Narrative Machine : The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel (Narrative Theory and Culture) 9781138392458, 9780429026409 - EBIN.PUB (2023)

Narrative Machine

Narrative Machine: The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel advances a new history of the novel, identifying a crucial link between narrative innovation and the historical process of mechanization. In the late nineteenth century, the novel grapples with a new and increasingly acute problem: In its attempt to represent the colossal power of modern machinery—the steam-driven machines of the Industrial Revolution, the electrical machines of the modern city, and the atomic and digital machines developed after the Second World War—it encounters the limitations of traditional representative strategies. Beginning in the naturalist novel, the machine is typically portrayed as a mythic monster, and though that monster represents a potentially horrific reality—the superhuman power of mechanization—it also disrupts the documentary objectives of narrative realism (the dominant mode of nineteenth-century fiction). The mechanical monster, realistic and yet at odds with traditional realist strategies, tears the form of the novel apart. In doing so, it unleashes a series of innovations that disclose, critique, and contest the force of mechanization: the innovations associated with literary naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism. Zena Meadowsong is Associate Professor of English at Rowan University, USA.

Narrative Theory and Culture Series Editor: Dr. Christopher González, Utah State University, USA

This new series will focus on bridging the scholarly gap between narrative theory and cultural studies and addressing the disconnect. The study of narrative is one of the pillars of the study of literature and one of its foremost movements. However, narrative theory has generally missed opportunities for examinations of culturally located narratives, just as cultural studies has tended to look past issues of narrative form and design. This series aims to put these areas of study into conversation with one another. Books considered for this series will appeal to a variety of levels of academics in the field, with some books being geared to the upper-level researchers and others designed to be used in the undergraduate classroom. Research monographs, which are written with the specialist in mind, should aim to provide the reader with cutting-edge research on emerging areas of interest, or new perspectives on well-established areas. Books that are aiming to reach a broader audience, and perhaps be used in the classroom, should be written in an inviting style that will engage readers at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Narrative Machine The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel Zena Meadowsong For more information about this series, please visit: Narrative-Theory-and-Culture/book-series/NTAC

Narrative Machine The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel Zena Meadowsong

First published 2019 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor& Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 Taylor& Francis The right of Zena Meadowsong to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this title has been requested ISBN: 978-1-138-39245-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-02640-9 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by Apex CoVantage, LLC

For David


Acknowledgments Introduction I.  The Making of the Monster Machine  1 II.  Naturalism, Modernism, Postmodernism  7 III. The State of the Critical Field, and the Shape of Things to Come  14

xii 1


Naturalism and the Mechanical Monster


1 Zola’s Monster Machines I. The Mechanical Monsters of Zola’s “Experimental Novel”  33 II.  “Irrational and Supernatural” Explanations  36 III.  Bursting out of Narrative Control  38 IV.  Under the Deluge, into the Abyss, off the Rails  41 V.  The Human Cost of the Zolian Machine  42 VI.  The Critical Fortunes of the Rougon-Macquart 44


2 Mechanical Monsters in England and America 52 I.  The “Risky Business” of English Naturalism  52 II. The “New-Fashioned” Agricultural Machines of The Mayor of Casterbridge 53 III.  The “Iron Determinism” of Tess of the D’Urbervilles 55 IV.  American Naturalism: Frank Norris’s Monster Machines  60 V.  The Voracious Gold Mine of McTeague 62 VI.  The Monstrous Ramifications of The Octopus 63 VII.  The Human Cost of The Octopus 65

viii Contents 3 The Machined Aesthetics of Dreiser, Crane, Moore, Wharton, and Gissing I. Unmiraculous Machines 74 II.  Sister Carrie’s Machine-Made Beauty  76 III.  The Factory Aesthetics of Crane, Moore, and Wharton  79 IV.  Gissing and the Literary Machine  81



Modernism versus the Machine


4 Lawrence and the Monster Machine I.  “Zolaesque Tragedy” in The Rainbow 93 II. Machine Breaker 95 III.  Generating the Rainbow  97 IV.  Escaping the Machine Apocalypse: Women in Love 99 V.  The Fascistic Mechanics of The Plumed Serpent 104


5 Joyce’s Utopian Machine I.  Stephen Dedalus’s Malevolent Machines  114 II.  Ulysses versus the Monster Machine  116 III.  Ulysses-Bloom’s “Infernal Machine”  117 IV.  Underwriting Anarchy: The “Mythical Method”  119 V.  Undoing the Tyranny of The Odyssey 121 VI.  Joyce’s Utopian Machine  124


6 Against the Quotidian Machine: Woolf, Hemingway, and Proust 133 I.  The Postwar Machines of Mrs. Dalloway 133 II.  Holding the World Together: Clock, Motorcar, Airplane  135 III.  The Wounding Machines of The Sun Also Rises 138 IV. Breaking Down 139 V. Automobiles, Airplanes, and the Telephonic In Search of Lost Time 142 VI.  The “Gesture of a Bomb Dropped upon Us”  144 PART III

Postmodernism: Living with the Machine


7 The New Sunshine: Ballard, Vonnegut, and Dick 155 I.  From Modernist Machines to “Autogeddon” in Crash 155 II.  The Real as a Fiction of Security  158 III.  Breakfast of Champions and the Synthetic Apocalypse  161

Contents  ix IV.  Deus ex Machina  163 V. Atomic God in a Spray Can: The Infinite Synthetic Realities of Ubik 166 8 The Digital and Atomic Plots of Pynchon and DeLillo I.  The Postmodern Condition and the Digital Computer  176 II.  The Binary Code of The Crying of Lot 49 178 III. “APlot Has Been Mounted against You”  180 IV. Death Sentences 182 V.  The Plutonic Number of Underworld 184 VI. Atomic Baseball 187 VII.  “Does the Power of Transcendence Linger?”  189


9 The Machinery of Liberation: Georges Perec I.  In the Ruins of the Future  199 II.  E: The Machine-Made Void  203 III.  W: The Origin of the Lipogram  205 IV.  W: The Camps  207 V. New Life: A User’s Manual 209 V+I.  For Perec, Another V  212


Works Cited Index

225 239

Illustration by Joseph Syddall from the Graphic serialization of Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891). Courtesy of Princeton University Library.

Extracts from “Romancing the Machine: American Naturalism in Transatlantic Context” by Zena Meadowsong from The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism (Chapter1, pp.21–36), edited by Keith Newlin (2011), are used by permission of Oxford University Press.


This book, like all academic work, has been produced only in apparent solitude; it has many collaborators. Among these, I am most indebted to the doctoral committee who first encouraged it as a dissertation, and especially to Alex Woloch, whose guidance, intellectual generosity, and unflagging support—in graduate school and ever since—is visible in the work at its best. Though his influence can often be detected in the pages that follow, these occasional citations are like the clustering lights of a city at night: the partial illumination of a system far greater than the bright markers disclose. Ialso owe special thanks to Rob Kaufman, whose graduate seminar on Frankfurt School aesthetics quite literally changed the course of my intellectual life, and Rob Polhemus, whose kindness and shrewd questioning helped me immensely, especially in the formative stages of this work. Ihope he will be pleased to find, at the end of this book, an answer to the question with which he baffled me at the outset: As to where there is space in this project for the immortality of the soul, there is an âme—machine-made, of course, but nonetheless immortal—in the closing pages. Since its beginning, this study has grown and flourished in conversation with many others. Of these, Iowe special thanks to Melissa Leavitt, Felicia Martinez, Catherine Flynn, David Namie, Blakey Vermeule, Keith Newlin, Robin Blyn, Jesse Schotter, Lee Talley, Cathy Wilcoxson, Bill Freind, Joe Coulombe, Tanya Clark, Marci Carrasquillo, Claire Falck, Kate Slater, Bruce Plourde, Cindy Vitto, Emily Hyde, and Dustin Crowley. I have persistently benefited from their insight, their thoughtful critiques of work in progress, their encouragement, and their personal support. I also owe an immense debt to my students, especially those with the hardiness to tackle long novels with me at early hours in the morning: Dave Costill, Shannon Boszczuk, Matt Ford, Andrea Quinn, Dane Spoltore, Allayna Nofs—I have learned so much alongside you. Finally, I am inexpressibly indebted to my father, Peter Meadowsong, and my husband, David Platt. The first, having spent much of his spare time in my youth under an aging VW, and what seems like the rest of it reading to me, is probably responsible for my fascination with machines

Acknowledgments  xiii and my love of literature. Without him, neither Inor this project would be. And the same is true of David, without whom Iwould be a different person—less fortunate, less happy—and one who could never have written this book. Ihave relied, these many years, on his practical, emotional, and intellectual support, and he must be thanked for his forbearance and congratulated on his fortitude. To the man Imet on a train, who saved me when my computer died on the morning of my oral exams, who drove with me across America and found it beautiful, who knew everything about science fiction before Iknew Ineeded to know it myself, and who has never opposed the acquisition of just one more robot: Ilook forward to our life after the monster machines. This project has also been made possible by material support in many forms. It was funded in its early stages by dissertation fellowships from the Whiting and Mellon Foundations, and afterward facilitated by an Alden Dissertation Prize and research leave from a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at Stanford. Most recently, it has been enabled— in the form of a consistent course release, a summer grant, and several small travel grants—by Rowan University. Portions of the first, second, third, and fifth chapters appeared in article form in Studies in American Naturalism (University of Nebraska Press), Nineteenth-Century Literature (University of California Press), The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism (Oxford University Press), and the James Joyce Quarterly (University of Tulsa Press). The editors and readers for these publications have helped improve this book immeasurably, and I am grateful to them for their good work—and for the permission to reprint. Finally, Iwish to thank my editors at Routledge, especially Jen Abbott and Christopher González, for their enthusiastic support of this project, and Veronica Haggar, Zoë Meyer, and the editorial and production team at Apex CoVantage for their invaluable assistance in the preparation of the manuscript.


I. The Making of the Monster Machine This project began with a simple observation: starting in the late nineteenth century, the novel is full of monster machines. In Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), the heroine is enslaved to a diabolical steam thresher; in Frank Norris’s The Octopus (1901), an entire flock of sheep is decimated by a cyclopean railroad engine, and in the many novels of Émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart sequence (1871–93), the Second Empire is overrun—from the demonic distilleries of L’Assommoir’s working-class Paris (1877) to the voracious coal mine of the provincial Germinal (1885)—by machines of supernatural power. Whence all these monsters and why their sudden proliferation on both sides of the Atlantic? As Isoon realized, the monsters are all of one literary kind, appearing in the naturalist novel—a genre first conceived by Zola as a modernization of realist narrative. Yet this recognition solved no problems. According to Zola, naturalism was to be a “scientific” form of realism, freeing the novel from the “irrational and supernatural explanations” (“Exp­ erimental Novel” 18, 54) of earlier fiction, and achieving an empirical validity appropriate to its day. It was all the more surprising, then, to find naturalism beset by monsters—and especially by monster machines. In the very thrust of modernization, the core objectives of the genre would appear to collapse, as narrative realism—ostensibly perfected by the “science” of naturalism—fails in the representation of the agent and emblem of scientific advancement itself. Considered historically, of course, this collapse may have been inevitable, as the world of the late nineteenth century abounded with machines of formidable power. Already at mid-century, Karl Marx had described machinery as “Cyclopean” (496) in Capital (1867), and had outlined the historical development of the monster. At first, Marx observes, “The machine... replaces the worker, who handles a single tool, [with]... a mechanism operating with a number of similar tools and set in motion by a single motive power” (497). This motive power is originally achieved by harnessing natural forces such as horse, wind, and water power; yet a horse “has a head of his own” and is “costly” to maintain (497), wind is

2 Introduction “too inconstant and uncontrollable” (498), and water confines activity to mills that are necessarily “scattered over the countryside” (499). Thus, full-scale mechanization is not possible until the development in 1784 of James Watt’s double-acting steam engine, which “dr[aws] its own motive power from the consumption of coal and water, [i]s entirely under man’s control, [i]s mobile and a means of locomotion, [and is]... urban and not—like the water-wheel—rural” (499). Liberating production from the limitations imposed by natural forces, this engine drives machines united in banks, and these create “a mechanical monster whose body fills whole factories, and whose demonic power, at first hidden by the slow and measured motions of its gigantic members, finally bursts forth in the fast and feverish whirl of its countless working organs” (503, emphasis added).1 Marx’s sketch, beginning with hand tools and ending with a mechanical monster, offers both a historical explanation for the naturalist novel’s cyclopes and demons and a narrative precedent. In Capital, the mythic inflations we find in naturalist fiction start with the steam engine, as Marx—at first strictly referential in his discussion of tools, machines, and natural forces—reaches for a language adequate to the power and autonomy of the new “prime mover” (499). Functionally detached from human strength and other natural forces, this “mover” is no longer merely human or natural, but superhuman and supernatural. Thus, the “slow and measured motions” of the “gigantic members” of the machine push Marx’s account rapidly beyond documentary limits: As the “fast and feverish whirl” of production exceeds what can be represented methodically, technical language gives way to the rendering of a mythic monster, a demon, a giant—and rational enumeration collapses in the representation of “countless” moving parts. In Capital, of course, such affective language does no injury to the illustration. Rather, underscoring the magnitude of the new realities driven by the steam engine, the representation clarifies the nature and scope of the problem Marx apprehends. Humanity, in its attempt to master its material conditions, has produced a force that exceeds its control, and the monstrosity of that force prepares the reader for the string of horrifying consequences to be detailed in the sections that follow: the subjection of human bodies to their own instruments; their frequent mutilation in industrial accidents; the stultification of labor in the reduction of skilled to repetitive work; the exploitation, as machines take over the heavy lifting, of women and children; the lengthening and intensification of the working day in the factory; and so forth (492–639). Only when the cyclopean and demonic machinery is transferred to the naturalist novel, then, does it become a problem. There, exposing a reality that cannot be accommodated within a strictly empirical realism, the figure of the monster disrupts the professed objectives of the genre. There is an odd lag, however, between Marx’s discussion of the mechanical monster and its appearance in the naturalist novel. When Capital

Introduction  3 was being written in England in the 1860s, Zola’s first Rougon-Macquart novel was still nearly a decade from publication, and mid-Victorian narrative—despite the visible progress of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and abroad—seemed to look steadfastly away from the new machines. As Catherine Gallagher has shown, even those works conceived explicitly as industrial novels tend to focus on domestic lives instead of factory labor,2 and the most famous works of mid-century realism typically look backward, to an earlier time and simpler machines. In George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss (1860),3 for example, the mill of the title is still a watermill, and though the oncoming menace of the steam engine may loom in the “hurrying, threatening masses” of timber machinery that sink Maggie and Tom in the flood that closes the book (as a “new danger” is “carried toward [the characters]... by the river” [473], the narrative may obliquely refer to the engine that will inevitably supersede and magnify the hydraulic power of the mill), the accident is at best inflected by an order the novel does not represent. As Joseph Childers observes, Eliot’s mid-century narratives seem to “comment on industrialization by its relative absence from their pages” (91).4 As soon as industrial realities do appear, however, they are figured in Victorian fiction as monstrous. Charles Dickens, like Eliot, generally avoids direct representations of mechanization,5 yet his one explicitly industrial novel is not only centered on a steam engine, but focuses from the beginning on the “fast and feverish whirl” of the “mechanical monster” we find in Marx (Capital 503). In the fifth chapter of Hard Times (1854), the narrator pauses to meditate on the novel’s industrial setting, and “strike[s] the key-note” of a theme attuned to the brute force of a gigantic engine: Coketown... was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but, as matters stood it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage. It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. (28) Though Dickens’s melancholy-mad “elephant” engine is not quite, of course, the “Cyclopean” machine we find a few years later in Capital (496), the captive giant nonetheless embodies the magnification of natural forces Marx associates with the steam engine, as well as their

4 Introduction alienation (in the figure of an explicitly foreign, colonial beast6) from the natural order, and the “unnatural”—indeed, supernatural—effects of the new mechanical power. Rendered “melancholy mad” by its functional subjugation, the agonized elephant is forced to drive banks of machines, these machines are united in factories, and these factories turn Coketown into an industrial underworld: a demonic order of red brick and black ash, in which “interminable serpents” of smoke exist in a state of perpetual frustration, and the polluted river carries the effluvia of a “dyeing” process with an obvious stygian double meaning. Like Marx’s monster machine, then, Dickens’s elephant engine emerges—in the figure of its own stultification and the diabolical consequences of its labor—as a powerful critique of the conditions it represents. In striking the “key-note” of the novel, however, Dickens’s representation of the elephant machine also poses a threat to the aesthetic integrity of the narrative in Hard Times. In Coketown, the monotonous productivity of the engine drives the monotonous productivity of the people, and this appears to strike a death knell for plot and characterization: Composed of “several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another,” Coketown is inhabited by people equally like one another, who all [go]... in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day [i]s the same as yesterday and tomorrow. (28) Since every day is identical in Hard Times, and since all the town’s inhabitants, objectified by factory labor, are the “same... same... same,” nothing new can happen, and no person can grow or change. According to the critical tradition, at least, such is the fate of Hard Times. Already among Dickens’s contemporaries, Eliot rued the lack of any “psychological[ly] [compelling] character” (“Natural History” 343) in the novel; George Gissing assumed that Dickens must simply be ignorant of the working classes, lacking “adequate knowledge of a manufacturing town” (“Dickens’ Portrayal” 356); and John Ruskin regretted that the author’s people—whether masters or laborers—should be mere “caricature[s]” of human beings (355). As Tamara Ketabgian sums up the critical appraisal, “If industrial personalities are defined by their ... lack of personality, it follows that the texts that represent them display a profound failure of characterization” (8). Even among these early critics, however, there is some recognition that the industrial subject of Hard Times may in fact induce its reduction in rounded character-drawing. While deploring Dickens’s practice as “gross,” Ruskin also stipulates, significantly, that it is “never mistaken” (355), and this qualification—exonerating the author on the grounds of

Introduction  5 his putative failure—suggests that a lack of personality in Dickens’s characters may be a function of their industrial circumstances. Such would certainly seem to be the case for the novel’s protagonists. When the working-class hero, Stephen Blackpool, is described as “a good power-loom weaver, and a man of perfect integrity” (69), he is seemingly defined by the machinery he serves. What Stephen is, as “a good power-loom weaver,” appears to determine who he is, as “a man of perfect integrity”—and his captivity to the loom is further confirmed by its penetration of his psychology: When the machine stops at the end of the working day, he is left with the “odd sensation... of its having worked and stopped in his own head” (69).7 Similarly, though sheltered from the factories in which Stephen works, the bourgeois heroine Louisa Gradgrind experiences domestic seclusion as a version of the factory labor she ostensibly escapes. At home, as an “infinite grinding at the mill of knowledge” (61) subjects her to a rationalized system explicitly modeled on the textile mill, Louisa is shaped in character and intellect—as surely as Stephen Blackpool—by the power looms of Coketown. The mechanization of these characters has, necessarily, profound consequences for the plot of Hard Times. Driven by the possibility that Louisa and Stephen will rebel against the industrial hardships of their lot, this plot tempts both characters with transgression—or tries to—in the form of adultery. Louisa, having entered at the behest of her father into marriage with the capitalist Mr. Bounderby, is besieged by the seductions of Jem Harthouse. And Stephen, married to a drunken wastrel, is tortured by unrequited love for a fellow worker. In neither protagonist, however, can the emotional crisis produce any development. Stephen, as a “man of perfect integrity,” is doomed to fidelity by the mechanical perfection of his moral character, and Louisa is simply driven to nervous collapse, after which she returns permanently to her father’s house: the “mill” that made her. Frustrated by the machine-made consistency of the protagonists, the double adultery plot of Hard Times goes—nowhere. Of course, as Ketabgian points out, there is something at least potentially subversive in the intractable flatness of these characters. Stephen’s conduct is “so insistently regular” that it creates “a sense of deep affect and inward-turning extremity” (67), and Louisa’s mechanical obedience implies, likewise, the suppression of potentially rebellious feelings. Thus, despite his perfect integrity, everyone in the novel suspects the weaver of harboring revolutionary convictions, while Louisa—appearing to “consul[t] the chimneys of the Coketown works” (102) when her father asks her to marry Mr. Bounderby—remarks ominously, “There seems to be nothing there.... Yet when the night comes, Fire bursts out, father!” (103). Like the melancholy mad elephant machines that drive the works—machines in which “regular labor” shifts continually “to deranged rage” (Ketabgian 57)—the protagonists seem driven, through their sheer stultification, to revolt (Ketabgian 64–7).

6 Introduction Unfortunately, like the steam-driven machines both Louisa and Stephen resemble—machines expressly built for the conversion of incendiary pressure into industrial power—the explosive tendencies of the protagonists in Hard Times are appropriated in advance by the mechanisms against which they would rebel.8 Suppressed by mechanical forces that both produce and depend upon the smothering of her internal fires, Louisa resists seduction only to go on with a life that never goes anywhere—her fleeting vision of herself after Bounderby’s death as “again a wife [and mother,]... lovingly watchful” of children she will bring up on less mechanical principles, is “never to be” (297). And Stephen poses “a reservoir of near-infinite threat” (Ketabgian 67) only to fall into a reservoir of near-infinite threat: Returning to Coketown to clear himself of a crime for which he has been framed, he falls down the “Old Hell Shaft” (268) of an abandoned mine. As Ketabgian observes, the narrative here performs a “gesture of containment[,]... rechannel[ing]” Stephen’s potential violence by turning it on himself (69). By literally channeling it in a mine, however, it not only smothers Stephen’s revolt, but subordinates his rage to the industrial processes he has continually served. Coal-fired, the elephant engine is fed from the channels to which Stephen succumbs. Thus, even in death, he finds no liberation from the machinery of Coketown, and his flatness as a character is only further literalized when— pulverized by industrial forces—he is drawn up, a “poor, crushed, human creature” (272), from the depths of the mine. Ultimately, at the level of both plot and character, Hard Times proves captive to the industrial logic it sets out to critique, and though its narrator proposes a possible remedy for the destructive instrumentality it represents—imaginative “Fancy” (15) is suggested, early in the novel, as an alternative to the industrial grind—the imaginative work itself never escapes the mechanical principles on which it is built. Indeed, even the fanciful entertainments proposed as a release within the novel cannot elude the machinery that organizes it. When Louisa is caught peeping at an itinerant circus in the third chapter (19), Hard Times seems to suggest a means of liberation from the industrial order. Yet the circus, with its own beleaguered elephants and functionalized laborers, only reproduces the conditions it is supposed to relieve.9 Sissy Jupe, the daughter of a clown, fetches the “nine oils” to “rub father with” (33) as though his body were a failing machine, and though she is seemingly saved from a fate like his when she is abandoned by him and adopted by the Gradgrinds, she is inevitably fixed and flattened by the same forces that afflict Louisa and Stephen Blackpool. With an inhuman constancy to rival Stephen’s, she goes on saving the “nine oils” for a father who never returns, and though the end of the novel grants her the children Louisa can never conceive, this bounty imposes only a new “duty to be done” (298). “[T]hinking no innocent and pretty fancy ever to be despised” (297), she brings “imaginative graces and delights” to the children of Coketown,

Introduction  7 “trying hard to know her humbler fellow creatures, and to beautify their lives of machinery and reality” (297–8). The phrasing, though honorific, is bleak. Like the imaginative graces of the novel itself, Sissy’s virtuous labors remain captive to inalterable “lives of machinery”: She can only attempt to “beautify” a “reality” she is powerless to change.

