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Review

Author(s): Herbert Sussman


Review by: Herbert Sussman
Source: Victorian Studies, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Summer, 1996), pp. 581-583
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3828955
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581

lectureseries,and exhibitions.Throughthe collaborationof thePaul Mellon Centreand


itsYale counterpart,an interdisciplinary
dialogue can hopefullycontinuealong the lines
set forthhere.

ROBERTL. MODE
Vanderbilt
University

Masculinitiesin VictorianPainting,byJosephA. Kestner;pp. xv + 316. Aldershot,England: Scolar Press;Brookfield,VT: AshgatePublishingCompany,1995, ?49.50, $69.95.
Through an encyclopedicrange of examples, this studyvividlydemonstratesthe centralityof visual representationfor thisage of mechanical reproductionin presenting
images of manhood. Masculinityembodied in its varied formspermeated public and
privatespace, schoolrooms and parlors.As Joseph Kestnernotes, "The figureof Sir
Galahad proved to be an indelible paradigm of behaviour for adolescents" (107).
Indeed, I can recall frommy childhood the faded reproductionof G. F. Watts'sSir
Galahad (1862) that hung in the hallwayof my elementaryschool in a provincial
American city,although I must note that this ideal of chivalryseemed to have little

noticeable effecton mymale classmates.


In keepingwithrecenttheorizingof the masculine,Kestnershapes his study
or "dominantfiction"thatis itselfrentby
withinthe model of a hegemonicmasculinity

contradictionand challenged by competingformsof manliness.To shownot the tradibut the pluralityofVictorianmasculinities,


tionalidea of a unitaryVictorianmasculinity
visualtypesof the masculine,withchapters
Kestnerorganizestheworkaround differing
"The
on "The Classical Hero," "The Gallant Knight,""The Challenged Paterfamilias,"
ValiantSoldier,"and "The Male Nude."
to
Kestnerpresentscontradictory
Withinthisstructure,
argumentsthattestify
he statesthatVictorianpainting
functionsofVictorianart.Quite rightly,
the contradictory
functioned,in his term,to "imprint"hegemonicideals of manliness.Backed by an over-

whelmingrangeof reference,his assertionthatpopular imagesreinforcedthe prevailing


discourseof manlinessis surelytrue,but shiftsanalysistowardthe older sense of a monoof gallant
lithicVictorianconstructionof the masculine.To speak of representations
Roman
Greek
and
of
(93) or paintings
knightsas creatinga "paradigmof masculinity"
virtue"(49) is
greatness,patriotism,
subjectsas embodyingmanlyqualitiesof "self-control,

to neglectwhatrecentspecializedstudieshave shownabout the complexwaysin which


both medievaland classicalmatterwas employedbytheVictoriansto mediateconflicting
ideas.
and oftentransgressive
when arguingthe opposing,deconstrucThe studybecomes more interesting
tive position that Victorianpaintingnot only imprinted,but simultaneouslyresisted
If the Victoriansendlesslyembodied the ideals of manliness,
hegemonic masculinity.
of the male bodyregisterinternal
showshow theserepresentations
Kestnerperceptively
conflictsand male anxieties,and portraya threatenedmasculinity.
In his account of "The Challenged Paterfamilias,"for example, Kestner
thatif popular paintingsof contemporarylifedepend upon the dominant
out
points

SUMMER 1996

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582

ideal of male as breadwinnerand center of household authority,manysuch images


interrogatethe essentialistnature of such manliness by showing male behavior as
mutable under the pressure of economic change. Such paintingsas Luke Fildes's
Applicants
forAdmissiontoa Casual Ward(1874) show,as the poorhouse of St. Ives did
forThomas Carlyle,the fallingawayfromthe ideal of manlinessas workheroicized in

Ford Madox Brown's Work(1852-65); theyrecord instead the power of impersonal


economic forces to marginalize men and to blur gender distinctions,as the unemployed male workersin the Fildes paintingmergevisuallywiththe femalevagrants.In
anotherexample, Kestnernicelypointsout thatArthurHughes's TheLongEngagement
(1859) undercuts the essentialistpower of male sexualityby showing "a male disempowered by economic forces"(170).
Againstthe noble images of Galahad, the studyoffersa numberof paintings
set in the presentthatundercutthe moral authorityof the male. The paterfamiliasin

Richard Redgrave's The Outcast(1851) rigidlyexpellinghis daughterfromthe hearth


againstthewishesof his familyand, at theoppositeextreme,the rakeofWilliamHolman
Hunt's The AwakeningConscience
(1853) indicate Victorianpainters' awarenessof the

rangeofmale behaviorand theunstablemoralbasisofpatriarchy.


