Who cares about Charlotte Wentworth? Fancy-work in Henry James

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Exploring The Europeans, Washington Square, and The Spoils of Poynton, this article demonstrates James's evocation of medieval annunciation iconography and argues that James's annunciation scenes allegorize the dynamic intrasubjective relationships that constitute the self. Noting the historical shift of the Virgin's occupation from needlework to reading, the article analyses the Wentworth sisters as comparably differentiated models of subjectivity. Gertrude, a reader, models the self as a book: a dematerialized interior plenitude lodged within an outer body. Charlotte, a textile artist, models the self as a form of embroidery: an expressive surface structure coterminous with the exterior organ of the skin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalThe Henry James Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

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