen, Macleod doubles as both the author and first-person narrator. The story, as with many of Sharps Macleod narr atives, is located in Scotland where Macleod is 55


visiting her uncle and aunt, Archibald and Elspet h Campbell. They are tenant farmers who have recently discovered that the new owner of the es tate, Lord Greyshot, wishes to turn their farmland into a deer-run. Of Macleods two cous ins, Muireall and Morag, only Morag is present as a character in the narrative, although much of the plot involve s difficulties with Muireall. The local minister visits to bring gr ave news that Muireall is ill and likely to die; to make matters worse, she is also pregnant with the child of Lord Greyshots son, Jasper Morgan. Having met in London, they became romantically involved, more so than her father would have liked. Archibalds anger is fierce, and he refuses to allow anyone to visit Mu ireall at the nearby inn where she will spend her final hours. However, Macleods younger cousin, Morag, sneaks out at night to see Muireall. Sharp structures the story such that there is an initial discontinuity between the aesthetic moment accompanying death and the narrative of the death itself. Macleod narrates the evening with her aunt and uncle, waiting for Morag to return, but it is not unt il later that Morag is able to relate her experience to Macleod. Rather than consolidate the two narratives, Sharp maintains them as separate components to the story as a whole, but together the two components establish the relationship between death and the aesthet ic moment in the na rrative. Morag, upon discovering that Muireall has died, takes it upon herself to exact revenge against Jasper for abandoning Muireall. Meanwhile, M acleod, Archibald, and Elspeth are home when the strange moment occurs. Sharp draws this aesthetic mome nt out into a slowly building and significant insight. Macleod, and her aunt and uncle, expe rience Morags deadly revenge against Jasper without recognizing it. Sitting in the living area downstairs, the Campbells blind dog becomes very agitated: [T]he dog would not be still. [] I thought the poor blind beast would take some dreadful fit. Foam was on his jaws; his hair bristled. [] 56


Suddenly the dog made a leap forwar da terrible bristling wolf he seemed to me, though no wolf had I ever seen, or imagined any more fearsome []. He dashed himself ag ainst the door, snarling and mouthing, with his snout nosing the narrow slit at the bottom. (27-28) In the end, the slowly building narration culminates in much the same revelatory aesthetic moment that Symons prized. Ma cleod develops a significant aesth etic scene, in which the dog Rory, like an animal who can sense an impending na tural disaster, is aware of something that his human companions cannot detect. Starting out as simply a blind collie, he soon morphs into a great gaunt black dog, and this literary tran sformation coincides with the sound of a horse galloping through the storm outside, a horse they iden tify as belonging to Jasperit stops at their house, and there is a terrible be ating against the door (29-30). Elspeth immediately identif ies a possible source of th e knocking, Its a man. I do not know the man. It is a man. It is Death, maybe ( 28). For this reason she protests Archibalds desire to open the door, and just before he does so Rory reverts to his original state, no longer snarling and bristling (29). As soon as Rory quiets, Archibald has a powerful sensation that someone slid past [him] in the doorway (30). His certainty that someone has brushed past him is reminiscent of ghost stories, but in essence the revenge that Morag metes out against Jasper becomes aesthetically communicab le through the descri ptive transformation of the dog and the ghostly presence that Archibald pe rceives. Morag finds Jasper a nd convinces him that he must die for what he did to Muireall, and that one way or another he will die. She indicates to Macleod that she didnt actual ly kill Jasper, but that he killed himself, perhaps out of fear. The fates of both Muireall and Jasper imply a significant criticism of patriarchal lineage; Jasper, as the first born son of an English lord, fails as an heir through his suicide, and Muireall does the same to her father by getting pregnant Morag of the Glen continues the trend among these final stories of breaking dow n the institutional ideologies of lineage. In any case, Sharps 57


story makes a strong condemnation of the predator y masculine sexuality that critics have argued The Savoy embraced. In fact, many of thes e stories of failed long-term relationships are tales of the dangers of masculine power over women. Through the failed relationships, whether from death or disowning, these moments of loss corres pond closely with aesthetic moments of insight that question masculine se xual ascendancy. The fact that so ma ny of the stories, within a body of literature selected by a single individual for publication in the same magazine, involve and privilege the capacity of women to grant access to aesthetic insight would seem to suggest that The Savoy may not be as male-centered as it first a ppearsat least so far as the fiction is concerned. Arthur Symons, in his final editorial statement for the journal, mentions that very little of the unsolicited material he received was publishabl e, indicating that a majority of the literary contents were specifically solicited for publicatio n. Therefore, the trends across these stories represent not a random conglomeration of themes but a particularly solicited design around the notion of the aesthetic moment and its potential to be evoked through situations of loss or death. Symons may have brought togeth er writers from as many school s as possible, yet he still managed to present some consistent themes am ong these otherwise divergent individuals. The fact that the authors were almost exclusiv ely male does not, I would argue, diminish The Savoys ability to present stories wherein women are key ch aracters whose lives play significant roles in questioning the very masculine ascendancy which the magazine may seem to exude. These male authors ultimately used their pres entations of masculine heterosexuality to undermine that same ascendant masculinity thro ugh narratives of roman ce. Though the literary climate after Oscar Wildes trials may have been restrictive to alternative sexualities, Symonss 58


59 editorship of The Savoy allowed him to craft a publication that subverted male heterosexual dominance in romance. Furthermore, the deploy ment of aesthetic moments within these failed romances reveals that these stories place women in positions of aesth etic powerwithout the womans severance of relational ties, the male ch aracters would be unable to access the insights of these narratives. While the details of each stor ys aesthetic moments va ry, within each is a recognition of female control over the relations hip. For Symons, these stories must fulfill his definition of good art, and so the aesthetic of The Savoys fiction, as defined and chosen by Symons, is one not of aggressive masculine hete rosexuality, but of an aesthetic moment of insight determined and defined by wome ns power in romantic relationships.