Connectingvisualform
to thisinterrogation
of masculinity,
KestnerarguesthattheVictorianproblempainting-

thatgenre in whichthe narrativeis self-consciously


indeterminate-destabilizesthe heview
of
the
male.
In
Fildes's
familiar
gemonic
paintingTheDoctor(1891), forexample,
since the outcome of the child's illnessis not indicated,the narrativemay be read as
showingeitherthe skillor the impotenceof the professionalman.
the discussionof "The ValiantSoldier"disruptsour easyviewof the
Similarly,

Victorianidealizationof male as warrior.Withfascinatingexamples culled fromminor

museumsand regimentalcollections,Kestnershowsthatalthoughmilitarypaintingembodied the manlyvirtuesof comradeshipand courage,theVictoriansseemed fascinated


notbyscenesofsuccess,butbymomentsofvictoryin defeat.There is masculinity
literally
1842
besieged, as in WilliamBarnes Wollen's The Last Stand ofthe44that Gundamuck,

(1898) or GeorgeJoy'sTheLast StandofGeneralGordon(1893), and men in heroicretreat,


as in RichardWoodville'sMaiwand:SavingtheGuns(1882). In wordsthatapplyequally
well to AlfredTennyson's"The Charge of the LightBrigade" (1854), Kestnersees the
but as "salvagingthe
project of Victorianrepresentationof war not as triumphalism,
dominantfictionin the wake of defeat"(206).
It is, then,not the invincibility
but the fragility
of the male and of patriarchy
itselfthat is for Kestnerthe primaryoccupation of Victorianpainting.Followingthe

theorizingof Kaja Silverman,he compellinglyassertsthatthe taboo subjectin Victorian


visualrepresentation
ofthemale bodyis thedifference
betweenthephallusand thepenis,
thevulnerableflesh.In militarypainting,it is thewounded bodyof themale soldierthat
is erased, a psychicnecessityfor repressingthe frailty
of the male body.Such worksas

(1870) exemplifythat"forthe Greeks,it was the


JohnEverettMillais's TheKnight-Errant
naked male thatconstructedmasculinity;
for the Victoriansit was the armouredmale"
of armor creates "the permanenterection"(97),
(97). And yetif the hypermasculinity

the armoredmale also suggestsan occupationwiththe "potentialfordemasfetishizing


culinzation/castration"
demon(104). The finalchapter,"The Male Nude," compellingly

VICTORIAN STUDIES

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583

stratesthatnot onlyis the male nude rarein Victorianpainting,but also thatin thesefew
ofmasculinity,
are notpictured-an
imagesofthenaked male thegenitals,bodilysignifier
omission,Kestnerperceptively
notes,thatderivesnot fromfabledVictorianprudery,but

fromanxietythatthesightofthemale organitselfwouldexpose thefragility


ofgrounding
in
flesh.
the
vulnerable
patriarchy
HERBERTSUSSMAN
Northeastern
University

AnotherKind of Love: Male Homosexual Desire in EnglishDiscourse, 1850-1920, by


of CaliforniaPress,1994, $30.00.
ChristopherCraft;pp. xix + 233. Berkeley:University
Bringingtogethera numberof influentialand widelyread essays,mostnotablyone on
Kind of
in 1984, Another
Bram Stoker'sDracula (1897) firstpublished in Representations
Loveoffersa reminderof how original-and disturbing-antihomophobiccritiquewas

at the date of its initialappearance. In the early1980s,followingpublicationof major


studiesbyElaine Showalter(1977) and Sandra Gilbertand Susan Gubar (1979), feminist
criticism,newlyascendantwithinVictorianstudies,stressedwhatShowalterrefersto as

fortheanalysisofwomen's
"theprogramto constructa femaleframework
"gynocritics":
literature,to develop new models based on the studyof femaleexperience,ratherthan
Literato adapt male models and theories"(The NewFeministCriticism:
Essayson Women,

ture,and Theory[1985]: 131).


Drawingon historyand theoryby Gayle Rubin,Michel Foucault,and Jeffrey
Weeks,Craftand fellowwriterssuch as Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick,D. A. Miller,and Michael
Moon supplementedearlierworkwithwhatSedgwicktermed"antihomophobic"
critique
and Male HomosocialDesire[1985]: 19). With varying
(BetweenMen: EnglishLiterature
emphases,thesecriticsdescribeddesire betweenmen, especiallyin the nineteenthcentury,as a double bind in which desire was stimulated,mobilized,and finallynegated
In antihomophobiccritique,heterosexualdesire tended to
withinall-maleinstitutions.

ofan occluded,usuallyviolentmale homosocialdesire


disappearwithinthetriangulation
mediated by the contestbetween two men over a particularwoman, a structurethat
Sedgwickproposed as the verymodel of desire in classicVictorianrealism.This model

same-sexdesirebetweenmen,hence theprecision
leftlittleor no place foran affirmative
thatis, criticalof social and culturalmechanismsthatmystify
of the termantihomophobic
or negate the developmentof sexual and emotionaltiesbetweenmen.
Because antihomophobiccritiquechanged in basic wayshow readersimagine

the worldof Victoriancultural,social,and politicalrelations,itsimportancecan scarcely


be exaggerated.Feministcriticsfoundtheirattentionredirectedto male textsand questionsabout male subjectivity;
gay criticswere compelled to develop bettertheorizedac-

countsofoppositionality
amongsubjectsofmale-maledesirethataddressedthecomplicity
whosehegemonywas inseparablefrom
ofmale-maledesirewithininstitutions
of traditions
men, children,and racial,ethnic,and "other"Others
injusticesto women,working-class
and influence.
fromthe innersanctumsof authority
excluded bydefinition

SUMMER1996

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