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Colonizing Masculinity: the Creation of a Male British

Colonizing Masculinity: the Creation of a Male British



PHILIP JOSEP H HOLDEN B.A., University Colleg e London, 198 3 M.A., University o f Florida, 198 6


We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standar d


May 199 4

(c) Philip Joseph Holden, 1994 In presentin g thi s thesi s i n partia l fulfilmen t o f th e requirement s fo r a n advance d degree a t th e Universit y o f Britis h Columbia , I agre e tha t th e Librar y shal l mak e i t freely availabl e fo r referenc e an d study . I furthe r agre e tha t permissio n fo r extensiv e copying o f thi s thesi s fo r scholarl y purpose s ma y b e grante d b y th e hea d o f m y department o r b y hi s o r he r representatives . I t i s understoo d tha t copyin g o r publication o f thi s thesi s fo r financia l gai n shal l no t b e allowe d withou t m y writte n permission.


Department o f EtvikLlS H

The Universit y o f Britis h Columbi a Vancouver, Canad a Date 22 /N- 4 / H

DE-6 (2/88 ) ii


This thesis discusses th e oriental fictio n o f W. Somerset Maugham i n the light of current theoretical model s introduced b y postcolonia l an d gender studies. Immensel y popular fro m thei r tim e o f publication t o the present, Maugham's novels an d shor t storie s se t i n Asia an d th e South Pacific exhibi t a consummate recyclin g o f colonialist tropes. Through thei r manipulation o f racial, gender, and geographical binarisms , Maugham's texts produce a fantasy o f a seemingly stabl e British male subjectivity base d upo n emotional an d somati c continence, rationality, and specularity. Th e status of the British male subject i s tested an d confirme d b y his activity i n the colonies. Maugham's situatio n o f writing a s a homosexual man, however, results i n affiliations which cu t across th e binary oppositions which structure Maugham's texts, destabilising the integrity o f the subject the y striv e s o assiduously t o create.

Commencing with Maugham's nove l The Moon an d Sixpence, and his short stor y collection Th e Trembling o f a Leaf, both of which are se t i n the South Pacific, the thesis moves to a discussion o f Maugham's Chines e travelogue, On a Chinese Screen, and his Hong Kon g novel, . Furthe r chapters explor e th e Malayan shor t stories, and Maugham' s novel se t i n the then Dutch Eas t Indies, The Narrow Corner. A final chapter discusse s Maugham's novel o f India , The iii

Razor's Edge. Unlike many o f his contemporaries, Maugham does not even attempt a liberal critique o f British . Writing an d narration are, for him, processes closely identifie d wit h codes of imperia l manliness. Maugham's putativel y objectiv e narrators, and th e public "Maugham persona " which the writer carefully cultivated , display a strong investmen t i n the British male subjectivit y outlined above . Yet Maugham's texts als o endlessly discove r writing a s a play o f signification, of decoration, of qualities tha t he explicitly associate s i n other text s with homosexuality. I f Maugham's text s do not critique the formation o f colonial subject s they do, to a critical reader, make the rhetoric necessar y t o create such subject s peculiarly visible. iv


Abstract 11 Table o f Contents iv Acknowledgement v Preface vi INTRODUCTION 1 Chapter On e Envisioning th e Primitive: The Moon an d Sixpenc e 51

Chapter Tw o The Trembling o f a Leaf and the Closet of Nostalgia 89 Chapter Thre e The Flaneur Abroad: On a Chinese Scree n 121

Chapter Fou r The Empty Sig n of The Painted Veil 151 Chapter Fiv e Transgression an d Containment : The Malayan Shor t Storie s 182 Chapter Si x The Narrow Corner: Intoxication, Homoeroticism, an d th e Writing Cure 223 Chapter Seve n Transcending Sexuality : The Razor's Edge. 255

CONCLUSION 285 Endnotes 297

Bibliography 307 V


I would lik e to thank my Research Supervisor , Dr. Patricia Merivale, fo r her sensitiv e criticism an d intellectua l support, and als o to acknowledge the help I received fro m the tw o other members o f my Supervisory Committee , Dr. John Cooper, and Dr. Eva-Marie Kroller. I would als o lik e to thank Ms. Rosemary Leach, Graduate Secretar y i n the English Department, for her assistance t o me during my fiv e years i n the Ph.D. programme. VI


An earlier version o f the section o f Chapter Fiv e entitled "Reading 'Th e Yellow Streak 1" was published a s "W . Somerset Maugham's Yellow Streak " i n Studies i n Short Fiction 2 9 (1992): 575-582. An earlier version of Chapter Four, "Th e Empty Sig n o f The Painted Veil, " i s forthcoming i n English Studies i n Canada. 1 INTRODUCTION

1. Re-reading Maugha m

"Is i t all right," American critic Joseph Epstei n wonders i n an essay written i n the mid 'eighties , "t o read Somerset Maugham?" (1 ) The feelin g persist s tha t i t somehow is not guite a u fait. Maugham's works ar e not part o f the English Literature cano n i n British o r North American universities, nor have they been subject t o focused critica l attention. A detailed critica l readin g o f a defined bod y o f Maugham's fiction , which this thesis attempts, faces difficulties n o matter what critical stanc e i s chosen. For the New Critic, Maugham's novels an d shor t storie s ar e lacking i n depth an d density. Their symbolis m i s clumsily obvious, plots contrived, languag e polishe d an d euphoniou s but tendin g toward s th e cliche. I n Maugham's fiction , meaning i s often on the surface, and th e text itsel f need s little explication o r annotation, i n contrast t o the modernist fictio n an d metaphysical poetr y upo n which British New Criticism cu t it s analytic teeth. More contemporary critica l approache s t o Maugham's texts, however, face other obstacles. Poststructuralist analysis, i n the age of the death of the author, finds Maugham's confidenc e i n intentionality an d writerly craftsmanship misplaced, i f not naive. Feminist critique s face th e arduous tas k o f finding purchas e o n the smooth 2 surface of Maugham's masculine self-fashioning. The author' s early novels, such as Mrs. Craddock (1902) , an d many o f his plays, are sympathetic intervention s i n debates on "th e woman question" o f the late nineteenth an d earl y twentiet h century simila r thematically t o the plays of Henrik Ibse n or the late r novels o f Thomas Hardy. His later, and more popular fiction , however, i s increasingly sex-stereotyped , displaying a misogyny tha t i s impervious t o critical intervention. James Joyce's and D.H. Lawrence's femal e characters ar e frequentl y troublin g presences , cracking ope n the surface s o f gender roles s o that the reader ma y peer, albeit briefly, beneath. Maugham's memsahibs, in contrast, seem s o self-evidently stereotypical , such clearly-define d products o f a rigid, internall y consisten t sex/gende r system, •* • that they resist th e leverage o f deconstructiv e analysis. Postcolonial critique s of Maugham's writings als o arrive a t an impasse . Maugham wrote a substantial bod y of texts about Asia, and i s often thought of, erroneously, a s a writer whose subjec t matter i s predominantly colonial . His novels an d shor t storie s se t i n Asia, however, suffer i n comparison with those o f two canonized predecessors , Kipling and Conrad . Maugham's work doe s not foregroun d th e fantas y of a life on the border zon e between tw o cultures, of a merging int o the exotic culture while stil l maintaining one's English subjectivit y intact , as Kipling's best work, such a s Kim, does. Nor do Maugham's text s exhibit th e 3 fractured structur e o f Conrad's novels an d shor t stories, the overlapping o f narrational voices an d their ultimate undermining o f the status of truth. Maugham's narrators si t in the clean, well-lighted plac e of reason; they observ e with irony , but they rarel y doubt. Maugham's storie s thu s read lik e Conrad's purple patches: it i s as i f Jim were permanently marooned a t Patusan, and had th e luxury of writing his own story, without Marlowe's, Stein's, or Brown's mediation. Suc h narrational suret y does not readil y provide th e textual discontinuitie s an d fissure s beloved o f postcolonial critics ; the stories' seamlessness makes i t difficult t o locate "th e indeterminate moment when specificity i s dissolved" (Spivak , "Imperialis m an d Sexua l Difference" 229). The variety o f critical approache s grouped a s Gay an d Lesbian Studies , Gender Studies , or most recently a s Queer Theory, would initiall y appea r to offer a ready means of engaging Maugham's work critically. Here too, however, there are obstacles. Maugham di d no t interven e publicly i n debates upon homosexuality, a s Gide did with Corydon, nor di d he leave a number o f texts with homosexual theme s for posthumous publication, as Forster di d with Maurice an d a number o f short stories. The creation o f the Maugham narrator seem s very much to be a device to keep Maugham himself securel y closeted , an d indee d th e author's fe w published remark s on homosexuality see m conventionall y homophobic. His novels themselves do not actively thematiz e 4 homosexuality, an d whereas i t is possible t o read homoeroticism int o them, much th e same might b e said o f the works o f most nominally o r indee d certifiabl y heterosexua l twentieth-century Britis h male writers. The resistance o f Maugham's texts t o analysis is, perhaps, responsible fo r the paucity o f critical reading s o f his works. And yet, in a sense, it i s their very slicknes s that makes the m interesting . Attempting t o investigate how such slickness i s produced, this thesis concentrates upo n Maugham's orienta l fiction, 2 his short storie s an d novel s set i n Asia an d Australasia, commencing with the novel The Moon an d Sixpence (1919 ) and ending with The Razor's Edge (1944). Widely acknowledge d t o be finely crafted, more popular i n terms of sales than the writings o f supposedly more literar y chroniclers o f Empire such as Conrad o r Kipling, Maugham's orienta l fiction s are successfu l participants i n the reproduction o f imperia l ideology . Like a serie s of trompe l'oeil murals, they depend fo r their harmonious effect upon a certain way of seeing, upon an alignment o f reader, narrator, and object which i s so assiduously create d tha t i t becomes difficult t o find another angl e o f vision. I n his most recen t work, Edward Said compare s "imperialism' s consolidatin g vision" to Maupassant's "enjoyin g a daily lunc h a t the Eiffel Towe r because i t was the only place i n Paris where he did not have to loo k a t the imposin g structure " (Cultur e an d Imperialis m 239). I t is only th e gazing subjec t who i s himself immun e to 5 the surve y of the gaze; he himself i s already invisibl y natural, always alread y there . Maugham's orienta l fiction , then, works t o naturalise suc h concepts a s "Britishness " and "masculinity" by , i n a sense, eliding thei r presence. An extension o f Said's metaphor ma y provide a hint of a methodology fo r a re-viewing o f Maugham's works. On June 10, 1884, Si r Frederick Wel d gave a talk on the Strait s Settlements an d Britis h Malaya t o an audience a t the Royal Colonial Institute , London, which omitted referenc e t o Singapore, the area's centre, second Londo n o f the Empire. The omission, the chairman of the session remarke d afte r the presentation, was guite i n order, and di d not proceed fro m any disregard o f Singapore's importance . Rather, Weld's silence was "th e greatest possible compliment ... t o Singapore. This Colony i s getting on so well that there i s no occasion eve n fo r a Parliamentary questio n about it" (Weld 85). Like Maupassant's Eiffe l Tower, then, Singapore is a centre that, by it s privileged position , escapes observation. Yet a late twentieth-century reade r may well see colonial Singapor e differently—an imperia l fortres s with al l guns facin g seaward , subject t o investiture fro m the rear—or eve n view Singapore a s primarily a postcolonial space, Lee Kuan Yew's "poisonou s shrimp," which would giv e an invade r indigestion , o r one of Asia's littl e dragons. The point I wish t o make through th e extension o f Said's metaphor i s perhaps a n elementary one : ideologies an d discourses ar e not monolithic, and they ar e subject t o 6 processes o f change. For all the continuing powe r of imperial nostalgia i n Britain, there are now angles fro m which one can look which sho w the constructed natur e of colonial discourse , it s continual making an d remaking o f the boundaries o f imagine d communities , angles fro m which Maugham's works ar e denaturalised, thei r rhetorical sleight s of hand made visible. The angle I will use i n this thesis will be to read Maugham a s a homosexual writer i n an effort to open up the enforced symmetrie s of his oriental writings, to view homosexuality a s the unmentionable invisibl e presence that centres the urbane circumference o f his works. My hope i n this thesis i s thus to use homosexuality a s a lever to explore the connection between Britis h constructions o f masculinity an d imaginativ e geography i n the early twentiet h century. European colonia l communitie s were historically no t merely wardrobes fo r the trying o n of different construction s of masculinity, but factories fo r "the cultivation o f all that i s masculine an d the expulsio n of all that i s effeminate" (Newsome , qtd. i n Hyam 72). My conviction i s that colonial text s suc h as Maugham's no t only write British masculinity larg e but are themselves subject t o continuous interlocutio n b y the material the y seek t o process. Even as Maugham's narration cut s up, stretches, and frame s it s material i n order t o process it, so the material itsel f talks back, suggesting th e tenuousness o f the narrator's position.

2. Maugham's Critical Heritag e 7

The amount o f academic writing upo n Maugham i s surprisingly small . Two substantial scholarl y biographie s exist,3 supplemented b y a number o f general studie s which, while providing ampl e plot summar y an d contextualization , are largely conten t t o remain o n the fringe s o f textual analysis, making onl y occasional foray s int o a broad discussion o f theme an d imagery . A further serie s of reviews and essay s attempts t o establish Maugham's statu s within th e canon o f English o r World Literatur e i n a debate which commences with Dreiser's 191 5 review of and is still pursued, perhaps with rather flaggin g vigour, today. Critical monographs concerning th e modern short story, writing an d imperialism , an d writing an d gender ofte n make brief reference t o Maugham. I n most of these studies, however, Maugham play s th e role of torch-bearer t o Kipling, Conrad, and Forster, each o f whom i s an accomplished shor t story writer i n his own right. Ironically fo r a writer s o concerned wit h Other s of race, class an d sexuality , Maugham himself i s made Other i n these academic texts, presented a s the competent bu t uninspired professiona l writer agains t whose works true literary geniu s may be measured. Finally , there i s a small number of works that use a clearly define d critical approac h t o analyse on e or more of Maugham's texts. I do not propose t o give a n extended summar y o f Maugham's critical receptio n here.4 Rather, I wish t o focus upon critical treatmen t o f aspects o f Maugham's 8 novels, travel writings an d shor t fictio n tha t ar e relevan t to this thesis: imaginative geography, gender, sexuality, and lastl y Maugham's "on e triumphant creation , W. Somerset Maugham, world-weary world-traveler , whose narrative firs t person became the best-known an d leas t wearisome i n the world" (Vida l 40). Most criticism o f Maugham stresse s the importance o f Asia a s a setting fo r his fiction . On the most superficia l critical level , Asia i s seen a s providing backgroun d material an d littl e more. John Whitehead, fo r example, feels that Maugham's journey s t o "th e Far East" provided inspiration fo r "hi s best work" (Maugham : A Reappraisal 17). Raymond Mortimer, i n contrast, confesses t o being "bore d with the sarongs and padangs an d kampongs which serv e fo r local colour" (244) , an d locate s the interes t Maugham's Malayan storie s hold i n their characterization. Even an extended essa y suc h as Klaus Jonas' "Maugha m an d the East" does not move beyond plo t summar y an d character description. Leslie Marchand's conclusio n follow s simila r lines: Exoticism di d not perceptibly colou r Maugham' s thinking o r modify his method. I t was rather a useful medium, but i t never subdue d o r chastened him. The tone o f his work remains constant. (71 ) Archie Loss moves a little furthe r i n recognising exil e as a theme i n the Malayan fictio n (72-3) , a concept which i s amplified b y Robert Gish. Gish sees Maugham's texts a s part of a coherent traditio n o f the exotic shor t story i n English 9 Literature which stretches fro m Kipling t o Greene, a tradition which reflect s a "major literary mod e of " (2 ) : Not only di d Kipling an d his heirs—each i n his own way--extend th e subject an d theme of exoticis m and thu s the scope of the modern shor t story ; they also enhanced ou r understanding o f the alienatio n common t o those who live i n the twentieth century , early an d lat e . • . The modern British shor t story i s often th e product o f " " i n exotic places an d situations , of culture, of class, of sexuality or--th e ultimate exoticism — of death. (37 ) Curtis briefly explore s ' s other face , moving awa y fro m a treatmen t o f effects the exotic upo n the British psyche to a consideration o f Maugham's depiction o f the colonial situation. The racism of the Malayan storie s is, he comments, "no t likely t o endear Maugham t o the modern liberal-minded reader " (Th e Pattern Of Maugham 158). Both Curtis an d Antony Burges s remar k o n the paucity o f Asian characters i n Maugham's oriental fiction , Burgess commentin g that "Maugha m canno t b e blamed fo r making his stories centr e on . . . Europeans, since they were the only people he could really get to know" (xvi) . Curtis further raises i n passing Maugham's "fixatio n with inter-racia l sex " (158) , an d unintentionally foreground s a dichotomy tha t underpins th e Malayan fiction , that between "th e isolate d Outstatio n . . . 10 [as] a Great Good Plac e where the real man emerged" (155) , and th e lives o f Europeans i n Asia a s " a process of degeneration, or of eroded integrity"(175) . All these comments, however, are very much i n passing, packaging material surroundin g soli d nugget s o f plot summar y an d contextualization: there i s little extended analysi s o f either race or imaginativ e geography i n general studies of Maugham. Maugham's works still await extended reading s by established critic s i n the manner o f Frederic Jameson's o f Lord Ji m (1900 ) i n The Political Unconscious (1981) , o r even critical preface s afte r the example of David Trotter's 198 7 introduction t o Kipling's Plai n Tales From th e Hills (1890) . The novels an d shor t stories ar e excluded bot h from pioneering studie s o f English literatur e an d colonialism , such a s M.M. Mahood's The Colonial Encounter (1977 ) and Jeffrey Meyer's Fictio n an d the Colonial Experience (1973 ) , and als o from critically more sophisticated studies , including Patric k Brantlinger' s Rul e o f Darkness (1988) . No r have the texts attracted attentio n fro m postcolonia l critics, i n marked contras t t o the explosion o f re-readings of Forster an d Conra d i n the late 1980s . The reason may well be tha t Maugham's writings ar e not, and have never been, part of the English Literature cano n a t British an d Nort h American universities . Exposing imperialis t rhetori c an d divisions o f Sel f an d Othe r i n Forster o r Conrad lead s directly t o guestions o f literary value an d canon formation. 11 A similar exercis e performed upo n Maugham's texts lead s nowhere, since he has already bee n judge d b y literar y scholars an d foun d t o be non-canonical. There is , however, a small body o f studies of Maugham's imaginative geograph y i n detail an d fro m a defined critica l perspective. Subramani's "Th e Mythical Quest: Literary Response to the South Seas" provides, as its title suggests, a reading o f The Moon an d Sixpenc e (1919 ) inspired b y Joseph Campbell. Jan e O'Halloran's "A t the Fa r Edge of their Firelight" (1988) , t o which we might appl y a cumbersome but necessary neologis m suc h as proto-postcolonial/feminis t analysis, i s appealing i n its linking Maugham's constructions o f feminity an d racia l alterity, but disappointing i n it s homophobia. Finally, Debra Stoner' s "Ironic Designs i n the Exotic Fiction of W. Somerset Maugham" (1989 ) explores the place of irony within Maugham' s exotic short fiction . These readings will be discussed i n Chapters On e an d Two, which provide analyse s of Maugham's fiction se t i n the South Pacific. If criticism explorin g Maugham's imaginativ e geograph y and constructions o f racial Other s i s sparse, it is nonetheless plentifu l i n comparison with accounts o f his fictional construction s o f gender. Most works of criticis m acknowledge Maugham's misogyny. Loss, fo r example, critiques the characterization o f women a s obstacles to the expression of male genius i n The Moon an d Sixpence (43-47) , an d remark s that most o f Maugham's femal e characters "fal l int o the 12 categories o f love goddess o r bitch" (112) . Wilmon Menard' s account o f the genesis o f Maugham's Sout h Pacific tales, which I take to be largely fabricated, 5 endorses thi s view, representing Maugha m a s glossing his mems as "'boresome psychopath[s] , . . . female[s] plagued b y Freudian neuroses'" (9-10) . As a counterbalance, Curtis argues that Maugham's dramati c heroines ar e positivel y presented, an d Calde r uses biographical evidenc e t o read misogyny ou t o f the short storie s an d novels (Willi e 74-5). The two critics are, however, in the minority; the most common approach i s to examine Maugham's "image s of women" i n passing, to fin d the m wanting, and to ascribe thei r deficiencies t o the writer's homosexuality.6 Th e firs t volume of Sandra Gilber t an d Susa n Gubar's No_Man's Land (1988) raises th e importan t questio n o f narrational authority i n a discussion o f the manner i n which Maugham' s short stor y "Th e Colonel's Lady" illustrate s th e fear among male writers "o f a female literary traditio n whose existenc e might debilitate not only men o f letters but all men" (141) ; this is, however, the only extende d discussio n o f Maugham b y feminist critics. Maugham's homosexuality, which i s central t o the analysis this thesis performs, has, like the question of gender, been approached onl y tangentially b y critics. Much early analysi s does not raise the issue at all: Richard Cordell, Maugham's firs t biographer, was misled int o believing Maugha m t o be heterosexual. " I was just a country 13 boy," he later explained i n mitigation (Morga n xv). Anthony Curtis' stud y The Pattern of Maugham (1974 ) engages i n a curious form of critical sidestepping . I f one knows, chapters with such titles as " A Double Life" have a certain resonance; if one doesn't, Curtis i s not prepared t o enlighten one. Calder's W. Somerset Maugham an d the Quest for Freedo m (1972 ) discusses Maugham's relationshi p with Gerald Haxto n a s part o f a "Biographical Introduction. " The critic does not, however, integrate a discussion o f Maugham's sexualit y int o his critical introductio n t o the novels and shor t stories. This i s surprising, since Calde r identifies image s o f imprisonmen t an d confinement a s central to Maugham's fiction , images that might plausibly b e connected t o Maugham's situatio n o f writing a s a closeted homosexual. Criticism i n the las t fifteen years has acknowledge d Maugham's homosexuality bu t has, following th e example o f W. Somerset Maugham an d the Quest fo r Freedom, largel y been unable to integrate i t into a discussion o f his works. Joseph Epstein's view, i f stripped o f it s political agenda , is perhaps more representative than i t might a t first seem: Does i t make an y sense to consider Maugha m essentially a homosexual writer--a figure,i f you will pardon th e expression, i n Gay Lit? I , for one, do not think i t does. True, in his fiction he tended t o be hard o n women, but certainly n o harder than that figur e from Hetero.

Lit, Norman Mailer. . . . More important , unlike 14 so many othe r modern homosexual writers, from E.M . Forster t o Genet t o Gore Vidal, Maugham was an apolitical writer; he never sol d his artistic birthright. . . . No, Somerset Maugham was not a homosexual write r but instea d tha t quite differen t thing, a writer who happened t o be a homosexual. (6) Epstein's assumption s nee d littl e comment: the reader i s assumed t o be heterosexual ("i f yo u will pardon the expression"), homosexuality t o lead automaticall y t o misogyny, political writing t o an abandonment o f literar y values. I f one i s to talk o f a concept suc h as artistic birthright, Maugham seem s to have obtained a much better price directly fro m Hollywood tha n di d th e Forster estat e from Merchant Ivor y Productions. Yet i t i s impossible t o retrospectively se e an active expression o f a gay consciousness i n Maugham's texts, and indee d problematic, in a certain respect, to view Maugham a s a homosexual writer a t all. Homosexuality doe s not provide overt thematic content for any of Maugham's fiction . Many of the author's shor t stories and novels do display homoeroticism, bu t to no greater extent tha n most colonial o r metropolitan fictio n written by nominally heterosexual Britis h men.7 Critical efforts to uncover th e importance o f Maugham's sexualit y i n his works have largel y prove d unabl e to proceed beyon d thi s impasse. Recent critical attentio n t o homosexuality i n Maugham's 15 works i s thus simila r t o analysis of gender, imaginativ e geography, or race. The critic identifies homoeroticism, o r detects the substitution o r displacement o f homosexuality within an individual work, but then moves on. Various critics have commented upo n th e homoerotic gaz e of the narrator i n "Salvatore, " the fact that Mildred i n Of Human Bondage may be an example of textual cross-dressing paralle l to Proust's Albertine, or the use of inces t a s a stand-in for homosexuality i n "Th e Book Bag," but fe w have attempte d extended analysis . Calder's discussio n i n Willie i s perhaps the most detailed (237-242) , yet i t begins with the premise that Maugham's "mai n purpose was never the exploration o f the homosexual consciousness " (237) , an d concludes with the uncritical us e of 1960 s behavioural pyschoanalysis : [T]he teller o f Maugham's tale s . . . has unresolved conflict s between activit y an d passivity, conformity an d non-conformity, and identification a s a man an d as a woman. His main defences ar e reaction formatio n . . . , emotion isolation, repression, and withdrawal t o superficial relationships . ... I n other words, a close psychoanalytic readin g o f Maugham's work reveals the attitudes, responses, and languag e which ar e characteristic o f homosexuals. (240-1 ) Forrest D . Burt reaches a similar conclusio n fro m an Adlerian perspective, identifyin g Maugham a s a pschologically "unhealth y individual " who lived " a kind o f 16 'double life, 1 partakin g o f both masculine an d feminin e aspects of his . . . being" (12) . The fac t that critics still use such aproaches i n the 1980s , long after psychoanalysis itsel f has discredited them, ^ indicate s the currently unsophisticate d leve l of theoretical debat e on sexuality i n Maugham's writings. The fourth aspect o f Maugham criticis m tha t i s relevant to this thesis consists o f various comments upon what Michel Foucault has called "'th e author-function'" ("Wha t is an author?" 202), that cluster of narrational position s that include Maugham's nameless narrators, "Ashenden," the narrator called Somerse t Maugham, and Vidal's "triumphan t creation" (40) , the writer Somerse t Maugham himself. Since the advent o f New Criticism, literary analysi s has habitually made a clear division between narrator an d writer. Maugham's works make suc h a division les s evident than on e might a t first suppose. What, for instance , should a reade r make of The Razor's Edge (1944) , a self-acknowledged "novel " (1), narrated b y a character called Somerse t Maugham, who has already written a novel called Th e Moon and Sixpenc e an d claims t o have "invente d nothing" apart from some imagine d dialogu e i n the story o f Larry Darrell? Or the re-presentation o f the vignette "Th e Taipan" from the avowedly non-fictional O n a Chinese Scree n (1922) as fiction i n The Complete Short Stories (1951) ? "Fact and fiction, " Maugham wrote, "ar e so intermingled i n my work tha t now, looking back o n it, I can hardly 17 distinguish on e from th e other" (Th e Summing U p 5), a comment that gains resonance i f one includes the creation of the persona o f Somerset Maugham, author, among Maugham's best work. As I have indicate d earlier , I believe ther e i s a clear connection i n Maugham's works between manner o f narration an d masculine self-fashioning, a connection tha t will become central t o this thesis. Given th e difficulty outline d abov e concerning th e identity o f the narrational voic e i n Maugham's fiction , much criticism focusin g upo n the writer's works has tended t o merge unproductively wit h biography. Any reader o f "Th e Book Bag," Anthony Curti s comments, "will recall that Maugham used t o travel acros s Malaya with a portable mini-library" (The Pattern o f Maugham 14) . Such conflation o f fictiona l persona with historical personag e als o marks the biographies of Calder an d Morgan. I n the absence o f the majority o f Maugham's personal documents, which the author an d his secretary Alan Searle burned i n the early 1960s , the temptation t o make use of novels that contain clear biographical elements , such as Cakes an d Ale (1930 ) and Of Human Bondage (1945 ) is strong. The result of such usage, however, is to take the Maugham "author-function " a t face value, and thus evaluate th e fiction i n terms of it s mimetic representation o f Maugham's life . "Neve r abl e t o reconcile his emotional needs with what he fel t was sociall y acceptable," writes Archie Loss, "[Maugham ] lived a lie that affected his work" (13) . Such a lie is, perhaps, central t o 18 Maugham's work: i t not s o much affects his texts as makes their creation possible. I do not wish t o be so narrowly post-structuralist i n this thesis as to judge efforts t o find th e "rea l Mildred" o r the "rea l Rosie" (fo r example, Calder's firs t appendix i n W. Somerset Maugham an d th e Quest for Freedom) completely futile . Clearly, as I will argue, Maugham's situatio n of writing i s important, as is any information illuminatin g tha t situation. I t i s equally important, however, to recognize that the "rea l Mildred," and, for the purposes o f this thesis, the "rea l Maugham" exist fo r us only textually. A number o f critical observation s regardin g Maugham' s narration manage to move beyond, or a t least sidestep, the question o f autobiography. Anthony Curtis notes that the Maugham persona becomes more visible an d it s usage more sophisticated a s the author's literar y caree r develops. Early i n his career a s a novelist, Curtis writes, "Maugha m did not have the self-confidence t o appear i n his own books in person" (Th e Pattern of Maugham 42); later, he did. Critics are almost unanimous i n praising Maugham's objectiv e narrative style, although agai n often conflating autho r an d persona. Maugham a s glimpsed i n the short stories, Joseph Epstein comments, is " a man o f few illusions" (1), whereas John Polloc k credit s him with a "photographic powe r o f observation" (371) . I n the most detailed discussio n o f "th e Maugham persona" to date, Calder explores the skill with which "[t]h e point o f view of the sensible, balanced, 19 skeptical man" (W . Somerset Maugham an d the Quest fo r Freedom 222 ) is presented, an d remarks tha t the pleasure of reading Maugham's texts proceeds from "observatio n an d contemplation" rather tha n "involvemen t an d participation" (221). Debra Stoner• s stud y examine s iron y i n Maugham's fiction as a means o f introducin g distanc e between narrato r and reader. Interestingly, unfavourable assessment s o f the author's works als o stress th e objective nature o f his narrative strategies: Brigid Broph y feel s Maugham i s " a good reporter, " but that he "lack s intellectua l imagination," 9 while John Lehmann criticizes th e "remorseles s col d iron y of the story-teller's eye " (232) . Claire Hanson's analysi s o f narration i n Maugham's short fictio n places suc h objectivity i n an ideologica l context. Maugham's self-conceptio n a s " a pathologist o f human feeling" (51) , Hanson suggests , is deployed t o produce a narrative which, while loudl y proclaiming it s objectivity, in fact reinforces a communal value system : It i s not surprising t o . . . find that the basis of a short story fo r Saki an d Maugham was the anecdote. The anecdote relies for it s effect on convention. I t both appeals t o and endorses a shared syste m o f values: at it s simplest leve l it appears a s the "i n joke" and i t may have a certain bravura quality , affirming group values a shade too emphatically. I t will normally be told b y a first-person narrato r who guarantees

both the tale an d certai n values associated wit h 20 it. (35 ) Hanson's recognitio n tha t Maugham's adoption o f the mantle of objectivity i n narration has an ideological functio n i s an importan t startin g point fo r this thesis. Her analysis, however, is the only critica l attempt t o date to attempt t o apply pressure t o the notion o f the objective narrator i n Maugham's fiction .

3. Theoretical Foundation s

In an attempt to realise the goals outlined i n the first section of this chapter, I wish t o make use of a number o f critical approache s sharpl y differen t fro m thos e described above . My first debt i s to the writings of Michel Foucault. Foucault's work i s complex, frequently contradictory, an d resist s easy summary an d definition ; it does not so much constitute a method o f analysis o r an overarching theoretica l framewor k a s a series of interventions which have profoundly unsettlin g implication s for received theorie s o f knowledge. The Foucaultian cano n ( a term tha t the philosopher would himself reject ) is largely concerned wit h the shift from the classical t o the modern period i n Western Europe.1 0 Such a shift, Foucault argues, was marked by a change i n the episteme, the space of knowledge o r the system o f production o f knowledge. This epistemic transformatio n wa s marked by the rise of the subject, by th e placing o f "Man " as subject an d object a t 21 the centre of all systems of knowledge. The transformatio n of the episteme, Foucault argues, can be traced throug h the examination o f a series of discursive formation s suc h as medicine an d the penal an d lega l systems. The author devote s three of his most accessible works, Madness an d Civilizatio n (1961), The Birth o f the Clinic (1963) , an d Discipline an d Punish (1975) , t o a discussion o f how the asylum, clinic and prison exemplify th e entrance o f Western societ y int o modernity. Foucault's approac h i s perhaps best exemplified b y a summary of the argument of the most relevant of his works to this dissertation, the first volume o f The History o f Sexuality (1976) . Th e study commences with a typically Foucaultian rebutta l o f received views o f sexuality, particularly th e historicisation o f sexuality commo n i n Western Europ e which Foucaul t term s the "'repressiv e hypothesis'" (10) . According t o this hypothesis, sexuality in seventeenth-century Europ e was relatively liberated , "[b]ut twilight soo n fel l upon this bright day, followed b y the monotonous night s o f the Victorian bourgeoisie" (3). Sexuality became increasingly represse d ove r "tw o long centuries" (5): A single locus of sexuality was acknowledged i n social spac e as well as at the heart o f every household, but i t was a utilitarian an d fertil e one: th e parents' bedroom. Th e rest had onl y to remain vague; proper demeano r avoide d contac t

with other bodies, and verbal decenc y sanitize d 22 one's speech. And steril e behavior carried th e taint of abnormality; i f i t insisted o n making itself to o visible, i t would b e designated accordingly an d would have t o pay the penalty. (3-4) Under th e repressive hypothesis, Foucault indicates , it is only i n the twentieth century tha t we believe we have begun to emerge fro m tw o centuries o f sexual repression an d to achieve sexual liberation, even i f "[o]nl y to a slight extent" (5). While not denying tha t a restrictive "economy " (5 ) of sexuality existe d i n the nineteenth century, Foucault urge s that we "abando n the hypothesis that modern industria l societies ushered i n an age of increased sexua l repression" (49). What happened, o n the contrary, was a "discursiv e explosion" "aroun d an d apropo s of sex" (17) . Scientific treatises o n sexual deviance proliferated; medicine, psychiatry an d th e criminal justice syste m all codified sexuality an d brought i t within their purview. Sex came to be seen as expressing "th e secret" (35 ) of human nature; it was a domain of truth, hidden within human subjects who were also objects of inquiry, a domain that had t o be made to speak. Western Europea n societ y develope d a scientia sexualis, a procedure "fo r telling the truth of sex" (58 ) through confession. Methods o f investigation an d interrogation were devised, supplemented b y case histories and list s of symptoms:

From th e bad habits o f children t o the phthises of 23 adults, the apoplexies o f old people, nervous maladies, and the degenerations o f the race, the medicine o f that era wove a n entire network o f sexual causality t o explain them. This may well appear fantasti c t o us, but the principle of sex as a "caus e of any an d everything" was the theoretical undersid e o f a confession tha t had to be thorough, meticulous, and constant, and at the same time operate within a scientific type of practice. (65-66 ) Sex was latent an d immanent , and it s secrets could onl y be revealed throug h th e interpretatio n o f professionals suc h as analysts or medical doctors. Sexuality was thus increasingl y tied t o the operations o f power within Western Europea n society, and hence, for Foucault, there can be no "liberated" o r "true " sexuality: "[w] e must not think tha t by saying yes to sex, one says no to power" (157) . Throug h the process outlined above , sexuality has become central to Western Europea n concepts o f subjectivity an d self, and we have become "dedicate d t o the endless tas k o f forcing it s secret, of exacting th e truest of confessions fro m a shadow" (159) . If Foucault i s to be used i n the study o f Maugham's works, the position o f homosexuality withi n th e discourse o f sexuality i s clearly important . Foucault himself doe s not discuss homosexuality a t length i n The History o f Sexuality, although th e brief historiography o f homosexuality i n the 24 study has become foundational t o contemporary ga y and lesbian studies. According t o Foucault's schema , homosexuality di d not exist before the nineteenth century , and act s that would no w be labelled homosexual were placed under the more inclusiv e category o f sodomy. I f one engaged in sodomy, i t revealed nothin g o f one's tru e essence or nature. With the rise i n scientia sexuali s i n the nineteenth century, this construction changed : As defined by the ancient civil or canonical codes, sodomy was a category o f forbidden acts ; their perpetrator was nothing more than the juridicial subjec t o f them. The nineteenth-centur y homosexual becam e a personage, a past, a case history, an d a childhood, i n addition to being a type of life, a life form, a morphology, with an indiscreet anatom y an d possibly a mysterious physiology. Nothing tha t went int o his total composition was unaffected b y his sexuality. . . . The sodomite had been a temporary aberration ; the homosexual was now a species. (43 ) Having been s o defined, homosexuality emerge d i n the twentieth centur y an d "bega n to speak o n it s own behalf, to demand tha t it s legitimacy o r 'naturality ' be acknowledged, often i n the same vocabulary, using th e same categories by which i t was medically disqualified " (101) . Thus Stonewal l and movements fo r gay rights. Foucault's argumen t does not invalidat e concept s suc h 25 as a gay identity; on the contrary, i t emphasizes that homosexuality i s not merely a minority issu e but rathe r central t o Western Europea n concept s of self. I n the study which follows / I wish t o make use not onl y o f Foucault' s work, but of a body o f criticism, history an d literar y theory inspire d b y his writings, contemporary ga y an d lesbian studies. Particularly relevan t t o my dissertation i s the work o f Jeffrey Weeks, who provides a detailed accoun t of the operation o f Foucault's discursive formation i n late nineteenth-century an d early twentieth-century Britain , and of Lee Edelman. For brevity here, however, I wish only t o introduce th e criticism o f Eve Sedgwick. For all their influenc e upo n literary studies, Foucault's works contain littl e extended clos e textual analysis. To assert that a paradigm shif t occurred betwee n 1750 and 195 0 i s easier tha n to demonstrate th e workings o f that shif t within a n individual text. By their very definition, Foucault's "grea t procedures fo r producing th e truth" (Histor y 57 ) are invisibl y natural, and ar e hardly easily identifiabl e within a n individual novel, play, short story or other literary production . Added to this difficult y is the heterogeneity o f discourses: constructions o f self, race, gender an d sexualit y ar e written ove r each other i n a mutually contradictor y fashion . The modern may be uneasily mingled with the pre-modern, and a n emergent paradig m may draw it s strength fro m comparison with one about to be superseded. Maugham's texts, poised awkwardl y betwee n 26 different discourses, exhibit a confusion i n paradigms. The early Malayan shor t storie s are reminiscent o f Kipling an d Conrad i n their construction o f the Orient, while the Indi a of The Razor's Edge seems thematically close r to the Asia of the Beats and 1960 s rereadings o f Hermann Hesse. High Victorian example s o f what Joseph Allen Boon e has calle d "the seduction tale" (Traditio n Counter Tradition 10 ) cohabit with modern construction s o f the primitive. Stylistically, Maugham i s pre-modernist, although he was a contemporary o f the first generation o f modernist writers, and yet the production o f sexuality i n his novels is, I wish to suggest i n this thesis, predominantly twentieth-century . In the area o f sexuality, the dilemma outline d abov e leads us directly t o the work o f Eve Sedgwick. Sedgwick's criticism i s a deft, although a t times almost too manipulative, combination o f Foucault, Marx, Lacan's Freu d and structuralis t poetics . In Between Men (1986) , Sedgwic k provides a series o f readings o f texts largely fro m " a relatively short , recent, and accessible passag e of Englis h culture" (1) , which ar e expressive o f "'mal e homosocial desire'" (1) . "[l]n our society," Sedgwic k writes (althoug h her literar y analysi s i s largely o f eighteenth an d nineteenth centur y novels), the social codin g o f male/male relationships i s markedly differen t fro m that of female/female relationships : It i s clear, then, that there i s an asymmetry . . . between, on the one hand, the

relatively continuou s relation o f female 27 homosocial an d homosexual bonds, and, on the other hand, the radically discontinuou s relatio n of male homosocial an d homosexual bonds. (Between Men 5-6 ) Constructions o f masculinity i n Western ( a word tha t Sedgwick never explicitly defines ) society permit littl e intimacy between men that i s not defined as homosexual. As a result o f this disruption o f the "continuu m betwee n homosocial an d homosexual" (1) , Sedgwick argues , homosocial relations between men, with attendant desir e an d homophobia, are often enacted throug h th e medium o f women. Women i n "ou r society," then, become fo r Sedgwick, following Gayle Rubin's reworking o f Levi-Strauss' concept o f the traffic i n women, "exchangable, perhaps symbolic, property fo r the primary purpose o f cementing th e bonds of men with men" (25-26) . While she wishes t o retain elements of a diachronic analysis through her debt to Marx and Foucault (Betwee n Men 14), Sedgwick' s analytica l tools are largely structuralis t and synchronic . I n an analysis which hovers between a strategic redeploymen t an d a productive misreading o f Rene Girard's Deceit, Desire, and the Novel (1972) , Sedgwic k traces in the texts she analyses " a calculus of power . . . structured b y the relation o f rivalry between the two active members of an erotic triangle" (21) . In Girard's schema, the desire o f the protagonist (o r vaniteux) for either a second party or an object i s mediated b y the presence o f a rival: A vaniteux will desire any object s o long as

he i s convinced tha t i t is already desire d 28 by another person whom he admires. The mediator here i s a rival, brought int o existence as a rival by vanity, and that same vanity demands his defeat. (Girar d 7 ) Sedgwick focuse s upon erotic rivalry, which i s only part of Girard's original study , and add s gender t o the trigonometric equation : What i s most interestin g fo r our purposes i n his [Girard's ] study i s its insistence that, in any erotic rivalry, the bond tha t link s the two rivals i s as intense and potent a s the bond that link s either of the rivals to the beloved; that the bonds of "rivalry " and "love," differently a s they are experienced, are equally powerful an d i n many senses equivalent ... . And within th e male-centered novelisti c traditio n of European high culture, the triangles Girard traces are most often those i n which two males are rivals fo r a female; it is the bond between males that he most assiduously uncovers. (21 ) Sedgwick's analyse s i n Between Men make visible the workings of "'triangular ' desire" (Girar d 1 ) and thus, i f adequately historicised, provide a means of discussing th e emergence of the homosexual a s " a species" (Foucault , History 43 ) in texts that do not actively thematis e homosexuality itself . In her next work, Epistemoloqy o f the Closet (1991) , Sedgwick concentrate s more precisely upo n the period o f the 29 construction o f the "singula r nature" (Foucault , History 43 ) of the homosexual, from medical discours e o f the nineteenth century to the emergence o f a visible gay culture i n the twentieth. Following Foucault , she asserts tha t sexuality i s central to the constitution o f the modern subject: [Mjodern Western culture has placed what it calls sexuality i n a more an d more distinctively privilege d relatio n to our most prized construct s of individual identity , truth, and knowledge, [an d thus] it becomes truer and truer that the language of sexuality no t only intersects with but transforms the other language s and relations by which we know. (Epistemoloqy o f the Closet 3 ) For Sedgwick, the Girardian triangle s o f late nineteenth an d early twentieth century literar y discours e are marked no t only by rivalry i n desire, but also by a fear, the fear of the closet. Given the centrality of sexuality to Western notions of the subject, Sedgwick posit s that twentieth-century Wester n cultur e i s "structured—indee d fractured--by a chronic, now endemic crisis of homo/heterosexual definition , indicatively male, dating fro m the end of the nineteenth century" (1) . Heterosexuality itself i s founded upo n homosexuality; th e word "heterosexual" only came into existence as a response t o "homosexual" (Halperi n 16). Thus homosexuality becomes an "indispensable interio r exclusion" (Fuss , Inside/Out 3 ) to heterosexuality; i t is unspoken, but omnipresent: 30 I think that a whole cluster of the most crucial site s for the contestation o f meaning in twentieth-century cultur e ar e . . . indelibly marked with the historical specificit y o f homosocial/homosexual definitio n .... Amon g those sites are . . . the pairings secrecy/ disclosure . . . . [,] private/publi c . . . , masculine/feminine, majority/minority, innocence / initiation, natural/artificial, new/old, growth/ decadence, urbane/provincial, health/illness same/different, cognition/paranoia, art/kitsc h sincerity/sentimentality, an d voluntarity/ addiction. (72 ) If the triangles o f Between Men provide a ready analytica l tool fo r the unpacking o f Maugham's fiction , Sedgwick's philosophical extensio n o f Foucault i n Epistemology o f the Closet offers a means of connecting th e triangles with other figure s founde d upo n anothe r prominent featur e of Maugham's orienta l fiction : the discourse o f race. Before turning to a discussion o f the theoretical models fo r analysis of race an d imaginativ e geography i n Maugham's work, i t is perhaps best to pause a little for reflection. What would a Sedgwickean analysi s o f a Maugham novel look like, and how precisely would i t differ fro m previous criticism? Taking Maugham's The Razor's Edg e as an example, we may note that a number o f critics have remarked upon examples o f homoeroticism i n the novel, such as the 31 scene i n which th e narrator feel s the biceps o f Sophie's sailor boyfriend (241) . Eliot t Templeton i s clearly a "camp" figure, and Larry Darrel l has been identifie d b y Anthony Curtis as " a compassionate homosexua l .... [whose ] occasional bedding s with women . . . must be taken with a pinch of salt" (Th e Pattern of Maugham 226) . The content of Maugham's fiction , we might theorise, surreptitiously mime s what i s occurring i n the author's real , private life. Yet, given the relative paucity o f obvious homoerotic moments i n Maugham's fiction , such an analysis would sto p at this point; homosexuality might be worthy o f a n aside, or a paragraph, but i t would hardly be central i n an extended discussion of the text of The Razor's Edge. An analysis informe d b y Sedgwick an d Foucault would start with very differen t assumptions . Rejecting th e repressive hypothesis, which suggest s tha t there i s already a latent, fully-formed sexualit y "hidden " within th e texts of Maugham's works, we rather would not e that the text of The Razor's Edg e i s part of a process of the construction o f sexuality throug h discourse. No hidden trut h waits t o be exposed; rather, references t o homosexuality ma y help us to explore the fissures i n the constructions o f race, gender and sexuality i n the novel. Maugham's situatio n o f writing as a man with homosexual experienc e i s clearly importan t t o such an analysis, yet analysis begins not with the author Somerset Maugham bu t with the text itself . We would notice , for example, the two triangles involvin g Gray, Isabel, and 32 Larry, and Larry, Sophie an d the narrator. Ou r discussio n might emphasiz e th e fact that within these triangle s sexuality i s often displaced ont o women: women desire, whereas men do not. And we would not e that Larry achieve s transcendence through his visit t o India, to a geographical exteriority whic h i s also a closeted, interna l "'trut h an d freedom'" (Th e Razor's Edge 291). Chapter 8 constitutes a full discussio n o f The Razor's Edge; for the present i t is sufficient t o note that a reading informe d b y Foucault an d Sedgwick enable s sexualit y t o be foregrounded i n a discussion o f the novel, and facilitate s connections t o representations o f geography an d race. This thesis i s not only, however, a reading o f a selection o f Maugham's novels an d short stories through Sedgwick an d Foucault . Rather, in discussing Maugham' s oriental fiction , I wish t o discover filiations , parallels, superimpositions an d contradictions between constructions o f sexuality an d those o f race an d geography. I n the latter two areas, I wish to use some of the analytical tool s develope d by contemporary postcolonia l criticism . Any theoretical discussio n of a European novelist writing i n the colonial aren a must begin with Edward Said' s Orientalism. "[T]h e French an d the British," Said state s a t the beginning of his 197 8 monograph, have over the past three hundred year s developed a discursive formatio n which he names "Orientalism" :

[Orientalism is ] a way o f coming t o terms with

the Orient that i s based on the Orient's specia l 33 place i n European Western experience. The Orient is not only adjacent t o Europe; it i s also the place o f Europe's greatest an d richest an d oldes t colonies, the source of it s civilizations an d languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest an d most recurring image s of the Other. In addition, the Orient has helped t o define Europe (o r the West) as its contrasting image , idea, personality, experience. (1-2 ) The Orient i s produced a s Other to Europe, European cultur e gaining "strengt h an d identit y by setting itsel f of f agains t the Orient a s a sort of surrogate an d eve n underground self " (3). Sai d takes the terminology fo r his study fro m Foucaul t and thus posits that the discourse o f Orientalism, like th e discourse o f sexuality, i s inescapable, delimiting th e terms of all knowledge concernin g "th e East": In a sense Orientalism was a library o r archive of information commonl y and, in some of it s aspects, unanimously held. What bound th e archiv e together was a family of idea s an d a unifying se t of values proven i n various ways to be effective. These idea s explained th e behaviour o f Orientals; they supplie d Oriental s with a mentality, a genealogy, a n atmosphere; most important , they allowed European s t o deal with an d even to see Orientals a s a phenomenon possessin g regula r characteristics. (41-42 ) 34 The characteristics which Sai d illustrate s ar e based upo n a binary oppositio n between Eas t an d West: the East i s chaotic, black, changeable, irrational, despotic, pre-modern and passive, while the West i s represented a s ordered, white, constant, rational, democratic an d modern. The East is even given a gender, and contrasted with the masculine West: [T]he Orient was routinely describe d a s feminine, its riches a s fertile, its main symbols the sensual woman, the harem, an d the despotic--but curiously attractive--ruler . Moreover Orientals, like Victorian housewives, were confined t o silence an d t o unlimited enrichin g production . ("Orientalism Reconsidered" 225 ) Texts written abou t the Orient by Europeans will thus be concerned wit h policing a border between East and West, between Sel f and Other. Inevitably Orientalism , as a pioneering work, has flaws. The study expresses a nostalgic hankering fo r humanism which contradict s th e Foucaultian terminology it s author employs.H Said' s Orient als o seems somewha t plastic. Whereas Orientalism focuse s upon eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Frenc h an d British discours e regardin g what we now call the Middle East, Said als o makes tempora l and geographical leap s which see m to require more contextualization. Example s of this are a discussion o f Orientalism i n Aeschylus' The Persians, and Said' s prefacing 35 a quotation fro m I.A . Richard' s Mencius and the Mind with the comment that "w e can quite easily substitut e 'Oriental ' for 'Chinese ' in what follows " (254) . I n applying Sai d t o Maugham's writings, it is important t o recognise tha t the novels and short stories contain not one undifferentiate d but fou r distinctly separat e Orients—the Sout h Pacific, Malaya (includin g much of the then Dutch East Indies) , China and India--eac h o f which possesses a different, though not unrelated, symbolic repertoire. Two tropings o f the East identifie d b y Said are, I think, found acros s the full range of Maugham's imaginativ e geography. The first i s the feminization of the Orient discussed above : the East is gendered female , the West male. For Maugham's male protagonists, then, the East becomes a masculinising space , an area i n which a male subjectivity i s defined: Charles Stricklan d an d Red acquire masculinity by contrast with a n East personified a s female. The second i s a troping upon which Sai d touches only briefly: [T]he Orient was a place where one could loo k for sexual experience unobtainable i n Europe. Virtually no European writer who wrote on or travelled t o the Orient i n the period afte r 180 0 exempted himsel f o r herself from this quest .... I n the twentieth century on e thinks of Gide, Conrad, Maugham an d dozen s of others. (Orientalism 190 ) One might wonder what forms of sexual experience were 36 unobtainable i n Europe, but Said's overall formulatio n i s sound. I n a further binarism, then, the Orient became associated wit h deviance an d sexua l licentiousness , the Occident with nominally normativ e an d procreative sexuality . This binarism has perhaps it s clearest expositio n i n Sir Richard Burton' s positing o f a "Sotadic Zone" (Burto n 3749) , encompassing th e Mediterranean, most of Asia an d the Americas, insid e of which "th e vice i s popular an d endemic," and outside o f which "race s . . . practise i t only sporadically ami d th e opprobrium o f their fellows" (3749 ) Burton's "Termina l Essay" to The Book of The Thousand Night s and a Night provides a guided tou r of all parts of the zone: The Chinese, as far as we know them i n the great cities, are omnivorous an d omnifutuentes: they are the chosen people of debauchery, and thei r systematic bestiality with ducks, goats and other animals i s egualled onl y by their pederasty. (3770) In Said's analysis, this i s a further trop e producing a rigid divisio n between Occiden t an d Orient, setting u p the East as dark Othe r to an enlightened West. The bizarre nature of the section on "Pederasty " i n Burton's "Termina l Essay, " however, should aler t th e reader to possibilities fo r analysis tha t ar e also relevant t o Maugham's works. The section grows, seemingly ou t of all sense of proportion, to engulf the essay. I t provides an exhaustive catalogu e o f sexual acts, described with a 37 curious mixture of relish an d condemnation, yet i t is banished t o the back o f the book an d erased fro m th e contents page. What we see here i s an overlapping o f discourses, discourses tha t d o not line up i n harmony but are sharply contradictory. As an orientalist, Burton writes of the East a s the West's Other. As a subject i n the discourse o f sexuality, he feels the desire to confess, to write th e truth o f himself a s a homosexual o r pederast. Such a confession, however, would "orientalize " him, placing him on the Eastern sid e of an East/West binary opposition. The text of the essay thu s becomes a border zon e between Sel f and Other, the site of a series of skirmishes that cannot be resolved. Homosexuality alway s carries with i t the burden o f race, since i t is the defining characteristic o f those other races which inhabi t the Sotadic Zone; race, in turn, cannot be raised without also raising questions o f sexuality. A similar contradiction o f symbolic system s i s present in Maugham's work. Homosexuality i n Maugham's texts i s also subject to erasure (th e omission, for instance, of Gerald Haxton, who was Maugham's travel companion fo r the whole of the journey described, from the travelogue The Gentleman i n the Parlour) or displacement (ont o the body o f the penqamok in "Th e Outstation"). The symmetry o f a masculine Occiden t facing of f against a feminine Orient i s increasingl y disturbed i n Maugham's late r writings by the presence o f European women. Maugham's mems are almost uniforml y passionately sensual , expressing a n unbridled sexualit y tha t 38 reinforces, through contrast, the coolly rationa l masculinity o f his narrators. Yet this very sensualit y transforms the mem herself int o a liminal zone , Occidental yet susceptible t o orientalization. And i f we add the construction o f homosexuality b y Maugham's societ y a s " a certain way o f inverting th e masculine an d feminine i n oneself" (Foucault , History 43), it becomes apparent tha t femininity i s imbricated int o the Occidental masculinit y that Maugham's texts try s o assiduously t o mark off, to differentiate. No sooner i s an opposition established, a police action completed, than the excluded Othe r i s discovered stil l working awa y a s a fifth columnist withi n the citadel o f the Self. Using Sai d (and , i n the course of this thesis, more recent postcolonial theory) , i n conjunction with Sedgwick , we might firs t observe that Maugham's Girardian triangle s may featur e a geographical space , not a woman, at their apex. Triangles tha t appear eguilateral may, in fact, be isosceles, pulled ou t of shape by subtle affiliations tha t disrupt th e oppositions upo n which the y are founded. I t i s through these distorted shapes , I believe, that we may se e the "suture s o f contradiction" (Betwee n Men 15 ) which knit together th e rhetoric o f Maugham's oriental fiction .

