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Henry James in mid-career: "Georgina's Reasons" and the possibilities of style.

In the early 1960s, Oscar Cargill and Leon Edel criticized James's 1884 short story "Georgina's Reasons" for posing a problem of character-motivation that it fails to resolve. What are the "reasons" of the story's title? What are Georgina's reasons for marrying, secretly and against her parents' wishes; for keeping the marriage a secret and making her husband promise to do the same; when she becomes pregnant for hiding the pregnancy, even from her husband; for abandoning her child after he is born; for bigamously remarrying; and, finally, for refusing to grant her first husband a divorce so that he can legally marry again? Identifying Georgina, who upon her second marriage becomes "Georgina Roy," as a precursor to Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove, Cargill compared the story unfavorably with the novel, arguing that, because of her poverty, Kate Croy is "far more plausibly motivated" than Georgina, for whom James provides no such clearcut motivation (348). Two years after Cargill published this judgment, Edel called "Georgina's Reasons" "a strange unmotivated sensational little story" (56), his disparagement effectively sealing its fate as one of James's least read short fictions. According to Edel's verdict, the inadequacy of James's psychological conception of his heroine results in formal narrative failure: Georgina is "unmotivated," therefore the story is too. On the basis of this formal failure, Edel assigns the tale to one of the lowest in the hierarchy of fictional genres, the sensational, a categorization that in turn supports his measure of the work as "little." "Georgina's Reasons" is one of James's longer tales, (1) so the smallness ascribed to it by Edel must reflect, not its page extent, nor indeed the geographical reach of its action (which, as I will discuss later, is broad), but a sense of what the work achieves--little.

Yet surely James was too canny a writer to choose a title for his story that would draw attention to what is, according to Cargill and Edel, its greatest flaw. Rather, I believe that he used the title "Georgina's Reasons" to create an expectation on the reader's part, which the story deliberately frustrates, thereby opening what Frank Kermode calls, with reference to later James works such as What Maisie Knew and The Sacred Fount, a "hermeneutic gap," which the reader must explore but cannot close. (2) The title focuses the reader's attention on the question, why? It also seems to invite a rational, ethical mode of answering that question, which its subject matter resists. This resistance forces readers to consider carefully not only what they know about Georgina, but also how they know it. Specifically, James's refusal to provide a secure interpretative ground for Georgina's actions challenges the reader to compare possible theoretical and literary models for understanding her character and behavior. I will consider four frames of reference within which the reader may "read" Georgina and her reasons: theological, political, scientific and geographical. Each of these conceptual frameworks corresponds to a fictional genre that James could use to tell her story: sensation fiction, New Woman fiction, naturalism, and the international tale. The problem of the heroine's motivation thus provides the occasion for a consideration of the kinds of fiction that were available for James to write in the mid-1880s, and of the capacities and limitations of each kind for developing his chosen subject--a woman whose unconventional and destructive behavior defies rational understanding.

James adumbrated this subject in The Portrait of a Lady with the character of Mrs Touchett, whose strange and hurtful behavior towards her husband and son rests upon "reasons which she deemed excellent" (Novels 211) but which remain opaque to others. She had "an extreme respect for her own motives" and "was usually prepared to explain these--when the explanation was asked as a favour; and in such a case they proved totally different from those that had been attributed to her" (211). Three years later James imagined a heroine who, like Mrs Touchett, "had her reasons, which seemed to her very good but were very difficult to explain" ("Georgina" 15). Both women choose to live apart from their husbands and to abdicate their motherly roles. But whereas Mrs Touchett's eccentricities are treated more or less comically in the 1881 novel, where the pain she causes her husband is touched on only lightly (Novels 212), the damaging as well as baffling effects of Georgina's choices are the central concern of the 1884 short story. In thus increasing the emotional charge James also raises the interpretative stakes: the heroine's outrageous choices (which far exceed Mrs Touchett's deviations from normality) present a forceful challenge to the ethical imaginations of the other main characters in the story. The story emphasizes the unaccountability of Georgina's behavior in the eyes of the only two characters who know what she has done--Raymond Benyon, the husband she betrays and disowns, and Mrs Portico, the family friend who helps her conceal her pregnancy and the birth of her unwanted child. We are told that from beginning to end of his relationship with Georgina, Benyon "didn't know her nor understand her ("Georgina" 1); "his mistress's motives" were always impenetrable to him (12). Mrs Portico, who "had really never understood Georgina at all" (14), finds her less comprehensible the better she knows her, and soon reaches a point where "she had given up trying to understand anything that the girl might say or do" (24). Meanwhile the reader struggles, alongside these characters, to make sense of motives and desires that seem unfathomable. By provoking such a struggle, making it an ineluctable element of the reading experience, and also thematizing it within the narrative action, "Georgina's Reasons" brings together James's longstanding interest in female psychology with epistemological questions about how and what we can know, in literature or in life, about the minds of others.

In this story, such questions are related to issues of genre that illuminate James's choices, as an author, in the middle phase of his career. Would the tale be best told in the style of sensation fiction, or even in the form of a specific homage to the mistress of that genre, Mary Elizabeth Braddon? Or would the more modern methods of literary naturalism better serve James's needs in this instance? Did the subject demand to be treated in the style of contemporary New Woman fiction? Or could James extract more capabilities from his own trademark form, the international tale? As a story that invokes a range of genres without committing exclusively to any one of them, "Georgina's Reasons" illuminates some of the stylistic choices and challenges James faced as an author in the mid-1880s. Readers of this story who embark on a hunt for the heroine's reasons find themselves shadowing the author's quest for the style best suited to representing those reasons, or best able to indicate their unrepresentability.

Sensation Fiction and the Theological Frame

One answer to the question begged by the story's title is to say that Georgina does what she does because she is, in the words of her friend Mrs Portico, "a very bad girl" (22), or in the stronger language of her husband Benyon, "a cold-blooded devil" (50). These are metaphysical or theological judgments, which posit bad character as the cause of bad behavior, without seeking further reasons why a character should be bad. Such judgments suggest that James's heroine should be placed among the femmes fatales of English fiction, whose generic home in the third quarter of the nineteenth century was the sensation novel. Georgina commits sensation fiction's signature crime, bigamy (Fahnestock 48), and James literally frames her within the sensation tradition by borrowing Braddon's portrait-recognition device from Lady Audley's Secret to reveal her crime to her first husband ("Georgina" 46-49). Other debts to Braddon are manifest, and have been noted by Adeline Tintner (120, 121): Georgina's height, queenly bearing and reckless first marriage recall Aurora Floyd, while her "glossy coldness" and "audacity" ("Georgina" 16, 50) are reminiscent of Lady Audley.

