The Bourgeois Interior
Publication Year: 2012
From Robinson Crusoe’s cave to Henry Selwyn’s hermitage, the domestic interior tells a story about "things" and their relation to character and identity. Beginning with a description of a typical middle-class interior in America today—noting how its contents echo interiors described in literatures of the past—Julia Prewitt Brown asks why certain features persist, despite radical changes in domestic life over the past three hundred years. The answer lies, Brown argues, in the way the bourgeois interior functions as a medium, a many-layered fabric across which different energies travel, be they psychological, political, or aesthetic. In this way, objects are not symbols but rather the materials out of which symbols are made--symbols that constitute the very soul of the bourgeois.
In a wide-ranging analysis, moving from works by Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Henry James to those by Virginia Woolf, Ingmar Bergman, John Updike, and W. G. Sebald, Brown shows that what is at issue is less the economic basis of class than the bourgeoisie’s imagination of itself. The themes explored include the middle class’s ever-increasing desire for more wealth, as well as Victorian women’s identification with the domestic interior and the changes that took place when they began working outside the home. Brown also examines the ambivalence of economically determined objects both as repositories of memory and dreams and as fetishized commodities that become detached from everyday reality. Does the bourgeois possess the interior and its objects, or do the interior and its objects possess the bourgeois?
Published by: University of Virginia Press
Title Page, Copyright
Download PDF (55.1 KB)
Download PDF (35.1 KB)
Download PDF (35.0 KB)
Download PDF (45.0 KB)
No one likes to think of himself as bourgeois. Yet the signs of catalogs of “luxury estates,” to be reminded of the ubiquity all classes come to identify with the interests and aspirations a “laboring class” with substantial pension funds invested in Wall Street to an “upper class” with socioeconomic aspirations ...
Download PDF (1.1 MB)
...curity system, perhaps in the form of a small red light near the As in Robinson Crusoe’s island fortress—the first bourgeois in-from abroad, not unlike the souvenirs and art objects displayed in the Meagleses’ interior in Dickens’s Little Dorrit (1855–57) or at Waterbath in James’s The Spoils of Poynton (1897). Though ...
Robinson Crusoe’s Cave
Download PDF (879.7 KB)
The first bourgeois interior in English fiction is located in a prophecy of the radical alteration our relations to domestic space ship. Crusoe’s inventory of domestic objects is the first in a line century novels to the Ithaca chapter in James Joyce’s Ulysses, as the locus of things is found in realist and nonrealist fiction ...
Download PDF (96.2 KB)
...them, register the rise of the spirit of capitalist enterprise in England of the last years of her life was not wholly industrial-that she reinvents in her fiction with a less droll, more intel-the domestic myth of Robinson Crusoe itself becomes a target of the activity of everyone—high and low alike—was affected by ...
Charles Dickens andthe Victorian Addictionto Dwelling
Download PDF (2.3 MB)
...tory.1 The Industrial Revolution, which entered its first stage turies. The sense of enclosure, the comfortable distance from a ian home, in which activities and rituals were tied to the natu-ral cycle: all were disrupted by industrialization. In the portrait sponse to this upheaval; and in her description of the Prices’ ...
The Smell and Spell of“Things” in Henry James’sThe Spoils of Poynton
Download PDF (1.0 MB)
...“I’ve a great respect for things!” exclaims the dubious Madame Merle in Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady (1881). “[W]e’re the “self,” she continues, “Where does it begin? Where does it end? It overflows into everything that belongs to us—and then it flows back again. . . . One’s self—for other people—is one’s ...
Virginia Woolf andthe Passing of VictorianDomesticity
Download PDF (87.8 KB)
...“unable to survive the passage to Modernity,”1 so rooted is it in what James called the “Old Things” of the past. Howards End, in E. M. Forster’s novel by that name, also has difficulty mak-ing the transition to modernity and does so only after sacrific-an unconventional family—an illegitimate child its heir—has ...
Bourgeois Memory andDream in the DomesticInteriors of Ingmar Bergman
Download PDF (767.3 KB)
There exists for each one of us an oneiric house, a house of dream-memory.for a “pure cinema” since the subject was debated in Paris in has been faulted for “putting concepts into pictures” and es-riched them. August Strindberg’s influence on Bergman’s films “godfather” of Fanny and Alexander,2 and it is difficult to imag-...
Conclusion: John Updike,W. G. Sebald, and theAfterlife of the Bourgeoisie
Download PDF (66.4 KB)
Yet one of the oddities of our life as it rushes past is that we are so eager in our work, so avid for pleasure, that we are seldom able to treasure and hold fast the given particularities of the moment. And so, even at an advanced age, we still have a duty to acknowledge the human—which never leaves us—in its tion of letters written by “the great exemplars” of the preindus-...
Download PDF (40.0 KB)
Download PDF (80.8 KB)
Download PDF (59.5 KB)
Download PDF (49.6 KB)
Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012