II. Naturalism, Modernism, Postmodernism Obedient to the force of the steam engine from the “key-note” onward, Hard Times effectively becomes—willingly or unwillingly—a version of the elephantine machine it represents. A captive, melancholy giant, driving relentlessly toward conclusions it is helpless to alter,10 it hazards its own aesthetic integrity to render the monstrosity of the emerging mechanical order. Yet in doing so, it takes formal risks that would ultimately prove, as Itry to show in this study, characteristic of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century narrative. Prefiguring the many cyclopes and demons of the naturalist novel, the Dickensian elephant is the English antecedent of a long line of literary monsters, and though these find their most vigorous initial expression abroad, in the works of Émile Zola, the machines of the Rougon-Macquart share a point of historical origin with Dickens’s. Though beginning in England, the Industrial Revolution was by no means confined to it, and this book—tracing the emergence and impact of the monster machine—follows the complex development of the mechanical order in French as well as English and American fiction. Attempting a “science” of fiction in the age of technologies created by the English, Zola’s 20-volume Rougon-Macquart sequence is a vast gallery of the mechanical monsters so long suppressed in Victorian narrative. Given the sheer size of the naturalist undertaking, however, Ielect to focus in this study on three of the most famous Rougon-Macquart novels: L’Assommoir, Germinal, and La Bête humaine (1890). In each of these texts, Iargue in Chapter1, the “scientific” aims of the naturalist narrative falter in the rendering of an empirical reality—the superhuman power of the machine—and this reality not only wreaks havoc with the novel’s essential realism, but determines its features at virtually every other level. In L’Assommoir—the novel in which, as Henry James put it, the “true type of the monstrous” is reached for the first time in the Rougon-Macquart (“Émile Zola” 876)—the demonic force of the distilling apparatus overwhelms Zola’s documentary objectives, ensnares the working-class characters, constrains the alcoholic plot, and dictates the “pyramidal” structure of a novel that relentlessly inscribes, in its delineation of multiple tragic arcs, the consequences of the machine’s satanic tyranny. In Germinal, the monstrosity of the coal mine initially seems likely to provoke its own remedy, propelling a revolutionary plot for the overthrow of the industrial system—but a plot everywhere in thrall, as it turns out, to the devouring machine. Imperiling its labor-organizing

8 Introduction protagonist, who is literally swallowed when the sabotaged mine collapses, the novel ultimately redeems its character—but only at the cost of restoring, permanently, the industrial order he has sought to oppose. Finally, in La Bête humaine, the cyclopean railway engine—bursting with explosive force into the text—begins by ravaging the scientific pretensions of the narrative and ends by driving it literally off the rails. Piling up machine-made catastrophes with a regularity beyond the limits of ordinary belief, it accelerates toward a terminal smash, pulverizing its engine-driver protagonist in a climax that portends—as the locomotive runs headlong toward military disaster at Sedan—the violent end of the Second Empire and the naturalist sequence that documents it. Narratively in thrall to their driving mechanisms, the RougonMacquart novels effectively become—like Hard Times before them—the mechanical monsters they represent. Yet in doing so, they also magnify the narrative commitment pioneered by Dickens. As monstrous parts of a still more monstrous system—the massive, 20-volume naturalist sequence of the Rougon-Macquart as a whole—they document the new realities of their time with nearly incredible exhaustiveness, and inaugurate, in what Zola called the “experimental novel,” a tradition of narrative innovation that ramifies far beyond Second-Empire France. They also initiate, in this work, a reading practice that is itself—it should be acknowledged at the outset—somewhat mechanical. Attuned to the homologies of the machine-driven novel (the multiple, determined links between image, plot, character, structure, sequence, and so forth), this book can be understood as a kind of machine for reading mechanized fiction, and the opening chapter—assembling and disassembling the monsters of the Rougon-Macquart—a preliminary technical demonstration of a method Ipursue, with multiple variations, throughout. Just as the novels Istudy are shaped by the machines they represent, my critical approach is shaped by the novels, and systematically elaborated in accordance with the internal logic of a tradition that expresses industrial development as narrative form. Below, Iwill discuss the implications, for my own narrative, of this mechanical procedure; for now, however, Iwish to confine myself to a kind of schematic, delineating the many moving parts, as it were, of my own mechanical system: the chapters that follow—and follow from—my reading of the Rougon-Macquart. In Chapter2, as a means of testing and elaborating my critical method, Iturn to those texts most immediately influenced by Zola: naturalist novels in England and America. Though belated in Britain—mostly avoided, as we have seen, by the major Victorian realists, and later discouraged by the vigorous prosecution of Zola’s English translator—naturalism eventually appears where it should, from a historical point of view, have started. In the backward-looking works of Thomas Hardy, especially The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the monster machine materializes in works explicitly about the mechanical

Introduction  9 demolition of agrarian England, and the narratives resort to a series of outrageous “devices”—flagrantly mechanical plots, grotesquely flat characters—to draw attention to the horrific consequences of the machines with which those devices are aligned. Thus, indicting the process of industrialization where it began, Hardy fills in the English backstory of a genre pioneered in France—and extended, after an interval, in America. In the novels of Frank Norris, the self-styled “Boy Zola,” narrative realism collapses dramatically in the rendering of a series of American machines. Most famously, in McTeague (1899) and The Octopus, the insatiable gold mine and the cyclopean railroad engine drive overt deformations of plot and character—deformations that document, though at the cost of the texts themselves, the monstrous effects of a technological revolution that began in England but grips the world. Not all naturalists, of course, are so extreme. Chapter 3, therefore, turns to a series of writers—Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, George Moore, Edith Wharton, and George Gissing—whose narratives are less obviously beset by monsters. In the works of these naturalists, the social environment as a whole operates like a machine, and though this machinery is not overtly protrusive or even ugly—the city has a “superhuman” (2) glamor in Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900), the slums a solemn grandeur in Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893)—the narratives relentlessly expose their most attractive effects as mechanical in origin. In Sister Carrie, the heroine begins her meteoric career as an actress in the shoe factory, enslaved to the machinery responsible for producing the stuff of her eventual material well-being. In Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Maggie begins in the collar-and-cuff factory, churning out the articles of an illusory feminine glamor to which she later succumbs as a prostitute. In Wharton’s The House of Mirth (1905) and Moore’s A Mummer’s Wife (1885), Lily and Kate confront the stifling conditions of their own bourgeois finery in the mechanical drudgery of the millinery establishment and the draper’s shop. And in Gissing’s New Grub Street (1891), Marian Yule is turned into a “mere machine for reading and writing” (137) by the literary trade responsible for producing the novel itself. In each of these texts, the narrative operates on its heroine with the unrelenting tenacity of the machinery to which she is subjected, and thus draws attention— through an interrogation of its own aesthetics—to its implication in the man-made, mechanically determined circumstances it represents. Traditionally understood as a “faulty” form of nineteenth-century realism—one unable to live up, in practice, to its own empirical objectives—the naturalist novel has typically been dissociated from the modernist movement that followed it. Once we can see, however, that the ostensible faults of literary naturalism are, instead, inevitable features of a genre committed to the problem of industrialization, it is possible to connect Zola’s “experimental novel” to the innovations of literary modernism.11 After the turn of the century, the monsters not only reappear, but

10 Introduction return with, as it were, a vengeance: In D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow (1915), the Zolian mine—now magnified in strength and influence—not only devours the English countryside but threatens to turn all of Europe into a dead mechanical underworld; in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), the “[b]eingless beings” (10.822) of the Dublin dynamos electrify a city where new industrial forces “[r]ule the world” (7.81); and in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925), the postwar order of London life proceeds in time to the ominous tolling of Big Ben, a machine that seems—in its articulation of the technological power of the British Empire after the First World War—to menace the domestic security it also ensures. In these and other modernist novels, mechanization is recognized as a terrifying and increasingly pervasive force—but, as such, also an explicitly quotidian force: a fact of everyday life. Thus, the modernist text fashions, Iargue, a virtue of technological necessity. Acknowledging its inevitable implication in the mechanized processes of industrial modernity—recognizing that the conditions of modern life are also the conditions of modern literature—it embraces the machine as a principle of its own construction, opposing mechanization through the disruption of its own mechanics. Beginning in the works of D. H. Lawrence, as Iargue in Chapter4, the mechanical monster is turned into the instrument of its own potential subversion. In The Rainbow, the satanic coal mine that threatens the English countryside also generates the rainbow of the title: the mythic arc that materializes, literally out of nowhere, to disrupt the terminal logic of the machine-driven plot. The demonic machine is thus compelled to produce a visionary dispensation from the mechanized order it itself imposes, and though this dispensation is threatened in the sequel—in Women in Love (1920), the narrative drives toward an apocalyptic conclusion seemingly without hope of renewal—the process of rationalization still induces, in the later novel, a mythic condition of potential transcendence. In the famous “Excurse” chapter, the visionary revelations of The Rainbow are both revived and radicalized on the brink of their extinction, opening up a utopian prospect—an “excursion” from the machine-made order—for the few characters who still seek to oppose industrialization. Unfortunately, dissatisfied with the limitations he had so far exceeded only in fiction, Lawrence, after finishing Women in Love, attempted to literalize its “excursions” in a journey to the Americas, and there appears to have succumbed to his own vision. In The Plumed Serpent (1926), the most famous of his later works, myth is imposed as a remedy for instrumental reason with such authoritarian force that it inevitably duplicates the problem it is supposed to resolve. The result—a mechanical, and indeed, fascistic production—is thus primarily of value as a limit case: an experiment in extremity. Disclosing the limitations of myth as a narrative machine-breaker, the Serpent illuminates the pitfalls of a modernist practice elsewhere pursued, Iargue, with greater consistency.

Introduction  11 In James Joyce’s Ulysses, the subject of Chapter5, Iturn to a far more radical work of narrative machine-breaking. In the “Aeolus” episode, in which Leopold Bloom first confronts the machines that “[r]ule the world,” he is looking, significantly, at printing machines: at an apparatus that not only rules the material world of Dublin in 1904, but the material conditions of the text itself. Thus, starting with typographical transgressions of its own coherence in the same episode, Ulysses begins to fight its machines through the subversion of its own mechanics—and turns to myth, in the famous structure of Homeric parallels, as a means of holding together a text that is constantly taking itself apart. Unlike Lawrence, however, Joyce seems well aware of the tyrannical potential of the mythic structure he creates, and thus takes steps to undermine the Odyssean parallels also. Subverting the expectations inspired by the Homeric story, the parallels finally undo their own authority, and thus help constitute one of the most radical works of anti-instrumental modernism: Disrupting every mechanical tendency as well as the mythic strategy that threatens to become one—resisting every form of instrumental domination, including its own—Ulysses finally becomes a machine to undo machines: an anarchic, self-deconstructing, utopian machine. Next to the works of Lawrence and Joyce, of course, most modernist fiction looks relatively orderly; thus, in Chapter6, Iconsider a series of novels that—while less overtly mythic, and less disruptive to their own coherence—nonetheless take on mechanical dimensions to expose the deforming consequences of industrial modernity. In Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, the structure of the novel depends, like the postwar world it represents, on the machines that destroy its veteran protagonist. In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926), the functional order of Jake’s narrative emphasizes an instrumental proficiency that is both an attempted remedy for and a result of the machine-made injury he seeks to repress. And in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (1913–27), the telephone that exposes the narrator’s grandmother to a terrifying deformation—detaching her voice from her body, it seems to prefigure her death—becomes the basis of a superhuman knowledge: a knowledge “as impossible to attain as it seemed impossible to speak from one town to another, before we knew of the contrivance by which that impossibility has been overcome” (I 262). In each of these novels, Iargue, the narrative seems to accept machinery as the condition of its own existence; yet that acceptance becomes the means by which the text can also contest mechanization. In Mrs. Dalloway, the clock, airplane, and motorcar that structure the novel impart external order to the fluctuations of interior monologue—but are everywhere overwhelmed by the subjective experience they are built to constrain. In The Sun Also Rises, the mechanical coherence of Jake’s narrative continually breaks down under the pressure of the trauma it seeks to repress. And in In Search of Lost Time, the

12 Introduction telephone becomes the guarantee of the massive recuperative power— the “impossible” omniscience—of the narrative as a whole, undoing the estrangement it itself has produced. This project might have ended with the modernist novel. As Ideveloped the chapters sketched above, however, Iwas troubled by a recurrent question: What happens to the narrative tradition after modernism, given that machines grow only more pervasive—and, arguably, more monstrous—in the second half of the twentieth century? On the one hand, we are said to have entered a “post-industrial” period in which the old menaces, driven at first by steam and then electricity, give way to digital and atomic powers.12 On the other, the new and terrible machines of the “post-industrial” age neither eliminate the old ones nor abolish the concerns that shape naturalist and modernist fiction. Instead, after the Second World War, new technologies “[r]ule the world” in a newly extensive, even planetary sense: the atom bomb raises the specter of global annihilation, the digital computer embodies a databank of knowledge permanently beyond the capacity of its creators, and the two are united in ballistics systems that make machinery a constant, imminent threat to the continuation of human life (indeed, any life) on earth. Like the modernist world, then, the postmodern one is captive to monstrous mechanical forces—but forces that can no longer be comprehended, given their new universality, in the figure of a single cyclops or demon. Thus, postmodernist narrative picks up where modernism leaves off, but under newly precarious conditions.13 In Chapter7, Iturn to a series of texts obsessed, in the era of the atom bomb, with visualizing the new—and newly elusive—machines of the post-Second-World-War order. In J. G. Ballard’s Crash (1973), the nuclear threat is expressed through older machines as the characters, stuck in gridlock on the London motorways, envision a coming “autogeddon” (50); in Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions (1973), the menace of the bomb is both succeeded and duplicated by the world-destroying force of the omnipresent plastic molecule; and in Philip K. Dick’s Ubik (1969), atomic power makes its universal but mysterious threat felt as a “ubiquitous” synthetic with the capacity to determine life itself: “Iam Ubik.... I made the suns. Imade the worlds” (215). In these novels, postmodernist fiction draws attention to a problem it is increasingly forced to accept— the fact that reality has itself become synthetic, an artificial construction made and dominated by machines of dreadful power.14 To disclose this new order of things, however, is not to undo it, and though Ballard and Vonnegut still seek—in modernist fashion—to disrupt the artificial realities they represent, Dick pushes their shared vision to its darkest conclusion: relentlessly exposing the world it depicts as a fabrication, Ubik submits itself and its characters to a nightmare from which the narrative— in its fidelity to the realities of the atomic age—can never awake.

Introduction  13 The nightmare continues in the paranoid fictions of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo—narratives in which the characters can only intuit the deadly technological realities that, as I argue in Chapter 8, the novels labor to disclose. In Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 (1965), a digital threat is added to the atomic one in the era of the computer-guided missile, and Oedipa Maas—suspecting the existence of covert forces she cannot verify as such—envisions the solution to the mystery of postwar American life as, significantly, a binary code. Unfortunately, unable to recognize the real technological source of her dread, Oedipa is misled by own her vision (of “zeroes and ones” [150]) into the pursuit of a covert postal order—an underground network called the Tristero—that keeps her from seeing the secret communications system that actually does organize the world she inhabits: the digital computer and the nuclear ballistics it controls. Since a nuclear revelation, however, is hardly to be wished, Pynchon—having built a narrative system to disclose a mechanical one—ultimately suspends the plot he has so ingeniously contrived. Famously, The Crying of Lot 49 fails to resolve, and this indeterminacy converts a basic condition of Cold-War life (the not-yet of nuclear disaster) into a narrative dispensation. Like the subsequent Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)—a novel still more explicitly concerned with postwar ballistics— The Crying of Lot 49 defers the deadly consequences of the systems it is built to expose. Three decades later, DeLillo can do no more. In Underworld (1997), the Cold War is over, but the plutonic force of nuclear power has only moved further underground, silently ordering a world increasingly unable to understand the principles of its own construction. Consequently, like Crying and Gravity’s Rainbow, Underworld reconstructs the system responsible for the unintelligibility of modern life. Appropriating a mechanical system as a narrative system—methodically demonstrating that “[e]verything is connected” (825) by the plutonic menace of nuclear weapons and waste—DeLillo seeks to reduce what he can never undo: the alienating force of a machinery that, since it cannot be broken or unmade, the postmodernist novel must accept as the condition of its existence. Grappling with genuinely insuperable technologies, postmodernism often seems to mourn the loss of modernism’s subversive, anti-mechanical strategies; its experimental techniques seem at best to stave off a technological apocalypse by disclosing the awful force of the all-powerful machine. Yet even as the postmodern period wanes in the wake of the Cold War, its apocalyptic conditions persist. Bombs linger in missile silos; the digital power of modern computing accelerates; and DeLillo and Pynchon confront, in Falling Man (2007) and The Bleeding Edge (2013), the fallout of American technological supremacy where, on September 11, 2001, it was least expected. Written, as DeLillo puts it, in the “ruins of

14 Introduction the future,” these narratives seemed fatally transfixed by the calamity they represent, and look forward to life in a world already decimated by its mechanical conditions. Thus, the postmodernist novel comes to an end, in America, in the rubble of the Twin Towers, and this study turns back to locate—it is my hope—a more optimistic ending in the past. Given the works of Georges Perec, who survived the ruin of his own future in the Second World War—the loss of his parents, the child he had been, and the man he would have become had his family survived intact—it is possible to argue that the horror of the machine, however irrevocable, may yet be superseded. Perec is the best-known novelist to emerge from the French Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or Oulipo, the group of experimental writers famous for adopting literary “machines”—sets of artificial limitations, or “mechanical constraints”—as a means of liberating creative potential. What for many members of the Oulipo was an arbitrary exercise in literary ingenuity, however, was a curiously literal procedure for Perec. Among the most famous of his Oulipian “machines” is the lipogrammatic omission of the letter “e” in A Void (1969)—a device that, as the ground-breaking work of Warren Motte has shown, not only suppresses one of the most common letters in French, but silently reenacts an erasure imposed by the mechanized horrors of the Second World War: Perec’s father (père) was killed on the front, and his mother (mère) disappeared at Auschwitz; thus, the suppression of the “e” annihilates père, mère, and with them (since Georges Perec is full of es) the author himself (“Reading” 5). And yet, by the same gesture, the tyranny of mechanization is turned by Perec into an instrument of liberation. As Ishow in Chapter9, the constraints of the generating “device” become, in a whole series of texts that reproduce the machine-made devastation of the war, the occasion for imaginative works that continually exceed the rationalized principles on which they are built. In A Void, W or the Memory of Childhood (1975), and Life a User’s Manual (1978), the horrific mechanical forces of the twentieth century become the instruments of their own survival—and the condition of a new and infinitely creative life.

III. The State of the Critical Field, and the Shape of Things to Come Before embarking on the several chapters described above, it remains to say a word about the intellectual tradition with which Iaim to engage in this book. In the twenty-first century, we inhabit a world yet more mechanized than the one apprehended in the naturalist, modernist, and postmodernist novel, and Iam hardly the first critic—pondering the connections between modernization and modern narrative—to consider the relationship between literature and technology. In recent years, literary

Introduction  15 scholars have shown increasing interest in the importance of machines of all kinds, and this project is informed by (indeed, deeply indebted to) the many studies that have come before it. As a further contribution to this tradition, however, my book is also something of a departure. Itherefore wish to pause, in this section, to sketch the field as it is today, delineating the major currents of contemporary thought as a means of distinguishing my own particular objectives. In the most general terms, this book is unique in its combination of features most studies share only in part: its historical scope, its specific attention to the narrative consequences of mechanization, and its persistent focus on the development of the machine as monster. For reasons of disciplinary specialty and periodization, most existing work focuses on more confined historical moments or specific kinds of machines; tends— with the significant exception of media studies, where the link between writing and inscription technologies makes formal concerns explicit—to consider the narratological consequences of mechanization only in passing; and often dwells on the constitutive power of machinery (its status as a transformative, modernizing force) without sustained attention to its potential monstrosity. As a result, this project draws on a wide range of critical material while also attempting to distill the terms of the inquiry: Connecting periods, traditions, and machines that are typically considered separately, it seeks to synthesize and extend the current thinking, building on a body of scholarship that—while analytically rich and diverse in its approaches—has not yet articulated the degree to which technology shapes modern narrative.15 In a sense, of course, all work on literature and technology—regardless of periodization—shares an interest in the historical span this book tries to comprehend. In The Lives of Machines (2011), for example, Ketabgian dwells on Victorian technology to demonstrate how the period gave us an explicitly mechanical vocabulary for describing human psychology— and, in doing so, shows how the dynamics of the steam engine are still inscribed in the ways we think about emotional and mental processes. Laura Otis, tracing the metaphorical connections between bodies and networks of Victorian machines in Networking: Communicating with Bodies and Machines in the Nineteenth Century (2011), looks forward to “the age of the Internet,” when “it is questionable whether comparisons of bodies to machines are still metaphors” (ix). And Ivan Kreilkamp, in Voice and the Victorian Storyteller (2005), shows how the mechanized print culture of the nineteenth century actually revives forms of orality it would appear to annihilate, and thus attempts to dislodge not only a “monolithic understanding” of “the vocal cultures of Victorian England,” but also those of “our own” time (29). As Richard Menke observes in Telegraphic Realism (2008), our interest in older technologies may be driven by “our own experiences” of “rapid [technological]... transitions over the past decades” (21).

16 Introduction Such are the exigencies of a historical project, however, that contemporary concerns are often expressed within the confines of studies that, by design, cannot fully explore the historical continuities they suggest. What emerges instead are productive links between texts: shared concerns, and thematic resemblances, that connect studies of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Already in the partial sketch of the works on Victorian narrative and technology above,16 for example, it is possible to deduce a pattern in the criticism—an interest in the connections between machines and human bodies and minds. For at least a quarter of a century, beginning with such influential works as Mark Seltzer’s Bodies and Machines (1992), Tim Armstrong’s Modernism, Technology, and the Body (1998), and N. Katherine Hayles’s How We Became Posthuman (1999), the human/machine interface has been a productive site of inquiry in relation to each of the periods considered in this book. Seltzer, dwelling on the “relays” (3) between biological and mechanical reproduction in American narrative, argues that natural processes are increasingly supplanted by mechanical ones in the naturalist novel, while the human body is increasingly rationalized—abstracted as a “statistical perso[n]” (14). Armstrong, attending to the changes wrought by technology (including electricity, dietary fads, prosthetics, early genderreassignment surgery, and the invention of the film “talky”) upon our understanding and construction of the body, contends that modernism as a whole is “characterized by the desire to intervene in the body; to render it part of modernity by techniques which may be biological, mechanical, or behavioral” (6, emphasis in original). And Hayles, revealing how “information [ostensibly] los[t] its body” (2) with the advent of cybernetics after the Second World War, probes the production of a “posthuman” subjectivity that risks denying crucial forms of embodiment—forms that Hayles’s articulation of the posthuman seeks to retrieve. As these and subsequent studies show, concerns about embodiment tend to raise further concerns about subjectivity, and several recent works focus more minutely on this topic. Nicholas Daly, in Literature, Technology, and Modernity, 1860–2000 (2004), argues that Victorian technologies helped shape genres (from melodrama to sensation fiction to contemporary film) capable of articulating and accommodating the subjective “shocks” of industrial modernity. Sara Danius, in The Senses of Modernism (2002), argues that the acoustic and visual technologies of the late nineteenth century (phonography, cinematography, telephony, etc.) permanently changed the human sensorium, and thus induced the production of narratives that grapple with the new “technologies of perception” (21) by replicating them—internalizing them at the level of modernist form. And Joseph Tabbi, in Postmodern Sublime (1995), considers the machine as a figure for a “representational insufficiency” in postmodernist fiction—a means of depicting a system we can no longer

Introduction  17 “hope to master or comprehend” (20), but a system within which the very failure of a representation to “match its technological object” captures a psychological reality: the “tumultuous and incongruous nature of postmodern experience” (25). As though to subdue the thousand mechanical shocks the narrative tradition is heir to, however, works devoted to technology and subjectivity tend to shift our attention away from the monstrosity of machines, minimizing their disruptive power through redemptive readings of the literary tradition.17 For Daly, literary genres make the mechanized world bearable for human subjects; for Danius, modernist narrative assimilates the assault of new machines to the extent of “incorporat[ing] within itself” (185) the technologies that threaten to remake sensory processes; and for Tabbi, the “failure to signify” (13) a technological reality is itself representative—indeed, sublime—and may ultimately fashion, through the “naturalistic reconstruction” of genuinely overwhelming forces, an “operational reality” capable of making postmodernity “livable” (28). In the works of these critics, the emphasis on literature as a compensatory form—an art capable of offsetting the effects of technology—ultimately seems to justify, by pacifying, the machine forces with which it contends. In her reading of Ulysses, for example, Danius argues that Joyce’s work is engaged in a kind of competition with the machines of its day, replicating the “alienating and reifying gaze” (160) of the cinematic camera in a narrative that sticks to what can be perceived or seen: “Joyce’s visuals do not really make us see more; they make us see differently” (167). In making a virtue of reification, however, Danius helps save modernist narrative from inscription machinery (part of Ulysses’s vitality, she suggests, lies in its capacity to internalize the technologies which could “lead to the extinction of the book” [185]) at the cost of assuming a kind of ethical neutrality toward the more destructive consequences of mechanization— especially the reduction of human beings to functional objects at the mercy of machines the narratives themselves represent as monstrous. This is not to say, of course, that all current work assumes a redemptive approach to technology. In contrast to those studies primarily concerned with human subjectivity, works focused on the broader social or cultural consequences of mechanization grapple extensively with its darker implications. Evelyn Cobley’s Modernism and the Culture of Efficiency (2009), for example, refocuses the question of human/machine contact in terms that contend directly with the “troubling link between a dedication to efficiency and a desire for control over both nature and human beings” (15). Considering the ideological impact of efficiency planning, which originated as a “technical measurement of the performance of machines” (6), but was inevitably imposed as a form of social control, Cobley surveys the cultural manifestations of Fordist and Taylorist efficiency from factory systems to the industrial order of Auschwitz. There,

18 Introduction [t]he reduction of workers at the Ford Motor Company to mere ‘cogs in the machine’ finds its extreme extension in the radical dehumanization of prisoners within a system designed to impress on them that they are powerless, dispensable, isolated, and infinitely interchangeable docile bodies under constant threat of death. (79) As a consequence of the cultural and historical breadth of her study, however, Cobley’s work on efficiency planning expands our understanding of its effects on human beings without connecting those effects to the representation of specific technologies—or considering the effect of technology on literary form.18 A complementary work to Cobley’s, in this respect, would thus be the now-classic Shifting Gears: Technology, Literature, Culture in Modernist America (1987), in which Cecelia Tichi argues that efficiency planning informs the construction of modernist narrative and poetry. Suggesting that the “machine-age text” does not merely represent but in fact “is [a] . . . machine” in the sense of a “functional system of component parts designed to transmit energy” (16), Tichi distinguishes a new focus on efficiency in the compositional priorities of such writers as William Carlos Williams, John Dos Passos, and Hemingway. And yet, in shifting the focus from social to narrative consequences—from the controlling of human bodies to the engineering of works of art—Tichi’s study tends to minimize the ethical consequences Cobley so powerfully details.19 Though acknowledging in her preface the “sociopolitical difficulties” of the modernist period and the preoccupation of “[m]odernist thought” with “crises ranging from spiritual anomie to social fragmentation and even the political atrocities of fascism,” she sets aside the “reiteration of ...[these] crises” in favor of “the story of American writers’ efforts to reinvigorate imaginative literature in accordance with the terms of a new world” (xv). Thus, just as the ethical dimension of Cobley’s work seems to preclude any significant attention to the formal consequences of mechanization, Tichi’s aesthetic inquiry seems to preclude consideration of its social and political effects. One of the major aims of this study is to combine the approaches exemplified by Cobley and Tichi, bringing socio-historical analysis—with its attention to the more problematic results of industrial development— together with a formalist inquiry. Another is to extend both approaches, not only linking the social and historical impact of mechanization more consistently to its formal consequences in the novel, but diversifying a formalist approach that, at present, is concentrated in studies of a particular subset of machines. With the significant exception of a work like Shifting Gears (which analyzes the formal effects of what Tichi calls “gear-and-girder” [xiii] machines—the “technology of interconnected component parts, many of them visible to the naked eye in traditional machines and structures” [xi]), recent formalist accounts tend to cluster

Introduction  19 in studies of new and old media, where the links between writing and inscription devices raise overt formal concerns. Given the seeming immateriality of media machines, however, studies of these technologies often understand them as disembodied means of connection, and thus tend— like the works on technology and subjectivity described above—to minimize the more ominous implications of mechanization. Stressing the capacity of communications devices to connect people at a distance, works on media tend to focus on the assimilation of inscription and transmission machines to the lives and literary practices that new technologies might otherwise imperil in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Nancy Armstrong, for example, argues in Fiction in the Age of Photography (1999) that narrative realism results from “a collaboration between fiction and photography” (11) in the Victorian and modernist periods, producing a “visual order of things” that allowed people to “negotiate a world undergoing modernization at an ever-increasing pace” (19). Menke, considering a somewhat broader range of inscription technologies in Telegraphic Realism, frames “Victorian realism... as an exploration of the power and limits of written textuality in an age busy producing alternatives to it” (11), and argues that telegraphy, photography, and the wireless “redefined print” in ways that ultimately shaped the works they would seem to threaten (13). Mark Goble, picking up roughly where Menke leaves off, begins in Beautiful Circuits: Modernism and the Mediated Life (2010) with a telegraphic reading of Henry James’s late novels, arguing that the modernist desire to communicate was “not just as a response to the power of media technologies ...[but] a way of insisting that this power was already modernism’s own” (3). Sara Danius, in the study already described above, considers how the narratives of Thomas Mann, Proust, and Joyce internalize and thus compete with media that have changed the way people experience the world. And Julian Murphet, in Multimedia Modernism (2009), argues that modernism as a whole—as a period and as an aesthetic movement—is “a structural adjustment within a given social and historical media ecology, or media system” (10) of the early twentieth century. Whether figuring realism and modernism as continuous with, in collaboration with, or in competition with the media of their day, these studies are broadly optimistic, assured of literature’s capacity to adapt to technological innovations, and focused on machines of a kind apparently distinct from those with which this project is most concerned.20 Yet new and old media, it must be noted, not only share a common lineage with, but are in many cases literally undergirded by more overtly monstrous technologies. As both Menke and Otis observe, telegraph lines in Britain “followed those laid out by the railways in the late 1830s and early 1840s” (Otis 129), and the same was true in the US, where all sorts of communications technologies grew up alongside the railroad. As TungHui Hu demonstrates in A Prehistory of the Cloud (2015), “new and