The example of a writer whose "purpose was at any hazard to make a hit, to catch the public ear" (James, Rev. of Aurora Floyd 741)--and who had handsomely accomplished that purpose--was no doubt helpful to James as he sought to take advantage of the opportunity for popular success presented in editor Charles A. Dana's invitation to provide stories for syndicated publication in ten American newspapers. (3) As he considered how to please the unfamiliar audience represented by the readers of these newspapers, one can almost imagine James going back to his 1865 review of Braddon and reminding himself that "[in] proportion as an incident is exceptional, it is interesting to persons in search of novelty" (745); that "[t]he novelist who interprets the illegitimate world to the legitimate world, commands from the nature of his position a certain popularity" (745); and that "the nearer the criminal and the detective are brought home to the reader, the more lively his 'sensation" (743). His own analysis of the sensation genre's wide appeal, produced almost twenty years before the writing of "Georgina's Reasons" and based on his reading of works by Braddon and Wilkie Collins, provided James with the essential coordinates for the plotting of his story of an audacious young girl from a comfortable and conventional background, who manages to carry off a secret marriage and a concealed pregnancy, and dispose of an unwanted child and a superfluous husband, all under the unsuspecting eyes of the affluent New Yorkers who constitute her family and friends.

Braddon undeniably influenced "Georgina's Reasons;' but James outstripped the earlier writer in the depths of sensation he was prepared to have his heroine plumb. Although Lady Audley's crimes exceed Georgina's--she is guilty of arson and attempted murder as well as bigamy--Georgina has a more ingrained criminal nature. (4) Unlike Helen Audley, Georgina enjoys danger and wrongdoing for their own sake, rather than merely enduring the one and employing the other as means to an end. When conducting her illicit courtship with the young naval officer Benyon at the beginning of the story, her "whole person seemed to exhale a tranquil, happy consciousness of having broken a law" (6). At the end of the tale, as Georgina silently dares her first husband to expose her to her second, Benyon is conscious "that she braved and scorned, or rather that she enjoyed, the danger" and when Benyon fails to speak, she reacts "as joyously as if she had won a bet" (61). Transgression makes Georgina happy; her greatest joy lies in experiencing the feeling--the "sensation"--that she is winning a game in which society is her opponent. Whereas Helen Audley can argue convincingly that she turns to crime only in response to circumstances, Georgina seems to have an inherent predisposition to wrongdoing, which leads her almost inevitably to crime.

Another way in which James's heroine outdoes her precursor in what might be called sinfulness is in her unrestrained sexuality. Georgina's frank admission that sexual desire was the main motive for her first marriage surprises Benyon (10) and shocks Mrs Portico, who, "flushed with the agitation of unwonted knowledge," feels "as if she had discovered a skeleton in her favourite cupboard" (21). At the end of the story, when Benyon confronts Georgina (now Mrs Roy) in her New York home to demand a divorce, which would require public exposure of their marriage, her sexuality appears not just unregulated but depraved:

   As for her courage, it seemed to glow in the beauty which grew
   greater as she came nearer, with her eyes on his and her fixed
   smile; to be expressed in the very perfume that accompanied her
   steps. By this time he had got a still further impression, and it
   was the strangest of all. She was ready for anything, she was
   capable of anything, she wished to surprise him with her beauty, to
   remind him that it belonged, after all, at the bottom of
   everything, to him. She was ready to bribe him, if bribing should
   be necessary. She had carried on an intrigue before she was twenty;
   it would be more, rather than less, easy for her now that she was
   thirty. All this and more was in her cold, living eyes, as, in the
   prolonged silence, they engaged themselves with his ... She was a
   truly amazing creature. (55-56)

Benyon experiences the moment as "the spectacle, magnificent in its way, of her unparalleled impudence" (60), reminding us that the spectacle of the "bad girl" (22) flaunting her badness was always a major part of sensation fiction's audience appeal. Natalie Schroeder notes that transgressive and aggressive action typically intensifies the sensual beauty of sensation novel heroines (94-96), but whereas the erotic glamour of Braddon's and Ouida's heroines is generated by the violence they commit or urge others to commit, James invests Georgina with a pure eroticism which is aggressive in itself.

Georgina's own accounts of her motives confirm the two main aspects of her "bad girl" (22) persona. The sexual motive is indirectly, but clearly, admitted in conversations she has with Benyon and Mrs Portico. When she agrees to marry Benyon but insists they "wait awhile to let their union be known," Benyon questions the point of their marrying at all under such a restriction:

   "What good will it do us, then?" Raymond Benyon asked. Georgina
   coloured. "Well, if you don't know, I can't tell you!" Then it
   seemed to him that he did know. (10)

Later, telling Mrs Portico of her secret marriage, Georgina explains that they needed "the sanction--of the affair at the church" because "he saw that I would never do without it" (21). Mrs Portico replies,

   "I don't know what you mean by sanctions, or what you wanted of

      Georgina got up, holding rather higher than before that beautiful
   head which, in spite of the embarrassments of this interview, had
   not yet perceptibly abated its elevation. "Would you have liked me
   to--to not marry?" (21)

The irregular syntax used here indicates that 'to not marry' is not at all the same thing as "not to marry"--"to not marry" would be to indulge desire illicitly, not to renounce or defer its satisfaction. Georgina also confirms the essential lawlessness of her nature when she admits the other motive for her secret marriage: "There was one more reason.... I wouldn't be forbidden. It was my hideous pride. That's what prevents me now" (62). So, the same determination not to be limited by the rulings of others that prompted her actions at the beginning of the story motivates her behavior at the end. "I can live as I like," she insists:

"If I choose to live in this way, it may be queer (I admit it is, tremendously), but you have nothing to say to it.... If I am willing to play such an infernal trick upon a confiding gentleman (I will put it as strongly as you possibly could), I don't see what you have to say to it except that you are exceedingly glad such a woman as that isn't known to be your wife!" (59)

Announcing her determination to have it all--new husband, new child, wealth, position, admiration--despite what might seem the insuperable obstacle of her previous marriage, Georgina shows that she still won't be forbidden, even when it is not just parents or relatives but the law of the land that would prevent her.

To Benyon, the premeditated scheming that laid the groundwork for this exemption from the law is proof of his wife's "essential depravity" (51). Such theological condemnation of the sensation heroine was characteristic of contemporary critical responses to the genre. (5) But is this the only possible response to Georgina's actions, or is James's heroine available for the kind of feminist recuperation enjoyed in the later twentieth century by Braddon's Helen Audley, regarded by some critics as a feminist role model because of her defiance of the constraints and inequities imposed on women by Victorian patriarchy (Showalter 163-67)? Can we, indeed, take such a political interpretation even further and interpret "Georgina's Reasons" not through the lens of sensation fiction but within a different generic frame, one more appropriate to the decade of the story's publication--that is, New Woman fiction?

