This opening chapter begins with a reading of hand depictions in Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt (1922), spinning off to consider the representation and importance of manicures and manicurists in modernist literature and culture. Thereafter, tracing the history of the term and concept ‘haptic’ from the eighteenth century onwards, the chapter contends that modernists were peculiarly alert to issues of touch, the tactile and the experiences of the human hand, as a result of philosophical, scientific and technological change within the period c.1890-1940. The chapter concludes by analysing the permissions and prohibitions of the flesh depicted in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), a text that, via the ‘Feelies’, provides an apposite starting point for a modernist history of the haptic.
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