4. Theoretical Modification s

One importan t contributio n o f poststructuralis t 39 criticism has been it s suspicion o f grand, overarchin g theories o f literature, of great codes o r schemas that apportion meaning i n each an d ever y text subjec t to their purview. Postcolonial theory , in particular, has stresse d the importance of the local, of microanalysis of the politics o f a given situatio n o f reading an d writing. "It' s no longer an y scandal," Henry Louis Gates has written, "tha t our own theoretical reflection s must be as provisional, reactive, and loca l as the texts we reflect on " ("Critical Fanonism" 470). The theoretical models o f Sedgwick, Said, and Foucault, and later critical developments inspire d b y them, form the toolbox, or perhaps, after Maugham, the book-bag, for a first approach t o Maugham's works. In reading Maugham, however, I have found i t necessary t o supplement, and indee d t o modify, the theoretical apparatu s in three areas. First, the question of narration. Sedgwick does not place the narrator o r reader within her triangles; in this sense her readings o f texts ar e purely structuralist , and thus limited. I n Maugham's writings, the position o f the narrator i s clearly o f great importance , as i s his (or , infrequently, her) relation t o the implie d reader . I have thus modified Sedgwick' s readin g strateg y i n placing Maugham's narrators at one apex of her Girardian triangles. Furthermore, i n order t o better discuss the narrator's position within the text, and the diegetic level s of suc h "framed" storie s a s "Red, " I have made use of narratological 40 terminology, largely those terms introduce d o r precisely defined b y Gerard Genett e an d Gerald Prince . My use of such terms does not impl y my endorsement o f narratology a s a science of reading; rather, following Genette, I wish t o "g o not fro m the general to the particular, but . • . from th e particular t o the general" (23) , utilizing narratologica l terminology i n order t o better detect the textual fissure s of Maugham's oriental fiction . Second, the question of the importance of the author, and o f biographical evidenc e an d personal experience . The problem o f the relation between Maugham th e narrator an d Maugham the author has, we have seen, proved a stumbling block fo r critics. The status o f the individua l autho r i s also a point of disagreement between Sai d an d Foucault, and one that cannot be ignored i n a thesis that utilizes the theoretical model s o f both writers. Early i n Orientalism, Said distances himself fro m the Foucaultian methodology upo n which his study i s based i n an apparently trivial , yet analytically fundamenta l way: [U]nlike Michel Foucault, to whose work I am greatly indebted , I do believe i n the determinin g imprint o f individual writers upo n the otherwise anonymous collective body of texts constituting a discursive formatio n lik e Orientalism. . . . Foucault believes that i n general th e individua l text o r author counts for very little; empirically . . . I find this not to be so. Accordingly m y

analyses emplo y clos e textual readings whose goa l 41 is to reveal the dialectic between individua l tex t or writer an d the complex collective formatio n t o which his work i s a contribution. (Orientalism 23-24 ) There i s a slippage here i n Said's view of subjectivity. The passage begins with the notion of an autonomous, fully-formed writin g subjec t producing a n imprint upon the discourse, yet i t ends with a vision o f writer an d tex t as equivalences, neither having sovereignty , and stresses that the relationship between writer/text an d discours e i s dialectical, not merely a question o f stamping or imprinting. Suc h slippage is , in fact, present throughou t Orientalism a s Said trie s t o both have his theoretical cak e and ea t it, to make use of Foucault while preserving a very non-Foucaultian concep t of the subject. Such theoretical confusion , I feel, loosens the critical purchase of Orientalism. Sai d accept s Orientalism as a discourse which shape s Western perceptions o f the Orient, and which i s ultimately bound u p with questions of Western identit y an d selfhood . His analysis o f sexuality a s a discourse, however, i s far less sophisticated; indeed , Said critique s Foucault i n Culture an d Imperialis m fo r moving "furthe r an d furthe r awa y fro m serious consideratio n of social wholes" (278 ) in, presumably, his fina l writing s upon sexuality . Thus Said's analysi s of the feminization o f the Orient, for example, depicts a coherent, fully forme d Western sex/gende r syste m which i s then held, like a 42 template/ ove r the blank surfac e o f the Orient. This analysis elides the role imperialism playe d i n the formatio n of Western models o f gender an d sexuality ; i t presupposes a gendered subjectivit y i n the creation o f an Orientalist one, rather than demonstrating tha t each i s involved i n the creation o f the other. I n Maugham's case, I wish to see the process of writing abou t the Orient an d of being read i n the Occident a s part o f the construction o f a closeted subjectivity, the public man of letters an d the privat e homosexual. Clearly, Said's analysi s i s of limited use, yet Foucault's notion of the "author-function, " take n i n isolation, seems also too mechanistic. An extreme application o f Foucault here would resul t i n the excision of all biographical dat a fro m the study. I t i s here that we may return to a concept tha t Sai d introduce s a t the end o f Orientalism, one that initiall y seem s t o be another rus e to let humanism i n by the back door: "experience." In his epiphanic endorsement o f cross-disciplinar y studies i n the final paragraphs o f Orientalism, Sai d make s an appeal t o an ethics o f reading: Perhaps to o we should remembe r tha t the study o f man i n society i s based o n concrete human history and experience, not on donnish abstractions, or on obscure law s or arbitrary systems . The problem then i s to make the study fi t an d i n some way be shaped b y the experience, which would b e illuminated an d perhaps changed b y the study.

(327-8) . 43 The notion o f experience here, although concrete, is also mutable, i t i s not "th e mere registering o f sensory data" but, as Teresa De Lauretis has argued, "th e general sens e of a process b y which subjectivit y i s constructed," which i s "continuous, its achievement unending or daily renewed " (159). I t i s this process tha t Maugham's oriental writing s disclose. In accordance with De Laurentis' argument, I wish to avoid biographica l speculatio n abou t Maugham, an d t o concentrate upon the texts, while at the same time placing the novels an d shor t storie s within their cultura l an d political situation s of production an d reception. This thesis thus will concentrate upo n micropractices, upon localized economie s o f significance that, when assembled , make up the large r discours e of Orientalism. I n Maugham's case, I would identif y fou r different construction s o f the East: the South Pacific, Malaya (includin g parts of the then Dutch Eas t Indies) , China, and India . Maugham's orienta l fiction represents a movement fro m one construction t o another, a movement tha t I shall argue parallels effort s t o constitute himself a s homosexual an d writer. Each area of the East will, therefore, be firmly contextualised ; I will explore the intertextuality betwee n Maugham's work an d that of other colonia l writers, and it s place within a larger historical framewor k o f imperial practice. At the same time, I will atten d t o the specifics of Maugham's own position: class, Englishness, an established write r travellin g t o find 44 material fo r fiction. Kipling was born i n the East. / Conrad worked there , Stevenson retire d there : these experience s inspired thei r writing. Maugham, almost lik e an anthropologist, visited th e East with the expressed intention o f gathering materia l fo r writing. I n my study, every piec e o f Maugham's writing will thu s be treated a s a fictional text: A Writer's Notebook an d Maugham's man y essays upon the art of writing d o not so much present us with a critical ke y to unlock the "real " meaning of the novels an d short storie s as provide a repertoire o f postures of subjectivity wit h which the fiction may be compared. Finally, I wish to make a commitment t o theoretical eclecticism, eve n a t the risk o f inconsistency o f method. My justification i s twofold. First, following th e Gates quotation earlier i n this section, I feel that textual analysis i n a thesis which span s many disparat e geographica l areas must be flexible, even protean, able to meet varyin g situations with varying strategies . Second, Maugham's text s have attracted s o little sustaine d critica l attentio n that a series of analyses which make interventions i n a variety o f areas, opening routes fo r future critical exploration, may prove more timely tha n a more critically consisten t yet les s widely ranging study .

5. Thesis Outlin e

The chapters constitut e a series o f readings o f the 45 majority o f Maugham's orienta l fictio n usin g the theoretica l apparatus outlined above . I n order t o move awa y fro m th e survey approach o f previous criticism, I have not attempte d to provide close readings o f all the short stories, but rather have chosen representativ e example s fo r close analysis. I have furthermore exclude d tw o prose works with oriental elements, A Writer's Notebook (1949 ) and Th e Gentleman i n the Parlour (1930) . The former incorporate s much material late r use d i n the short stories but i s not predominantly "oriental " i n content. The latter i s by far the less interesting o f Maugham's tw o Asian travelogues, and also contains much recycled material. My first chapter explore s Maugham's firs t oriental novel, his fictionalization o f the life of as The Moon an d Sixpence. I n writing o f Tahiti an d the Polynesian Sout h Pacific Maugham entere d a n already preinscribed fictiona l space : the world o f Jack London, Pierre Loti, Herman Melville , Charles Stoddard, Robert Louis Stevenson an d Rupert Brooke. After sketching th e contradictory literar y discours e i n which intervenes , I wish to concentrate upon , and brin g together, two aspects of the novel. The first i s Maugham's use o f primitivism a s a method o f reinforcing modern Britis h conceptions o f self, whil e the second i s the Girardian triangle that Maugham establishe s between narrator, protagonist, and a feminized colonia l landscape.

The second chapter explores, through selective close 46 reading, Maugham's Sout h Pacific short fiction, the bulk of which was collected i n the volume The Trembling o f A Leaf (1921). Remainin g consciou s o f the literary discours e outlined i n Chapter One, I wish to examine th e role of irony in privileging th e narrator's authorit y within th e short stories. The chapter focuse s upon the Girardian triangl e and different level s o f narration i n one of Maugham's mos t homoerotic shor t stories , "Red," and upon the differin g constructions o f masculinity represente d b y the two male characters. In the third chapter , I move to a reading o f Maugham's China travelogue, On a Chinese Screen (1922) . A series of sketches without a linear narrative, this text i s less amenable to a Sedgwickean reading . After contextualisation , I therefore move to a closer analysis of Maugham's narratin g persona, and a comparison o f this persona with that creatur e of nineteenth century urba n tourism, the flaneur. Chapter Four again features a text which resists a straightforward applicatio n o f Sedgwick, in this case Maugham's Hong Kong novel The Painted Vei l (1925) , which has a femal e character, Kitty Fane, as its central consciousness. I read Th e Painted Vei l through Rolan d Barthes' Empire o f Signs as an evacuated tex t which co-opt s the imag e of a blank, nonsensical Eas t i n order t o problematize "Western " sexual signification . Fo r all it s inventiveness, however, the text finall y reinscribes th e very division s i t partially critigues. 47 The fifth chapter analyse s a representative sampl e of Maugham's Malayan shor t stories , which have been considere d the heart of his oriental fiction . Again, I wish to contextualise Maugham's writings by an account o f the series of tropes that makes up the signifying syste m o f British Malaya, and the importance o f the figure of the memsahib a s a sit e of displaced sexuality . Reading tw o of Maugham's most famous short stories , "The Yellow Streak," and "Th e Letter" I wish t o show how Maugham's rhetoric o f bifurcation i s frequently broke n by the presence o f an irreducibl e supplement: the Eurasian or the Chinese. In the penultimate chapte r of the body o f the thesis we return, through a n examination o f Maugham's 193 2 novel Th e Narrow Corner, to a homosocial triangl e mediated b y a woman. If this novel i s Maugham's most openly homoerotic, i t is also, finally, the most harshly normative, since i t ends i n the death of the two erotically significan t characters. In exploring th e series of Girardian triangles which structur e the novel, I also wish to attend t o Maugham's constructio n of Saunders' opium addiction , and it s connection t o sexual continence an d the ability t o narrate. Chapter Seve n commences with a discussion o f Maugham's move to a disembodied East , as exemplified b y his presentation o f India i n The Razor's Edge. After agai n analysing the erotic trigonometr y o f the novel, I move t o a consideration o f the role of the narrator o f the text, who is named Somerse t Maugham. The final chapter will be 48 supplemented b y a Conclusion i n which I suggest possibl e extensions o f the readings performed i n the body o f the thesis/ an d the place of a study o f Maugham's writing within the context o f other contemporary critica l investigation s o f colonial discours e an d sexuality .

6. Envoi

Finally, a note of caution. This thesis i s the study o f a writer producing texts within an ideological contex t fo r a reading community. Yet reading communities ar e not homogenous nor, in an increasingly multicultura l Britain , are they necessarily distinct . Maugham i s now largely rea d by audiences very differen t fro m that fo r which he wrote. If he i s still rea d b y Britons i n moods o f colonial nostalgia, in parallel with compulsive viewing o f repeats o f The Jewel in the Crown, he i s also read, and indee d has always been read, in other, very different contexts.

In the academic year 1992-3 , I studied Chines e i n South Taiwan, and supplemente d m y stay with a visit t o Hong Kon g at Chinese New Year. During thi s time, I encountered Maugha m in many situation s o f reading very differen t fro m those outlined i n this study. Three examples stan d out. The first was suggested b y my discovery i n the University librar y o f a series of Maugham shor t storie s published i n Tokyo i n 193 8 and 1939 , specifically annotate d fo r the study o f English a s a secon d language . The ideologica l framewor k i n which a 49 student would have read these texts is, to say the least, complex. A deracinated colonia l subjec t o f another Empire, in the process of being inducte d int o a Japanese colonia l educational system , would a Taiwanese studen t have rea d these texts straight, or subversively? As a positive reflection o f imperial values o r as an example of Western meddling i n a Greater Eas t Asia Co-Prosperit y Sphere ? My secon d situatio n o f reading was equally problematic. Visiting a former fello w student i n Hong Kong and discussin g my thesi s topi c with her, I was surprised t o hear her sa y that she enjoyed Maugham' s Asian fiction. When I asked wh y a Hong Kon g Chines e would enjo y Maugham, my frien d the n gave a standard Marxis t analysis: her pleasure was obviously fals e consciousness engendere d b y a colonial education system . Yet the pleasure o f reading, troublingly, still remained. My third discover y was perhaps the most surprising: my Taiwanese teacher' s avidl y readin g a new translation o f Of Human Bondage. Again, this could be theorized: Maugham's bildunqsroman, like the lectures of Dale Carnegie an d th e autobiography o f Lee Iaccocca, has considerable sale s potential i n a developing societ y where questions of modern subjectivity an d "self-improvement " begin t o be articulated. Yet reading practices , in their variety, always exceed th e limits of theory. Even with narrators a s insistent as Maugham's, with th e channelling o f vision i n Foucault's epistemes an d discursive formations , even within a n ideological framework , i t is never impossibl e t o look, if not away, at least a t a different par t o f the picture. 50 1. Envisioning the Primitive: The Moon an d Sixpenc e

On November 14 , 1916, Maugham an d Gerald Haxto n arrive d in Honolulu o n the steamer S.S . Great Northern. They spen t the next fiv e months touring the South Pacific, returning t o San Francisco i n April o f the following year. The trip was planned specificall y t o provide material fo r Maugham's writing, and successfull y achieve d it s goal: the writer reused element s o f his Pacific diaries not only i n his reworking o f the life of Paul Gauguin i n The Moon and Sixpence, but also i n the short story collectio n Th e Trembling o f A Leaf an d i n later fiction.

Despite Maugham's protestation s tha t many aspects o f "the South Seas . . . were entirely new to me," and tha t i n writing o f the are a he "seeme d t o be entering upo n an entirely ne w literary life " (qtd . i n Marchand 59), the South Pacific landscape that he observed an d then reinscribed wa s already a highly textualize d one . In two of Maugham's earlier works, the are a already represent s a space that both allows th e expression o f a nominally masculine selfhoo d an d yet i s simultaneously closeted , existing only i n the unarticulated thought s o f male protagonists. Frank Hurrel l in The Merry-Go-Round (1904) , trapped by the social conventions o f London, longs t o "figh t hand t o hand wit h primitive nature," to "kno w . . . the violent adventures o f the Sout h Seas Islands, " and ther e "t o see life an d death, 51 and the passions, the virtues an d vices, of men face to face, uncovered" (249). * I n Of Human Bondage, Philip Carey dreams of the "lagoon s of the Sout h Se a Islands " (683) , and of "tropica l sunshine , and magic colour, and of a teeming, mysterious, intense life" (678) , but settles instea d fo r marriage t o Sally Altheny. Maugham's A Writer's Notebook specifically mentions th e work o f Jack London, and o f course that o f Paul Gauguin, as creative antecedents; his visit to Apia was punctuated b y a pilgrimage to the grave of Robert Louis Stevenson. Discussion o f Maugham's firs t oriental novel, The Moon and Sixpence, then, should b e prefaced wit h an exploratio n of European an d North American troping o f the South Pacific, a process which begins with eighteenth-century account s of Cook's voyages an d continues i n twentieth-century fictio n and anthropology. Suc h troping, I believe, cannot be seen as merely a series o f rigid an d already-formed stereotype s imposed by one culture upon another. Rather, it may be seen as forming a Foucaultian archive, or discourse, in which many constructions, freguently contradictory, are put int o play, taken u p as writing tool s i n a ceaseless reinscriptio n of the line between Sel f and Other .

1. Imagining th e South Pacific

Bernard Smith' s stud y Europea n Vision an d th e South

Pacific provides a useful foundatio n fo r a consideration o f 52 European representatio n o f the South Seas. Earl y Europea n observers, Smith contends, distinguished th e "soft" primitives of the Society island s an d Hawai i fro m the "hard " primitives o f Australia, Melanesia an d Patagonia . I n the years afte r Cook's firs t voyage (1768) , the native people s of Tahiti an d Hawaii wer e presented i n travel narratives a s noble savages, their societies compared t o those of Ancient Greece or of Eden (43) ; in Enlightenment Europe, Cook's discoveries provide d evidenc e fo r " a deist's argumen t against the necessity o f Revelation" (44) . However, Europeans als o posited a darker sid e t o South Pacifi c societies, exemplified b y ritual murder an d cannibalism . With the growing influenc e o f Calvinism an d the spread o f activity , this aspect came t o be increasingl y stressed, the inhabitant s o f the area being see n as deprave d children, subject to violent an d ungovernable emotion, and in want of tutelage. Such a construction dovetailed neatl y with the rise of nineteenth-century evolutionar y theory , which represented nativ e peoples not as noble savages, but as occupying a lower run g tha n Europeans upon the evolutionary ladder . With the dawning o f Romanticism, Smit h again posits, the noble savage was resurrected, though i n a slightly different form : [T]he romantic savag e was, in a sense, child bot h of noble an d o f ignobl e savage . And a s the noble savage had been an epitome o f the virtues o f the

natural ma n of the Enlightenment s o the romanti c 53 savage became a n epitome o f the virtues treasure d by the romantics. A great lov e of personal freedom, a devotion to race an d "nation" , a temperament which reacted violentl y an d immediately t o experience, courage, great emotional depth , and a childlike warmth an d generosity o f feeling characterized hi s personality. H e was, of course, like the noble savage, essentially a European fiction . (326 ) Smith's analysis ends with the period 1820-1850 , but could plausibly be extended int o the twentieth century . I n a recent study o f the relationship between Western views of the primitive an d modernism, Marianna Torgovnic k remark s o n the use of the South Pacific by Malinowski a s "th e testing ground, the laboratory, the key" to "th e universal trut h about human nature" (7), D.H. Lawrence's us e of "Oceani c statues an d modern ar t works based upo n the m t o discuss, by indirection, 'taboo ' sexual subjects" (12) , and Margare t Mead's proto-feminist appropriatio n o f South Pacific socia l structures: Mead pinpoints, rather precisely, what the postmodern Wes t seem s to want most from th e primitive: a model o f alternative socia l organization i n which psychological integrit y is a birthright, rooted i n one's body and sexuality, an d i n which a full range of ambivalences an d doubts can be confronted an d

diffused throug h th e culture's rituals, customs, 54 and play. (240 ) If Torgovnick represent s i t accurately, Mead' s thesis, although articulate d i n a very different socia l context, bears marked similaritie s t o Cook's and Banks' eighteenth-century observation s concerning th e natural morality o f the Tahitians. Smith's genealogy, then, provides a n archive of European responses to the Pacific which ar e variously employed b y European writers to talk about the nature of European selfhood. Questions of alterity, Rob Shields argues, are fundamentally question s regarding Self: The social "Other " of the marginal an d of low cultures i s despised an d reviled i n the official discourse of the dominant culture while at the same time being constitutive of the imaginary an d emotional repertoires of that dominant culture . (5 ) Smith even goes so far as to identify fou r core, mutually contradictory Europea n constructions o f the South Pacific: first, a model of the ideal Southern Kingdom; second, an illustration o f the transience o f earthly happiness; third, an examplification o f the universal chai n of being; fourth, an "inversion " of the Northern Hemisphere. All these constructions tak e Europe as their first reference point; they ar e redeployed i n European writing o f the Pacific, recycled fo r many different purposes, but seldom completel y circumvented o r challenged. 55 Maugham's precursors a s writers o f South Sea s fiction, then, work very much within the discourse outlined above . For Herman Melville's narrato r Tommo, describing th e Marguesas, the valley o f Typee is, if not guite pre-lapsarian, at least th e nearest approximatio n t o Eden now to be found. Melville consciously understate s the role of agriculture i n Typee society, and denies th e tribe's agency i n the construction o f the stone ruins that litte r the landscape: The penalty o f the Fall presses very lightl y upon the valley of Typee; for, with the one solitary exceptio n o f striking a light, I scarcely sa w any piece of work performed there which caused th e sweat to stand upo n a single brow. As for digging an d delvin g for a livelihood, th e thing i s altogether unknown. (195 ) Jack London's Sout h Pacific storie s idealise a number o f native characters, such as the protagonist o f "Koola u the Leper," who fight to maintain a pre-lapsarian integrit y i n a world mad e falle n by th e presence o f Europeans. Pierre Loti uses a similar construction o f the South Pacific fo r very different ideologica l purpose s i n The Marriage o f Loti. The Tahitians ar e here described a s Etruscan, their bodies "th e dusky brick-red hu e of the light earthenware o f ancient Etruria" (12) . Just as Etruscan society was overcome by that of Rome so, for Loti, i s the Polynesian rac e "dyin g out i n 56 contact with our civilization an d our vices" (117) . Yet even Rupert Brooke, coming late r t o Samoa and Tahiti, still fel t himself within touching distanc e of Eden. "It' s getting back to one's childhood somehow, " he wrote to Edmund Gosse: [B]ut not to the real childhood, rather to the childhood tha t never was, but i s portrayed by a kindly sentimenta l memory; a time of infinite freedom, no responsibility, perpetua l play i n the open air. (Letter s 530 ) The South Pacific was, for Brooke, a retreat to the infanc y of humankind an d the poet, entranced by the "thrillin g an d tropical an d savage," soon "fel t strange ancient raucou s jungle cries awaking within me" (522) . European literature written by male travellers t o the South Pacific clearly feminize s the landscape. Rarahu epitomizes Tahiti fo r Loti; the young woman i s " a perfect specimen of the Maori race that inhabit s the archipelago" (12), an d her descent int o " a life utterly abandone d an d foolish" (184 ) after the narrator leave s her seem s a crude reflection o f the writer's Socia l Darwinist beliefs. Stevenson's "Th e Beach at Falesa" likewise casts the relationship between Europ e an d the South Pacific a s a marriage between native child-woman an d mature Western man, expressed i n Wiltshire's precipitate nuptial s with Uma, "all dressed out fo r the sak e of the ship being in " (119) . Reflecting th e construction o f the South Pacific a s part o f a universal chai n o f being, such sexuality i s figured a s 57 natural, unadulterated b y the influence of civilization. Women i n Samoa an d Tahiti, wrote Brooke, were "lik e no one you've ever seen i n your misty tight-lipped feminis t lands" (Letters 540). Feminization o f the South Pacific as an area fo r the expression o f a naturalised heterosexualit y is , however, contradicted b y the construction o f the Southern hemisphere as an inversion of the Northern. For all Tommo's adoratio n of Fayaway's natural feminin e virtues i n Typee, he is more entranced b y Kory-Kory.2 indeed , i t is an ellipsis i n the Melville passage quoted abov e that opens up the possibility of inversion o f the established heterosexual signifyin g system. The Typee, we recall Melville's narrator stressing, live i n a pre-lapsarian state , expending n o labour ""wit h the one solitary exceptio n o f striking a light" (195) , a process which Tommo has described i n detail earlie r i n the text: At firs t Kory-Kory goe s to work quite leisurely , but gradually quicken s his pace, and, waxing warm in the employment, drives the stick furiousl y along the smoking channel, plying his hands to and fro with amazing rapidity, the perspiration starting fro m every pore. As he approaches the climax o f his effort, he pants an d gasps for breath, and his eye s almost start from thei r sockets with the violence of his exertions. . . . Suddenly he stops, becomes perfectl y

motionless .... Th e next moment a delicate 58 wreath o f smoke curls spirally int o the air, the heap of dusty particles glows with fir e and Kory-Kory almos t breathless, dismounts fro m his steed. (Ill ) Melville's encrypte d descriptio n o f masturbation is , given Tommo's gaze, explicitly homoerotic; that later writers within the South Sea s tradition, such as Maugham, were guite aware of such eroticism i s shown by Maugham's identificatio n of Melville a s " a repressed homosexual" (Th e Art o f Fictio n 203). Charles Stoddard's Sout h Pacific travelogue Sout h Sea Idyls [sic ] is, as Roger Auste n illustrates , openly homoerotic i n content (Auste n 73-77) , while Brooke's letter s from the South Pacific ar e punctuated b y references suc h as the following amon g obligatory homage s to dusky maidens: One of them i s the finest made man I'v e eve r seen: lik e a Greek statu e come to life: strong as ten horses. To see him strip an d swi m a half- flooded rive r i s an immortal sight . (543 ) Such homoeroticism slip s over int o Brooke's Sout h Pacifi c poems, i n which he enumerates "th e rough male kiss/ Of blankets" (Collecte d Poem s 301) among the pleasures o f love. Gauguin, Maugham's model fo r the protagonist o f The Moon and Sixpence, was similarl y celebrator y durin g a walk i n the forest with his "am i naturel" (No a Noa 27): Et nous etion s seulement tou s deux.

J'eus comme un pressentiment d e crime, le desir

d'inconnu, l e reveil d u mal. Puis l a lassitude d u 59 role de male qui doit toujours etre fort, protecteur; d e lourdes epaules a supporter. Etre une minute l'etr e faible qui aim e e t obeit. (28 ) In Tahiti, there was the unavoidable figur e of the mahu, the transvestite "villag e homosexual . . . often highly respected" (Gilmor e 207) by his fellows to problematiz e European constructions o f heterosexuality a s natural. There is, indeed, considerable evidenc e that the "androgynous , long-haired figures , who have often been mistaken fo r women" (Collins 61) in Gauguin's paintings are, in fact, mahu. Clearly, then, the South Pacific provided scop e not only fo r the expression o f normative Europea n sexuality, but also for the playing ou t of those elements considered inverte d o r perverse; the "unnatural, " closeted within the covers o f a text, becomes naturalized . Given th e centrality o f sexuality t o European constructions o f sel f i t would b e surprising i f the texts mentioned abov e di d no more than offer a smorgasbord o f sexual possibilities. One key element o f most of the works, and one that becomes more prominent a s the Pacific become s more textualized, i s the relationship between narrator an d a manly precursor, who i s either a n explorer, a writer, or an artist. Melville's protagonis t adopt s the firs t name of the author's cousin an d precursor i n the Marquesas; Loti's Th e Marriage o f Loti i s a prolonged av e frater atqu e vale addressed t o an older brother. Loti's relationship wit h Rarahu i s a reprise of his brother's with Taimaha; 60 implicitly, the most importan t relationship i n the novel i s that between th e brothers. Stevenson's "Th e Beach o f Falesa" is predicated upo n a violently homosocial relationship , whereas Brooke's letter s recount a pilgrimage fro m monument to monument o f masculine Europea n artistic endeavour, a visit t o Stevenson's grave followe d b y a hunt fo r a surviving Gaugui n canvas. Maugham pursue s Gauguin i n A Writer's Notebook; i n The Two Worlds of Somerset Maugha m Wilmon Menard comb s the South Pacific fo r traces of Maugham. Perhaps the clearest illustratio n o f the relationshi p between narrator, male precursor an d feminize d landscap e i n these texts i s given i n a sentence fro m Brooke's letters. "Three passionate Pacifi c women cas t their lustrous eye s towards me," he wrote to Cathleen Nesbitt, "but, with a dim remembrance o f the fates of Conrad character s who succumbe d to such advances, I evade them" (515) . Brooke here disavow s his own activity i n exploring Samo a an d Tahiti; rather, a "passionate," feminine an d generic Pacific thrusts itsel f upon him. The poet's discipleship t o Conrad, and his resultant abilit y to read what he sees through the mediation of a precursor's texts, finally enables him to gain contro l over his environment, and to take avoiding action.

Evidently, then, many European texts about the South Pacific are centred upon a Girardian triangle of the type illustrated above . Indeed, they exemplify a particular for m of triangular narrative , one that Michael Cooper, extending Sedgwick's analyti c concepts discusse d i n the introduction , 61 has termed th e "•apostolary ' narrative," in which narrator s gain authority by telling "th e story o f the person who obsesses them, together with their own part, however minor, in the plot" (66) . The most common relationship "aroun d which canonical apostolar y narrative s coalesce," Cooper writes, is " a homosocial relatio n between men" (66): While the bald fac t that the narrator tell s a stor y not his own does not hamper him fro m asserting a subaltern authority t o narrate, it does constrain much of his narration t o the business o f justifying this authority, explainin g how he knows what he does about the protagonist, and speculatin g fo r the reader on the protagonist's subjec t position. I n Lord Jim, for instance, Marlow, the narrator, offers up the evidence of a whole series of interviews with other characters t o justify both the narratability o f his story an d his views o n Jim, the protagonist. Like a critic, Marlow essentiall y reads Ji m an d interpret s him. (66-7 ) Cooper's subsequen t argumen t lose s some strength, I feel, through his willingness to invert, or even distort the Girardian triangl e a s an analytical tool . James, he argues, "turns Sedgwick's homosocial triangle on its side," and "frankly feminize s th e author position" (70) . Such analysis, I think, forgets th e basis o f Sedgwick's argument: that such triangles ar e based upo n fundamental non-equivalences o f 62 gender roles i n Western society / non-equivalence s tha t may either be analyzed i n structuralist (Rubi n afte r Levi-Strauss) or psychoanalytic term s (Lacan) . At th e end o f Cooper's essay, he returns to a Giradian triangle that look s more lik e Sedgwick's, pointing ou t that "[uJltimately what th e disciple dreams o f ... i s to adopt the subjec t positio n o f the mediator i n order t o stand i n direct relation t o the object" (80) . There seems here t o be an unanalyzed tensio n between gaining authority t o narrate through intimacy , so that the disciples imaginativel y becomes his mentor, and the demands of realist narration, which stres s the specularity an d distance of the narrator— Cooper's activity of reading. Such tension, we shall see, puts disciple an d precursor i n a contradictory positio n i n Maugham's novel, requiring distanc e between the the narrato r and protagonis t while at the same time insistin g upo n thei r shared masculinity. Place d within th e masculinizing imaginary geograph y o f the Pacific, and sharin g i n the tropes outlined above , Maugham's The Moon an d Sixpence is, with the modification introduce d above , an apostolary narrative pa r excellence.

2. Desire, Deceit an d Narration: The Moon an d Sixpenc e

The Moon and Sixpenc e i s very much a text within th e European South Seas literary traditio n outlined above . As i n Mead an d Melville's texts, Tahiti i n Maugham's novel i s 63 figured a s primitive, an Edenic kingdom spatiall y an d temporally remove d fro m the civilized West, reached onl y by a long, arduous journey o f descent int o primitivity fro m London, to Paris, then to Marseilles an d finall y t o the South Pacific. Yet the islan d als o has a dark side. Charles Strickland, the novel's protagonist, reaches a n artistic apotheosis there, yet he also dies of leprosy, infecte d b y the tropical surroundings . Tahiti, for both Strickland an d the narrator o f the novel, represents artisti c freedo m of expression, yet i t also contains the threat of dissolution and death.

The Moon an d Sixpence maps an English man's descent (o r return?) to primitivity, a reacquisition o f the putatively natural. Thi s process of masculine cartography i s carried out by the narrator who, in classically apostolar y fashion , pursues the protagonist an d seek s out every trac e of his passage. The narrator o f Maugham's novel resembles tw o of Cooper's prime examples o f apostolary narrators : Dr. Watson, and the narrator o f many of ' short stories. Watson's recountin g o f Holmes' adventures shows, in Cooper's analysis, not only his devotion t o his mentor but also his importance a s a conduit, disseminating th e fruits of Holmes' genius t o a wider public. Many of James' stories, Cooper remarks, follow a similar pattern, i n which a sympathetic male reader claims a unique knowledge of an author. The Moon an d Sixpenc e precisely fit s this pattern. The novel feature s a n apparently simpl e Girardian triangle: 64 the narrator, or vaniteux, is united wit h the protagonist i n their mutual admiratio n o f and desire t o possess a feminized landscape. Through Strickland' s tutelage, the narrator gain s possession o f the landscape throug h writing, just as Strickland has through painting. The obvious eroticism i n the relation o f the two men i s thus elided; instead, Strickland induct s the narrator int o his own vision o f a masculinity base d upo n opposition to, and escape from, femininity.

The symmetr y o f Maugham's text, however, is subject to topological distortions i n two areas. First, the narrator's attitude to Strickland i s fundamentally ambiguous . To gain narrational authorit y he frequently attempt s to identify himself with Foucauldian apparatuse s o f surveillance suc h as the police, the medical profession, or scientists. He places Strickland i n the position o f the object o f inquiry whose true essence may be rea d through a scientia sexualis . Yet his narrational authorit y i s also predicated upo n having been "intimatel y acquainted " (11 ) with Strickland, upon being a jejeune member o f the same artistic coterie. The contradiction between these two narrational pose s results i n an uncomfortable serie s of disavowals an d elisions, a series of fissures i n the text. The second distortio n i s in the text's representation o f femininity. For the narrator, femininity i s associated no t only with primitivity bu t also with the modern. Parallelling th e cosy triangle o f Tahiti, Strickland, and narrator i s another triangle, one i n which 65 Mrs. Stricklan d seek s her husband throug h the mediation o f the narrator. The text o f The Moon an d Sixpenc e i s framed b y the feminine spac e of Mrs. Strickland's drawin g room, an d by reference t o the First World War, perhaps the Little Bighor n of many Victorian constructions o f masculinity. I n a feminised universe , the narrator ca n only figure masculin e spaces by framing the m of f diegetically fro m the main text. For all the narrator's effort s otherwise, masculinity becomes coded no t as "a n island los t i n a boundless sea" (79) but rather a s the closet. The Moon an d Sixpence i s clearly dependent upon a discursive binary oppositio n between civilized an d primitive, North an d South. London i s "chaste, artistic, and dull" (18) , and th e London societ y i n which th e narrator moves has "a n air of well-satisfied prosperity " (22) . In London, everyday existenc e i s often metaphorically associated wit h drama; Mrs. Strickland i s well "abl e to dress the part sh e had t o play according t o her notions of seemliness" (34) , and the narrator feel s that much of her behaviour i s a "pose" (39). Social roles are subject to a repeated an d meaningless performance, and London's inhabitants liv e i n a world o f manifest socia l engagemen t that has no laten t content. One of Mrs. Strickland's guest s at the end o f the novel i s described a s possessing " a bloodless frigidity " (214) , a n appellation which might also be applied t o the narrator's description o f her brother-in-law, Colonel MacAndrew:

He was a tall, lea n man o f fifty, with a 66 drooping moustache an d grey hair. He had pale blue eyes and a weak mouth. I remembered from my previous meeting with him that he had a foolis h face , and was proud o f the fact that fo r the ten years before he had lef t the army he had playe d pol o three days a week. (30 ) The Colonel dreams of polo, Mrs. Strickland host s her dinner parties, while her husband play s golf. All participat e harmoniously i n an empty society , one, the narrator remarks, which "remind s you o f a placid rivulet , meandering smoothl y through green pastures an d shade d b y pleasant trees, till at last i t falls int o the vasty sea " (25) . Yet the sea int o which i t pours i s "s o calm, so silent, so indifferent, tha t you ar e troubled suddenl y b y a vague uneasiness" (25). For both the narrator an d Strickland , lik e Philip Carey and Fran k Hurrell i n Maugham's earlie r novels, the South Pacific i s already par t of an imaginary topography before i t is physically traversed . I n Paris, Strickland articulate s a wish t o journey t o "'a n islan d los t i n a boundless sea, where I could liv e i n some hidden valley, among strang e trees, i n silence'" (79) . Later, the narrator remark s that Strickland's "imaginatio n had lon g been haunted by an island, all green an d sunny , encircled by a sea more blue than i s found i n Northern latitudes " (167) . Th e narrator, indeed, confesses earlier i n the novel t o harboring simila r designs, " a desire t o live more dangerously . . . for jagged rocks and treacherou s shoals i f only I could hav e 67 change--change an d the excitement o f the unforeseen" (25). Tahiti thu s i s important not only as an antipodean opposit e of England wher e nature i s unrepressed b y culture, but also as the end point o f a quest, a voyage o f geographical discovery tha t i s also a discovery of, or more properly a construction of , self. Strickland's firs t move, from London t o Paris, is represented a s the beginnings of a journey t o a more natural sense of self. "' I couldn't ge t what I wanted i n London,'" Strickland tell s the narrator, "som e vehement power . . . struggling within him" (48-49) . Th e narrator describe s his own decision t o go to Paris with a gloss of urbanity, but the motive i s the same, a wish to escape the "tediou s banality" (63 ) of the English metropolis. In Paris, the narrator emphasizes Strickland's pursui t of a putatively natura l masculinity b y placing him i n the first o f the text's Girardian triangles, that between Dirk Stroeve, his wife Blanche, and the artist. Strickland win s Blanche's affections , in the narrator's construction , because of his naturally assertiv e masculinity: he i s "bi g and strong " (110) , giving the "impressio n o f untamed passion" (110) . Stroeve , in contrast, has become feminize d by civilization to such a n extent that he continuall y humiliates himself i n attempting a reconciliation with his wife. " I could not stomach his weakness," the narrator remarks (106) , an d late r confesses that "Dirk , with his vain lamentations, had begun to bore me" (120) . Hi s masculinity 68 confirmed throug h contrast with Stroeve, Strickland leave s the spoils behind i n his pursuit o f natural selfhood . From Paris, Strickland move s to Marseilles, which figures prominently i n Maugham's works a s a liminal zon e between Eas t and West. Marseilles i s a key hub i n French imperial commerce, importing ra w materials an d exportin g finished goods . The city i s subject t o a process of orientalisation. Life i n Marseilles, the narrator recounts, is "brutal, savage, multi-coloured an d vivacious" (166) , just a s it is in Tahiti. The description o f the red ligh t district i n Marseilles (171 ) bears a close resemblance to Maugham's descriptio n o f the red ligh t district o f Honolulu in his notebook ( A Writer's Notebook 96-98) . I n this limina l space, Strickland i s inducted int o codes of colonial masculinity, defeating Toug h Bill, " a huge mulatto with a heavy fist" (166) , i n a fistfight, then leaving o n the next boat i n order to escape " a knife-thrust i n his back" (172).3 Tahiti, like Marseilles, is figured a s "sensua l with an unashamed violenc e that leaves you breathless" (160) . Yet Strickland find s even Papeete too urban, and moves ou t int o the countryside t o a modern Eden: "[T]he place where Strickland live d had th e beauty of the Garden of Eden. Ah, I wish I could make you see the enchantment o f that spot, a corner hidden away fro m all the world, with the blue sk y overhead an d the rich, luxuriant trees. It was a

feast of colour. And i t was fragrant an d cool . 69 Words cannot describe tha t paradise. And here he lived, unmindful o f the world an d by the world forgotten." (191 ) Tahiti operates according t o a natural la w which, for all its prelapsarian text, seems to have suffered a number of Social Darwinist amendments : the "'native s .. . herd together,'" "'lyin g on the veranda'" (191 ) while Stricklan d carries o n with unstinting artisti c production. Two features o f Tahiti stresse d i n The Moon and Sixpence—first, the island's allochrony, it s being outsid e of the linear, historical tim e of the West, and second , it s femininity—are clearl y show n i n the narrator's descriptio n of his arrival i n Papeete: Tahiti i s a lofty green island , with deep fold s of a darker green, in which you divine silen t valleys; there i s a mystery i n their sombr e depths, down which murmur an d plash cool streams, and you fee l that i n those umbrageous places life from immemoria l time s has been le d according t o immemorial ways. . . . For Tahiti i s smiling and friendly ; i t i s like a woman graciousl y prodigal o f her charms and beauty; and nothing can be more conciliatory tha n the entrance into the harbour a t Papeete. (160 ) The passage clearly exhibit s a "denia l of coevalness, or allochronism" (Fabia n 33), a mechanism b y which Western anthropological an d literar y texts mark off non-Western 70 spaces and s o produce them a s objects fo r study. I n Time and the Other, Johannes Fabian maps the rise of anthropology a s a discipline, and it s "us e of Time . . . for the purpose o f distancing thos e who are observed fro m th e Time o f the observer" (25) . In order to preserve the putative objectivity o f the anthropologist, Fabian argues, anthropology show s " a persistent an d systemati c tendency t o place the referent(s) of anthropology i n a Time other than the present o f the producer o f anthropological discourse " (31). Primitiv e societie s i n Western anthropologica l text s are thus structured a s temporally cyclica l an d repetitive, in contrast t o the linear, progressive time occupied b y the Western observer. Applying Fabian' s analysi s to a literary tex t als o authorized b y a putatively objectiv e narrator, we note Tahiti's metaphorical attachmen t t o both Biblical tim e (th e Garden of Eden) and Greek mythology ( "a Polynesian garde n of the Hesperides" [212]) . I n the passage i n the previous paragraph the islan d i s also placed i n mythological o r prehistorical tim e through th e use of the adjective "immemorial." The narrator an d Strickland' s live s i n London are marked ou t by a series of appointments; life i n Tahiti, in contrast, exists in an eternal present:

Then the natives would assembl e with spears, and with much shouting would transfi x the great startled thing s a s they hurried dow n to the sea. Sometimes Strickland woul d g o down to the reef,

and com e back with a basket o f small, coloured 71 fish that Ata would fr y i n coconut oil, or with a lobster ; and sometime s sh e would make a savoury dish of the great land-crab s that scuttled awa y under your feet. (189 ) The iterativ e "would " here remove s any sense o f the passing of time: life i n Tahiti i s outside history, an d subject t o a series of circular repetitions without an y linear progress. Maugham's representation o f conversations i n the vernacular, through th e use of Biblical archaisms , achieve a similar effect: "Be quiet, woman. Dry th y tears, " said Strickland, addressing Ata. "There i s no great harm. I shall leave thee very soon." "They ar e not going to take thee away?" sh e cried. . . . "I shall go up into the mountain," sai d Strickland. Then Ata stoo d up and face d him. "Let the others go i f they choose, but I will not leave thee. Thou ar t my man and I am thy woman. I f thou leavest me I shall hang myself on the tree that i s behind th e house. I swear i t by God." (202 ) Tahiti i s thus made a series o f Biblical o r Greek tableaux , a process replicated i n Strickland's pictures, which represent "th e fruit on the Tree of Knowledge o f Good an d Evil" (212 ) or a "version o f the Holy Family" (215) . To 72 maintain a continuous awarenes s o f allochrony, The Moon and Sixpence's leadin g character s d o not wholly merge with their background. Strickland, we have seen, maintains his difference fro m th e "natives " through his production o f art, packets of allochrony whic h will be consumed i n the linea r time o f Europe. The narrator, similarly, denies Tahiti's coevalness while at the same time inscribing i t as a moment of allochrony within th e linear temporal progression o f the novel. More apparen t tha n the text's erasure o f coevalness, and relate d t o it, is its feminization o f Tahiti. The Moon and Sixpenc e i s probably Maugham's most misogynist novel, and i s founded upo n a binary oppositio n between the artificial femininit y o f London, i n which the narrator i s surrounded b y active, "large, unbending women with great noses and rapacious eyes" (14) , and the putatively natura l femininity o f Tahitian women, who prove substantially mor e flexible. Tahiti, we recall fro m the narrator's firs t description of the island, i s mysterious, its landsape folded, and veiled i n cloud. I t is also, however, conciliatory, graciously openin g itsel f up to a penetrating Western gaze . I n an unpacking o f the not so latent conten t of the passage, Jane O'Halloran comment s that "Tahit i i s waiting, leg s spread , for the (Western ) male" (95) . Ata, Strickland's wife, O'Halloran writes , is "complian t an d submissive":

She i s the ultimate, aquiescent, Oriental

woman; the antithesis o f the parasitic, sexually 73 assertive, Western woman, sapping th e strength (and artistic creativity) of the Western man. It i s Ata, as the embodiment of the ever supin e East, who facilitates th e retention o f Strickland's "masculine " individuality , and, hence, his creativity. I f we take Ata to signif y the East, then the Orient i s the answer t o the threat t o Western patriachal societ y posed by it s emancipated women. (97 ) To emphasize the dichotomy, Maugham has Tiare comment tha t Ata hasn't " a drop of white blood i n her" (185) . Th e presence o f Tiare herself a s a very different feminin e embodiment o f Tahiti, "arms . . . like legs o f mutton, . . . breasts like giant cabbages" (177) , however, suggests another, slightly more culinary, construction o f Tahiti. It is Maugham's constructio n o f femininity which open s up his text to deconstructive analysis. "The devil," writes Subramani , "i s an indispensabl e principle i n the paradise myth" (177) . Th e Moon an d Sixpenc e again follows very much in the European Sout h Se a tradition: the very perfectio n o f paradise also hints at the transienc e of earthly pleasures. My ellipsis i n quoting th e narrator's arrival i n Tahiti conceals a passage that undermines the effect of it s surrounding text:

[L]ife fro m immemoria l time s has been led according t o immemorial ways. Eve n here is something sa d an d terrible. But the impressio n

is fleeting, and serve s only to give a greater 74 acuteness t o the enjoyment o f the moment. I t is like the sadness which you may se e i n the jester' s eyes when a merry compan y i s laughing a t his sallies; his lip s smile and his jokes ar e gayer because i n the communion o f laughter he find s himself mor e intolerabl y alone . For Tahiti i s smiling an d friendly ; i t is like a lovely woman graciously prodiga l o f her charm an d beauty. (160) Paradise i s circumscribed wit h danger, as Strickland's hut is surrounded b y the "primeva l forest " (204) . Looking a t Strickland's paintings , Coutras feel s "'helples s i n the clutch of an unseen horror'" (210) . Like Tommo's discover y of the remains o f ritual murder an d human sacrifice i n the houses of the Typee, the thematic functio n o f Maugham's narrator's continua l lac k of ease i n Tahiti i s to rein i n the primitive, to emphasize the necessity o f a return to the civilised. The allochrony an d feminize d natur e of Tahiti only gain significance when placed i n comparison with their English counterparts. For al l Strickland's wil d artisti c apotheosis, his paintings, and indee d hi s life story, only become significan t i n their receptio n i n London. The Moon an d Sixpence, then, initially seem s to read a s a successfu l inscriptio n o f a Girardian triangle . I n the beginning o f the novel, the relationship between Stricklan d and th e narrator i s figured with a coded eroticism . "Wha t would we not give," the narrator ask s his imagine d readers, 75 "for the reminiscences o f someone who had been as intimatel y acquainted with E l Greco as I was with Strickland?" (11 ) The association o f Strickland wit h the only painter Maugha m himself identifie d a s a homosexual seem s more than coincidental, given that the narrator's quest t o find th e truth abou t Strickland i s also figured erotically . "[H] e was like a wrestler whose body i s oiled;" the narrator comments, "you could not get a grip on him" (54) . Later he confesses to wishing "t o pierce his [Strickland's ] armour of complet e indifference" (145) . The artist i s frequently describe d a s "sensual"(77) by the narrator earlier i n the novel, and a s "queer,"4 the narrator attributin g his own desire t o escape from London an d join Strickland i n Paris as resulting in " a kink i n my nature" (25) . Even the narrator's confesse d "horror" (140 ) at Strickland's "'inhuman' " (97 ) or "'abominable'" (97 ) nature lead s to a joining o f narrator and protagonist i n a shared sens e of transgression. I n Paris, during one of their interviews, Strickland ask s the narrator why he is so interested i n the artist's life: "It's a purely professiona l interes t yo u tak e in me? "Purely."

