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"Adonis all over again": Literary and Botanical Sexuality in Henry Blake Fuller's Bertram Cope's Year
Studies in American Fiction Pub Date : 2021-06-10
Chung-Hao Ku

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • “Adonis all over again”Literary and Botanical Sexuality in Henry Blake Fuller’s Bertram Cope’s Year
  • Chung-Hao Ku (bio)

In Henry Blake Fuller’s Bertram Cope’s Year (1919)—a campus novel set in the late 1910s about the eponymous character’s one-year stay in Churchton, a college town evocative of Evanston, Illinois—two senior bachelors talk about the twenty-four-year-old main character. When Basil Randolph visits his almost blind friend Joseph Foster the day after Bertram’s unexpected fainting, Joseph feels like reading “about Adonis, or Thammuz, whose mishap ‘in Lebanon’ set all the Syrian females a-going.”1 Alluding to John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), Joseph compares Bertram to the Syrian shepherd Thammuz, who—gored to death by a boar in Lebanon—dyes the river Adonis purple with his blood and spawns scarlet anemone flowers. In Milton’s poem, Thammuz’s untimely death gives rise to women’s worship of the boy as a vegetation god. In Fuller’s novel, however, Joseph uses the allusion to criticize his half sister (Medora Townsend Phillips) and her female boarders (Amy Leffingwell, Hortense Dunton, and Carolyn Thorpe) for their lugubrious sympathy for Bertram. Waxing lyrical, Joseph recalls another religious festival he saw twenty years ago near Florence: “There was a kind of grotto in the church, under the high altar; and in the grotto was a full-sized figure of a dead man, carved and painted—and covered with wounds; and round that figure half the women and girls of the town were collected, stroking, kissing . . . Adonis all over again!” (117). Joseph thus sees Adonis as the prototype of the kind of beautiful, passive (dead or fainted) boy that women lament over, and he is disgusted by such female idolatry. For Joseph, Bertram’s swoon is emasculating: “Well, the young fellow began by roaring through the house [End Page 163] like a bull of Bashan, and he ended by toppling over like a little wobbly calf” (117). The forty-seven-year-old bachelor puts the young bachelor in his place.

Of course, Joseph could be jealous of Bertram. A fellow bachelor, he is largely ignored because of his senior age and current disability. By comparing Bertram to Adonis, Joseph means to put down a boy who draws undue attention. But Joseph’s allusion to Paradise Lost, together with many other literary references in Fuller’s novel, also gestures toward what Christopher Looby calls “literary sexuality.”2 By comparing Bertram to Adonis, Joseph renders Bertram’s sexuality literary, typological, and premodern: Bertram is likened to a mythological character and represented as a type of boy from a much earlier historical period. Here, the modern discourse of sexuality—that is, the sexological classification of homosexuality and heterosexuality invented at the turn of the twentieth century—cannot aptly capture Bertram, because he does not sexually pursue women or other men. Although Bertram treasures his friendship with Arthur Lemoyne, it is unknown whether the two boys see their same-sex intimacy as implicitly homosexual. At the same time, it is Joseph—not Bertram himself—that alludes to Adonis. If Bertram compared himself to Adonis, a few questions would ensue. Does he see himself as a premodern being in modern times? What is it about Adonis that leads him to make such a comparison? And does he deliberately distance himself from the modern discourse of sexuality? But since Joseph makes the comparison, he might or might not be right about Bertram. Although it is important to parse the implications of Joseph’s comparison, the premodern allusion does not inevitably bespeak Bertram’s sexual being.

Before I further explore the implications of Joseph’s allusion, it is crucial to distinguish Looby’s ideas of literary sexuality from my ideas of literary sexuality in Fuller’s novel. In “The Literariness of Sexuality: Or, How to Do the (Literary) History of (American) Sexuality,” Looby coins the phrase “literary sexuality” to delineate particular characters’ presexological expressions of desire or intimacy in American literature of the long nineteenth century. For Looby, characters might declare that reading a certain book fashions their erotic choices (Stephen Calvert in Charles Brockden Brown’s unfinished novel Memoirs of...