20 Introduction old medias are layered on top of each other” (2) in America, as multiple systems, “[b]ecause of geographic limitations” (5), follow the path of the original transcontinental line: The “last segment of the railroad and telegraph systems, joined at Promontory, Utah, in 1869,” was later followed by the “telephone system,... the national television network,... the ARPAnet, a predecessor to the Internet” (5), and the fiber-optic networks that support the contemporary Internet and the cloud. Indeed, fiberoptic cables were laid directly over railroad lines, as companies like the Southern Pacific Railroad (and its communications offshoot, SPRINT, still one of the “six major fiber-optic carriers [in]... the US” [2]), realized that they could capitalize on existing rights of way. Thus, like the telegraph, the Internet literally runs alongside the old nineteenth-century railroad tracks; data storage facilities are frequently enclosed, for convenience and security, in repurposed nuclear bunkers (xxviii); and the whole depends, to a surprising degree, upon the energy source of so many nineteenth-century machines: As Hu observers, the cloud “is one of the largest consumers of coal energy” (xxv).21 Thus, the two technologies that drove the Industrial Revolution—the cyclopean railway figured so vividly in Zola’s La Bête humaine, and the voracious coal mine of Germinal—still drive the systems of twenty-first-century media. My point is not simply to insist, of course, upon the dark side of new and old media, but rather to situate this project in relation to the criticism that has most influenced it. Though sharing its formalist concerns, this book is not primarily a media-studies project, and data transmission, inscription, and storage machines appear in this work only as they enter into and help illuminate the mechanical systems that increasingly—to borrow a phrase from Leopold Bloom—“[r]ule the world today.” The first of the media machines to emerge in this narrative is thus the telephone, which comforts Marcel, in the modernist In Search of Lost Time, for the airplane’s assimilation to the technology of destruction; the second is the digital computer, which emerges in tandem with the atomic threat in the Cold-War works of Pynchon and DeLillo; and the third is the union of these in the web-enabled cell phone, “handcuffs of the future” (420), in Pynchon’s The Bleeding Edge. The focus on these devices, though far from exhaustive from a media-studies point of view, is intended to be selective. As David Trotter points out, all communications technologies are distinguished by their “double articulation” (40): They are at once a “technology (object, machine, delivery system) and ...[a] medium” of social connection (40). The telephone, however, “comes as close as any communications device can come to single articulation, as technology rather than medium” (41). Thus, while it can be understood as an enabling social mechanism, abolishing physical space by connecting people at a distance, it is also—and predominantly—a complex of physical machines: a network of material devices and connective systems that, as Hu has shown, is literally built on top of older, more horrific

Introduction  21 technologies.22 Beginning in the nineteenth century, the “media ecology” with which so many excellent recent works are concerned is layered—and everywhere dependent—upon what we might call a “machine ecology”: a planetary environment increasingly determined by the technologies naturalist, modernist, and postmodernist novels figure as monstrous. In its focus on the development of a complex system of worlddetermining machines, then, this book is neither a comprehensive guide to nineteenth- and twentieth-century machinery nor a study confined to a particular subset of technological devices. It is, instead, a narrative project, and has been shaped by its archive, even as this archive is shaped by the machines of its time.23 To begin with the monster machine is, perforce, to begin with the naturalist novel, and to begin with naturalism is to commit to a project of specific dimensions: Finding its mechanical origin in England, but its first major articulation in France, naturalism lays the groundwork for a transatlantic project, and thus raises questions—at once formal and historical—that become increasingly urgent as the machine complex grows more extensive, and narrative experimentation more overt, throughout the twentieth century. In particular, as an ostensibly “faulty” form of realism—one that appears to violate its documentary theory in practice, and is frequently admired for its “power” at the expense of its aesthetic integrity—naturalism illuminates the origins and risks of narrative innovation from its day to our own.24 Shaped by its materials, however, this study of modern narrative is also troubled, as a narrative, by the problems that beset its primary sources. Divided into three major parts of three chapters each, and concerned with three national traditions, it bears—it will be noticed—more than a passing resemblance to the “pyramidal” novel with which it begins, and thus shares not only the anti-industrial shape of Zola’s L’Assommoir but the grim implications of that work. Like L’Assommoir, this study aims to combine structural clarity with an arching narrative line that (plotted at multiple points: more than 20 novels, 19 major authors) seeks to suggest the breadth of a tradition it cannot exhaust. Yet the functional choice inevitably leads to complications. Some of these are propitious, as the sheer scope of the work illuminates connections between narratives that might not otherwise be considered together: the biblical flood unleashed by the distilling machine in the naturalist L’Assommoir harmonizes, for example, with the mythic arc of Lawrence’s modernist Rainbow, and the stark qualification of that vision in the postmodernist rocket novel, where Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow bends inexorably back to earth. Others are less so, as the same pyramidal structure risks delineating a parabolic path of doom: read chronologically, the naturalist flood of L’Assommoir appears to portend a modernist rainbow that springs from industrial corruption in Lawrence’s novel only to be transmuted into the celestial figure of planetary destruction in Pynchon’s. Considered as an arc, my narrative seems to plot a rise from the mechanically determined conditions of the

22 Introduction naturalist novel to a modernist apex that cannot be sustained under the circumstances of postmodernist fiction. What, then, is the consequence of this study’s “pyramidal” structure? On the one hand, its alignment with the parabolic arc of a ballistic rainbow is not entirely misleading, as postmodernism does contend, in the nuclear age, with a world permanently imperiled by its own technology. On the other, the parabola collapses into a single line the three dimensions of the pyramid, and thus disguises the fullness of a tradition that is not as fatalistic as the downward side of the arc would appear to suggest. Though postmodernist narrative is perhaps most irrevocably determined by the technologies of its day, none of the works Idiscuss in this book elude the mechanical conditions they represent, and all are unified by their commitment to an anti-instrumental project. Though certainly exemplified by modernist narrative, this commitment begins in the naturalist novel and is carried forward—under increasingly oppressive conditions—in postmodernist fiction. Nor is everything lost in the end. As Ihope my closing chapter on Perec is able to show, the narrative shaped—even devastated—by the machines of its time is not necessarily doomed by them. Indeed, in Perecquian terms, my last chapter is intended to be a version of what the Oulipo call the “clinamen”: the part of the apparatus built to undo it. As Perec explains, any literary system of [mechanical] constraints—and this is important—must be destroyed; it must not be rigid; there must be some play in it; it must, as they say, “creak” a bit. It must not be completely coherent; there must be a clinamen—it’s from Epicurean atomic theory: “The world functions because from the outset there is a lack of balance.” (qtd. in Motte, Introduction 20) In this work, then, a clinamen—a lack of balance—is introduced into the “pyramidal” plan in the figure of the Oulipian writer himself. Contemporary with Pynchon and DeLillo, but far more hopeful, Perec is not the next point in a linear chronology of mechanical decline, but the part of the order built to destabilize it. Thus, in turning back to him, my narrative disrupts its own symmetry—creaks a bit—in the hopes of securing an Oulipian dispensation: a means of liberation from the Zolian apparatus with which it begins and which, in its overarching structure, it also necessarily resembles.

Notes 1. In German, the passage reads as follows: “An die Stelle der einzelnen Maschine tritt hier ein mechanisches Ungeheuer, dessen Leib ganze Fabrikgebäude füllt und dessen dämonische Kraft, erst versteckt durch die fast feierlich gemeßne Bewegung seiner Riesenglieder, im fieberhaft tollen

Introduction  23 Wirbeltanz seiner zahllosen eigentlichen Arbeitsorgane ausbricht” (Marx, Kapital 367–8). 2. In The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction, 1832–1867, Gallagher argues that the industrial novel tends to displace public problems into the private sphere: “because private problems are unlike public problems, because they seem responsive to individual efforts of the will, whereas public problems do not, novelists often ‘solve’ social conflicts by first translating them into private conflicts” (114). In North and South (1854–5), for example, Elizabeth Gaskell translates a story of factory tensions into a marriage plot, uniting a northern industrialist (John Thornton) to a southern heroine (Margaret Hale), and thus resolving social problems by turning private means to public account. Enabling Thornton’s progressive “experiments in industrial relations,” Hale’s fortune allows him to “clea[r] away practical barriers to social harmony” in the factory (177). In effecting a marital resolution of this kind, however, the novel creates a formal problem for itself, as it tries to solve public issues in a private sphere that, in the Victorian period, is by definition separate from it (178). Thus, according to Gallagher, the industrial novel inevitably undermines its own social and aesthetic objectives. (That said, it is also worth noting that industrial novels may avoid criticism on the same grounds. As Tamara Ketabgian observes, Geraldine Jewsbury’s Marian Withers [1851] is both “one of the few Victorian novels that extensively explores the interior of a British textile mill” and one of the least well-regarded of industrial fictions: “When critics do treat Marian Withers, they typically fault it... for its dissociation of machine culture from the domestic world” [158].) 3. Eliot’s Mill, published in 1860, is almost exactly contemporary with Capital, most of which was written between 1860 and 1866 (Carver xiii), and volume 1 of which was published in 1867. 4. For Childers, this is not only the case for The Mill but also Adam Bede (1859), Silas Marner (1861), and Middlemarch (1872), and most critics— including those who argue for Eliot’s acute awareness of the developing technologies of her time—are in general agreement with his perspective. Laura Otis, for example, contends that Eliot’s representation of the social “webs” of Middlemarch society, as well as the web-like construction of the novel’s plot (94), are informed by the “network” of railways emerging in the period in which Eliot composed the novel (1869–72); yet she also observes that “Middlemarch looks back with a certain nostalgia to a time in which provincial isolation still existed” (98), and thus describes the “web” of the plot and the world it represents as still more organic (more like a spider’s web or a nervous system [94]) than mechanical. If fact, as she points out, were the “web” of the plot based on the industrial network of the railway, it would never have functioned: “By 1870, thriving telegraph and railway networks [would have] ensured that... Bulstrode,” whose disgrace determines the fate of many of the novel’s characters, “could never have hidden his past” (98). Consequently, although the local people in Middlemarch expect the railway to “blow you to pieces right and left” (Eliot 342), this technology looms in the novel only in the person of surveyors (it makes no direct appearance as a machine) and has, as yet, no direct effects (explosive or otherwise) on the narrative itself. 5. Childers describes Dickens’s books, with the exception of Hard Times, as “so thoroughly [saturated]” by “the culture of industry” that it is “almost invisible” (91) therein. One might argue, however, for another exception in Dombey and Son. See note 10. 6. At once a foreign monster and a domestic monstrosity (a colonial giant in thrall to English production), the “elephant” machine is both a proof

24 Introduction





of British domination at the height of the Empire (a context also evoked by the resemblance of red-and-black Coketown to the face of a “savage”) and a figure of natural power displaced—and deranged—by the technology of the Industrial Revolution. As Tamara Ketabgian argues in The Lives of Machines, elephants in Dickens’s time were associated with “both colonial outposts and Britain’s own industrial empire,” and “condense[d] a diverse blend of ideas about industrial labor, colonial power, mechanical behavior, and impenetrable forms of psychology,” embodying “fantasies of mechanical docility” but also “a capacity for violent and highly unpredictable actions” (Ketabgian 58, 48). Hence their “melancholy madness” in Hard Times: While melancholy might look like a state of passive acceptance or depression, it was characterized by “[p]eriod physicians largely... according to a lack of external expression” alternating regularly with a state of active derangement (Ketabgian 56). Thus, although the disruptive state (mania) of the elephant engine is appropriated in advance by the system that afflicts it (since the “mania” is an indispensable part of the regular mechanical process), its apparent rage also discloses the inhumanity of the industrial system of which it is a part. Indeed, its power is such that his dreams of liberation dissolve into a nightmare vision of himself “on a raised stage, under [a] loom” (89) that turns into a gibbet. As the loom yields to the gallows, the narrative seems to reflect upon the extent to which Stephen’s fate is predetermined by the machinery he operates. In a steam engine, a “piston was driven by the regular expansion and compression of water vapor—vapor heated in a boiler, diffused into a cylinder, and then cooled and condensed” (Ketabgian 109, 129). Dickens’s melancholy mad elephant is thus “the piston of the steam engine” (Hard Times 28), driven perpetually backward and forward by pressure from which it— as an integral part of the mechanism—can never escape. In a mechanical system built to convert heat and pressure into productive power, the inner fires of the protagonists are equally likely to be contained by the machinery that oppresses them. While a good deal of critical labor has been expended in an effort to exonerate Dickens from the charge of suggesting bread and circuses as a solution to the stultification of industrial life (see Lodge for a particularly compelling example), Dickens himself seems to propose such a solution only to expose its impossibility. As Kate Flint notes in her edition of Hard Times, his description of the people of Sleary’s Horse-Riding strongly resembles the description of industrial workers in his 1854 article, “On Strike” (305)—a similarity that suggests that he saw the circus not as a remedy for the evils of factory life but a version of it: a form of entertainment devised to reimpose the burdens of industrial labor. It is, of course, a small one by Dickensian standards. Published in 20 weekly parts in the periodical Household Words, Hard Times is less than half as elephantine as Dickens’s usual productions, which were typically released in 20 much larger monthly numbers. Of the more genuinely gargantuan works, however, Dombey and Son (1846–8) may also be considered a mechanical monster. In this novel, the development of the railway is registered as the “shock of a great earthquake” (120), as “[n]ight and day the conquering engines rumbl[e] at their distant work, or... gliding like tame dragons into the allotted corners grooved out to the inch for their reception, st[and] bubbling and trembling there,... as if... dilating with the secret knowledge of great powers yet unsuspected in them, and strong purposes not yet achieved”

Introduction  25 (290). As Dickens’s language suggests, the world of Dombey has not yet realized the railway’s monstrous power, and the train actually appears only four times in the course of the narrative. As John M. Picker argues, however, “these appearances have the cumulative effect of making the engines dominate” the novel: “their tracks” not only “jo[in] disparate sections” (27), but “bring forth the denouement” (33) of Carker’s death by rail. In fact, Picker contends, the railway is constitutive not just of plot, character, and language (as, for example, “both the train and the language Dickens uses to describe it threaten to overrun the novel” [28]), but for Dickens’s career as a writer. Composed during the “ ‘railway boom’ of the 1840s” (27) and coinciding with the explosion of inexpensive railway novels, Dombey expresses the “uneasy sensation that... the train, even as it created a massive new market for cheap reading matter, could, in effect, contain and drive the novel rather than the other way around” (29–30). Thus, while he appropriates the engine to narrative purposes in Dombey and issues the novel in a Cheap Edition to be read “by the lower middle classes in front of the fire and ‘on the [rail] journey’ ” (35), Dickens also prepares, ominously, the demolition of his own career. On June9, 1865, he suffered a near-fatal railway accident on the same line that kills Carker in the narrative, after which he could hardly tolerate rail travel, and—though “manag[ing] to [finish] the final book of Our Mutual Friend” (40)—produced no more complete novels, dying five years later on the anniversary of the accident. In retrospect, then, the “great powers yet unsuspected” in the dragon engines of Dombey appear to be two-fold: aligned at first with the prodigious power of Dickens’s authorial creation, they are also the instrument of its ultimate decline. 11. Naturalism and modernism are most frequently distinguished on formal grounds. The editors of The Cambridge Companion to Theodore Dreiser (2004), for example, voice a well-worn commonplace when they distinguish between “modernist experimentation” and “Dreiser’s straightforward [naturalist] storytelling” (1). This is not to say, of course, that the two periods have always been dissociated. In The Meaning of Contemporary Realism (1957), Georg Lukács argues that naturalism and modernism are alike in their social and aesthetic effects—that naturalism, in its emphasis on minute detail and its tendency to morbidity, passively reflects the oppressive conditions of its society; that modernism is an extension of the same literary pathology, heaping up detail and retreating even further from “objective” reality into “subjective” absorption; and that both “lea[d] not only to the destruction of traditional literary forms ...[but] to the destruction of literature as such” (45). As an exception to the critical consensus, then, Lukács would seem to be the one that proves the rule, since he insists upon a continuity between naturalism and modernism at the cost of amplifying the divide perceived by other critics: uniting the two sundered traditions, he announces the rupture of the literary tradition as a whole. 12. Daniel Bell, who coined the term “post-industrial” in The Coming of PostIndustrial Society (1973), points to the “decline of smoke-stack industries and the rise of the antiseptic, sterile-room production” (xv) of digital and atomic machines. Further, distinguishing many of the technologies with which the naturalist and modernist novel are concerned—“steel, electricity, telephone, automobile, aviation,” etc.—as the haphazard inventions of so many “talented tinkerers,” he seeks to contrast late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century machinery with the technologies born, later, of programmatic “research and development” (xiv–xv). Subsequent theorists of postmodernism, however, tend to dispense with Bell’s terminology on the

26 Introduction grounds that the idea of the “post-industrial” effaces essential continuities. Fredric Jameson, for example, prefers “late capitalism,” as this term “mark[s] its continuity with what preceded it rather than the break, rupture, and mutation that concepts like ‘postindustrial society’ wis[h] to underscore” (Postmodernism xix). 13. Like the term “post-industrial,” which seems to imply an end of industry when it really denotes a shift, the term “postmodernist” has proven somewhat hazardous to its own clarity. As numerous critics have pointed out, its status as “post” seems to imply not just succession, but opposition to modernism. As Linda Hutcheon puts it in A Poetics of Postmodernism, “The debate invariably begins over the meaning of the prefix, ‘post’—a four-letter word if ever there was one” (17), and Brian McHale concurs, writing in Postmodernist Fiction that while “[n]othing about [the] term [postmodernism] is unproblematic” (3), it is the “POST that has most bothered people” (5). Significantly, however, both of these critics read the “post” as implying historical continuity. For Hutcheon, the “ ‘Post Position’... signals [postmodernism’s]... contradictory dependence on and independence from that which temporally preceded it and which literally made it possible” (17–18), and McHale clarifies the point as follows: The “ISM . . . announces that the referent here is not merely a chronological division but an organized system—a poetics, in fact—while at the same time properly identifying what exactly it is that postmodernism is post.... [I]t does not come after the present (a solecism), but after the modernist movement” (5, emphasis in original). Thus, the “post” simply “signals the inevitable historicity of all literary phenomena” (5, emphasis in original) and the need for “an argument about how the posterior phenomenon [postmodernism] emerges from its predecessor [modernism]” (5). 14. Together, these writers help illuminate the mechanical sources of the perceived artificiality of the postmodern period and its fiction. The rather unflattering language in which Jameson, for example, describes postmodernism— for him, it is characterized by “depthlessness,” riven by “schizophrenia,” given to “pastiche,” and prone to reduce “history” to an “aesthetic styl[e]”— seems to tar it with the brush of inauthenticity (Postmodernism 9, 26, 16, 20). Similarly, though also more neutrally, Baudrillard represents postmodernism as the third stage in the “precession of simulacra,” in which fiction and reality collapse into a “hyperreal... without origin or reality” (“Precession of Simulacra” 1), and Deleuze and Guattari propose “schizophrenia” as a psychological model for contemporary life (in place of the old Oedipal one), asserting that human beings are themselves “machines—real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections” (1)—in a system in which “nature” has permanently given way to a ceaseless “process of production” (2). However, just as the media theorist Friedrich Kittler suggests in Gramophone, Film, Typewriter that the Lacanian orders of the real, imaginary, and symbolic are only conceivable after the invention of modern inscription technologies, Iwould venture that a psychoanalytic model like Deleuze and Guattari’s—one that risks, in its representation of humans as machines, objectifying and constraining the very forces it seeks to set free—is only conceivable under the technological conditions of postmodernity. Like postmodernist fiction, postmodern theory apprehends a man-made world: an artificial order in which machinery has become the determining force, and essential condition, of “real” life. 15. This is not to say that broader studies do not exist. Projects with a specific narrative focus tend, however, to be more narrowly defined (limited, for

Introduction  27 example, to Victorian, modernist, or postmodernist fiction), while projects with a similar temporal scope, such as Nicholas Daly’s Literature, Technology, and Modernity, 1860–2000, Tony Jackson’s The Technology of the Novel (2009), Alex Goody’s Technology, Literature, and Culture (2011), or Aaron Jaffe’s The Way Things Go (2014), tend to be organized more loosely. Daly and Goody, for example, analyze the impact of machinery on multiple genres; Jaffe considers “the printed book” as merely one “technology” among many (16); and Jackson, focusing on writing as an alphabetic technology—though arguing that this helps shape the modern novel in much the same way as the automobile helped shape the modern city (12, 37)— is not generally concerned, except by analogy, with the kind of machinery Iconsider here. 16. Those interested in Victorian literature and technology may also wish to consult Jennifer Green-Lewis’s Framing the Victorians: Photography and the Culture of Realism (1996), Nancy Armstrong’s Fiction in the Age of Photography (1999—discussed further below); Picker’s Victorian Soundscapes (2003—see note 10), and Aaron Worth’s Imperial Media: Colonial Networks and Information Technologies in the British Literary Imagination, 1857–1918 (2014). 17. The reference to “shock” is of course an allusion to Walter Benjamin’s classic formulation of modernity in “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire” (1939). For Benjamin, “[t]he shock experience which the passer-by has in the crowd” of the modern city “corresponds to what the worker,” as described by Marx, “ ‘experiences’ at his machine” (176): “In working with machines, workers learn to co-ordinate ‘their own movements with the uniformly constant movements of an automaton’ ” (175), and the modern urban landscape generalizes this experience. Thus, “technology... subject[s] the human sensorium to a complex kind of training,” and there is “a new and urgent need for stimuli” which, for Benjamin, is met preeminently by film: in the cinema, in the rapid-fire exposure of still images to light, “perception, in the form of shocks,” is “established as a formal principle” (175).   While influenced by Benjamin, however, my study is more attuned—in part because of its theoretical conception in relation to the work of two other Frankfurt School thinkers—to the durability of machine “shocks.” In the earliest stages of this project, as Iwas trying to understand why the technologically advanced moment of the early twentieth century should coincide with the resurgence of myth in high-modernist novels (in particular, Joyce’s Ulysses), Iencountered Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), a text in which Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno seek to explain (through a reading of, among other texts, The Odyssey) how the rationality of enlightenment could lead to its opposite. At base, then, this project is indebted to the Frankfurt School, and although the ur-version is hardly visible in the text as it now stands, it is nevertheless inscribed in my central concern: the mythic figure of the mechanical monster, and the shocks to which it subjects the narrative order in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 18. Cobley’s focus is, as she notes at the outset, on the literary impact of the ideology of efficiency instead of “the technological enemy as such” (19), and her analyses deal only incidentally with formal concerns. In her reading of D. H. Lawrence, for example, she focuses on the writer’s “dramatization of the detrimental consequences of Taylorization in the coal-mining industry” (205), and thus draws formal connections only obliquely, in relation to the author’s historical accuracy. While Lawrence’s fictional transformation of a “relatively successful rebellion of . . . miners” in the English Midlands “into a defeat” allows him, in Women in Love, to “condemn Taylorism

28 Introduction unequivocally as a scourge of cultured civilization” (206–7), it does so at the price of producing, she argues, a self-contradictory narrative: “Lawrence’s virulent opposition to Fordism and Taylorism from a nostalgic conservative position... unwittingly reinforces the very capitalis[t] [system] it seeks to resist” (207). Though such a contradiction can, of course, be read as a formal problem—an internal contradiction that undermines the logic of the narrative—Cobley focuses on the historical (instead of the formal) breach. 19. My own study, without simply restoring the old “reiteration,” seeks to connect Tichi’s insights back to the “sociopolitical difficulties” she displaces. Thus, while drawing on her analysis of Hemingway’s poetics in Chapter6, I adopt her understanding of his work as formally mechanical—without, however, assuming that its “efficient style” (223) is uncritical of the mechanized order that drives it. 20. This is not to say that these works are entirely successful in setting aside the more problematic features of the technological processes they study. Armstrong, for example, focuses on the visual “mastery” of proliferating images in terms that explicitly displace—but also necessarily acknowledge— the social liabilities of that procedure. Observing the connection between photographic realism and the coercive politics of the British Empire in the nineteenth century—“[a]s the subject matter of empire grew more diverse,” she observes, “the generic protocols for classifying, posing, shooting, and naming that subject matter grew increasingly predictable” (21)—she is compelled to disavow an interest in whether photographic and realist “representations are false or bad, even though many of them eradicate individual differences for purposes of exalting or degrading an entire group” (31). Concerned with the real operation of “[c]ultural stereotypes” that, for better or worse, “allow us to identify and classify bodies, including our own, as image-objects... within a still-expanding visual order” (31), Armstrong’s account is necessarily haunted by the ethical problematic it brackets at the outset.   Further, as Armstrong’s own language suggests, the very “generic protocols of classifying, posing, and shooting” (21) narrative realism borrows from media imply a coercive social function that finds its origin in machine violence. As Kittler observes, one “shoots” film because cameras began as “chronophotographic gun[s]” modeled on the principle of the machine gun (124), and several inscription technologies—especially “typewriting and sound recording”—are similarly the “by-products” of war (190). Edison, a “young telegrapher” during the American Civil War, “developed his phonograph in an attempt to improve the processing speed of the Morse telegraph beyond human limitations” (190), and the typewriter—mass-produced by Remington when demand for weapons slowed after 1865—operates like a gun, by “strikes and triggers” (191). Later, the First World War drove innovations in wireless radio, as “[f]ighter planes and submarines, the two new weapons systems, required wireless communications” (95), and the Second World War gave birth to modern computing, as the first of the big digital machines were designed to assist the war effort, cracking Axis codes and aiding in the development and testing of nuclear weapons (260–1). 21. As Hu observes, cloud computing was responsible for an estimated “2percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2008, and data centers have grown exponentially since then” (xxv). Indeed, though reports issued by Greenpeace in 2014, 2015, and 2017 note that several prominent companies have recently committed to green energy sources, “legacy energy generation from coal, gas and nuclear power remains the status quo for most parts of the world,” and coal is still “the chief culprit for global greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” (Cook, “How” 13). In the US in 2014, 40% of the energy

Introduction  29 consumed still came from coal (Cook, “How” 13), and the major companies associated with cloud computing relied on it—according to the 2014, 2015, and 2017 reports—for, on average, more than 25% of their energy (see Cook, “How” 7; “Guide” 8; “Who” 8–13). Further, despite “important progress... in... renewable energy investment in several markets,” an increase in data centers “in [US] markets such as Virginia, dominated by utilities that have little to no renewable energy,” is actually “driving a... dramatic increase in the consumption of coal” as of 2017 (Cook, “Who” 6). 22. In general, the distinction between “medium” and “technology” (which Trotter borrows from Leslie Haddon and Roger Silverstone) is not consistently upheld in studies of media and literature, which tend to use the terms interchangeably. However, the implications of the “double articulation” do inflect many accounts, especially as they touch on questions of agency. Understood as a means of connection, media are viewed as a product of social and historical circumstances (that is, as machines obedient to the human agents they serve); understood as a technology—a vast complex of interconnected machines—they are apprehended as a determining force in their own right, possessed of the power to shape socio-historical circumstances. Most studies of media prefer to emphasize the former view, liberating human agency wherever possible. In Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines (1999), for example, Lisa Gitelman insists that we understand inscription technologies as “the reciprocal product of textual practices, rather than just a causal agent of change” (2), and in Always Already New (2006), she “resist[s] thinking of media... as social and economic forces” even as she “also resist[s] taking a reductive antideterministic position” (10). This study, in its focus on machine power as a determining force (in narratives as in the world they represent), focuses more extensively on the “technological” view of media— a darker view, certainly, but one that should not be ignored. 23. The choice of narrative as the focus of this study is itself partly determined by machines. Like the steam engine, the novel arose, in England, in the eighteenth century, and it is both the preeminent modern genre—the most popular and persistent of literary forms—and the one best aligned, in its construction, with the rationalized order it represents. As Menke observes, “[F]iction minimizes the formal markers that might separate it from a larger world of everyday printed information” (4). Its seeming instrumentality at the level of language, combined with the apparent mechanization of its form—we speak quite naturally of plot “devices,” for example, even when we missthe degree to which such devices are driven by actual machines— means that the novel is uniquely equipped for the articulation of, and struggle with, the problems of industrial modernity. 24. Beginning with the naturalist novel has additional consequences that deserve mention here. Perhaps most significantly, as a male-dominated phenomenon (Zola’s “Médan” group, for example [see Chapter1], was entirely masculine, and the genre in England and America tends to be associated—with the exception of Edith Wharton—with male writers), naturalism represents the “man-made” world in narratives that were themselves primarily made by men. This is not to say, however, that a male-dominated tradition is impervious to gender. As Virginia Woolf implies when she organizes Mrs. Dalloway around the phallic eminence of Big Ben, the tyrannical technologies of the modern order are often made by and in the patriarchal interest, and the novels I examine here internalize mechanisms that both men and women writers persistently oppose. (In Chapters2 and 3, for example, the naturalist novels Ianalyze critique the objectifying order of machinery as one that particularly besets women—although only one of the works was written by a woman.) Similarly, though predominantly bourgeois and European in

30 Introduction origin, the novels Iconsider are not insensible to class or race and ethnicity. Though these concerns appear most clearly when they become the overt subject of representation (in Zola’s rendering of working-class characters, for example, or Lawrence’s anti-industrial attempt to locate organic, mythic consciousness in industrially undeveloped cultures), they inflect my work throughout—as, for instance, in my analysis of machines and empire in Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses. Nevertheless, I am conscious of an omission in terms of explicitly postcolonial narrative, which—emerging from nations that experienced technological development fitfully, and almost always as an imposition from abroad—remains a tantalizing subject. What does one make of the bicycle, appropriated from its European rider, that the tribe chains to a sacred tree (138) in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart? What of the airplane that helps the narrator “adjust to his homelessness” (228) in Naipaul’s A Bend in the River? And what of the bombshells dropped, in the plot of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, at the same moment as the atom bomb (63–5)? The appearance of machines in these works—especially in light of the formal ingenuity of so much postcolonial narrative—is an opening that, regretfully, Ihave had to forgo in the present volume.

