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Ornamental Identity: Commodity Fetishism, Masculinity, and Sexuality in The Golden Bowl

From: The Henry James Review
Volume 28, Number 1, Winter 2007
pp. 26-42 | 10.1353/hjr.2007.0002


The Golden Bowl marks a shift in James's account of the relations between the commodity form, sexuality, and gendered identities. Whereas James's earlier fictions develop their interest in the interimplication of consumer and sexual desires through an emphasis on the exchangeability of the female body, in this novel the pre-eminent human commodity is a male, Amerigo. The connections drawn between commodity fetishism and masculinity in the representation of the Prince have implications that call into question the naturalness of heterosexuality and orthodox gender identities.