New Woman Fiction and the Political Frame

As described by Charles Johanningsmeier, Georgina sounds like a textbook instance of the late nineteenth-century New Woman, whose rebellion against society would be explored in the fiction of Grant Allen, George Egerton and Sarah Grand: "She seems to know what she wants and goes about obtaining it, but in the process she breaks some of the most sanctified rules of Victorian female conduct: obedience to one's parents until married, fidelity to one's spouse, and self-sacrificing devotion to one's children" (49). Georgina's determination to use her first husband as a sexual partner but not to retain him as a life partner; her decision to abandon her baby rather than accept the constraints of motherhood; and her choice to secure wealth and status through the criminal act of bigamy may all, when placed within the interpretative framework of New Woman fiction, be seen as reasonable challenges by a feisty heroine to an unfair ideology of gender. James's decision to make Georgina's first husband a naval officer lends weight to a feminist interpretation of her actions: Benyon possesses freedom of movement, has enjoyed a range of sexual experiences before his marriage (1), and is able to take "time off," as it were, from the relationship--all opportunities denied Georgina under the rules of acceptable feminine behavior. Moreover, Benyon's profession allows James to play on the meaning of the word "master" with its Henleyesque connotations of a man's--but not a woman's--ability to be "master of [his] fate" and "captain of [his] soul" (Henley lines 15, 16). Georgina explicitly refers to the inequalities of opportunity between Benyon and herself. During their courtship, when Benyon remonstrates against her warning that they must reduce their meetings because of her parents' surveillance, she retorts: "That's easy for you to say. You are your own master, but you don't know what I go through" (8). Ten years later, when she refuses him the divorce he asks for, she speaks in a similar vein:

"You could do as you pleased ... You roamed about the world, you formed charming relations.... Think of my going back to my father's house--that family vault--and living there, year after year, as Miss Gressie! If you remember my father and mother--they are round in Twelfth Street, just the same--you must admit that I paid for my folly!" (59)

One might ask why Georgina did not claim her identity as a married woman, which would at least have liberated her from her parents' home. Because, she explains to her friend Mrs Portico, "What would be the use when he's always away?" What would be the point of enduring her parents' and society's condemnation of her economically imprudent marriage "the scolding and the exposure and the ridicule, the scenes at home ... and yet to be alone here, just as I was before, without my husband after all, with none of the good of him" (18)? The narrator states that after providing this explanation of her motives, "Georgina looked at her hostess as if with the certitude that such an enumeration of inconveniences would touch her effectually" (18). (6) Remaining pointedly detached from Georgina's "certitude" about her victimization by a patriarchal society, the narrator implies that the "inconveniences" she suffers are not serious enough to justify her subsequent actions, and that whatever sense Georgina has of her oppressed state and her right to escape it should be viewed ironically.

Accordingly, some critics believe that James used the character of Georgina to devalue the cause of the "New Woman" in late nineteenth-century England and America. (7) In such a reading "Georgina's Reasons" becomes a univocal expression of the anti-feminist attitudes present in The Bostonians, the novel on which James suspended work in order to write this tale. (8) (A reading of the tale as anti-feminist could even align Georgina's spurious, incommunicable "reasons" with the implied philosophic void represented by the speech on "A Woman's Reason" that Verena Tarrant never delivers at the end of The Bostonians [James, Novels 1163]). Certainly, James could hardly have designed a character more discreditable to the feminist cause. Both Mrs Portico and Benyon come to regard Georgina as a "monster" (19, 51) and to "detest" her (27, 50), largely because of the particularly distressing nature of her treatment of her first child. Georgina abandons the baby to a "squalid nest of peasants in the Genoese country" (51), where the little boy either dies or is lost. Mrs Portico regards the abandonment as "a horrible thing," which gives "her motherly heart" a "mortal chill" (26). Benyon spends a year searching for his son in Italy, trying to navigate his way through "the confessions, retractions, contradictions, lies, terrors, threats, and general bottomless, baffling mendacity and idiocy of every one in the place" where the baby was left (51). "Of course he could only get further and further from real knowledge, and his search was arrested by the conviction that it was making him mad" (52). Georgina later argues that the child "was a complete mistake; he had no right to exist" (56). The remark, which indirectly states one of her elusive and spurious "reasons" is perhaps the most chilling expression of her egotism; it defies both human law (for the child, unlike her second son, was in fact legitimate) and natural law, according to which any child has "the right to exist"

If Georgina were a "New Woman," her conduct would indeed cast a shadow on the cause of women's independence, but my view is that Georgina is not enough of a feminist to discredit feminism. Although she enjoys taking risks, she is not fundamentally a rebel against patriarchal society. Benyon becomes aware early on that her insistence that they keep their marriage secret takes away "the pleasure of defiance." Indeed, "[i]t now appeared that she was not especially anxious to defy; she was disposed rather to manage and temporize" (10). The promise of secrecy she extracts from Benyon provides a way out of her unorthodox first marriage and a path back to the Gressie world of money, status and conservative unanimity. "William Roy had one of the biggest incomes in the city, and he was quite affectionate" (48-49). This description of her second husband, presented in free indirect discourse from the point of view of her shallow new sister-in-law, conveys the utter banality of the choice Georgina has made, and shows how all her plotting has been directed at restoring herself to just such a social position as would satisfy her parents' narrow-minded conservatism.

Naturalism and the Scientific Frame

There is no doubt that Georgina believes in the justice of her behavior and the rightness of her motives, however baffling they are to others: "She had her reasons, which seemed to her very good but were very difficult to explain" (15). This self-belief underlies the unshakeable composure that characterizes both her actions and her failure to account for them in convincing terms. "I wonder if you are insane" Benyon muses at their final meeting (56). This is a more serious possibility than the trumped-up diagnosis of Lady Audley's madness at the end of Braddon's sensation novel. (9) Georgina appears incapable of recognizing social laws, the obligations of contract or the rights of others; indeed, she does not even seem to grasp the reality of other people's emotional lives. Adeline Tintner cites the irrationality and inconsistency of the "reasons" Georgina gives for her actions, in combination with her extreme disregard for ethical norms, as evidence that with her character James created "a casebook representation of the psychopathic personality" as understood in "contemporary experimental psychology" (122, 119). Originally used to designate any mental illness, in the later nineteenth century the term "psychopathy" was employed more narrowly to indicate a form of personality disorder of which doctors had long been aware, but which they struggled to name or define. The key characteristics of this disorder were persistent indulgence in irresponsible and anti-social behavior combined with an absence of scruple, shame or remorse. Manifestations of what we would now call "anti-social personality disorder" could not be accommodated within older definitions of insanity, which demanded the presence of delusions or hallucinations, was recognizable through the exhibition of "furor" or "phrensy," and generally supported the idea of a loss of rational capacity (Augstein 311, Walker and McCabe 206). But from the 1830s onwards medical discourse began to embrace, or at least debate, the idea of "mania without delusion" (10) a disease of the emotions rather than the intellect, which English physician James Cowles Prichard termed "moral insanity" and described as

madness consisting in a morbid perversion of the natural feelings, affections, inclinations, temper, habits, moral dispositions, and natural impulses, without any remarkable disorder or defect of the intellect or knowing and reasoning faculties, and particularly without any insane illusion or hallucination. (Prichard, Treatise 6)

Prichard's definition of moral insanity aligns well with Georgina's conduct throughout James's story, although the cases Prichard cited to illustrate the condition do not, focusing as they do on changes in personality in response to external traumas, rather than on constitutional abnormal tendencies. Prichard's choice of these cases to illustrate his new diagnostic category probably stemmed from the fact that, as he himself admitted, except in cases of "alteration in the character of the individual" (Different 34), '[i]t is often very difficult to pronounce, with certainty, as to the presence or absence of moral insanity, or to determine whether the appearances which are supposed to indicate its existence do not proceed from natural peculiarity or eccentricity of character' (31).