Part I

Naturalism and the Mechanical Monster

1 Zola’s Monster Machines

I. The Mechanical Monsters of Zola’s “Experimental Novel” In his manifesto of 1880, “The Experimental Novel,” Émile Zola announced a “scientific” advance in the production of modern literature: naturalism. By following an “experimental” method, he argued, the naturalist writer would break with the tradition of “romantic” fiction, repudiate imagination in favor of “analysis” (36), and create a literature capable of providing “human data” for the sciences themselves (53). Championing scientific development and freeing the novel from the “irrational and supernatural explanations” (54) of earlier fiction, naturalism would be the preeminent genre of a new century—a century in which “man, grown more powerful, will make use of nature and will utilize its laws,” will “penetrate the wherefore of things, to become superior to these things, and to reduce them to a condition of subservient machinery” (25). In startling contradiction of his own pronouncements, however, Zola’s naturalist Rougon-Macquart sequence—the 20-novel series on which he was well embarked in 18801—is full of overtly supernatural, unsubservient machines. In L’Assommoir (1877), a story of working-class life in Second-Empire Paris, the distilling apparatus in the local tavern is a biblical giant, unleashing a deluge of alcohol that threatens to drown the “vast pit” of the city (42); in Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), the Parisian department store is envisioned as a “machine working at high pressure” (16), a horrific “system for consuming [the] women” (76) it is supposed to serve; in Germinal (1885), a tale of the industrial provinces, the coal mine is a “squatting god” (71), gorging itself on the miners it is supposed to support; and in La Bête humaine (1890), the headlamp of the railway engine is “the living eye of a cyclops” (195) that ultimately runs wild, out of control.2 The list goes on. With remarkable consistency, though in apparent violation of the principles of his own manifesto, Zola’s RougonMacquart sequence represents the world as one driven by a monstrous force: mechanization.3

34 Naturalism As it turns out, of course, there are good historical reasons for Zola’s monsters. Though the Rougon-Macquart is devoted, as the subtitle reminds us, to the “natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire,” the Second Empire was “natural” in neither a normative nor an organic sense.4 Under Napoleon III, France industrialized rapidly, and the shift from an agrarian to a mechanized order wrought dramatic changes. In Paris, Baron Haussmann rationalized the city, cutting new boulevards straight through the old streets, and in the provinces canals and railways were expanded until France was “the center of Europe with six great railroad lines converging on the capital” (Lehan, Realism and Naturalism 20). Thus, in Au Bonheur des Dames and L’Assommoir, steam-driven engines knock huge holes in the city, and in La Bête humaine, Zola envisions the nation as an enormous body structured by the railway—a “giant creature laid out on the ground with its head in Paris, its vertebrae the length of the track, its limbs stretching out with every branch-line, and its hands and feet in Le Havre and other destinations” (44). This body, with steel spine and urban extremities, is no longer organic, but mechanical; in the new order produced by the railway, the “natural” world is reorganized by the machine. This new world is fast and orderly: a world in which the forces of nature seem permanently vanquished by mechanization. And yet, paradoxically, the new machines also magnify the brute forces they are supposed to overcome. While Zola’s railway has the “hands and feet” and even the “vertebrae” of a human body, the mechanical figure literally dwarfs its creators—and reproduces, in its own terrifying magnitude, the ostensibly conquered power of nature. Thus, in La Bête humaine, the engine passes “like thunder” (156), and the “steady revolutions of the [railway] timetable” (153) reorganize a workday once ruled by the sun and the moon. In L’Assommoir, the constant trickle from the alcohol still manipulates an organic proclivity, ultimately achieving the dimensions of a natural disaster in a flood of liquor that threatens to “inundate” Paris (42). In Germinal, “sated with human flesh” (475), the Voreux mine devours colliers like a giant beast of prey. And in Au Bonheur des Dames, the department store exerts a “thunderous power” impervious to human agency: “Here, there was a continuous purring of a machine at work, the customers shoveled in, heaped in front of the displays and dazzled by the goods, before being hurled against the cash desks” (16). Though ostensibly ministering to natural needs, the department store in fact produces and feeds on those needs. Turning people into consumable “heaps” equivalent to the piles of goods they acquire, it “hurls” them with cyclonic force at the cash registers.5 As Irving Howe puts it, then, “the mythic and symbolic” elements of the Rougon-Macquart turn out, upon inspection, to be “the very substance of the historical” (“Zola” 287). Representing a “force bursting out of the control of its creators” (“Zola” 287), the figure of the monster

Zola’s Monster Machines  35 machine seems to resurrect, in its sheer magnitude, the forces of nature it was built to subdue. And yet, as Howe contends, this monster—made by men—“gains its strength not merely from [its]... intrinsic properties” but from the system that has produced it (“Zola” 287). “[V]oracious and unappeasable,” it can be understood, in Marxist terms, as simply the “physical emblem of the impersonality of commodity production” (“Zola” 287), and can thus be slain—at least theoretically—by means of demystification. By figuring the machine as a monster, Zola suggests “that men must beware of fetishizing their predicaments; they must recognize that not in mines or factories lie the sources of their troubles but in the historically determined relations between contending classes” (“Zola” 287). Like Marx, who hoped that mechanization would ultimately prove revolutionary, “continually transforming not only the technical basis of production but also the functions of the worker and the social combinations of the labour process” (Capital 617), Howe reads the monstrosity of the machine as, potentially, a means of inducing a transformative class consciousness.6 As Howe’s own explanation suggests, however, two problems— one political and one aesthetic—inevitably emerge with the RougonMacquart’s monster machines. First, and most obviously, liberation from the machine is easily disputed if it is already beyond “the control of its creators,” and though Howe reads the “mythic” elements of a novel like Germinal as part of the story of social awakening—a story not “trans­ historical,” like “traditional myths,” but “tak[ing] [its] . . . substance from the materials of history” (“Zola” 286)—there is, he acknowledges, a competing tendency in the narrative: “[A]s we read into the depths of the book, we grow aware that there is another Zola, one who draws back a little, seeing the whole tragedy as part of an eternal rhythm of struggle and decision” (“Zola” 294). And this “other Zola,” shifting from a historical into an “eternal” register, risks undermining—as less sympathetic critics have emphasized—his own political vision. As Henri Mitterand contends, for example, insofar as Germinal represents social affliction as simply part of “the natural and the eternal order of things,” it “turns its back on history and presents social tragedy as part of the series of cataclysms that periodically affect the state of the world and which are an essential [aspect]... of it” (“Germinal” 99, 102). Further, whether we read the “mythic and symbolic” register of Germinal as the “very substance... of history” (Howe, “Zola” 287, 286) or the means by which it “turns its back on history” (Mitterand, “Germinal” 102), the appearance of a mechanical monster directly contravenes the stated objectives of the Zolian narrative. Though the RougonMacquart sequence looks forward, in theory, to a world in which scientific mastery will reduce natural forces to the “condition of subservient machinery” (“Experimental Novel” 25), in practice, the machines of the sequence—like the “voracious and unappeasable” Voreux mine—are

36 Naturalism wholly unsubservient, and seem to overwhelm their makers both in and outside the text. Far from improving in documentary validity on nineteenth-century realism, literary naturalism produces monster after monster, and Zola—representing a force that has burst out of control— seems to lose control of his own creation.7

II. “Irrational and Supernatural” Explanations Perhaps unsurprisingly, the contradictions between Zola’s aesthetic theory and his novelistic practice have generated considerable critical skepticism—and have done so from the very beginning. In France, with the exception of Paul Alexis and, less durably, Henry Céard, little theoretical support was expressed, even among fellow naturalists in the so-called “Médan group,” for Zola’s idea of the “experimental novel” (Baguley 45–6),8 and Guy de Maupassant, voicing a common objection, contended that Zola, “son of the romantics, [is] a romantic himself in the way he deals with everything” (qtd. in Hemmings 88). The verdict was similar abroad. Frank Norris, the self-designated “Boy Zola,” judged it a “strange perversion” that “Zola should be quoted as a realist, and as a realist of realists” (“Zola” 1106)9; Thomas Hardy remarked that the insistence upon a “science of fiction” was, for “such a romancer as M. Zola, . . . singular indeed” (“Science” 107)10; and George Moore, the self-proclaimed Zola “ricochet” (qtd. in M. Brown 95), embraced naturalist theory only to qualify his endorsement upon reflection. Receiving Zola’s ideas—“Naturalisme, la vérité, la science”—like a “violent blow on the head,” Moore professed himself at first unable to recognize that “the very qualities which set [his]... admiration in a blaze wilder than wildfire [were]... precisely those that had won the victory for the romantic school forty years before” (Confessions 72, 77). As the concussion of works like L’Assommoir subsided, Moore succumbed not to “la vérité, la science,” but to the aesthetic magnitude of the novel: “its pyramid size, strength, height,... decorative grandeur, and... the immense harmonic development of the idea” (77).11 Moore’s representation of the Rougon-Macquart sequence expresses a truth now almost universally acknowledged. Zola’s works are often described as feats of literary architecture, and the massive symmetries of L’Assommoir, critics agree, disclose a narrative order that is quite literally “pyramidal.” Astory of congenital alcoholism in working-class Paris, the novel devotes six chapters to its heroine’s rise, one to her saint’s day, and six to her fall. It thus establishes, in a 13-chapter sequence, a narrative arc of overtly ominous proportions—and this arc is then magnified, as Moore suggests, through a kind of “harmonic” development, as parts of the narrative reproduce the overarching structure in miniature. In the middle chapter, for example, the shape of the novel as a whole is replicated at the level of story as 13 guests sit down at Gervaise Coupeau’s table to celebrate her saint’s day (208). Thus, while seeming to represent

Zola’s Monster Machines  37 a personal high point for the heroine, the saint’s day chapter calls attention to its irrevocable place in the tragic arc of the narrative—its position at the apex of a “pyramidal” novel in which the “arching narrative line” (Walker 35) turns all points (high and low) into predetermined phases in a plot of decline. As Robert Lethbridge puts it, the care with which Zola builds up these structural effects would seem to make his “denials of novelistic arrangement a grotesquely misleading account of his own practice” (Introduction, Zola 7). And yet, the “pyramidal” design of L’Assommoir is not necessarily incompatible with its documentary objectives. As Henry James observed in an early review, Zola’s “pyramid [is] . . . planned and the site staked out” with painstaking precision. The vast structure is built out of a “pile of material” gathered by hand, and though the results are occasionally “monstrous” (“Émile Zola” 876), they are nonetheless consistent with la vérité, la science.12 As his numerous volumes of planning notes show, Zola prepared the Rougon-Macquart novels with documentary zeal, and his claims to an unprecedented realism in L’Assommoir—“the first novel about the common people that,” as he puts it in the preface, “does not lie and that smells of the common people” (L’Assommoir 3)—are scrupulously proved by the content.13 As a laundress, Gervaise Coupeau is often represented in the midst of her labors, and the operations of her trade (sorting, washing, ironing) are meticulously described. Likewise, her husband’s precarious work as a roofer is detailed methodically, and though his fall from the Parisian rooftops ultimately comes to seem predestined by the tragic plot, the accident is rendered in minute and plausible detail. As Coupeau uses a “pair of compasses” and “curved shears” to cut “a large fan” out of a metal sheet (114), the scene establishes its documentary credibility. Yet it also prefigures—in its delineation of the same “curve[s]” and “fans”— the “arc” (115) of the roofer’s subsequent fall: a fall that not only initiates the tragic arc of the narrative, but seems to recapitulate, once again, the “pyramidal” structure of the book as a whole. Making a “shallow arc ..., turning over twice, [and] crashing on to the middle of the road with the dull thud of a bundle of linen flung from high up above” (115), Coupeau seems to refigure, in miniature, the shape of a novel that turns twice (in two flights of six chapters) around the ill-omened saint’s day in the middle. Yet further, tumbling like a “bundle of linen,” Coupeau becomes both a literal and figurative burden for his laundress wife, and his plunge precipitates a physiological decline that is at once a logical consequence of his accident and a capitulation of biblical magnitude. Since Coupeau’s father, also a roofer, died in a drunken fall, Coupeau’s deterioration appears to affirm a hereditary (or “original”) sin when he takes to drink during his convalescence. The fact that this weakness will inevitably extend to his wife is prefigured by the brandied plum—the bite of alcoholic fruit—over which he initially courts Gervaise in the Assommoir. And the influence of

38 Naturalism demon drink, in the figure of the tavern’s monstrous distilling apparatus, looms ominously from the earliest chapters: The still, with its weirdly-shaped containers and its endless coils of piping, had a gloomy look about it; there was no steam escaping from it, and you could just hear a kind of breathing, like a subterranean rumbling, coming from deep within. . . . The still worked silently on, with no flame visible, no cheerful play of light on its lacklustre copper surface, sweating out its alcohol like a slow-flowing but relentless spring which would eventually flood the bar-room, spill over the outer boulevards and inundate the vast pit that was Paris. (42) Like the narrative of Coupeau’s fall, the description of the alcohol still is both sufficiently documentary and suggestively symbolic. While the “endless coils of piping,” “weirdly-shaped containers,” and “big copper belly” (42) enumerate the parts of the apparatus, they also suggest the biblical serpent, and the “subterranean rumbling, coming from deep within,” evokes the noise of the distilling process while also figuring the machine’s diabolical force—its power over the physiological weakness of the alcoholic. Indeed, even the “lack-lustre copper surface,” passing at first for a simple descriptive detail, inevitably acquires a mood, and this—amplified by the “gloomy look” of the machine, the lack of “cheerful” light upon it, and its alcoholic “sweating”—implies the suppressed discomforts of a fiery underworld. Thus, by the end of the novel, the “booze-machine” is possessed of a “devil’s kitchen vibrating deep inside it”; the “copper pipes loo[k] more dismal than ever”; and “the shadow cast by the apparatus... conjure[s] up obscene shapes, figures with tails, monsters opening wide their jaws as if to devour the world” (344). Unleashing an alcoholic proclivity of universal menace, the still is finally a hell unto itself, and the trickle of “crystal-clear alcohol” emanating from its coils builds into a biblical torrent that not only inundates the “vast pit that was Paris” (42), but overwhelms, in doing so, the objectives of the narrative that contains it. In the depiction of the diabolical still, the documentary aims of the naturalist text seem to burst under the pressure of representing an uncontrollable force: the empirical register yields to the mythic, the rational gives way to the irrational, and the machine—itself the product of scientific knowledge—produces all the “supernatural” effects the “experimental” novel theoretically denounces.

III. Bursting out of Narrative Control L’Assommoir is not alone in enacting the loss of instrumental control it represents. As Peter Brooks observes, the alcohol still is only the

Zola’s Monster Machines  39 “simplest” of Zola’s monster machines (Realist Vision 114), and its narrative effects are magnified, in the Rougon-Macquart sequence, as the industrial order of the Second Empire grows in size, complexity, and power. In Germinal, traveling to the mining districts at Montsou, Étienne Lantier (son of L’Assommoir’s Gervaise Coupeau) encounters a coal pit, and this pit pushes the narrative from an empirical to a mythic register in the very first chapter. Approaching the industrial complex, Étienne is suddenly brought to a halt by the sight at ground level of a great shapeless heap of low buildings topped by the outline of a factory chimney rising from its midst; here and there a lonely light flickered through a filthy window, five or six miserable lanterns were hung up outside on brackets whose blackened timber projected mysterious silhouettes like giant scaffolds, and, from the midst of this fantastic apparition, swimming in smoke and darkness, there rose a lone voice, the prolonged, loud wheezing of a steam engine exhaust valve, hidden somewhere out of sight. (5–6) Focalized by Étienne, this first account of the mine begins plausibly enough with the enumeration of low buildings, factory chimneys, and night lighting. Already in the “lonely” lights and “miserable” lanterns, however, an anthropomorphic element creeps in, and this is rapidly magnified (as the lanterns throw shadows “like giant scaffolds”) into a “fantastic apparition” of hellish “smoke and darkness”—an “apparition” out of which issues the “lone voice” of a tortured mechanical demon. The mythic atmosphere then seems to subside, temporarily, with Étienne’s realization that the machine’s “loud wheezing” issues only from a “steam engine exhaust valve, hidden somewhere out of sight.” Yet even as he realizes that he is looking at a mine—“Then he recognized it as a pithead” (6)—an apparent accident of phrasing foretells the return of the monster: If the pit has a “head,” it must logically have a “throat” also, and the mine “take[s] on,” in the following pages, “the sinister air of a voracious beast” (7), “swallowing more and more men, drinking them down the dark abyss of its throat” (32).14 Even in the anthropomorphic “throat” of the mine, of course, a certain documentary logic persists, as the “dark abyss” evokes the obscurity and damp of the underground complex. Equally suggestive of a biblical chaos, however, this mythic depth not only imperils the colliers, but threatens the empirical representation of the mine itself. In the final part of the book, Étienne is literally swallowed by Le Voreux when the anarchist Souvarine “cut[s] the throat of the pit and condemn[s] it to death”—and though the technical causes of the calamity are carefully detailed, the results are “monstrous” (470). In the novel’s climactic scene, the sabotaged mine releases a “terrestrial hurricane,” and the narrative’s

40 Naturalism documentary register collapses with the “final convulsion” (475) of the apparatus it represents: On the surface the last buildings toppled over and collapsed. First a sort of whirlwind swept away the remains of the screening shed and the landing-stage. Next the boiler-house burst and disappeared. Then it was the turn of the square tower, where the drainage pump gave a death-rattle and fell flat on its face.... And then there was a terrifying scene; they watched as the engine was wrenched from its base, fighting for its life as its limbs were splayed; it straightened out its crank rod like a giant knee, as if attempting to rise to its feet; but then it was crushed and smothered to death. Only the great thirty-metre-high chimney remained standing ..., [but this too] suddenly plunged straight downwards, swallowed up by the earth.... It was finished.... The whole of Le Voreux had now fallen down into the abyss. (475) Remarkably, like the mine it represents, this passage moves from superficial order to chaotic depth. Beginning “[o]n the surface” of the colliery, the empirical objectives of the narrative at first persist in the technical enumeration of screening sheds, landing stages, boiler houses, and the rational organization implied by the chronology of the collapse: “First... Next... And then.” Yet even in that first line, the documentary precision of the language begins to “toppl[e] over and collaps[e]”: The drainage pump has an anthropomorphic “death-rattle,” the engine “fights” for life, and the chimney—valiantly “standing” even after the “giant knee” of the engine topples—inevitably plunges into a mythic chaos, “swallowed” by the earth. In Germinal, then, empirical language collapses along with the Voreux mine, and though the devastation would seem to rid the narrative of its mechanical monster, the colliery is by no means vanquished. Étienne is buried in the collapse—swallowed with the swallowing of Le Voreux— and though he escapes his entombment in the closing pages, he does so only to find “three pumps work[ing] tirelessly to empty” the “cursed abyss” (523). No less threatening than before, the pit is still a pit, and the inexhaustible machines that empty it portend the inevitable resurrection of the monster: As Étienne surveys the mining district at the end of the novel, he confronts “other pits, la Victoire, Saint-Thomas, FeutryCantel” (523)—a whole series of anthropomorphic machines that, beginning with a mechanical victory, replicate the menace he has just escaped. Having collapsed with the mine into the “abyss,” Germinal and its protagonist seem to recover—but only to document the immortal supremacy of the machine.

Zola’s Monster Machines  41

IV. Under the Deluge, into the Abyss, off the Rails In Germinal, as in L’Assommoir, the figure of the monster machine not only gives the slip to the empirical aims of the narrative, but unleashes a force that—as the text “veers” into a mythic register (Brooks, Realist Vision 119)—also ravages plot and character. In the earlier novel, the alcohol still “powers the lives of the characters toward catastrophe and destruction” (Brooks, Realist Vision 114), and in the later one, the coal mine dictates the destiny of a protagonist who is buried when its “throat” is cut, and redeemed only to witness its resuscitation. Thus, as critics regularly observe, the Rougon-Macquart novels seem to succumb to the forces they represent: L’Assommoir is overwhelmed by the flood of the alcohol still; Germinal “collapses... along with the Voreux mine” (Mitterand, “Great Hurricane Wind” 118), and subsequent narratives complete a picture of the Second Empire that—ever more radically determined by industrial forces—finally goes “off the rails” (Lethbridge, “Zola” 140) like the engines that drive it. In La Bête humaine, the self-destructive rationalization of the RougonMacquart sequence seems to reach its apex. In this novel, the monster is the cyclopean locomotive, and this machine—“burst[ing]” from a tunnel early in the narrative (57)—stages the scene that ignites the railway plot: Jacques Lantier, son of L’Assommoir’s Gervaise Coupeau and brother to Germinal’s Étienne, witnesses a murder in one of the cars of a train he usually drives from Paris to Le Havre. And this incident—in which Roubaud and his wife Séverine murder Séverine’s lover Grandmorin, the president of the railway company—propels the development of a proliferating series of homicidal love triangles. Jacques, inspired by bloodlust after witnessing the murder of Grandmorin in the passenger car, takes up with Séverine and plots with her to kill Roubaud; Flore, a childhood friend, attempts to avenge her romantic attachment to Jacques by crashing the train that bears Séverine to her weekly rendezvous with the engine-driver; and the failure of this effort (Flore succeeds only in maiming Jacques’s engine, La Lison, and killing a number of other passengers) leads to her suicide and the renewed firing of Jacques’s bloodlust. All of these incidents, driven by the engine, transpire on or beside the rails. Accelerating with a “mathematical rigour” (La Bête humaine 44) akin to that of the engines that drive it, the plot then hurtles toward disaster with a predictability almost beyond belief. Flore walks into an oncoming train; Jacques murders Séverine in a house by the railway; Cabuche, whose loss of a former girlfriend to Grandmorin and obsession with Séverine give him motive, is implicated in her death along with Roubaud; Jacques attempts to assure himself of having exorcized his homicidal desires by taking up with Philomène, formerly attached to Pecqueux; and this final liaison leads inevitably to his death as, grappling with Pecqueux,

42 Naturalism both men fall under the wheels of their engine in the novel’s last homicidal embrace. As the literal vehicle of all the emotional conflicts in the novel, the locomotive of La Bête humaine is at once the most consistent and most incredible of Zola’s many narrative machines—both “the most evident example” of a plot engine (Brooks, Realist Vision 114) and one of the most taxing to the empirical realism the author ostensibly aims to achieve. Indeed, as the love triangles of La Bête humaine pile up, the structure of the novel recalls the “pyramidal” effects of L’Assommoir only to dwarf them, and the engine “powers the plot forward, toward [a] . . . crash and explosion” (Brooks, Body Work 149) that reverberates through the whole Rougon-Macquart: In the end, carrying drunken soldiers toward the military disaster at Sedan, Jacques’s locomotive, “spe[eding] through the darkness, driverless, like some blind, deaf beast turned loose upon the field of death, onward and onward, laden with its freight of cannon-fodder” (367–8), is bound to crash and burn—just as the Second Empire will crash and burn at Sedan, and just as the Rougon-Macquart will approach its violent end in its representation of that event, La Débâcle (1892).15 Thus, in the figure of the runaway engine, the whole naturalist sequence effectively bursts out of control, and Zola prefigures—even as the series drives “onward and onward”—the logical conclusion of the machine-driven order he represents.

