restricted access Poynton: Notes on the Management of a Spoiled Identity


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.