This difficulty with the concept of moral insanity was also part of its enduring fascination. As Roger Smith writes in his study of Victorian trials, "Moral lunatics were of special interest for the crime-insanity boundary because here the elements of madness and badness coincided most nearly" (116). The decision as to whether a criminal was bad or mad determined whether the appropriate response to his or her crime was theological or scientific, but the concept of moral insanity, straddling as it did the boundary between "madness and badness," could seem to support either approach. In 1830, Scottish moralist John Abercrombie had used the phrase "moral insanity" as a purely metaphysical term, classifying the eclipse of conscience as "a point in the moral constitution of man which it does not belong to the physician to investigate. The fact is unquestionable;--the solution is to be sought for in the records of eternal truth" (qtd. Smith 114). A generation later, the eminent Victorian psychologist Henry Maudsley took the opposite approach, arguing that this form of mental disease could not be understood within a "metaphysical view of mind" (58), but must be acknowledged to have a physical basis: "Assuredly moral insanity is disorder of mind produced by disorder of brain" (181-2). Regarding "absence of moral feeling" as "a congenital fault of mental organization" that was often the "consequence of parental insanity" (58), Maudsley viewed moral insanity as a symptom of both "individual degeneration" and "degeneracy of race" (60). (11) From this point on, in the 1870s, the abnormal behavior designated by the term "moral insanity" or "moral imbecility" was increasingly associated with degenerationist models of criminality, and remained so once moral insanity came to be regarded as either a subcategory or a symptom of the class of mental disease known after 1880 as "psychopathic inferiority." (12)

If we regard Georgina as a "moral imbecile" or psychopath, as those terms were understood in the late nineteenth-century, we need to change the generic frame through which we view James's story. Rather than reading "Georgina's Reasons" as an example of sensation or New Woman fiction, it becomes more helpful to see it as an experimental fiction, in Zola's sense, one which anticipated by twenty years German psychologist Robert Gaup's question, whether"there actually existed sensible people with a congenital lack of all ethical feelings, who could no longer be woken up by proper education nor by a dramatic life experience nor by moral feelings like compassion, shame, filial love or remorse" (qtd. Verplaetse 200). For "Georgina's Reasons" prompts one to ask just this question in exactly these terms. Early in the story Benyon sees, with regard to her parents, how Georgina "could sacrifice her own people ... without a scruple" (4), and this lack of filial love foreshadows the lack of parental love that enables her to sacrifice her child with the same lack of scruple. Shame, compassion and remorse are all aspects of moral existence that cannot be discerned in any of Georgina's speeches or actions. Mrs Portico, we are told "had grown almost afraid of her young friend; she had so little fear, she had even, as it were, so little shame. If the good lady had been accustomed to analyzing things a little more, she would have said she had so little conscience" (16). But while Georgina's character fits well with late nineteenth-century understandings of the psychopathic personality, James's story provides little of the kind of naturalistic causation that was deemed to be an essential component of those understandings.

In 1874, Henry Maudsley set out the new expectations for a properly scientific understanding of causation in criminal psychology:

   Not until comparatively lately has much attention been given to the
   way in which criminals are produced. It was with them much as it
   was at one time with lunatics: to say of the former that they were
   wicked, and of the latter that they were mad, was thought to render
   any further explanation unnecessary and any further inquiry
   superfluous. It is certain, however, that lunatics and criminals
   are as much manufactured articles as are steam-engines and
   calico-printing machines, only the processes of the organic
   manufactory are so complex that we are not able to follow them.
   They are neither accidents nor anomalies in the universe, but come
   by law and testify to causality; and it is the business of science
   to find out what the causes are and by what laws they work. There
   is nothing accidental, nothing supernatural, in the impulse to do
   right or in the impulse to do wrong; both come by inheritance or by
   education; and science can no more rest content with the
   explanation which attributes one to the grace of Heaven and the
   other to the malice of the devil, than it could rest content with
   the explanation of insanity as a possession by the devil. (28)

The language of industrialization used here signals Maudsley's unswervingly materialistic and constructivist approach to the "production" of criminals and lunatics. A literary scholar cannot help but notice the similarities between Maudsley's scientific approach to problems of human behavior and the contemporary program of the literary naturalists, with their deterministic attitude to character and action (Zola 173, 179, 195). If we read "Georgina's Reasons" through the lens of Maudsley's scientific naturalism, or Zola's literary naturalism, the initial question addressed in this essay--why does Georgina do the things she does?--shifts from a question of motivation to one of causation.

But do Georgina's actions, to use Maudsley's phrase, "testify to causality"? There is no mention of insanity or other nervous disease in her family, so we have no basis for viewing her anti-social behavior and ethical dysfunctionality as the "pathological evolution" of inherited characteristics (Maudsley 46). Her deviant attitudes have not been instilled by education, for the Gressies are known for their social conformity. It could be argued that she is driven by a need to react against her environment, which as a girl she finds stultifying, but while this can explain her first marriage it does not explain her subsequent immoral and criminal actions, which re-align her life, at least in appearance, with class and family expectations. The nearest thing the story offers to a naturalistic explanation of Georgina's actions is Benyon's retrospective analysis of her decision to marry and then repudiate him:

   She had found herself on a slope which her nature forced her to
   descend to the bottom. She did him the honour of wishing to enjoy
   his society, and she did herself the honour of thinking that their
   intimacy, however brief, must have a certain consecration. She felt
   that with him, after his promise (he would have made any promise to
   lead her on), she was secure, secure as she had proved to be,
   secure as she must think herself. That security had helped her to
   ask herself, after the first flush of passion was over, and her
   native, her twice-inherited worldliness had had time to open its
   eyes again, why she should keep faith with a man whose deficiencies
   ... had been so scientifically exposed to her by her parents. So
   she had simply determined not to keep faith; and her determination,
   at least, she did keep. (52-53)

Benyon's analysis of his wife's actions combines concepts of "nature," inheritance and education to construct a naturalistic explanation of her character and behavior. It even invokes the scientific as a mode of understanding how her later choices were shaped by education and environment. But the notion of Mr and Mrs Gressie "scientifically" exposing Benyon's deficiencies to Georgina mocks the very concept of scientific investigation, for the Gressies simply refuse to know Benyon, socially or ontologically. The narrator's ironic use of the word "scientifically" leads me to suspect that, despite his current admiration for the French naturalists, (13) here James was parodying rather than following the methods of naturalistic fiction. His story may present, not a case of social or genetic determinism, but simply an individual's willful "determination" (53) to follow an idiosyncratic course of action, making the author of "Georgina's Reasons" not "quite the Naturalist" he would claim later that year to be (Letters 3:61).