V. The Human Cost of the Zolian Machine Formally determined by the machinery of the Second Empire, La Bête humaine shows, perhaps most clearly of all the Rougon-Macquart novels, the cost of replicating the order it deplores. When Jacques is “sucked under the wheels [of his locomotive,]... hacked and chopped to pieces” (366) by his own engine, the narrative signals, unmistakably, the brutality of the new industrial world: the subjection of human beings to the machines they ostensibly control. Yet it does so, it will be noticed, at the inevitable cost of reproducing the actions of the mechanical monster. Acting on its protagonist with a tenacity identical to that of the force that annihilates him—literally pulverizing him in its relentless drive toward tragic conclusions—the novel critiques the destructive power of mechanization only by resorting, itself, to homicide. This homicidal tendency, though perhaps most obvious in La Bête humaine, is a problem for the Rougon-Macquart sequence as a whole. Captive to the machinery that drives the plot, the people in Zola’s novels necessarily fulfill functional positions in the narratives they occupy—become cogs, as it were, in the narrative machinery. And though not all of them actually die as a result of mechanization, all are flattened, more or less literally, by the industrial order they inhabit. As Alex Woloch has shown, in The One vs. the Many (2003), fictional

Zola’s Monster Machines  43 characters—traditionally described as “round” or “flat”—are defined by a tension between the fullness of their implicit humanity and the structural limitations of the space they occupy within the narrative they help to construct.16 The more functional a character’s position, the more “flat” they become, and they respond to their instrumental reduction in one of two ways: either they are “smoothly absorbed as a gear within the narrative machine, at the cost of [their]... own free interiority,” or they “grat[e] against [their]... position” (25). The latter, Woloch notes, are “usually... wounded, exiled, expelled, ejected, imprisoned, or killed” (25) by the machinery they oppose. In Zola’s works, of course, the “narrative machine” (25) Woloch describes is uniquely literalized, and his characters are quite radically determined by the mechanisms that control them. Thus, in La Bête humaine, Jacques is not only smashed to pieces by the railway engine— a human casualty of the mechanical system of which he is a part—but incapable of development: an irretrievably flat character driven by repetitive, homicidal compulsions akin to those of the locomotive he ostensibly controls. And in L’Assommoir, Gervaise and her husband are so thoroughly subordinated to the machine that they are not only physically destroyed by it, but have trouble distinguishing themselves, finally, from the mechanical forces that drive them. Coupeau ends up “believing he ha[s] a steam engine in his belly” (434) in the throes of delirium tremens, and Gervaise becomes identical, even from her own point of view, to the still that controls her: “Everything was growing foggy and she could see the machine moving and feel its copper claws clutching her, and the stream flowing now through her own body” (347). As the alcohol flows from the machine tubing through her veins, her subjectivity is reduced to a “fog,” and she becomes a version of the distilling machine itself: Wishing to grapple with it even as it “clutch[es] her,” she wants, confusedly, to “smash in [the]... belly” (347) that fills her own. Even Zola’s survivors suffer from the mechanical determinism of the novels they occupy. Perhaps most hopefully, on the last page of Germinal, the functional subjection of the miners seems to give way to a vision of organic resuscitation: Like “seeds . . . and shoots . . . cracking the surface of the plain,” Étienne envisions an army of men “driven upwards by their need for warmth and light” (524). Unfortunately, this organic vision of the colliers’ germinal revolution is still constrained by the machinery that provokes it. Not only is it suggested to Étienne by the “stubborn tapping of the picks” (524) underground—the sound of the industrial labor to which the miners have been compelled to return after the failure of their strike—but it is propelled by a man-made force (heat and light in the Second Empire being, increasingly, industrial products). Thus, the mechanism of the miners’ subjection is reproduced even in the vision of their potential revolt, and their characters are not only flattened by the machine but in fact buried by it. Étienne, the defeated

44 Naturalism revolutionary, escapes the mine only to see all the other miners reinterred, and can only envision the potential of the deindividuated masses as a function of their subjection to the mechanical monster. His closing vision of liberation—of the “[earth’s] belly swelled with a black and avenging army” (524)—inevitably reproduces the image of the mine (the dark, subterranean swallower of men) as the determining force of those who would overthrow it.17 As Henry James put it, addressing the problem of Zolian characterization in his early review, It [i]s the fortune, it [i]s in a manner the doom, of Les RougonMacquart to deal with things almost always in gregarious forms, to be a picture of numbers, of classes, crowds, confusions, movements, industries.... The individual life is, if not wholly absent, reflected in coarse and common, in generalized terms. (“Émile Zola” 877; emphasis in original)18 “Doomed” by forces beyond their control, Zola’s characters are altogether destined, as James observes, for flatness. (Indeed, their reduction to “numbers” not only signals their functional obliteration as people, but conveys, through the peculiar use of typographical italics, the specifically mechanical pressures that afflict them.) As the equivocation in James’s assessment also implies, however—the “doom” is also “the fortune” of the Rougon-Macquart—the integrity of the narrative appears to depend upon such liabilities. Though Zola is compelled to sacrifice his people to the logic of his vision, endlessly generating “numbers” for the machine to destroy, these functionalized monads also have representative power—a power that is at once social, political, and aesthetic. In the serial order of James’s list, the reduction to “numbers” seems to generate the more galvanized “classes,” and though these appear to fall back immediately into comparatively hopeless “confusions,” the confusions give way in the following phrase to more organized “movements.” These, of course, are subsequently overturned by their instrumental consolidation into “industries”—a form of social grouping specifically determined by machines. Yet the very fluctuation in the sequence—between classes and confusions, movements and industries, power and disempowerment, “fortune” and “doom”—suggests that Zola’s success both coincides with and necessitates his failure. In the Rougon-Macquart, positive and negative values emanate from the same source.19

VI. The Critical Fortunes of the Rougon-Macquart In its peculiar ambivalence, James’s position on the Rougon-Macquart sequence anticipates the vacillations of a critical tradition that has both lamented the mechanical determinism of Zola’s novels and extoled it as a

Zola’s Monster Machines  45 proof of their aesthetic and political integrity. Perhaps most importantly, Georg Lukács—among the earliest, most famous, and most damning of Zola’s critics—contended in Jamesian fashion that the fortune of naturalism was also its doom: Though the naturalist novel draws, Lukács argues, an “adequate picture” of life under the Second Empire, articulating “hate, revulsion and contempt for the political and social order of [its]... time” (“Narrate or Describe” 144, 119), it also figures that historical condition as transfixed and inalterable. Thus, Lukács contends, it effectively endorses the destructive social system it represents— and this political problem inevitably produces an aesthetic one: In his representation of Second-Empire life, Zola both portrays and enacts a failure of agency, as the image of human “action” gives way to a series of “still lives” in which the forward movement of the narrative—obsessively detailing the reality it apprehends—grinds to a halt (“Narrate or Describe” 144). The primary problem with the Zolian novel is therefore, from Lukács’s point of view, not the failure of its empirical objectives but, ironically, its achievement of those aims. Like those critics who deplore the mythic breakdown of the documentary project, Lukács aligns Zola’s success—both sociopolitical and aesthetic—with his inevitable failure. Since Lukács, the “doom” and “fortune” of the naturalist novel have changed critical positions without parting company. Yves Chevrel, in Lukácsian fashion, argues that naturalist narrative “is constantly exposed to the possibility of its being stopped, as narrative” (64), by a descriptive tendency at odds with action, and Jennifer Fleissner contends that the genre suffers from a repetition compulsion—a “stuckness in place” (9)—through which the narrative succumbs to the malady that afflicts so many of its characters. For both of these critics, however, the novel’s apparent failures actually save it from becoming the “still life” Lukács describes. According to Chevrel, the “dysfunctioning of narrative” discloses the “dysfunctioning of society” (65) it represents, and for Fleissner, the “stuckness” of the novel—its inability to move forward—becomes the necessary precondition of social critique: “[It] is only by witnessing our failure to imagine a way out of a system that we are ever able to recognize that system as system, as that which places boundaries around what can presently be achieved” (49).20 Neither Chevrel nor Fleissner goes so far, it is true, as to trace the “compulsion” and “dysfunction” they identify in naturalist narrative to the figure of the monster machine. Chevrel, focusing on various kinds of human breakdown—“[i]llness, failure, departure, disintegration” (65)— seems largely to overlook the mechanical valences of the “dysfunction” he analyzes, and Fleissner—though explicitly connecting the maladies Chevrel describes to the problems of instrumental rationality—links “compulsion” to industrialization without connecting it directly to the naturalist representation of specific machines.21 Nevertheless, the terminology both critics use implies that the “system” from which Zola’s

46 Naturalism novels fail to extricate themselves is preeminently a mechanical one—a system in which the most obvious “dysfunctions,” both social or aesthetic, emanate from the new industrial order. As Ihave sought to show above, the “fortune” and the “doom” of the Rougon-Macquart are functions of its representation of mechanization. The machine that bursts out of control in the Zolian narrative appears to exceed the control of the narrative; the plot, driven by the machine, rationalizes the novel to the point of collapse; and the characters— flattened, ground down, functionalized into oblivion—become operative features of a work that performs the mechanical exploitation of its people in order to expose it. In novel after novel, the text thus becomes a version of the horrific machine it depicts, and the 20-volume sequence as a whole magnifies the project, fashioning itself into a kind of mechanical colossus: a giant concatenation of interconnected parts that reproduces the conditions of the mechanized world to disclose the terrible realities of that world. Undeniably, the result—as the Zolian sequence emphatically fails to “imagine a way out” (Fleissner 49) of the circumstances it represents—is monstrous. And yet, as the critiques of James, Lukács, Chevrel, and Fleissner together allow us to see, that monstrosity is finally a proof of the Rougon-Macquart’s critical integrity: the mark of its refusal to engineer a resolution to the as-yet-insoluble problems of industrial modernity. Moreover, though the first, Zola is far from the only naturalist writer to make this formal commitment. In the works of Thomas Hardy and Frank Norris—the subject of the chapter to follow—we can trace Zola’s monsters to their point of historical origin in agrarian England, and follow their descendants into the furthest reaches of the American west. Like Zola’s novels, as we shall see, those of Hardy and Norris internalize, at the level of narrative form, the horrific machines they represent. Yet in doing so, they extend and amplify the naturalist enterprise, expanding a genre committed to the problems of industrialization, and propelling a tradition that begins with Zola’s “experimental novel” but—unleashing the narrative innovations of naturalist fiction in both England and America—inevitably bursts the boundaries of the Rougon-Macquart.

Notes 1. The sequence begins with The Fortune of the Rougons (La Fortune des Rougon [1871]) and concludes with Doctor Pascal (Le Docteur Pascal [1893]). 2. The monsters are, of course, in the original French as in the recent English translations. In Germinal, the mine is “ce dieu repu et accroupi” (450); in La Bête humaine, the engine’s headlamp is “comme un œil vivant de cyclope” (641); and so forth. In this study, for the convenience of the English reader, Ihave quoted from the most readily available English editions, making note of the original language only in those instances where the translation illuminates or obscures particularly salient features of the narrative.

Zola’s Monster Machines  47 3. Though Ihave confined myself in this chapter to some of the best-known narratives Zola produced in the period of “The Experimental Novel” (1880), the representation of Second-Empire France as a mechanized order is characteristic of the sequence as a whole, extending to the gigantic markets of The Belly of Paris (Le Ventre de Paris [1873]), the colossal stock exchange of Money (L’Argent [1891]), and so forth. Even Nana (1880), one of the most famous and least obviously mechanical of the Rougon-Macquart novels, has a central machine. Here, as Peter Brooks argues, “the machine is... Nana herself, and particularly Nana’s sexuality, which will power the novel forward and produce all its effects” (Realist Vision 114). Depicted as a “biblical beast,... a larger-than-life monster” (Realist Vision 119), she converts her functional reduction to a sex object into an uncontrollable force—a machine to outdo machines: Her nudity, “possessing the power to shift worlds,... without any help from workmen or machines... send[s] Paris tottering” (Zola, Nana 405). 4. Although the subtitle implies a “natural history” in the sense of an anthropological investigation, the zoological and horticultural valences of the term (see, for example, note 12) suggest an emphasis on the organic that Zola seems to exploit for its irony. As Mark Seltzer implies when he refers to “the unnatural Nature of naturalism” (14), the genre represents the mechanized world as, paradoxically, the new “nature.” 5. So complete is its mechanical manipulation of apparently natural needs that the store even rewrites the seasons in its own image: In “a literal inversion or mutation of nature, [it] display[s] its simulated seasons in new collections months before the intended season of fall or spring comes round” (Bowlby 70). 6. Howe’s account of the “impersonality of commodity production” is, of course, indebted to Marx’s famous formulation of the commodity fetish (see Capital volume 1, 163–77). 7. There is some debate concerning the extent to which Zola intended to enact this loss of narrative control. Howe, though recognizing a link between the “deterministic scientism” of Zola’s account of the Rougon-Macquart novels and “the crushing weight which the world can lower upon men” (“Zola” 285, 284), concludes that “there can hardly have been a modern writer so confused about the work he was doing” as Zola (“Zola” 284), and attributes the “lurid effects” of narratives he describes as “marred by excess,” to “careless” styling (290, 293, 294). Michael Serres, however, explains the conflict between Zola’s theory and practice as the rational consequence of a literature that is “exactly in tune with the science of its time and ahead of the philosophy”—a literature overtly “entropic” in its implacable movement from order to chaos (qtd. in Baguley 268; for original, see Serres 78). Yet even Serres, asserting in one moment that Zola, “the engineer’s son, must be given credit for having seen things clearly,” equivocates in the next: “Or for having written and produced his work as if he saw things clearly” (qtd. in Baguley 268; for original, see Serres 78). Ultimately, the contrast between Zola’s theoretical assertions and his fictional practice encourages this kind of critical hedging—but this hedging, in turn, risks diverting attention away from the deliberation with which Zola cultivated his most “entropic” effects. We know, for example, that he insisted upon the runaway engine at the end of La Bête humaine despite evidence that the scenario he developed was technically implausible (Pierre-Gnassounou 88). 8. Although the movement had started as a kind of literary cooperative (in 1880, Zola and five younger writers—Paul Alexis, Henry Céard, Léon

48 Naturalism Hennique, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and Guy de Maupassant—published a joint volume of naturalist short stories, Les Soirées de Médan), the group quickly broke up. Most of the “Médan group” strayed from the naturalist fold in the mid-1880s; the most loyal of Zola’s adherents, Alexis, was the least successful of the naturalist writers; and Zola “found himself... in the paradoxical position of being almost the sole visible representative of an enterprise which had been founded on the notion of collaboration” (Bowlby 138). When the French journalist Jules Huret asked, in 1891, whether naturalism was dead, the prognosis was unfavorable. Edmond de Goncourt, an elder member of the school, projected that it would be gone within a decade; Maupassant refused to discuss the matter; and Céard suggested that it couldn’t die because it had never existed. Only Alexis, in a famous telegram—“Naturalism not dead. Letter follows” (407)—defended the movement, on the grounds that it had not yet come into being: Of “true naturalists,... pure ones,...there are none in existence yet” (410, emphasis in original). Replacing “the ‘out-ofthis-world’ humanity of romanticism more and more by a humanity drawn after nature” (409), naturalism would, he insisted, be the “literature of the twentieth century” (408), a “branching-out . . . of the broad general current which carries our age toward more science, more truth” (410). As yet, there was no literature of pure “science,” as “[r]omanticism, whence we all came is still there, too near at hand. None of us has yet succeeded in purging his blood completely of the hereditary romantic virus” (410). Representing romanticism as a “hereditary virus,” however, the ever-loyal Alexis broaches even the most problematic element of the genre (naturalism’s persistent association with a romanticism it claims to eschew) in the “naturalistic” language of experimental medicine. He thus makes—even as he acknowledges naturalism’s failure to live up to its theoretical objectives—a tacit argument for “The Experimental Novel.” (In his manifesto, Zola had aligned naturalism with the experimental physiology of Claude Bernard, arguing that the naturalists do for literature what Bernard had done for medical science.) 9. Norris signs himself “The Boy-Zola” in, for example, a 1901 letter to Isaac F. Marcosson (see Collected Letters 160). 10. Hardy, scorning the notion of a “science of fiction,” actually absolves Zola on the score of his failure to adhere to his theoretical pronouncements. In his view, the kind of realism Zola advocates in “The Experimental Novel” would not in fact be art, but a sort of industrial product, “true” only in the sense of being exhaustively inventorial: “Not until [the writer]... becomes an automatic reproducer of all impressions whatsoever can he be called purely scientific, or even a manufacturer on scientific principles” (“Science of Fiction” 107). Thus, the only demand for scientific accuracy that can be made is that the novel “should keep as close to reality as it can;... and if we grant that we grant all” (“Science of Fiction” 107, emphasis in original). 11. Characteristically, Moore denounces Zola’s pretensions to “truth” and “science” while also hedging his bets. Attributing the impact of L’Assommoir to its aesthetic power, he disclaims his enthusiasm on medical grounds (concussion) that are themselves consistent with the clinical pretensions of Zola’s “Experimental Novel.” Moore’s “violent blow on the head” plays upon the title of L’Assommoir, which itself plays upon the French assommer, meaning to knock out. See note 8 for the alignment Zola seeks to establish, in “The Experimental Novel,” between literary naturalism and the medical advances of Claude Bernard. 12. Though James depicts the many novels of the Rougon-Macquart sequence not as mechanical but zoological monsters—he describes each book as “in

Zola’s Monster Machines  49 its way a monster bristling and spotted” (“Émile Zola” 876)—he not only asserts that L’Assommoir is Zola’s first truly monstrous production, but traces its monstrosity to its status as a man-made (as opposed to natural) curiosity. Writing that “[it was] not till the issue of ‘L’Assommoir’ that the true type of the monstrous seemed to be reached,” he describes the work, as Moore does, as a “pyramid”—a kind of architectural mammoth: “The enterprise, for those who had attention, was even at a distance impressive, and the nearer the critic gets to it retrospectively the more so it becomes” (“Émile Zola” 876). 13. Henry Levin, noting that there is “[p]robably no ampler collection of novelist’s notes and drafts and outlines... ever amassed than the eighty-eight volumes of Zola’s manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale,” observes that “a whole iconography” has “grow[n] up around the studious exertions of [an] . . . author” who sought to catalogue everything about his subjects, even down to the smell. Indeed, a “medical dissertation has been devoted to the major part that odors... played in his books” (310). However, while Levin contends that Zola—combining “observation” and “invention”—was ultimately “not the mechanical monster he set out to be in his obiter dicta” (311), Iwould venture that Zola’s fidelity to monstrous mechanical circumstances in fact produces all his effects, “documentary” and “inventive” alike. 14. In French, the line reads simply “Alors, l’homme reconnut une fosse” (Germinal 418), and the less technical language (a simple “pit” instead of a “pithead”) may be more consistent with the evocation of the mythic, abysmal underworld—“noyée de nuit et de fumée” (418)—from which the voice of the machine emerges. Nevertheless, Collier’s translation achieves a similarly mythic effect by giving the pit an anthropomorphic “head,” especially as this head begins to delineate the anatomy of the mine as it emerges in the text, fully anthropomorphized, shortly thereafter: “Cette fosse, tassée au fond d’un creux, avec ses constructions trapues de briques, dressant sa cheminée comme une corne menaçante, lui semblait avoir un air mauvais de bête goulue, accroupie là pour manger le monde” (418). 15. At the end of La Bête humaine, Jacques returns to work on the railway just after the onset of the Franco-Prussian War: “War had just been declared.... And this was why in Le Havre one evening Jacques found himself having to drive, instead of his usual express, an enormous train of eighteen wagons crammed with soldiers” (363). It is this train that, grinding its driver to bits, speeds “on... through the darkness” (367) at the end of the novel, bearing the soldiers toward their deaths at Sedan. Thus, La Bête humaine prefigures the end of the Second Empire, which the Rougon-Macquart would afterward represent directly in La Débâcle. La Débâcle, of course, is itself only the penultimate novel in the series, but the very last installment is primarily retrospective. In Le Docteur Pascal, the title character chronicles the ills of the Rougon-Macquart family in hopes of finding a cure for the hereditary compulsions (alcoholism, homicide, etc.) that have plagued them for 19 volumes, and he does so, significantly, by the miraculous means of a “mechanical action” (293)—an injection that restores, regardless of the solution injected, systemic equilibrium. Though the science of this medical discovery is hardly sound, the fact that the Rougon-Macquart is resolved through the operation of a fantastical mechanism—a machine-made cure for machine-made maladies—is altogether appropriate. Like Fredric Jameson, who discusses this scene in his recent The Antinomies of Realism (2013), I tend to read the injection as evidence of an “autoreferential consciousness of [the Rougon-Macquart’s]... own representational procedures” (75).

50 Naturalism However, while Jameson views the scene as one in which an unquantifiable Zolian “affect” finally overcomes an older narrative tendency ruled by the “temporality of destiny” (46), Iread the “mechanical action” as a reflection upon the machine-made destiny of the whole naturalist sequence. Internalizing industrialization as a condition of its own production in novel after novel, the Rougon-Macquart can only imagine an escape from the machine in the form, finally, of a machine—and a machine that acts in such an empirically improbable way as to dramatize, one last time, the collapse of Zola’s documentary objectives. 16. Developing a theory of “character space,” Woloch’s The One vs. the Many elaborates in profound ways on E. M. Forster’s original formulation of “flat” and “round” characters in Aspects of the Novel (1927). 17. While most of the Rougon-Macquart novels end tragically or—as in the case of Germinal—ambivalently, even the “happy” endings are governed by machinery. In Au Bonheur des Dames, though seemingly captive to a more metaphorical—and thus perhaps more merciful—machine than the characters of the industrial L’Assommoir, La Bête humaine, and Germinal, the heroine merely succeeds in exploiting the mechanism by which she herself is exploited. Held from first to last “in the iron teeth of [the department store’s]... cogs” (56), Denise Baudu is constrained by her functional place in the mechanism, and this dictates a static quality of character that Zola— as though making a literal virtue of a narrative necessity—converts into a kind of superhuman constancy. Continually submitting to the operation of the Bonheur while perpetually resisting its maker, Denise eventually provokes a proposal of marriage, her repeated refusals operating as surely on Mouret’s desires as the machinations of “a debauched genius” (391). Thus, though Denise finally marries the man who runs the Bonheur, she is still defined by her relationship to it. At first “lost in the midst of the workings of this fearsome machine” (350), she ultimately triumphs by becoming “the very soul” (350) of it. 18. James’s description of the “fortune” and “doom” of the sequence plays, of course, on the title of the first Rougon-Macquart novel, La Fortune des Rougon. 19. In the same essay, James actually contends that Zola, like his characters, is a casualty of the machinery he has created: “It was even for that matter almost more as if Les Rougon-Macquart had written him, written him as he stood and sat, as he looked and spoke, as the long, concentrated, merciless effort had made and stamped and left him” (“Émile Zola” 874, emphasis in original). “[S]tamped” out by the industrial work of producing the long naturalist sequence, Zola is, in James’s view, subordinated to it—turned by the functional labor of writing the series into a cog in his own machinery. Nor is he alone in articulating this perspective. Jennifer Fleissner draws attention, in Women, Compulsion, Modernity, to the fact that naturalist writers were often compulsive, and notes that Freud, in his Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, identifies Zola’s industriousness with obsession-compulsion: “Zola may be praised as ‘a fanatic for the truth,’ Freud writes, ‘and then we learn from him of the many strange obsessional habits to which he was a life-long victim’ ” (44). 20. Though Fleissner’s discussion of Zola is mainly confined to the introductory chapters of a work otherwise focused on American naturalism, she not only modulates the Lukácsian position on naturalism but here draws explicitly on the work of Jameson (the quotation, concerning “what can presently be achieved” [49] in the naturalist novel, is in fact a gloss of Jameson’s critique of Walter Benn Michaels’s work on American naturalism). She thus traces,

Zola’s Monster Machines  51 from Lukács to Jameson, the evolution of a materialist response to the genre that she then extends herself: Like Jameson, who is “clearly... committed to the possibility of [historical] change” (49), Fleissner tends to see “naturalism’s stuckness in place”—a stuckness that is, she argues, persistently linked to futurity through the reproductive figure of the modern woman (see note 21)—as a kind of “temporal suspension, a deferral of history’s meanings” (11, emphasis in original) more than an annihilation of hope. 21. Focusing on the naturalist novels of turn-of-the-century America, Fleissner contends that industrial development led to a profound social shift in the US, freeing women from traditional domestic roles by allowing them to become productive (instead of reproductive) members of society. Since women could choose to be workers instead of mothers (the “type-writer,” for example—both the machine and the woman named for it—arose in this period [4]), this new freedom provoked social anxieties, and these anxieties were then embodied in the “repetition compulsion” to which naturalist heroines and their narratives so frequently succumb. Given over to obsessive compulsion—a condition understood today as an “extreme attempt at rationalizing one’s daily activities” (10)—the heroine is not yet able to exercise her productive value in the society her reproductive liberation threatens. Yet this suspended agency is nevertheless a site of potential, “render[ing] a future endlessly possible because endlessly deferred.... Naturalist fiction, in other words, embodies women’s history as a pregnant pause” (231). Although the naturalist heroine appears to succumb to the rationalization of the new mechanical order, her “stuckness in place” (9) is provisional for Fleissner, and the naturalist novel is of value in the attention it draws to a problem that must be recognized before it can be superseded. Thus, although her focus is on women instead of the machines that drive them, Fleissner is concerned with the same historical shift—and many of the same social and narrative consequences—I consider here. Indeed, linking obsession-compulsion to the rationalization of society, Fleissner shows how the compulsive’s failure within the naturalist narrative helps explain the compulsive failures of the narrative. Just as “every attempt [by the compulsive] at a more perfect order leads inexorably to order’s failure (and thus to the repetition of the attempt)” (10), the functionalization of the narrative leads, through the very rigor of its rationalization, to the failure of its empirical objectives.

