Poynton: Notes on the Management of a Spoiled Identity
Abstract

This essay introduces the complex role of disability in the fiction of Henry James, arguing that the compromised mind forms the constitutive other of Jamesian realism. Raised in a family that linked somatic disability to intellectual distinction, James saw “stupidity” as a source of democratic contagion. The Spoils of Poynton portrays the art of the novel as an inoculant against the differential possibilities of cognitive limitation. When a clever aesthete attempts to outwit the “spoiled identities” of generational succession, however, she, like James, must confront the loose, baggy monster of disability.


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