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Elizabeth BowenTheory, Thought and Things$
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Jessica Gildersleeve and Patricia Juliana Smith

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474458641

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458641.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 05 December 2021

‘Some Really Raging Peculiarity’: Female Fetishism in The Little Girls

‘Some Really Raging Peculiarity’: Female Fetishism in The Little Girls

Chapter:
(p.145) Chapter 9 ‘Some Really Raging Peculiarity’: Female Fetishism in The Little Girls
Source:
Elizabeth Bowen
Author(s):

Patricia Juliana Smith

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458641.003.0010

This chapter shows that many of Bowen’s female characters have curious relationships with inanimate objects, endowing them with special powers or personal attributes. The pattern of these relations, in which certain objects obtain an unusual significance to their possessors, even, in some cases, to the extent of being preferred over relationships with other people, is obvious in Bowen’s works, yet it eludes the usual definitions of fetishism. Critics attempting to theorize female fetishism have tended to rely on paradigms articulated by Freud (ie erotic) or Marx (ie consumerist). Neither of these constructs, however, adequately describe the relationships with objects that possess overwhelming importance to many of Bowen’s characters and, through these attachments, lead often lead to perverse consequences. Recently, however, German theorist Hartmut Böhme has postulated that fetishism is an entirely European concept, one crucial to our understanding of Modernism. Using Böhme’s axioms of fetishism and Modernism as well as insights from anthropological and theological sources, this chapter explores female characters’ ‘object relations’ (not necessarily in the Freudian sense of the term) in Bowen’s works.

Keywords:   Elizabeth Bowen, Objects, Fetishism, Modernism, Object relations

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