2 Mechanical Monsters in England and America

I. The “Risky Business” of English Naturalism Though the naturalist novel originates in France, England was the first to produce the historical conditions to which it responds. The modern railway, giving rise to the cyclopean engine of La Bête humaine, was invented in the northern English coal mines in 1825; England led the world in coal production in the nineteenth century, outdoing the mines figured so vividly in Germinal; and the industrial slums of L’Assommoir were, like urbanization generally, a function of the mechanized order pioneered in the UK.1 Starting in the coal fields, the transport demands of the English mining system propelled the invention of the railway, and the railway powered industrialization at home and abroad. Though there were just a “few dozen miles” of English track in 1830, by mid-century, more than 23,500 miles of rail had been laid across the globe, and most of it “with British capital, British iron, machines and know-how” (Hobsbawm 45). Indeed, in 1848, on the eve of the Second Empire, fully “one third of the capital in the French railways was British” (Hobsbawm 45n.). In origin, then, Zola’s historical vision is a British manufacture, and it is somewhat strange that naturalism should begin in France—and even stranger that it should be considered, as it has been since the late nineteenth century, “virtually non-existent” in the British Isles (Baguley 29). As Edmund Gosse put it in 1890, if it was “to Zola, and to Zola only, that the concentration of the scattered tendencies of naturalism is due,” the genre seems to have “no direct development” in England beyond the early novels of George Moore (141, 139). And Moore himself produced only three before declaring the “human nervous system... incapable of bearing the strain” (M. Brown 99). Adopting Zola’s documentary method in the preparation of three novels in relatively rapid succession—A Modern Lover (1883), A Mummer’s Wife (1885), and A Drama in Muslin (1886)—the self-proclaimed Zola “ricochet” (qtd. in M. Brown 95) quickly succumbed to the extraordinary fatigues of Zolian empiricism.2 While it is no doubt true that Moore tired of Zola’s documentary method,3 however, his abandonment of the naturalist enterprise seems

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  53 to have been urged, equally, by social pressures. Henry Vizetelly, Zola’s English translator and Moore’s publisher, was prosecuted for the alleged obscenity of his Zola translations in 1888, and though Moore himself had helped negotiate the English rights to La Terre (Vizetelly 254)—the book for which the publisher was first brought up on charges—his appreciation of Zola had visibly cooled by the time Vizetelly was convicted. Having proclaimed the French writer “the Homer of modern life” (qtd. in M. Brown 103) in 1885, Moore was calling him “the dregs of yesterday’s champagne” (Confessions 74) in 1888. As Peter Brooks puts it, writing naturalist novels had become a “risky business” (Realist Vision 12) in late-Victorian England, and Moore appears to have succumbed rapidly—if uncourageously—to those risks.4 To the extent that English naturalism persists beyond the early works of Moore, then, it does so under cover of its renunciation. Despite the convention that the genre does not exist, both Thomas Hardy and George Gissing are regularly associated with it.5 And though they, like Moore, tended to deprecate any association with Zola (Hardy claimed rather deceitfully to be “read in Zola very little” [qtd. in Baguley 37], and Gissing has a character in New Grub Street [1891] critique his failures of realism6), their works are organized by the same historical forces that shape the Rougon-Macquart. Moore’s provincial heroine in A Mummer’s Wife seeks unsuccessfully to escape a life in the potteries that works “like a colliery, every wheel... turning, no respite day or night” (59); the Victorian writer in Gissing’s New Grub Street toils in thrall to a literary market that works like a vast machine, impervious to the hardships of the individual creator; and Hardy, looking back to the period that gave rise to Gissing’s urban machinery, sets his fiction in what we might call the causal moment in English history. In his retrospective Wessex novels, we encounter the belated realization of the genre England itself had produced: the historical genesis of the monster machine.

II. The “New-Fashioned” Agricultural Machines of The Mayor of Casterbridge In Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), the agrarian landscape of southwestern England is, according to the narrator, poised on the verge of industrial modernity: [This] was in the years immediately before foreign competition had revolutionized the trade in grain; when still, as from the earliest ages,...[t]he farmer’s income was ruled by the wheat-crop within his own horizon, and the wheat-crop by the weather. Thus, in person, he became a sort of flesh-barometer, with feelers always directed to the sky and wind around him. [And the] . . . people, too, who

54 Naturalism were not farmers, the rural multitude, saw in the god of the weather a more important personage than they do now. (140) In this bygone period, life in rural Wessex—the name derives from an ancient Saxon kingdom—is still organized by the forces of nature, and the body of the old-fashioned farmer (as “flesh-barometer”) is the only machine. Thus, like the “rural multitude,” the farmer reveres phenomena (the “god of the weather”) he has learned to measure but not subdue, and is confined by natural limitations, his prosperity dictated by the crop “within his own horizon,” and the crop “by the weather.” In the course of the novel, however, the agrarian “flesh-barometer” is supplanted by mechanical forces, and the market town of Casterbridge is astonished one morning by the advent of a monstrous seeder: It was the new-fashioned agricultural implement called a horse-drill, till then unknown... in this part of the country.... The farmers crowded round it, women drew near it, children crept under and into it. The machine was painted in bright hues of green, yellow, and red, and it resembled as a whole a compound of hornet, grasshopper, and shrimp, magnified enormously. (127) Although merely a horse-drawn mechanism, this seeder creates “about as much sensation in the corn-market as a flying machine would create at Charing Cross” (127), and though it initially seems more of a curiosity than a threat—a species of “agricultural piano” (127) into which the village children climb7—it is also a violation of the natural order: a monstrous amalgam, neither fish nor fowl, of animals dismembered, compounded, and “magnified enormously.” Moreover, though the seeder shows no signs of bursting out of control—it simply sits in the marketplace, its effects as yet unknown—it represents a force that will organize the course of the entire novel. In The Mayor, the title character is a prosperous, old-fashioned grain merchant named Henchard, and the tragic narrative aligns his personal decline with the industrial demolition of the agrarian order in Wessex. In the beginning, the merchant is still the “flesh-barometer” of the preindustrial world, his “income... ruled by the wheat-crop,... and the wheatcrop by the weather.” As the world changes, however, so must he, and his reluctant acceptance of the “new-fashioned” (127) seeding machine heralds a “revolu[tion] [in] sowing” (129) that inevitably revolutionizes his fortunes. Imported by his manager, Farfrae, the machine at first promises to contribute to Henchard’s prosperity. But soon, Henchard and Farfrae disagree, Farfrae sets up in business as Henchard’s competitor, and—by dint of modern methods and new-fashioned machines—edges his former

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  55 employer out of economic prosperity and social position, even replacing him, finally, as mayor of Casterbridge. A plausible but somewhat disappointing antagonist, Farfrae has long been read as “more outline than substance,” a character embodying the destructive “rule of ‘functional rationality’ ” and no more (Howe, Thomas Hardy 95). Mainly a foil for Henchard—a “young man” to Henchard’s older one, and an enterprising spirit bound originally for the “wheat-growing districts of the [far] West” (37)—he stands for the modernizing force that will inevitably “revolutioniz[e] the trade in grain” (140), prostrating old-fashioned merchants like Henchard. In flattening the protagonist, however, Farfrae is himself flattened, suffering from his place in a narrative driven by “new-fashioned machines.” As the modernizing mechanism of Henchard’s fall, he is effectively reduced from person to plot device, and though his functional nonentity (his reduction to “outline”) levies a critique of the rational order he represents—like Zola’s “numbers” (James, “Émile Zola” 877), he is flattened by his place in the narrative machinery of the novel—the very slightness of his rendering threatens to eclipse his representative power. Indeed, as though recognizing the probable limitations of Farfrae as a critical figure, The Mayor of Casterbridge seems compelled to resort to yet more overt demonstrations of its machine-made determinism. Famously, at the moment of the merchant’s social and economic disgrace, news of an old sin is publicly revealed: he once sold his wife at Weydon Fair. The report, of course, seals his fate, and though critics have long complained that Hardy “overplot[s]” the novel at this point, “relying too heavily upon mechanical devices” (Howe, Thomas Hardy 99, 90), these “devices” have, once again, a literal dimension. Like the mechanical seeder, Henchard’s sale of his wife is a spectacle of the marketplace; both the sale and the seeder contribute to his social and economic decline; and both are results, ultimately, of personal volition—in a literal sense man-made. Thus, although there seems to be “no necessary or sufficiently coercive reason why the consequences of a personal sin should coincide in time and impact with the climax of [Henchard’s]... socio-economic failure” (Howe, Thomas Hardy 99), the sheer over-determination of the narrative points to the compelling factor: In The Mayor of Casterbridge, the plot grows “mechanical” because it is mechanical, and though the causes of Henchard’s fall seem strained, the strain shows the compulsive force of the novel’s governing machines. Driven by the “new-fashioned” seeder Farfrae brings to market, The Mayor is determined—in plot as in character—by the historical forces it represents.

III. The “Iron Determinism” of Tess of the D’Urbervilles It has occasionally been argued, of course, that Hardy’s plots are not as mechanical as they appear. Terry Eagleton, contending that the author’s

56 Naturalism “notorious coincidences” are in fact a matter of personal agency on the part of his characters, asserts that “[i]t is not true that actions in Hardy are shaped by some iron determinism,” but rather that “men and women can, so to speak, determine themselves” (English Novel 200). In Eagleton’s reading, Henchard prepares his own “implacable destiny” when his sells his wife at market at the beginning of The Mayor: “Destiny [being]... among other things the failure to recognize our creations as our own” (English Novel 200), the protagonist is overcome by a form of cosmic retribution he himself has arranged. While Eagleton’s reading of The Mayor minimizes the creaking of Hardy’s plot devices, however, it does so at the expense of the novel’s anti-industrial vision—and on the grounds of a tragic flaw that, while just passable as an explanation of Henchard’s destiny, seems inadequate to explain what we might well call the “iron determinism” of Hardy’s later fiction. Most emphatically, in Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), the tragic formula seems deliberately strained: In this novel, personal agency is figured as superfluous to the heroine’s fate in a plot that drives her to death with a tenacity it marks from the outset as inexorable, excessive, and quite literally mechanical. Consider the event that initiates the tragic course of the narrative. When Tess has to drive to market for her father, who is too drunk to go himself, the family’s only horse is skewered to death by the shaft of a passing mail cart: “The pointed shaft of the cart had entered the breast of the unhappy Prince like a sword, and from the wound his life’s blood was spouting in a stream, and falling with a hiss into the road” (33). Here, the collision with the mail is figured as a collision with modern technology, as the attenuated Prince—in his quasi-chivalric encounter with the “sword” of the cart—is no match for the Victorian machine, “speeding along th[e] lanes like an arrow” on “noiseless wheels” (33).8 Further, having lost the horse, and with him much of her family’s livelihood, Tess feels compelled to “claim kin” (35) with a family of D’Urbervilles who have lately moved in nearby. And though she believes this family to be a “junior branch” (47) of the knightly line from which she herself is descended, they are in fact nouveau-riche from the industrial North.9 Thus, when Tess is introduced to her supposed cousin—Alec D’Urberville, a sham gentleman, is originally a “Stoke” from the manufacturing districts (39)—the tyranny to which he subjects her takes on the valences of the new, artificial, and industrial destroying the old. Like Henchard, then, Tess is doomed by mechanical forces beyond her control, and though it is still possible, per Eagleton, to argue that she prepares her own destiny when she agrees to “claim kin,” such an explanation seems inadequate—if not, indeed, unjust. The pretensions to D’Urberville grandeur are, after all, primarily her father’s, just as the initial calamity with the horse results from his incapacity. Thus, although she holds herself responsible, Tess acts out of a sense of duty to her

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  57 family, and suffers as a result of ancestral lineage, that has little to do with individual agency. As Linda Shires puts it, there is “no particular [personal] quality... that undoes her, unless it is, ironically, her sheer excellence as a human being” (151). What is really at stake in the “kinship” plot is rather the mechanism by which Tess is introduced to the conditions of her fall—and that mechanism, as numerous critics have observed, is driven by actual machines.10 As Arnold Kettle argued early on, though “extremely unsatisfactory” (53) when understood as a traditional tragedy, Tess is quite powerful when viewed as a representation of a historical reality: the destruction of the peasantry in agrarian England (54). Irving Howe, though disputing the implication that Tess is merely “the agricultural predicament in metaphor,” nevertheless connects the heroine’s suffering to the “shock of the new farm machines” (Thomas Hardy 128, 124) in rural Wessex. And more recent critics concur. Elaine Scarry, linking the sexual dimension of Tess’s plight explicitly to the novel’s historical concerns, describes the protagonist’s seduction by her employer as “a hazard of the workplace, an industrial accident” (56). And John Goode, elaborating on the same idea, distinguishes a causal relationship between Tess’s fate and the new industrial forces, arguing that the “violation of the threshing machine” Tess endures at Flintcomb-Ash is “clearly coherent with the occupation of her body” (Thomas Hardy 131) by Alec D’Urberville. Directing our attention to the scene at Flintcomb-Ash, moreover, Goode connects Tess’s destiny directly to the novel’s mechanical monster. At the “starve-acre” farm (283), Tess is enslaved to a steam thresher, and though the contraption is still relatively primitive—a more advanced machine than the horse-drill of The Mayor, but still an early antecedent of the giants of the Rougon-Macquart—its power is diabolical: Close under the eaves of the stack, and as yet barely visible, was the red tyrant that the women had come to serve—a timber-framed construction, with straps and wheels appertaining—the threshingmachine which, whilst it was going, kept up a despotic demand upon the endurance of their muscles and nerves.... A little way off there was another indistinct figure; this one black, with a sustained hiss that spoke of strength very much in reserve. The long chimney running up beside an ash-tree, and the warmth which radiated from the spot, explained... that here was the engine which was to act as the primum mobile of this little world. (325) Though still rudimentary in its materials and construction—“timberframed,” with “straps and wheels appertaining”—this steam-driven machine immediately dominates the landscape and inhabitants of agrarian Wessex. Anthropomorphized as a “tyrant” and a “despot” when “as

58 Naturalism yet barely visible,” it rapidly acquires the dimensions of a demon or a god: as the primum mobile, or “prime mover,” of the little world of the farm, it exercises an explicitly divine power,11 and its colors (red and black), like its serpent’s hiss, are satanic. Thus, it changes Wessex into an underworld, a place of “ash trees” and smoke. (Though ash trees are, of course, real trees, they here acquire a menace attuned to the demonic engine.) Under the influence of the diabolical machine, the rural landscape is transmogrified into a waste of spent fire and brimstone. For Tess, certainly, Flintcomb-Ash is a hell on earth. Made to work atop the thresher, for [her]... there was no respite; for, as the drum [of the thresher] never stopped, the man who fed it could not stop, and she, who had to supply the man with untied sheaves, could not stop either. (327) Enslaved to the “inexorable” machine (326), which “rav[es] whenever the supply of corn f[alls] short of the regular quantity” (327), she loses all personal volition and is so shaken by its unrelenting motion that, when it finally stops, her “knees trembl[e] so wretchedly . . . that she c[an] scarcely walk” (328) away from it. Even this imperfect release, however, is undone by the imposition of the machine’s despotism in another form. Accosted by Alec D’Urberville just as she begins to descend, Tess remains atop the thresher in order to avoid him—and thus eludes one menace by accepting its double. As critics have often observed, though the nominal villain throughout the novel is Alec, his tyranny is persistently aligned with the machine’s: Both he and the “red tyrant” are new to rural Wessex; both are “in the agricultural world, but not of it”; both hail from the industrial North (the engine man speaks “in a strange northern accent”); both ceaselessly objectify Tess, exercising a “despotic demand upon the endurance of [her]... muscles and nerves”; and both are overtly satanic (Tess 325). Indeed, when Alec later turns up with a pitchfork (348), he draws attention to his villainy as such: “If Iwere inclined to joke,” he says to Tess, “Ishould say... this is just like Paradise. You are Eve, and Iam the old Other One come to tempt you in the disguise of an inferior animal” (348–9). As the pitchfork-twirling suggests, however, Alec suffers as a character from his alignment with the diabolical machine. Like Farfrae in The Mayor, reduced to the “rule of... rationality” (Howe, Thomas Hardy 95) in outline, Alec is flattened by his functional identification with the thresher, and his satanic theatrics seem designed to satirize his plight. As Shires observes, in “posing with a pitchfork,” Alec is “notably selfconscious and even self-mocking” (154). And though this capacity for sardonic self-reflection suggests that he is capable of a rounded subjectivity, the novel seems to clamp down upon that roundness in the very act

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  59 of suggesting it. Wielding his pitchfork, Alec recalls that he was “quite up in that scene of Milton’s when I was theological” (349)—and this reference to his days as an itinerant preacher draws attention back to the “iron determinism” of the novel’s plot. While Alec’s temporary Christian vocation seems to imply some sort of soul-searching on the part of his character, the very course of his itinerancy propels him back into Tess’s vicinity, and his accidental meeting with her pushes him back into his accustomed role: “I could not resist you as soon as I met you again!” (323). This is not, of course, Tess’s fault—but neither, so Alec claims, is it his. He is rather compelled to act as he does, his individual relation to Tess as inevitable as the mechanical demolition of the agrarian order she occupies.12 This is not to say, of course, that the novel is without reprieves for its characters. At Talbothays dairy—a kind of latter-day Eden to which Tess, escaping her seducer, goes after the death of her illegitimate child—the fatal progress of her destiny is seemingly suspended in an environment in which neither labor nor love entails physical subjection. Resting her head against a cow, Tess works in physical accord with the animal, her hands moving “gently ..., like a beating heart” (150), and Angel Clare is drawn to her by a similar impulse, moved to embrace her by an “influence... like an annunciation from the sky” (151). Unfortunately, as critics regularly point out, the work at Talbothays is seasonal—temporary (Howe, Thomas Hardy 122)—and Angel turns out to be as much Alec’s double as his foil. Outfitted with an absurdly improbable harp (Riquelme 508), Clare is nearly as self-satirizing a figure as the pitchfork-twirling D’Urberville,13 and though he is apparently more rounded as a character—his personal rigidity just plausible as a function of the conventional attitudes he tries and fails to resist over the course of the novel—he is no less trapped by his place in the narrative machinery. Playing the harp with “no great skill” (123), he is depicted from his advent as an overtly unpracticed angel, and it is therefore no surprise that his actions, far from impeding the heroine’s destruction, seem rather to accelerate it. Though apparently poised to rescue Tess from her demons, Angel abandons her when he learns of her sexual fall; exposes her, in doing so, to Alec’s renewed attentions; and returns too late to prevent either her murder of D’Urberville or her execution by the state. Thus, Stonehenge sings like “some gigantic one-stringed harp” (392) at the site of her apprehension: recalling Angel’s ethereal lyricism at Talbothays, the ancient monument seems to strike the note of his predetermined inadequacy.14 Compelled to play his part in the destruction of the heroine, even Angel is devastated by the “iron determinism” of the novel’s plot. The result, as Tess’s one potential redeemer is converted into yet another instrument of the heroine’s demolition, is a narrative of surpassing brutality: a work that operates on its characters with all the heartless tenacity of the mechanical forces it represents. Yet its willingness

60 Naturalism to demonize itself in this way—to turn itself into a version of the “red tyrant” of Flintcomb-Ash—is also an index of its remarkable integrity. Submitting itself to the diabolical forces it depicts, the novel exposes— with unflinching rigor—the devastating consequences of the new industrial order: the permanent demolition of the agrarian world occupied, and embodied, by Tess. Moreover, there is some evidence to suggest that Hardy was not only aware of but wholly unperturbed by the monstrosity of his anti-mechanical narrative. Unlike Zola—whose supernatural stills, mines, and railway engines wreak havoc with documentary objectives he could not, in fidelity to his subject, fulfill—the English novelist made no claims to a “science” of fiction. Rather, while preparing the serial version of Tess for publication in 1890, Hardy wrote in his journal that “Art,” far from being a matter of strict verisimilitude, is rather a question of “disproportioning—(i.e., distorting, throwing out of proportion)—of realities, to show more clearly the features that matter in those realities” (Life and Work 239). These features, he remarked, “might possibly be observed” if “merely copied or reported inventorially,... but would more probably be overlooked” (Life and Work 239). “Hence,” he concluded, “ ‘realism’ is not Art” (Life and Work 239). Dispensing with realism in favor of telling “distortions”—distortions plainly visible, Iwould contend, in the flattened characters and mechanical plots of novels like The Mayor and Tess—Hardy could draw attention to a matter of compelling importance in the late nineteenth century: After decades of industrialization, the agrarian order was no more. As we have seen, the passing of that order had previously received little attention in English narrative, its representation at first evaded by the major Victorian realists and then avoided, in the wake of the Vizetelly trials, by writers alarmed at the scandal of French naturalism. Thus, embracing an aesthetic of “disproportion,” Hardy was able to protrude, at last, the “features that [really] matter[ed]” in the newly industrialized world: features typically “overlooked” by his contemporaries. In doing so, he was able to disclose—though at the hazard of his own narratives—the English origins of a force that had permanently changed the world, and was rapidly revolutionizing fiction in both Europe and America.15

IV. American Naturalism: Frank Norris’s Monster Machines Though its existence is generally acknowledged, American naturalism has proved almost as difficult to place in relation to the French tradition as the English variety. In the US, scholars argue, naturalism emerged in a later period than in France; there were no “groups united by common aims and manifestoes” (Furst and Skrine 35); and none of the writers produced “self-conscious and full-scale” theories of the genre akin to Zola’s

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  61 in “The Experimental Novel” (Pizer, “Problem of Definition” 4). While seemingly substantial when taken together, however, these objections tend to collapse when considered apart. Though it is true that American naturalism does not obviously abide by the prescriptions of “The Experimental Novel,” Zola’s own fictions, as we have seen, depart in practice from the “scientific” realism he extols in theory; though there was no equivalent to the naturalist “Médan group” in America, the coherence of the French ensemble—especially insofar as it endorsed Zola’s theoretical position—is itself exaggerated; and though American naturalism appeared later than the French variety, it emerged in relation to the same historical conditions. In late nineteenth-century America, as in Victorian England and Second-Empire France, a period of rapid industrialization transformed the country. As Richard Lehan has observed, “The aftermath of the Civil War in America paralleled the kind of historical change taking place in France between 1848 and 1870” (“European Background” 62). Between 1865 and the turn of the century, the US population nearly tripled, cities grew rapidly, agriculture was mechanized, manufacturing accelerated, national production octupled, and the railroad and communications technologies expanded swiftly, transforming the American continent (J. Howard 31–2). In 1883, clock time was standardized by the railroad, which established the time zones in use today, and in 1890, the US Census declared the American frontier closed (J. Howard 32–3, L. Marx 340). A rural, agrarian nation—a country that had still seemed partly wild at the end of the Civil War—had become a predominantly urban, industrial one. In the US, then, just as in France and England, industrialization resulted in the conditions of literary naturalism, and though American naturalists often disclaimed—like English ones—any relation to Zola, their vision of the world vividly resembles the one expressed in the Rougon-Macquart. Though Theodore Dreiser insisted that he had never read Zola, and Stephen Crane claimed to have found his works “tiresome” (qtd. in Link 6), the monstrosity of the mechanized world looms in the “superhuman” allure of the city in Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (2), the oppressive industrial slums of Crane’s New York novellas, and the insatiable machines— unstoppable engines, mammoth harvesters, and voracious mines—of Frank Norris’s California novels. Among these writers, of course, the last may seem like something of an outlier. As the self-professed “Boy Zola,” Norris declared an allegiance to the French practitioner that sets him apart from his fellow naturalists in America. Yet Norris not only wrote naturalist novels but also helped construct the canon of American naturalism as we receive it today. Famously, Sister Carrie was published on his recommendation,16 and his own novels tend to organize the terms of the critical response to the genre as a whole. While American naturalists are often said to write “ ‘flawed’ narratives—fiction that is often labeled

62 Naturalism ‘powerful’ though less than masterful” (Link 22), this reputation often derives, in particular, from Norris’s fiction.17 And Norris’s fiction is full of monster machines.

V. The Voracious Gold Mine of McTeague In McTeague (1899), Norris’s most acclaimed novel, the narrative is organized by a gold mine—and one that bursts out of the California wilderness with a force that both evokes and rivals that of its French antecedent, Le Voreux.18 Like the colliery in Germinal, Norris’s mine is first apprehended at a distance, and in documentary terms: the narrator describes the “headgear of a mine, surrounded with its few unpainted houses, and topped by its never-failing feather of black smoke” (380). Already in the plume of exhaust, however, the “never-failing feather” hints at a bestial magnification to come, and the next sentence veers, in Zolian fashion, into a mythological register. On “near[er] approach,” the narrative gives way to the prolonged thunder of the stamp-mill, the crusher, the insatiable monster, gnashing the rocks to powder with its long iron teeth, vomiting them out again in a thin stream of wet gray mud. Its enormous maw, fed night and day with the carboys’ loads, gorged itself with gravel, and spat out the gold, grinding the rocks between its jaws, glutted, as it were, with the very entrails of the earth, and growling over its endless meal, like some savage animal, some legendary dragon, some fabulous beast, symbol of inordinate and monstrous gluttony. (380) Here, like the machine it represents, Norris’s description seems to burst out of control, piling up mythic terms—the stamp mill is a “savage animal,” a “dragon,” a “fabulous beast”—in a way that both recalls and accelerates the collapse of empirical realism in Germinal. Indeed, since a dragon is both a savage animal and a fabulous beast, the redundancy of the image magnifies it without clarifying it—and this reduction in expressive focus is emphasized by the vagueness of the repeated modifier: “some savage animal,” “some legendary dragon,” “some fabulous beast” (380, emphasis added). Ultimately, as the narrative confronts a force of literally inexpressible dimensions, the machine seems to exceed the power of concrete figuration. Disappearing as a mine and returning as a “symbol,” it becomes the ineffable figure of an “inordinate and monstrous gluttony.” Inexpressible or not, however, the “monstrous gluttony” of the mine drives both plot and character in the novel. McTeague, an unlicensed San Francisco dentist and one-time car-boy in the Placer County mines,

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  63 achieves his ambitions with the purchase of an enormous golden tooth; Trina, his wife, wins the lottery and becomes a miser, hoarding her money in gold coins; and Maria Macapa seduces Zerkow with a family story about a golden dinner service. For all of these characters, gold emerges as a proof of personal success—and the instrument, inevitably, of their undoing. Zerkow murders Maria when she succumbs to dementia and can no longer remember the story of the golden service; Trina is robbed and killed by McTeague; Zerkow expires in the obsessive pursuit of Maria’s nonexistent fortune; and the dentist, in a battle to keep Trina’s gold, ends up stranded in Death Valley, alone with a useless bag of money and a half-dead canary “chittering feebly in its little gilt prison” (442). Thus, with relentless consistency, plot and character succumb to the devouring power of the “glutton[ous]” (380) mine. Indeed, even the canary—breathing its last in the Valley of Death—is a casualty of the industrial order. Though this bird can hardly be driven by a profit motive of its own, its demise draws attention back to the machine that destroys it: Ayellow bird in a golden trap, it not only refigures the predicament to which all the other characters have succumbed in McTeague, but recalls the industrial source of the narrative’s many calamities—the mine, that death trap for so many expiring canaries, that continues to work on after everyone in the book is dead.