"It's only right tha t you shouldn' t disapprove o f me. You have a despicable character."

"Perhaps that's why you fee l at home with me." (80 ) 76 In good Sedgwickea n fashion , however, such intimac y an d identification i s displaced ont o a third party, the feminized landscap e o f Tahiti. The narrator, as vaniteux, approaches Tahiti throug h th e mediation o f Strickland; both men ar e united i n their desire to achieve self-expressio n through demonstrate d master y o f topography code d female , to imprint i t with meaning. Following th e schema o f the apostolary narrativ e a s outlined b y Cooper, the narrator i s prepared t o defer t o Strickland an d t o assert a subaltern authority t o narrate. At the beginning o f the novel, the narrator meets Strickland fac e to face i n Paris many times; by the end he i s diegetically remove d fro m his object of pursuit, forced t o rely upo n a series of supplementar y narrators--Tiare Johnson , Captain Nichols, Dr. Coutras an d Capitaine Brunot--eac h o f whom, he confesses, might be "a n outrageous liar " (173) . Through Sedgwick' s "homosexua l panic" the relation between the two men i s transformed int o a disembodie d one , into a joint membership o f the "mysti c brotherhood" (15 ) of male writers an d artists.

The neat trigonometry o f The Moon an d Sixpence is, however, disrupted b y two factors, the firs t concerned wit h the statu s of the narrator, the second with the depiction o f femininity i n the novel. These factors, in their distortio n of the patiently buil t symmetries o f the text, open up channels fo r an examination o f how masculinity an d sexualit y are constituted i n Maugham's text. 77 The narrator's authorit y t o narrate is , as I have indicated earlier , built upon tw o mutually contradictior y constructions of his relationship with Strickland. I n the first construction, the narrator adopt s a posture o f specularity, allying himself with medicine an d science, and attempting t o read Stricklan d fro m without, thus becoming a part of the apparatus o f Foucault's scienti a sexualis , of a "hierarchy o f personnel who kept watch, organized, provoked , monitored, an d reported , an d who accumulated a n immense pyramid o f observations an d dossiers" (56) . In the second, contradictory construction , he gains authority through his intimacy with Strickland, not through distance from th e artist. The Moon an d Sixpence, in this construction, becomes not an observation but a confession, and i t is perhaps fitting that the novel open s with the words " I confess" (5). Unable to reconcile these two modes of authorization, the narrator i s caught i n perpetual oscillation between desir e for an d identificatio n with his protagonist. The process o f coming t o know Strickland, and thu s explicating him t o an audience through narration, is most overtly figure d by the narrator a s a science. " I applied th e scalpel boldly," remarks the narrator o f a particularly ambitious intervie w with Strickland (140) . " I am i n the position o f a biologist," he comments later , using a slightly differen t metaphorical tack , "wh o from a single bone must reconstruct no t only th e appearance of an extinct animal, but it s habits" (174) . Th e process o f narration i s 78 also compared t o textual restoration (76) , and i s predicated upon th e objectivity o f the narrating voice. Expressed a s it is i n medical an d scientifi c metaphor, the narrator' s specular ques t fo r knowledge o f his specular objec t i s part of a general nineteenth an d earl y twentieth-century ques t for universal truth , a trope that Ludmilla Jordonov a ha s described a s "Natur e unveiling before Science " (87): [It indicates] a general mentality, that I would call physiognomic, which encouraged peopl e to think i n terms of getting behind appearances , to some deeper level—by mean s of a process o f unveiling. I n physiognomic traditions , moving inferentially fro m visual signifiers to other, invisible, inner signifieds wa s the central operation. (92 ) Following th e quest which Jordonova identifies , the narrator of The Moon and Sixpence look s for clues from Strickland' s appearance, from th e furniture o f his apartment, from his habits, from his paintings i n order to excavate the hidden truth about the artist's nature. The narrator depart s on his first Paris expedition to gain "proofs " (33); in his following meetings with Strickland he assiduously searche s for moments not s o much of conversation an d interchang e a s of observation:

I welcomed th e opportunity to examine him at my ease. I certainly shoul d never have known him. In the first place his red beard, ragged an d untrimmed, hid muc h of his face, and his hair 79 was long; but the most surprising chang e i n him was his extreme thinness. I t made his great nose protrude more arrogantly; i t emphasised his cheek-bones; it made his eyes seem larger. There were deep hollows a t his temples. (73 ) Through suc h specula r description, the narrator look s fo r some "deep-roote d instinct " " in his [Strickland's ] soul" (53), to see through the "almos t transparent " "scree n of the flesh" (98) , and thus examine "th e innermost secret s of his soul" (147) . We may note here that the specular discours e employe d by the narrator was employed i n the nineteenth an d earl y twentieth centuries i n discovering sign s of difference upo n homosexual bodies. The "physiologica l profiles " of Lombroso and Tardieu (Edelman , "Homographesis" 190 ) gave way, with changing intellectua l theories, to the section of Havelock Ellis' Sexual Inversio n regardin g th e "physica l abnormalities" of "inverts, " which commences with a description o f physical deformities an d ends, i n a final reductio a d absurdum, with comments upo n "[t]h e frequent inability o f male invert s to whistle" (291 ) and their "decided preferenc e fo r [th e colour] green" (299) . Give n this application o f scientific specularit y to the unmentionable, to the love that dare not speak it s name, the narrator's fina l inabilit y to excavate Strickland's "inne r signified" gains significance. The truth abou t Stricklan d i s "not human," "unhol y fo r men t o know" (207) ; h e i s "par t 80 human and part beast" (98) , Maugham here drawing upo n the gothic tropes of his earlier novel, The Magician (1908) . And for all his objective narration, the narrator i s concerned that such a secret may also lurk insid e himself. "[M] y own practice, " he remarks when discussing confession of sins, "has always been t o deny everything" (44) , and late r talk s of the "bravado " of those persons who "d o not fear reproaches fo r peccadilloes which the y ar e convinced non e will discover" (54) . I do not mean to suggest here that in some absolute sens e the character Stricklan d an d the narrator o f The Moon an d Sixpence ar e "really " homosexual; rather, I wish to suggest that, given Maugham's situatio n of writing, the question of personal identit y or essence is always infuse d with male homosexual panic, and boxed int o the trope of the closet. To gain authority t o narrate, the narrator must promise to read Strickland' s "soul " (54 ) for the benefit of his readers. Sexuality being the truth of self, he cannot delive r on this promise. After his last interview with a potential informant , he sadly remarks that "I felt that Strickland ha d kep t his secret t o the grave" (212). Failing t o authorise his narration through distance, the narrator attempt s to bolster his authority by using a sharply contradictor y strategy : by his claims of closeness to Strickland. I n contrast to the scientific metaphors explicated above , the narrator i n this mode represents himself a s a jejeune discipl e of the master painter. On his 81 first meeting with Strickland i n Paris the narrator describes himself a s "ingenuous " (47), an d later confesse s to being "pu t out" (146 ) when the painter tells him that his opinions ar e unimportant. Both Strickland an d th e narrator are members of a "mystic brotherhood" o f creative artists, and th e narrator predicate s his authority fo r writing his account upo n the fact that " I knew him more intimately tha n most" (10) . Both narrator an d protagonist shar e " a desire t o live more dangerously" (25) , and both feel themselves to be outcasts, the narrator having " a kink i n my nature" (25), while Strickland i s described a s " a queer fish" (194 ) or "the square pe g i n the round hole" (194) . The fault-lines a t which the two constructions o f narrational authorit y i n The Moon an d Sixpenc e collide ar e the narrator's serie s of "reconstructions " of Strickland' s inner life . In each of these reconstructions th e narrator, through deductions drawn from careful observation o f Strickland, moves beyond th e exterior t o the artist' s interior thoughts and emotions. Each of these passages presents Strickland a s i n the grip of uncontrollable sexua l passions: like the perverts of nineteenth-century constructions o f sexuality, he is unable to govern his sexual urges. Early in the novel, during a conversation between Strickland an d narrator a t a restaurant i n Paris, the narrator sharply rebut s his protagonist's claime d "disgust" fo r sexua l acts :

"Let me tell you. I imagine that for months

the matter never comes into your head, and you're 82 able to persuade yourself tha t you've finishe d with i t for good an d all. You rejoice i n your freedom, and you feel that at last you can call your sou l your own. You seem to walk with your head amon g the stars. And then, all of a sudden you can't stan d i t any more, and you notice that all the time your feet have been walking i n the mud. And you want to roll yourself i n it. And you fin d som e woman, coarse an d lo w and vulgar, some beastly creatur e i n whom all the horror o f sex i s blatant, and you fall upon her lik e a wild animal. You drink til l you're blind with rage." (80-81) In reconstructing Strickland' s inne r life, the narrator must perforce identif y with him. At these moments homosexual panic becomes most evident. During the passage above , the narrator i s stared a t by Strickland, an d remarks that " I held his eyes with mine" (81) . He continues his reconstruction by telling Stricklan d tha t "whe n it's over you feel s o extraordinarily pure . You feel lik e a disembodied spirit , immaterial" (81):

He kept his eyes fixed upon mine till I had finished, and then he turned away. There was on his face a strange look, and I thought tha t so might a man loo k when he had die d under the torture. He was silent. I knew that our conversation had ended. (81 ) 83 Through recounting Strickland' s heterosexual adventures , the narrator thu s produces a passage which, like Melville's description o f Kory-Kory's firemaking , mimes a sexual act, the narrator i n effect bringing Strickland t o orgasm, while at the sam e time circumscribing hi s narration with adjectives showin g disgust. A similar process of complex displacement operates i n other imaginativ e reconstructions by the narrator. I n a later episode, imagining how Blanche Stroeve, a fellow painter's wife, came to fall i n love with Strickland, the narrator spend s a "restless night" i n speculation: [S]he wondered wha t fancie s passed throug h his dreams. Did he dream o f the nymph flying throug h the woods o f Greece with the satyr i n hot pursuit ? She fled, swift o f foot and desperate, but he gained o n her step by step, till sh e felt his hot breath on her cheek; and still she fled silently , and silentl y he pursued, and when a t last he seized her was i t terror tha t thrilled her heart or was i t ecstasy? (Ill ) Reconstruction agai n enables th e narrator t o be chased vicariously b y Strickland, an d t o express a physical passio n defined b y panic, by both "terror " and "ecstasy. " Even i n these moments of identification, however, the voice of the objective narrator i s never very fa r away, sealing up potential fissure s i n the text. "Bu t perhaps this i s very fanciful," the narrator remarks after a further paragraph. 84 The narrator's reconstruction s ad d a certain frisson t o the relationship between mediator an d vaniteux, distorting the symmetry o f the novel's eroti c trigonometry. A similar distortion als o exists i n regard t o the text's representation o f femininity. Maugham, we have seen, very much follow s traditio n i n feminizing th e colonized landscap e of Tahiti; in The Moon an d Sixpence the primitive femininit y of the South Pacific i s contrasted with the Occidental, gone-to-seed variet y exemplified b y Blanche Stroev e an d Mrs. Strickland. I n posssibly th e most misogynist o f Maugham's novels, the narrator hankers nostalgically fo r a time when "Woman had not yet altogether com e into her own" (14) . "'The soul of man wanders throug h th e uttermost regions o f the universe,'" remarks Strickland t o the narrator, "'an d sh e [Woman] seeks t o imprison i t in of her account-book'" (144) . I f this statement i s not endorsed by, neither i s i t refuted by the narrator. Women i n The Moon an d Sixpenc e thus appear t o occupy the position o f both nature an d culture, a situation simila r to representations o f women i n late nineteenth-century avan t garde writing:

[W]omen stan d fo r the most despised aspect s of both culture and nature, exemplifying th e crass vulgarity an d emptiness o f modern bourgeoi s society (woma n as archetypal consumer) as well a s natural sentimentalit y code d as specific to women, an inclination t o outpourings o f

uncontrolled feeling s tha t threaten th e 85 disengaged stanc e of the male aesthete. (Felski 1100 ) Mrs. Strickland' s parlour encloses the novel, providing th e setting fo r both it s opening an d closing scenes . In it, Mrs. Strickland operate s a s Felski's archetypa l consumer , emphasizing the "'essentiall y decorative' " nature of Strickland's art , her clothes "modish " (213 ) and her sens e of interior decoratio n als o having "move d with the times" (214). The whole topography o f Maugham's novel, indeed, i s invaded b y femal e consumption: Paris by Blanche Stroeve, Tahiti by Mrs. Nichols, "inexorable a s fate and remorseles s as conscience" (163 ) in her efforts t o track down her vagrant husband. Tahit i als o confronts th e narrator wit h the "enormou s proportions" (177 ) of Tiare, and Madame Coutras, "a n imposing creature" who pours "fort h a breathless strea m of anecdote an d comment" (208) , drownin g out his own narrational voice. Beneath th e misogynist bluster, an anxiety makes itself present: women may, in fact, be better a t colonizing practic e than men. Madame Coutras i s metaphorically describe d a s " a ship in full sail," an d sh e has "no t yielded t o . . . the tropics," remaining "mor e active, more worldly, more decided tha n anyone i n a temperate clime would have thought i t possible to be" (208) . Mrs. Strickland i s ironically describe d b y the narrator a s a "lion-hunter" (18 ) but she displays, at the end o f the novel, a remarkable control ove r her captured quarry. 86 By the end o f The Moon an d Sixpence, a female topography ha s swallowed u p both the narrator an d Strickland: the narrator escape s from Tiare's "vas t bosom," like " a billowy sea " (213 ) into Mrs. Strickland's drawin g room. Masculinity has shrunk fro m Melville or Stoddard' s ocean o f homosociality t o the confined spac e of the closet. Strickland's fina l masterpiece i s his mural on the walls of the hut i n which he dies, the "indescribabl y wonderfu l an d mysterious" artwor k sharin g th e room with painter's ow n body, "th e dreadful, mutilated, ghastly object which had been Strickland" (207) . The secret of Strickland i s the secret o f the closet: "'you were afraid,'" remarks Coutras, "'for you sa w yourself'" (209) . I n Mrs. Strickland's drawin g room th e narrator has a final vision o f Strickland's so n by Ata: I sa w him , with my mind's eye, on the schooner on which he worked, wearing nothing but a pair of dungarees .... I saw him dance with another lad, dance wildly, to the wheezy music of the concertina. Above was the blue sky, and th e stars, and al l abou t the desert of the Pacific Ocean. (217) The vision, however, remains unarticulated, bracketed of f from the rest of the text. All narrational strategie s i n Maugham's text finally lea d back to this one point: heterosexual masculinit y founde d upo n homosexuality, upo n the presence o f the unspeakable. "Fo r as this apalling ocea n 87 surrounds the verdant land, " wrote Melville i n Moby-Dick, "so i n the soul of man there lie s one insula r Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed b y all the horrors o f the half known life" (276) . Maugham's vision i n The Moon and Sixpence i s a little different. I n 1922 he would publis h a piece o f short prose entitle d "M y South Se a Island " i n which the half-known i s already present, indigenous t o the island , the "sinister " presence o f a leper who i s always present a t the margins of the narrator's gaz e ( A Traveller i n Romance 219). Fo r Maugham, and for his narrators, the half-known i s always alread y there. 88 2. The Trembling o f a Leaf and the Closet of Nostalgia

The Moon an d Sixpence was not the only product o f Maugham's visit to the South Pacific. His travel diary- provided material fo r several shor t stories , first published in magazines, the majority of which ar e collected i n The Trembling o f a Leaf (1921) . Maugham's Sout h Pacific shor t stories maintain th e opposition between modern an d premoder n expressed i n The Moon an d Sixpence. Like Maugham's earlie r novel, they ar e also clearly derivativ e of texts i n the European Sout h Seas tradition, particularly th e writings o f an d Pierre Loti. The stories differ from the novel, however, in their increase d themati c an d narrational framing o f the colonizer's encounter with the primitive.

Thematically, the stories of The Trembling o f a Leaf largely stress the disciplining power s o f twentieth-centur y colonial rule. The time o f first contact, of Strickland an d Melville's Tomo, of Red an d Walker a s young men, has passed, and ca n only be remembered nostalgically . Re d an d Sally, in Neilson's construction, once enjoyed a n interracial "'lov e pure an d simple'" (120) ; i n the narrative present o f "Th e Pool" Lawson i s "ignore d by the white ladies o f the colony" (159) after his marriage to the "half-caste " Ethel Brevard. Yet paradoxically, even as they emphasize rigi d socia l divisions, Maugham's storie s teem with characters who elude categorization, Eurasians, Chinese, and white prostitute s who liv e i n a precarious border zon e between Sel f an d Other. 89 An increas e i n surveillance an d police actions a t the borders o f the European community i s thus marked b y a need for racially o r morally ambiguou s characters who may be publicly subjecte d t o colonial discipline an d place d o n one side or the other o f the binary opposition s which ancho r th e texts. The thematics of The Trembling o f a Leaf are related t o the structural feature s of the stories. The narrators an d central consciousnesses o f the stories are largely educated , middle class men, who identify with twentieth-centur y constructions o f colonizing activit y as a matter of competent administration, level-headedness, and emotiona l and sexua l continence. They occupy on e corner o f a classic Girardian triangle, at the other two apexes of which stan d a romantic precursor an d the feminized landscap e o f the South Seas. As in The Moon an d Sixpence, the narrator o r centra l consciousness expresse s desire fo r the precursor throug h mutual mastery o f the landscape. Unlike the earlier novel, however, the narrative i s not apostolary. An immeasurabl e distance separates narrator an d precursor, a distance onl y bridged b y an impotent nostalgia, the repeated descriptio n of the age d bodies o f Walker, Red, and Lawson i n the narrative present to contrast with their beauty i n the narrative past. Maugham's narrator i n The Moon an d Sixpence, after th e manner o f many nineteenth-century trave l writers, makes easy entrance int o an inviting Tahiti; the skipper i n "Red" cannot fin d "a n opening larg e enough to get his ship 90 through" (105 ) in the reef that surrounds Neilson's island , and has to spend th e night anchore d outside . After examinin g the production o f nostalgia an d difference i n all the short stories i n The Trembling o f a Leaf, I wish to turn t o a close readin g o f what has commonly been regarde d a s one of Maugham's most homoerotic shor t stories, "Red." Its homoeroticism, I will argue, is qualified b y elaborate strategies o f distancing an d nostalgic containment.

1. Narrating Disciplin e

The underlying binarism i n The Trembling o f a Leaf, just as in The Moon an d Sixpence, is a division between a primitive, premodern Sout h Pacific (her e includin g Samoa , Tahiti, and th e Hawaiian islands ) and a modern West consisting o f Britain an d North America. Walker's islan d i s "'like the garden o f Eden'" (15) , the se a i n Neilson's retelling o f Red's lif e stor y "'lik e the sea of Homeric Greece'" (123) . Dr. Macphail i n "Rain " uses a different, yet temporally equall y distancin g simil e t o describe the inhabitants o f Pago-Pago:

The natives, blithe an d childlike b y reputation, seemed . . . , with their tattooing an d dye d hair, to have somethin g siniste r i n their appearance; and when they pattered alon g a t your heels with their nake d fee t you looked bac k instinctively . . . . They had a little the look of ancient

Egyptians painted o n a temple wall, an d ther e 91 was abou t them th e terror o f what i s immeasurably old . (270 ) "Rain" also dramatizes a temporal dislocation between the linear time of the West an d th e cyclical tim e o f the South Pacific. Davidson, the story's missionary protagonist , resolves t o "'se t aside a certain number o f hours t o study and a certain number t o exercise, rain or fine'" (257) , i n defiance o f the natural rhyth m o f the endlessly fallin g rain. I n Pago-Pago th e short story's protagonists ar e suspended i n time, waiting onl y fo r the next boat to leave; they ar e thus at the mercy of the primitive powers of nature. Similarly, in "Th e Fall of Edward Barnard," th e West (here Chicago) is marked by progressive modernization; "b y its position an d by the energy o f it s citizens," Chicago i s "destined t o become the real capital of the country" (57). In contrast, Tahiti i s marked by "'it s ease and it s leisure'" (94) , its "'casual' " atmosphere (98). The underlying divisio n between primitive an d modern remains i n place no matter which sid e of the binarism i s subject t o narrational critique . I n "Th e Fall o f Edward Barnard" an d "Rain " the primitive i s valorized i n opposition to "Wester n Civilization which has deviated fro m it s own simple an d honest past" (Subraman i 176) . Isabel Longstaffe' s visions o f "th e exquisite house sh e would have, full of antique furniture , and o f the concerts sh e would give " (104 ) seem trivia l compared t o Edward Barnard' s vision of his future:

"I shall make a garden ou t of what s o short 92 a while ag o was a wilderness. I shall have created something . The years will pass insensibly, an d when I am a n old man I hope I shal l be able to look back on a happy, simple, peaceful life. In my small way I to o shall have live d i n beauty." (101 ) Similarly, in "Rain, " the victory o f the "flauntin g quean" (294) Sadie Thompson ove r Davidson's repressiv e Christianity, presented a s the triumph o f "primitiv e power s of nature" (265 ) over civilization's nurture , is given strong narrational endorsement. I n both these stories the primitive i s endorsed i n order t o critique aspects o f Western modernity. I n "Th e Pool," i n contrast, it is the primitive that i s subject to critique. Lawson, marrying Ethel, the daughter o f the Norwegian Breval d an d his native wife, loses contact with the European community : From that time his degeneration was rapid. . . . He live d entirel y amon g the natives an d half-castes, but he had no longer the prestige of the white man. They felt his loathing fo r them an d they resented hi s attitude o f superiority. He was one of themselves now and they di d not see why he should pu t on airs. (174 ) For Lawson, and fo r the various narrators o f his story, contact with the primitive means dissolution, loss of control, alcoholism an d eventually death . For al l thei r divergent attitude s toward s primitivism, however, the 93 stories in The Trembling o f a Leaf keep the modern/premodern binary opposition firml y i n place. As in The Moon an d Sixpence, the exotic landscape of Samoa, Tahiti, and other South Pacific island s i s persistently feminized , an d subjec t to domination by a West gendered masculine. Honolulu, much to the narrator of the eponymous short story's surprise, is " a typical western city . . . filled with all the necessities o f American civilisation" (199) ; i t i s marked by frenetic activity. I n contrast, the native people at Davidson's mission ar e "'pitifully lackin g i n energy,'" while i n "Red " Neilson's island has "'recentl y been visited by one of those epidemics which the white man has brought to the South Seas, and one-third o f the inhabitants had died'" (121) . Suc h tropin g reflects lat e nineteenth-century gende r stereotype s o f active masculinity contraste d with passive femininity. Th e South Pacific i n Maugham's short-story collectio n i s often represented b y a young, pliant Samoan, Tahitian, or Eurasian woman who i s the object of desire fo r a Western man. Eva Jackson i n "Th e Fall o f Edward Barnard " i s "lik e a goddess of the Polynesian spring " (86) , while Captain Butler' s "little girl" i n "Honolulu " is, the narrator remarks, "certainly a most attractive creature" (210) . Jus t as in The Moon an d Sixpence, such women are presented a s possessing a natural, unfallen sexualit y i n contrast t o more assertive Western women. I n "Th e Fall o f Edward Barnard, " Edwar d reflects on his decisio n not t o return t o Chicago t o marry

Isabel Longstaffe bu t rather t o marry Eva: 94 "I'm not i n love with her as I was i n love with Isabel. I worshipped Isabel . I thought she was the most wonderful creatur e I had eve r seen. I was not half good enoug h fo r her. I don't fee l like that with Eva. She's lik e a beautiful exotic flowe r that must be sheltered fro m the bitter winds. I want t o protect her. No one ever thought of protecting Isabel. " (99-100 ) In the context o f the short story' s narration, Edward's choice receives strong narrational endorsement . The stories of The Trembling o f the Leaf, however, contain a second elemen t i n their representation o f femininity, one that i s not foun d i n The Moon an d Sixpence, and which seem s related t o Bernard Smith' s analysis o f the trope of the transience of wordly passions i n European writing o f the South Pacific. The native woman's body i n most of the short storie s i n the collection i s a site of physical deca y an d moral deceit. Sally, in the narrative present of "Red, " i s no longer "'rathe r tall, slim, with the delicate feature s o f her race'" (120) , bu t rather " a fat old native woman" (137) , an d leads the narrator t o comment that "the women on the island s age quickly" (133) . I n "Mackintosh," the protagonist feel s he i s being lured int o a possible marriage with the daughter o f Jervis, a trader, but is deterred b y her mother's physica l appearance :

In a moment her mother waddled in , a huge ol d woman, a chiefess, who owned much lan d i n her

own right; and gave him her hand. Her 95 monstrous obesity was an offence, but she managed to convey a n impression o f dignity. (36 ) In "Mackintosh " an d "Red, " the young, beautiful Polynesia n woman awaiting white male succou r exists only i n the narrative past; in the narrative present sh e has been replaced wit h a n older woman who i s not only physicall y larger bu t also wields considerable power--Jervis' wife i s a "chiefess," while Sall y has a "commanding presence " (135 ) in Neilson's house. The older native woman not only becomes more powerful, and thus more threatening, but she also becomes more racially Other . Ethel, whom Lawson marries, is "no darker than a Spaniard" (146) , while Sally , in the narrative present o f "Red, " i s "dark, for the natives gro w darker with age" (135) . Even the bodies of young native women i n the stories of The Trembling o f a Leaf ar e represented a s carrying th e seeds o f dissolution an d usurpation within them. The nameless native woman i n "Honolulu " is, the narrator comments, " a very pretty person" (209) : She was a good dea l taller than the captain, and eve n the Mother Hubbard, which the o f a past generation had, in the interests o f decency, forced o n the unwilling natives, could no t conceal the beauty o f her form. One could no t but suspect that age would burde n her with a certain corpulence, but now she was graceful an d alert. (209-10 ) 96 Here the native woman's for m i s gazed a t and made to reveal a primitive vitality tha t the "decency " of modern civilization canno t wholly supress ; at the same time the woman's height, and the potential o f her body fo r change, seem vaguely threatening to the "fain t breeze of romance" which the narrator strive s so assiduously t o detect. In the denouement o f the story i t is thus a little les s surprisin g for the reader t o discover tha t the woman i n Butler's cabin is not the woman whose sacrifices save d him from death, the latter having prove d fickl e an d run "'awa y with the Chinese cook las t year1" (233) . Similarly , Ethel Brevald' s association with the landscape surrounding her bungalow i n "The Pool" undercuts a n earlier, romantic, description o f her as a "naiad" (148) : Brevald's bungalow, shabby an d bedraggled, stood amon g the coconut tree s of the plantation, a little away fro m the main road that ran up to Vailima. Immediately aroun d i t grew huge plantains. With their tattered leave s they had the tragic beauty o f a lovely woman i n rags. Everything was slovenly an d neglected ... . When Lawson aske d fo r Brevald th e ol d man's cracked voic e called ou t to him, and he found him i n the sitting-room smokin g a n ol d bria r pipe.

"Sit down and make yourself a t home," he said. "Ethel's just titivating." (153 ) 97 Ethel's titivation seem s here t o be a n attempt t o hide an innate propensity t o disorder, one that i s later expresse d in " [t]he carelessness with which sh e managed her house" (162) in Lawson's native Scotland. Her propensity i s infectious, drawing Lawson int o a lapse of emotional contro l in which he leaves his job i n Scotland an d follows his wife back to Samoa. Having once submitted, Lawson degenerate s quickly to a loss o f somatic control (hi s alcoholism) and finally commit s suicide. The threat of disorder embodie d b y native women i s particularly disturbin g t o a construction o f masculinity i n The Trembling o f a Leaf that i s based upo n somatic contro l and emotiona l repression , rather than upon colonizin g activity o r abandonment t o the dictates of an artistic temperament. Edward Barnard' s "fall " i s attributed by his fiancee i n Chicago to the fact that there was alway s "'something lackin g i n him, I suppose i t was backbone'" (103). Red, who "'ha d no more sou l than the creatures o f the woods an d forests'" (121 ) and Walker, who describes his "numberless adventures, commonplace an d sordid, with the women o f the islan d . . . with a pride i n his own prowess" (11) to his subordinate, Mackintosh, are survivals of a past age. The present i s the domain o f men suc h as Dr. Macphail, Neilson an d Mackintosh, men who bring a quasi-scientific rationality to their observation o f the colonial situation . Any laps e i n control o r surrender t o the native environment, such as those of Davidson an d Lawson, may result i n a 98 temporary fulfilmen t o r release, but eventually lead s to dissolution an d death. The construction o f colonizing masculinity i n The Moon and Sixpenc e i s a reflection o f certain realities i n the British Empire o f the early twentieth century. John Seeley' s proposal i n The Expansion o f England (1883 ) for a British world stat e had, to a great measure, been achieved. The task of British men an d an d a n increasing number o f British women in the colonies was not so much to open up new territories as to to rule the territory alread y held. The imperia l freelance i n the mode of Gordon, Cecil Rhodes, or Robert Clive was a man of the past, replaced by the administrato r drawn largel y fro m "th e Public School-Oxbridge Class" (Alle n 159). B y the 'twentie s fe w blank space s still existed upo n the maps of the colonial powers. From Conrad's Marlow on, protagonists o f British fictio n o f empire mourned th e los s of frontiers, or strove earnestly t o create new ones: "True, by this time i t was not a blank spac e any more. I t had got filled sinc e my boyhood wit h rivers an d lake s an d names. It had ceased t o be a blank spac e of delightful mystery--a whit e patch fo r a boy to dream gloriously over . . . . But there was i n it one river. ("" 52) For Orwell's characters, some thirty years later, there i s not even a single river left, and the expansion o f Englan d seems to threaten t o take on a suburban quality :

"Sometimes I think that i n two hundred year s all 99 this"--he waved a foot towards the horizon--"all this will be gone--forests, villages, pagodas, all vanished. And instead , pink villas fift y yards apart; all over those hills, as far as you can can see, villa after villa, with all the gramophones playing the same tune. And al l the forests shave d flat--chewe d int o wood-pulp fo r the News o f the World, or sawn up into gramophone cases." (Burmes e Days 40) In this new Empire, as we shall se e i n Chapter Five, surveillance increased , racial boundaries were more precisely codified , an d standards of acceptable behaviou r for members o f the expatriate elit e were tightened. Give n the exigencies of the new, less romantic colonia l situation , it i s unsurprising tha t colonial fictio n an d memoirs o f the early twentiet h centur y romanticiz e the earlier perio d o f colonization. In a recent article, John McClure recognize s tw o possible fictiona l responses t o "imperialis m suddenl y becom[ing] the enemy o f romance" (115) , t o paradigmatic changes that stressed administrativ e competenc e ove r individual initiative . The first i s a return to the earlie r days o f imperial adventure, by either "elegai c narratives o f the closing o f this period" (115) , suc h as Isaak Dinesen' s Out of Africa (1938) , o r a search fo r new, as yet undiscovered territorie s where th e romance o f adventure might stil l be enacted. McClure contrasts suc h fictions to 100 novels which attemp t t o "challeng e the rationalizing romanc e of empire itself " (115) , such as "Heart of Darkness" (1899 ) and A Passage t o India (1924) , while acknowledging tha t these texts are compromised a s critiques by their preservation o f the East or Africa a s a romantic, non-Western space . In McClure's schema, the stories of The Trembling o f a Leaf see m closer t o his first category, yet they are cast perhaps even further back int o imperia l history. The stories do not s o much provide an elegy t o the closing-out o f the period o f first contact, as present a nostalgic re-enactment o f the period a t its zenith, a re-enactment which i s framed, bracketed-off fro m the narrative present. Maugham's secon d generation colonia l administrators, doctors, dilettantes an d professiona l writers loo k longingly an d lovingl y bac k to a precursor i n whose footsteps they now cannot follow, and a t the same time apply caustic iron y to the very romantic narratives they are bound t o tell. Thus Neilson delight s i n telling th e skipper the story of Red an d Sall y while simultaneously professin g his cynicism .

The structural feature s of the stories of The Trembling of a Leaf reflect, and amplify , the tropological an d thematic aspects of the narratives outline d above . Four of the stories ar e told i n the third perso n by a n omniscient narrator, while the other two are narrated i n the first person by the urbane Maugham-narrator. The focalizers o f the third perso n narratives ofte n recount a n embedded narrative, 101 and shar e with the Maugham-narrator a similar clas s background an d a n appreciation o f the highly textua l natur e of their processes o f narration. Mackintosh i s middle class, from London, and spend s much of his time writing u p his notes, while Bateman Hunter, middle class althoug h substantially wealthier, consciously remodel s Edwar d Barnard's stor y fo r Isabel' s ears, hiding "nothin g fro m her except what he thought would wound her o r what made himself ridiculous" (101) . Neilson i s independently wealthy, university educated, an d live s surrounded b y books, while Dr. Macphail' s professio n give s him both the privilege of travelling firs t class, away fro m the "'secon d cabin' " (247 ) inhabited by Sadie Thompson, and the further privilege of the ironi c gaze of the pathologist o f human emotions. As in The Moon an d Sixpence, the narrator o r central consciousness i s part o f a Girardian triangle involvin g himself, a native woman o r a feminized landscape , and the male objec t o f his narration. The narrator/focalizer i s often disembodied, o r physically weak: Mackintosh i s "a n ugly man, with ungainly gestures, a tall thin fellow, with a narrow chest an d bowed shoulders " (9), Neilson unhealthy , Bateman Hunter define d by his "hor n spectacles" (104) . I n contrast, the object o f his narration i s physically vital, and o f a lower clas s or at least engaged i n lower-class occupations. Walker i s "illiterate, " Mackintosh notes, has little sense of etiquette, and "ha s never learne d t o put any restraint on his tongue" (10) , yet his lif e has been one of 102 extraordinary activity . Looking a t Edward Barnard , now working i n a trader's store , Bateman Hunter i s unnerved b y his friend's vitality: Bateman took a glance a t him. Edward was dressed in a suit of shabby white ducks, none too clean and a large straw hat of native make. He was thinner than he had been, deeply burned by the sun, and he was certainly better-looking tha n ever. But there was something i n his appearance that disconcerted Bateman . He walked with a new jauntiness; there was a carelessness i n his demeanour, a gaiety about nothing i n particular, which Bateman could not precisely blame, but which exceedingly puzzle d him. (76 ) This passage exemplifies Sedgwick' s commen t that in the relationship between men i n a Girardian triangle, "th e bonds of 'rivalry ' and 'love, ' differently a s they ar e experienced, ar e equally powerful an d i n many sense s equivalent" (Betwee n Men 21). Even as he eroticises Edward' s body throug h a gaze given it s power by a constructed clas s privilege, Bateman becomes uneasy, aware that his rival, through his being outside of somatic an d emotiona l repression, in some manner merges with an d possesse s th e land i n a way that he, for all his rationality an d self-control, never can.

In the triangles involvin g ol d an d new style imperialists an d a feminized landscape , homoeroticism i s 103 often overt. Neilson's scoping o f Red i n his narrative i s a clear example, but adjectives suc h as "sensual " (11 ) are also applied t o Walker, and Macphail remark s Davidson' s "full an d sensual . . . lips," his "finel y shaped " hands, and notes that his body burns with "suppresse d fire " (242) . The eroticisation o f a working-class objec t o f desire is, Jeffrey Weeks notes, a common marker o f middle-class mal e homosexual self-representatio n i n England fro m "th e 1880 s to 1930s an d beyond" (Comin g Out 41), and i s exemplified i n such texts as E.M. Forster's Maurice (1971) . Such eroticisation enable s the narrator o r focaliser t o express homoeroticism whil e containing som e of it s more epistemologically threatenin g aspects . The narrator o r focaliser stil l revel s i n the power o f his gaze, which i s never turne d bac k upon himself. His weakness an d smal l physique, which ar e frequently exaggerate d i n contrast t o the physicality o f the working class object of desire, serve to make him invisible , and thus to privilege his narration as neutral o r objective. This mode of representation, Weeks notes, i s expressive o f a "stron g element of sexual colonialism" (40) . The delight that Neilson take s i n recounting Red's story, or the Maugham-narrator's i n reinterpreting Captai n Butler's "i n my own words" (211 ) is predicated upo n the distance tha t they maintain, through class, from the object o f their narration.

In the context o f the South Pacific, however, such conscious disembodiment on the part of Maugham's narrator s 104 cedes the colonial landscap e t o the companions who ar e also their rivals. The stories o f The Trembling o f a Leaf expres s a consistent fea r that the strategies used b y men such as Walker an d Red resul t i n a closeness t o the landscape an d a personal emancipatio n which i s inaccessible t o Mackintosh or Neilson. Walker's roads, for example, seem to fit the landscape of his island : They meandered throug h those lovely scenes, and Walker had take n care that here an d there they shoul d ru n in a straight line, giving you a green vista through the tall trees, and here and ther e shoul d tur n an d curve s o that the heart was rested by the diversity. I t was amazing that this coarse an d sensua l man shoul d exercis e s o subtle a n ingenuity t o get the effects which his fancy suggeste d t o him. He had used i n making his roads all the fantastic skil l of a Japanese gardener. (21 ) Here Walker, in the focalizer's construction, merges with the landscape an d becomes orientalised, a possibility tha t is always denied t o Mackintosh himself, who always insist s on propriety an d the rule of law. The rival's yielding t o the demands of the landscape i s often presented a s dangerous; indeed, it leads to the death of both Lawson and Davidson. Yet, even here, the narrator has a barely acknowledged investmen t i n their transgressions agains t propriety. Macphail share s similar erotic fantasies to 105 Davidson, while fo r the narrator o f "Th e Pool" Ethel' s fascination lie s i n the fact that she has "excite d i n Lawson such a devastating passion " (184) : [I]n her elusiveness, like a thought tha t presents itsel f before i t can be captured b y words, lay her peculiar charm: but perhaps tha t was merely fancy , and i f I had known nothing about her I should hav e seen i n her only a pretty littl e half-caste lik e another. (185 ) The mobility o f the rival, although circumscribed b y danger, thus seems to threaten th e narrator's own masculinity, which consists of "self-control " (89) , and continual "vigilance " (13), les t he might "betray " (13 ) himself. The capacity o f both homoeroticism an d rivalry t o undermine the narrator's authority t o narrate i s deflected in the short storie s by a strategy o f temporal distancing . The activities o f the rival ar e cast back int o a narrative past, which i s framed b y a narrative present tha t remains the domain of the focalizer/narrator. Walker's past, we have seen, appears t o Mackintosh a s "extraordinarily romantic, " but i n the present he i s less attractive:

He was a little man, considerably les s

than of middle height, and enormously stout; he had a large, fleshy face, clean-shaven, with the cheeks hanging o n each side in great dew-laps,

and three vast chins; his small features were al l dissolved i n fat; and, but for a crescent o f

white hair a t the back o f his head, he was 106 completely bald. He reminded yo u of Mr. Pickwick. He was grotesque, a figure of fun, and yet, strangely enough , not without dignity. (6 ) The comparison with Mr. Pickwick places Walker here i n the middle o f the nineteenth century, while his obesity, as in all Maugham's stories, seems to be a trope indicatin g a giving i n to appetite, an absence o f somatic control. Captain Butler's story i n "Honolulu " i s similarly romantic, at least until it s ironic denouement, but again the Captain himself i s described a s " a commonplace littl e man" (233 ) by the narrator i n the narrative present:

And yet Butler was the las t man i n the world with whom you would have associated romance , and i t was hard t o see what there was i n him to arouse love. In the clothes he wore now he looked podgie r tha n ever, and his round spectacles gave his round fac e the look of prim cherub. He suggested rathe r a curate who had gone to the dogs. (210-211 ) Having al l gone to the dogs, the rivals i n the triangles of The Trembling o f a Leaf provide no great threat to the narrator/focalizer's constructio n o f a masculinity base d upon repression. Placed bac k i n the past, they fin d thei r mastery ove r the colonized landscap e vicariously celebrate d while the y themselves become objects agains t which th e subject o f modernity define s himself.

The textual police action i n Maugham's shor t stories, 107 confining homoeroticism an d the possibility o f difference t o the closet o f the past i s not, however, wholly successful. The texts o f The Trembling o f a Leaf teem with character s who d o not conform t o the arbitrary binarism o f colonizer and colonized . At the quay i n Tahiti, Bateman Hunter i s greeted b y " a youth," who leads him t o the Hotel de la Fleur. After a brief conversation, Bateman notes that the young man's English has "somethin g i n i t of the intonatio n of a foreign tongue," and then, "wit h a sidelong glance, saw, wha t he had no t noticed before , that there was i n him a good dea l of native blood" (73) . Ethel i n "Th e Pool" can masquerade a s both pure native an d Spaniard, while Horn, the innkeeper i n "Rain, " is similarly protean : As a rule he wore shabb y ducks, but now he was barefoot an d wore only the lava-lava o f the natives. He looked suddenl y savage , and Dr. Macphail , getting out of bed, saw that he was heavily tattooed . (290 ) Chinese characters als o have a similar semioti c slipperiness: the ugly Chinese cook i n "Honolulu" has, it transpires, been hired becaus e Butler's previous "'gir l ran away with the Chinese coo k las t year1" (233) . "'There' s something abou t a Chink,'" Winter remarks to the Maugham narrator, "'whe n he lays himself out to please a woman she can't resist him'" (233) . I f Eurasians distur b the stories' economy o f race, Chinese men see m equally unsettling t o their constructions o f British an d North American 108 masculinity. Finally , Sadie Thompson's presence a s a white woman yet also as a "flaunting quean" (294) , breaking th e bounds o f sexual propriety, adds another troublin g elemen t which blurs th e clarity o f the text's binarisms o f gender, class, an d race. The narrators an d focalizer s o f Maugham's stories i n The Trembling o f a Leaf ar e thus caught i n an endless reinscription o f the borders of difference: this is their work, man's work, and i t i s never done.

