This essay argues that the exemplary couple in The Golden Bowl is the Assinghams. It makes that case by linking James’s high modernism to an archive of paper doll houses, a variant of the scrapbook popular in his day. I argue that James’s writing shares with the paper doll house a collage aesthetic that foregrounds theatricality and composition. Both forms might be read as symptoms of alienation. But in both forms the principles of theatricality and composition actually serve to promote intimacy. Favoring surface rather than depth, proceeding by textual play, the Assinghams’ marriage bears the marks of a post-humanist enterprise. But I contend that James’s portrayal of their relationship maintains a humanist ethic of mutuality, care, and creativity.


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pp. 95-115
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