中文翻译:

“重头再来”:亨利·布莱克·富勒 (Henry Blake Fuller) 的伯特伦·科普 (Bertram Cope) 年中的文学和植物性行为

代替摘要,这里是内容的简短摘录:

  • 亨利·布莱克·富勒 (Henry Blake Fuller) 的伯特伦·科普 (Bertram Cope) 年中的“阿多尼斯”文学和植物性行为
  • Chung-Hao Ku (bio)

亨利·布莱克·富勒 (Henry Blake Fuller) 的伯特伦·科普( Bertram Cope) 年(1919 年)——一部以 1910 年代后期为背景的校园小说,讲述了这位同名人物在丘奇顿逗留一年的故事,丘奇顿是一个让人想起伊利诺伊州埃文斯顿的大学城——两位高年级单身汉谈论了二十四一岁的主角。在伯特伦意外昏厥后的第二天,巴兹尔·伦道夫去看望他几乎失明的朋友约瑟夫·福斯特时,约瑟夫感觉像是在读“关于阿多尼斯或塔穆兹的故事,他们‘在黎巴嫩’的不幸事件让所有叙利亚女性都感到震惊。” 1暗指约翰弥尔顿的失乐园(1667 年),约瑟夫将伯特伦比作叙利亚牧羊人塔木兹,后者在黎巴嫩被一头野猪刺死——用他的血将阿多尼斯河染成紫色,并产生了猩红色的海葵花。在弥尔顿的诗中,塔木兹的英年早逝引起了女性将男孩视为植物神的崇拜。然而,在富勒的小说中,约瑟夫用这个典故批评了他同父异母的妹妹(梅多拉·汤森德·菲利普斯)和她的女寄宿生(艾米·莱芬威尔、霍滕斯·邓顿和卡罗琳·索普)对伯特伦的悲惨同情。约瑟夫抒情地回忆起他二十年前在佛罗伦萨附近看到的另一个宗教节日:“教堂里有一个石窟,在高坛下面;石窟里有一尊全尺寸的死人雕像,经过雕刻和绘画——上面布满了伤口;在这个数字周围收集了镇上一半的妇女和女孩,抚摸,亲吻。. . 阿多尼斯又来了!” (117)。约瑟夫因此将阿多尼斯视为女性为之哀叹的那种美丽的、被动的(死的或昏厥的)男孩的原型,他对这种女性偶像崇拜感到厌恶。对约瑟夫来说,伯特伦的神魂颠倒正在消退:“好吧,这个年轻人一开始就咆哮着穿过房子[第 163 页]像一头巴珊公牛,最后像一头摇摇晃晃的小牛一样倒下”(117)。四十七岁的单身汉把年轻的单身汉放在了他的位置上。

当然,约瑟夫可能会嫉妒伯特伦。作为一名单身汉,他因年事已高和目前的残疾而在很大程度上被忽视。通过将伯特伦与阿多尼斯进行比较,约瑟夫的意思是贬低一个引起过分关注的男孩。但约瑟夫对失乐园的暗示,以及富勒小说中的许多其他文学参考资料,也指向了克里斯托弗·卢比所说的“文学性欲”。2通过将伯特伦与阿多尼斯进行比较,约瑟夫将伯特伦的性行为描述为文学的、类型学的和前现代的:伯特伦被比作一个神话人物,并被描绘为来自更早历史时期的一种男孩。在这里,现代关于性的话语——即二十世纪之交发明的同性恋和异性恋的性学分类——无法恰当地抓住伯特伦,因为他没有对女性或其他男性进行性追求。尽管伯特伦很珍惜与亚瑟·勒莫因的友谊,但不知道这两个男孩是否将他们的同性亲密视为含蓄的同性恋。与此同时,提到阿多尼斯的是约瑟夫——而不是伯特伦本人。如果伯特伦将自己与阿多尼斯相提并论,就会出现一些问题。他是否认为自己是现代的前现代人?是什么让阿多尼斯做出这样的比较?他是否刻意与现代性话语保持距离?但既然约瑟夫进行了比较,他对伯特伦的看法可能正确,也可能不正确。尽管解析约瑟夫比较的含义很重要,但前现代的典故并非不可避免地预示着伯特伦的性存在。

在我进一步探讨约瑟夫的典故的含义之前,有必要将卢比的文学性观念与富勒小说中我的文学性观念区分开来。在“性的文学性:或者,如何做(美国)性的(文学)历史”中,卢比创造了“文学性”这个词来描绘十九世纪美国文学中特定人物对欲望或亲密的性前表达世纪。对于 Looby 来说,角色可能会宣称阅读某本书会影响他们的情色选择(斯蒂芬·卡尔弗特在查尔斯·布罗克登·布朗未完成的小说回忆录中...

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