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Fletcher, Ian, ed. Decadence and the 1890s. Holmes & Meier: New York, 1980. Flora, Joseph. The English Short Story 1880-1945. Boston: Twayne, 1985. Fox, Paul. A Moments Fixation: Aesthetic Time and Dialectical Progress. Fox, Paul. Decadences: Morality and Aesthe tics in British Literature. Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2006. 173-196. Fraser, Hilary, Stephanie Green and Judith Johnston. Gender and the Victorian Periodical. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. Garbty, Thomas Jay. The Fren ch Coterie of the Savoy 1896. PMLA 75.5 (1960): 609-615. Gibbons, Tom. The Shape of Things to Co me: Arthur Symons and the Futurists. Journal of Modern Literature 5.3 (1976): 515-521. Goldfarb, Russell. Arthur Symons Decadent Poetry. Victorian Poetry (1963): 231-238. Gustafson, Axel. The Foundation of Death: A Study of the Drink-Question. Boston: Ginn, Heath, 1884. Harris, Wendell. British Short Fiction in the Nineteenth Century. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1979. Fiction in the English Experime ntal Periodicals of the 1890s. Bulletin of Bibliography 25.2 (1968): 111-118. Hubert Crackanthorpe as Realist. English Literature in Transition 6 (1963): 76-84. Innocent Decadence: The Poetry of the Savoy. PMLA 77.5 (1962): 629-636. Hobson, Robert W. and William S. Pfeiffer. C onrads First Story and the Savoy: Typescript Revisions of The Idiots. Studies in Short Fiction 18.3 (1981): 267-272. James, Henry. An Appreciation. Crackanthorpe, Hubert. Last Studies. London: William Heinemann, 1897. xi-xxiii. James, Humphrey. A Glass of Whiskey. The Savoy 1 (January 1896): 127-130. James, Phyllis Connors. Beautys New Hour: Pa terian Aestheticism in the Short Fiction of Olivia Shakespear. Brake, Laurel, Lesley Higgins and Carolyn Williams. Walter Pater: Transparencies of Desire. Greensboro: ELT, 2002. 225-235. Johnson, Alan. Arthur Symons Novel la Goncourt. Journal of Modern Literature 9.1 (1982): 50-64. 62


. Arthur Symons The Life and Adventur es of Lucy Newcome: Preface and Text. English Literature in Transition 28.4 (1985): 332-345. Johnson, Lionel. Hubert Crackanthorpe. Poetry & Fiction: Reflec tions on Three Nineteenth Century Authors. Edinburgh: Tragara, 1982. 12-18. Levine, George. Dying to Know: Scientific Epistemo logy and Narrative in Victorian England. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2002. Lhombreaud, Roger. Arthur Symons: A Critical Biography. Philadelphia: Dufour, 1964. Litzinger, Boyd and Donald Smalley, eds. Robert Browning: The Critical Heritage New York: Routledge, 1968. Longaker, Mark. Intro duction. Dowson, Ernest. The Stories of Ernest Dowson. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1947. 1-10. Macleod, Fiona and William Sharp. Morag of the Glen. The Savoy 7 (November 1896): 13-34. Macleod, Fiona. Tragic Romances. Edinburgh: Patrick Geddes, 1910. Marcus, P. L. Yeats and the Image of the Singing Head. Eire-Ireland 9.4 (1974): 86-93. Mathieu-Wierzbinski, Roman. The Clown: A Crayon Sketch. The Savoy 3 (July 1896): 59-64. A Mere Man. The Savoy 2 (April 1896): 26-52. Meredith, George. Modern Love Cunningham, Valentine, ed. The Victorians: An Anthology of Poetry & Poetics. Malden: Blackwell, 2000. 609-615. Mix, Katharine. A Study in Yellow. Lawrence: U of Kansas P, 1960. Morley, George. Two Foolish Hearts. The Savoy 4 (August 1896): 45-55. Morris, Bruce. Mallarms Le tters to Arthur Symons. English Literature in Transition 28.4 (1985): 346-353. Munro, John. Arthur Symons. New York: Twayne, 1969. Arthur Symons and W. B. Yeat s: The Quest for Compromise. The Dalhousie Review 45 (1965): 137-152. Arthur Symons as Poe t: Theory and Practice. English Literature in Transition 6 (1963): 212-222. 63


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH J. Stephen Addcox developed an interest in literature while reading on the bus to and from his elementary school. At Texas A&M Universit y, he continued to study British and American literature. His paper, The Opposite Sex: Male Renderings of Queen Elizab eth I won awards in both the English Department and the Womens Studi es Program at A&M. He also presented this paper at the 2005 National Undergraduate Literatu re Conference in Utah. Upon moving to the University of Florida, Stephen focused his stud ies in Victorian literature. Electing to examine short fiction during th is period led him to The Savoy as a unique publicati on of short stories in the nineteenth century. He is currently working on a project to examine and understand the close interconnectedness of memory a nd Victorian law in the mid-century novels of that period.