2. Reading "Red" .

The homoeroticism o f the gaze of Neilson, the narrator of the embedded narrativ e i n "Red " has attracted th e notice of several critics. Robert Calde r uses the story t o argue that more attention shoul d b e paid t o homoerotic elements i n Maugham's works:

Maugham's work, then, may contain more traces of his homosexuality tha n are recognized b y the average reader. Consider, for example, "Red, " the story o f a young man who fall s i n love with a beautiful gir l but who i s shanghaied befor e the y can be married. (Calder , Willie 238 ) A lengthy quote o f the most homoerotic passage of "Red " follows; Calder then moves on, without analysis, to his next example. Ted Morgan adopt s a similar tactic . Setting Maugham's descriptio n o f Red beside Melville's descriptio n of Harry Bolton i n Redburn (1849) , whic h Maugham himself 109 quotes a s evidence o f Melville's homosexuality, Morgan comments that "[i] f lingering ove r the hermaphroditic desirability o f young men was a proof o f homosexuality, Maugham coul d certainl y match Melville" (42) . Morgan's discussion o f the social pressures upo n Maugham's self-conception a s a homosexual ar e more sensitive tha n Calder's, but his analysis als o stops with the detection o f homoeroticism. Neither criti c acknowledges that the homoerotic gaz e i n "Red " i s connected with the manner o f narration, and neither suggest s that it s presence may be imbricated with the constructions o f heterosexual masculinity an d race which structur e th e short story. The homoeroticism o f "Red, " I wish to argue, is a sign that the work o f making an d reinscribing masculinity i s occurring i n the text o f Maugham's shor t story . "Red" i s perhaps one of the more derivative o f the short stories i n The Trembling o f a Leaf. The frame narrative, in which the captain of a ship visits Neilson's island, i s very Conradian. The motif o f waiting out the night outside the harbour, indeed, seems taken directly fro m "A Smile o f Fortune" (1912) . Th e embedded narrative , describing th e American sailor' s lov e affair with, and leaving of, a native woman, is also a common trope; in its sentimentalization o f the woman's grief i t is closer t o Giacomo Puccini' s Madam Butterfly (1907 ) than to the presentations o f the same motif i n Conrad's Lord Ji m (1900 ) or Loti's Madame Chrysanthemum (1887) . Neilson, Swedish, 110 solitude-loving narrato r o f the embedded narrative , has many affinities t o Heyst i n Conrad's Victory (1915) . The structure o f the short story conforms very precisely t o the pattern commo n to all the stories i n The Trembling o f a Leaf outlined above . In the embedde d narrative, a situation very much like that of The Moon and Sixpence holds. The landscape o f the islan d a t which Red arrives i s like "th e Garden o f Eden" (121) , the sea aroun d it "lik e the sea of Homeric Greece" (123) . The temporal space of the islan d i s thus one of mythological time , and i t is denied coevalnes s with the linear time of the West; there, Neilson muses, "one might fanc y tha t the sun stand s still as it stood when Joshu a praye d t o the God o f Israel" (121). After the initial disruption o f Red's arrival, the passage o f time on the islan d is , just lik e the passage o f time a t Strickland's hut, expressed throug h th e iterativ e "would": Often natives would com e i n and tell long stories o f the ol d day s when the islan d was disturbed b y tribal wars. Sometimes he would go fishing on the reef, and bring back a basket full of coloured fish . Sometimes a t night he would g o out with a lantern t o catch lobster. There were plantains round th e hut an d Sall y would roas t them fo r their fruga l meal. (123 ) The culture o f the islan d i s marked b y a hunter-gatherer economy, an d by orality, two features which suggest it s Ill distance fro m a West define d b y the arrival o f trading ship s and th e books i n Neilson's library . Within the Girardian triangl e of the embedde d narrative, the land i s represented b y a native woman whom Red, like an explorer o f first contact, mapping ou t a landscape, gives an English name. "'Th e girl ha d a native name,'" Neilson comments i n his narration, "'bu t Red calle d her Sally'" (122-123) . Neilson's elaborate descriptions make a clear connection between Sall y an d th e landscape which sh e inhabits: She had the passionate grace of the hibiscus and the rich colour. She was rather tall , slim, with th e delicate feature s o f her race, and large eyes like pools of still water under the palm trees; her hair, black an d curling, fell down her back, and sh e wore a wreath of scente d flowers. Her hands were lovely. They were so small, so exquisitely formed , they gave your heart-strings a wrench. (120 ) Neilson, as narrator, watches an d comments upo n his protagonist's arriva l o n the island, and Red's possession of the landscap e through his relationship with Sally . Red i s clearly a rival an d precursor o f Neilson. The American sailor i s "invite d ... t o enter" (119 ) the "nativ e hut" by Sally ( a invitation th e significance o f which i s clearly expressed i n an extraordinary "com e hither" illustratio n accompanying th e story's origina l publication i n Asia 112 magazine); Neilson, i n contrast, later find s Sall y onl y gives him "wha t sh e set no store on" (132) . Re d live s i n a native hut, Neilson i n a "Europea n house" (132) , which i s "more convenient" (132) , but which also implie s his distance from the landscape. Unlike The Moon an d Sixpence, however, the Girardian triangle of the embedded narrativ e o f "Red " i s elaborately framed, both externally , by an anti-romantic fram e narrative, an d internall y b y Neilson's frequen t comment s upon his own process o f narration. I n Sedgwick's triangle s homoeroticism i s suppressed throug h male homosexual panic- in "Red " i t i s openly expresse d bu t subject t o other strategies o f containment. Before he begins t o recount his narrative t o the skippe r whose identit y neither he himself, nor the readers of the story, yet know, the text authorize s his narration b y stressing hi s class background an d education: Neilson knew the skipper had not an idea what he meant, and he looked a t him with an ironica l twinkl e i n his dark eyes. Perhap s just because the skipper was s o gross an d dul l a man th e whim seize d him t o talk further. (113 ) Despite th e fac t that Neilson i s said t o speak "Englis h with a sligh t accent" (110) , i t i s the "skipper " whose speec h i s represented a s non-standard, a n amalgam o f Americanisms an d stage Cockney, while th e Swede's locutio n a t all time s remains standard :

"You ain't drinkin g nothin'," he said, reaching 113 for the whisky. "I am of sober habit," smiled the Swede. " I intoxicate myself i n ways which I fancy ar e more subtle. But perhaps that i s only vanity. Anyhow, the effects ar e more lastin g an d the results less deleterious." (115 ) Even Neilson's flight s o f romantic diction—"'[h]ere lov e tarried fo r a moment lik e a migrant bir d tha t happens o n a ship i n mid-ocean an d fo r a little while folds it s tired wings'" (115)—hav e thei r parallels i n the purple descriptions o f the narrator o f the frame narrative. The coconut trees that the skipper see s on disembarking fro m his ship's boat ar e "lik e a ballet o f spinsters, elderly bu t flippant, standing i n affected attitude s with the simpering graces o f a bygone age" (109) . Clearly , within both narratives, i t i s an educated, detached, consciously textua l voice that i s privileged. The near identity o f Neilson's voice with that of the narrator o f the frame narrativ e serves to authorize the Swede's ow n narration. Comments by Neilson suc h as "' I wish I could mak e myself clea r .... Thoug h I cannot imagin e that i f I did you would understand' " (115-116 ) pepper his narrative. They exemplify his stress upo n rational comprehensio n a s a basis for colonizing activit y an d fo r his own conception o f masculinity. Unlike Red, who upon arrival know s "'scarcel y two words o f the native tongue'" (119) , an d then proceeds to pick i t up without apparen t effort, Neilson applie s a disciplined approac h t o the learning o f Samoan: 114 He had a gift fo r languages an d a n energetic mind, accustomed t o work, and he had alread y given much time to the study o f the loca l tongue. Ol d habit was strong i n him an d he was gathering togethe r material fo r a paper on the Samoan speech. (129-130 ) Neilson's self-constitutio n throug h disciplin e and repression provid e him with a means of distancing himsel f from both the Red o f his romantic narrative an d the skippe r of the frame narrative, two characters who, in the story' s denouement, turn out to be the same individual. Neilson gains distance by turning a rationalizing gaz e upon th e American sailo r i n both the frame and embedde d narratives. I n the embedded narrative , he makes the American sailor part o f the landscape, " a happy acciden t o f nature" (119); lik e the South Pacific an d it s inhabitants , he i s denied coevalness with Neilson. Red "'wa s made like a Greek god,'" Neison remarks, and the islan d "too k the northern strength from him a s Delilah took the Nazarite's" (119) . Red's body becomes feminize d unde r Neilson's gaze, taking o n a "softnes s o f fibre": "[H]e was made like a Greek god, broad i n the shoulders an d thin i n the flanks; he was lik e Apollo, with just tha t soft roundness which Praxiteles gave him, and that suave, feminine grace which has i n i t something troubling , and mysterious. His skin was dazzling, white,

milky, like satin; his skin was like a woman's 115 . . . And his face was just a s beautiful a s his body. He had larg e blue eyes, very dark, so that som e sa y they were black, and unlike most red-haired peopl e he had dar k eyebrows and long dar k lashes . His features were perfectl y regular an d his mouth was like a scarlet wound. (118-9) Much of Neilson's metaphorical an d metonymic representatio n of Red i n the above passage parallels his description o f Sally: her beauty, too, is compared t o that of a museum exhibit--"the Psych e i n the museum a t Naples" (130) . Red' s feminine softness gives Neilson a justification t o look; lest anyon e else might consider his gaze symptomatic o f a "queer fellow " (111) , he i s quick t o remark tha t "'I'v e talked t o quite a number o f people who knew him i n those days, white men, and they all agree . . . his beauty jus t took your breath away" (118) . Neilson's hasty invocatio n of racial an d gender privilege, an appeal to the collective rationalit y o f "whit e men" tha t also, in its second-person address , pulls i n the implied reader , hints that his scoping of Red ma y be more than a simple matter o f feminization. His description o f Red, i n fact, is an attempt to cover ove r a major fault-lin e in the series of oppositions which structur e th e short story. Opening u p Red fo r his gaze, making him penetrable ("his mout h lik e a scarlet wound"), Neilso n i s indulging i n the sexual colonialism tha t Weeks, we have seen, identifies 116 as a common theme i n early twentieth-centur y mal e homosexual writing. Neilson's narration works to diminish his own bodily presence, reducing himself t o an objective seein g eye, an d indee d he i s so committed t o his role as narrator, as a producer o f textual evidence, that he ignore s the skipper's interruption . Yet i f Red is , following th e schem a Weeks has introduced, one of sexuality's colonized, made equivalent here with the South Pacific landscap e an d feminized racia l Others, h e stil l remains, in a real sense, a colonizer. Even a s the text marks off Red a s Other, it also accepts him as part of Self: the whiteness o f his skin, for instance , is repeatedly emphasized . The two contradictory imperative s o f Neilson's narratio n ar e neatly expressed i n Red's eyes, which manage to be both blue^ (a n important marker o f racial differenc e i n Maugham's writings ) and black, like Sally's, at the same time, "large blue eyes, very dark, so that som e sa y they were black" (118) . Neilson's embedde d narrative thu s suggests Red's affinities with characters who straddle the East/West, modern/premodern binarism , with the white women, Eurasians and Chines e who ar e usually, i n Maugham's fiction , confined to the margins o f a larger narrative. I f Red has taken possession o f the land, the land has also taken possessio n of him, captured hi m "'lik e a fly i n a spider's web1" (119) . Neilson's commen t that "'thes e green hills, with their sof t airs, this blue sea, took the northern strengt h fro m him as Delilah took the Nazarite's'" (119 ) seems, like Mackintosh's 117 reaction to the native "chiefess, " to indicate a certain fear of the transformative, not to say depilatory, possibilities o f the feminine. Burton's Sotadi c Zone, we noted i n the introduction , i s primarily climatic , not racial in nature. Red's softness an d languor , his melting passivel y into the landscape, hints at a construction o f male homosexuality a s displaced femininit y commo n i n the lat e nineteenth century. If Red's semiotic vagrancy flood s through th e embedded narrative, however, there i s still one bulkhead o f significance left ; the frame narrative. I n the frame narrative the third-person narrator stresse s Neilson' s distance fro m th e objects o f his gaze. The Swede i s described onl y briefly, i n such a manner a s to dismiss his bodily presence, " a man no longer young, with a small beard, now somewha t grey, and a thin face " (110) . The skipper, in contrast, is subject to detailed examination : He was a tall man, more than six feet high, and very stout . His face was red an d blotchy, with a network o f littl e purple veins on the cheeks, and his eyes were sun k int o it s fatness. His eyes were bloodshot. His neck was buried i n rolls o f fat. But for a fringe of long curly hair, nearly white, at the back o f his head, he was quite bald, an d that immense, shiny surfac e o f a forehead , which might have given him a false look o f intelligence, on the contrary gav e him

one o f peculiar imbecility . (112-3 ) 118 This is, the tone of the narration suggests , what one gets if one lets oneself go . Neilson i s quite explicit i n his use of the skipper i n contrast t o the youthful Re d o f the embedded narrative: There was i n his gross obesity somethin g extraordinarily repellent . He had th e plethoric self-satisfaction o f the very fat . It was an outrage. I t set Neilson's nerves on edge. But the contrast between the man before him and the man he had i n mind was pleasant. (117 ) Neilson's disgus t seem s here t o arise fro m the fact that the skipper i s satisfied wit h his romantic, unrepressed life : his comfort comes from the fact that he, as focalizer, is able to construct a narrative tha t hinges upo n a clear division between past an d present. Homoeroticism thu s becomes textualized, consigned t o the past an d t o a narrating gaz e that will forever remain unanswered. I n the present, in contrast, homosociality i s marked b y mutual repulsion. His desire immure d within th e closet o f the past, Neilson ca n even afford t o flirt with the skipper--"'Perhap s I knew you i n some past existence. Perhaps, perhaps you were the master o f a galley i n ancient Rome and I was a slave at the oar'" (117) . Ther e is , despite Neilson's playfu l slumming, never an y doubt a s to who i s on top now. The past is past, and i t is Neilson's rationality , his ability to absent himself somaticall y fro m the scene of narration, that 119 enables him to keep his distance. This i s perhaps why th e revelation i n the denouement o f the short stor y o f the identity o f the skipper an d Re d i s hardly surprising ; for Neilson i t is merely th e confirmation o f the death of romance. At the end o f "Red, " the South Seas are exhauste d of romantic possibility: men's work has become not movement, but narration, a retelling o f stories to apportion meaning. Neilson's las t ac t i s to remove himself completel y fro m the picture: he announces his return t o Europe. 120 3. The Flaneur Abroad: On a Chinese Scree n

On May 4, 1919, Chinese students i n Beijing held a demonstration agains t the cession o f Shandong t o Japan i n the Treaty o f Versailles. The inciden t gave it s name t o a movement o f cultural innovatio n tha t spread acros s China. Hu Shi popularised writin g i n vernacular, rather tha n Classica l Chinese, while Ding Ling, Lu Xun and othe r authors produce d the most innovativ e Chines e writing o f the century. Ba Jin was late r t o write a thinly-fictionalized accoun t o f the effects o f the May Fourth Movement journals i n remote Sichuan:

When th e local paper reprinted article s from the New Youth an d Weekly Review magazines, he hurried t o the only bookstore i n town that was selling these journals, and bought the latest issu e of the first, and two or three issues of the second. Their words were lik e sparks, setting off a conflagration i n the brothers' hearts. Aroused b y the fresh approac h and th e ardent phrases, the brothers foun d themselves i n complete agreement with the writers' sentiments. (42 ) Through th e May Fourth Movement Chin a abruptl y entere d modernity; fo r the next fe w years the country seethe d wit h an intellectual an d artisti c debat e that still resonate s today. 121 In the autumn o f 1919, Maugham visite d Chin a with Gerald Haxton. He spen t some four months there, returning to Hong Kong on January 12 , 1920; three years later he published a re-ordered an d edited version o f the notebook h e kept i n China, "note s of the people an d places tha t excite d my interest " (xi) , as On a Chinese Scree n (1922) . Maugham's travel narrative, unlike the other texts i n this study, is presented b y it s author as non-fiction, an d i s not bound together by the imperative s o f a single or multiple linea r narratives. Rather, the text indulge s i n a cutting u p of China int o representative metonym s (antiques , decaying buildings, representative type s of colonizers an d colonized), presenting itsel f a s having affinitie s with the sketchbook o r photo album, and thus self-consciously allyin g itself with tourist memorabilia. A reading o f Maugham's trave l narrative firs t necessitates a brief surve y o f Europe's tropologica l representation o f China, and a discussion o f how, as i n the case of British representations o f South Pacific, such troping i s constitutive o f modern subjectivity. Such a discussion lead s int o an analysis of the structure o f On a Chinese Screen, and of how Maugham's representation o f the writing proces s through a series o f visual metaphors result s in a disavowal o f China's modernity. I am intereste d her e i n how Maugham's acceptanc e o f Western troping s o f China enables him to satirise European expatriates i n the Orient while simultaneously preservin g the epistemologica l divisions of the discourse tha t justifies their presence. 122 Specularity, we have see n i n The Moon an d Sixpenc e an d the Malayan an d Sout h Pacific stories, implies a n observer. In discussing th e peculiar mobility o f On a Chinese Screen' s narrational voice , I have found i t useful to introduce tha t creature o f nineteeth-century urba n perambulation, the flaneur. The arcade, the flaneur's haunt, wedged between the interior an d exterior, public an d private, is in Maugham's text replaced b y the similarly marginal space s of the foreign concession, legation quarter, or mission. Like the flaneur, Maugham's narrator i s simultaneously a n outcast an d an agent of the apparatuses o f surveillance, Baudelaire's "prince incognito" (Chamber s 144), in one sense outside both the means of production an d reproduction, in another wholly dependent upon both.l Occupyin g a space between the modern and th e pre-modern, he look s nostalgically bac k while his peregrinations tak e him relentlessly forward , through his topographical an d narrational perversities , to an association with another great constructed subjec t o f the nineteenth century , the homosexual.

1. Envisioning Chin a

China, more even than the South Pacific, has provide d European culture with on e of it s most complex image s of alterity. From th e time o f Mandeville o r Marco Pol o until the beginning o f the nineteenth century, China was largel y idealized b y Europeans a s a kingdom obeyin g natural laws . 123 For Mandeville, the Great Khan rules over "th e race o f Ham" (146): This Emperor an d th e people o f that land , though they ar e not Christians, nevertheless believ e in the Mighty Go d who made the heavens an d th e earth. (149 ) China thus confirms biblical order; the Chinese live i n an immediately postdiluvia n world, practising natural religio n after the manner o f the Israelites o f the Old Testament. As with the South Pacific, changing politica l an d philosophica l realities i n Europe resulte d i n changing construction s o f China. Louis XIV saw China as representative o f the best of enlightened despotism , while Voltaire too k the country's political syste m a s evidence o f Enlightenment beliefs i n the natural virtue of human beings. In the nineteenth century , with growing Western, primarily British, commercial an d then military activit y i n East Asia, constructions o f China became increasingl y negative. As with the South Pacific, the process of imagining Chin a a s dystopia paradoxicall y mad e use of tropes that had previously ha d Utopia n connotations. China's allochrony, lon g considered favourabl y i n that i t placed th e country within biblical time , was viewed les s positively i n progessivist nineteenth centur y philosophy. Hegel's denia l of China's coevalness als o denied i t the possibility o f modernisation:

China an d Indi a lie, as it were, still outside

the World's History, as the mere presuppositio n 124 of elements whose combination must be waited for to constitute thei r vital progress. (116) A similar construction of China inform s Marx's writings: China may only be brought fort h from it s "barbarous and hermetic isolatio n fro m the civilized world " ("Revolutio n . . . " 94) by Western agenc y through which the "advance d races" will bring abou t "th e annihilation o f old Asiatic society" ("Th e Futur e Results ..." 217) . Marx maintained this view of China while at the same time sharpl y criticising the treaty of Nanjing an d the other unegua l treaties between China and the Western power s i n the nineteenth century , an example of the power of forgetting present i n every discourse , the power t o naturalize and harmonize conceptions that, retrospectively, seem sharpl y contradictory. In the early twentieth centur y ambivalen t construction s of China were agai n current. China might be viewed throug h lenses simila r to Marx's as backward, recalcitrant, and in want o f tutelage; it was often thus presented i n missionary literature. Yet China's premodernity might also be idealised by those writing i n opposition t o Fordism, Taylorism, and the perceived impersonalit y o f industrialised Europea n society. The rhythm of nature and closeness to the land are the thematic cor e o f Pearl Buck's The Good Eart h (1931) , the biblical quality of Buck's prose removing Chin a fro m any possibility o f coevalness with the West. The later volumes of Buck's House of Earth trilog y do describe contemporar y 125 Chinese urban lif e an d the experience o f students abroad , but they emphasize circularity, and a return t o the earth. The only Western author to portray China's modernity positively was perhaps Andre Malraux, writing fro m an explicitly revolutionar y perspective . A more detailed exemplificatio n o f the protean nature of Western constructions o f China can be found i n Western theories regarding Chines e characters. For William Warburton, in the middle of the eighteenth century, they formed par t o f "th e general history o f Writing, by a gradual and eas y descent, from a PICTURE to a LETTER:" [F]or Chinese marks which participate o f Egyptian hieroglyphics o n the one hand, and of alphabetic letter s o n the other . . . are on the very borde r of letters; an ALPHABET invented t o express sound s instea d o f things being onl y a compendium o f that larg e volume of arbitrary marks. (131 ) Warburton does place Chinese characters i n a different category to the Western alphabet , but his metaphor i s territorial; there i s no evaluation here of the relativ e merits o f different methods o f writing. Hegel, at the beginning o f the nineteeth century, was more judgemental: The Chinese ... d o not mature the modification of sounds i n their languag e t o distinct articulations capable of being represented b y letters an d syllables. (135 ) 126 The rhetoric here i s much more clearly progressivist : China's system o f writing show s that the nation still remains i n the infanc y o f humankind. With the advent o f Modernism, Chinese character s received a further elaboration throug h Ezr a Pound' s publication o f Ernest Fenollosa's "Th e Chinese Written Character a s a Medium fo r Poetry" (1920) . Fenollos a stil l stresses th e allochrony o f China, its civilization "paralle l to that of the ancient Mediterranean peoples " (137) . Yet he deploys thi s construction o f China to suggest tha t the Chinese writing syste m i s purer, more essential, than the corrupt alphabe t o f the industrialized West: One of the most interestin g fact s about the Chinese languag e i s that i n i t we can see, not only th e forms of sentences, but literally th e parts of speech growing up, budding fort h fro m one another. Like nature, the Chinese words are alive an d plastic, because thing an d actio n are not formall y separated . The Chinese languag e knows n o grammar. I t is only latel y tha t foreigners, European an d Japanese, have begun to torture this vital speec h by forcing i t to fit the bed of their definitions. (145 ) Chinese characters ar e here agai n presented positively , yet Fenollosa's approva l i s contingent upo n China's antiquity . Pound woul d mak e Confucius' Analects th e moral centr e o f the Cantos, using th e premodern t o critique the modern; one of 127 the most prominent modernist poets o f the century was thus blind t o China's ow n modernity. All three examples above, although produced i n very different situation s o f writing, and although arrivin g a t very differen t conclusion s regardin g th e merits of Chinese written characters, nonetheless shar e the same discursiv e assumption: China occupies a temporal spac e antecedent t o that of the West- I n all three works, a lengthy discussio n of China's characteristics serve s to amplify o r illustrate a thesis which i s ultimately concerne d with the nature of the West: Warburton's Mosaic Law, Hegel's triumph o f the Spirit in History, Pound's (sinc e the poet was responsible fo r the editing, annotation, and publication o f Fenollosa' s manuscript) reformation o f Western poetical practice. China's significanc e i n these texts, ultimately, seems t o lie i n the manner i n which i t reflects the West.

2. O n a Chinese Screen a s Photograph Album

On a Chinese Screen is, paradoxically, a travel book without a journey. Contemporary Europea n travel writing abou t China, as the titles of E.J. Dingle's Across China o n Foot (1911) , or Langdon Warner's The Long Ol d Road I n China (1927 ) might suggest, freguently stresse d linea r journeys int o the hinterland, followe d b y a return t o the metropolis. A similar structur e underpins tw o later, more widely rea d accounts: Edgar Snow's Red Sta r Ove r China (1937) , an d W.H. 128 Auden an d Christopher Isherwood' s Journe y t o a War (1938) . Maugham's othe r Asian travel narrative, The Gentleman i n the Parlour (1930) , als o follow s this format, recounting a journey fro m Rangoon t o Hong Kon g by way of Bangkok an d Hanoi, urban oases intersperse d wit h much toiling away in the jungles o f the Shan States. The Gentleman i n the Parlou r is, i n fact, a testimony t o the power o f travel a s narrative; i t is a literary compos t heap, containing much discarded o r previously publishe d materia l written lon g before Maugham embarke d upo n his Indochinese travels, yet i t still maintains narrative coherence. On a Chinese Scree n i s different. I t i s a series of fifty-eight vignettes of China that Maugham claim s he managed t o arrange "int o some sor t of order" (xii) , but which he did not "elaborate " int o a narrative. Manuscript evidenc e bears this out: sections have been rearranged, an d placed i n a different order, but there is little substantia l rewritin g (Win g 126). Rather tha n representing itsel f a s a diary, or a chronological recor d o f a journey, On a Chinese Scree n i s constituted throug h visual metaphors. The text's title i s a visual metaphor, and the preface introduce s the work a s making " a lively picture," giving a n "impression " (xii ) of the East. Maugham's text thus seem s less a guide, but closer to other forms of tourist memorabilia, such as the photograph albu m o r sketc h book. Like a photograph album , i t cuts China up int o a series of representative metonyms; the narrator's actua l geographical locatio n does not matter. 129 Section LVII, " A City Buil t o n a Rock," describes Chongqin g in Sichuan, but the city i s not mentioned b y name. Rather, it represents the whole o f China, each street demonstratin g "what a street looke d lik e i n medieval England " (223) , filled with "seethin g throngs" (226 ) of humanity. Eve n a specified location , such as the Great Wall o r the Temple of Heaven, seems chosen as a metonym fo r China a s a whole, standing fo r the country's unchanging nature (Sectio n VII, "The Altar o f Heaven"), o r impenetrable mysteries (Sectio n XXIX, "Arabesque") , rather than constituting a description of a particular locale . Tourist photographs of landscapes, however, are not very interestin g t o look at. On a Chinese Screen also contains close-ups, individual portraits, such as the old woman i n " A Libation t o the Gods," o r a young Chines e man i n "The Stripling." The title of Maugham's text, On a Chinese Screen, should aler t us to another process: something i s being projected upon , superimposed upon , the surface of China. Jus t as our own holiday photograph s o f Hongkong, London o r New York never see m complete unless we ourselves are there, sitting o n a park bench beneath Bi g Ben, or on a rickshaw outside the Star Ferry, so Maugham's narrato r insistently pushe s Europeans an d Americans int o the picture. There ar e individual portrait s o f representative type s again: the British consul (47-49) , the expatriate woman o n a last "fishin g trip " (52-53) , various missionaries, all of whom ar e held up against the background o f China. Yet there 130 are also Westerners who sneak int o the foreground o f a portrait, such as "Willar d B . Untermeyer, [who ] wrote his name i n a fine bold hand an d th e town an d state he came from, Hastings, Nebraska" (24 ) on the steps of the Altar of Heaven. Finally, more insidiously, but also far more frequently, the narrator calls upon the narratee t o enter the picture through his use of the secon d person . "Yo u pass through the city gates," he writes i n Section IX , "The Inn," and then "yo u pass through a double hedge o f serried curiou s people" (30). Such juxtaposition o f tourist an d toured i n the same representational fram e highlights a contrast between th e modern West an d pre-modern China . Indeed, according t o Dean MacCannell, the underlying rhetori c of tourism i s to contrast modern an d pre-modern i n such a manner a s to confirm modernity: [T]he best indicatio n o f the final victory o f modernity ove r other sociocultura l arrangement s is not the disappearance o f the nonmodern world , but it s artificial preservatio n an d reconstructio n in modern society . The separation o f nonmodern culture trait s from their origina l contexts an d their distribution a s modern playthings ar e evident i n the various socia l movements towar d naturalism, s o much a feature o f modern societies: . . . efforts, in short, to museumize th e premodern. . . . These displaced forms , embedded

in modern society , ar e the spoils o f the victory 131 of the modern over the nonmodern world. They establish i n consciousness th e definition an d boundary o f modernity by rendering concret e and immediate that which modernity i s not. (9 ) We shoul d b e skeptical here of MacCannell's seemingl y determinist rhetoric o f modernization, and his positing o f a global, undifferentiated experienc e of modernity. At the time when On a Chinese Screen was written, both Britain and China, i n very differen t ways, were spaces undergoing th e process o f modernization. Yet MacCannell's fundamenta l poin t here does clarify Maugham's text: China i s made pre-modern in On a Chinese Screen i n order to establish Britain's own modernity. Modern China i s disavowed. The "Professo r o f Comparative Modern Literature" i n Section XLVIII, " A Student of the Drama," i s subject to the narrator's ridicule because of his enthusiasm fo r Ibse n and lac k of appreciation o f Zhuang Zi. A s Steven Soon g has pointed out, his father, T. V. Soong, Maugham's "studen t of the drama" was, in fact, an intellectual participating i n May Fourth Movement modernization. I n contrast, In an earlier section , th e narrator i s favourably dispose d toward s the "philosopher " (137) Ku Hung-ming. Ku Hung-ming was " a reactionary i n the process o f China's modernization" (Soon g 90), and would no t have been considered a philosopher by many Chinese. The narrator's valorization o f China's premodern aspects , and his disavowal o f China's modernity seem s guite clearly here related t o MacCannell's concept o f establishing th e boundary of modernity. 132 Unlike MacCannell's example s of tourist guides, and unlike most othe r texts i n the Western traditio n o f denying China's coevalness describe d i n the first section o f this chapter, On a Chinese Scree n i s not held togethe r b y a rhetorical o r a narrative structure. It s conclusions regarding China' s allochron y ar e made i n a slightly different way. Again, the analogy of the photograph albu m or postcard collectio n i s useful here. I n a recent article, Naomi Scho r analyzes the representation o f Paris i n her collection o f belle epoqu e postcards. Postcards, for Schor, are part o f a system o f "lighte r form s of social contro l than the tentacular an d invasiv e disciplines" (193 ) of the Foucaultian prison , school an d asylum. Parisia n postcards o f the late nineteenth an d early twentieth centuries "produce d an iconograph y tha t was abundant, systematic, and cheap," a mode o f representation tha t "offere d it s citizens (an d proffered t o the world) a representation o f itself tha t served t o legitimate i n a euphoric mode it s nationalistic and imperialisti c ambitions " (195) . Yet this iconograph y i s markedly different, Schor notes, from that of the Paris-Guide o r of the Baedeker. The representation o f Paris, like the representation o f China i n Maugham's text, does not rely upo n narrative bu t i s structured o n differen t principles:

[W]hat matters i n the case of my postcard collection i s not the contiguity betwee n a n individual car d an d th e environment fro m which

it was detached; rather, it i s the contiguit y 133 I restore betwee n a single card an d it s immediat e predecessor an d followe r i n a series I am attempting t o reconstitute, or the contiguity I create between card s linke d b y some common theme. The metonymy o f origin i s displaced her e by a secondary metonymy, the artificial metonymy o f the collection. (199-200 ) The cards i n Schor's collection thu s require rearrangemen t on the part o f the collector/reader, jus t as Maugham's scenes o f China requir e the reader to "mak e some use of his imagination" (xii ) to restore a contiguity o f representation.

2. Mediation an d Narrational Authorit y

Superficially, then, Maugham's text seem s to allow it s readers more flexibility tha n Schor's collection allow s the collector. China is , we have seen, not differentiate d spatially: i t i s not cut up into arrondissements, as Schor's Paris is. Nor i s there a temporal progressio n i n the narrative, only the repetition o f day upon undifferentiate d day o f travel. The sequence o f sections describing th e narrator's process o f travel— "Th e Inn," "Th e Picture" (which describes a painting foun d o n the walls o f an inn room), "Dawn, " "Rain, " "Th e Sights o f the Town," and "Nightfall"— reflect s th e cyclical time of China, the actions o f the same day repeated i n the next. Yet the 134 sequence could plausibl y b e rearranged withou t majo r disruption o f it s signifying function . No Girardian triangles exis t i n the text; indeed, only tw o of the sections, "Th e Taipan" an d "Th e Consul," could plausibl y be called shor t stories. Nor do we fin d an y intimac y betwee n the narrator an d his characters which, as i n The Moon and Sixpence, might authorise his narration. Yet Maugham's work clearly doe s channel th e reader's gaze; though partaking o f Schor•s "lighte r form s of social control" it i s no les s successful i n reproducing a n ideological construction tha n Maugham's novels an d shor t stories. How, we might ask , is the reader's gaz e channelled i n a text tha t initiall y seem s so loosely constructed? An d how does the narrator, in the absence of a triangular narrative , authorize his narration? The answers to these question s make themselves apparent, I think, through a close examination o f the process o f narration within th e individual section s that make u p On a Chinese Screen. The contrast between pre-moder n China an d th e modern West which results, we have seen, in a disavowal o f China's modernity, i s not unmediated. Almos t every contact between Chin a an d the West is, on the contrary, mediated b y the narrator's interlocution . I n On a Chinese Screen, the Chines e an d Europeans who are the subjects o f Maugham's portraits never meet upon equal terms. Locales i n which this might happen—commercial an d industrial enterprises , the higher echelons o f local government, or the putatively nationa l governmen t i n 135 Beijing--are scrupuousl y avoided . The narrator himsel f controls intercours e between th e two worlds. He interview s representative type s on both side s of his modern/premoder n binarism, critiquing European s fo r their lac k of understanding o f China, and then applying th e same causti c irony to the Chinese. "M y Lady's Parlour" describes th e redecoration o f an old temple by an English expatriate, until i t "'doesn't loo k lik e a room i n London, . . . but i t might quite well be a room i n some nice place i n England, Cheltenham, say , or Tunbridge Wells" (6) . "Henderson" i s a character portrai t o f a man who has arrived i n China with socialist convictions, refusing initiall y t o take a rickshaw since "[i] t revolted hi s sense of personal dignit y tha t a man, a human being no different fro m himself, should dra g him hither an d thither" (57) . At the time of the narrator' s visit, however, Henderson has absorbed th e values of his local community t o such a degree that he gives his ricksha w boy " a smart kick o n the bottom" when he misses a turning (59). A central premise o f the narrator's iron y i n "Henderson" and "M y Lady's Parlour" i s that he, through his power o f observation, portrays Chin a with a veracity inaccessible t o China's expatriate inhabitants . Even the eponymous "Sinologue, " who, the narrator inform s the reader, "knows more Chines e than any man i n China" (214 ) has touche d reality "onl y through th e printed page " (215) . I t is only the narrator himself who can deliver a "truthful" picture 136 (xii) of the lived realit y o f China. Chinese sources, in turn, may provide the material t o be represented, but canno t represent themselve s without th e narrator's intervention . China moves, we have seen, i n cyclical, mythological time. The young man i n "Th e Stripling" walks out from his village like "Dic k Whittington, setting ou t to win fame an d fortune" (113), while the old man pulling his pig i n "Metempsychosis" is bound u p within a n endless series of births and deaths. The significance o f Chin a i s only revealed b y the narrator's use of comparisons o r annotations. "Th e Cabinet Minister" shows exquisit e taste i n Chinese paintings an d calligraphy , but the narrator find s his comments "charmin g . . . [because] I knew all the time that he was a rascal. Corrupt, inefficient, and unscrupulous, he le t nothing stan d i n his way" (16) . Even the narrator's enthusiastic endorsemen t o f Ku Hung-ming i n "Th e Philosopher," i s predicated upo n a display o f his own skills i n mediation. The narrator alon e succeeds i n gaining a n interview with Ku through an observance o f etiquette, after his expatriate host, sending out "' a chit,'" fails. The narrator o f O n a Chinese Screen, then, exerts control ove r the discourse throug h a fantasy o f managed marginalization. He exists upon the border between tw o clearly demarcate d area s of signification; lik e Larry Darrell o r Kipling's Kim , he controls intercours e betwee n them, gaining authorit y bot h fro m his "orientalised " qualities, which ar e acquired throug h his intimate knowledg e 137 of the East, and fro m his lifeline back to the master plo t of Western history. He can implicitl y criticis e th e "studen t of the drama" for not being Chines e enough, and has sufficient discursiv e freedo m t o engage i n some deft reversal o f orientalist stereotype s (th e opium den i s homely, and ther e i s "i n the despotic Eas t ... a n equality so much greater than i n the free and democrati c West" [132]). He can apply withering iron y to colonialists who remain unchanged b y China--the skipper of a Yangtze boat who persists i n telling th e narrator "'I' m no t a working man. Hang i t all, I was a t Harrow1" (155) . Ye t suc h iron y leave s the fundamental divisio n between premodern Chin a an d modern England firml y i n place. The narrator's mediation i s made visible by one marked feature: its nostalgia. Chin a remind s him o f a rural Europe, a Europ e persistently associate d wit h his youth. The plain of Sichuan i s transformed, through nostalgic narration, into the Rhine valley: I cam e upon it . But i t was no Chinese landscap e that I saw, with it s padi fields , its memorial arches an d it s fantastic temples , with it s farmhouses se t i n a bamboo grove, and it s wayside inns where unde r th e banyan tree s coolies may res t them of their weary loads; it was the valley o f the Rhine, the broad plai n al l golden i n the sunset, the valley of the Rhine with it s river . . . ; it was the great plain upon which my young

eyes rested, when, a student i n Heidelberg, afte r 138 walking lon g among th e fir-clad hill s above the old city, I came out upon a clearing. (174 ) The Chinese landscap e here becomes suffuse d with nostalgia; although the narrator claims that he does not se e Sichuan he then proceeds t o describe i t i n as much detail a s he devotes to the Rhine valley, thus firmly establishing th e comparison. Like the narrator o f Tintern Abbey, Maugham's narrator look s nostalgically bac k t o a childhood h e cannot reach. "[T]h e roa d turn s an d my God, the bamboos, the Chinese bamboos, transformed b y some magic of the mist, look just lik e the hops o f a Kentish field " (62) . In "th e squalid discomfort o f a Chinese inn " (93 ) a "dis h of burning charcoal" reminds th e narrator o f the fire i n his "pleasan t room i n London," and bring s to mind memories of his skimmin g the pages of the Times fo r "advertisement s o f country house s you will never be able to afford" (93) . From the vantage point o f the modern, the narrator look s longingl y back a t what he constructs a s pre-modern, and highlights th e contrast fo r his narratees. His insistent, performative marginality ha s remarkable affinitie s t o that of the personification o f nineteenth centur y urba n tourism, the flaneur.

3. The Return o f the Flaneur

The flaneur, Jonathan Rignall notes, is a "composit e and overdetermine d figure " (113) , representing differen t 139 things t o different critic s and , perhaps, in the case of Walter Benjamin, all things t o a single critic. For Griselda Pollock, he i s representative o f the power o f the male gaze, while fo r Elizabeth Wilson he i s a personification o f masculine anxiety . Ross Chambers identifie s him "wit h members o f the classes danqereuses . . . , prostitutes an d saltimbanks, . . . especially suspec t i n the eyes of authority" (142) , whereas Michael Hollington compares him t o the narrator o f realist fiction . Since th e flaneur' s position o f mediation i s often compared t o the process of writing, i t frequently become s difficult t o tell who, finally, is indulging i n the most successful performance of flanerie--the objec t o f critical inquir y o r the critic. Benjamin's philosophica l peregrination s an d slippages fro m political philosoph y t o literary analysi s mime the perambulations o f the object of his inquiry , whose "leisurely appearanc e a s a personality i s his protest against the division o f labour which makes people int o specialists" (54 ) A genealogy o f flanerie i s provided b y Elizabet h Wilson, who discovers the earliest citatio n o f the word i n a pamphlet publishe d i n 1806 describing a typical day i n the life o f a flaneur named , rather appropriately , M. Bonhomme. M. Bonhomme alread y possesse s man y o f the characteristic s noted b y Benjamin i n his reading o f Baudelaire. His time i s defined b y public clocks; he inhabit s cafes an d restaurant s frequented b y bohemian types, and he indulge s i n gossip. 140 Although he notes sexual activity , the flaneur himself i s without desire; he i s a solitary, curiously margina l figure, who resolves t o "kee p a little diary recordin g al l the most curious things he had see n or heard durin g th e course of his wanderings" (qtd . i n Wison 95). The flaneur i s differentiated b y class from the urban environment a t which he gazes: he i s independently wealthy, and so "wholl y outside production" (95). In Paris of the Second Empir e flaneri e became more widespread. Fo r Benjamin, and fo r critics followin g his analysis, the flaneur i s associated wit h urbanization an d the rise of commodity capitalism : The flaneur, strolling th e streets of nineteenth-century Pari s with a cool but curious eye, is ... a threatened species whom history i s about to overtake. Still standin g o n the margins both of the great cit y an d of the bourgeois class, he is yet to be overwhelmed b y either. Balanced as he i s on the brink of the alienating syste m of commodity exchang e int o which he will eventually be absorbed, he stands as a representative o f a phase of nineteenth-centur y culture. (Rignal l 112 ) Like Maugham's narrator i n On a Chinese Screen, then, the flaneur stand s i n a liminal zon e between th e modern an d the premodern, loitering i n the arcade in defiance o f the increasing management o f time i n industrialised society . 141 Two features o f the flaneur most useful i n their application t o Maugham's narrator ar e first, his sense of vision, and second , his function o f mediation. Benjamin explicitly link s th e flaneur's gaze to those of the producers o f Parisian physiologies, books o f "individua l sketches" which depicted "type s that might b e encountered b y a person taking a look at the marketplace:" From th e itinerant stree t vendor o f the boulevards to the dandy i n the foyer of the opera house, there was not a figure of Paris life that was not sketched b y a physiologue. (35 ) In this comparison, the flaneur's gaze i s much lik e that of the narrator i n The Moon an d Sixpence, emphasizing "visua l penetration" (Rignal l 114); the flaneur's detachment, Benjamin remarks, turns him int o "a n unwilling detective" (40), alway s reading, from a n impeccably objectiv e standpoint, the face s of members of the crowd fo r a significance tha t lies beneath. Yet, like Maugham's narrato r in The Moon an d Sixpence, the flaneur i s also capable of "empathy" (Benjami n 41) with the objects o f his vision, of showing "sympatheti c projection" (Hollingto n 85 ) and thu s merging int o the crowd which surround s him. He shares this split vision with many of Maugham's narrators. The flaneur's split vision i s a function of his position as a mediator placed o n the border of the various binary opposition s tha t structure nineteenth-centur y Paris . He inhabit s the arcade, a space which i s neither interio r 142 nor exterior, neither full y public nor full y private. He is alone an d yet gregarious, his physiognomic observation s separating him fro m the crowd jus t as surely a s his empath y submerges him i n a sea of fellow citizens. In Baudelaire's works, Ross Chambers notes i n a recent article , the flaneu r is simultaneously a societal outcas t an d "th e unseen agen t of princely power " (144) . I n Chambers' definition, the flaneur i s a parasite (carryin g i n French th e meaning o f "not only the social an d biological parasit e but the 'noise ' or 'static ' i n a system o f information" [143]) . The presence of the flaneur thu s makes the process o f mediation tha t occurs i n any signifyin g syste m visible (or , to extend Chambers' metaphor, audible), clarifying th e workings o f a discourse that might otherwise appea r natural: [T]here i s a form o f power tha t controls thos e mediations i n the interest s of what ar e called stability an d order (i.e . the interests o f the dominant groups); an d this, i n essence, is the power t o erase fro m consciousness th e mediations that constitute cultura l realit y an d indee d th e very fac t of mediation itself—th e power , that is, to "forget " them an d t o cause others to forget them , so that mediated realit y comes to seem natural an d normal. This, then, is a power that induce s amnesia. But there i s also a power that consists of remembering mediation, so as to be able to make use of i t for the purpose of resignifying, that is , of changing establishe d 143 meanings, and, with them, the real. . . . The parasite i s in effect positione d s o as to be unable t o forget th e function o f mediation. (143). Chambers read s the flaneur's persistent nostalgia a s a result of the anamnesia o f the parasite; "a s a kind o f nostalgic historical loitere r unwilling o r unable t o 'kee p up with the times'" (151) , th e flaneur "obstruct s th e . . . need o f controlling powe r fo r historical amnesia " (151) . Despite initia l caution, Chambers i s ultimately epiphani c regarding th e flaneur's mediation, his role as an "agen t of otherness i n a world tha t seek s ... t o deny the very possibility o f change" (152) .

4. Flaneri e i n On a Chinese Scree n

Maugham's narrator i n On a Chinese Screen shows obvious similarities to the flaneur. The text's cutting up of China into representative metonym s seem s parallel t o the physiognomies tha t Benjamin describes. The narrator's fantasy o f marginality i s similar to that o f the flaneur, his promenades i n the treaty port, concession, or mission analogous t o the flaneur's strollin g throug h th e arcades. A space suc h as "Th e Glory Hole" is liminal, halfway betwee n Britain an d China, and i t is its very liminalit y tha t allow s the narrator t o exercise his ful l powers o f observation: It i s a sort o f little cubicle i n a corner o f

the chandler's stor e jus t under the ceiling an d 144 you reach i t by a stair which i s like a ship's companion. . . . There i s everything tha t a foreign shi p can want i n an Eastern port. You can watch the Chinese, salesmen an d customers, and they have a pleasantly mysterious ai r as though they were concerne d i n nefarious business. (34 ) The fina l sentence here hints at another resemblanc e betwee n Maugham's narrator an d the flaneur, their participation, albeit reluctantly, i n detective work. Like the flaneur, Maugham's narrator loiters , his wanderings neither absolutely purposefu l no r purposeless, but conforming t o no routine, and tending toward s no established goal . Like Chambers' flaneur, Maugham's narrator i s a parasite, independently wealth y an d outside the systems of productio n which he assiduously describes . On a Chinese Screen i s full of people working--coolies, doctors, missionaries, merchants and ship' s captains--yet th e narrator himself doe s none, only consume s food , hospitality, an d finall y the whole of the world se t before him a s material fo r his writing. The mediation o f the narrator, which we have alread y noted, makes him a parasite i n Chambers' second sense , a mark of noise i n the system. Yet i t seems difficult t o valorize his narration. Like Chambers' flaneur, the narrato r of On a Chinese Screen makes great use of nostalgia, yet the nostalgia o f Maugham's tex t seem s to have more to do with amnesia than with anamnesia, with forgettin g rathe r tha n with remembering. The flaneur describe d b y Chambers stands, 145 as i t were, at the moment o f modernity, his persisten t preservation o f pre-modern, pre-industrial memories thu s putting a small, but effective, spanner i n the works of industrial capitalism . Maugham's narrator look s back fro m a much more secure vantage point, from a modernization alread y achieved. His nostalgia i s not so much a remembering o f the difference of the past i n opposition to the tyranny of the same, as a rephrasing o f the past s o as to confirm th e integrity o f the present. The nostalgic re-presentatio n o f pre-modern China , we have seen, thus confirms Britain's modernity. Other revivals of flanerie i n the 'twentie s and 'thirties seem similarly compromised . Joaguin Edward s Bello's Crillos en Paris (1933 ) makes use of the figure of the flaneu r t o contemplate question s o f national authenticity an d exile , yet finall y escape s "int o the idealized pas t o f the old order " (Jone s 146), nostalgia again synonymous with forgetting. Schor's postcards of Paris in the 1930 s includ e one entitled "Pari s en flanant," and the significance o f the flaneur here seem s again to be wholly nostalgic. Chambers' vision o f the flaneu r i s as a poststructuralist hero, engaging i n a semiotic jouissance , celebrating th e "genera l and pervasive indeterminac y of . . . discourse, its loiterly availabilit y t o interpretation bespeakin g a n absence o f controlling subject " (150). Suc h a vision i s a persuasive strategi c re-reading , yet also ahistorical. Neither poet of Baudelaire's Paris, 146 nor expatriate writer o f Maugham's Chin a revel i n their lack o f control ove r their discourse. Features of narration such as nostalgia may , I have argued, be not s o much an effort t o make "noise " i n a signifying syste m a s an attempt to rein i n semiotic waywardness. I t i s significant tha t the flaneur i s very much a male role; a flaneuse, Elizabeth Wilson discovers fro m her perusal o f Larousse, is " a kind o f reclining chair, [which ] . . . welcomes it s occupant with womanly passivity " (94) . The position o f the flaneur thu s rehearses som e of the conflicting construction s o f male subjectivity outline d earlie r i n this thesis.2 i t is Maugham's narrator's work t o apportion meaning, to divide China an d Britain, modern an d premodern; from this mediating work upo n the margins he gains an authority t o narrate. Yet that authority i s undercut b y the plasticity o f discourse. No sooner has the narrator draw n a line between Sel f and Other than he feels compelled t o redraw it . There i s a suspicion that the work of writing i s non-productive, merely decorative, that i t is not work a t all. Work i n the nineteenth centur y an d int o the twentieth define d manlines s (McClelland 82) ; to become a parasite is, for Maugham's narrator, not s o much a n act of heroism a s an act which threatens th e integrit y o f masculine subjectivity . The narrator o f On a Chinese Screen is , in the fina l analysis, unable t o successfully perfor m his act of mediation. China canno t be read: [T]hese are as strange t o you as you are

to them. You have no clue to their mystery. Fo r 147 their likenes s to yourself i n so much does not help you; i t serves rather t o emphasize thei r difference. . . . [Y]ou might a s well look a t a brick wall. You have nothing to go upon, you do not know the first thin g abou t them, and you r imagination i s baffled. (225 ) Nor, finally, can expatriates be made to signify thei r difference fro m China. Playing a game of billiards with a stranger i n a Hong Kon g hotel, the narrator confesse s he cannot "place " his partner. During the game, the stranger asks " a very od d question" (153) , inquirin g whether th e narrator believe s i n fate. Surprised, the narrator mutter s noncommittal reply : He took his shot. He made a little break. At the end o f it, chalking his cue, he said: "I do. I believe i f things ar e coming t o you, you can't escape them." That was all. He sai d nothing more. When we had finishe d th e game he went u p to bed, and I never sa w him again. I shall never know what strange emotio n impelle d hi m t o put that sudde n question to a stranger. (153 ) Like China, Maugham's expatriate s ofte n resist being made into physiognomies, being read fo r meaning; the narrator loiters, but uneasily, always aware that the purpose o f hi mediation i s to manufacture meaning, yet alway s conscious how suc h meaning escape s him. He cannot, he confesses, 148 resolve the "coolies " he sees into a "pattern" as "the y wend their way" away fro m his gaze. "Thei r effort oppresses you," he writes. "Yo u are fille d with a useless compassion" (69). For Elizabeth Wilson, the flaneur i s not so much a hero as a sorry figure: [A] figure of solitude, he i s never alone; and, when single d out, he vanishes. He i s a figure to be deconstructed, a shifting projection of angst rather than a solid embodimen t o f male bourgeois power. ... H e floats with no material base, living on his wits, and, lacking th e patriarcha l discourse tha t assured him o f meaning, is compelled t o invent a new one. (109 ) The flaneur' s angs t seems not merely t o be connected wit h economic power, but with the great nineteenth-century trut h of selfhood, sexuality. Flanerie, indeed, show s remarkabl e developmental similaritie s t o the rise of male homosexual subcultures an d homosexual identity . Both were primarliy urban phenomena, and both were associated wit h vagrancy an d prostitution (se e Weeks' "Inverts, Perverts an d Mary-Annes . . .") . Jus t as for the flaneur, life for the independentl y wealthy homosexual i n the late nineteenth an d earl y twentieth centuries was ful l of the "ambivalenc e an d ambiguity" o f a life "withi n the interstices o f the wider society" (Week s Sex Politics an d Society 114) . The positio n of the flaneur may thu s be precarious because o f it s closeness t o that o f the homosexual. Both flaneur an d 149 homosexual ar e noise i n a system o f signification, an d both hint a t the arbitrariness o f the system. The flaneur' s inability t o read th e scene around hi m hints at the arbitrariness o f all reading processes, hints that the realist narrator's readin g o f surfaces fo r depth i s nothing more tha n a discursive trope. The homosexual's presenc e disrupts a heterosexual masculinit y base d upo n Sedgwick' s male homosexual panic, and suggests homosexuality's plac e as an indispensable "interio r exclusion, " i n Diana Fuss' s words, within heterosexuality. The function of mediation performed b y the narrator o f On a Chinese Scree n is , then, not s o much a n act of mediation between premodern an d modern, between West an d East, than between tw o constructions o f Maugham himself. The public construction i s of the witty, urbane writer i n complete mastery ove r his material, who makes very publi c forays int o liminal spaces while, we have seen, maintaining a lifeline back to the master discourse. The private construction i s the W. Somerset Maugham wh o made the real journey t o China with his lover Geral d Haxton . For all the narrational prestidigitation i n front of the screen, there are also dimly visible shadows behind it s surface, gesturing, questioning th e parameters o f the performance. 150 4. The Empty Sig n o f The Painted Vei l

Maugham's nove l o f Hong Kong, The Painted Veil , was published i n 1925 . It was the writer's las t major publishe d work se t i n East Asia; i n the next te n years, he would tur n his attentio n t o Malaya, the Straits Settlements, British North Borneo, an d th e Dutch East Indies, a composite area which i s now fixe d i n the popular imaginatio n a s "Maugham Country." The Painted Vei l i s unusual amon g Maugham's published Asia n fictio n i n that i t has a woman a s both protagonist an d focalizer. * This feature of the narrative results i n a text i n which som e of the most insistent questions an d negotiations o f gender an d sexualit y in Maugham's writings ar e suspended. I t i s as i f the limina l zones o f Hong Kon g and, i n Maugham's construction, the white woman's body provid e a genuine, if temporary "third " place, between th e binarisms o f race an d gender which structur e Maugham's Orienta l fiction , a space which the position o f the flaneu r i n On a Chinese Screen fail s to provide. The difference o f The Painted Veil requires, like that of O n a Chinese Screen, a slightly differen t critica l approach fro m the earlier an d late r chapters, in order to fully clarif y th e filiations between masculinity, sexuality , and rac e i n the text. First, it necessitates a n extension of the discussion o f China an d Eas t Asia a s Other t o the West outlined i n the previous chapter. I am particularly concerned her e with the manner i n which poststructuralis t 151 criticism has valorized Eas t Asi a a s a space of semiotic dissidence, outside th e insisten t significatio n o f the West. Taking Roland Barthes ' poststructuralist travelogu e o f Japan, Empire of Signs, as a paradigmatic text , and employing th e theoretical perspectiv e o f Lee Edelman, who suggests tha t male homosexuality, an d i n particular th e spectacle o f sodomy, represents a n "assaul t upo n the logi c of social discourse " ("Seein g Things: Representation, th e Scene of Surveillance an d the Spectacle o f Gay Male Sex" 94) similar t o that posed b y East Asia, this chapter argue s that the space of Asia provides a gay writer suc h as Barthes with the possibility o f textual expressio n o f sexuality fre e fro m the paternal law . Applying th e above theoretical construc t t o the text of "The Painted Veil, " we may observe that Maugham's novel exhibits a dissolution o f significance, a detachment o f signifiers fro m their signifieds , which parallels that of Barthes' text. Maugham i s not a proto-poststructuralist, an d indeed much of the narrational energy o f "Th e Painted Veil " is spent attempting t o anchor meaning, to pin down subjectivity throug h religious an d sexua l confession. Suc h attempts, however, themselves become site s o f semiotic dissidence. Nevertheless, Barthes' and Maugham's texts only achieve socia l critique of their respective societie s by a process dependent upo n a production o f Japan an d Chin a a s Other t o the West. Thus, the more they attemp t " a revolution in the propriety o f symbolic systems " (Empir e o f Signs 3-4), 152 the more evidently the y ar e dependent upo n the weariest o f orientalist trope s t o do so.