The International Tale and the Geographical Frame

The narrator explicitly warns that Benyon's analysis of his wife's motives and actions could be "only approximate" because of his fundamental inability to "comprehend such baseness" as Georgina had displayed (52). The naturalistic reading therefore remains speculative and incomplete, no more authorized to explain Georgina definitively than the theological or political interpretations. A final interpretative framework remains to be considered, the geographical. The first third of "Georgina's Reasons" is located in New York; the long middle section is set in Italy; and a shorter final act takes place in Manhattan. Because the action of the story is set a generation before the time of its narration, the New York of the opening scenes is the "primitive" city of Henry James's childhood, "when 'the park' meant the grass-plats of the City Hall" and "Hoboken, of a summer afternoon, was a genteel resort" (4). Benyon's courtship of Georgina takes place in a relentlessly unromantic downtown New York of "shabby cross-streets, straggling toward rivers, with red sunsets, seen through a haze of dust, at the end" (7); later he will recall how he "used to wander with Georgina Gressie down vistas of plank-fences brushed over with advertisements of quack medicines" (36). Inconsequential material detail helps to create the atmosphere of prosaic flatness in which the two young Americans reach their agreement to marry: "They had stopped at the crossing of a street; a heavy dray was lumbering slowly past them" (9). Such "solidity of specification" in the mise-en-scene is essential for establishing the "air of reality" in the first third of the story; it is worth remembering that "Georgina's Reasons" was written very close in time to "The Art of Fiction." (14) Commenting on the action, the narrator explicitly uses place as a marker of naturalistic realism, by means of bathetic juxtapositions. After Georgina compares Benyon to the young Bonaparte, the narrator adds that he was a Napoleon "whose Corsica was a flat New England seaport" (3), and remarks of an unromantic parting between the lovers after they kiss on the steps of her parents' house, "it was in those terms that the Twelfth Street Juliet dismissed her Brooklyn Romeo" (11).

It might seem strange that, having successfully established the anti-romantic tone of the story's opening scene in New York partly by means of such bathetic dissonance, James should then have chosen to move the action to Italy, scene of the original Romeo and Juliet's great romance. When he heard the anecdote on which the story was to be based, James reacted to "[t]he dropping of the child in Europe" as "an impossible incident" (Complete Notebooks 27), which would have to be omitted from the tale in the interests of plausibility. Yet, in writing the story, he took the opposite course, not merely keeping but extending the European part of the story so that it encompasses, as well as Georgina's trip to Italy to dispose of her unwanted child, two subsequent visits by Benyon, one a personal mission to search for his son, the other a naval posting which brings him into contact with his new love, Kate Theory. James's decision to multiply the story's Italian settings, against his first instinct that the European element should be removed, introduces a narrative geography with associations very different from those of the New York setting.

Each of the three Italian locations of "Georgina's Reasons"--Genoa, Rome, and the Bay of Naples--is associated with a particular emotional and aesthetic response that may be identified in James's own travel writing as well as in the larger Anglo-American archive of representations of Italy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In his 1878 essay "Italy Revisited" James presented Genoa as an ambivalent mixture of beauty, coarse physicality and "sensuous optimism" (53). This last phrase aptly conveys the spirit in which Georgina executes her Italian adventure, while another that James used to describe the city's decorative arts--their "fatal facility" (49)--anticipates her companion Mrs Portico's reaction to the birth of Georgina's child there: she was "almost appalled at the facility and felicity of it" ("Georgina" 25); it seems too easy, and therefore somehow corrupt. The colors of Genoa, "some of which were not remarkable for their freshness or purity" (49), and its "stale-smelling" air (50) may have suggested it to James as an appropriate physical correlative to the moral atmosphere into which Mrs Portico is dragged by Georgina. Mrs Portico finds this moral atmosphere so oppressive that she becomes ill. "The falsity of the whole business sickened her; it made her so yellow that she scarcely knew herself in her glass" (27). Finally, "the poor lady's anxieties, indignations, repentances, preyed upon her until they fairly broke her down." In "her depressed condition" she falls prey to "malarial fever" and dies at Rome (28). Acquaintances may attribute her illness to the local climate, but the reader knows that it was not Rome, but Georgina, that sapped Mrs Portico of her vitality and took away her will to live. Nevertheless, Rome is an imaginatively suitable location for Mrs Portico's demise, as the city was traditionally associated in English literature with disease, both physical and moral, and death, an association James had already exploited in Daisy Miller. The Bay of Naples, finally, a favorite subject for nineteenth century British and American landscape painters, was later described by James as offering "for the study of composition, a lesson in the grand style" (Italian Hours 304). In "Georgina's Reasons" it provides both the setting for Benyon's discovery of the "grand style" in which his wife now lives due to her bigamous second marriage, and the material for the "grand style" of James's staging of Benyon's coming-to-knowledge at the royal palace at Posilippo. While emphasizing the material grandeur of her new life as Georgina Roy, the twinning of Georgina with a "modern ... Bourbon princess" (46) also associates her with the corrupt and repressive regime of King Ferdinand II of Naples, which was notorious for maintaining its power by ignoring the rule of law (Gladstone 6 and passim).