VI. The Monstrous Ramifications of The Octopus Like McTeague, Norris’s later novels are driven by mechanical monsters that simultaneously recall and magnify the menace of their European antecedents. In The Octopus (1901), as though merging Hardy’s vision with Zola’s, Norris combines the “steam feeler” of the British railway (Tess 186)—a force that has only just begun to invade the wheat-fields of Wessex in Tess19—with the cyclopean engine of La Bête humaine, uniting the bestial power of the English and French machines in his representation of the California Railroad. Early in the novel, barreling through the wheat districts of the San Joaquin valley, a one-eyed locomotive plows through a helpless herd of sheep, and Presley—witness to the “all but human distress” of the slaughtered animals, and distraught in the face of a “brute agony he could not relieve” (50)—apprehends the engine as several monsters in one: [F]aint and prolonged, across the levels of the ranch, [Presley]... heard the engine whistling for Bonneville. Again and again, at rapid intervals in its flying course, it whistled for road crossings, for sharp curves, for trestles; ominous notes, hoarse, bellowing, ringing with the accents of menace and defiance; and abruptly Presley saw again, in his imagination, the galloping monster, the terror of steel and steam, with its single eye, cyclopean, red, shooting from horizon to

64 Naturalism horizon, but saw it now as the symbol of a vast power, huge, terrible, flinging the echo of its thunder over all the reaches of the valley, leaving blood and destruction in its path; the leviathan, with tentacles of steel clutching into the soil, the soulless Force, the iron-hearted Power, the monster, the Colossus, the Octopus. (51) Here, though the passage begins in a documentary register (denoting whistles, road crossings, curves, and trestles), the simple referential language breaks down almost immediately as Presley registers the superhuman force of the machine. Taking on the “hoarse” and “bellowing” tones of an enormous beast, the engine suddenly bursts out, in Presley’s “imagination,” as the “galloping monster.” And this monster, “shooting from horizon to horizon,... leaving blood and destruction in its path,” is not just the Cyclops, but the Leviathan, the Colossus, the Octopus. As the mythic terms pile up, the narrative captures Presley’s acute horror at the cost, as in McTeague, of expressive focus: rhetorical precision collapses in the face of a power that, though man-made, is beyond human control.20 Superhuman in magnitude, the inexpressible force of the engine then drives the plot of The Octopus, as inexorably as the gold mine drives the plot of McTeague, toward the triumph of the machine. “[S]hooting from horizon to horizon,” the locomotive not only destroys the sheep but prefigures the agony of the San Joaquin wheat farmers in the grip of the railroad, and Presley—shocked into action by its trail of “blood and destruction” (51)—is bestirred to acts of socialism and anarchism in opposition to a system he cannot hope to defeat. His socialistic poem, “The Toilers,” is wildly successful, appropriated by the market forces it is intended to expose (394); his attempt to blow up the railroad agent, S. Behrman, is wildly unsuccessful, demolishing nearly everything but the target himself (560); and his eventual confrontation with the railroad boss exposes him to a corrupt economic logic that appears, under the circumstances, irrefutable. When Shelgrim asserts that “Railroads build themselves” and “[w]heat grows itself” in obedience to a “natural” law of supply and demand, the speech strikes the would-be revolutionary with “the clear reverberation of truth” (576, emphasis in original). Thus, taking to heart Shelgrim’s advice to “Blame conditions, not men” (576), Presley finally gives in, capitulating to a force he recognizes as beyond his control. In fact, so complete is Presley’s submission to the power of the new industrial order that the end of the novel has him boarding a wheat ship bound for India, actually joining forces with the distributive mechanism of the railroad in pursuit of a long vacation. On deck, he reflects—in terms that seem to heroize his surrender—that at least

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  65 the WHEAT remained. Untouched, unassailable, undefiled, that mighty world-force, that nourisher of nations,... indifferent to the human swarm, gigantic, resistless, moved onward in its appointed grooves....[T]he individual suffers, but the race goes on.... The larger view always and through all shams, all wickednesses, discovers the Truth that will, in the end, prevail, and all things, surely, inevitably, resistlessly work together for good. (651–2, emphasis in original) Exhausted by his contest with the Octopus—prostrated by the futility of his fight and grief for his friends—Presley ends up singing the praises of the monster.

VII. The Human Cost of The Octopus Evidently capitulating to the forces it sets out to critique, the ending of The Octopus has been deplored as both illogical and unethical.21 Iwould venture, however, that its apparent lapses are the inevitable consequence of its essential consistency. Driven by a genuinely overwhelming force—the superhuman power of the Octopus—the novel can no more “buck against the railroad” (107) than its characters can, and it fashions conclusions in tune with the supremacy of the machine it represents. Logical to a literal fault, these conclusions are sometimes spectacularly implausible, as when the railroad agent proves miraculously invulnerable to bombs, or the corporate boss convinces a socialist to blame nature for capitalism. Captive to the monstrous power of the machine, however, the novel seems to avail itself of such breaches of plausibility as a means of effecting a critique it can levy in no other way: Though it cannot, according to its own logic, defeat the railroad, it can still expose its machinedriven plot for what it is—a concatenation of deplorable devices—and draw attention to its ethical lapses as such. Indeed, if we return to the end of the novel with a view to its selfimplication—its overt capitulation to the mechanical forces it represents— we notice that the narrative systematically undermines Presley’s apparent conviction that the machine-driven “world-force” of the wheat is “[u]ntouched, unassailable, [and] undefiled.” Though unbeknownst to Presley, S. Behrman has just been drowned in the hold of the ship that will carry them both to India, and this corpse not only sullies the cargo (now no longer “untouched”), but appears to embody a grotesque parody of the economic theories Presley has just come to embrace in the offices of the railroad boss. Ostensibly propelled by the “natural” force of “supply and demand,” the “mighty ...[wheat], that nourisher of nations,... gigantic, resistless” (651), appears to overwhelm Behrman in its anthropomorphic haste to get into the hold and off to the hungry

66 Naturalism masses of India: “the grain seemed impelled with a force of its own, a resistless, huge force, eager, vivid, impatient for the sea” (641). Yet it is not “nature” that has exposed Behrman to the “resistless” force of the wheat, but, in fact, his own economic intervention. Having the grain funneled directly into the hold to save the cost of sacks (639), the railroad agent actually succumbs to his desire to maximize profits, and perishes— stuffed with his own product—as a result of personal greed (646). Thus, Behrman’s plight seems not to affirm but rather to critique Shelgrim’s idea of “natural” economic laws, and explicitly assails Presley’s notion that the wheat is “undefiled.” (As a corpse, Behrman will inevitably corrupt the grain that consumes his decaying body.) Further, though the optimism with which The Octopus ends appears to be Presley’s, the closing passage is actually inflected by the tone and sentiments of a far less reliable character. Shortly before boarding the wheat ship, Presley takes leave of his friend, the mystical shepherd Vanamee— and it is Vanamee’s perspective that is echoed in Presley’s closing reflection. According to this man, “Evil is short-lived.... The whole is, in the end, perfect” (636), and though Presley ultimately seems convinced by this philosophy (concluding on board the wheat ship that “all things, surely, inevitably, resistlessly work together for good” [652]), the source of the idea is troubling. At the beginning of the novel, we may remember, the sheep the locomotive runs down are actually Vanamee’s sheep—he is the quintessential bad shepherd—and his carelessness not only sets the railroad plot in motion, but determines a subplot that seems designed to impugn his integrity further. As the “allegorical side of the wheat subject” (Norris, Collected Letters 123), the Vanamee subplot involves the shepherd’s attempt to summon his dead love, Angéle, from the obscurity of a seed ranch. As we know from Norris’s notes for the novel, “Angéle is the wheat” (qtd. in Seltzer 33), and her resurrection is apparently intended to align her death with the natural cycle whereby the destruction of one body nourishes the life of another. Avictim of sexual violence, however, the original Angéle died in childbirth, and her “resurrection” can only be accomplished in the person of her daughter, also named Angéle. Thus, the event exposes its own innate perversity: Though evidently summoned from the “seed” ranch by the sheer power of Vanamee’s need—Angéle appears to materialize (unconsciously, asleep) in response to his seminal desire—the woman is not actually incarnated by the force of his love but, quite horribly, her mother’s rape. Yet further, Angéle “resurrection” not only depends upon her mother’s violation, but requires a violation of her own subjectivity: for Vanamee, “Angéle or Angéle’s daughter, it was all one with him” (392). As the shepherd’s indifference as to person makes clear, Angéle is ultimately nothing but an exchangeable love object—a commodity, or tradable “good” subservient, like the wheat she stands for, to forces beyond her control.

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  67 Consequently, like S. Behrman, she comes to embody a grotesque parody of the supposedly “natural” law of supply and demand: Obedient to Vanamee’s need, she emerges from the “seed” ranch in a scene that aligns her “resurrection” with forces that are not only obviously unnatural (in fact, supernatural), but quite literally (as a product of masculine volition) man-made.22 The real circumstances of her incarnation thus expose as fallacious the economic “truths” her story is supposed to endorse—the ostensible truth that good comes out of evil, that railroads build themselves, that wheat grows itself, that we should “blame conditions, not men.” Indeed, even as Vanamee’s “romance” suggests that there is no one to hold responsible for Angéle’s essential condition (her mother’s rapist is never located), it shows, through the brutal objectification of mother and daughter alike, the essential corruption of the system they occupy: a system that, rooted in violence and exploitation, is clearly neither “unassailable” nor “undefiled.”23 Ultimately, like Tess Durbeyfield before her, Angéle is the helpless victim of the new, man-made world: an exploitable, agrarian body subject to forces beyond her control.24 Objectified from birth, however, she is never anything other than what Tess finally becomes, and her character levies, through the sheer extremity of her condition, a quite radical critique of the industrial circumstances she is made to inhabit. Afigure still more void of agency than any of Hardy’s or Zola’s—one of the flattest characters, indeed, in naturalist fiction—she is unique in the severity of her functional reduction. But she is also, for the same reason, representative. As Iseek to show in the following chapter, even the more perfectly realist narratives of literary naturalism—those in which plot and character are less radically deformed by the circumstances they represent—persistently link female objectification to the tyrannical power of machines. In the works of Dreiser, Crane, Moore, Wharton, and Gissing, we find fewer “romantic” protuberances and narrative “distortions” of the kinds we see in the novels of Hardy, Norris, and Zola. Instead, there is simply the brutal reality: a mechanized world in which physical subjection, for a whole series of naturalist heroines, is the inescapable consequence of the new, industrial order.

Notes 1. As Eric Hobsbawm observes in The Age of Revolution, “thanks largely to the relative shortage of forests in Britain,” England produced coal for both industrial and domestic purposes, and it was this industry—already responsible for “about 90 per cent of the world output” of coal at the beginning of the nineteenth century—that drove the technological developments associated with the Industrial Revolution (43). The mines “employ[ed] the earliest steam engines... for pumping” and “stimulate[d] the basic invention which was to transform the capital goods industries: the railway” (Hobsbawm 43). 2. Moore, as though in anticipation of Lukács’s critique of Zola, suggests that his narrative impulse was ultimately overwhelmed by the demands of Zolian research and empirical representation. It is worth noting, however, that the

68 Naturalism physiological reason he gives for his abandonment of the naturalist novel— nervous exhaustion—is an excuse altogether in tune with naturalist objectives. In “The Experimental Novel,” Zola explicitly models his documentary method on the experimental physiology of Claude Bernard (see Chapter1, note 8). 3. According to his biographer, Malcolm Brown, Moore adopted Zola’s documentary method with wavering zeal. Taking Henry Vizetelly’s advice that he find the “ugliest town in England and... study it with the prescribed naturalistic techniques,” he inquired among “newspapermen around the Gaiety Bar” and made off for Hanley, one of the “Five Towns” of the potteries (M. Brown 94). Unfortunately, his imagination was not fired by his tour of ceramics establishments. As Brown puts it, “Moore’s projection of Lenox’ boredom [in a factory tour in A Mummer’s Wife] is perhaps too eloquent. It was not proper for Zola’s pupil to be overwhelmed by ‘wearisome details’ ” (94).   Fortunately, Moore was less bored with “mummers” and did manage to work up considerable documentation on the lives of traveling players. Yet even here the “notebook method” began to fatigue him, and he made, afterward, attempts to distribute the labor of naturalist writing. Begging assistance for A Drama in Muslin, he wrote to his brother, “Take a large packet and a good pencil... and write me in disconnected phrases the impressions as they str[ike] you. . . . A picture of Ballinasloe, the great meat market, would come in very well indeed” (qtd. in M. Brown 99). 4. From an English perspective, Moore left the naturalist fold just in time. Sentenced to a fine of £100 in 1888, Vizetelly continued to publish translations of Zola’s novels in a further-expurgated form, and was again tried, convicted, and briefly incarcerated in 1889 (see Vizetelly 281–96). Moore, together with over a hundred other writers, signed a petition for Vizetelly’s release (Vizetelly 297–8), but this form of support for Zola’s publisher did not translate into professed support for Zola or his ideas. Whatever their appreciation of the French naturalist, most English writers chose to distance themselves from the scandal of French fiction. 5. The persistence of the convention is visible in the terms, always tentative or partial, in which these writers are identified as naturalists. Brooks, for example, asserts that Gissing has a “claim as the only true English ‘naturalist’ ” (Realist Vision 19), but does not explain the exclusion of other contenders. And accounts of Hardy’s naturalism tend to be rife with qualifications. Eric Carl Link refers to Hardy’s “naturalistic fatalism” (114) without precisely identifying him as a naturalist; Richard Lehan perceives a “cosmic” force at work against Hardy’s characters and thus excludes him from the company of naturalists whose texts seem more plausibly determined by forces of environment or heredity (Realism and Naturalism 168); and Terry Eagleton, defining naturalism after the fashion of Zola’s “Experimental Novel,” as a “quasi-scientific experiment, placing men and women in specific circumstances and recording how their biological instincts induce them to react,” sees at best “a streak of [such] . . . naturalism in Hardy” (English Novel 196). For each of these critics, however, the sticking point seems to be Hardy’s determinism—a characteristic that, as Iargue in this chapter, actually derives from his naturalist representation of monster machines. 6. As David Baguley puts it, “Hardy... openly distanced himself from Zola and the naturalists, criticising the disparity between the theory and the practice of the author of the Rougon-Macquart and claiming [in an 1895 letter to Edmund Gosse] that . . . he was himself ‘read in Zola very little.’ Yet

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  69 his notebooks reveal a familiarity with a number of Zola’s novels and have inspired in their editor the suspicion that the English writer’s appreciation of his French counterpart was more pronounced than he liked to admit” (37). Indeed, Hardy’s chilliness toward Zola may have been motivated by a desire to escape comparison, since his works were regularly associated, in reviews, with French fiction in general and Zola’s novels in particular (Boumelha 119, 133n.7). Similarly, though Gissing tends to deprecate Zola in his fiction— especially in New Grub Street, in which Biffen criticizes the French writer for his failure to live up to his own objectives of writing “an absolute realism in the sphere of the ignobly decent” (173)—Gissing’s diaries show that he was an avid reader of the Rougon-Macquart novels. In 1893, despite the poverty that led him—even after the relative success of New Grub Street—to lament the fact that “I [still] cannot buy books, Icannot subscribe to a library; Ican only just afford the necessary food from day to day,” he later bought “Zola’s ‘Le Docteur Pascal,’ just out” (London and the Life 247, 308), and later records reading L’Argent (310) and La Débâcle (403). 7. In fact, Hardy’s representation of the seeder as a kind of “agricultural piano” suggests that the machine is no mere diversion. As Tamara Ketabgian has shown, the piano was popularly known as a “musical steam engine” (147) in Hardy’s day, and developed in parallel with steam-driven machinery. “[F]irst seriously designed and marketed in the 1760s,” it “parallel[ed] the growth of the stationary steam engine,” and grew increasingly mechanical during the nineteenth century: “In 1822 the English firm Broadwood barely led its competitors in creating a pianoforte with a skeleton of iron bars and plates” (151). The piano virtuoso, meanwhile, became a kind of mechanical entertainer—Ketabgian focuses on Liszt as the most famous of these—and inspired a critique of industrialization in the parlor and the concert hall. Heine “faults the machine—and, by extension, the piano—for deadening and depletion of affect” (150) in his “Lisztomania,” and Hans Christian Andersen, though more neutral on the subject, “captures [the] aura of musical and mechanical coordination when he aligns Liszt with Europe’s dominant industrial capitals” (152). In an article of 1840, Andersen writes that “London,... that great capital of machinery, or Hamburg, the trade emporium of Europe, is where one should hear Liszt for the first time”; with “ ‘fingers [like]... railroads and steam engines,’ ” his “genius is more powerful to bring together the great minds of the world than all the railroads on earth” (qtd. in Ketabgian 152). While Andersen stresses the communal benefits of technology and Heine the risks, both—like Hardy in The Mayor—identify the piano with industrial machinery. 8. I am indebted to Jonathan Grossman, who commented on an early version of the work presented in this chapter, for the observation that the carriage is, though not steam-driven, nonetheless a machine. 9. This symbolic relationship—the new D’Urberville tyrannizing over the old—is not accidental. Hardy’s original surname for Alec was “Hawnferne” (a name that severs the possibilities of the “kinship” plot), and the gradual adjustment of the naming principle, by which Tess and Alec were brought into ostensibly lineal correspondence, increased Alec’s symbolic function. As J. T. Laird puts it, Alec “represents the forces of moneyed wealth and industrial progress which threaten the traditional agricultural way of life still being pursued—however precariously—by Tess and her parents” (138). Indeed, one of Hardy’s last revisions to Alec’s surname—“Smith” to “Stoke” (Laird 140)—suggests (since one stokes engines, furnaces, and boilers) that the nouveau-D’Urberville money finds its source in manufacturing.

70 Naturalism 10. Critics have always been troubled by a contradiction between the relentlessness with which Hardy contrives Tess’s fate and his apparent sympathy for his heroine. Besides adding the much-disputed subtitle (“APure Woman”) to the novel, we know that Hardy steadily revised the work to emphasize Tess’s innocence. In his account of the manuscript and published versions of Tess, Laird describes the process of her development as one of consistent “refining, ennobling, and idealizing on the part of the author” (125): a procedure that tends to underscore the perversity of a narrative that condemns its own innocent. 11. It is interesting to note that Hardy describes the steam-driven thresher in the same terms that Marx, writing a quarter of a century earlier, used to delineate the development of a “mechanical monster” (Capital 502–3) in the steam-driven factory. Though both writers convey the supernatural force of machinery by describing the steam engine as a “prime mover,” however, Hardy’s use of the archaic Latin (primum mobile) tends to emphasize the etymological history of a phrase first associated with divine power: initially referring, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, to “[a] person who instigates or originates something; spec. God regarded as the motive force of the universe,” the “prime mover” became associated with machinery—as “[a]n initial source of energy or activity; spec. a machine which converts a natural source of energy into mechanical energy”—only in the late eighteenth century (“prime mover”). 12. Though critics have not previously linked character development in Tess with its functional submission to the machine, Shires moves in this direction when she argues that Hardy “challenges the foundations of realist character-drawing” (156) to call attention to the social violation of individual subjectivity. Connecting Alec’s “stereotype[d]” (152) villainy to the evils of objectification—the reduction of individual subjects to objects of exploitation—Shires argues that his “flatness” dramatizes the consequences of his treatment of the heroine. Iwould simply push the point a step further, venturing that Alec—although certainly objectifying Tess—is himself most thoroughly stereotyped. Reduced (as, indeed, the mechanical origins of the “stereotyping” process imply) to a two-dimensional villainy, he both enacts and embodies the ravages of mechanization. 13. As Boumelha observes, elaborating the point more fully, far from the “opposites that they might at first appear,” the two men are ultimately “precisely complementary” (131). “It is not only Alec who is associated with the gigs and traps that, on occasion, literally run away with Tess; it is during a journey in a wagon driven by Angel that he finally secures Tess’s acceptance of his proposal”—a journey in which “Angel feeds Tess with berries that he has pulled from the trees with a whip, recalling the scene at The Slopes when Alec feeds her with strawberries” (131–2). 14. Further, though “liv[ing] up above” the dairy “and strumming upon an old harp,” Angel soon descends from this ethereal eminence, “[s]itting down as a level member of the dairyman’s household” (117) in a spirit of democratic fellowship that at first obscures the symbolic decline it also implies. While his willingness to eat with the dairymaids does nothing to impugn his actual social elevation, it does imply a Miltonic threat to Tess: If, like Alec, we are “quite up” (349) in our knowledge of Paradise Lost, we will remember that Satan is also a fallen angel. Indeed, having narrowly escaped the clutches of a London “woman much older than himself” (116) before coming to Talbothays, Angel is also “fallen” in a sexual sense, and plays the devil to Tess to the extent that he cannot accept, in a woman, the premarital indiscretions he himself has committed.

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  71 15. In doing so, they arguably put an end to Hardy’s career as a novelist. As Simon Gatrell has suggested, the gradual incursion of machines, always an “instrument of . . . destruction” (28) in Wessex, is completed in Hardy’s last novel, Jude the Obscure (1895). Here, an industrialized New Wessex replaces the preindustrial world that Tess inhabits, and though the outcry over the novel’s ostensible indecency may have “made [Hardy’s]... decision [to stop writing novels] easier” (32), Gatrell suggests that he had simply exhausted his subject: “Hardy lost much when he achieved what [has been]... called New Wessex. His losses included the desire to write more novels” (32). 16. As a reader for Doubleday, Norris enthusiastically endorsed Sister Carrie, and though Dreiser ultimately had to threaten suit to get it into print (Frank Doubleday having taken exception to its contents after publication was offered), he remained grateful to Norris, who sent out 127 copies for review—the only effort the firm made to advertise the book (see West 54–76). Thus, in December1900, a month after its appearance, Dreiser sent Norris a copy: “Owing as Ido so very much to your earliest and most unqualified approval of this story in manuscript form,” he wrote, “it is my determination to inscribe a copy to you whether you will or no. That it reaches either you or the public ‘under covers’ so soon is due entirely to you” (qtd. in Dreiser, Sister Carrie 462). 17. Though other American naturalists come in for criticism (see Chapter 3), Norris is the most frequently deplored. Consider two influential critiques: Michael Davitt Bell, objecting that Norris “cares very little if at all for [the] factual or ‘scientific’ detail” associated with the naturalist objectives voiced in Zola’s “Experimental Novel,” dismisses his most significant effects as “conventional and interchangeable clichés about the emergence of ‘the brute,’ ‘the mob,’ ‘the crushing waters,’ whatever” (101). Bill Brown, meanwhile, attacks Norris’s apparent failures of documentation in a criticism reminiscent of Lukács’s objections to Zola, figuring him as a man with a “bad habit” (52): a documentary tendency that, in its very excess, turns narrative action into inaction and order into chaos. Though there is, as Iargue here, a determined connection between Norris’s documentary objectives and his apparent failures of documentation—like Zola’s, Norris’s narratives are typically organized by a monster machine, and run wild in the rendering of a mechanism that has itself burst out of control—both Brown and Bell appear to be convinced in advance of the futility (“bad habit,” “whatever”) of examining Norris’s aesthetics. 18. Though attuned to the excesses of American greed, Norris’s gold mine makes explicit a profit motive also implied by the mines of Montsou. In Germinal, the name of the mining district suggests a “mountain of sous”—that is, a mountain of French money—and the novel links the monstrous Voreux mine to “the anonymous god” of capital, “who lay hidden in his mysterious tabernacle, somewhere out of sight of the workers, gorged on the blood of the sick and dying that he fed on” (288). 19. In The Mayor, “The railway ha[s] stretched out an arm towards Casterbridge ..., but ha[s] not reached it by several miles as yet” (200), and in Tess, the roundabout “railways which engirdl[e] [the heroine’s]... interior tract of country ha[ve] never yet struck across it” (101). Nonetheless, the incursion has begun. When, on the evening she drives milk with Angel from Talbothays to the nearest station, Tess encounters a “hissing” (186) train, the scene not only recalls the “hiss” (33) of Prince’s blood spouting into the road on an earlier wagon journey, but—since the station lamp is described as a “poor enough terrestrial star” (186)—the “blighted star” (34) she blames

72 Naturalism for the initial catastrophe. Thus, the force at work against Tess, Hardy suggests, is the force of “modern life”: “Modern life stretched out its steam feeler to this point three or four times a day, touched the native existences, and quickly withdrew its feeler again, as if what it touched had been uncongenial” (186). When it ceases to withdraw, she—and her way of life—must come to an end. 0. In The Pit (1903), Norris’s sequel to The Octopus and the second volume 2 in a trilogy he did not live to complete, Jadwin has a vision of the Chicago “Wheat Pit” similar to Presley’s vision of the Railroad. “[U]nimaginative though he was,” Jadwin apprehends the trading floor of the Pit as “some resistless force... a great whirlpool, a pit of roaring waters” (72). Like Presley, he sees a man-made mechanism as a superhuman power endowed with the strength of Nature itself: Endlessly, ceaselessly the Pit, enormous, thundering, sucked in and spewed out, sending the swirl of its mighty central eddy far out through the city’s channels. . . . But the circumference was not bounded by the city. All through the Northwest, all through the central world of the Wheat the set and whirl of that innermost Pit made itself felt; and it spread and spread and spread till grain in the elevators of Western Iowa moved and stirred and answered to its centripetal force, and men upon the streets of New York felt the mysterious tugging of its undertow engage their feet, embrace their bodies, overwhelm them, and carry them bewildered and unresisting back and downwards to the Pit itself. (72) At the end of this passage, the speculators are “overwhelmed” by the force of a system they themselves have built, and the narrative eddies and swirls, breaking down under a power it represents as unintelligible (“terrible,” “insidious,” “mysterious,” and “bewildering”): a power created by human beings but exceeding their control. Here, as in The Octopus and McTeague, the failure of strictly documentary language captures the superhuman force of a man-made mechanism. The machines built to master natural circumstances (to extract wealth from the earth, speed overland transport, and enable the distribution of staple goods) master their makers, renewing human vulnerability to the very forces they were built to conquer. 21. See Pizer, “Another Look at the Octopus,” for a brief survey of critical responses to the ending, and a rather valiant attempt to exonerate the author from “grave philosophical inconsistencies” (217) by distinguishing him from Presley. Even for Pizer, however, the distinction collapses: concluding that “[t]he investigation of Norris’ treatment... does reveal... a dichotomy in his mind, that of free will on the personal level—leading to both good and evil—and optimistic determinism on the ‘cosmic’ level” (223), he seems to concede the point he has set out to contest. The problem thus remains a problem, migrating from the novel to the criticism as Pizer finds no way out of the predicament the narrative constructs: Since the plot of the novel is constrained by the forces that dictate Presley’s fatalistic point of view, the work as a whole is unavoidably implicated—like the criticism that seeks to account for it—in his terminal celebration of the monster. 22. Evidently drawn from “seed” alone, Angéle is apparently the product of Vanamee’s masculine desire, reborn in a scene of “nonbiological and autonomous reproduction” that implies, as Seltzer puts it, “a mechanical [replication]... of persons” (33). 23. It is worth noting that Norris, who called The Octopus “the most romantic thing I’ve ever done” and referred to “[o]ne of the secondary sub-plots”— presumably the Vanamee subplot—as “pure romance” (Collected Letters

Mechanical Monsters in England and America  73 123), often seems to extol the more deplorable elements of his fiction. However, since he modeled his “romantic” elements on Zola’s (contesting Zola’s association with realism, he wrote in “Zola as a Romantic Writer” [1896] that “the world of M. Zola is a world of big things; the enormous, the formidable, the terrible, is what counts” [1107]), it is fitting that “romance” is ultimately just as disruptive to his narratives as to Zola’s. 24. The fact that Angéle is almost always sleeping when she appears—she is asleep when Vanamee first draws her out of the seed ranch, and we hardly ever see her awake thereafter—further links her to Tess. As Penny Boumelha has pointed out, Tess is unconscious at critical moments in the novel: asleep at the reins when the mail cart kills her horse, asleep in the Chase when Alec seduces her, and asleep on an altar when the police close in on her at Stonehenge (121). Like Angéle, she is driven involuntarily, even unconsciously, to her destiny, and though she does attempt to liberate herself (when she murders Alec), this act of personal agency only ensures her execution. As the fanatical stile-painter writes on a country fence—in the harsh red pigment associated elsewhere with machinery—her “DAMNATION, SLUMBERETH, NOT” (79).