1. East Asia an d Semioti c Dissidenc e

In the previous chapter, we noted th e curious malleability o f China a s a representation o f alterity i n Western Europea n an d North American discourse . Mandeville's naturally Christia n kingdo m becomes Voltaire's Empir e of Reason, an d then the site of Marx's Asiatic mode of production. The protean nature of Western constructions o f China continue s i n the twentieth century: image s of Chinese heroically resistin g Japanes e aggression i n the Second Worl d War rapidl y gav e way t o more negative, Cold War stereotype s in the 'fifties . Even at present, with China largel y portrayed negativel y afte r th e Tiananmen Sguar e inciden t o f 1989, i t i s perhaps germane t o remember tha t Deng Xiaopin g was twice named "Ma n of the Year" by Time magazine i n the 1980s. I n a more philosophical vein, poststructuralis t criticism has, following Hegel , frequently locate d Chin a a s exterior t o the progress of Western history. Yet, as Zhang Longxi ha s pointed ou t i n two excellent articles , China's "monstrous unreason an d it s alarming subversio n o f Western thinking" ("Th e Myt h of the Other" 110 ) has a certain cache t in poststructuralist discourse .

For Roland Barthes , China's blankness, its disruption of the modes o f signification b y which the West makes 153 meaning, i s an asset, a tool to be employed i n order to write oneself ou t of the purview of the paternal law : On part pour l a Chine, muni de mille question s pressantes et , semble-t-il, naturelles: qu'en est-il, la-bas, de l a sexualite, de la femme, de la famine, de la moralite? Qu'en est-il des sciences humaines, de la linguistique, d e la psychiatrie? Nous agitons l'arbr e du savoir pou r que l a reponse tombe et que nous puissons revenir pourvu s de ce qui est notre principal e nourriture intellectuelle : un secret dechiffre. Mais rien ne tombe. Et un sens, nous revenon s (hors l a reponse politique) avec: rien. (Mors l a Chine? 7 ) Zhang also notes the crucial functio n o f China as a space outside Western modes o f signification within th e works of Jacques Derrida an d Michel Foucault. Derrida, i n Of Grammatoloqy, valorizes Chinese characters a s remaining "structurally dominate d b y the ideogra m o r algebra" an d thu s as reflecting " a powerful movement o f civilization developing outsid e o f all logocentrism" (90) . Foucault open s The Order o f Things with the description o f the nonsensical system o f classification use d b y a Chinese encyclopedia, apparently unawar e o f the fact that this encyclopedia i s a fictional creatio n o f Jorge Luis Borges. To Zhang's example s we might add that of Julia Kristeva, who detects i n the tonal nature o f Chinese speec h traces of the imaginar y order: 154 Chinese children begin taking part i n the code o f social communicatio n tha t i s language at a much younger ag e . . . than children i n other culture s .... [l] t i s thus th e psycho- corporeal imprin t o f the mother tha t shape s tonal expression an d transmits i t without obliterating it , as the underlying bu t activ e stratum o f communication. . . . Does the Chinese language preserve, then, thanks to it s tones, a pre-Oedipal, pre-syntactic, pre-symbolic (symbo l and synta x being concomitant) register? (Of Chinese Women 55-56 ) All o f the above theorists, whether the y stress feminism , linguistics, psychoanalysis o r historiography, produce Chin a as external to the system of signification which defines the West. The paradigmatic tex t fo r an analysis o f The Painte d Veil is , paradoxically, one written of Japan, one which, like th e texts described above , valorises Eas t Asia a s a space of semiotic dissidence: Roland Barthes ' Empire of Signs. Barthes1 197 0 text is , typically, a series of short essays regarding th e author's observation s durin g his visit to Japan, a travel book tha t deconstructs travel. " I am not," Barthes writes, "lovingly gazing towar d a n Oriental essence" (3) ; rather, Barthes1 inventio n o f his own Japan affords a means of entertaining "th e ide a of an unheard-of symbolic system , one altogether detache d fro m ou r own" (3): What can be addressed i n the consideration o f 155 the Orient, are not other symbols, another metaphysics, another wisdom (thoug h th e latte r might appea r thoroughly desirable) ; i t i s the possibility o f a difference, of a mutation, of a revolution i n the propriety o f symboli c systems. (3-4 ) Like China's tree of knowledge, Barthes' Japan reveals nothing: i t is an empire o f empty signs, in which signifier s play detache d fro m thei r signifieds , i n which, i n contrast to Western metaphysics, "th e insid e no longe r commands the outside" (62) . Elaborate Japanese envelopes dismiss thei r contents int o insignificance , haiku represent a suspension of language which resist "interpretation , intende d i n the West t o pierce meaning, i.e., t o get int o i t by breaking an d entering" (72) , Tokyo itsel f i s centred aroun d th e void o f the imperia l palace. I n the "situatio n o f writing" (4 ) afforded hi m by Japan, Barthes searches out the "fissur e of the symbolic" (4) , a suspension o f the signifying functio n of language . The Empire of Signs found s suc h suspension upo n a remission o f paternal law , of readings o f meanings int o surfaces. Barthes' Japanese body becomes " a pure . . . erotic project" (10) , "which sustains with you a sort of babble tha t th e perfect dominatio n o f the codes strips of all regressive, infantile character" (10) . Essences of gender an d sexualit y dissolve--"Th e Orienta l transvestit e does not copy Woman bu t signifies her: not bogged dow n i n the model, but detached fro m it s signified" (53)--whil e th e 156 regressive analit y of the game pachinko destabilises th e signifying syste m o f capitalism: [F]or a few yen, the player i s symbolically spattered wit h money. Here we understand th e seriousness o f a game which counters the constipated parsimon y o f salaries, the constriction o f capitalist wealth, with th e voluptuous debacl e o f silver balls, which, all of a sudden, fill the player's hand. (29 ) Barthes1 tex t then, i s a Utopian project, a writerly tex t which produce s East Asi a a s a space of semiotic vagrancy, i n opposition t o the insisten t manufacture o f meaning which, in Barthes1 construction , characterizes th e West.

2. Male Homosexuality an d Semiotic Dissidenc e

While Barthes has been recognized a s an importan t structuralist, an d late r poststructuralist critic , his work might equall y plausibly be seen as a forerunner o f presen t lesbian an d gay studies. The insisten t couplin g o f sexualit y and signification i s a marked featur e of not only Empir e of Signs, but other well-known Barthe s text s suc h a s S/Z an d A Lover's Discourse. I n articles developin g a critical methodology fo r a lesbian an d ga y criticism tha t "nee d no t be restricted t o the examination o f texts that thematize gay sexuality o r dramatize homosocial desire " ("Homographesis " 202), Lee Edelman suggests that male homosexuality i s also a 157 space o f semiotic vagranc y i n Western culture. Edelman' s formulation share s th e Foucaultian basi s common t o much contemporary lesbia n an d gay theory. Sexuality, through th e rise o f the modern subject , has become th e truth o f self, and thus sexuality i s imbricated int o the space of knowledg e in which Western subject s apprehen d thei r world. I n his earlier article, "Homographesis, " Edelman examine s nineteenth-century medica l an d physiological writing s regarding homosexuality, i n which their authors would attempt t o read homosexual bodie s fo r signs of difference. The fac t that these signs are ubiguituous, Edelman argues, throws the instabilit y o f signification itsel f int o star k relief: [Homosexuality] comes to figure, and to be figured i n terms of, subversion o f the theologica l order throug h heresy, of the legitimate politica l order through treason , and o f the social orde r through disturbanc e o f codified gende r role s and stereotypes. As soon a s homosexuality i s localized and conseguentl y ca n be read within the social landscape i t becomes subjec t t o a metonymic dispersal tha t allows i t to be read int o almost anything .... [Hjomosexualit y come s t o signif y the potential permeabilit y o f every sexua l signifier--and finally , by extension, of every signifier a s such—by a n " " signification. Once sexuality ca n be read an d interprete d i n the

light o f homosexuality, al l sexuality i s subject 158 to a hermeneutics o f suspicion. (192 ) Edelman furthe r identifie s homosexuality wit h th e homograph, a word tha t has two separate pronounciations o r discret e meanings. Like th e homograph, the homosexual body ca n be read i n two ways, and it s inherent suspensio n o f fixed meaning hints agai n a t the arbitrary natur e of significatio n in general. In his more recent article, "Seein g Things: Representation, the Scene of Surveillance, and th e Spectacl e of Gay Male Sex" (1991) , Edelman reads a variety o f texts from Joh n Cleland's Memoirs o f a Woman o f Pleasure t o Jacques Derrida's The Post Card (1987 ) which represen t sodomy, and i n which "sodom y . . . gets figure d a s the literalization o f the 'preposterous ' precisely insofa r as it is interpreted a s the practice o f giving precedence t o the posterior an d thu s as confounding th e stability o r determinacy o f linguisti c o r erotic positioning" (104-105) . The sodomite , Edelman argues, is like a moebius loop, sexually activ e from both before an d behind, and enacting " a troubling resistanc e t o the binary logi c o f before an d behind, constituting himself a s a single-sided surfac e whose fron t an d back ar e never completely distinguishabl e " (105). Indeed , as Derrida's discover y o f a postcard o f Plato and Socrate s i n The Post Card suggests , the act of "penetration fro m behind" (110 ) is, in a sense, "behind" all of Western philosophy . Edelman's theorization s sho w the concomitant natur e o f 159 signification an d sexuality i n Western discourse, and dra w clear parallels between sexua l an d semioti c dissidence . They thus provide a ready contextualization o f both Barthes' and Maugham's representatio n o f East Asia a s a space of semioti c dissolution. Thus i n both Barthes' and Maugham's texts, we have perhaps a n updated version of Burton's Sotadi c Zone, a zone now not climatic bu t textual i n nature, a space i n which a dissident sexualit y ma y be expressed, bu t only i f the zone itself i s kept permanently externa l t o the West.

3. Reading Th e Painted Vei l

Two voices ar e speaking: "What's th e matter?" he asked. Notwithstanding th e darkness of the shuttered room, he saw her fac e on a sudden distraugh t with terror. "Some one just trie d th e door." "Well, perhaps i t was the amah, or one of the boys."

"They never com e a t this time. They know I always sleep after tiffin."

"Who else could i t be?" (11 ) The beginning o f Maugham's The Painted Vei l i s a threefold dramatization o f the process o f attaching signifie d t o signifier, the reading o f surfaces fo r depth. The two characters i n the opening dialogu e ar e engaged i n detective 160 work, trying t o read significanc e int o the turning o f the doorknob. Simultaneously, the y ar e the objects of surveillance o f a n external forc e which threatens t o break into the room, to expose the truth of their transgression. Finally, the reader i s made decoder, searching th e text fo r clues tha t might contextualize th e scene to which sh e has suddenly been made privy. The personal pronoun s indicat e a man an d a woman, the vocabulary a n area somewher e east of Suez. Ther e i s an atmosphere o f transgression; i t is midday, i n a shuttered room . As the narrative progresses, the reader learn s more about the protagonists, yet this decoding i s matched b y an encrypting o n another semioti c level: Kitty an d Charlie put on clothes an d shoes, order their hair, and erase traces of their liaison . On this leve l of the narrative, thing are being wrapped up, not opened u p to reveal thei r significance. Charlie enclose s Kitty's mouth in his fingers s o that sh e does not scream; Kitty's terro r is erased b y her being enclosed i n her lover' s arms, i n her "abandon[ing] herself with a sigh of ecstasy t o their shelter" (15) . And th e significance o f the doorknob's turning remains tantalisingly unresolved , nor i s it given meaning until afte r i t has set off an avalanche of frustrated reading s o f the faces of Walter, Kitty's husband, and th e servants. The first scen e of The Painted Veil , then, rehearses some of the conflicts regarding significatio n which ar e to be performed i n the body o f the novel. The novel's actio n 161 wanders fro m London t o Hong Kon g to a town i n China, and through severa l diegeti c levels , yet i t is centered upo n Hong Kong. Hong Kong i n The Painted Vei l i s a liminal spac e between Britain an d China, a "third " space , rather lik e the intersection o f sets i n Boolean algebra, part of both worlds but belonging exclusivel y t o neither. The novel i s also centred upo n a second limina l zone, the sexualized bod y of its protagonist an d focalizer , Kitty Fane, a self-confessed "worthless an d insignificant " woman (127 ) whose passionat e breaching o f colonial decoru m doe s indee d problematize th e signifying system s of colonial Hon g Kong. Within thes e liminal zones, Maugham's novel enacts a struggle between th e West's insisten t making o f meaning an d China' s refusal t o signify, a process which, despite th e text's insisten t attempts t o "encounte r th e social 'truth, ' to participate i n the proud plenitud e o f 'reality' " (Empir e o f Signs 30), seems to arrive only at a "central emptiness" (31) . The very title o f the novel hints a t both an attempt t o make signification, and an eventual inabilit y t o do so. Most critics an d early reviewers o f Maugham's novel relate th e veil of the title to the colonial world o f Hong Kong, the expatriate community's continua l rounds o f bridge, games of tennis, and dinner parties to which only those of a certain social standin g ar e invited . I n this reading o f the novel, the painted vei l o f Kitty's lif e i s rent asunder by her confrontation with the sordid realit y o f the cholera-infested Chines e city o f Mei-tan-fu, and there, in a 162 convent run by Catholic nuns, sh e finds a spiritual center, "an ardour o f belief," a "great white ligh t [to ] illuminate her soul " (176) . Yet the Shelley sonne t t o which th e title refers puts a very differen t constructio n upo n th e nature of "reality": Lift not the painted veil those who live Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there, And i t but mimic al l we would believ e With colours idl y spread,--behind, lur k Fea r And Hope, twin Destinies; who ever weave Their shadows o'er th e chasm, sightless an d drear. (569) Shelley's poem seem s t o suggest that, far from the veil concealing trut h or reality, i t in fact conceals onl y emptiness; "ther e i s nothing ther e t o read; here agai n we come to .. . exemptio n of meaning" (Empir e of Signs 62. The real exists i n the fabric of the veil, and i n the manner in which i t wraps. Images of penetration i n The Painted Veil, o f the opening u p of mysterious depth s to a specular gaze, are matched b y a preponderance o f image s of wrapping, of concealment an d a refusal t o signify. Hong Kong's liminality i n The Painted Vei l i s not merely dependen t upo n th e geographical positio n o f the colony, but i s also suggested b y the interna l geography o f Hong Kon g island . Charlie an d his wife liv e on the Peak, Kitty an d Walter i n the less exclusive are a o f Happy Valle y "for they could no t afford t o live on the more eligible but 163 expensive Peak " (16) . When the lovers meet, they descen d further t o "th e Chinese city • . . into the filthy littl e house off the Victoria Road " (16)) . Bot h Happy Valley an d the Pea k ar e sites fro m which Europea n observer s may watch the everyday lif e of China without personal involvement : from Happy Valley, Kitty can se e "th e blue se a an d th e crowded shipping i n the harbour" (16) , while the Townsends live on the Peak "i n a house with a wide view" (208 ) over the surrounding landscape . When the European character s descend t o the Victoria Road , however, they become th e objects, not subjects of, surveillance. I n the curio dealer's shop, where she and Charlie are accustomed t o meet, Kitty i s conscious tha t "th e Chinese who were sitting abou t stared a t her unpleasantly" (16) . Later, while she waits indecisively outsid e the shop, Kitty i s spotted b y a boy who is watching ou t fo r customers an d he, "recognizing her at once" gives her " a broad smil e of connivance" (54) . Hon g Kong i s a place where gazes ar e reversed, where the colonized look s back at the colonizer, and call s the assumptions upo n which th e text's racial an d spatia l oppositions ar e based int o question. The colony i s an ordered environment , built upon the firm application o f scientific principle s t o administration an d public health by men suc h a s Charles Townsend an d Walter Fane , yet i t also contains closete d area s of intense , anarchic emotiona l expression: Kitty an d Charlie's bedrooms, Charlie's office, and the house i n the Victoria Road . 164 Much of Hong Kong's liminality centres around th e figure of Kitty Fane. Married t o the Government bacteriologist, Kitty find s that her socia l position i s "determined b y her husband's occupation" (18) , and discover s herself outside of the inner circles of Hong Kong society, treated a s "o f no particular consequence " (18) . However, her liaison with Charles Townsend, Assistant Colonia l Secretary , places her very much o n the inside . Thus, lik e the mems of Maugham's Malayan stories, and lik e Sadie Thompson i n "Rain," Kitty occupie s a "third" position, neither wholly conforming t o nor completely ou t of the purview of the disciplinary system s o f colonial society . Walter an d Charli e both desire Kitty, but they know how to draw a limit to their desir e when duty calls. When Kitty ask s Charles t o divorce his wife an d marry her his reply emphasises th e "reasonable" course o f action: "We'd much better fac e the situation frankly . I don't want to hurt your feelings, but really I must tel l you the truth. I' m ver y keen on my career. There's no reason why I shouldn't b e a Governor on e of these days, and it' s a damned soft job to be a Colonial Governor. Unless we can hush this up I don't stan d a dog's chance." (77) Kitty's passions, in contrast, are ungoverned b y reason, and continually threate n t o upset the propriety o f colonial society. I n contrast t o those of Walter an d Charlie, who 165 make measured protestation s of love, Kitty's desires are metaphorically represente d b y madness, illness, torture an d captivity: She leaned toward s him. Her body became lim p and yielding agains t his arm. The love she felt for him was almost torture . His last words had struc k her: perhaps Walter love d her s o passionately tha t he was prepared t o accept an y humiliation i f sometimes sh e would le t him love her. She could understand that ; for that was how sh e felt toward s Charlie. A thrill o f pride passed through her, and at the same time a faint sensatio n o f contempt fo r a man who could lov e so slavishly. (57 ) The hyperbolic languag e o f the above passage associate s Kitty with a loss of personal integrit y an d emotiona l continence. She herself i s limp and passive i n Charlie's arms; she is prepared t o accept "humiliation " and "torture" : at the same time sh e i s aware tha t she enslaves Walter. Like Edelman's homograph, then, Kitty can be read i n two ways; as a slav e of desire, as an enslaver, as a private transgresso r and public enforcer of morality. Kitty's an d Hong Kong's liminality provid e a space i n which China' s perceived lac k of significance ma y be interrogated. I n representing China , the text seem s initially t o focus not upon the truth behind th e veil but the veiling itself ; like Barthes' Japanese boxes, it is necessary tha t "th e triviality o f the thing be 166 disproportionate t o the luxury of the envelope" (46) . In the text's China, for example, whiteness seem s t o signify no t so much a concealing o f meaning a s an absence: They sa w the white chin a knob o f the handle slowly turn. They had heard no one walk alon g the verandah. I t was terrifying t o see that silen t motion. A minute passe d an d ther e was no sound. Then, with th e ghastliness o f the supernatural, in the same stealthy, noiseless an d horrifying manner, they sa w the white china knob of the handle at the other window turn also. (11-12 ) The doorknob i s both o f china an d metonymically Chinese ; "'[o]nly a Chinese,'" Charlie laughs, "'would tur n a handle in that way'" (13) . Thinking o f the inciden t later , Kitty elides the whiteness o f the doorknob with orienta l inscrutability: It couldn't have been Walter that afternoon. It must have been one of the servants an d after all they didn' t matter. Chinese servant s knew everything anyway . But they held thei r tongues. Her heart beat a little faster a s she remembered th e way i n which tha t white china doorknob slowl y turned. (19 ) China, as whiteness, resists efforts to make i t signify. Such whiteness remain s a major trope fo r the representation o f China i n Maugham's novel. Waddington's Manchu wife has a face "coate d with powder"; her hands ar e 167 "the colour o f ivory " (165)-- a comparison which preserve s the symbolic repertoir e o f "white " while at the same time describing th e exact colour. O n Kitty's entrance int o Mei-tan-fu, sh e sees " a new coffin, unpainted, . . . its fresh wood . . . white i n the approaching darkness " (90). China here upsets significances; white here i s the colour of death, i n contrast t o European tradition. The next morning, Kitty awake s t o watch th e sun rise over a cloud o f "whit e mist": The morning dre w on and th e sun touched th e mist s o that i t shone whitely lik e the ghost o f snow on a dying star. Though on the river i t was ligh t s o you could discer n the lines of the crowded junk s an d the thick forest s of their masts, in front it was a shining wall the eye could not pierce. (95 ) China's whiteness resists Kitty's detectiv e work, her inscription o f English order; she sees a splendid fortres s arise fro m th e mist, only t o reveal itself , i n the garish light o f day, as a broken section of the city wall. Chin a remains, i n its whiteness, a non-signifying chaos , without a space fo r the narrating I to "constitut e itsel f a s the subject (o r master) of space; the center i s rejected" (Empire of Signs 110). The attachment o f white t o China disrupts a symbolic economy o f racial difference which underlies much of 168 Maugham's oriental fiction . Unlike British colonial text s set i n Africa, for instance, Maugham's texts ar e not so much concerned with the question o f absolute racia l differenc e as with the fear of interracial se x and miscegenation. Shor t stories suc h as "Red " do not produce a contrast betwee n white an d black bodies but rather endeavour t o draw distinctions between pure white and various shade s of cream and brown; a similar rhetori c underlies "Th e Yellow Streak" (15). Th e capacity o f homosexuals an d white women t o be orientalized i s thus often represented b y the threat o f encroaching darkness . Th e colour white i n The Painted Vei l having becom e symbolicall y indeterminate , at least part o f the text's racial economy i s disrupted. A few sparse efforts to re-establish i t are overwhelmed b y symbolic impropriety . Walter stands , looking out over the Chinese city one night, "white i n his thin clothes agains t th e darkness" (161) ; he recollects, perhaps, Jim at Patusan, but seem s a rather shrunken an d deshabill e version. Waddington's Manchu wife, Kitty thinks, represents "th e East, immemorial, dark an d inscrutable" (166) , bu t i t seems that dark here has much of the function of the whiteness o f the woman's face--t o emphasise blankness. Even i n the first scene, indeed, the English character s themselves become infecte d with the insignificance o f an East they have themselves created . The doorknob transfer s its blankness t o the faces of the lovers--"[s]he was as white a s the sheet an d notwithstanding hi s tan his cheeks 169 were pale too" (12) . In Hong Kong, and then i n China, Kitty finds her husband more an d more difficult t o read, his face reduced t o a "mask": There was just a shadow of a tremor i n his voice; i t was dreadful, that cold self-contro l of his which made the smallest toke n of emotion so shattering. She did not know why she thought suddenly o f an instrument sh e had been show n in Hong Kon g upon which a needle oscillated a little and sh e had bee n tol d tha t this represented a n earthquake a thousand mile s away i n which perhaps a thousand person s had los t their lives . She looked a t him. He was ghastly pale. (156 ) The faces of all the Europeans tak e on Walter's blanknes s and pallor i n reaction t o China. Kitty i s first white with fear that Walter will discove r her; she i s later "pale" (134) in anticipation o f childbirth. Upon her husband's death sh e adopts a "white and set" face (194) ; i t is only i n Hong Kon g that she manages t o finally get "'som e colour i n her cheeks' " (211) . Waddington's fac e i s twice described a s bare; the fact that the garments of the nuns an d th e inne r walls of the convent are white does not so much differentiate the m from the mass of the Chinese population as enmesh them i n a web of insignificance. Western symbol s are bleached o f significance. "[T]her e is," as Barthes writes, "nothin g t o grasp" (Empir e of Signs 110).

Maugham's text, unlike Barthes 1 i s not a willing 170 participant i n jouissance . Even as China's absence of signification transfer s itsel f t o the European characters, so the text moves to re-establish borders. A primary method used t o establish o r fix meaning i s confession, a mechanism which Foucault describe s i n The History o f Sexuality a s "on e of the West's most highly valued technique s fo r producing truth": We have become a singularly confessin g society . The confession has spread it s effects fa r and wide. I t plays a part i n justice, medicine, education, family relationships, and lov e relations, in the most ordinary affair s of everyday life , and i n the most solemn rites; one confesses one' s crimes, one's sins, one's thought s and desires, one's illnesse s an d troubles; one goes about telling, with the greatest precision , whatever i s most difficult t o tell. One confesses in public an d i n private, to one's parents, one's educators, one's doctor, to those one loves; one admits t o oneself, i n pleasure an d i n pain, things it would be impossible to tell to anyone else, the things people write books about. . . . Western man has become a confessing animal. (59 ) For Foucault, confession i s one of the techniques by which Man i s constituted a s a subject, one of the primary mechanisms b y which th e subject begins "t o speak i n its own behalf, to demand tha t it s legitimacy ... b e acknowledged " 171 (101). Confession thus , i n Barthes' terms, pierces meaning, it attaches signifie r t o signified, assurin g th e confessee that surface s can be read fo r depth, that what i s veiled, once exposed, will prove more essential tha n the veil itself. In The Painted Vei l there ar e two distinct form s of confession: religious an d sexual. Religious confession i s centred aroun d th e Catholic conven t a t Mei-tan-fu. As i n On a Chinese Screen, the asceticism o f Catholicism i s valorized: th e nuns i n the convent, unlike Protestan t missionaries, do not return home every fe w years on furlough, but rather regar d Chin a as their true home. They are presented a s possessing spiritua l trut h , "captured b y the ardour o f belief" (176) ; a t the end o f the novel, Kitty makes a n explicit contrast between the linear nature of the nuns1 fait h and th e circularity o f China i n her resolutio n to follow "no t the path . . . that le d nowhither [Th e Tao], but the path those dear nuns a t the convent followe d s o humbly, the path that le d to peace" (238) . The Mother Superior' s narrative o f how sh e was the subject of a "calling" to serve Christ i s presented a s a confession. Sh e begins by constructing a closeted identit y for herself, which demands that i t should b e recognized--"'[f]or tw o years I had been thinking o f it, but I had suffere d a s i t were a fear of this calling, for I dreaded tha t I might b e recaptured b y the spirit o f the world1" (172-173) . Trying t o speak what i s inside her, the 172 Mother Superio r recall s that she tried "'t o form the words, but my lip s would no t move1" (173) ; sh e attempts agai n to tell her mother of her desire, "'bu t such was my weakness I could onl y say: " . . .1 shoul d no t have the strength"'" (174). Finally , i t is her mother who reads the signs upon her daughter's body, commenting tha t she i s sure her daughter will one day become a "religious," to which her daughter replie s "'[y]o u ar e laying bare the innermos t thought an d desire of my heart'" (174) . After her arriva l i n Mei-tan-fu Kitt y als o feels the desire to confess, "t o tell the Mother Superio r o f her unhappiness an d it s cause" (176) , o f her affai r with Charlie, her estrangement fro m her husband, an d his death. Her confession i s not made to the Mother Superior , however, but to Charlie late r i n Hong Kong, and i t takes a different form fro m tha t sh e has envisioned givin g the Mother Superior: "I don't fee l human. I feel like a n animal. A pig or a rabbit or a dog. Oh, I don't blame you, I was just as bad. I yielded t o you because I wanted you. But i t wasn't the real me. I' m no t that hateful, beastly, lustful woman. I disown her. I t wasn't me that la y on that bed pantin g for you when my husband was hardly col d i n his grave an d your wife had been s o kind t o me, so indescribably kind . I t was only th e animal i n me, dark an d fearful lik e an evil spirit, and I

disown, and hate, and despise it . And ever since, 173 when I'v e though t o f it, my gorge rises and I feel that I must vomit." (224 ) The confession abov e seem s also an attempt to pin down meaning; like that of the Mother Superior, Kitty's confession i s based upo n a Pauline spli t between body an d soul, between the desires of the world an d the truth of the spirit, between sensua l indulgenc e an d asceti c transcendence. However, unlike th e Mother Superior, whose nature can be read fro m her face , Kitty i s unreadable: what is shown to Charlie i s not "th e real me." Kitty spend s her confession detailin g what she is, in her own construction, not: she focuses on the outside, "absorbe d i n the practice . . . of the package, of fastening" (Empir e of Signs 45). The religious an d sexua l confessions o f The Painted Veil, an d their efforts to terminate th e endless play o f signs, are in the end overcome by the semiotic dissidence o f the text itself , by China's absence of signification. The efforts of the text to oppose sexuality an d religious truth, one as wrapping an d the other a s content, are undone by their connection throug h metaphor. A "re d heart" burns upon the breast o f the Mother Superior , while Kitty and Charlie' s final encounter i s expressed i n the language o f religiou s rapture: Her eyes were closed an d her fac e was wet with tears. And the n he foun d her lip s and th e pressure of his upon the m sho t through her body lik e the flame of God. I t was an ecstasy an d sh e was burnt

to a cinder an d sh e glowed a s though sh e were 174 transfigured. I n her dreams, in her dreams sh e had know n this rapture . . . She was not a woman, her personality was dissolved, sh e was nothing but desire. (218 ) The expression o f religious rapture a s sexual is, of course, not a unusual trop e within Catholicism . Th e effect of it s use i n The Painted Veil, however, seems to be to dissolve the distinction tha t the text makes between sexualit y a s surface an d religious depth, between the falsity of the body and th e truth of the soul. Confession becomes not s o much a discovery o f truth as a performance, part of the larger process of unwrapping an d wrapping tha t structure s th e novel. We can confirm Edelman' s thesi s that semiotics an d sexuality ar e related, I think, through a n example i n Maugham's own writing which i s readily applicabl e to The Painted Veil . Perhaps Maugham's most lengthy publishe d comment about male homosexuality i s in his essay "E l Greco": I should sa y that a distinctive trai t of the homosexual i s a lack of deep seriousness ove r certain things tha t normal men take seriously . This ranges fro m an inane flippancy t o a sardonic humour. He has a willfulness tha t attache s importance to things that most men fin d trivia l and on the other hand regard s cynically th e subjects which th e common opinio n o f mankind has held essentia l t o its spiritual welfare. He

has a lively sens e of beauty, but i s apt to see 175 beauty especially i n decoration. He loves luxur y and attache s peculiar value t o elegance. He is emotional, but fantastic. He i s vain, loquacious, witty an d theatrical. With his keen insigh t he can pierce the depths, but i n his innat e frivolit y he fetches up from them not a priceless jewel but a tinsel ornament. He has small power o f invention, but a wonderful gif t fo r delightful embroidery . He has vitality, brilliance, but seldo m strength . He stands on the bank, aloof an d ironical , and watches the river o f life flow on. He i s persuaded that opinio n i s no more than prejudice. ("El Greco " 246 ) Maugham's argumen t here does have a surface of cliche, if not homophobia; the homosexual suffer s i n comparison t o the "normal man" i n his innat e abilit y t o discover th e truth or meaning conceale d withi n things. If we read Maugham' s argument throug h Barthes an d Edelman , however, Maugham's homosexual man becomes a practitioner o f textual jouissance , a theatrical bricoleu r who participates i n a dissolution o f meaning, refusing t o connect signifier s t o the same old signifieds. His "embroidery " an d obsession with surfac e "decoration" cal l t o mind Barthes' observations regardin g the Japanese focu s upon "packages , pouches, sacks, valises, linen wrappings" (46) , on the exterior rathe r tha n the interior. Thus The Painted Veil' s deployment o f China t o resist what Edelma n identifie s a s a "hermeneutics o f 176 suspicion," disseminating suspicio n everywhere, may be seen as a specifically homosexual ploy. I n Edelman's terms, The Painted Veil may thus be a successfully homosexual nove l even though i t does not openly thematiz e homosexual desire. The Painted Veil' s assaul t upo n signification arises, like the similar assaul t i n Empire of Signs, from a n undoing of sexuality. Yet the fac t still remains that suc h unmaking, dissolution, i s not carried ou t within a utopic or dystopic imaginary country , but i n China an d Japan ; i t thus cannot avoid examinatio n i n terms of the politics o f European representation o f other culture s i n a colonial world. Barthes does not "imagin e a fictive nation . . . , a new Garabagne, so as to compromise no real country b y my fantasy" (JE S 3). He rather choose s a n alternative strategy : I can also--though i n no way claiming t o represent or to analyse reality itsel f (thes e being th e major gestures of Western discourse)--isolat e somewhere i n the world (faraway ) a certain number of features ( a term employed i n linguistics), and out o f these features deliberately for m a system. It i s this syste m which I shall call: Japan. (ES 3) Yet Barthes' Japan does exhibit intertextualit y wit h othe r Japans, other create d space s within French literature. The Painted Veil, similarly , draws upon reservoirs o f representation o f China within Europea n culture. If the non-signification o f Barthes1 Japa n an d Maugham's Chin a i s 177 positive i n terms of the economy o f the texts, these place s still remain trapped b y the necessity o f these texts to present them a s reservoirs o f absolute alterity; lik e Hegel's China, they are still outside history. Recent articles by Trinh T. Minh H a and Dennis Porte r have attempte d t o view Empire o f Signs a s breaking th e mould of Orientalism, as affording new possibilities o f representation. Porter praises Barthes fo r his texts' "experimental opennes s an d pleasurable anticipation " (297) : The question i t embodies i s not, then, What can I know about Japan? Rather i t is, What does Japan enable me to discover by distancing me fro m myself an d fro m my culture? (297 ) Strangely, Porter seem s to view this turning back o f Japan upon the subject as a new rhetorical stategy , inaugurated b y Barthes: Given the massive misrepresentations o f foreign places an d peoples to which we are still subjecte d --what Barthe s might have called wit h characteristic iron y "positiv e hallucinations"--it i s difficult t o deny that there i s a need, not s o much fo r silence a s for a writerly ethic s o f "N o comment." Thus, i n its way, The Empire o f Signs itsel f i s Barthes' contribution t o the endeavor t o go beyond Orientalism. (304 ) Yet Barthes' "n o comment" i s still a comment, a repetition 178 of other refusals t o comment i n the Western tradition of writing o n the East, refusals tha t i n themselves for m par t of Orientalism. Loti, i n Japan, delights i n discovery o f insignificance beneath th e surfaces o f Nagasaki. Watching Chrysanthemum asleep , he also reduces her to insignificance: What thoughts ca n be running through tha t little brain? My knowledge o f her languag e is still to o restricted t o enable me to find out. Moreover, it is a hundred t o one that she has no thoughts whatever. And eve n i f she had, what d o I care? (Mada m Chrysanthemum 74 ) Barthes1 Japa n i s valorised, Loti's played wit h an d dismissed a s valueless, yet both are held u p as empires devoid o f signification, others t o France. Barthes' wish to write his Japan as "faraway " assumes added significanc e i n an age i n which Japa n has become, for Europe, increasingl y near. Barthes' Japan outside o f the paternal la w parallels a Japan inside , and extremely successfu l inside , the world economic system; a Japan valorised a s the end o f signification seem s not just Utopian play, but also, in another sense, symptomatic o f a disavowal o f Japan' s modernity. Trinh T. Minh Ha's endorsemen t o f Barthes1 wor k a s "closer to oriental thinking" (47 ) in its use of the concept of emptiness, which Trinh see s as analogous to Buddhist principles, i s similarly flawed :

[W]hat he seeks here i s not to decipher Asia,

but rathe r t o assess his own position vis-a-vi s 179 exoticism, ethnocentrism and , above all, to assess his own hermeneutic posture, his position as decoder. . . . Thus the unknown he confronts is neither Japa n nor China but his own language, and through it , that o f all the West. (48-49 ) Barthes' self-reflexivity, i t seems here, can only be valorised by, paradoxically, reducing Eas t an d West to absolute alterities, oriental though t facin g of f agains t Western language . The use of China or Japan t o reflect bac k upon th e inadequacies o f one's own language an d belie f system i s not new, but as old a s Mandeville; i t too represents a n appropriation o f a culture reduced t o alterity. Maugham's movement towards non-signification i n The Painted Veil , then, ensnares him i n a rhetorical double-bind. Throug h th e China o f Maugham's nove l insignificance bleeds int o European discourse; binarisms ar e suspended, whitewashed int o a vast, unending pla y o f signs. Yet suc h play i s founded upo n a production o f China a s non-sense, a s a never-ending suppl y o f disruptive signification. To achieve a rewriting o f sexuality i n the novel, Maugham must continually reinscrib e Chin a a s Other. The more the text employs Chin a t o shatter sexuality , the more i t requires China as an absence of signification: China becomes a stage on which the dramas of the European sou l ar e rehearsed, an d i t i s not allowed t o speak. " What can be addressed i n the consideration o f the Orient," writes 180 Barthes, "ar e not other symbols, another metaphysics, another wisdom . . . ; it i s the possibility o f a difference" (3) . In a critical environment tha t valorizes difference, we should stil l remembe r tha t suc h difference i s also investe d wit h power. Maugham's novel does not exist i n a vacuum, but upon th e troubling borderlan d betwee n th e British Empire an d the Empire o f Signs; to achieve it s sexual fragmentation, i t must emplo y th e weariest o f orientalist tropes . The veil may wrap, and unwrap, and a focus upon i t may subver t an y nostalgia fo r content, but i t is also Freud's primary metaphor fo r the fetish, and th e fetish springs fro m disavowal. 181 5. Transgression an d Containment: The Malayan Shor t Storie s

Even before the publication o f The Painted Veil , Maugham's creative attentio n had turne d westward. The author's visit t o Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak an d th e Dutch East Indie s i n 1921-2, supplemented b y a second tou r in 1925-6 , provided materia l fo r some of his most famou s short stories, the majority o f which were collected i n (1926 ) and (1933). * Th e Malayan short stories^ are guintessential Maugham, s o much s o that colonial Malaya i s firmly established i n the British popula r imagination a s "Maugha m country. "

British Malaya gave Maugham a n idea l background fo r his fiction. Unlike China, which represented ultimat e alterit y and inversio n of the West, Malaya was part of a carefully codified signifyin g system . The rhetoric o f British Malaya, to modify Sar a Suleri' s phrase, was constituted b y medievalism, th e representation o f Malay societ y a s similar to that of England i n the Middle Ages. The sultans of the Malay peninsul a were presented a s feudal lords, and th e general population a s yeomen. Industria l productio n an d trade were carrie d on , out of sight, by Indian s an d Chinese. Yet this rhetoric conceale d a fundamental flaw : i t did nothing t o justify th e presence of the British. Mostly th e British represented themselve s a s tutors of Malay natura l gentleman, yet tutelage, i f successful, could logicall y onl y 182 lead t o the destruction of the surrogate medieval societ y through industrialization . Britis h discourse o n Malaya i s thus contradictory, a t times accepting th e representativ e Malay a s a junior pupil i n the process o f becoming British, while at others violently insistin g upo n absolute racia l divisions. This tension o n the border lin e between racia l constructions, and the resultant nee d fo r a continual reinscription o f this border, make British Malaya a perfect setting fo r Maugham's fiction. British constructions o f Malaya ar e clearly demonstrated i n th e representation o f the expatriate European communit y i n Maugham's Malayan fiction . The typical Malayan short stor y involve s a transaction between two men, a retelling o f a story o f transgression i n the safety o f London, or a t least th e local club. Shocking a s this transgression is , it i s always covered over , often by an agreement by the two men that, come what may, the show goes on. Perhap s unsurprisingly, the act o f transgression mos t frequently center s upon a white woman. Maugham's memsahib s are floating signifier s tha t cause trouble within th e semiotic syste m he so carefully builds. On one hand, they are agents o f colonial discipline, policing the actions of their menfolk an d keeping the m morally u p to the mark. On the other, like Kitty i n The Painted Veil , they are investe d with ungovernable sexua l passions, in contrast t o the rationality an d control expressed b y male administrators an d planters. A textual thir d column , they thus threaten t o sabotage th e system t o which the y ar e integral. 183 Examination o f the figure of the memsahib i n British fiction o f Malaya an d i n a number o f Maugham's shor t stories, leads to an investigation o f other transitiona l figures who have a similarly dislocatin g effec t upo n th e rhetoric o f Maugham's Malayan short stories. A close reading of "Th e Yellow Streak" shows parallels between Izzart' s closeted racia l alterity an d th e homosexuality a t the heart of contemporaneous Britis h constructions o f manliness, a parallel tha t Maugham's ow n sexuality makes more acute. Similarly, an exploration o f the "doubling " functio n performed b y Chinese figure s i n "Th e Letter" hints at further narrational anxietie s regarding tutelag e an d somati c repression.

1. The Rhetoric o f British Malaya

The British construction o f Malaya seems , in hindsight, driven by two narrative imperatives : first, to justify creeping colonization o f the peninsula i n terms of modernization; second, to inscribe Malaya nostalgically a s a medieval society , i n which Sultan s an d hereditary chieftain s become feuda l lords, demonstrating gentlemanl y benevolenc e in the administration o f rural fiefdom s an d domaines. Such imperatives, we shall see, frequently contradic t eac h other, yet they might be welded togethe r temporarily int o a British historiography o f the Malay peninsula. I n such a historical narrative Malay values, always nebulous an d undefined, were 184 protected unde r British tutelage; the Advisers i n the Unfederated Mala y State s an d th e Residents i n the F.M.S. became a conduit fo r modernization, i n which Malaya would move fro m interna l feuda l strif e t o a more stable, later medieval period. I f China, according t o Hegel's construction, was still outside history, the British construction o f Malaya allowe d th e region a n entrance, through tutelage, into a period o f history tha t the Mother Country had passe d through over half a millenium previously . The British-sponsored meetin g o f chiefs upon th e islan d o f Pangkor, which le d to the forcible impositio n of the Resident system , was glossed no t as an incursion but rathe r as a second Runnymede. 3

British construction o f Malaya a s a medieval societ y was pervasive. Hugh Clifford, describing traditiona l Malay social organization, remarked tha t i t was similar t o "tha t which was i n force i n Medieval Europe " (I n Court an d Kampon q 4). Clifford' s descriptio n o f the Malayan political syste m transposes feuda l terms suc h as "fiefdom " an d "baronies " onto Malay society ; this appellation o f Malay communitie s a s feudal slips easily int o a justification fo r intervention: The chroniclers o f Medieval Europ e tell only o f Princes an d Nobles, and Knights and Dames—and merr y tale s they are--but we are left to guess what was the condition o f the bulk o f the lower classes i n Thirteenth- Century England . I f we knew all, however, it

is probable tha t their lo t would prov e t o have 185 been but a little more fortunat e tha n i s that of the Malay raaya t of to-day, whose hardships and grievances, under native rule, move our modern soul s to indignation an d compassion. (In Court an d Kamponq 5 ) Such compassion was presented a s a motive fo r intervention. Winstedt's Th e Malays: A Cultural History present s the peninsula a s divided int o petty kingdoms, continually a t war with each other, until Britain "introduce d th e reign o f law" (178). For a European i n Malaya before decolonisation suc h a view amounted almos t t o a doxology; even the British left, pushing fo r decolonisation afte r the Second World War, described Malays a s "conservativ e an d unprogressive b y nature," needing British tutelage "t o avoid being fleece d b y . . . other [racial ] groups" (Campbel l 197). As an orthodoxy, medievalism was inescapable; it extended t o British policy-making. Malays were viewed a s forming a rural population i n the Malay states ; they were feudal rulers, farmers, or fishermen. Capitalist developmen t was the property o f other races: trade an d mining were the province of the Chinese, Indians largely provide d plantatio n labour, while Japanes e prostitutes, before 191 9 at least, serviced th e European community. I n a fascinating article, Paul Kratoska has shown how British image s of Malaya a s a medieval societ y i n the process o f developing a yeoman peasantry le d t o a complete misunderstanding o f rural indebtedness i n the Krian rice-growing distric t o f Perak. 186 Obsessed wit h the social unrest caused b y poverty i n English history, and thus fearful o f landless peasants posing a threat to the social order, British administrators propose d solutions t o a non-existent problem . Cooperative societies , founded upo n British assumptions that debt was stigmatising , failed; the old syste m o f Chinese an d India n moneylenders, while not completely satisfactory , was successful enough to persist lon g after the failure o f the administration' s initiatives (Th e Chettiar an d th e Yeoman, passim). Maugham's shor t storie s clearly participate i n the construction o f Malaya a s a series of medieval fiefdoms. In "The Outstation," Warburton comment s that "' I have been on intimate terms with some of the greatest gentlemen i n England, but I have never known finer gentlemen tha n som e well-born Malays whom I am proud t o call my friends'" (Th e Casuarina Tre e 87); furthermore, he stresses the importanc e of lineage i n Malay societ y i n his conversations with Cooper. Featherstone's residenc y i n "Th e Book-Bag" has very much the look of a n English country house: It had on e of the most enchanting views I had see n in the F.M.S. The Residency was built on the top of a hill and the garden was large and well-cared for. Great trees gave i t almost the look o f an English park. I t had vast lawn s an d there Tamils, black an d emaciated, were scything with deliberat e and beautiful gestures . (A h King 173-174 ) Both "Th e Outstation" an d "Th e Book-Bag," however, also 187 express anxieties in their construction of Malaya as feudal England. After Warburton's speec h regarding th e natural gentility o f his Malay "friends, " the narrator hastens to reassure th e reader tha t "h e never forgo t tha t he was an English gentleman, and he had no patience with the white men who yielded t o native customs" (88) . Similarly, the narrator of "Th e Book Bag " is guick t o make a sharp distinctio n between the grounds o f Featherstone's residenc y an d the foreign landscape outside: Beyond an d below, the jungle grew thickly t o the bank o f a broad, winding an d swiftl y flowin g river, and o n the other sid e of this, as far as the eye could reach, stretched th e wooded hill s of Tenggarah. The contrast betwee n th e trim lawns, so strangely English , and th e savage growth of the jungle beyond pleasantl y titillate d th e fancy. (174) The river here i s perhaps a n appropriate metaphor fo r the border between Sel f an d Othe r i n Maugham's Malayan fiction, between the trim spac e of civilization an d the forces of dissolution tha t wait outside. Broa d though i t is, it is always i n a state o f flux, and i t is never full y successfu l in keeping th e "savag e growth of the jungle" out. The uneasiness regarding transgressio n o f racial boundaries through imitatio n which structures Maugham' s stories was very much part o f early twentieth-centur y British constructions o f Malaya. As the European communit y 188 grew, so i t became more insisten t upo n maintaining it s own integrity. An example o f this i s the administrative service . It is likely tha t som e of the original Malayan Civi l Servic e cadets were Eurasian Anglo-Indian; by 190 4 the leaders of the M.C.S. were already pushin g London fo r a formal ban upon any furthe r Eurasia n cadetships (Alle n 175). To preserve the illusion o f tutelage, a separate servic e fo r Malays, the Malay Administrative Service , was formed, an d equipped wit h its own public school feede r system. It s recruits, however, had littl e chance t o exercise rea l power. Yet communal integrity was concerned no t only with keeping those on the borders out, but also with ensuring th e conformity o f community members . Ann e Laura Stoler , i n a study o f the European community i n the Deli valley, Sumatra, during th e early years of the twentieth century, demonstrates th e extent t o which colonialist rhetori c was concerned t o define the nature of the category "European" : What I suggest here i s that racist ideology , fear of the Other, preoccupation with white prestige, and obsession with protecting Europea n women fro m sexua l assault by black males were not simpl y justifications fo r continued Europea n rule and white supremacy. They were part of a critical class-base d logic , statements no t only about indigenou s subversives , but directives aime d at dissenting Europea n underlings i n the colonies--the par t of the apparatus that kept potentially subversiv e white colonials i n 189 line. (138 ) An importan t par t o f this apparatus, and one that take s primary place i n Maugham's stories , was the memsahib.

2. White Women an d Male Disciplin e

In order t o explore the role of gender an d sexuality i n Maugham's Malayan shor t storie s i t i s necessary t o first examine the role of white women within British colonia l society, and th e manner i n which male writing construct s th e mem a s a site of displaced sexuality . Suc h an examination, I think, enables us to avoid a critique suc h as that of Ronald Hyam, who maintains tha t homosexual colonia l writers suc h as Maugham an d Forste r misrepresented Europea n women i n the colonies because their sexuality made them inevitabl e "misogynists" (19) . In his representation o f white women i n the Malayan shor t stories, Maugham i s putting t o work trope s that ar e omnipresent i n British colonial discourse. His sexuality doe s make a difference, I will argue, but not i n the manner tha t Hyam suggests. If anything, contemporaneou s constructions o f homosexuality all y i t with femininity . To examine Maugham's representatio n o f white women within colonial Malayan society , we firs t must know the discourse in which he writes.