The Italian scenes of "Georgina's Reasons" are rich in connotations that support a theological rather than political or naturalistic reading of the story: her behavior at Genoa, which Mrs Portico calls "a horrible thing" (26); her moral responsibility for her companion's death at Rome; and her imaginative association with the Bourbon dynasty at Naples all tend to suggest that Georgina might be (to borrow a phrase from The Portrait of a Lady) "wicked--in the historic sense" (Novels 725). Yet Georgina's "blooming hardness" throughout her visit to Italy (26), "the business-like completeness of [her] precautions" about the baby (25) and her pragmatic enjoyment of the social opportunities provided to her by the expatriate community, combine to ensure that her story (unlike Isabel Archer's) never tips over from the realm of sensation to that of Gothic. And unlike Isabel's nemesis, Madame Merle, Georgina does not pursue a career for which she appears well suited, that of expatriate adventuress. She wants an American life, and in pursuit of this returns home soon after disposing of her unwanted child. Although it takes her some time to achieve her ambitions, she does eventually, through marriage, gain access to "one of the biggest incomes in the city" (48) and a position at the heart of New York society. Georgina's success on her home territory is evidence of how completely she has got away with everything, but the story's European episodes highlight the moral price she pays for that success, as well as its emotional costs to others. On the face of it, Georgina's journey is a short one, from Twelfth Street to Fifth Avenue, but, given her secret marriage and pregnancy, she cannot reach her destination except by way of Italy. Indeed, one could extend this geographical logic to point out that not only does Georgina's trip to Italy remove the impediment to her social ascent (represented by her grand house on Fifth Avenue), it also rescues her from the social descent that would attend on acknowledging her first marriage--a fate brilliantly metonymized by a location Georgina never actually visits, the Brooklyn navy-yard (described by the narrator as a "loathsome" place on a hot day [2]). For Georgina, living with Benyon as his wife would have meant taking up residence with him at or near the navy-yard--a setting that had already been selected by James as the birthplace of Madame Merle (Novels 370), another "fugitive from Brooklyn" (Novels 386) who uses Italy to escape. But whereas Madame Merle returns to America as a last resort once all her plots and ambitions have failed, Georgina uses Italy merely as a stepping-stone to American success. This makes "Georgina's Reasons" an international tale of a particular kind. Only in the recounting of Benyon's search for his son in Italy does Europe function, in the typical Jamesian style, as the fallen "other" to American innocence. In the case of Georgina there has been no innocence and can therefore be no fall; Europe functions not as a challenge to her character and imagination, but as an expressive device for revealing her innate immorality. (15)

"There is a borderland between crime and insanity," declared Henry Maudsley, "near one boundary of which we meet with something of madness but more of sin, and near the other boundary of which something of sin but more of madness" (34). Georgina Gressie dwells in such a borderland, baffling the reader's ability to situate her precisely within a theological framework of moral responsibility, a political framework of feminist rebellion, or a scientific framework of psychological dysfunction. At the same time, James's story occupies its own borderland between three major genres of Victorian fiction. Indeed, the tale may be interpreted as the site of an unresolved struggle between the sensation genre, literary naturalism and New Woman fiction. James's "singular" heroine (1) cannot be comfortably contained within any of these forms, although she seems, at different points in the story, to occupy them all. James's decision not to give her a fixed generic home therefore reveals his sense of both the possibilities and the limitations of all three of these fictional styles as vehicles for exploring the ethical and psychological issues that engaged him in the mid-1880s. (16)

Braddon's example provided James with a way of writing popular fiction--almost a recipe for writing it--in which the mysterious and the sensational could be "adapted to the wants of a sternly prosaic age" (James, Rev. of Aurora Floyd 743). But Braddon's most famous character, Lady Audley, was according to James, "a nonentity, without a heart, a soul, a reason" (744)--the very opposite of the richly textured studies in feminine psychology for which he was by the 1880s well-known. Daringly, in this tale which is a kind of homage to Braddon but also a working-through of her influence, James created a heroine apparently, like Lady Audley, "without a heart, a soul, a reason," then challenged the reader to decide whether she is indeed "a nonentity" by making her the focus of intense hermeneutic, psychological, even political speculation about her motivation. The methods of modern literary naturalism helped here, enabling James to suggest in his story how environment may have shaped a personality like Georgina's, but the naturalist example, particularly as represented by Zola, presented its own pitfalls. In his 1880 review of Zola's Nana, James had written: "The figure of the brutal fille, without a conscience or a soul, with nothing but devouring appetites and impudences, has become the stalest of the stock properties of French fiction" (870). The subject of this sentence provides a very fair description of Georgina Gressie; how then was the predicate to be avoided in James's treatment of her? Like Braddon, Zola offered James an inspiration, a warning, and a challenge. The French naturalist, James continued in his review of Nana, "is welcome to draw as many figures of the same type as he finds necessary, if he will only make them human; this is as good a way of making a contribution to our knowledge of ourselves as another" (870). Here was a challenge James took up himself in "Georgina's Reasons": the challenge of taking as his heroine a "brutal fille" and making her "human" to the reader. Could he accomplish in this story what, he believed, Zola had failed to achieve in Nana? Could he do by using the methods of naturalist fiction, or would he need to draw on the resources of other fictional styles? And, most importantly, if he did succeed in humanizing the monstrous Georgina, would this achievement qualify as "a way of making a contribution to our knowledge of ourselves"?

Thus, "Georgina's Reasons" may be seen as James's response to a problem he identified in Nana in 1880: the problem of the "bad girl" in fiction, whether we can understand and appreciate her, and how such understanding and appreciation might contribute to our knowledge of life and ourselves. This question continued to occupy James and in 1905 prompted one of his greatest meditations on the art of the novelist. "The Lesson of Balzac" builds on the insight offered by French critic Hippolyte Taine that Balzac "loves" his character Valerie Marneffe, one of the many "coquettes and courtesans" who populate the world of La Comedie Humaine ("Honore de Balzac" 63). James had quoted Taine's comment in his first essay on Balzac (published in 1875), but it took him thirty years to extract its full value:

"Balzac aime sa Valerie," says Taine, in his great essay ... speaking of the way in which the awful little Madame Marneffe of "Les Parents Pauvres" is drawn, and of the long rope, for her acting herself out, that her creator's participation in her reality assures her. He has been contrasting her, as it happens, with Thackeray's Becky Sharp or rather with Thackeray's attitude toward Becky, and the marked jealousy of her freedom that Thackeray exhibits from the first. ("The Lesson of Balzac" 131)

Balzac's attitude towards his "awful little" character, his unconditional acceptance of his bad and unlikeable Valerie, supplies James, through the lens of Taine's appreciation, with an insight into the very heart of the novelist's art and morality, inspiring a credo in which "this love of each seized identity" (131) enables "that respect for the liberty of the subject" (133) which, to James, defines both the morality and the epistemology of fiction. "It was by loving them [his characters] ... that he knew them; it was not by knowing them that he loved" (132).

