- 東京女子大学紀要論集 (ISSN:04934350)
- vol.54, no.1, pp.81-104, 2003-09-22
The purpose of this paper is to reevaluate the place of Henry Blake Fuller's Bertram Cope's Year (1919) in the critical appraisal. Analysis of the connection between marriage and the erotic triangle as a literary device in the novel will lead us to the reevaluation. This will then be reinforced by an exploration into the hidden tradition of the device. The device was contrived to express covertly but ingeniously the homoerotic desire that still had to be closeted at the time when Fuller published the novel. In order to prove it, the use of such words as "Sappho" and "Urania" is pointed out first. These words can imply homoerotic nuance in the context of the time. Next, we discuss how the narrator/author reinforces this homoerotic implication by adroitly manipulating the contrasts of three triangular relationships with marriage as a literary means to imbue the relationships with eroticism: a young female's desire to idealize and marry the protagonist in a triangle, accordingly, overlaps with a middle-aged widow's erotic desire for him in another triangle, which, in turn, overlaps with a middle-aged bachelor's homoerotic desire for him in still another triangle. Then, the contrast and analogy between the three triangles and other ones are analyzed to show the homoerotic desire hidden in each male character. The "triangular desire" defined by Rene Girard and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's theory on homosocial relationship based on Girard's formulation give us the frame to analyze the literary device. However, the function of the triangle in this novel lies neither in the emphasis on rivalry in Girard's triangle nor in the asymmetry of the two sides in a triangle on which Sedgwick insists in her revision of Girard's formulation. It rather lies in the interchangeability or parallelism between the sides of the triangle. The point is that the side between the subject and the object and that between the object and, according to Girard's word, the "mediator" illuminate each other and reveal the hidden desire. In conclusion, Bertram Cope, the protagonist is the mediator who exposes the hidden homoerotic desire of the male characters: this literary device is the author's homoerotic gaze toward the characters and his work. In order to indicate the possibility to trace the hidden tradition, similar connections between marriage and the erotic triangle are briefly discussed in Allan Dale's "A Marriage below Zero" (1889) and Bayard Taylor's "Twin-Love" (1872). Then, finally, it is suggested that Fuller was aware of Henry James's The Bostonians (1886) when he wrote Bertram Cope's Year by pointing out some intertextual evidences, which also suggest the possibility of a homoerotic reading of The Bostonians.