In British Malaya Europea n women were, i n the words of one of Janice Brownfoot's male interviewees, at best "necessary nuisances " to male colonial administrator s 190 ("Memsahibs ..." 190) ; as a group they contributed to , as Beverly Gartrell an d Ann Stoler have noted, the process of stabilization o f the European community i n the colonies. In the early years of colonial administratio n i n Malaya, the cost of bringing out and supporting Europea n wives threatened t o reduce officials an d unofficials alik e to the status of poor whites; concubinage was widely practiced . The children o f such unions, however, threatened th e unity of the community; as surveillance, centralization an d the urbanization o f the European communit y increased , so did the number o f European women, almost all of whom came out from Europe as wives o f planters an d administrators. Once established i n Malaya, European women serve d as "representatives o f the home culture, and of its moral standards" (Gartrel l 169), keeping their menfolk up to the mark. The baseless, but pervasive conviction tha t white womanhood neede d protectio n fro m predatory nativ e males served t o further unif y the colonial male community. Memsahibs in Malaya thus served a n important symboli c (and, through their unpaid labour , Janice Brownfoot suggests, an economic) function i n the tightening o f the boundaries o f the European community. I n much colonia l discourse, they also served a s scapegoats fo r a perceived decline i n race relations. The "perhaps too facile formul a that race relations i n twentieth century colonial Africa, as in nineteenth centur y pre-Mutin y India , were all the better before the coming of the memsahib" (Kirk-Green e 278 ) was 191 present in Malaya too. In retrospect, this seems very much a case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. European women played a part in the tightening o f the European community in twentieth century Malaya, but they were brought out as wives with the explicit intentio n of achieving tha t goal. I t is probably unrealistic t o claim, with Janice Brownfoot, that the majority o f mems i n Malaya, through "friendship s with their Asian sister s . . . helped undermine the European male world an d its ethos" ("Memsahib s ..." 208) . In some small respects, Gartrell remarks , the stereotype of the mem may have som e basis in historical fact: The 'policing ' of sexual boundaries between the races was, we saw above, part of wives' political function i n the British colonies, and a function enthusiastically carrie d out by women secur e in their own definitions o f morality an d hierarchy. . . . [T]he fear of the unfamiliar remaine d greate r for wives than fo r their men. Whether throug h fea r or other factors, many women remained profoundl y ignorant of, and uninterested in , the life of those beyond the enclave, and even resentful of its penetrations. (182 ) Clearly, however, the obsessive representation i n texts written by British men of European women as petty, vindictive, racially intoleran t an d over-sexed i s motivated by other factor s than merely descriptiv e ones . Suc h stereotyping o f mems seem s to represent an internalizatio n 192 of the "borde r conflicts" regarding the limits of the European communit y explore d earlier ; the white woman become s at once the enforcer o f and the excuse fo r racial separation. Conflicts i n colonial discourse over questions of racial separatio n an d sexua l continence ar e thus displaced fro m th e body o f the male colonist ont o that of the female. An illustratio n o f how suc h displacement i s enacted ca n be drawn from the memoirs of an official i n Malaya durin g the years between the wars, providing a useful contextualization o f the representation o f European women i n Maugham's shor t stories. Victor Purcell describe s his work as Protector o f Chinese i n Penang; he presumably cam e int o contact with many European women i n the course of his duties. Yet i n his anecdotes, Purcell onl y mentions Europea n women i n the context o f their transgressive potential: Mrs. Andrews . . . had been an embarrassment t o the Straits Settlements police fo r over a year. She was a drug addict an d had become completel y demoralized. Sh e was also an insatiabl e nymphomaniac, and gave herself freel y t o anyone who would have her, including th e syces (motor - car drivers) who were always hanging abou t police headquarters an d the Chinese Protectorate. This, of course, was bad fo r the prestige o f the oranq pute h (whit e man) and the authorities were anxious to get rid o f her at any price. (233 ) 193 One of Purcell's subordinates "eventuall y managed t o ship off Mrs. Andrews t o Australia, where no doubt she found sexual pastures new" (234) . The threat to social order posed by untrammelled sexuality , the possible transgression o f social boundaries that i t represents, is contained b y expulsion. Yet the literal expulsion o f Mrs. Andrews fro m the Straits Settlements mimes Purcell's own expulsion of reflection upon his own sexuality fro m his memoirs: As for sex, I have never been able to distinguish between the sexual urge and the urge to live. They seem to me to be synonymous. But i f in saying s o I give a n impression of mere abandone d promiscuity, I shall not be doing myself ful l justice. Nor was there anything spectacular o r notorious enough i n my exploits to warrant thei r inclusion amon g those I have above mentioned. ... I should lik e for my own satisfaction t o describe my encounters with women, with their inevitabl e accompaniments of pleasure, jealousy, regret an d misery. But I should nee d more space--and mor e detachment than I at present possess. (251 ) What seems to occur here i s a covert displacement; the "spectacular" figur e of Mrs. Andrews standing i n for Purcell's own body, allowing him t o cover over his own sexuality beneath "detachment, " to differentiate himsel f from thos e who practice "abandone d promiscuity. " Masculin e 194 self-control i s thus acted ou t upon the body o f the mem subject t o societal discipline , a fantasy tha t i s perpetually re-presente d i n colonial fiction.

3. Sexuality an d Gender i n the Malayan Storie s

The majority o f Maugham's Malayan shor t stories ar e carefully framed . I n some, the frame merely consist s of repeated action : when Warburton open s his copy o f the Times at the end o f "Th e Outstation" the reader i s aware that the Resident i s going back to a routine he happily observe d before the arrival o f Cooper an d the commencement o f the story time. Other short stories have a metropolitan fram e narrative: Millicent tell s her family what really happene d in Malaya while awaiting a party i n England i n "Befor e the Party," while Ann i n "Th e Door of Opportunity," havin g returned with Alban to London, recalls her husband's failur e to live up to codes of imperial manliness i n an embedded narrative. The most common frame structure used i n the stories, however, i s a framing narrative o f a conversation between two men. In the comfort of the club, residency, or administrative office , one man listens while the other give s an account o f a transgression agains t colonia l disciplin e which he has witnessed, an d which centres upon a woman. Both men become activel y involve d i n a collaborative process of interpretation, making sens e of the incident, and implicitl y making a clear demarcatio n between their own, objective an d 195 specular narration of the embedded narrative , and the ungovernable passion s o f that narrative's protagonists. Thus the surname of the Maugham-narrator's interlocuto r i n "Footprints i n the Jungle", " a man called Gaz e who was head of the police" (A h King 7) is appropriately descriptiv e o f his narrative function . At the end of the short story , transgression is , structurally a t least, contained. Like the embedded firs t contact narratives o f Maugham's South Se a fiction, it i s temporally distance d fro m the narrative present. Secrets must be kept, even if , as i n "Th e Letter," the law must be broken i n order to do so: they cannot be allowed t o speak i n the narrative present. Examined an d narrated by the protagonists o f the frame narrative, transgression i s placed back i n its closet. All traces of its presence ar e erased. "'W e must go [t o the party], mother1" remark s Kathleeen afte r Millicent has told all. "'It would loo k so funny i f we stayed away' " (Th e Casuarina Tree 34). It i s tempting, given th e presence o f a woman i n the embedded narrativ e o f Maugham's Malayan stories, to analyze them i n terms of Sedgwickean trigonometry: two men on the base, and a woman at the apex. However, the triangula r relationship, Sedgwick's "calculu s o f power" (Betwee n Men 21), i n the Malayan storie s i s different fro m that i n Maugham's earlie r fiction . I n the South Pacific stories, men compete fo r ownership o f a feminized landscap e which i s often directly personifie d b y a native woman. I n the Malayan 196 stories, men compete and, through socially sanctione d bonds, collaborate, i n the narration o f a story i n which a woman i s not merely the passive spectato r of the action, but rather the protagonist. Narration thus provides a vicarious means of experiencing an d curbing passions displace d ont o the body of the memsahib, while th e device of the framing narrativ e enables the reinscription o f a medievalized Malay a i n which ruling passions ar e sublimated, an d everything remain s i n its proper place. "Footprints i n the Jungle" i s an exemplary shor t stor y of this type. The narrative begins i n the present tense with a medievalizing descriptio n o f Tanah Merah: The European guarter i s very silent. I t is trim and neat and clean. The houses of the white men— Government servant s an d agents of companies—stan d round a n immense padang, agreeable an d roomy bungalows shade d by great cassias, and the padang is vast an d green an d well-cared for , like the lawn of a cathedral close, and indee d ther e i s in the aspect of this corner o f Tanah Merah somethin g quiet an d delicately seclude d tha t reminds you of the precincts o f Canterbury. (A h King 6 ) The sense of the orderliness o f British Malaya i s emphasised in the frame narrative. Gaze, the Maugham narrator' s interlocutor, i s a policeman; the action of the frame narrative take s place i n the club, during and afte r th e Maugham-narrator's quintessential, orderly leisur e activity : 197 "a very pleasant game of bridge" (7) . Reference to non-European societ y reinforce s th e sense of everything being i n its place. Gaze, for example, is keen to exhibit his knowledge o f racial psychology b y making a clear division between the character o f the "'Chink' " and that of the Malay (32). Within this orderly system , Gaze an d the Maugham-narrator ar e brought together by their mutual interest i n the process o f narration. Gaze reads the Cartwrights of the embedded narrative fo r signs of their crime, an d th e Maugham-narrator read s them through Gaze, commenting upo n the latter's narrative technique. " I tried," he comments early i n the story, "t o construct i n my mind a picture o f what Mrs. Cartwright--Mrs. Bronson as she was then--looked lik e fro m Gaze's not very graphic description" (14). Later Gaz e himself confesse s "'I' m telling you this story very badly. ... I seem to be just rambling on" (23), a statement with which the Maugham-narrator doe s not disagree. Still late r i n the story, the narrator emphasize s that he has remained intellectuall y on e step ahead o f his interlocutor: I have alway s thought th e detective stor y a most diverting an d ingeniou s variety o f fiction, and have regretted tha t I never had th e skill to write one, but I have read a good many, and I flatter myself tha t i t is rarely tha t I have not solve d the mystery before i t was disclosed t o me; and now for som e tim e I had forsee n what Gaze was going t o 198 say, but when a t last he sai d i t I confess that it gave me, notwithstanding, somewhat o f a shock. (48) The Maugham-narrator an d Gaze, then, cooperate i n the act of narration, Gaze providing the experience, the narrator shaping i t though his questions ("'Wha t was Bronson like , by the way?'" (18 ) "'What's the matter?'"), and sometime s jump-starting i t again when Gaze becomes distracted. Th e overwhelming impressio n lef t by the two men, however, is one of a communality o f interest. "'Yo u know how many fellow s when they come out East seem to stop growing,'" Gaze remarks, after which the narrator hastens to assure his readers, " I did indeed " (19). The surety o f male subjectivity i n the frame narrative, in which everything fall s int o its proper place, is in marked contras t t o the representation o f masculinity i n the embedded narrative. Bronson, Mrs. Cartwright's firs t husband, was, Gaze recalls, " a great big fellow, very hearty, with a loud voice an d a bellowing laugh, beefy. . . but he had the mind o f a boy of eighteen" (18-19) . Cartwright himself i s "pleasan t an d unassuming" (22 ) in the embedded narrative, while i n the frame narative he appears as a "bowed, cadaverous, bald-headed ol d buffer with spectacles" (17) . Mrs. Cartwright i s very different: You saw that here was a woman who knew her mind an d was never afraid t o speak it . . . .

If now and then she uttered a remark s o sarcasti c

that you wanted al l your sens e of humour to see 199 the fun i n it, you could not but quickly se e that sh e was willing to take as much as she gave. ... I never met a woman who obviousl y cared s o little how she looked. I t was not only her head tha t was untidy, everything abou t her was slovenly; sh e wore a high-necked sil k blouse, but for coolness had unbuttone d th e top buttons an d showed a gaunt an d withered neck ; the blouse was crumpled an d none too clean, for she smoked innumerable cigarette s an d covered herself with ash. (8-9 ) Mrs. Cartwright's slovenlines s indicate s a certain symboli c vagrancy, a refusal to conform to the role of mem. "'I f she'd onl y taken more trouble with herself,'" Gaze remark s of the youthful Mrs. Bronson, " she'd have been rather stunning" (14). Mrs. Cartwright's refusa l t o conform take s clearer shape as the story progresses. Gaze recalls that "sh e drinks her stenga h lik e a man" (18) , and, while sh e and Cartwrigh t wait at the club for news of her firs t husband's death to be made public, it is she, not Cartwright, who demonstrates the nominally masculine virtues o f emotional repressio n an d control:

"Cartwright ha d been of f his game an d when we sat down at the bridge-table Mrs. Bronson said t o him: 'Well, Theo, if you play bridge a s rottenly a s you played tenni s we shall los e our shirts.'" (24-25 ) 200 Mrs. Cartwright's appropriatio n o f features of colonial masculinity i s further show n i n Gaze's comments when solvin g the crime for the benefit of his listener; "I know that woman. Look a t that square chin of hers an d tell me that she hasn't got the courage of the devil. She has a will o f iron. She made Cartwright d o it. She planned ever y detai l an d every move. He was completely unde r her influence; he i s now." (49 ) Mrs. Cartwright here seem s to occupy a space on the border between constructions o f masculinity an d femininit y i n the Malayan stories. She outdoes men i n her exhibitions o f emotional control: at the same time, she puts such a putatively masculine virtue not i n the service o f community, as both the narrator an d Gaze must do, but rather harnesses it to realize the goals of private passions. Her role is curiously performative—she ha s no name in the story other than those of her two husbands, Bronson an d Cartwright—an d yet she is also "perfectl y i n character" (9) . The Maugham-narrator identifie s with her, thinking her " a very agreeable person" (9) , yet he also condemns her actions.. Mrs. Cartwright crosse s borders o f acceptable behaviour, and the two men i n the frame narrative recount an d interpre t her actions, always conscious o f the fixity o f their own positioning, o f borders they themselves canno t cross.

The thematics o f "Footprint s i n the Jungle" are repeated i n many o f Maugham's Malayan shor t stories. In 201 "Neil Macadam" th e eponymous hero i s presented a s sexless, interested onl y i n the scientific taxonom y o f the natural history museum run by his mentor, Munro. Munro's wife, Darya, i s a site of displaced sexuality , " a monster o f depravity" (329) . After leaving her to die in the jungle rather than succumb to her advances, Neil returns to Munro's camp feeling "lik e a surgeon who i s forced t o perform a dangerous operation without assistanc e o r appliances t o save the life of someone he loves" (338) . The object of his affections i s Munro. I n " A Casual Affair" the Maugham-narrator an d District Office r Low, in "th e imposin g stone house i n which th e Governor had onc e lived" (Collecte d Short Storie s 4, 395), discuss the fall of Jack Almond, contrasting Jack' s "goin g under without . . a struggle" (412), his descent int o opium addiction an d eventual death, to the "coo l as a cucumber" (407 ) demeanour of Lady Kastellan, his former lover. Just as i n "Footprints i n the Jungle," s o in " A Casual Affair," the Maugham-narrator use s his status as a writer t o shape Low's narrative, suggesting that interpretation i s "'where th e novelist comes in. Shall I tell you what I think happened?'" (413 ) And, in a similar manner t o "Footprint s i n the Jungle," the challenge o f the masquerade o f the memsahib seems to escape into the frame narrative. The narrator seem s to identify with Almond's passivity, remarking tha t "'ther e i s always a certain weakness attached t o such great char m a s he possessed. . . . I can't brin g myself t o blame him1" (414) . Significantly , i t 202 is Mrs. Low who usurps the narrator's rol e and, through her intervention i n the two men's conversation, puts an end to the story. If the boundaries between textual oppositions i n Maugham's Malayan fictio n ar e threatened b y the presence of white women, they are further disturbe d b y the threat o f racial alterity. Such alterity takes the form of either miscegenation, with it s resultant blurring o f racial boundaries, or the presence o f racial Others, such as Chinese figures, who cannot be readily placed within the framework o f a medievalized Malaya n landscape. This process of transgression o f racial boundaries i s readily visibl e i n two of Maugham's most famous short stories, "The Yellow Streak" an d "Th e Letter."

4. Reading "Th e Yellow Streak"

In Epistemoloqy o f the Closet, Eve Sedgwick comment s on the relative newness of gay, or antihomophobic critica l practice:

[W]e aren't yet used t o asking . . . how a variety of forms of oppression intertwin e systemicall y with each other; and especially how the person who is disabled throug h one set of oppressions may by the same positioning b e enabled throug h others. . .

Indeed, i t was the long, painful realizatio n

not that al l oppressions ar e congruent, but that 203 they ar e differently structure d an d s o must intersect i n complex embodiments tha t was the first great heuristic breakthrough o f socialist-feminist though t an d o f the thought of women o f color. (32 ) In Maugham's shor t stor y "Th e Yellow Streak" many o f these oppressions d o seem congruent. Moving fro m th e periphery o f the Empire toward s it s signifying centre , Maugham's narrative i s driven by an assumed serie s of dyads: civilised/savage, male/female, racial purity/miscegenation . The narrative itsel f has a rigid, almost ritualisti c quality: lik e the Dyak ceremony o f welcome tha t serves as its introduction, it i s "hieratic, " proceeding through a series o f bifurcations tha t lea d t o holding site s within th e field o f discourse. The effect of these bifurcations i s to define or place each character. Campion i s placed a s lower middle class, Hutchinson a s upper middle, the Malay woma n who live s with him a s silent native Other. Izzart, for all his class pretensions, is finally place d a s irrational, unreliable native, the "dro p o f native blood i n his veins" (161) overwhelming year s of public school nurture. "Th e jungle," i n the words o f another o f Maugham's regenerat e Eurasians, "take s back it s own" (Eas t of Suez 218). 4 The bifurcating actio n o f Maugham's narrative i s made more acut e by the omission o f figures who have a disruptive function i n his other shor t stories . Chinese minor characters an d Europea n women, who disturb the surety o f 204 racial division, are absent. Malay characters ar e kept very firmly i n their medievalized places : Hassan, Izzart' s batman, subaltern or fag, depending o n which congruence i s given primacy, i s written i n only when th e plot demands he make te a or save a life, then surreptitiously erased . "Th e Yellow Streak" represents a temporal an d spatial retreat t o the margins o f Empire, out of reach of or before the Crewe Circular,^ to a masculinized worl d i n which th e contrast between Savage an d Civilized i s consciously intensified , with no European woman o r urbanized nativ e i n sight. The quotation fro m Sedgwic k above , however, should alert u s to a potential incongruence : Maugham's awarenes s of his homosexuality, o r more properly, his efforts t o conceptualize his sexual difference. Jeffrey Weeks' studies of sexuality i n nineteenth an d twentiet h century Britai n have show n the lin k made between homosexuality an d effeminacy i n late nineteenth an d twentieth-century medica l and scientifi c discourse . I n scientific taxonom y o f the late nineteenth century, two categories o f homosexual wer e recognised: "inverts, " congenital homosexuals, women i n men's bodies, were contrasted wit h "perverts, " men whose sexual desir e was so strong tha t i t broke through restrain t and unleashed itsel f upon any object (Weeks , "Inverts ... " 123-4). Bot h categories were thus viewed a s i n opposition t o a lat e imperia l constructio n o f masculinity base d upo n control, rationality, an d the repression o f the somatic an d emotional aspect s o f men's lives. 205 Such constructions o f male homosexuality obviousl y touch upon Maugham's characterizatio n o f memsahibs i n the Malayan fiction . Yet nineteenth-century sexologica l discourses als o drew parallels between homosexuality an d racial alterity. Like homosexuals, members o f the non-white races were als o defined a s lacking i n self-control an d governance. The freguent presence i n Maugham's fictio n of Eurasian characters who pass as white, yet carry som e secre t essence of alterity that expresses itsel f a t moments of crisis, provides a suggestive parallel with contemporar y constructions o f closeted mal e homosexual identity . In this regard, the textual history o f Maugham's stor y is worthy o f attention. The central inciden t o f "Th e Yellow Streak," i n which th e protagonists ar e caught up i n a tidal bore, and nearly drowned , reflects a n incident which di d happen t o Maugham an d his companion, Gerald Haxton , during their travel s i n Borneo. I n the original, unpublished manuscript o f Maugham's notebook, Maugham an d Gerald ar e accompanied b y a white man who i s only identifie d b y the initial "G. " Maugham provide s a detailed descriptio n o f this man, an d remark s upo n his Latin complexion, hinting tha t he may b e an Eurasian. "G. " is clearly th e prototype o f Izzart, yet there i s no suggestion tha t he behaves, in crisis, in an unmanly way. I n the published versio n o f A Writer's Notebook, this man vanishes: Gerald an d Maugham ar e alone. In the short story , as we will see, the Eurasian characte r takes on a role that was originally Maugham's. The class 206 background o f the two leadin g characters i n the short story, public school an d "common " man, mirror those of Maugham an d Gerald. Through the palimpsest that i s the text of "Th e Yellow Streak" the reader may observe, the process of identification o f homosexuality an d hidden racia l alterity, an identification tha t cuts acros s the grain o f the text, disturbing som e of the oppositions that have been so carefully assembled . *

Maugham's "Th e Yellow Streak" depicts a homosocial relationship betwee n tw o men; Izzart, working fo r the civil service of the Sultan of Sembulu, guides Campion, a mining engineer, around th e state to investigate it s mineral wealth. Tied togethe r a t first by professional function , Campion an d Izzar t ar e bound more strongl y b y a knowledge of a mutual complicity , i n crisis, in failure to live up to codes o f imperial manliness, and by their need to concoct a cover stor y to hide their failure. I n the rising actio n o f Maugham's carefull y plotte d story , Izzart an d Campion emerg e from the ritualized worl d o f the Se a Dyaks, primitive an d timeless, possessing a "monotony" o f "entertainment"(151). All this world o f darkness, the "serrie d throng s of brown people" (151 ) is focused upo n reacting t o the two men, who are it s centre. A comparison between th e author's accoun t of his visit t o a Dyak longhous e i n A Writer's Notebook, upon which this section o f "Th e Yellow Streak" i s based, and th e completed stor y sho w Maugham's rewriting, his moving o f the 207 colonising subjec t from a marginal positio n o f being almos t an eavesdropper a t a single feas t to the position o f being the focus of an d pretex t fo r repeated feasts . Further strategie s se t up an unequal dichotom y betwee n civilised an d savage , colonising an d colonised. As Izzar t and Campion move downstream toward s civilisation, the "stri p of blue sky" overhead broaden s out (152) . Th e "violentl y luxuriant" (152 ) vegetation which imbue s the travellers wit h "passionate wildness"(153) gives way to thoughts o f Kuala Solor, an d the orderly, rational processes o f tennis, golf and billiards. A dead tree , white against the greenness o f the forest, foreshadows th e appearance o f Hutchinson, resident o f a downriver district: In a few minutes they caught sigh t o f the landing-stage an d o n it, among a little group of natives, a figure i n white waving to them. (155) In Hutchinson's bungalow , Izzar t proceeds fro m a bifurcation of race to one of class, snubbing Campio n with "th e faintly malicious intentio n o f putting him i n his place" (156) . H e has attende d Harrow , Hutchinson Winchester; the two men share thei r memories an d Campion, "wh o obviously ha d enjoye d no suc h advantage" (155 ) retires, excluded, to bed. I t is here tha t some of the seamlessness o f the narrative i s disturbed, Sedgwick' s "suture s o f contradiction"(Between Me n 15) becoming visible. Hutchinson confesse s that he live s with a Malay woman, and tha t they have children with a 208 "touch of the tar-brush" (158) . The woman i s summoned b y Hutchinson an d sit s with the men, smokes a cigarette, and answers Izzart' s questions "withou t embarrassment, but also without effusion" (157) . In his bedroom afte r talking t o Hutchinson, Izzar t casts off his European ducks, puts on a sarong, and remembers his own Eurasian mother, once beautiful an d compliant, like Hutchinson's "goo d girl," now old, ugly and unruly, " a fat old woman with grey hair who sa t about al l day smokin g cigarettes" (159) . Izzart' s consciousness o f his racial alterit y results i n a paranoia tha t produces his own racism: "You are dark," said Hutchinson. "D o Malays eve r ask you i f you have an y native blood i n you?" "Yes, dam n their impudence. " (162 ) Izzart's articulate d racis m has, of course, a parallel in Maugham's ow n expressions o f homophobia. Just a s the Eurasian's sens e of the precariousness o f his own inclusio n in the category Europea n produce s i n him a n intense desir e to exclude others, so Maugham's closeted homosexuality lead s him, when he does write of homosexuality a t all, to make such comments a s "th e homosexual has a narrower outloo k on the world tha n th e normal man" ("E l Greco " 531). Yet Izzar t also connects racial alterity t o femininity. Hutchinson' s Malay woman an d Izzart' s mother ar e two halves o f the same woman--Maugham's unrul y femal e who moves fro m submission t o passionate activity, and thus disturbs the ordered worl d o f 209 men. Izzart' s complaints agains t his mother--her "shockingl y familiar" (159 ) way with friends , and her "extravagant " tastes (160)--ar e the very complaint s tha t would, he feels, be levelled a t him i f his colleagues discovere d hi s ancestry: They wouldn't sa y he was gay an d friendl y then, they would sa y he was damned familiar ; and they would sa y he was inefficien t an d careless, as the half-castes were. (160 ) The parallel between the yellow streak o f Izzart's rac e and a similar fla w in his observance of the codes of masculinity is thus written over another parallel, that between homosexuality an d femininity , i n societal constructions o f homosexuality a s " a certain way o f inverting th e masculine and feminin e i n oneself" (Foucault , History 43). These parallels established , Maugham's shor t stor y moves toward s its climax. After leavin g Hutchinson's bungalow, Izzart an d Campio n find thei r boat caught i n the Bore, and they are nearly drowned. Onc e again, Maugham's textua l revision s o f the incident work t o enhance a division between coloniser an d colonised. Izzart' s emotiona l contro l i s maintained eve n a s the boat sinks, in contrast t o the activity o f the "madly " paddling native crew:

"Are you al l right?" Campion shoute d t o him. "Yes, enjoying the bath," said Izzart . (165 ) After a time i n the water, however, Izzart lose s control; he 210 abandons Campion, ignoring his crie s fo r help, and aide d b y Hassan swims fo r the bank. Lying i n a Dyak longhouse, believing Campio n dead, Izzart takes a pleasure i n remembering hi s enforced passivity . I t has been Hassan who has helped him t o the shore, who has "san k down on it" and lain, stretched ou t i n exhaustion, with him. I n the longhouse, Izzart sees "th e yellow new moon lying on her back, and i t [gives] him a keen, almost a sensual pleasure" (170). I n its association with femininity, i t recalls th e physical bon d he has with his mother, despite his "mortification" a t her habits, the "dee p tenderness . . . stronger tha n the ordinary feelin g o f mother an d son" (160) . Izzart's racial alterity, homoeroticism, an d a coded femininity merge i n the figure o f the yellow moon on it s back; they give Izzar t a temporary respite , a moment of pleasure, a protected spac e of counter-discourse withi n th e "wretched" (160 ) enactment of colonising discourse. Then Campion enters th e longhouse, save d b y the boat's crew from the river. The denouement o f Maugham's shor t stor y i s a progress by Campion an d Izzar t to the comfort o f Kuala Solor. Interrogated successivel y b y unofficial, official an d Resident, Izzart i s always interrupted b y Campion's desir e to tell the story first , a desire tha t proceeds, it transpires, from Campion' s ow n fea r of having show n th e "white feather." Izzart' s fina l conversation with Campion reveals that the prospector i s unaware that Izzar t failed t o 211 do his ultimate to rescue him, of his failure i n the codes of masculinity; his distrust o f Izzart i s rather base d upo n racism: Campion chuckle d good-naturedly , an d his blue eyes were gay with amusement. "The yellow streak, " he replied, and then, with a grin that showe d hi s broken an d discoloure d teeth: "Hav e a cheroot, dear boy." (185 ) In appropriating Izzart' s public school vocabulary, Campion signals his inten t to trade class fo r race i n the economy o f colonial masculinity. Campion i s "no t going to tell a soul"(185); i n return he will be treated a s a class egual, trading his blue eyes fo r credit t o cover over his broken teeth. The short stor y ends , then, with the cover stor y i n place, with a conspiratoria l paperin g ove r of the cracks i n colonial discourse. For all Maugham's papering, however, that discourse i s flawed. For i n his revisions o f the material o f A Writer's Notebook, Maugham made one more change. In "Th e Yellow Streak," when Izzar t an d Campion ar e struggling i n the water, they ar e passed b y two canoes ful l of Malays, who avert thei r face s an d pass on. The Malays have no functio n in the narrative; they pass by, but the wake of their passage i s troubling, the introduction o f a complicating factor which i s not, finally, reducible t o significance. Like the passage of the Malay canoes, Maugham's homosexual subtext disturb s the text aroun d it . Unable t o conceptualise 212 an autonomous, independent homosexual identit y within a text, Maugham must secretly pursue affiliation with othe r identities that ar e defined a s absences, as parasitic o n the colonial discours e o f masculinity. Attached t o femininity and racia l alterity, Maugham's sexua l difference invert s th e dyads o f the text an d threatens to form new alliances a t cross-purposes t o those the narrative enforces. Finally silenced, i t still leave s traces o f it s passage: there i s a "yellow streak" i n the monumentalism o f Maugham ' s short story tha t even the finest suture s of contradiction canno t close.

5. Purloining "Th e Letter"

"The Yellow Streak " exemplifies racia l alterit y workin g its sabotage within the European community; Maugham's shor t story "Th e Letter," i n contrast, represents a threat pose d by a racial group outside that community, the Chinese. Chinese figure s make frequen t appearance s i n Maugham's oriental fiction , even when the fictio n i s not se t in China itself. Their rol e i s frequently subsidiary , oiling th e wheels o f the plot an d providing a pretext fo r the interaction o f European characters. " A Chinese who spok e English" (Collecte d Shor t Storie s 390) points the narrator towards th e District Officer's residenc e a t the beginning o f "The End of the Flight." The Chinese merchant Ki m Ching summons Dr. Saunders t o Takana a t the beginning o f The 213 Narrow Corner; Jack Almond's body i s found i n the house of "a middle-aged Chines e woman" (CS S 399) in " A Casual Affair." Yet Maugham's Chinese also threaten racia l divisions throug h thei r imitatio n o f the West; they ar e simulacra, possessing al l the distinguishing feature s tha t mark of f European identit y a s seperate, and thus questioning whether suc h identit y i s anything mor e than a performance. Like th e Japanese gentlemen who loo k "ver y European" while playing dec k quoits i n "P . & 0.", Chinese figure s fil l Maugham's narrator s with " a vague disquiet;" they are "sinister" because the y "wea r s o easily a disguise" (Th e Casuarina Tre e 57). Such cultural transvestis m threaten s th e status o f European men. Thus the Chinese cook i n "Honolulu " achieves what "Bananas, " a more superficially threatenin g racial Other, cannot: he seduces his European captain' s mistress. Maugham's representatio n o f Chinese figure s i n the Malayan storie s mirrors the anomalous position o f the Chinese i n British Malaya. The British encourage d Chines e an d commercia l involvement , yet they di d not encourage integratio n o f the Malay an d Chines e communities. The prosperity o f traditional Malay ruler s fitte d int o British constructions o f Malay society ; that of Chinese merchants di d not. By the 1890s , John Butcher notes, the richest individual s i n the F.M.S. were Chinese, and afte r 1900 many wealthy Chines e se t out to live a conspicuously western lifestyle . The most impressiv e Western-style house s 214 in Kuala Lumpur were owne d no t by British expatriates , but by prominent members o f the Chinese community (83) . The Chinese were als o active i n opposing racia l segregatio n o n the railways (Butche r 97-106) , an d afte r th e 191 1 Revolution were perceived b y the European communit y a s more "truculent " and pron e t o disrupting th e colonial orde r (Butche r 114-115). I n this regard, i t i s significant tha t the rioters on Prynne's rubbe r estat e i n Maugham's shor t stor y "Th e Door of Opportunity" ar e Chinese. The stor y which best exemplifies th e troubling presenc e of Chinese men an d women i n Maugham's Malayan storie s i s one of his most famous , "Th e Letter." On one level, "" follows the paradigms o f race an d gender outlined earl y i n this chapter. Two men, Robert Crosbi e an d Mr. Joyce, uncover a secre t o f transgression centre d upo n a woman--in thi s case Leslie Crosbie's affai r with an d murder o f Geoffrey Hammond--and the n proceed t o cover i t over; they break the law rather tha n break th e urbanity o f colonial discourse. Leslie, like Mrs. Cartwright i n "Footprint s i n the Jungle," is invested wit h both unruly sexualit y an d th e capacity fo r "'self-control'" and "'determination' " (190) . Sh e is, superficially, a model mem, "i n her quiet way charming" an d "a very agreeable hostess" (192) : Though sh e was not pretty ther e was somethin g agreeable i n her appearance . Sh e had elegance, but i t was the elegance o f good breeding i n which there was nothing o f the artifice o f society. You had onl y t o look a t her t o know what sor t of 215 people sh e had an d what kin d o f surroundings sh e had live d in . Her fragility gav e her a singular refinement. I t was impossibl e to associate her with the vaguest ide a of grossness. (205 ) Under Joyce' s patien t observation, however, Leslie's facad e cracks, her fac e "n o longer human . . . distorted wit h cruelty, and rage an d pain" (230) , animate d b y "fiendis h passion". Having obtaine d a confession fro m Leslie, Joyc e is keen that the show should g o on. The short story , in contrast t o "Footprint s i n the Jungle," ends with Leslie i n her husband's power ; he knows o f his wife's affair, yet will countenance it s suppression fo r the good o f the community. The fina l scene of "Th e Letter," significantly, takes place at Joyce's home. The letter destroyed, an d th e disciplinin g ritual o f confession over , Leslie proceeds t o model hersel f upon Mrs. Joyce, another model mem whose cocktails ar e "celebrated throug h al l the Malay States " (226) : Mrs. Crosbie' s feature s gradually compose d themselves. Those passions, so clearly delineated , were smoothe d awa y a s with your hand you would smooth crumpled paper , and i n a minute th e face was cool an d cal m an d unlined. Sh e was a trifle pale, but her lip s broke int o a pleasant, affable smile. She was once more the well-bred an d eve n distinguished woman . (230 ) The las t line of the story i s Leslie's apolog y t o Mrs. Joyce for giving her "'s o much trouble'" (230) . 216 The triangle between Joyc e an d th e two Crosbies, however, i s paralleled b y another, congruent triangle , that between Leslie, Joyce, and his Chinese clerk, Ong Ch i Seng, who conducts the negotiations fo r the purchase and suppression o f the letter which provides evidenc e o f Leslie's crime. The firs t fe w paragraphs o f Maugham's shor t story provid e a ready example o f Chi Seng's abilit y t o infiltrate textua l space s that would normally , under th e medievalist rhetori c o f the text, be reserved fo r whites. The opening o f "Th e Letter" foregrounds a n explicit contras t between Asia n disorde r an d Europea n order: Outside o n the quay th e sun beat fiercely. . . Singapore i s the meeting-place o f a hundred peoples; and men of all colours, black Tamils, yellow Chinks, brown Malays, Armenians, Jews, and Bengalis, called t o one another i n raucous tones. But insid e the office o f Messrs. Ripley, Joyce, an d Naylor, i t was pleasantly cool ; i t was dark afte r the dusty glitte r o f the street and agreeabl y quie t after it s unceasing din. (186) Joyce's office, however, has been infiltrate d b y Chi Seng, "very neat i n his white ducks," speaking "beautifu l English , accenting each word with precision" (187) . Ch i Seng's "elaborate accuracy " (200 ) of speec h i s matched b y his elegant dress-sense: He wore very shin y patent leather shoe s and gay sil k socks . I n his black ti e was a pearl 217 and ruby pin, and o n the fourth finger of his left hand a diamond ring . From the pocket of his neat white coat protruded a gold fountain - pen an d a gold pencil. He wore a gold wrist- watch, an d on the bridge o f his nose invisibl e pince-nez. (201 ) Joyce i s keen t o damn Chi Seng with faint praise, the narrator commenting tha t the Chinese clerk's clothin g represents "th e height o f local fashion " (201) . Nevertheless, Chi Seng' s discreetly extravagan t mime of British coutur e suggest s a potential appropriatio n o f constructions o f manliness base d upo n observation an d somatic repression. The clerk's appearanc e i s clearly contrasted wit h that of Robert Crosbie: Mr. Joyc e noticed no w the old fel t hat, with its broad doubl e brim, which Crosbie had place d upon the table; and then his eyes travelled t o the khaki shorts he wore, showing his red hairy thighs, the tennis shirt ope n a t the neck, without a tie, and the dirty khaki jacket with the ends of the sleeves turned up. He looked a s though he had jus t come i n from a long tramp among the rubber trees. (187-188 ) Not only does Ch i Sen g have a sartorial advantag e ove r Crosbie, he also appears more self-controlle d tha n Joyce. Joyce i s tense; he fidgets, forming "littl e construction[s ]" with the fingers o f both hands (189) . On g Chi Seng remain s 218 calm an d efficient, putting his "lon g slim fingers" (215 ) forward onl y to open the door. The only fla w Joyce can fin d in his mimicry i s his Chinese assistant's "difficult y wit h the letter R " (216) ; thi s difficulty onl y becomes apparen t in the last third of the story, Chi Sen g having successfull y pronounced "Crosbie " as early a s the first page. The fact that Ch i Seng's pronunciation ha s already passe d withou t comment fo r most o f the story tim e only underlines the success of his English impersonation . Ong Chi Seng's purloining o f nominally Europea n characteristics i s matched b y other examples of impersonation i n "Th e Letter." Leslie Crosbie's self-contro l is paralleled b y that of the Chinese woman with whom Hammon d has lived . Leslie oscillates fro m absolute "composure " to the "'hidde n possibilities o f savagery there are in the most respectable o f women'" (200) ; th e unnamed Chines e woman, in contrast, walks "wit h the air of a woman sure of herself" (224) and appear s t o Joyce to be " a woman o f character" (223). Hammond's liaiso n with her strengthens the case of the defence, since, Joyce comments, "*[w]e made our minds to make use of the odium which suc h a connection cas t upon him in the minds o f all respectable people'" (211) . Ye t sh e also represents, as Leslie reports, "'th e only woman who really meant anythin g t o him'" (229) . He r costume "no t quite European nor quite Chinese" (224) , the woman represents a troubling, unfixed mime o f the European, more controlled an d singleminded tha n either Leslie o r Robert, with a n agenda 219 that sh e carries through to a successful conclusion a t the expense of both. Further examples o f Chinese doubling an d copying resonate throughout "Th e Letter." The letter itsel f i s a double, since the letter that Ong Chi Seng presents to Joyce is a copy "writte n i n the flowin g hand which the Chines e were taugh t a t the foreign schools " (202) . Th e "smal l squar e room" i n which Joyc e and Crosbi e pa y off the Chinese woman mimics the dark, "privat e room" (186 ) in which Joyce conducts his legal business. Both are the sites of negotiation regardin g writing; the story tha t will be written i n both sites i s a compromised one , a story o f mutual convenience . Colonial jurisprudence assumes the status of a necessary lie . Joyce's reflection tha t he "ha d lived i n the East a long time an d his sense of professiona l honour was not perhaps s o acute as i t had been twenty years ago" (214 ) destroys an y moral superiorit y he may fee l over Chi Seng. As Joyce twists an d turns to cover u p Mrs. Crosbie's crime, Chi Sen g remains "unmoved " (217) : i t i s the Chinese who now shows the virtues o f repression an d self-control which constitut e Maugham's constructio n o f British manliness. Yet the most troubling exampl e of Chinese imitatio n of British discours e i n "Th e Letter" i s a brief sentence o f a visitation. Early i n the short stor y Joyce recalls th e cover story which Mrs. Crosbie has previously tol d him t o explain her shootin g o f Hammond. The passage i s curious i n that 220 Leslie i s quite clearly th e focalizer o f the early par t o f her cover story , yet the narrative seamlessl y incorporate s other points o f view, especially i n its latter half. In Leslie's account, Hammond, "hi s eyes hot with desire," and now "n o longer a civilized man , but a savage" (197 ) attempts to rape her; she escapes when he stumbles, picks up a revolver upo n the desk, and fire s a t him while her mind goe s blank. The account continues, but moves seamlessl y t o incorporate the points o f view of other characters: the servants an d the A.D.O. Withers, who interview s Mrs. Crosbie the morning afte r Hammond's death. Leslie's privat e recollections thu s become public discourse; what i s presented a s the recollection of one individual is , in fact, the summation o f the recollections o f many. All spea k with one voice; unreliable private testimony has become a public narrative, a univocal stor y tha t the European community must and will maintain despit e private doubt s as to it s veracity. At the moment o f transition fro m private t o public discours e stands a Chinese man, the Crosbies' head-boy, " a level-headed fellow " (198) . Having killed Hammond, Leslie locks herself i n her room, and the narrating gaz e shifts to the servants watching th e door close. Hammond's body lie s on the verandah, a fitting marker o f the need fo r sexual continence and repression upo n which the rhetoric o f British Malaya insists . Yet the personification o f the ideal s upon which suc h a rhetoric i s based i s not a European, but rather the Crosbies' servant. The head-boy usurp s the idea l of 221 rationality t o which the British character s aspire; alone of the fictional Hammond, Leslie, Robert o r Joyce, he i s truly able to live up to Joyce's insisten t advice to the Europea n man i n the tropics: "'Yo u must pull yourself together , you know. You must keep your head'" (188) .

The examples o f "Footprint s i n the Jungle," "Th e Yellow Streak," an d "Th e Letter," show how the rhetoric o f Maugham's Malaya i s subject t o challenge b y affiliation s between femininity , homosexuality an d racial alterity, affiliations which cu t across the binary opposition s upo n which the texts are founded. While acknowledging th e presence o f these cross-currents, i t is nonetheless important t o register tha t their presenc e may, paradoxically, ultimately strengthe n th e rhetoric o f the Malayan fiction . Masculinity i n the Malayan stories i s a police action i n which transgressiv e element s are hunted down only t o be silenced. I f the hunt i s difficult, then this onl y reflects greater credi t upon the successfu l enforcers o f moral an d textual discipline. Transgression i s never, finally, allowed t o speak a s transgression: the show, after numerous postponements, must go on. 222 6. The Narrow Corner; Intoxication, Homoeroticism, an d th e Writing Cur e

The Narrow Corner, published i n 1932 , is the las t of Maugham's novel s se t east o f Singapore. The work i s very different fro m most o f the Malayan shor t stories, the latter's rigi d insistenc e upo n discipline an d communa l values being replace d b y a romantic, inchoate East . I n this respect, the novel i s closer t o the South Pacific fiction , and th e few short stories, such as "Th e Vessel o f Wrath," which Maugham se t i n the Dutch East Indies . Its characters are transients, recycled fro m the pages o f A Writer's Notebook, The Moon an d Sixpence , and O n a Chinese Screen, and the y spen d muc h of the story tim e hopping fro m islan d t o island. Ye t The Narrow Corner als o differs fro m th e earlier fiction i n that i t makes no distinction betwee n primitiv e and civilized . The East of the novel i s a conglomerat e space, figured i n terms of intoxication, a space which overwhelms masculine attempt s to make i t signify.

The Narrow Corner, like so much of Maugham's fiction , features a Girardian triangle , in this particular narrativ e centred upo n Fre d Blake, Erik Christessen an d Louise Frith. The mutuality o f Fred an d Erik' s infatuatio n i s unusual i n Maugham's novels; through infantilization , and associatio n with th e tropes o f nineteenth-century imperialis t boy' s fiction, however, the relationship i s drained o f erotic content. The rhetoric o f the text here presents a logical 223 fallacy, a false dilemma i n which the only two possible masculine subjectivitie s ar e those embodied b y Erik an d Fred, each dependent upo n a particular constructio n o f Louise Frith's femininity . Louise herself i s the site of sexuality displace d fro m Eri k an d Fred' s relationship; lik e Maugham's Malayan mems, sh e i s semiotically slippery , a fountainhead o f contradictory significatio n whic h both Eri k and Fre d striv e unsuccessfully t o channel int o the racial and sexua l opposition s necessary fo r their own construction s of manliness. If Erik an d Fre d fail , the text offers anothe r possibility--a surrende r t o the intoxication o f the East, embodied b y the novel's focalizer , the opium addic t Dr. Saunders. Saunders' openly homoerotic gaz e an d his addictio n are clearly linke d b y contemporary sexologica l discourse : his joys are transient an d furtive , centered aroun d th e portable closet o f the opium den . Addiction an d homosexuality remov e Saunders fro m participation i n the masculine dialecti c o f the text. As "lor d o f space an d time" he watches without th e possibility o f entering th e action, or of the desired objec t returning his gaze. The field i s thus ope n fo r the continued replayin g o f tropes of heterosexual masculinity . Removed fro m the story, Saunders' "cure" i s to place his identit y i n abeyance, to become a cipher, a technician openin g u p a window o n what passes as real. 224

1. The Conglomerate Eas t

The Narrow Corner begins a tendency i n Maugham's writing tha t will late r reac h it s full expression i n The Razor' s Edge, the tendency t o present Asia not so much a s a geographical spac e but as a philosophical construct . The characters an d setting s o f the novel ar e recycled fro m observations made i n China an d th e South Pacific, as well a s the Dutch East Indies . Dr. Saunders, the focalizer, appears in On a Chinese Screen, while Captain Nichols an d his termagant wife ar e taken fro m The Moon an d Sixpence . If Maugham's prefac e t o the Heinemann Collecte d Editio n i s accurate, the whole tex t arose fro m a passage removed fro m the earlier novel. Several more passages ar e adapted fro m the then unpublished A Writer's Notebook: the journey tha t Saunders, Blake an d Nichols make i n the schooner fro m Takan a to Kanda-Meria, the description o f Kanda-Meria itself--Banda, which Maugham visited i n 192 2 ( A Writer's Notebook 205)-- , an d eve n the character o f Swan, taken fro m notes made upon Maugham's 191 6 visit t o Apia.

The novel's narrative, predictably, thus covers a wide geographical area . Commencing i n Fu-chou, and ending i n Singapore, The Narrow Corner i s largely se t i n the Dutch East Indies , although embedde d narrative s on different diegetic level s tak e the reader a s far afield a s Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and India , as well a s back i n time to the golden age s o f the Portuguese an d Dutc h colonia l 225 empires. More surprising , perhaps, is the text's lac k of differentiation betwee n thes e areas. In Maugham's Malaya n stories, a variety o f racial others ar e placed within a rigid signifyin g framework ; i t i s the play a t the border o f the compartments within the framework tha t gives th e storie s their tension . I n The Narrow Corner, i n contrast, a variety of racial others ar e rolled int o a whole, all basking i n the light o f a romanticised, temporall y distant , East. "Al l this," the narrator writes i n the single sentenc e o f the first chapter, "happene d a good many years ago " (11). The novel's representatio n o f the Orient as an ideation, an undifferentiated mass , i s shown clearly i n Erik's explanation t o Saunders o f how the Englishman Frit h came t o his island : "He'd rea d abou t i t i n some ol d trave l book. He's told m e he wanted t o come here eve r since he was a kid. . . . [H]e'd forgotte n th e name of it ; he could neve r fin d agai n the book i n which he'd rea d about it ; he just knew there was a n islan d al l by itsel f i n a little group somewher e betwee n Celebes an d New , where th e sea was scente d with spices and there were great marble palaces." (138) Frith, i n effect, has imagine d th e islan d befor e discoverin g it. Eri k notes tha t when Frit h firs t arrived a t Kanda-Meria, he di d not recognize i t as his island , but since i t was "'the only place he could find' " (139) , he "'shifte d hi s 226 standpoint'" and "'force d th e reality t o tally with his fancy1" (139) . Saunders , in response, compares Frith' s fantasy t o The Arabian Nights, and then proceeds t o recollect th e conglomerate Eas t of Fu-chou, comparing a Chinese fisherma n t o Sinbad. The Arabian peninsular, the Dutch Eas t Indies, and a coastal cit y i n China are, through metaphorical attachment , made identical , all part of an imaginary spac e whose contiguities see m more philosophica l than geographical. Even moments that promise t o mark ou t geographical o r racial spaces as distinct fro m one another ar e recuperate d into the novel's vision of a conglomerate East . Earlier i n the novel, Dr. Saunders i s called upo n t o go to the assistance o f a dying Japanese pearl diver, a task which enables him t o perform th e tas k o f imaginativ e reconstruction s o beloved o f Maugham's narrator s an d focalizers: He did no t know why, but he thought o f the little boy the dead dive r once had been, with his yellow fac e and sloe-blac k eyes , who played in the streets of a Japanese town and was taken by his mother i n her pretty Japanes e dress, with pins i n her elaborately don e hair an d clogs on her feet, to see the cherry blossom when i t was i n flower and , on holidays, to the temple, where he was given a cake; and perhaps once, dressed al l i n white, with ashen wand i n his hand, he had gon e

with al l his family o n pilgrimage an d watched th e 227 sun rise fro m th e summit o f Fuji Yama, the sacred mountain. (73 ) The passage abov e i s a conventional Maugham gambit. I t is littered wit h cliches, but nonetheless achieve s it s purpose of authorizing Saunders 1 narratio n by showing his evident knowledge of the specifics o f Eastern cultures. No sooner have thes e specifics been brought t o light, however, than Saunders seizes the moment t o attach them t o his homogenized East: Some sa y tha t i f you believe a thing with sufficient forc e i t becomes true . For that Jap, lying there, dying there, painlessly, it was not the end, but the turning ove r of a page; he knew, as certainly a s he knew that the sun i n a few hours would rise , that he was but slipping fro m on e life to another. Karma, the deeds o f this as of all the other live s he had passed, would someho w be continued. (68 ) The Japanese pear l dive r thus live s according t o the same laws tha t Frith discovers i n the books o n Eastern religion s he has brought fro m Bombay o r Calcutta. The specifi c manifest content o f the diver's background i s peeled bac k by Saunders t o reveal a latent meaning which again accords with the novel's vision of a romantic, undifferentiated East . The troping o f Asia i n The Narrow Corne r i s very different fro m tha t expressed i n The Moon an d Sixpence . The opposition between primitive an d civilized whic h the earlier 228 novel insist s upon i s elided. Asia embodies no dark, undiscovered secrets ; Europeans, indeed, become part o f the romance. Frith i s engaged i n translating Camoes ' Lusiads, while Erik speak s enthusiatically t o his visitors o f the glories of the Portuguese an d Dutch empires. Frith, on his island, with his books an d his daughter Louise, suggests a parallel with Prospero; significantly, there i s no Caliban, no recalcitrant Nativ e Other, to upset the harmony o f the mythical landscape . I n a sense, the Asia o f The Narrow Corner i s very lik e the Africa o f Maugham's earl y colonia l novel, The Explorer, existing onl y to give the Europea n imagination scop e fo r expression. Unlike the Africa o f the Explorer, however, the Kanda threatens t o overwhelm it s European visitors with drowsiness an d intoxication : the island's ai r i s "heav y with fatigue" (99) , the colour o f the sea "s o bizarre an d sophisticated i t seemed t o belong t o art rather than t o nature" (100) . The conglomerate natur e o f Asia i n The Narrow Corner, like China's refusal t o signify i n The Painted Veil , raises problems fo r male characters whose masculinity i s constructed upo n the ability t o apportion meaning, to place a Cartesian ne t over a n unruly landscape . Fred Blak e comments tha t the islands i n the sea loo k beautiful fro m the deck o f a ship, so much s o that he once aske d Nichols t o land o n one of them: "When you got to one of them an d went o n shore, i t all went—I mean , i t was just tree s

and crab s an d mosquitos. I t slipped throug h 229

your fingers , so to speak." (100 )

Erik's reply t o Fred's statemen t i s perhaps even more revealing: "I know what yo u mean ... .It' s alway s a risk t o put things to the test of experience. It's lik e the locke d roo m i n Bluebeard's castle. One's al l right as lon g as one keeps clear of that. You have to be prepared fo r a shock i f you tur n the key an d walk in. " (101 ) In one sense, Erik's repl y foreshadow s his own experience with Louise, the "spectacl e o f the naked human soul" (212 ) which s o terrifies Saunders. I n another, i t embodies the fear of another spectacle , that of the closet. The narcotic effects of the conglomerate Eas t may be more comfortabl e than self-scrutiny .