An unlikeable and disturbing character like Georgina Gressie--Benyon calls her "the most horrible woman I can imagine" (62)--tests "the lesson of Balzac" in a way that an attractive character such as Isabel Archer does not. It is no accident that literature's bad girls, not its great heroines, helped James to realize the connection between freedom, love and knowledge that would become central to his critical and self-reflexive understanding of the art he practiced. As "a very bad girl" (38) who defies other characters', the reader's, and the author's capacity to "love" and therefore to "know" her, Georgina is a sister to those other femmes fatales, Valerie Marneffe and Becky Sharp, who challenge the great novelist and the truly receptive reader to find "joy in [the] communicated and exhibited movement" of all characters, not just the appealing ones ("The Lesson of Balzac" 131-2). One way that James was able "to give [Georgina] all her value" (132) was to set her within multiple generic frameworks. Here the usefulness of writing her story as an international tale becomes evident, as the movement between geographical locations enabled James to coordinate the sensational and naturalistic aspects of his narrative, both of which he needed in order to fully explore his heroine's actions and their impact on other characters. Thus, the international tale functions, in "Georgina's Reasons," as a literary manifestation of Maudsley's moral and psychological "borderland" (34), with its adjoining and sometimes overlapping territories of madness and sin, crime and insanity. In this regard, the international tale shows itself to be a flexible and commodious genre with useful technical capacities, for the stylistic shifts that accompany the story's changes of scene allow James to explore both realistic and expressionistic treatments of his subject within a single work. Indeed, one could argue that the story demonstrates the value for James of an international technique, which could be used independently of his classic "international theme" (the encounter between innocent Americans and a corrupt Old World). The temporary placement of American or English characters in Europe--one thinks of Dr Sloper in Washington Square, and Hyacinth Robinson in The Princess Casamassima, as well as Georgina Gressie--provides them with an opportunity of "standing on their feet and going of themselves and acting out their characters" ("The Lesson of Balzac" 132) in a new environment, which does not change but more fully reveals them. The method of the international tale functions, then, as a way of knowing--of knowing more and different things about a character than would be possible in a single geographical or generic environment. This is not to say, of course that the stereoscopic view of the heroine provided by the juxtaposition of American and Italian settings in "Georgina's Reasons" gives the reader total knowledge of those "reasons" that remain, to the end of the story, essentially obscure.

Responding to criticism that his fiction was too concerned with the "psychological reasons" of "Bostonian nymphs" James protested, in "The Art of Fiction," that he was unable to see "why a reason, psychological or other, is not a subject" for fiction (60). For all its sensationalism, "Georgina's Reasons," written and published just before "The Art of Fiction," pushes this proto-modernist credo far, taking for its subject the question, the occlusion and even the possible absence, of a character's motivation. The story sets the reader on a hunt for "a reason, psychological or other," capable of explaining the heroine's actions. While the direct object of this quest remains out of reach--Georgina's reasons, if they exist, are never definitively revealed--the search is productive: it demands a high level of readerly self-reflection about the interpretative frameworks employed in the quest for understanding, and it enhances awareness of the contrasting stylistic means used by the author to explore his subject. That subject "may be queer (I admit it is, tremendously)" as Georgina herself concedes (59), but that very strangeness, disconcerting as some readers may find it, is the source of the story's exploratory richness. (17)

Works Cited

Augstein, Hannah Franziska. "JC Prichard's Concept of Moral Insanity--a Medical Theory of the Corruption of Human Nature." Medical History 40 (1996): 311-43. Print.

Bell, Millicent. Meaning in Henry James. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1991. Print.

Cargill, Oscar. The Novels of Henry James. New York: Macmillan, 1961. Print.

Edel, Leon. Henry James: The Middle Years 1884-1894. London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1963. Print.

Fahnestock, Jeanne. "Bigamy: The Rise and Fall of a Convention." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 36.1 (1981): 47-71. Print.

Gladstone, W. E. Two Letters to the Earl of Aberdeen, on the State Prosecutions of the Neapolitan Government. 13th ed. London: John Murray, 1851. Print.

Graham, Kenneth. Henry James: A Literary Life. London: Macmillan, 1995. Print.

Henley, W. E. "Invictus." 1888. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 7th ed. Ed. M. H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt. 2 vols. New York: Norton, 2000. 2: 1747. Print.

James, Henry. "The Art of Fiction." 1884. Literary Criticism: Essays on Literature, American Writers, English Writers. Ed. Leon Edel and Mark Wilson. New York: Library of America, 1984. 44-65. Print.

--. The Complete Notebooks of Henry James. Ed. Leon Edel and Lyall H. Powers. New York: Oxford UP, 1987. Print.

--. "Georgina's Reasons." 1884. Complete Stories 1884-1891. Ed. Edward Said. New York: Library of America, 1999.1-64. Print.

--. "Honore de Balzac." 1875. Literary. Criticism: French Writers, Other European Writers, Prefaces to the New York Edition. Ed. Leon Edel and Mark Wilson. New York: Library of America, 1984.31-68. Print.

--. Italian Hours. 1909. Ed. John Auchard. New York: Penguin, 1995. Print.

--. "Italy Revisited." 1878. Portraits of Places. 1883.2nd ed. Boston: Osgood, 1885.39-74. Print.

--. "The Lesson of Balzac." 1905. Literary Criticism: French Writers, Other European Writers, Prefaces to the New York Edition. Ed. Leon Edel and Mark Wilson. New York: Library of America, 1984. 115-39. Print.

--. Letters. Ed. Leon Edel. 4 vols. Vol. 3. London: Macmillan, 1981. Print.

--. Novels 1881-1886: Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians. Ed. William T. Stafford. New York: Library of America, 1985. Print.

--. Rev. of Aurora Floyd. 1865. Literary. Criticism: Essays on Literature, American Writers, English Writers. Ed. Leon Edel and Mark Wilson. New York: Library of America, 1984. 741-46. Print.

--. Rev. of Nana. 1880. Literary Criticism: French Writers, Other European Writers, Prefaces to the New York Edition. Ed. Leon Edel and Mark Wilson. New York: Library of America, 1984. 864-70. Print.

Johanningsmeier, Charles. "Henry James's Dalliance with the Newspaper World." Henry James Review 19.1 (1998): 36-52. Print.

Jones, Granville H. "Henry James's 'Georgina's Reasons': The Underside of Washington Square." Studies in Short Fiction 11.2 (1974): 189-94. Print.

Kaplan, Fred. Henry James: The Imagination of Genius. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992. Print.

Kermode, Frank. The Art of Telling: Essays on Fiction. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1983. Print.

Matus, Jill L. "Disclosure as 'cover-up': The discourse of madness in Lady Audley's Secret." University of Toronto Quarterly 62.3 (1993): 334-55. Print.

Maudsley, Henry. Responsibility in Mental Disease. 2nd ed. London: Henry S. King, 1874. Print.

Petty, Leslie. "The Political is Personal: The Feminist Lesson of Henry James's The Bostonians." Women's Studies 34 (2005): 377-403. Print.

Prichard, James Cowles. A Treatise on Insanity, and other Disorders Affecting the Mind. London: Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper, 1835. Print.

--. On the Different Forms of insanity, in Relation to Jurisprudence. London: Hippolyte Bailliere, 1842. Print.

Schroeder, Natalie. "Feminine Sensationalism, Eroticism, and Self-Assertion: M. E. Braddon and Ouida." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 7.1 (1988): 87-103. Print.

Showalter, Elaine. A Literature of their Own: British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing. London: Virago, 1978. Print.

Smith, Roger. Trial by Medicine: Insanity and Responsibility in Victorian Trials. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1981. Print.

