Postscript: Henry James’s Public Servant

Kate Thomas

in Postal Pleasures

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730919
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918461 | DOI:
Postscript: Henry James’s Public Servant

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This chapter is a reading of the female civil servant as a queer agent in Henry James’ 1898 novella In the Cage. This novella’s central trope of "queer extensions" of experience and self are likened to James’ own playful postal practices such as flirtatious post-scripts, and coded notes on envelopes. Much recent queer scholarship on this novella emphasises blackmail and the threat that the postal worker could expose gay male subjectivity. By recentering the girl, and refocusing on her as a civil servant engaged in public postal work, this chapter is able to see the girl telegraphist as herself queer, and her role as a "network functionary" as animating and expressive of her queerness.

Keywords: post office; sex; telegraph; henry james; queer; in the cage; civil service; lesbian; literature; victorian

Chapter.  8195 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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