2. Boy's Own

In The Narrow Corner, the primary motor fo r the development o f the plot i s the triangular relationshi p between Erik Christessen, Fred Blake, and Louise Frith. The most apparen t featur e o f Fred an d Erik' s mutual enthusias m is its infantility; passages o f The Narrow Corner i n which the characters express admiratio n fo r each other see m to belong t o Victorian children's literature , to R.M. Ballantyne's Th e Coral Islan d (1858 ) o r W.H.G. Kingston' s The Three Midshipmen (1873 ) rather tha n t o a novel of the 230 1930s. "'[Hje' s suc h a big hulking fello w an d a s strong a s an ox'" (115 ) remarks Fred , "'yo u have a sort o f feeling yo u want t o take care of him'" (115) . "Simpl e goodness" shines forth fro m Eri k "wit h s o clear an d steadfast a light" (177) ; when talking t o him earlier Fre d gives "th e doctor a puckish glance that made him loo k lik e a mischievous boy" (115) . Th e fiction fo r boys of the nineteenth century , which Maugham read a s a child did , Michael Taylo r has commented, 1 provide a space i n which homoeroticism an d homophobia migh t be explored withi n a relatively "safe " environment. Within the twentieth century, the effects o f such exploration ar e incorporated within autobiography an d adult fiction. Graves' Goodbye t o All That (1930 ) and Maugham's ow n Of Human Bondage (1915 ) both represent intens e homosocial infatuations betwee n boys a t public school: perhaps the most explicit representatio n o f homoeroticism an d it s violent repression by homophobia come s fro m another, parallel culture i n which questions o f masculinity were even more pressing: Robert Musil's Youn g Torless (1906) . Th e Narrow Corner, however, displays an opposite trajectory: distance d by Saunders' ironic narration, the debate concernin g masculinity i s reframed i n the terms of Maugham's ow n boyhood. I n "Red " we saw a contestation o f masculinity around issue s of class an d emotiona l repression , i n Malaya the triumph o f a masculinity i n which "heroe s . . . ha d t o learn to be obedient, to compromise, and t o submit to the greater knowledge o f their elders an d thei r community" (Boy d 231 145). Maugham's masculine dialectic , however, takes us much further back, back almos t t o masculinity befor e homosexuality.2 i t i s a dialectic which, I feel, attempt s to sidestep the issue of the homosexual, to produce a world in which concepts of masculinity firml y based upo n gender difference d o battle ove r a colonial landscape . The return of the repressed, o f abject homosexuality, i s marked b y Saunders1 narration . The dialogue i n The Narrow Corner is , then, between tw o constructions o f Victorian masculinity . Th e first, represented b y Christessen, i s an "androgynous blend o f compassion an d courage, gentleness an d strength , self-control an d nativ e purity" (Nelso n 530 ) which represented "manliness " i n Victorian fictio n until th e last quarter o f the nineteenth century . Erik is , Fred remarks, "as strong as an ox" (113 , 115), but his strength i s directed compassionatel y t o the assistance o f others. After becoming fas t friends, Erik an d Fred behave "lik e a couple of boys" (112 ) and go climbing; Erik uses his strength t o rescue Fre d when he slips. Christessen's reluctan t strengt h in arm-wrestling i s further representativ e o f his manliness: "Put your hand up." Fred place d his elbow on the table an d Eri k di d the same. They pu t pal m to palm an d Fre d trie d t o force Erik's ar m down. He put all his strength into the effort. He could no t move it . Then with a littl e smil e the Dane pressed bac k an d graduall y

Fred's arm was forced t o the table. 232 "I'm lik e a kid besid e you," he laughed. "Gosh , a fellow wouldn't stan d much chance i f you hit him. Eve r been i n a fight?" "No. Wh y should I? " (113 ) Manliness, Claudia Nelso n writes, was often figure d b y th e mid-Victorians a s "androgyn y (i f not outright feminization) " (529) since i t was based upo n a construction o f gender i n which "women' s hypertrophied moral s went hand i n hand wit h their atrophie d sexuality " (528) . Women were i n this sense manly, and the ultimate exampl e of androgynous, self-curbing and sacrificin g manliness was Christ. Thomas Hughes, whose Tom Brown's Schoolday s (1857 ) might be thought t o have inaugurated a new construction o f manliness based upo n activity an d individualism , nonetheless wrote The Manliness of Christ (1879 ) some two decades afte r his famous novel, in which Christ i s celebrated a s androgynous, tender an d thoughtful o f others. Christessen's name , and his metaphorical presentatio n a s a source o f light i n The Narrow Corner, make a parallel o f some importanc e here. The androgynous natur e o f Christessen's manliness i s expressed i n his investmen t i n Louise, and before her, her mother Catherine, as icons of purity an d restraint. "'H e didn't kno w it,' " remarks Louise t o Saunders afte r Erik' s death, "'bu t i t wasn't me he loved, i t was mother'" (209) . Seeing Louise o n her balcony--"a saron g roun d her loins , but the upper part o f her body was naked" (158)--Eri k respond s not with desire but with a meditation upo n purity:

She did not look a woman of fles h and blood. 233 She was like a spirit-maiden an d Erik , his mind ful l o f the old Danish stories, almost expected her t o turn int o a lovely white bird an d fl y away t o the fabled land s of the sunrise. (158 ) Talking with Saunder s abou t his engagement, Erik confesse s that he i s ashamed tha t "' I shall not go to her a s pure as she will com e to me1": "When you lov e someone lik e Louise it' s horrible t o think that you've lain i n strange arms an d you've kissed bought an d painted mouths. I fee l unworthy o f her as i t is. I might have at least brought her a clean an d decent body." (145 ) In Erik Christessen's eyes , then, manliness i s equated wit h continence, with a purity an d restraint modelled upo n a particular constructio n o f woman. This construction i s an essence, hidden beneath th e body which may be metonymically cut up into "arms " and "mouths " but which exists onl y a s a cipher fo r what lie s beneath, "th e essential flam e o f an individual o f which all the qualities tha t the world see s are only emanations" (145) . Although dependent upon an idealised vie w o f woman as the personification o f restraint, Erik's manliness i s a quality t o which both sexes may reasonably aspire ; it is, in a sense, a manliness before homosexuality, before th e threat o f male homosexual pani c made androgyny subjec t t o paranoid scrutiny . Fred Blake's manliness, i n this context, seems close r 234 to a construction that came int o being i n the late Victorian era an d persisted, althoug h part of a new series of contestations, into the twentieth century. Reading boy' s fiction o f the eighties an d nineties, Claudia Nelso n notes the emergence of a new type of masculine hero: [T]he end o f the century . . . "manly" boy increasingly contain s a n admixture of the animal, as boys' novels spend more and more time dilating on the width of the hero's shoulders an d les s an d les s on the depth o f his principles. Manliness becomes less a state of mind tha n a state o f muscle, and it s new antonym i s "effeminacy. " Th e benign unnaturalnes s of self-controlled, responsible , asexual androgyn y seems newly dangerous--degenerate, sterile, and often homoerotic. (542 ) The new hero of boy's fictio n was "assertiv e an d confident" (Dunae 120); in the John Harkaway storie s written by Bracebridge Hemyng an d late r Edwi n J . Brett he might als o be sadistic (Jame s 94-95). Fre d Blake fits this pattern: he is "shabbily dressed i n trousers" and a singlet, and his topee is "grimy " (15) , but his physique i s subject to continuous narrational scrutiny : He was tall, with squar e shoulders, a small waist an d slender hips; his arms and neck were tanned, but the rest o f his body was very white. He dried himself, and puttin g o n his pyjamas agai n came aft. His eyes were shinin g 235 and o n his lip s was the outline o f a smile. "You're a very good-looking youn g fellow," said th e doctor. (86 ) Fred doe s not appreciate music o r literature; he seems, like Swan, to be a "man of action" (131) , and , as Saunders call s him, a "'public danger' " (201) . Impresse d a s he i s by Christessen's goodness, wishing lif e t o be "'brav e and honest'" (203) , Blak e nonetheless performs a very differen t form o f masculinity fro m that of his friend , a masculinity based no t upon androgyny bu t upon a n opposition o f the two sexes. Fred Blake's masculinity thu s seems to be a masculinity after the discursive productio n o f homosexuality i n the late nineteenth century, one that insist s upon differentiatin g itself fro m an y feminine, and therefore possibl y homosexua l connotations. Telling Saunder s o f the scandal tha t resulte d in his being sen t awa y fro m Australia o n Nichols' schooner, Blake i s keen t o make a gendered distinctio n between th e sexes foundational t o his own particular construction o f manliness: "They'd ge t furiou s with me. Girls ar e funny, you know, nothing makes them s o mad a s a chap standing off . Of course, I never le t i t interfer e with my work: I' m no t a fool, you know, in any sense o f the word, and I wanted t o get on." (183 ) Blake "get s on" by consciously exoticisin g women, producing them i n opposition t o his manliness. He describes Mrs. 236 Hudson, the wife of his father's influentia l sponso r with whom he has a n affair, as having hair "lik e a gipsy's" and "enormous black eyes" (184) . "Sh e didn't look British," he remarks, "sh e looke d lik e a foreigner, a Hungarian o r something lik e that" (184) . I n contrast t o Fred's own restraint, he characterises Mrs. Hudson a s "absolutel y shameless" (185) , "a s jealous as hell" (186) , an d finall y a s "a madwoman . . . capable of anything" (189) . Blake' s manliness i s much more familiar t o readers of Maugham: fundamentally, i t i s dependent upo n a construction o f femininity completel y oppose d t o that of Christessen. Women here represen t abandonment , letting oneself go, whereas men embody muscular restraint . Masculine strength i s not only i n the biceps but als o i n the sphincters. In the context o f The Narrow Corner, Fred Blake' s construction o f masculinity doe s gain some narrational endorsement. Fre d i s much more physically attractiv e tha n Erik, and Saunders sympathise s with Fred's construction o f femininity. The doctor's instinct s ar e "outrage d b y the unbridled passio n o f the experienced woman " who has seduce d Fred (190) , an d he describes Louise as "lik e an enchantress in an old tal e whom men love d t o their destruction" (218) , a remark which clearly dovetails with Fred's misogyny. The two men's masculine dialecti c i s largely expresse d throug h thei r rivalry fo r Louise Frith , a rivalry tha t extends beyond sexual possession t o a contest ove r the signification o f her femininity. Louise's femininit y i s semiotically mobile . In 237 some aspects, she seems to satisfy Erik' s fantasie s o f purity: lik e the Intende d i n "Hear t o f Darkness," or Miranda in The Tempest sh e i s an icon of virtue and innocence . In others, she much more closely correspond s t o Fred Blake' s construction o f woman a s sexually incontinent , and therefor e associated wit h racial alterity. When firs t meeting Fred , Louise looks at him "no t with pertness o r brazenly, but as though sh e were a little surprised" (122) : sh e seems very much a Miranda figur e here. Later, in contrast, she remarks to Sauders "'I'v e live d o n this islan d almos t al l my life. . . . You don't imagin e sex has many secrets fo r Malay children. I'v e hear d everythin g connecte d with i t talked about sinc e I was seven'" (209) . Th e contradictor y constructions o f femininity which Louise embodies ar e most clearly reflecte d i n the narrative's set-piec e description s of her, the first when Saunders an d Blake firs t meet her, the second a t a subsequent dinne r party. Walking i n the grounds o f Frith's estate, the protagonists o f The Narrow Corner encounter Louise fo r the first time: She wore nothing bu t a sarong o f Javanese batik, with a little white pattern o n a brown ground; i t was tightly attache d jus t over her breasts an d came dow n to her knees. She was barefoot. Beside the littl e smil e that hovered o n her lips, the only sig n she gave that she noticed th e approach of strangers was a little shake of the head,

almost involuntary , to loosen her hair an d a n 238 instructive gestur e o f the hand throug h it , for it was long an d hung down her back. I t spread i n a clou d ove r her neck an d shoulders, very thic k and o f a fairness so ashy pale that, but for it s radiance, i t would hav e looke d white. . . . The sarong tightly wrapped aroun d he r conceale d nothing o f her form ; she was very slim , with the narrow hips o f a boy. . . . The girl standin g there i n an attitude of indolent beauty reminde d him o f some statue he had see n i n a museum o f a goddess attachin g her peplum; he could no t remember i t very exactly. Greco-Roman, he thought. (120-1) This passage i s unusual i n Maugham's oriental fiction, in that i t is a description o f a white woman tha t does not make an explicit contras t betwee n surfac e an d depth. Mrs. Cartwright an d Mrs. Crosbie are gazed a t by the narrators and focalizer s o f their stories who wish t o peer beyond th e civilized facad e int o the depths of female depravity. The set-piece description o f Louise, in contrast, i s much close r to the descriptions o f native women i n the stories of The Trembling o f a Leaf. Like these women, Louise i s represented a s being a natural work o f art, unaware o f the effect sh e produces upon those who gaze at her: her beauty is "indolent, " like that of a classical statue , while late r in the same passage sh e i s said t o have "flower-lik e grace" (121). Sh e wears native dress. At the same time, she i s 239 "ambiguous" (121) : th e text insist s upon the extreme whiteness o f her hair, her "blue " eyes (121) , an d Saunder s notes that i t i s "he r fairness i n that tropic scene" that produces i n him a n "exoti c sensation" (121) . Like the fabri c of her sarong, Louise merges from brown int o white, from European Sel f t o Other. In the second passage, Louise wears a n antique saron g at the banquet her fathe r gives i n his guests' honour: She was wearing a sarong o f green sil k ... . It was Javanese, and suc h as the ladies of the Sultan's harem . . . wore o n occasions o f state. It fitted he r body lik e a sheath, tight over her young nipples an d tight ove r her narrow hips. Her bosom an d leg s were bare. She wore high-heele d green shoes, and they added t o her graceful stature. That ashy blonde hair of hers was done high o n her head, but very simply , and the sober brilliance o f the green-and-gold saron g enhance d its astonishing fairness . Her beauty too k th e breath away. The sarong had been kept with sweet- smelling essence s o r she had scente d herself; when she joined the m the y were conscious o f a faint an d unknown perfume. I t was languorous an d illusive , and i t was pleasant t o surmise that i t was made from a secret recipe i n the palace o f one o f the rajahs of the islands.

"What's th e meaning o f this fancy dress? " asked

Frith. (127-8 ) 240 Again we see Louise's semioti c mobility: she wears native dress, "'fanc y dress' " even, but high heels. She i s fair, but associated b y Saunders with visions o f harems an d othe r orientalist constructions . Such visions lin k her to the "'intoxication'" (141 ) which Eri k feel s when Frit h tells him tales o f the Portuguese Empire , while Louise's scen t recall s the "limpid " air under the nutmeg tree s on Frith's plantation (119) , an d foreshadow s th e "aromatic " wind whic h blows when she walks dow n t o the pool with Fre d (135) . Louise, finally, fit s neither Fred' s nor Erik's gendere d construction o f femininity. After Erik's suicide an d Fred' s departure sh e tells Saunders tha t Erik "wante d t o impriso n me i n his idea l . . . And Fre d i n his way was the same" (211). Having juggled th e constructions o f masculinity s o important t o the two men Louise let s them fall : all that remains fo r Saunders i s "bare , ruthless instinct " (212) , an d "the spectacle o f the naked huma n soul" that Louise embodie s fills him with horror. Empty a s they ar e shown t o be, the representations o f masculinity embodie d b y Erik an d Fre d ar e still endorsed b y the text after th e death of both of the men. The alternativ e to the manful struggle t o make meaning, represented b y Saunders' "deplorabl e habits," which "i n some parts of the world . . . would hav e been accounted vice s (verit e au dela des Alpes, erreur ici)" (111) is, like the contents o f Bluebeard's room , too horrible t o contemplate. 241 3. Saunders an d Addictio n

The focalizer who perceives th e intoxicating , conglomerate Eas t which Louise embodies, and who has grown to be part o f it , is Dr. Saunders. Saunders live s among th e Chinese population o f Fu-chou, while the other "foreigners " regard him "wit h distaste" (12 ) and tur n " a cold shoulde r o n him" (12) . The doctor i s clearly orientalised : "'I'v e lived in the East lon g enough,'" he comments t o Nichols, "'to know that it' s better t o mind my own business'" (51). Listening t o Erik's gramophone playing Wagner, Saunders finds i n the music "somethin g shoddy, blatant, and a trifle vulgar, a sort o f baronial buffet effect," sinc e he has "grown accustomed i n China t o complications more exquisit e and harmonies les s suave " (106) . Exposur e t o the East, however, has not s o much refined Saunders ' moral sensibilities a s placed the m i n complete abeyance. Saunders is clearly decadent : buyable fo r the right price (14), cynical yet also sentimental (205) , takin g th e attitude tha t "[rjight an d wrong were no more to him than good weather an d bad weather" (24) . In this respect, he resembles Maugham's types o f Oriental masculinity i n On a Chinese Screen, the philosopher an d th e cabinet minister, whose highly develope d artistic tastes conceal a n equally acut e moral vacuity. Erik's masculinity i s one that antedates the construction s of homosexuality an d heterosexuality, Fre d Blake' s masculinity on e that defines itsel f agains t th e homosexual. 242 Saunders, of all Maugham's characters, perhaps comes closes t to being tha t abject homosexual. Saunders' body i s that of the opium addict, the bisexual, in Maugham's construction, addicted t o a homoerotic gaze. Yet suc h a surrender o f the body, a turning awa y fro m the codes of heterosexual masculinity tha t Fred an d Eri k represent, i n a sense empowers Saunders to narrate, or a least to focalize, the novel. Saunders's surrende r t o the intoxication o f the conglomerate Eas t gives him both an insid e knowledge an d a space nominally outsid e the progressive narrative o f the West, a space which he uses to full effect. The construction o f addiction i n the Victorian er a seems, Geoffrey Hardin g remarks, a suitable subject fo r the application o f a Foucaultian "genera l history," seekin g "t o establish a network o f institutiona l relation s whose conditions for m a 'regim e o f truth1" (77) . It i s thus similar to other nineteenth-century construction s whic h Foucault has disassembled: sexuality , incarceratio n a s a corrective an d confessiona l process , and the genesis o f the clinic. I n the early nineteent h centur y opiu m takin g was tolerated i n England acros s a wide spectrum o f classes. Opium eatin g might remai n th e preserve o f the rich, but laudanum (opiu m dissolved i n alcohol), pills, lozenges and proprietary medicine s containing opiu m were widely use d by the working classes (Berridg e an d Edward s 22). From th e 1860s onwards, however, opium addictio n came under scrutin y as a disease: success i n the definition o f "recognizabl e 243 physical conditions suc h as typhoid an d cholera" (150 ) led to a belief tha t scientific methodology might be applied t o "less definable conditions" such as opium addiction, "wit h a large social o r economic element i n them" might be treated "on strictly biological lines " (150) . Investigation o f the effects o f opium upon the body's physiology, however, were never divorced fro m moral considerations: opium was considered t o degenerate "th e moral character" of the addict (Hardin g 84), and i t was held that people of certain character were more susceptible to addiction. "Ther e are certain men," wrote Fitz Hugh Ludlow, in mid-century, "t o whom opium i s as fire to tow, and my friend was one of these" (Da y 252). The construction o f addiction as arising fro m immorality tightene d i n the twentieth century, with the increasing us e of opium, morphine an d cocaine as recreational drug s rather tha n as self-prescribed treatmen t for a variety o f illness; it underlies late twentiet h century representations o f heroin an d cocaine use. It is interesting t o note here, with reference to Saunders, parallels between the discursive production o f addiction an d that of sexuality. Jeffrey Weeks notes the use of the word "addict" to apply to the activities of a man charged wit h male prostitution i n the 1860 s ("Inverts , Perverts and Mary-annes" 116). The consensus among sexologists tha t there were tw o types o f homosexual, congenital invert s and habitual perverts ("Invert s ..." 123-4 ) has a parallel i n 244 T.D. Crothers * attemp t t o distinguish between habitual "morphinism" an d congenital "morphinomania " (Parsinne n 92). Both homosexual an d addic t were simultaneously a predisposed type, whose body might be surveyed fo r signs of potential deviance, and morally culpable , suffering fro m an inadequac y in manliness. The addict, wrote th e author o f a self-help guide, might "emancipat e himself fro m his bondage i f he will manfully accep t th e conditions upo n which he alone can accomplish it " (Da y 76). Saunders' addiction i s part of the above contestatio n of discursive productions, with the moral dimension perhap s made more acute i n the years followin g th e Dangerous Drug s Act o f 1920 . Yet the specifics of his addiction: the drug to which he i s addicted an d the method b y which he consumes it, lead bac k to questions o f colonization an d imperialism . Ev e Sedgwick link s th e pathological/moral mode l o f addiction no t merely t o the addict's body bu t to larger questions of the constitution o f the body of the state: The "decadence " of drug addiction . . . intersects with tw o kinds o f bodily definition , each itsel f suffuse d wit h the homo/heterosexua l problematic. The firs t o f these i s the national economic body; the secon d i s the medical body. From th e Opium Wars of the mid-nineteenth centur y up to the current detail s of U.S. relations with Turkey, Columbia, Panama, Peru, and th e Nicaragua n Contras, the drama o f "foreig n substances" and th e

drama o f the new imperialism s an d th e new 245 nationalisms have been quite inextricable . (Epistemoloqy o f the Closet 173 ) Sedgwick stresse s that the threat o f introjectio n o f foreig n substances int o the national bod y i s raised a s a means of production o f "reification s o f national will an d vitality" (173); discourse against addictiv e drug s stresses not only their debilitatin g effect s but also their foreig n origins. Indian Opium was fo r Britain firs t a means o f staunching th e flow of silver t o China, then a means of leverage to negotiate th e unequal treatie s of Nanjing an d Tianjin. I n the late nineteenth century an d on int o the twentieth, "th e belief tha t the immoralit y o f Britain's conduc t toward s China ('Th e Grea t Anglo-Asiatic Opiu m Curse') would someho w come home to roost" (Berridg e an d Edward s 198 ) became prevalent. Most opium consumed i n Britain was, as late as 1900, importe d fro m Turkey; most o f i t was eaten or drunk i n laudanum, paregoric, or other tincture s o r mixtures. Despite this, discourses o f bodily purit y an d racial paranoi a concentrated upo n Chines e opiu m dens an d th e activity o f opium smoking , i n which Saunder s indulges. The discourse surrounding th e opium den i n London i n the nineteenth century ha s been explored b y both Virginia Berridge an d Terr y Parssinen . During th e first half of the century, little attempt was made to portray th e opium de n as a social threat (Parsinne n 53); indeed, journalists ofte n wondered whethe r ther e was such a thing a s an opium den . In the lat e nineteenth century , the opium de n enters Britis h 246 fiction a s a distillation o f vice an d degeneracy . Th e opening scene of Dickens' Edwin Drood dramatize s not only Jasper's moral delinquency, bu t also the fear of an erasure of racial boundaries within th e "scattere d consciousness " (1) of "thi s unclean spiri t o f imitation" (3). 3 The opium den in The Picture o f Dorian Gray, "wher e the memory o f old sins could b e destroyed b y the madness of sins that were new" (184 ) contains not only Chinese , but also "Malays, " and "[a] half-caste, i n a ragged turban " (188) . Th e fear here seems not to be just of China bu t of a composite East--Jasper dream s o f a spike, "se t up by the Sultan's orders for the impalin g of a horde of Turkish robbers," of "ten thousand dancing-girls " and "whit e elephant s caparisoned i n countless gorgeous colours" (l)--whic h threatens t o engulf an d erase th e "Western " observer. Conan Doyle's opiu m de n i n "Th e Man with the Twisted Lip " i s a place where "orgies " (307 ) are enacted unde r the watchful eye o f " a sallow Malay attendant" (308) . I n all three representations Sedgwick' s epistemolog y o f the closet seem s at work: all three protagonists wh o enter th e opium de n lead doubl e lives (Parsinnen) . Jasper's transgression s i n the den are immediatel y followe d by an innocen t conversatio n about him by two "venerabl e persons" (4); Dorian avoid s James Vane's murderous intention s there by the impossibl e youthfulness o f his face, doubled wit h the picture he keeps closeted away ; Is a Whitney is , in fact, the eponymous man with the twisted lip . What the opium de n seems to offer i s 247 an orientalist closet, a suspension o f morality within a n imaginary, domesticated orien t tha t may be sealed of f from , but the traces of which cannot guite be erased from , the surrounding discourse . Such a construction o f the opium den became a common trope i n the twentieth century, through sensationalised new s reports an d popular fiction , such as the writings o f Sax Rohmer (Parsinne n 117-120) . Before turnin g t o the portable opiu m de n that Saunder s carries aroun d with him, we shoul d firs t examine Maugham's representation o f opium i n On a Chinese Screen an d A Writer's Notebook. The section o f On a Chinese Scree n entitled "Th e Opium Den" i s a standard debunkin g of the "stage" image of the opium den through a n emphasis upon it s domesticity, a debunking which i n itself i s almost tropological, drawing upo n investigativ e journalis m fro m th e 1870s onward (Berridg e an d Edward s 201). "Fiction i s stranger tha n fact," the narrator remark s (51) , having described bein g le d t o the den "b y a smooth-spoken Eurasian " (50), an d findin g i t to be " a cheerful spot, comfortable, home-like, and cosy" (51) . A passage about an "Opiu m Dream " (A Writer's Notebook 194 ) of the author's i s similarly devoid o f moral judgement ; the dream i s superficially no t frightening bu t curious, involving a high spee d tri p down a poplar-lined Frenc h roa d which slow s to a more "leisurely " pace i n English surroundings. What both incident s establis h is an authority t o narrate. Unlike Saunders, the narrator i s not subjec t t o interlocution fro m characters: he merely 248 observes, serving a s a guide t o take the reader toward s a seemingly authenti c East, towards "fact. " Yet the opium de n and opiu m drea m i n Maugham's non-fiction stil l maintain a n exoticism—one o f the characters i n the den i s defined a s an "inscrutable Oriental " (61)-- ; the y ar e still, like the fictional character s the y are se t i n opposition to, staged. If they ar e made unthreatening, they ar e made so by the authority o f the narrator a s one who i s "i n the know": an admission of a certain complicity with decadence gives one the strength t o narrate. Saunders1 statu s a s addict does result i n an isolatio n from th e European community: "th e acrid scen t o f opium" (12 ) that hangs aroun d Saunders ' house i n Fu-chou repel s al l but the most desperate members of the foreign community. Discovering Saunders 1 habit , Blake remarks tha t he cannot imagine how "' a man like you could degrad e himself by doing such a thing1" (87) . Nichols, too. i s eager t o distance himself fro m the threat of addiction: "I've never took to it meself. I'v e know n a good man y a s did, though. Never seeme d t o do 'em much 'arm . Settles the stomach, they say. One fellow I knew went al l to pieces . . . Good position an d everything. They though t a rare lo t of 'im . Sent him 'om e to get cured, but ' e took to i t again the moment ' e come back. Ended u p as a tout fo r a fantan 'ouse. " (51 ) Nichols dramatise s bot h the taxonomy o f casual user an d 249 addict, and th e interpenetrability o f these categories. For Saunders too , there seem s t o be the ever-present threa t that the very substanc e that gives him the privilege o f objective narration, that makes him a "lor d o f space and time" (39 ) may also enslave him. The putatively objectiv e narrato r who stands behind Saunder s emphasises tha t he uses the drug "with moderation" (12) , and tha t he does "no t mind waiting a little. To delay th e pleasure was to increase it " (136) . However, the doctor i s later sai d t o smoke "si x pipes" a night (83) , and exceeds this on two occasions. His injectin g of Fred Blake with another narcotic, morphine, to cover the fact tha t the Australian has visited Erik' s roo m afte r th e Dane's suicide suggests that addiction may not be bound within his own body, but has the potential t o spread t o those o f others, to pervert th e system o f colonial justice. Saunders' isolatio n fro m th e European communit y throug h addiction raises the possibility o f other alliances; his consumption o f morphine becomes associated with, i n the eyes of the European community i n Fu-chou, an improperly intimat e relationship with the Chinese community, an d i s also associated wit h a homoerotic gaze. The Chinese i n Fu-chou know tha t Saunders smoke s opium, and he thus seems to them "a sensible man" (12) . Kim Ching gives Saunders opium a s a present; Ah Kay i s Saunders1 servan t an d anaesthetist, and preparer o f his opium pipes, but in their preparation th e relationship slip s fro m a hierarchial on e into one of equality—"'Let's tr y Ki m Ching's chandu,'" said Dr. 250 Saunders. "'N o need to stint ourselves tonight 1" (83) . Ah Kay i s also subject t o an eroticising gaze: He was a slim, comely youth with larg e black eyes an d a skin as smooth as a girl's. His hair, coal-black an d cut very short, fitted his head like a close cap. ... H e moved silently , and his gestures had th e deliberate grace of a cat. (37) Ah Kay's preparation o f opium, his "knead[ing] " of a pellet which he watches "swell " (38 ) and then insert s int o a "pipe" is erotically suggestive . I t i s after smokin g opiu m tha t Saunders' eyes linger on the "naked " body of Fre d Blak e (86); Blake i s earlier compare d t o " a young Bacchus i n a Venetian picture" (70) , suggesting a further connection with another intoxication . Saunders' consumption o f opium alway s take place at night within the confines o f a cabin or room, which takes on the characteristics o f the opium den, an orientalised close t that like the den itself, bleeds trace s into the outside world o f the novel. The nutmeg trees of Frith's plantation scen t the air with "a n idle sensuousness" (120), while Frith's presentation o f the East to Erik i s glossed a s an "intoxication " (141) . Intoxication , the closet turned insid e out, seems to come to stand fo r the East; as addict, Saunders thus gains a n authority t o speak.

Saunders' status as legitimated observe r i s bought, however, by his marginalization; he i s enabled t o speak onl y because o f the narrative's productio n o f him a s an outcast 251 who may observe, but not participate i n the dialectic o f masculinity within heterosexuality. Saunders ' gaze i s not, and canno t be answered. "Dr . Saunders," the narrator o f the text observes, "sometimes flattere d himsel f with th e thought that Ah Kay regarded hi m with affection" (37) , but mutual, reciprocal affectio n between th e two remains a n illusion. During th e storm Saunders, though terrified, nonetheles s remains o n deck because he feels the need of "huma n companionship" (80) , yet i t i s this very thing that his position a s observer denie s to him. Saunders' age is repeatedly emphasise d i n the novel an d contrasted wit h the youth o f Louise, Fred, Erik an d Ah Kay. All ar e peculiarly vulnerable, Fred "lik e a little flowe r self-sow n i n a stone wall" (106) , Ah Kay with " a languorous elegance that was strangely touching " (37) , yet al l are incommensurabl y distant. Homosexuality, we have seen, is foundational t o the construction o f heterosexuality; Fred' s masculinity i s poised upo n a n always slipper y slop e o f a homosocial/homosexual continuum : To the extent that identit y alway s contains the specter of non-identity within it , the subjec t is always divided an d identit y i s always purchase d at the price of the exclusion of the Other, the repression o r repudiation o f non-identity. (Fuss , Essentially Speakin g 103 ) Saunders i s called forwar d int o discourse on the condition that his otherness, his non-identity, i s opposed t o the 252 masculinity o f the text. His subjectivity i s a confessional one, called int o existence o n the condition that i t is irredeemably oppose d t o the events of the text. Saunders' status a s addict who i s given th e privilege of speech recalls Maugham's statement s about Melville an d E l Greco discussed i n previous chapters, in which the homosexual's detachmen t fro m the text enables a certain irony an d objectivity i n narration. I n A Writer's Noteboo k Maugham comments that "Dostoievsk y remind s me of E l Greco": Both had th e faculty fo r making th e unseen visible; both had th e same violence o f emotion, and the same passion. Both give the effect of having walked i n unknown ways of the spirit i n countries where men do not breathe th e air o f common day . Both are tortured b y the desire t o express some tremendou s secret, which the y divine with some sense other tha n our five senses an d which they struggle t o convey by use o f them. Both are i n anguish a s they try t o remember a dream which import s tremendously fo r them to remember an d yet which linger s alway s jus t a t the rim of consciousness s o that they cannot reach it. (154-155) It i s the "unknow n ways" o f the closet, the opium den, the East o f "countrie s where men do not breathe th e air of common day " which for m Saunders' tremendous, extra-sensory secret; abandoning th e somatic, he gains a n ability t o narrate th e imaginary . 253 The effect o f Saunders' empowerment t o narrate, however, i s to disavow homosexuality within heterosexuality . Masculine ideals , represented b y Erik, are those of a construction o f manliness before homosexuality; masculine "reality," to which they ar e opposed, i s represented b y Fred Blake. The fiel d i s thus left open fo r a naturalised heterosexuality t o be tropologically attache d t o the Orient: Louise, we remember Saunder s imaginin g i n Singapore, is "like an enchantress i n an old tale whom men loved to their destruction" (218) . Sittin g outside the Van Dyke Hotel, Saunders meets up again with Nichols, who i s then hauled away by his nagging wife. Through Saunders' ironic narration all the tropes come back to roost--woman a s commodity an d scapegoat, investe d a s a proxy o f male desire. I f The Narrow Corner expresse s homoeroticism mor e directly than Maugham's other novels, it does s o only t o more firml y contai n it. With the homosexual safel y marginalized, a heterosexuality based upo n a rigid oppositio n betwee n genders i s produced a s reality. 254 7.Transcending Sexuality : India an d The Razor's Edge

The last novel i n this study, The Razor's Edge, is significantly differen t fro m Maugham's orienta l fictio n of the twenties an d early thirties. Published i n 1944, the book is very much separat e fro m th e intertextual univers e o f the earlier novels an d shor t stories. Characters suc h as Captain Nichols or Dr. Saunders, who appear i n texts written a decade apart, do not intrud e upo n the autonomous world o f The Razor's Edge. Nor i s Asia th e primary settin g o f the novel: most of the narrative take s place i n Chicago an d Paris. The novel's Asian element consists a t the most o f thirty page s o f embedded narrativ e describing th e visit of the protagonist, Larry Darrell, to India i n search of spiritual enlightenment. Even while he is i n Asia, Larry's situation i s very differen t fro m tha t o f the male protagonists o f Maugham's previou s orienta l fiction . He does not reach a n artistic apotheosis, i n the manner o f Strickland, nor does he conduct a series of complex negotiations ove r the boundaries of colonial communities, as the male protagonists o f the Malayan storie s do. The fac t that Larry is , as are al l of the novel's main character s except fo r the narrator, American, means that guestion s regarding masculinity an d British identit y are, at the very least, rephrased i n this text. Larry visits Indi a much lik e a tourist, acquires enlightenment much a s one might selec t a suitable souvenir , and the n returns triumphantl y t o the 255 West. For all the differences between The Razor's Edge an d Maugham's earlier fictio n th e text does, I feel, posses enough similarities t o it s predecessors t o justify inclusio n in this study. Despite th e brevity o f the narrator's conversation with Larry regardin g th e latter's India n exploits, the narrator insist s that "excep t fo r this conversation I should perhap s not have thought i t worth while to write this book" (261) . The Asia of The Razor's Edge, an d the transcendence tha t i t signifies fo r the novel's protagonists ca n be trace d bac k to the China which abolishes significatio n i n The Painted Veil , an d to the image o f a conglomerate Eas t i n The Narrow Corner. I n The Razor's Edge the East o f The Narrow Corner has become eve n more abstract; its primary functio n i s now philosophical, Larry's Asiatic knowledge enabling him, i n the narrator' s construction, to transcend doxologica l masculinity . Yet India als o remains Larry's great, unvoiced secre t t o which none but himself an d the narrator ar e fully privy. Unlike Strickland, Larry return s to the West, carrying with him th e secret o f his experiences much a s Saunders carries his supply o f opium. Larry's investmen t i n an East that i s both exterior an d interio r t o the West thus bears scrutiny i n terms o f Sedgwick's epistemolog y o f the closet. This chapter firs t notes the similarities tha t The Razor's Edge bears t o it s antecedents i n the Maugham canon , and als o the manner i n which those antecedents ar e reworke d 256 in the novel. It then moves to an examination o f the doxological constructio n o f sexuality which Maugham set s up for Larry t o transcend. Masculinity i n The Razor's Edg e i s firmly associated wit h work, and without work men become feminized. Femininity, as i n the Malayan stories , is marked by essential sexua l incontinence ; Maugham's femal e characters ar e prey to uncontrollable desire, while his male characters remai n blissfully undesiring . The fear of giving in to desire i s always present i n The Razor's Edge, delineated b y the narrator's description s o f the "toug h joints" of Paris an d Toulon. Having described th e sex/gende r system which th e novel puts forward a s representative o f the West, this chapter moves t o examine th e manner i n which India i s made to function a s a metaphor o f transcendence, a process o f examination whic h entails study o f the representation o f Indi a i n other o f Maugham's works. Having established th e place of Larry Darrel l i n this binary opposition betwee n Occident an d Orient, we move finall y t o attend t o the resemblances betwee n Larr y an d th e narrator. What parallels can be made here between a masculinity base d upon closeted homosexualit y an d the act of narration o r writing? And what i s the significance o f the narrator o f Maugham's las t oriental novel callin g himself Somerse t Maugham, and proceedin g t o claim tha t th e book i s " a novel" but als o that " I have invente d nothing " (1) ? 257

1. The West of The Razor's Edg e

The most obvious anteceden t fo r the plot o f The Razor's Edge i s the short stor y "Th e Fall of Edward Barnard, " i n The Trembling o f a Leaf, a story which, like The Razor's Edge, features a Girardian triangl e drawn between tw o men and a woman. I n both works th e cynosural characte r leave s Chicago in search o f alternative wisdom, of a lifestyle mor e fulfilling tha n tha t o f a captain o f industry, and i n both texts this choice receives stron g narrational endorsement. Unlike "Th e Fall o f Edward Barnard, " however, The Razor's Edge does not rely solel y upo n a primitive/civilized binarism. The book als o reworks other Maugham texts : Larry's tramping aroun d Europ e with Kosti, for example, recalls both Of Human Bondage an d Maugham's othe r novel written durin g the Second Worl d War, The Hour Before th e Dawn (1942) . Th e model o f sexuality which underlies "Th e Fall o f Edward Barnard," i n which repressed Wes t i s contrasted t o natural East, i s subtly transformed i n The Razor's Edge. The binarism o f control/release i s in itself contrasted t o another element: the possibility o f transcendence.

Masculinity i n The Razor's Edge i s defined a s work. "' A man must work, Larry,'" Isabe l comments early i n the novel. "'This i s a young countr y an d it s a man's dut y t o take part in it s activities'" (49) . Later sh e begs Larry t o "'[b] e a man . . . and do a man's work,'" and, just i n case he might have missed th e point, remarks that he i s talking "'th e way 258 hysterical, highbrow women talk'" (79) . Gray Maturin's virility i s clearly relate d t o his industria l productivity . As a young capitalist befor e the 192 9 Wall Stree t crash, he is the object of admiring glances fro m the narrator: Gray Maturin was striking rathe r than handsome. He had a rugged, unfinished look ; a short blunt nose, a sensua l mouth, and th e flori d Iris h complexion; a great quantity o f raven black hair, very sleek , and under heavy eyebrows clear, very blue eyes. Though built on so large a scale he was finely proportioned, an d stripped he must have been a fine figure o f a man. He was obviously very powerful. His virility was impressive . He made Larry who was sitting next t o him, though onl y three or four inche s shorter, look puny. (25-26) The narrator i s keen here to emphasize not only Gray's physical size, but also the fact that such bulk i s perfectly proportioned: Gray i s no Captain Nichols. The young industrialist's attractivenes s lie s i n a sense of weight, power an d heaviness that lurk s in his body.

After the Wall Stree t Crash, the narrator agai n has the opportunity t o observe Gray:

I was taken aback. His hair had recede d o n the temples an d there was a small bald patc h on the crown, his face was puffy an d red , an d he had a double chin. He had pu t on a lot of weight durin g

years o f good livin g an d hard drinking , and only 259 his great height save d him from being grossly obese. ... I t was plain that his nerve was shaken. He greeted me with pleasant cordialit y and indee d seeme d a s glad to see me as i f I were an old friend , but I had th e impressio n tha t his rather noisy heartiness was a habit o f manner that scarcel y corresponde d wit h his inne r feeling. (150-151 ) Two points regarding masculinity ca n be drawn fro m th e passage. The first concerns work: clearly, having los t the opportunity t o work, Gray also loses some of his masculine attributes, especially thos e concerning continence an d self-control (her e represented, a s so often with Maugham, by the ability t o keep i n check physical obesity) . Yet there is also a second elemen t t o Gray's falle n masculinity whic h contrasts sharply with his pre-Crash self : concealment. I n the first passage, he i s self-evidently, "obviously " virile, and i f he were stripped, the narrator comments, the body concealed beneat h his clothing would b e of the same, uniform, masculine nature. When feminize d b y losin g his work, however, Gray i s defined i n terms of concealment: his outer behaviour no longer corresponds with his "inne r feeling."

Normalized masculinit y i n The Razor's Edge, then seem s to be defined throug h work, and through a certain transparency, a correspondence betwee n th e surface an d the hidden depth s of the masculine body. With a twist of textual 260 rhetoric common i n Maugham's works, the text of The Razor's Edge provides severa l Others—women an d feminize d men--against who m thi s masculinity ma y be defined. Elliott Templeton, connoisseur, acolyte o f nobility, and dilettante, fulfills the role of Othe r to perfection. Elliott Templeton i s very differen t fro m Gray Maturin. He gives the appearance o f independen t wealth, although his money has been, i n fact, made through profit s gained a s a "dealer" i n fine arts (4) . Unlike Gray, he i s not transparent: [H]e had enoug h t o live i n what he considere d was the proper styl e fo r a gentleman without trying t o earn money, and the method b y which he had don e so i n the past was a matter which, unless you wished t o lose his acquaintance, you were wise not t o refer to. (5 ) Like th e prototypical homosexual o f whom Maugham writes i n "El Greco," Elliott i s much more concerned with decoratio n than with depth. He wears scen t (23) , and costumes which vary fro m the impeccabl y tastefu l to the extravagant, and, the author remarks early i n the novel, has "certainl y not done a stroke of work fo r ten years" (39). His parties ar e beautifully staged , th e wines he offers t o guests carefull y chosen with perfect taste . He i s ingratiating, an d given to flattery:

He too k a n immens e amoun t o f trouble to make himself agreeabl e t o ageing women, and i t was not

long before h e was the am i d e l a maison, the 261 household pet / i n many a n imposing mansion. His amiability wa s extreme; he never minded bein g asked a t the las t moment because someon e had thrown you over an d you could pu t him next to a very borin g ol d lad y an d count o n him t o be as charming an d amusin g with her as he knew how. (6 ) Elliott performs roles to perfection, but his performanc e only serve s to demonstrate their shallowness. Caught up i n a fetishisation o f "[t]h e glamour o f . . . resounding titles" (12), o f "passionat e romanticism " (12) , Elliott exist s only on the surface, evading an y attempt by the narrator t o read him fo r depth. He gossips wickedly abou t sexua l misdemeanours, offering a t one point t o act a s procurer fo r Larry, yet he indulge s i n no liaisons himself. Though presented indulgently , Elliott i s clearly a marginal figur e i n The Razor's Edge. In Chicago, he confesses, people "'loo k upon me as a freak'" (23) , while even i n the London societ y he has frequented fo r so long he becomes dispensable: The fashionable persons who occupied th e stage had no use fo r the elderly man Elliott now was. They foun d him tiresome an d ridiculous. They were still willing t o come to his elaborat e luncheon parties a t Claridge's bu t he was quick-witted enoug h t o know that they cam e to meet on e another rathe r tha n to see him. (128) 262 Elliott's closeted bohemia , his foppish tastes, have no place i n a masculine world base d upon work: he i s obliged t o retreat, as Maugham himself did , to exile on the . Masculinity i n The Razor's Edge i s defined no t only by the contrast between masculine an d non-masculine men, but also by being place d i n a binary oppositio n with a particular constructio n o f femininity, embodie d b y Isabe l Bradley. Unlike Maugham's male characters i n his novel, who rarely exhibi t jealous y o r desire, his femal e character s strive, with varying degree s o f success, to rein i n irrepressible desires . I n Isabel's case, the narrator agai n dramatizes suc h a Pauline struggl e between fles h an d spiri t as a fight against obesity . Mrs. Bradley, Isabel's mother, he notes early i n the novel, has "los t th e battle with the corpulence o f middle age" (14) . Seeing Isabe l fo r the first time, he notes that sh e i s " a very pretty an d desirabl e young woman, but i t was obvious that unless she took care she would develo p a n unbecoming corpulence" (24) . When he meets her several years late r i n Paris, the narrator agai n returns t o the same topic, speculating tha t perhaps "sh e had taken heroic measures t o reduce her weight" (145) , an d tha t "she owed her beauty i n some degree t o art, discipline, and mortification o f the flesh" (146) . I n The Razor's Edge, Isabel's "plumpness " i s clearly relate d t o her sexuality , the narrator commentin g a t one point that "[s]h e gave me the rather absur d notio n o f a pear, golden an d luscious, 263 perfectly rip e an d simpl y askin g t o be eaten" (89) . Jus t as her body requires constant mortification, so too her sexuality als o requires constant regulatio n an d governance. Like the memsahibs o f Maugham's Malayan fiction , Isabel is subject to a narrational gaz e which peers beneath th e surface o f her self-control . Drivin g bac k fro m Chartres t o Paris, the narrator notices Isabe l gazing at Larry's arm: Her breath was hurried. He r eyes were fixe d on the sinewy wrist with it s little golden hairs and o n that long , delicate, but powerful hand, and I have never see n on a human countenanc e such a hungry concupiscenc e a s I saw then on hers. I t was a mask of lust. I should neve r have believed tha t her beautiful feature s could assum e a n expression o f such unbridled sensuality. I t was animal rather tha n human. (202-3) The narrator's descriptio n o f Isabel i s reminiscent o f Joyce's examinations o f Leslie Crosbie i n "Th e Letter." Like Mrs. Cartwright an d Mrs. Crosbie, Isabel i s also manipulative, orchestrating Sophi e Macdonald's retur n t o alcoholism an d thus preventing her marriage t o Larry. Lik e the two female characters fro m the Malayan stories, she also manages to cover ove r suc h manipulation, to extract a n agreement fro m the narrator no t to tell anyon e else. He r sensuality finall y bridled, Isabe l gives up her pursuit o f Larry. 264 The Razor's Edge differs from Maugham's earlie r fiction, however, i n presenting a character who represent s unrestrained femal e sexuality: Sophie Macdonald. Sophi e comes fro m th e same socia l milieu a s Isabel, yet descend s into the underworld o f Paris an d Toulon. She i s associated with many o f Maugham's trope s fo r lack o f somatic control--opium addiction , alcoholism, an d interracia l sex. She i s also, unusually fo r a Maugham character , associated with both male an d female homosexuality: "[S]o I went t o Hakim's. I knew Larry'd never fin d me there. Besides , I wanted a smoke. "What's Hakim's?" "Hakim's? Hakim's a n Algerian an d he can alway s get opiu m i f you've got the dough t o pay fo r it. He was guite a friend o f mine. He'll get you anything you want, a boy, a man, a woman, or a nigger. He always has half a dozen Algerians on tap. (239 ) Interestingly, i n a text that devotes a great dea l of rhetorical energ y t o produce Indi a a s external to sexuality, female sexualit y i s represented throug h a metaphor whic h involves another colonize d space , Algeria. Sexuality i s here a natural resource , always "o n tap," to be set flowing by the injection o f suitable amount s of Western capital. Sophie, indeed, has already describe d he r position i n the cafe in the Rue de Lappe a s that of a "'remittanc e man'" (207), exile d fro m her famil y i n Chicago t o avoid scanda l a t home, but provided wit h enough money t o maintain herself. 265 Sophie i s clearly presented a s a representative o f the abject aspec t o f female sexuality, unable to "pul l [her]sel f together" (23) , yet sh e i s also attractive t o the narrator in a way i n which Isabe l i s not. The narrator alway s observes Isabe l fro m a distance, with a gaze tha t i s both specular an d ironic . With Sophie, he seems to have an unspoken complicity . The tour of the "toug h joints" (203 ) upon which Isabel' s party meet Sophi e i s organized b y th e narrator himself, who confesses t o having "som e acquaintance" with the low life of Paris (203) . Meeting th e narrator late r i n Toulon, Sophie i s keen to show off her new Corsican "bo y friend" to him: She addressed me. "An d he's strong. He has the muscles of a boxer. Feel them." The sailor's sullennes s was dispelled b y the flattery an d with a complacent smil e he flexe d his ar m s o that the biceps stoo d out. "Feel it, " he said. "G o on, feel it." I di d s o and expressed a proper admiration . We chatted fo r a few minutes. I paid fo r the drinks an d got up. (241 ) Despite the texts' efforts to mark off Sophie a s an example of female excess, to place her sensua l indulgenc e i n opposition t o a masculinity base d upo n work, then, she and the narrator nonetheless shar e a n unvoiced complicity .