Tintner, Adeline R. "Henry James and Miss Braddon: 'Georgina's Reasons' and the Victorian Sensation Novel." Essays in Literature 10.1 (1983): 119-124. Print.

Verplaetse, Jan. Localising the Moral Sense: Neuroscience and the Search for the Cerebral Seat of Morality, 1800-1930. Ghent: Springer, 2009. Print.

Walker, Nigel and McCabe, Sarah. Crime and Insanity in England, Vol 2: New Solutions and New Problems. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1973.

Whitlock, F. A. "A Note on Moral Insanity and Psychopathic Disorders." The Psychiatrist 6 (1982): 57-59. Print.

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Roslyn Jolly

University of New South Wales


(1) Of the 112 stories that make up Edel's edition of James's Collected Tales, only eleven are longer than "Georgina's Reasons," which, at 74 pages, considerably exceeds the average story length of 48 pages.

(2) "The confounding of simple expectation--the not telling us what it was that Maisie knew--is a way of stimulating the reader to a full exercise of his [sic] imagination: to make him read in a more exalted sense" (Kermode 95-96).

(3) Johanningsmeier (37-42) demonstrates that the payments James received from Dana for the two stories, "Georgina's Reasons' and "Pandora," far exceeded his usual earnings for serialized fiction, just as the audience he potentially reached through Dana's syndication plan far exceeded the scale of readership he commanded through his usual publication outlets.

(4) Tintner (120) considers Georgina to be guilty of murder also, as she is responsible for the deaths of her son and Mrs Portico in Italy. However, because they do not die directly by her hand, nor by her order, she could not be legally accounted guilty of murder.

(5) The theological terms "fiend," "devilish" and "demon" appear in Victorian reviews of Braddon and Ouida quoted by Schroeder (100). James himself described Lady Audley as "diabolically wicked" in his 1865 review of Aurora Floyd (744).

(6) Again, this recalls Mrs Touchett's rationalization of her decision not to live with her husband in England: "She was not fond of England, and had three or four reasons for it to which she currently alluded; they bore upon minor points of British civilisation, but for Mrs. Touchett they amply justified non-residence. She detested bread-sauce, which, as she said, looked like a poultice and tasted like soap; she objected to the consumption of beer by her maid-servants; and she affirmed that the British laundress ... was not a mistress of her art" (James, Novels 212).

(7) "A variant on the new American woman, Georgina may be an expression of James's nightmare vision of the dark side of the independent woman whose independence may liberate her into perversity" (Kaplan 286). Johanningsmeier, on the other hand, maintains that "James did not completely condemn Georgina" (45) and that he "allows Georgina to justify her course of action with an explanation of her own extenuating 'reasons'," although his "lightly professed empathy for Georgina" would likely have been "lost on newspaper readers" who formed the story's first audience (49). Jones argues that "James's portrait of Georgina as a determined but thwarted rebel against her family background is the most interesting aspect of the tale" (193), although he also notes the limitations of her rebellion: "However indifferently she can break rules and violate moral codes in secret, Georgina must always ... keep herself free from scandal" (194).

(8) Whether James shared the stridently anti-feminist views expressed by the male protagonist of The Bostonians, Basil Ransom, is a matter of debate: for a useful survey of critical opinion, see Petty 378-80, who concludes that the "lack of consensus about James's agenda proves the impossibility of claiming for The Bostonians any definitive political purpose, feminist, anti-feminist, or otherwise" (380).

(9) Matus offers a persuasive argument that Lady Audley's diagnosis is more "cover-up" than "disclosure."

(10) The phrase was coined in 1801 by French physician and hospital reformer, Philippe Pinel, but did not gain currency in England until quoted by Pilchard in 1835 (Walker and McCabe 208; Prichard, Treatise 14, 21). Augstein observes that although Pinel and Prichard both "conceived of a form of madness which did not involve a derangement of the understanding," the disorders they identified were very different: Pinel's mania without delusion was "a frenzy of the passions," whereas Prichard's moral insanity was characterised not by violence but by "extreme eccentricity" (329, 331).

(11) Augstein demonstrates that such thinking directly contradicted the anti-materialist framework within which Prichard had developed his original concept of moral insanity (342-43).

(12) Verplaetse (203) attributes the new terminology to Julius Koch; see also Tintner 122. The relation between moral insanity and psychopathy continued to be debated through the twentieth century. Roger Smith maintains that the two disorders were conceived quite distinctly: "Modern 'psychopathy' is a personality disorder characterised by persistent anti-social conduct. Moral insanity described disorder of certain mental faculties" (207 n.). Whitlock similarly argues against "regard[ing] moral insanity as the precursor of psychopathic disorder" (57). Walker and McCabe, on the other hand, treat moral insanity as part of the "history of 'psychopathy"" (205), although they concede that Prichard's definition of moral insanity matches the modern concept of psychopathy better than do his examples (208).

(13) "They do the only kind of work, today, that I respect," James wrote to W. D. Howells of Daudet, Goncourt and Zola in February 1884 (Letters 3: 28).

(14) "Georgina's Reasons" was serialized in the New York Sun and nine other American newspapers between 20 July and 3 August 1884 (Johanningsmeier 50 n.2 provides full details of the various newspaper publications). "The Art of Fiction" was published in Longman's Magazine in September 1884. Johanningsmeier dates the composition of the story in the first half of 1884 (39); the essay, a response to Walter Besant's lecture of 25 April 1884, was, according to Edel, "already-written" by the time James was discussing theories of the novel with Paul Bourget in London that summer (52).

(15) A European setting is used in a similar way in Washington Square, when, in the Swiss Alps, Dr Sloper chooses a "hard, melancholy dell, abandoned by the summer light" as the appropriate location for a display of his deep anger and potential for violence. "I am not a very good man," he tells Catherine. "Though I am very smooth externally, at bottom I am very passionate; and I assure you I can be very hard" (Novels 125).

(16) This view of "Georgina's Reasons" has affinities with Millicent Bell's discussion of Washington Square as a "testing of styles" (71), but with the important difference that whereas in Bell's analysis of Washington Square, all styles are found wanting in the face of Catherine Sloper's "resistance to the betrayals of expression" (53), my reading of "Georgina's Reasons" focuses on the productive capacities of different genres, and combinations of genres, for performing the author's work of expression and encouraging the reader's work of interpretation. Although no single Style is capable of containing Georgina and unlocking the mystery of her motivation, this does not mean that in this story James "casts ... aside" each style in turn (72), seeking "to escape ... from all" (53); rather, he accumulates, juxtaposes and superimposes different ways of treating a subject that resists singular expression.

(17) Kenneth Graham names "Georgina's Reasons" as one of a handful of tales whose experimental qualities point towards "the new strangeness, both stylistic and emotional" of James's late manner (104). Unfortunately, Graham includes no analysis of "Georgina's Reasons" to support this interesting claim.
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