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Postal PleasuresSex, Scandal, and Victorian Letters$
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Kate Thomas

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730919

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730919.001.0001

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Postscript: Henry James’s Public Servant

Postscript: Henry James’s Public Servant

Chapter:
(p.208) Chapter Five Postscript: Henry James’s Public Servant
Source:
Postal Pleasures
Author(s):

Kate Thomas

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730919.003.0006

This chapter is a reading of the female civil servant as a queer agent in Henry James’ 1898 novella In the Cage. This novella’s central trope of "queer extensions" of experience and self are likened to James’ own playful postal practices such as flirtatious post-scripts, and coded notes on envelopes. Much recent queer scholarship on this novella emphasises blackmail and the threat that the postal worker could expose gay male subjectivity. By recentering the girl, and refocusing on her as a civil servant engaged in public postal work, this chapter is able to see the girl telegraphist as herself queer, and her role as a "network functionary" as animating and expressive of her queerness.

Keywords:   post office, sex, telegraph, henry james, queer, in the cage, civil service, lesbian, literature, victorian

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