The clear division between femininit y an d masculinit y in The Razor's Edge i s reinforced b y the triangular 266 relationship between Larry, Gray, and Isabel , and by the minor characters i n the novel. I n a sense, the triangle cannot be called Girardian , since i t i s not based upo n rivalry. Larry an d Gray both desire Isabel , but they sho w no jealousy, since, as Sophie remarks, "'Larry's his [Gray's ] best friend'"(2 6 ). I n contrast, Isabel clearly see s Sophie as a rival i n her relationship with Larry, and takes step s to eliminate her. The overwhelmingly ungovernabl e natur e o f female desire i s also illustrate d b y Ellie Becker an d Suzanne Rouvier. Both these women seduc e Larry, Ellie creeping up on him i n the loft of the German farmhous e i n which he and Kosti were are. "' I didn't want to hurt her feelings,'" remarks Larry to the narrator. "' I did what was expected o f me'" (121) . Suzanne Rouvier seduce s Larry with a similar result. "'Whe n I left him I had th e feeling tha t I should b e grateful t o him rather than he to me. As I closed the door I saw him take up his book an d go on reading fro m where he had lef t off" (199) . Women i n The Razor's Edg e desire an d sho w desire openly : men, even those, such a s Gray Maturin, who conform ver y much to doxological code s of masculinity, do not. Men are defined b y work, women by the extent t o which the y resist "'th e horrible degradation o f drink an d promiscuous copulation' " (212) . In The Razor's Edge, the sex/gender syste m outline d above, i n which men can either work or, like Elliot t Templeton, hang parasitically upo n the margins o f society, is defined i n terms of a geographical metaphor. It, and the 267 mundane world o f physical productio n an d reproduction i t exemplifies, i s the West. Transcendence, the possibility o f a release from the physical, is represented b y the East.In The Razor's Edge the East, represented b y India, has become much more of a philosophical construc t tha n a physical space. Indi a i s outside th e progressive tim e of the West, and suc h exteriority give s Larry Darrel l th e third spac e so beloved o f Maugham's narrators an d focalisers, one i n which, in the text's construction, he can transcend sexuality . Larry does , of course, journey t o many countries, but i t sems quite clear that both he an d the narrator conside r his experience i n India a s the philosophical centr e o f the novel. An exploration of the place of Larry an d the narrator within Maugham's expressio n o f sexual difference must thu s begin with an examination of the construction o f Indi a i n The Razor's Edge.

2. Inventin g Indi a

India i n Maugham's nove l bears many similarities t o the conglomerate, romantic, intoxicating Eas t of The Narrow Corner. Larry's descriptio n o f Bombay reprise s Singapore i n "The Letter" or Fu-chou i n The Narrow Corner:

"On the third da y I got the afternoon of f an d went ashore. I walked abou t fo r a while, looking at the crowd: what a conglomeration! Chinese, Mohammedans, Hindus, Tamils as black a s your hat;

and thos e great humped bullock s with their lon g 268 horns that draw the carts!" (281 ) The Indi a that Larry visits i s thus quite unlike that of Kipling, Forster, and othe r Anglo-Indian writers. Forster and Kiplin g explore , i n their various perspectives, frictions an d imagine d harmonies between colonizer an d colonized. Their novels' spatial metaphors reflec t thes e frictions: Kipling's grand trun k road cut s across th e landscape o f Kim (1901) , an d much o f the novel i s concerned with the activity o f surveying, of - marking ou t the landscape. Forster's A Passage t o Indi a (1924) , famously , juxtaposes roads "name d afte r victorious generals, and intersecting a t right angles, . . . symbolic o f the net Great Britain had throw n ove r India " (14 ) with the formlessness o f the interio r o f the Marabar caves. If it draws upon any construction o f Indi a a t all, Maugham's nove l would see m to be closer t o nineteenth-century an d earlie r images of the subcontinent: Europeans too k dreaming irrationalit y a s a distinctive trai t o f India n thought befor e the fiel d o f Indologica l researc h was even established. . . . The portrayal o f Indi a as a lan d o f fabulous wealth, of miracles, of wishes fulfilled, a Paradise o f sensual pleasure s and exotic philosophers, apparently constitute d a reiterated them e i n medieval thought. (Inden 420 ) Like th e China o f The Painted Veil, the Indi a o f The Razor's 269 Edge i s outside history, a dream-like, undifferentiated landscape that, like the South Pacific o f The Moon and Sixpence, is denied coevalness with the West. The allochronic natur e o f Indi a i n The Razor's Edg e i s also reflected i n other of Maugham's writings abou t India . Indded, Larry's visit, the passages about Indi a i n A Writer's Notebook, and Maugham's essa y "Th e Saint," published i n Points o f View (1958) , al l originate fro m a 1938 trip that Maugham an d Gerald mad e to India . The passages i n A Writer's Notebook recoun t th e writer's gues t for a real Indi a beyond th e trappings of the . Representative colonia l administrator s o r traders, who for m the subject matter o f most o f On a Chinese Screen, for example, are given much les s attention i n Maugham's accoun t of his India n journey. The text rather concentrates upo n philosophers an d yogis, faith-healers an d acolytes. Unlike Maugham's Chin a o r Malaya, Indi a i n A Writer's Notebook doe s not remind th e narrator o f medieval o r agrarian Europe : it is completely externa l t o the West, marked ou t only by "something secre t an d terrible" (276 ) which the traveller cannot full y approac h o r comprehend. I n "Th e Saint," Ramana Maharshi i s compared t o St. Francis of Assisi an d Ignatiu s Loyola fro m the pages of Baring-Gould's Lives of Saints. It is no longer possible, the author remarks, to hope "t o meet a saint i n the flesh " (Point s o f View 56) apart fro m i n India.

The Indi a o f The Razor's Edge i s similarly marked of f 270 from th e linear flo w of Western time in the novel. Larry's time i n India i s an embedded narrative , clearly differentiated fro m the rest of the text. I n India, Larry recalls, "[t]h e weeks, the months passed with unimaginabl e rapidity" (296) : "How could yo u stan d i t for two years?" cried Isabel. "They passed lik e a flash. I'v e spen t days that seemed t o be unconscionably longer. " "What did you do with yourself al l the time?" "I read. I took lon g walks. I went out i n a boat o n the lagoon. I meditated." (165 ) Time i n Larry's Indi a i s indeterminate. From the time that Larry abandon s his ship at Bombay t o the time at which he boards another an d sail s to Marseilles fiv e years, presumably, pass. Precise measurements o f time, however, only occur after he puts on European clothes an d catches a ship "[a ] week later " (302) . India i s not only temporally, but also logicall y outside the West. Most of the narrator's conversation wit h Larry abou t his experiences i n India i s a discussion o f various elements o f "th e philosophical syste m know n a s Vedanta" (292 ) the narrator playin g th e Western foi l to Larry's Eastern wisdom, always probing with logica l questions that are not so much answered bu t rather turne d aside. After a lecture on the nature of "th e Absolute" Larry finishes with a rhetorical questio n t o the narrator:

"The Chinese craftsma n who makes a vase i n 271 what they call eggshell porcelain can give i t a lovely shape, ornament i t with a beautiful design, stain i t a ravishing colour , and give it a perfect glaze, but fro m it s very nature he can't make i t anything bu t fragile. . . Isn't it possible i n the same way that the values we cherish i n the world ca n only exist i n combination with evil?" "It's a n ingenious notion, Larry. I don't think it' s very satisfactory. " "Neither d o I, " he smiled. "Th e best t o be said fo r it is that when you've come to the conclusion tha t something i s inevitable al l you can do i s make the best of it." (303 ) Larry's replies t o the narrator very much consist o f the "covenient metaphors . . . current i n Indi a fo r centuries" which, Maugham remark s i n A Writer's Notebook, are to an Indian he meets "a n adequate means of reasoning. A beautiful image of the Ganges had fo r him al l the force of a syllogism" (264) . The narrator's syllogisms an d enthymeme s are met with metaphors an d metonyms: India seem s outside the logical, material orde r of the West. Yet i f India i s external t o the West i t also, in the person o f Larry, i s made to appear internal . Larry carrie s his oriental knowledge abou t with him: his experiences i n India differentiat e him fro m the crowd, giving him, i n the narrator's words, "' a sort o f detachment,'"a feelin g tha t 272 Larry keep s "'i n some hidden par t of his soul something I don't know what i t is--a tension , a secret, an aspiration, a knowledge—that set s him apart' " (173) . When he uses a form of hypnotism t o cure Gray o f a migraine, Larry remark s that he learne d "'t o do that sor t of thing i n India1" (172) , but does not offer an y explanation o f the mechanism involved . At the end o f The Razor's Edge, indeed, Larry seem s set to smuggle his Orient back int o the heart o f the West, in his proposal t o use a New York taxi a s "m y instrumen t o f labour . . . [, ] a n eguivalent t o the staff an d begging-bowl o f the wandering mendicant" (307) . While on one level, we have seen, India i s constructed as a transcendence o f Western sexuality, on another leve l its oscillation betwee n interiorit y an d exteriority seem s very much related t o Maugham's ow n constructions o f masculinity. Larry's associatio n with Indi a is , in one sense, an association with unmanliness. Indi a i s not transparent, and does not submit to being read: Larry, similarly, i s like "' a reflection i n the water o r a ray of sunshine o r a cloud i n the sky'" (194) . Suc h opacit y contrasts with the ease with which the narrator can see int o the heart o f a real man, such as Gray Maturin. Indi a i s also outside al l productive labour . Unlike o n his travels i n Belgium o r Germany, Larry doe s no work i n India, only meditation, which seem s to be related t o the refusal t o work, the "loafing " (35 ) which he practises i n Chicago. Again this aspect o f Indi a contrast s with the constructio n 273 of masculinity base d upo n work which, we saw earlier, characterizes th e West i n The Razor's Edge. In another, and contradictory sense , however, Indi a seem s very much a masculine space . The subcontinent is , in Larry's travels, devoid o f women. Observing the self-contro l necessary fo r acceptance o f fate, he observes, requires onl y "'a little manliness1" (286) . Ful l of representative type s of masculine behaviour, Larry's India , upon clos e examination, appears not so much a transcendence o f the West as a subtle reflection o f it. Much of Larry's Vedantic philosophy, although constructed a s a transcendence o f the West, actually ha s surprising affinitie s with the sex/gender syste m which The Razor's Edge insistentl y puts forwar d a s representative o f Europe an d North America. During their conversation, the narrator ask s Larry ho w he proposes t o live i n North America: "With calmness, forbearance, compassion selflessness, and continence." "A tall order," I said. "An d why continence ? You're a young man; is it wise t o attempt t o surpress what with hunger i s the strongest instinct of the human animal?" "I in the fortunate position that sexua l indulgence with me has been a pleasure rather than a need. I know by personal experienc e that i n nothing ar e the wise men of Indi a more

dead righ t than i n their contention tha t 274 chastity intensel y enhance s the power o f the spirit." (304 ) Larry her e seems t o have gained fro m Indi a th e very detachment fro m desir e that the narrators of the Malayan and South Pacific shor t storie s s o prize, a detachment tha t i s also foundational t o Maugham's construction o f manliness. Similarly, while Larry adopt s "th e comfortable India n dress and . . . got so sunburnt that unless your attention was drawn t o me you might have taken me fo r a native" (296) , much of his philosophy strongl y stresse s racial difference: "The Aryans when they first came dow n int o India sa w that the world we know i s but an appearance o f the world we know not; but they welcomed i t as gracious an d beautiful; it was only centurie s later , when the exhaustion o f conquest, when the debilitating climat e had sapped thei r vitality s o that they became a prey to invading hordes, that they saw only evil i n life an d craved fo r liberation fro m it s return. But why shoul d we of the West, we Americans especially, be daunted by decay an d death, hunger an d thirst, sickness, old age, grief an d delusion ? Th e spirit o f life i s still strong i n us." (301 ) Thus the very featur e tha t marks out the West a s different from the East, the fac t that America is , in Isabel's words earlier i n the novel, "'going forwar d b y leaps an d bounds'" 275 (74) and developing a new society based upo n work, is paradoxically preserve d i n Larry's interpretatio n o f the transcendence tha t Indi a represents t o him.

3. Sexual Position s

In the above analysis, The Razor's Edge displays classic features of the Maugham text with which we have now become familiar . Binary opposition s ar e se t up, between normal an d deviant, masculine an d feminine, transcendent East and mundane West, only to be subtly undone by filiations working acros s the grain of the text: the narrator's complicit y wit h Sophie Macdonald, o r India' s troubled identit y a s a masculine or non-masculine space. In The Razor's Edge, i n a development o f a trope used i n Maugham's earlier fiction , bot h oppositions an d filiation s are figured, we have seen, in terms of exteriority an d interiority. An opposition between interio r an d exterior , indeed, i s present eve n a t the level of the structure o f the narrative. The narrator, Mr. Maugham, i s associated wit h interiors: bars, cafes, drawing rooms and libraries. He travels extensively himself, but his journeys ar e never described i n detail; he merely ends , or begins chapters wit h remarks suc h as "[t]h e day after my talk with Isabe l I left Chicago fo r Sa n Francisco, where I was to take ship fo r the Far East" (57) . The narratives which his interlocutor s recount t o him, are larger concerne d wit h exteriors: Larry, 276 in particular, recounts his travels i n Europe an d late r in India, his wanderings se t on vast geographical canvase s tha t escape not only domestic interior s but also, putatively, the restrictions o f class, race, and nationality. The division between interna l an d externa l i n the novel can be analyzed i n terms of Eve Sedgwick's proposition o f an "epistemology o f the closet" as a foundational epistemolog y in North America an d Europ e i n the twentieth century . Following Foucault's suppositio n that sexuality became, in the nineteenth century, seen a s expressing th e core truth of concerning the nature of an individual human subject, Sedgwick trace s how the perversions tha t Foucault describe s as being entomologized b y lat e nineteeth-century psychiatr y and medicine, "Krafft-Ebing' s zoophile s an d zooerasts, Rohdlers's auto-monosexualists" (43 ) and a plethora o f other categories were gradually replaced, i n the early twentiet h century, with a simple opposition between heterosexualit y and homosexuality. Sinc e heterosexuality a s a term was created i n response to Karl Kertbeny's 186 9 coinage of "homosexuality" (Halperi n 15), heterosexuality, while produced i n opposition t o homosexuality, i s founded upo n the prior existence o f homosexuality. Thus, fo r both Sedgwic k and gender theorist Judit h Butler, homosexuality i s an indispensable exteriorit y tha t i s also interna l t o heterosexuality:

[The process b y which heterosexual subject s are formed] thus reguires the simultaneou s

production o f a domain o f abject beings, those 277 who are not yet "subjects/ " but who for m th e constitutive outsid e t o the domain of the subject. The abject designates here precisel y those "unlivable " and "uninhabitable " zones of social lif e which ar e nevertheless densel y populated b y those who do not enjoy th e status of the subject, but whose living under th e sign of the "unlivable " i s required t o circumscribe the domain o f the subject. ... I n this sense, then, the subject i s constituted throug h th e force of exclusion an d abjection, one which produces a constitutive outsid e to the subject, an abjected outside , which is, after all, "inside" the subject as its own founding repudiation. (Butler, Bodies that Matter 3 ) For Sedgwick, " a whole cluster o f the most crucial site s fo r the contestation o f meaning i n twentieth-century Wester n culture" (Epistemoloq y o f the Closet 72) are marked b y thi s epistemological foundation ; indeed , "mal e heterosexual identity an d modern masculinist cultur e may require fo r their maintainance th e scapegoating crystallizatio n o f a same-sex male desire that i s widespread an d i n the first place internal " (85). Many o f Maugham's works, we have seen, recognise at some leve l the imbricatio n o f homosexuality withi n masculinity, an d then work t o abject it . In The Narrow Corner, Dr. Saunders i s thus ostracized fro m th e struggle s 278 over masculinity tha t occur i n the text, while "Red " introduces a series of diegetic levels which deflect the trajectory o f passages o f homoerotic description . The work of masculinity i n Maugham's writing i s often presented a s that of narration. Narration, indeed, exemplifies many of the qualities valorized b y "masculinis t culture": rationality, distance, emotional continence, and the ability to peer through surface s to reach a kernel o f truth. Maugham's most frequent metaphorical representatio n o f narration i s as medical science , a practice which require s similar, nominally masculine, qualities. Yet Maugham's ow n situation a s a closeted homosexual man makes his writings, I think, acutely awar e of the presence o f the epistemology o f the closet. Elaborately frame d narratives, and rhetorics o f racial an d gender difference, compartmentalize an d control, in Maugham's narrators' eyes, the raw material o f fiction. Yet they also enact a rhetoric o f inside an d outside that i s fundamentally dependen t upon the existence of the closet. Framed narratives ar e also closeted narratives : the readers of Maugham's fictio n ar e allowed a temporary openin g o f the closet door, a glance int o the abyss, before the door i s closed again . There i s always a suspicion i n Maugham's writings that abjected homosexuality ma y be, in fact, foundational t o his writing process: the homosexual i n "E l Greco," whose distance fro m heterosexuality provide s th e occasion fo r iron y an d narrative embroidery, does not seem so very different fro m Maugham himself. 279 The Razor's Edge can thus be seen as the final part of an effort t o turn fiction int o fact which characterizes muc h of Maugham's orienta l fiction , an effort t o manufacture textually a Maugham person a which will have so much extratextual lif e that i t will cove r over, or closet, the life of W. Somerset Maugham a s a homosexual man. Tne narrator o f The Razor's Edg e i s much les s of an active participant i n the narrative tha n the younger narrator o f The Moon an d Sixpence: he i s much more part of the textua l furniture, and s o the reader tends to look with him rathe r than a t him. At th e same time the gap between narrator an d writer, which i s left to some degree open i n Maugham's earlier fictio n (th e narrator i s not directly addresse d a s Mr. Maugham i n The Moon an d Sixpence , the Malayan shor t stories, or even i n the avowedly non-fictiona l O n a Chinese Screen) is firmly closed : Many years ag o I wrote a novel called Th e Moon and Sixpence . I n that I took a famous painter, Paul Gauguin, and, using th e novelist's privilege, devised a number of incident s t o illustrate th e character I had create d o n the suggestion s afforded me by the scanty fact s I knew abou t the French artist. I n the present boo k I have attempted t o do nothing of the kind. I have invented nothing. (1 ) This disclaimer can be read a s a strategy of containment: the Mr. Maugham o f the novel i s here associated a s closely 280 as possible with the public persona o f W. Somerset Maugham , writer an d man of letters, an extra-textual person a with which readers o f The Razor's Edg e are usually alread y somewhat, i f rather hazily, familiar. Such an association also serves, on a rhetorical leve l a t least, to remove any emotional investmen t tha t the Maugham-narrator migh t be presumed t o have i n the plot. All i s merely recorded , not invented, an d i t i s the professional interes t o f the man of letters that motivates the recording o f the characters' actions an d their shapin g int o narrative coherence. The strategy o f bringing a n extra-textual Maugha m persona int o the text can thus be seen as another o f Maugham's textual bulkheads which attempt t o keep binarisms firmly i n place. The presentation o f either Middle o r Far East as a contradictory are a o f hypermasculinity, effeminacy, and simultaneously o f transcendence o f normative systems o f sexuality an d gender is , in fact, a common strategy i n the writing o f European homosexual men i n the late nineteenth an d early twentiet h centuries. To Burton and Forster's works w e might ad d T.E. Lawrence's Seve n Pillars of Wisdom (1922 ) and Edwar d Carpenter' s Fro m Adam's Pea k to Elephanta (1892) . The narrative strateg y o f The Razor's Edge allows a geographical an d spiritual journe y o n the part of the central character , Larry, while a t the same time removing W. Somerset Maugham fro m personal investmen t i n it. The narrator o f The Razor's Edge thus remains always within the scope of the mundane, interrupting Larry' s narrative s 281 with many a "gesture o f impatience " (306 ) or ironi c expostulation. The Razor's Edge thus feature s none of the specularit y which distinguishes Th e Moon an d Sixpence: there i s no wild pursuit, no peering int o the depths of Larry's sou l a s the narrator o f the earlier novel searche s Strickland's. Indeed, it i s Larry's absolut e opacity tha t makes him attractive t o the narrator: I a m of earth, earthy; I can only admire the radiance o f suc h a rare creature, I cannot ste p into his shoes and enter int o his innermos t heart as I sometimes think I can do with persons more nearly allie d t o the common ru n of men. Larry has been absorbed, as he wished, into that tumultuous conglomeration o f humanity . . . That i t is all I can tell of him: I know it i s very unsatisfactory; I can't help it . (340 ) We have seen how Larry's opacity structures The Razor's Edge, a blankness tha t i s external t o the systems o f signification i n the novel and, at the same time, is internal to the West: the fact that Larry ca n move unidentified throug h the "tumultuou s conglomeration o f humanity" i n America suggest s that the "secret ' which marks him out i s undetectable, hidden beneath a conforming exterior. I n the above passage suc h opacity infect s th e narrator: he i s no longer abl e to reshape, or interpre t hi s narrative i n the normatively masculine manner of Maugham's 282 narrators. Rather, he must stan d asid e an d watch a s oppositions i n the text agai n break down , as the "conglomeration" o f humanity o n the quayside i n Bombay (281 ) becomes the conglomeration o f American citizen s int o which Larry will vanish. The unconscious iron y of the narrative o f The Razor's Edge i s that it s very structure, its oppositions betwee n exterior an d interior , opaque an d transparent, and th e epistemology o f the closet o n which these oppositions ar e founded, are all made possible by the opacity o f the narrator himself. He i s unshockable, and maintains a n ironi c neutrality toward s al l the objects of his narrative, Isabe l especially. He i s knowledgeable, but his knowledge never proceeds directl y fro m personal experience. Commenting t o Isabel that he feels Larry an d Sophie' s marriage has a chance of success, the narrator remarks that "'I'v e known two or three fellows, one i n Spain, and two in the East, who married whores, and they made them very good wives'" (222) . There i s no suggestion, however, of the narrator having experienced suc h a marital situatio n a t first hand. Similarly, when Isabe l wants to take her party o n " a tour of the tough joints" of Paris she comes to the narrator, who remarks that "becaus e I had som e acquaintance with the m sh e asked me to be their guide" (203) . The reason why the narrator might be familiar with these areas i s again occluded. The narrator i s thus, lik e Larry, opaque, much given to looking himself, to peering beneath surfaces , but 283 remaining unreadable himself. His gaze i s frequently homoerotic/ a s i n his admiration o f Sophie's sailo r boyfriend, an d i n his examination o f a young priest who i s attending Elliott' s deathbed : He stoo d motionless, looking out, a slender youn g man, an d his thick waving black hair, his fine dark eyes , his olive ski n revealed hi s Italia n origin. There was the quick fir e of the South in his aspect an d I asked myself what urgen t faith, what burning desir e had cause d him t o abandon th e joys of life, the pleasures o f his age, and the satisfaction of his senses, to devote himself t o the service o f God. (255-256 ) Again, the narrator seem s very close to fulfilling Maugham' s definition o f the homosexual presente d i n El Greco: essentially shallow , observing with a detached iron y the stream o f life a s it passes him by. Maugham's las t oriental novel, then, reprises many of the oppositions an d subtl e filiations o f the earlier fiction. The assiduousness with which Indi a i s marked ou t as a spac e outside Western discours e only serves , finally, to demonstrate it s absolute necessity a s an exterior which lie s outside, and thus defines, British identity . Within thes e complex negotiations concernin g interio r an d exterior, writing emerge s as a masculine endeavour, a process o f imposition o f a cartesian gri d o f rationality upo n the undifferentiated flo w of language. Yet masculinity i n 284 Maugham's society , and especially acutel y fo r the writer himself, contains als o within i t the abject spectr e of homosexuality. Th e more the narrator protest s his detachment, his own discursive invisibility , the more i t becomes evident that he may have something to hide. 285 Conclusion

This thesis began with th e argument that Maugham's works were worthy o f attention i n the light o f contemporary postcolonial theory , and the variety o f critical approache s grouped a s lesbian an d ga y studies—or, more recently, queer theory. I n analyzing Maugham's texts, I have stresse d ho w such theories need t o be local, that the theoretical an d th e literary tex t exist i n a dialogic relationship, each continually questionin g th e other. In concluding thi s study, therefore, i t seems appropriate t o ask how Maugham's works raise questions concerning th e theoretical modes applie d t o them. How, particularly, do they clarify o r occlude the relationship between postcolonia l studie s an d studies of the history o f sexuality?

Postcolonial an d gay and lesbian studie s have much i n common philosophically an d methodologically. Bot h aim, through deconstructive work, to call int o question naturalized discursiv e formation s o f race or nation, gender or sexuality. At the same time both are concerned t o theorize resistance, to see homosexual an d (post)colonia l subjects not merely a s passive creations o f a dominant discourse, but a s agents who interven e i n their discursiv e surroundings, often to startling effect . Thus most textua l analysis of homosexuality i n a colonial context focuses upo n interracial homosexuality a s a hole i n the real, a n act of union tha t crosses borders an d destabilize s opposition s 286 based upo n nation an d race . For Abena Busia, the depiction of interracia l homosexuality i n the relationship betwee n British officer Michael Glyn an d his African batman, Sulley, in Michael Caute's novel At Fever Pitc h (1959 ) makes visible many o f the contradictions o f a colonial discours e commonly embodied b y a racialized heterosexua l binarism : The chain of events which follow s gives rise to the possibility o f a radical reinterpretatio n of the colonial encounter , and transform s thi s text int o one of the very fe w potentially liberating texts of it s kind. In this novel, as a consequence o f his sexual behaviour, the hero face s what conquest can do to subject peoples, and he does not like what he sees. (368 ) Jenny Sharpe, reading Forster' s , i s more circumspect i n her claims regarding th e emancipatory powe r of such textual faultlines. Viewing Adela's eroticizing gaz e upon the punkah puller i n the court room scene as a displacement o f the author's own desire, Sharpe caution s that "th e loving gaze that fixes the punkah wallah i s in itself 'i n place' by virtue o f colonial structure s of exploitation an d domination" (151) . Yet i t is this homoerotic moment tha t gives Sharpe critical purchas e upon Forster's novel: [A] figure o f truth an d beauty, the punkah puller disrupt s preexisting association s o f untouchability wit h filt h an d pollution. His 287 disruptive presenc e i n the place of colonia l law thus denotes a theater that exceed s historical records . (152 ) Again, a whiff of interracial homoeroticism put s the critic on the track o f the "ex-orbitant " (Sharp e 152). Like a mine canary/ interracia l homosexuality provide s a means of detecting noxious vapours issuin g fro m fissures i n the colonial text. In Sharpe's and Busia's essays, however, no sooner has i t performed it s task than i t is discarded. More extended analysi s of the pressure interracia l homosexual desir e places upon European self-representatio n is found i n the work o f Kaja Silverman , Sara Suleri , and Jonathan Dollimore. Working fro m thre e different critica l perspectives (psychoanalytic , rhetorical, and materialist), and exploring th e literary productio n o f three differen t writers (T.E . Lawrence, Forster, and Andr e Gide), the three critics reach surprisingly simila r conclusions. For Silverman, Lawrence's Seve n Pillars of Wisdom performs a "double mimesis," in which Lawrence projects his own sexuality ont o his Arab companions, and then "discovers " this sexuality i n them, identifyin g himself with it . Such a psychic movement, Silverman claims, does destabilize normative categories o f race, sexuality, and gender. Sara Suleri, like Sharpe, locates the ability o f A Passage t o India "t o demystify th e mundanities attendan t o n colonial exchange" (144 ) in the novel's depiction of interracia l homoeroticism. Suler i note s the ambiguous statu s o f Aziz, 288 attractive bu t made diminutive, never looke d a t directly, i n Forster's narrative: Here, A Passage to India reifies a hidden tradition o f imperia l lookin g i n which the disempowerment o f a homoerotic gaze i s as damaging to the colonizing psyche as to that of the colonized, an d questions the cultural dichotomies through which both are realized. (136) Suleri continue s her analysis t o explore the manner i n which the geography o f Forster's novel constructs a "presexua l space" which problematizes no t only "suc h static categorie s as the 'English ' versus th e 'Indian' " (142) , but also the homosexual/heterosexual binarism : Once both visible an d invisibl e caves i n the hills o f Marabar ar e rendered equall y empty , then the supposed dichotom y between heterosexual an d homosexual desir e assume s a similarly interchangeable quality . (145 ) Jonathan Dollimore, i n a reading o f Gide's Amyntas, emphasises lik e Suleri an d Silverma n the extinction o f self in narratives which thematiz e interracia l homoeroticism , while reining i n excessive Utopian impulses . The structur e of power tha t makes these narratives possible , Dollimore emphasizes, should no t be forgotten:

[W]e go to the exotic other t o lose everything, including ourselves—everything tha t i s but the

privilege which enable d u s to go i n the first 289 place. (342 ) A provisional conclusio n tha t might be drawn fro m th e readings abov e is that while suc h interracial homoeroticis m may disrup t th e binarisms which provide the foundation fo r concepts o f European selfhood, the extent to which suc h disruption take s place or is recuperated wil l vary widely from text to text. In the case of Maugham's writing, a further complication present s itself : homoeroticism i s frequently not interracial , and even when i t is, the gaze of the colonizer upo n the colonized i s so textually circumscribe d as to contain an y threat to the epistemological securit y o f the gazer. A comparison between a homoerotic scen e in Forster's A Passage t o India with the erotically-charge d scene of opium preparation i n The Narrow Corner is , I think revealing o f the manner i n which Maugham's narratives ofte n strive t o contain the dislocations caused by the recognitio n of homosexual desire . I n Forster's novel, Suleri explicate s the "eroti c interaction" between Aziz an d Fielding i n the scene i n which Aziz puts his collar stu d int o Fielding' s collar: While the counterimperialist Wester n gentlema n is in the act of dressing, he requires the aid of the "little " Indian who can both char m an d complicate th e dialogue that follow s between them. (138 ) The episode i s one i n which both parties participate, and i n 290 which explore s the possibility an d impossibilit y o f friendship across "th e unavoidable partition" (Suler i 136 ) of colonialism. The scene between Saunder s an d Ah Kay i n the schooner i n The Narrow Corner is , although equall y erotically suggestive , based o n very different premises. For all Ah Kay's "knead[ing] " o f the pellet o f opium, making i t "sizzle an d swell " (38), he i s very distant fro m Saunders. Maugham's narrative i s very consciou s o f Ah Kay's status as a servant, and also of the vast disparity i n the ages of the two men. There i s no comradely friendshi p o r mutuality i n Maugham's scene, none of the striving t o cross boundaries that characterizes th e homoerotic moment i n Forster's novel. Rather, Saunders' homoerotic gaz e upon Ah Kay, the "comel y youth with large black eye s an d a skin a s smooth a s a girl's" (37 ) is predicated upo n distance, and does not demand a n acknowledgement o r reply. Much of the homoeroticism i n Maugham's works, indeed, is found i n glances exchanged withi n th e European community : Neilson's fon d gaze upon the remembered bod y of the young Red, or the Maugham narrator' s admiratio n o f a sailor's biceps a t Toulon i n The Razor's Edge. Eroticized glances , we have seen , are never returned: men rather achiev e intimac y through the medium o f a Girardian triangle , as rivals ove r a feminized landscape , or over the text an d it s mode of narration. Even the sexual transgressions--adulter y an d incest—which stan d i n for homosexuality, are largel y withi n the European community, an d ar e silenced b y police actio n 291 within it . A short story suc h a s "Th e Force of Circumstance," which deal s with miscegenation, fo r instance, is concerned wit h the impac t of Guy's liaison with a Malay concubine upon his marriage, not with a dissolution o f the Self within the Other. Reading Maugham i n an antihomophobic, postcolonial context i s therefore initially , at least fo r myself, a disappointing experience . One waits fo r affirmativ e depictions of homosocial mal e friendship, or fo r direct o r peripheral challenge s t o the discourse o f imperialism: on e finds nothing. As I have indicate d earlier , however, the very blankness o f Maugham's texts, the smoothness of the surface which they present to the reader, speaks volumes concerning th e success o f their naturalization o f representations o f colonial masculinity. Fo r all T.E. Lawrence's psychic journey s i n Arabia, the reason fo r his presence i n the Middle East i n Seven Pillars o f Wisdom remains to advance the cause of the British Empire, and his narrative was rea d by a metropolitan audienc e as an account of imperia l bravado i n the manner o f George Gordon o r Robert Clive. A consideration o f the place of homosexuality i n Maugham's works run s less risk o f valorizing emancipator y impulses, and thus Maugham's orienta l fictio n may revea l more concerning th e abjection o f homosexuality withi n British constructions o f colonial masculinity tha n the texts of more explicitly polemica l writers suc h as Gide or Forster. 292 From th e analyses o f Maugham's works o f fiction i n this study, i t is clear that the author was a consummate recycle r of orientalist tropes , tropes that are common i n nineteenth- and twentieth-centur y Europea n an d North American representations o f Asia an d Australasia. The strateg y o f Maugham's fictio n i s to combine suc h tropologica l representations wit h othe r trope s o f gender an d o f class, and t o assemble them, with the ai d of suitable Girardia n trigonometry an d binary division , into a framework tha t circumscribes, and s o defines, the British male subject. In this respect Maugham's writing i s unremarkable, since a similar strategy was used i n much contemporaneous popula r fiction. I n Maugham's work, however, the manufacturing o f this framework i s closely associate d wit h the writing process. Maugham's novels an d shor t stories alway s foreground th e process of composition: most o f Maugham's narrators ar e either doctor s o r writers, and th e act of narration i s presented i n clinical, quasi-scientific terms. Furthermore, the values attached t o narration i n Maugham's fiction—objectivity, irony , control, and emotiona l continence—are al l normatively masculin e ones. Through th e act o f writing, and through his fiction's constan t recreation o f the figure o f "W . Somerset Maugham," narrator, Maugham create s a heterosexual, masculine public persona. Maugham's situatio n o f writing a s a homosexual man, however, makes this creation o f a heterosexual Britis h male subject, I would argue , peculiarly artificial . There i s 293 always a suggestion i n Maugham's work tha t patiently-buil t frameworks ar e les s stable than might a t first sight appear, and s o need t o be repeatedly shore d up . Indeed, Maugham's semiotic frameworks , with their rigi d insistenc e upo n outside and inside , suggest a metaphor fo r the masculinizing writing process tha t supersedes a scientific analogy : the production o f a closet. We have seen i n Chapter Four that Maugham's representatio n o f the homosexual i n "E l Greco" seems also to be a comment upo n his own writing process. Similarly, the end result of the narrator's pursuit o f the romantic male artis t i n The Moon an d Sixpence seem s to be a formulation o f masculinity base d upon the presence o f the closet. The presence of this closet, in turn, threatens th e integrity o f the subject, since what i s closeted--homosexuality--has discursiv e affiliations with femininity an d racial alterity, which are placed i n Maugham's writings outside the framework of the male subject. Maugham's male British subjec t might be conceptualized a s a torus: seen from one angle, it maintains a spatia l integrity , clearly separatin g a central hole fro m the outside. I f the shape i s rotated, however, it guickly becomes apparent tha t insid e and outside ar e connected. Much of Maugham's work attempt s t o re-establish th e barrier between insid e an d outside. I n The Moon and Sixpence, many of the stories o f The Trembling o f a Leaf, and most o f the Malayan stories, narrational frameworks , although contested, do close down the play of meaning whic h 294 threatens to dissolve the binary opposition s upo n which they are based. I n The Razor's Edge an d The Narrow Corner, Maugham focuse s narational energ y not s o much upon the process o f inclusion a s upon exclusion, upon th e abjectio n of Larry Darrell an d Dr. Saunders which preserves th e integrity o f a heterosexual, masculine world. The two texts in which a connection betwee n insid e an d outside i s most clearly made, which compromise the sovereign position of the narrator, suggesting mos t clearly a n affiliation betwee n Maugham's writing proces s an d homosexuality, ar e both texts written abou t China . I t may be that the negation represente d by China i n Western discursiv e constructions, allied wit h the absence o f devices suc h as conventional plot , or a male narrator, provides Maugham with more semioti c flexibilit y i n these works, On a Chinese Screen and The Painted Veil . However, such semioti c dissidenc e cannot, I think, be theorized with the optimism Suleri , Dollimore an d other s show. I f anything, the production o f China as outside o f all signifying system s tends to repeat orientalist stereotypes: Maugham's homosexual subjec t achieves expression through th e deployment o f a n archive o f orientalist tropes . Moreover, Maugham's ow n reading audienc e seem s to have largel y rea d over the dissolution o f symbolic systems i n these texts; book reviews criticize th e unsatisfactory conclusio n o f The Painted Veil , o r remark tha t O n a Chinese Screen i s a charming serie s of vignettes.1

Maugham's orienta l fictio n thus makes us aware o f the 295 complexity o f intersection s o f gender, race, and sexualit y in colonial texts concerned t o construct an d maintain a male British subjectivity. Thoug h les s optimistic tha n Jonatha n Dollimore regardin g abilit y o f texts such as Maugham's t o challenge a dominant discourse, I would lik e to end thi s study, as Dollimore end s Sexual Dissidence, on a positive note. Dollimore writes o f love: it seems appropriate, in the case of Maugham's works, to write of pleasure. A pleasure still remain s i n Maugham's texts, as we saw i n the last section of the Introduction , a pleasure tha t exceed s analysis. I n The Pleasure o f the Text Roland Barthe s distinguishes between tw o types of text, the "[tjex t o f pleasure," which makes no attempt t o break with cultura l constructions, and the "[t]ex t o f bliss," which "unsettle s the reader's historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency o f his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language" (14). Maugham's orienta l fictio n would appea r t o belong t o the former category, an d yet Barthes late r states that the nature o f text i s also dependent upon reading practice. He writes o f the pitfalls o f rigid "socio-ideologica l analyses " of literature: These analyses forget . . . the formidabl e underside o f writing: bliss: bliss which

can erupt, across the centuries, out

of certain texts that were nonetheless writte n to th e glory o f the dreariest, of the most

sinister philosophy. (39 ) 296 For a contemporary reade r o f Maugham, I would hope that this study makes such bliss a t least partially accessible. 297 Endnotes


l-The term "sex/gende r system, " introduce d b y Gayle Rubin, now enjoys wide currency i n gender studies. It designates a "domai n o f social life " (Rubi n 166), "a set of arrangements b y which th e biological ra w material o f human sex and procreation i s shaped b y human, social interventio n and satisfie d i n a conventional manner" (165) . Recent gende r theory has questioned th e ease with which Rubin divide s biological fro m social , but the conceptual framewor k nonetheless remains useful. ^Maugham himself terme d th e writings I discuss i n this thesis his exotic fiction . I use the word "oriental " in order t o emphasise th e constructed discursiv e an d ideological natur e o f Maugham's East; in the thesis the word carries similar connotativ e weight t o "oriental " i n Said's Orientalism, although i t does not denote the same geographic area. "Fiction " when used i n the phrase "orienta l fiction " includes suc h nominally non-fictiona l work s as On A Chinese Screen an d A Writer's Notebook, which I consider t o have an equivalent "truth-value " to the novels an d short stories.

^The two biographies ar e Morgan's Maugham an d Calder's Willie. Both ar e thorough, scholarly biographies, and thei r differenc e i s suggested b y their titles. Morgan i s 298 less adulatory, building a picture of " a man whose defects were glaring, but . . . should no t be used t o diminish his accomplishments" (xxi) . Calde r i s more partial, critiquing Morgan's work fo r it s "distast e for it s subject" (xvi) , and instead attemptin g " a portrait which recognizes his [Maugham's] sensitivity, wit, loyalty, and numerou s kindnesses t o many people" (xvii) . Morga n receive d permission fro m Maugham's firs t literary executo r to quote the writer's privat e correspondence, wherea s Calder, applying t o the second executor , the Royal Literary Fund , did not. Calder did, however, conduct extensive interview s with Alan Searle, Maugham's companio n an d secretar y i n the last years of his life. The fac t that both portraits ar e plausible, and tha t both infe r biographical informatio n fro m Maugham's novels and shor t stories, is in itself an interesting commen t upon Maugham's self-manufacture d "autho r function." ^Representative sample s of criticism o f Maugham's works are given i n Anthony Curtis an d Joh n Whitehead's contribution t o the Routledge Critica l Heritag e series , and in various volumes of Contemporary Literar y Criticism . Th e early criticism i s summarized i n Curtis' article "Maugha m and his critics," and a wide-ranging, though not comprehensive, survey o f more contemporary critica l writin g constitutes a section o f Stoner's study.

5Morgan take s Menard's text, The Two Worlds of Somerset Maugham, i n which the author recount s severa l 299 conversations with Maugham, a t face value. I t seems t o me unlikely tha t such conversations, even i f they di d tak e place, could be subsequently recounte d i n the detail given in the text- Two letters fro m Maugham t o Menard reproduce d in The Two Worlds o f Somerset Maugham see m to indicate their relationship was somewhat les s close than Menard represent s it to be. ^Interestingly, Calder deploy s Maugham's homosexuality t o make exactl y th e contrary point, commenting that th e "surprisin g empath y with the opposite sex" revealed in the author's writings "ma y have been an aspect of his homosexual temperament " (Willi e 75). The two arguments thu s illustrate th e contradictory natur e o f contemporar y stereotypes o f homosexuality. Bot h also provide excellen t illustrations o f the non sequitur. ^Fictional treatment s o f amok, such as Clifford's A Prince o f Malaya are, for example, much more homoerotic tha n Maugham's "Th e Outstation," which i s clearly a descendant o f the genre. The advantage of using Sedgwick' s critical approac h i s evident here; not only i s the presence of "homosexuality " i n texts written by "heterosexual " men unsurprising bu t i t is, in fact, inevitable (se e the proceeding discussion o f critical methodology).

8 A post-Lacanian critiqu e of these analyses might follow three paths. First, it would point ou t that an y connection between femininit y an d homosexuality i s doxological, a product o f cultural constructions o f 300 masculinity. Second , "defences, " if they do exist, are more likely t o be responses t o societal homophobia tha n representative o f personal instability . Third, concepts suc h as "unhealth y individual " are normative i n tone, and therefore implicitl y homophobic . 9 Brigid Brophy , Michael Levey, and Charles Osborne, Fifty Works o f Literature We Could Do Without (Stei n and Day, 1968) , 125-27 , qtd. i n Riley 204. l^in Frenc h historiography, the Classical Perio d i s usually define d a s the century an d a half prio r to the French Revolution, and the Modern Period a s the century an d a half from the Revolution to the Second Worl d War. Foucault, however, i s substantially loose r i n his application of these terms, as I will be in this dissertation. For my analysis o f Maugham, I wish t o make a clear distinctio n between modernity, modernism an d modernization. Modernity, with it s attendant adjectiv e modern, stands fo r the process of foregrounding "Man " as subject an d object o f all systems of knowledge, of which Foucault writes. Modernism i s the literary movement o f the first part o f the twentieth century . Modernization i s the process of industrialization an d subsequent developmen t of colonies through imperialism , which continues i n the contemporary modernizatio n o f the "Thir d World." Maugham, for the purposes o f this thesis, is a modern (bu t not a modernist) writer who writes abou t modernization.

l^Said, for example, urges us to "se e the humanistic 301 values that Orientalism, by it s scope, experiences, and structures, has al l but eliminated" (110) . I n Foucault's schema Orientalism , a s a discourse tha t puts European "Man " at the center o f a system o f knowledge would, i n fact, be essential t o rather tha n antagonistic t o humanism.

Chapter On e

!see Calder, Willie 87. ^See Robert K . Martin, Hero, Captain, Stranger. Martin points out that "a n examination o f the manuscripts reveals tha t the original languag e was even more open than the version eventuall y published " (36) . The considerable investment i n male homosocial an d homosexual relationship s in Melville's novels, which Martin documents, contrasts sharply with th e absence o f mutuality o f desire i n most homosocial relationship s i n Maugham's fiction . Melville i s writing before th e construction--and demonization--o f th e male homosexual a s subject, Maugham i n a much more constrained literar y an d social environment.

^The name "Toug h Bill" originall y appear s i n both the published tex t and the manuscript o f A Writer's Notebook a s one o f the "Kanaka s a t Wakiki . . . : a tall, dark fello w with protruding lips , boastful lik e a child o r Negro" (99). The interchangeabilit y o f the racial designation s o f "kanaka," "negro, " and (i n the text of The Moon an d Sixpence) "mulatto, " i n conjunction with infantilization , 302 speaks volumes regarding Maugham' s construction o f the "primitive."

4QED give s 192 2 as the first appearance o f the word "queer" i n association with homosexuality, an d indicate s that i t was originally Nort h American slang . Given Maugham's relationship with Gerald Haxton , and his visit t o the United States immediatel y prio r t o his research tri p t o Tahiti i n 1916, i t seems unlikely tha t i n 1918 the author would hav e been completely ignoran t o f the word's denotative range.

Chapter Two

1The Trembling o f a Leaf collect s th e major shor t stories se t i n the South Pacific. Vignettes suc h as "Frenc h Joe" an d "Germa n Harry" were published late r i n Cosmopolitans (1936) , while the Daily Mail article "M y South Sea Island " was later published a s a pamphlet.

^See Chapter 5 , for example, for the significance o f blue eyes as a marker o f racial difference i n the short story "Th e Yellow Streak. "

Chapter Thre e

*I here use "mod e of reproduction" i n much the same sense a s "sex/gender system " i n the Introduction . As Rubin points out, the former ter m i s unsatisfactory becaus e a

"sex/gender syste m i s not simpl y th e reproductive moment o f 303 a "'mod e of production'" (167) . Given that most analytica l approaches t o the identit y o f the flaneur derive fro m Walter Benjamin's Marxist re-reading o f Baudelaire, however, it seems to me that the phrase "mod e of reproduction," which derives, as much of Benjamin's argument does , from Friedric h Engels, has a rhetorical utilit y here. ^For instance , the conflict between passiv e observation an d regulation with active colonizing activit y in "Red. "

Chapter Fou r

1 The shor t stor y "P . & 0." has a female character a s focalizer, as do some of Maugham's earlier novels, such as Mrs. Craddock an d Lisa o f Lambeth. The vast majority o f his oriental shor t stories an d novels, however, have male narrators an d focalizers.

Chapter Five

1 Th e Casuarina Tre e (1926 ) and Ah King (1933 ) contain Maugham's best-known Malayan shor t stories. A few additional shor t storie s o n Malaya written fo r Cosmopolita n magazine ar e collected i n Cosmopolitans (1936) ; others, such as "Flotsa m an d Jetsam," appea r i n later collections. One story, "Th e Buried Talent " remained uncollecte d durin g Maugham's lifetime , and i s published i n John Whitehead' s 304 compilation o f Maugham's uncollected works, A Traveller i n Romance. 2 This chapter use s the word "Malayan " t o refer to all of Maugham's shor t storie s that make substantia l reference to the Malayan peninsula (Th e Federated an d Unfederated Mala y States, and the Straits Settlements;, Borneo (Britis h North Borneo, Sarawak, and Brunei;, or the Dutch East Indies. Those se t in the outer island s of the Dutch East Indies, such as "Th e Vessel of Wrath," are slightly different thematically, with less emphasis upo n the omnipresence o f colonial disciplinary systems . These, however, form only a small percentage of the total number of stories. 3 Kratosk a makes this comparison explicitly (Th e

Chettiar and th e Yeoman 4). 4 Th e word's ar e Daisy's upon rejecting he r English husband an d reclaiming her putatively Chines e heritage. One might charitably wonder which jungle the author ha d i n mind, since the play i s set in Peking. Maugham applie s a similar construction t o an incident i n the West Indies recorded i n his A Writer's Notebook, in which the hysteria o f a "slightly coloured" planter when il l proves to the narrator that he i s "a t heart ... a Negro" (246-7; .

5 Th e first official circula r exhibitin g th e Colonial Office's disapproval o f the practice of concubinage was issued b y Lord Crewe , Secretary o f State for the Colonies, in January 1909 . Butcher (206-213 ; discusses th e origin of 305 the circular an d it s effects upo n British practices i n Malaya.

Chapter Six

iMichael Taylor, "Lovin g Boy s i n Nineteenth-Century English Schoo l Stories, " Div. on Gay Studies i n Language an d Literature, MLA Convention, San Francisco, 28 Dec.iyyi. 2See Halperin's titl e essay i n One Hundred Year s of Homosexuality (15-40) . The Oxford Englis h Dictionary, Halperin documents, credits Charles Gilbert Craddock with introducing th e word int o the English languag e i n 1892. 3Edwin Drood i s a foundational tex t fo r Sedgwick' s discussion o f "th e homophobia o f empire" (Betwee n Men 180-220;.


•'•For instance, Gerald Gould' s comment i n the Saturda y Review, regarding O n a Chinese Screen, that "Mr . Maugham provides somethin g exceptionall y goo d with a gesture almos t of carelessness. His technical competenc e . . . has presumably passe d int o his subconsciousness, and become a s effortless as breathing or walking" (Curti s and Whitehea d 157;. P.C . Kennedy's comment tha t "Ltjh e end o f The Painted Veil i s the silliest eve r inflicte d b y a brilliant writer on 306 a brilliant story " (Curti s an d Whitehead 165 ; reflects a widely-held opinio n of the novel. Maugham did , i n fact, revise the ending t o make closure more emphatic. 307 Works Consulte d

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