3 The Machined Aesthetics of Dreiser, Crane, Moore, Wharton, and Gissing

I. Unmiraculous Machines Though the figure of the monster machine connects Norris, Hardy, and Zola, the naturalist novel is not always beset by cyclopes and demons. In Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900), the heroine is subjected in a Chicago shoe factory to the “humdrum, mechanical movement of [a]... machine” devoid—apart from its “eternal” imposition of a single, stultifying task—of mystical qualities (28, 29). In Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), Maggie finds nothing miraculous in her exploitation at the collar-and-cuff factory, viewing herself and her fellow workers are “mere mechanical contrivances sewing seams” (35). In George Moore’s A Mummer’s Wife (1885), Kate sees her life of domestic drudgery as the mistress of a draper’s shop as “like a colliery” (59), utterly plausible in its relentless repetitions (52). In Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth (1905), Lily is forced to confront the material conditions of her own social refinement in the milliner’s establishment, her “creation of ever-varied settings for the face of fortunate womanhood” (219) demystifying the glamor to which she ostensibly ministers. And in George Gissing’s New Grub Street (1891), Marian Yule contemplates the brutal reality of her situation as “a mere machine for reading and writing” (137) in the London literary trade. In this last novel, though a mythic machine does appear, it is only a phantom of Marian’s desire for release: [H]er startled eye had caught an advertisement in the newspaper, headed “Literary Machine”; had it then been invented at last, some automaton to supply the place of such poor creatures as herself, to turn out books and articles? Alas! the machine was only one for holding volumes conveniently, that the work of literary manufacture might be physically lightened. (138) Marian’s marvelous machine, as it turns out, is simply a ruse: a device to aid in the perpetuation of her labors.

Machined Aesthetics  75 No matter how unmiraculous they are in their brutality, however, the machines in these bleakly realistic novels are the functional basis of a social environment that has—no less than the mechanical monsters of Norris, Hardy, and Zola—burst out of control. In Sister Carrie, the city in which Carrie tries to make a living is “superhuman” (2), magnifying in its “cunning wiles” the myriad temptations of “the infinitely smaller and more human tempter[s]” (1) that compose it. In Maggie, “[w]ithered persons” sit smoking in the corners of a stygian tenement, “in curious... submission” (7) to an industrial slum made by people but inescapable for its inhabitants. In A Mummer’s Wife, the factory town of Hanley is as “blazing” hot as the “bald rotundities of the pottery ovens” (63) it contains. In The House of Mirth, Old New York society depends upon the “dreary limbo” of “obscure humanity” to which Lily inevitably succumbs in the milliner’s workshop (119). And in New Grub Street, the characters are “dwellers in the valley of the shadow of books” (46), their lives dependent on a tenebrous literary order they themselves have created. As Gissing makes perhaps most clear, the art and culture of genteel civilization rest on what Dreiser and Wharton both describe as an “under-world of toil” (Sister Carrie 108; see also House of Mirth 223). In each of these novels, then, the social order as a whole operates like a monstrous machine, and though the heroine does her best to transcend the punishing conditions of that order, she discovers that escape is structurally impossible: that physical exploitation is not only the result of mechanized labor, but, ironically, the only available alternative to it. In Sister Carrie, the protagonist bargains her way out of the shoe factory when she accepts Drouet’s “two soft, green, handsome ten-dollar bills” (47)—but eludes her functional objectification on the assembly line only by turning herself into a salable object. In Maggie, the heroine “beg[ins] to see the bloom upon her cheeks as valuable” (35), trading on her physical looks instead of her labors. In A Mummer’s Wife, with “no place... to go” (48) after her day’s work except to an asthmatic husband, Kate sets herself free from a stifling marriage by repeating its conditions in marriage to a strolling player. In New Grub Street, attempting to purchase a release from drudgery in her engagement to Jasper Milvain (the marriage is contracted on the expectation of her inheritance), Marian loses both when her legacy falls through. And in The House of Mirth, unfitted for the physical hardship of the milliner’s establishment, and unwilling to sell herself into a profitable marriage, Lily resolves the problem by turning herself into another kind of object: overdosing on chloral, she becomes a lifeless corpse. In novel after novel, the heroine’s physical subjection to the mechanized order is reproduced in the conditions of her supposed liberation, and the narrative that contains her—plotted in obedience to the machines she can never truly elude—grinds out consequences of the most inexorable brutality.

76 Naturalism These plots are, of course, altogether plausible. In the works of Dreiser, Crane, Moore, Wharton, and Gissing, we find no grotesque celebrations, as in Norris’s Octopus, of female objectification, and no deliberate “distortions,” as in Hardy’s Wessex novels, of plot and character. Instead, there is simply the bald reality: the unrelenting subjection of the heroine to the machine. That very baldness, however—the sheer probability of the narrative’s mechanical effects—turns each of these novels into a mechanical monster. Though more perfect as works of narrative realism than as those of Norris, Hardy, and Zola,1 the texts Idiscuss in this chapter—organized by the objectifying logic of the mechanized world— are none the less in thrall to their governing machines: just as diabolical, finally, as the “underworld” of toil they represent.

II. Sister Carrie’s Machine-Made Beauty This is not to say, of course, that the more perfectly realistic works of literary naturalism are unremittingly tragic. Most obviously, Dreiser’s Carrie Meeber is a wildly successful naturalist heroine, skyrocketing from the factory to the Broadway stage. Yet her destiny is, nevertheless, machinemade. Liberated from the shoe factory in the sixth chapter of the novel, she swaps the machine for the less laborious objectification of Drouet’s sexual appetites, and thus lightens her labors at the cost of her continued exploitation. Indeed, though enchanted by the commodities her choice allows her to purchase—“ ‘Ah, such little feet,’ said the leather of the soft new shoes; ‘how effectively Icover them. What a pity they should ever want my aid’ ”—the gallant “voice of the so-called inanimate” (75) can only mystify a transaction that still depends upon the “under-world of toil” (108) Carrie aims to leave behind: Like her power to purchase them, the heroine’s new shoes are a product of a factory, and their “soft” leather not only recalls the “soft,... handsome ten-dollar bills” (47) for which she sells herself to Drouet, but also the materials she once handled on the assembly line. Ultimately, as a result of the laborious work she has just sought to escape, her newfound finery depends upon the machinery she hopes to transcend.2 Nor does Carrie leave the factory behind when she abandons Drouet. As Donna Campbell observes, trying on clothes for Drouet turns out to be a kind of dress rehearsal for trying on roles as an actress, and Carrie’s ultimate success as an ingénue relies upon her continued physical objectification (113). Drouet secures her first acting role—she appears, through his agency, in an amateur version of “Under the Gaslight”—and her performance in that production attracts the man, “more clever than Drouet in a hundred ways” (72), who supports her while her acting career takes off. Indeed, though Hurstwood’s primary attraction is his capacity to “giv[e] the impression that he wished to be of service only” (72), this too is a mystification. His aid, like Drouet’s, is payment for sexual services rendered,

Machined Aesthetics  77 and though he helps Carrie rise to stardom, her achievement of that eminence—fulfilling all her “wild dreams of some vague, far-off supremacy,” in which the “city [should become]... the proper penitent, grovelling at a woman’s slipper” (2)—explicitly recalls the machinery of her original subjection. Though the city does finally “grovel before her photograph on a Broadway billboard” (Kaplan 510), its adoration still depends upon her exploitation as an attractive body—and upon the exploitation of those other female bodies who, in a shoe factory, produce the adorable slippers. Thus, while fulfilling all of Carrie’s wildest dreams, the narrative points to the real conditions of her material elevation: the continual subjection of women to the machines that are supposed to glamorize them. Further, while Carrie successfully substitutes Drouet for the machine, Hurstwood for Drouet, and, finally, the adulation of whole cities for either, the novel persistently exposes the brutality of her success through the plight of less fortunate characters. In Hurstwood, most starkly, the mechanism of Carrie’s rise propels an equally rapid decline: Yoked to a tramcar near the end of the book—driven to industrial labor by material extremity—his mechanical subjection during the Brooklyn rail strike marks his proximity to the “under-world of toil” (108) that everywhere subtends Carrie’s material well-being. Indeed, exposing him to the mêlée of competition for urban survival, his work as a driver is not only debasing, but fatal: it hastens his fall into the anonymous, animal condition—homeless and hungry—to which he finally gives in with the help of the flophouse gaslight (367). Thus, his fate dramatizes the uglier consequences potentially attaching to Carrie’s self-objectifying choices: Expiring under the gaslight, Hurstwood’s suicide recalls the conditions of Carrie’s original success (in a play called “Under the Gaslight”) and links all the effects the novel appears to celebrate—the heroine’s rise to fame, fortune, and material prosperity—to the operation of the brutal mechanical forces that destroy her lover. In displacing the possible consequences of Carrie’s self-objectification onto Hurstwood, Sister Carrie appears to point the moral of its mechanical plot. Yet it does so, as critics have often observed, at the cost of contravening its own premises. As Amy Kaplan points out, the “equivocal” appeal of Chicago is initially figured in the novel as a threat to the heroine: on the first page, the narrator asserts that “[w]hen a girl leaves her home at eighteen,...[e]ither she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse” (Sister Carrie 2, 1). Carrie, however, assumes the city’s “cosmopolitan standard of virtue” as rapidly as possible, and prospers, quite spectacularly, through her willingness to exploit herself and others. Her success, then, is not a moral victory but a material one, and the narrative—shifting what it seems to figure as her just deserts onto secondary characters like Hurstwood—delineates that victory at the cost of violating its own professed standards.

78 Naturalism Like the contradictions between Zola’s naturalist theory and practice, however, the moral lapses of Sister Carrie appear to be determined by the machinery that drives the plot. With no means of escaping from the conditions of her physical subjection, Carrie can do nothing but succumb to or exploit the mechanism she serves, and her choice of an acting career at least gives her some agency—literally, as Rachel Bowlby observes, the ability to act (63–4)—within an order she is otherwise powerless to control. As Campbell points out, it makes “economic good sense” (115) for Carrie to swap the “absolutely nauseating” (Sister Carrie 29) shoefactory machine for the easier objectification of Drouet’s desires, just as it is logically preferable for her to substitute the wealthier Hurstwood for Drouet—and, finally, the adoration of the “superhuman” city for both of them. Thus, although Carrie arguably “becomes worse” (1) according to the standards originally articulated by the narrative, the novel as a whole shows that her adherence to a traditional form of personal rectitude would simply be imprudent. Moreover, as Dreiser’s critical writings suggest, there is no real inconsistency between Carrie’s actions, good or bad, and their consequences in the novel. In the late essay, “What I Believe” (1929), the naturalist writer describes the world he had sought to represent in earlier fiction: a world in which “life liv[es] on life, the individual sustaining himself at the expense of every other, and wishing not to die” (247).3 In practice, Dreiser acknowledges, this world—organized by self-interest and violence— is barbaric; in consequence, however, it unleashes “beauty, beauty, beauty, which seems to derive as much and more from this internecine and wholly heartless struggle as from any other thing” (247). Thus, life is “aesthetic in its results if by no means entirely so in its processes” (247), and Carrie—the gorgeous product of a brutal mechanism—would seem to illustrate (indeed, embody) these results: Objectifying herself and treating others functionally, she is finally “beauty, beauty, beauty” on a Broadway billboard. This is not to say, of course, that the novel entirely abandons its initial moral position. Though it is certainly true that it systematically fulfills all of Carrie’s machine-made aspirations, it also persistently demystifies the conditions of her achievement. Finally exposing her “beauty” as “good” only in a material sense, it pictures her alone and unrequited at the end of the novel, an illustration of the devious ways by which one who feels, rather than reasons, may be led in the pursuit of beauty.... Oh, Carrie, Carrie! Oh, blind strivings of the human heart! Onward, onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it follows. . . . [F]or you is neither surfeit nor content. In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel. (369)

Machined Aesthetics  79 This final image has, of course, given rise to plenty of negative commentary.4 In the emotional repetitions (“Oh, Carrie, Carrie!”) and the trochaic cadence of the closing lines, the narrative seems to succumb to Carrie’s own inchoate rocking, participating in her inexpressive “feeling” instead of reasoning out its causes. Yet the passage also appears to lament, as unintelligible, a condition the narrative as a whole has systematically exposed from the outset. The “beauty” Carrie pursues in the final passage—“onward, onward,... where beauty leads, there [she]... follows” (369)—is, as the novel has persistently shown, the result of what Dreiser calls the “devised cruelty” of a world “aesthetic in its results but by no means entirely so in its processes” (“What IBelieve” 254, 247).5 Thus, even as Carrie dreams on, unwilling—and finally unable—to consider the sources of her material success, the narrative points to the conditions on which the “beauty” of her situation has always relied: Behind the “vast persuasions” (75) of fine clothes and the seductive “allure” of the city (1) lie the “clattering automatons” of the shoe factory, and a “line of girls... in front of clacking machines” (27).

III. The Factory Aesthetics of Crane, Moore, and Wharton In Maggie, A Mummer’s Wife, and The House of Mirth, the factory scene of Sister Carrie recurs. Like Carrie, Maggie “receive[s] a stool and a machine in a room where sat twenty girls of various shades of yellow discontent” (22); Kate suffers with her assistants in the “oven-like atmosphere” (46) of the draper’s shop; and Lily joins “twenty [girls]... in the work-room [of the millinery establishment], their fagged profiles, under exaggerated hair, bowed in the harsh north light above the utensils of their art” (219). Like Kate, Lily is not originally of the working classes, and thinks the gentility of the product she creates must make the work “something more than an industry, surely” (219).6 Yet the distinction collapses. Like Maggie, who manufactures collars with a brand name “noted for its irrelevancy to anything in connection with collars” (22), Lily and Kate are forced to confront the deplorable conditions on which the ostensible refinement of their products—aesthetic in their results but not in their processes—relies. Thus, unable to flee factory labor, Kate sews on under the “dead glare” (46) of a hellish afternoon, and Lily is sunk in an “underworld of toilers,” suppressed by the “vanity and selfindulgence” (223) of the class to which she has formerly belonged. Given the hardships of the social world they occupy, Maggie, Kate, and Lily seek, inevitably, a means of escaping its brutality—and often seek it, like Carrie Meeber, on the stage. Attending the melodrama with Pete, Maggie begins to wonder “if the culture and refinement she had seen imitated... by the heroine [in a play]... could be acquired by a girl who lived in a tenement house and worked in a shirt factory” (38); Kate, running away from the draper’s shop, actually becomes an actress in her

80 Naturalism marriage to a strolling player, and Lily briefly takes to the stage in the tableaux vivants of a fashionable party. While Carrie’s willingness to accept the conditions of her physical exploitation finally constitutes a successful vocation, however, Maggie, Kate, and Lily are doomed by their desire to act. Maggie’s aspirations end in prostitution when, abandoned by Pete, she is forced to objectify herself for cash; Kate, only briefly successful as a provincial actress, escapes Maggie’s fate only by dying sooner from drink;7 and Lily, having literally turned herself into an object in a tableau vivant—having impersonated, as a living picture, Reynold’s painting of Mrs. Lloyd (106)—spends the rest of the book trying to elude the form of sexual subjection she has inadvertently courted.8 Indeed, when Ned Van Alstyne remarks on “what an outline Lily has” (109) on stage, he not only reduces her to her figure, and her figure to an “outline,” but seems to predict her eventual condition in the milliner’s workshop: In the painting, Mrs. Lloyd appears in profile, and Lily—refusing, first, a more overtly objectifying job as a “displayer of hats, a fashionable beauty” (222)—takes her place among the “fagged profiles” (219) of the toiling hat-makers. In each of these novels, then, the heroine succumbs to a version of the factory she has sought to escape, and the circumstances of her destiny— underscoring the closure of the mechanical system that works against her—inevitably recall the conditions of her initial subjection. In Maggie, the factory “shades of yellow discontent” (22) are revived in the hellish brilliance of the industrial district where she dies, as “[s]ome hidden factory sen[ds] up a yellow glare” (78). In A Mummer’s Wife, the infernal atmosphere of the potteries, rendered tolerable only by alcohol— Kate sends out for beer on hot afternoons, “for the warmth of the day was intense” (46)—is magnified in the heroine’s terminal capitulation to drink. And in The House of Mirth, the headache to which Lily succumbs in the “harsh north light” of the milliner’s workshop (219)—she is unable to sew spangles onto a hat—is amplified in the painful “glare of thought” she extinguishes in the “darkness, darkness” (250) of chloral: a drug that ultimately replicates, as it releases her into the “dim abysses of unconsciousness” (251), the oppressive conditions (of the “underworld” of toil) she cannot otherwise elude. Operating on their heroines with the implacable brutality of the machines they represent, these narratives thus drive relentlessly toward tragic conclusions, finally exposing the objectifying consequences of the industrial order by resorting, in Zolian fashion, to homicide. Unlike the novels of the Rougon-Macquart, however, the narratives of Crane, Moore, and Wharton are rarely grotesque. In place of the spectacular deformations of plot and character we find in Zola—men and women buried, smashed, or ground to a pulp by their own machines— there is simply the unyielding logic of the inevitable conclusion: the destruction of a heroine who can elude her physical objectification only

Machined Aesthetics  81 through terminal submission to it. Indeed, though sometimes lurid, as in the “yellow glare” (78) of Maggie’s final resting place, or the “glare of thought” (250) from which Lily attempts to liberate herself, these conclusions draw realist power from their sheer consistency. Grinding out effects in accordance with the machines they represent, they convert the monstrosity of the mechanized order into an awful “beauty, beauty, beauty.” Aesthetic in their results, however, the narratives are by no means so in their processes, and continually draw attention to their brutal collusion with the machines they represent.9 Crane, directly acknowledging his complicity, aligns storytelling with the tyranny of industrial processes: Like the women in the factory, churning out “tales of imagined or real girl-hood happiness” (35) together with collars and cuffs, Maggie grinds out a tragic story, obedient to the inexorable logic of the machine. Moore, too, implicates his novel in the oppressive apparatus of factory labor, posing fiction as a relief from Kate’s toils (“I’ve been sewing all day; I can’t see what harm it can be to read a little” [39]) that only helps to inspire, like drink, her fatal illusions of a release from drudgery. And Wharton, perhaps most cruelly, suggests the existence of a potential escape for her heroine that her narrative literally never articulates: Though positing the existence of “some word [Lily]... had found that should make life clear” (251) for herself and Lawrence Selden—the one person in the book capable of moderating “the influence of her surroundings” (256)—this word passes, if it does, only under the impossible linguistic conditions of the terminal “silence... between them” (256).10 Self-consciously complicit with the mechanical forces they depict, Maggie, A Mummer’s Wife, and The House of Mirth drive their heroines to death with, ultimately, all the heartlessly plausible logic of the mechanized world. Refusing to extricate themselves from the factory order, however, they also link their aesthetic value, as novels, to the operation of the machines they represent, and thus illuminate the degree to which they, like the goods produced by their heroines (cuffs, collars, gowns, hats), depend on industrial circumstances. Tracing their own “beauty, beauty, beauty” to the operation of “nauseating” machines, they disclose the factory basis of their own narrative coherence, and show—in the terminal subjection of their characters to the mechanical conditions of feminine glamor—the human cost of a system devised for the benefit of those it destroys.11

IV. Gissing and the Literary Machine Exposing their own aesthetic integrity as, at base, a mechanical production, the novels Ihave discussed in this chapter so far all suggest what George Gissing confirms outright: that literature itself is an industrial product. Like Sister Carrie, Maggie, A Mummer’s Wife, and The House

82 Naturalism of Mirth, New Grub Street contains a factory scene, and though the factory in this case is the British Museum, this institution is no less an “underworld of toil” than Lily’s workshop or Maggie’s collar-and-cuff makers. Indeed, as the “sputtering whiteness of the electric light” in the Reading Room prolongs Marian’s drudgery under the darkening effects of “a dusky yellow” London fog (138), the “artificial misery” (139) of the illuminated library effectively combines—as “a new source of headache” (138) for Marian—Maggie’s state of “yellow discontent” (22) with Lily’s physical and mental distress in the harsh light of the manufactory. Like Maggie’s collars and Lily’s hats, moreover, the product of Marian’s labors implies a gentility at odds with its mechanized conditions. Though a factory like all the others, the British Museum is also a monument to its own brutal magnificence, and actually imposes mechanical labor at the site of its supposed liberation.12 As John Goode puts it, “The library which should emancipate us from ignorance, as the factory should emancipate us from material deprivation, only condemn[s] us to darkness” (Gissing 120). Objectified by the process that is meant to guarantee the fullness of her humanity, Marian is turned into a “machine” for reading and writing (137), and is so thoroughly captive to the factory order that even her vision of imaginary release—in the fantastic “Literary Machine” built, she hopes, to “supply the place of such poor creatures as herself” (138)—is mechanical. As Bowlby puts it, “mechanization [becomes]... the condition of her liberation from it” (99). Entrapped by her literary vocation, Marian seeks to extricate herself from the mechanical system through an engagement to Jasper Milvain, another writer. Yet this form of emancipation must be purchased— depends upon her inheritance of several thousand pounds—and thus requires Marian’s functional objectification all over again: she can only leave the literary factory by becoming the material basis of Jasper’s success in it. The brutality of the situation is then further underscored when Marian, losing her inheritance, loses her fiancé too, and cruelly amplified when Jasper chooses to marry her cousin instead. Reducing both women to interchangeable love objects with the heartless efficiency of the factory system Marian seeks to escape,13 Jasper not only accentuates the effects of her drudgery, but seems to doom her to its perpetual extension. The end of the novel finds her “at work as usual in the Reading-room,” doing her best “to convert herself into the literary machine which it was her hope would some day be invented for construction in a less sensitive material than human tissue” (505). Marian, however, is not the only casualty of the literary machinery New Grub Street represents. Jasper, too, is turned into a machine by his place in the literary world, and though he is a successful machine—capable of writing to a timetable, he produces text “like a steam-engine” (454)—he is simply the Carrie Meeber of New Grub Street. Willing and able to manipulate the forces that afflict him, he often succeeds at the expense of

Machined Aesthetics  83 his fellow-sufferers; yet these, like so many Hurstwoods, are undone by forces they are merely less able to exploit. For example, though Milvain seems initially to find a foil in the character of Edwin Reardon—Reardon is also a novelist, and the first husband of Milvain’s eventual bride—the “whole story” of this other writer in fact “depends [up]on his tacit acquiescence in Milvain’s world view” (Goode, Gissing 116). Once a minor literary success, Reardon finds himself forced by material necessity to grind out a series of three-volume novels from imaginative materials suitable for one volume at most. One volume will not pay enough to keep his family afloat, three volumes mean an inferior product, and the result is, inevitably, failure, destitution, and death.14 Thus, though he “may lament the making of literature into a trade,... this is not because he has a literary integrity which offers an alternative view” (Goode, Gissing 116). Unable to produce like Jasper, Reardon simply succumbs to his inability to requite the mechanism.15 This is not to say that the situation passes without narrative censure. In New Grub Street, Reardon’s failure and Jasper’s success are undoubtedly examples of what Harold Biffen, the staunch “realist” (240) of Gissing’s novel, considers “the injustice which triumphs so flagrantly in the destinies of men” (490). Yet not even Biffen, clinging to his aesthetic convictions in a tenement attic, escapes the literary machinery to which the other characters remain captive. Like Reardon, Biffen fails to survive the novel, and his destiny—far from affirming, as we might hope, the integrity of his character as a writer—seems rather to demonstrate the impossibility of sustaining it. In his masterwork, Mr. Bailey, Grocer, Biffen “aim[s] at... an absolute realism in the sphere of the ignobly decent” (173), and composes a book so vast and dull that, as George Levine has remarked, no one would plausibly be capable of reading it. The “authenticity [of Biffen’s novel] guarantees that it will be a commercial failure” (Levine 18), and though he does by some miracle complete and publish it, the fact that he does so draws attention to New Grub Street’s own narrative compromises. Significantly, even as Biffen laments the naturalist novel’s failures of realism—he contends that “Zola writes deliberate tragedies; his vilest figures become heroic from the place they fill in a strongly imagined drama” (173)—he becomes the heroic center, in a naturalist novel, of the kind of “strongly imagined drama” he would never allow himself to write. When his tenement is accidentally set on fire the night he completes Mr. Bailey, he is provoked to feats of unprecedented daring and exhausted strength in the rescue of his manuscript. Thus, while he retains his integrity and proves his commitment to narrative realism, the novel he occupies—in the heroic rescue of the impossible Mr. Bailey—demonstrates its own inability to live up to its character’s standards. Not without reason, then, does Fredric Jameson remark of Gissing’s novels that they stand out for the “unrelieved desolation of their psychic

84 Naturalism and material content” (Political Unconscious 203). Representing literary production as a brutal factory system, New Grub Street relentlessly draws attention to its own complicity in the order it is written to expose. Indeed, it even contains a picture of itself as a mechanical monster: When the characters in the novel discuss the “evils of the three-volume system” (235) that destroys Reardon, they do so, pointedly, in a three-volume novel—a work that is itself both an example and a casualty of the system Milvain depicts as “[a] triple-headed monster, sucking the blood of [the] English novelis[t]” (235).16 Like Marian’s imaginary “Literary Machine,” this mythic monster denotes the writer’s need for liberation from the machinery of the literary market. Yet no sooner has Jasper imagined the monster than he puts it to commercial use: “One might design an allegorical cartoon for a comic literary paper. By-the-by, why doesn’t such a thing exist?” (235). Destroying the English novelist one moment, the three-headed monster becomes, in the next, an opportunity for selling a literary readership the image of its own hardship and destitution. Passing in the narrative almost without comment, the outrageous brutality of this scheme draws attention to the novel’s collusion with the system it deplores.17 Offering up a “cartoon” of itself as a machine-made blood-sucker, New Grub Street insists, to an unusually self-excoriating degree, upon its own monstrosity. And yet, by incorporating this image of its own deformation, it not only exercises a marked integrity—a refusal to exonerate itself from the mechanized order—but unifies the tradition to which it belongs. Uniting the bleak mechanical realism of Dreiser, Crane, Moore, and Wharton with the more spectacular distortions of Hardy, Norris, and Zola, it shows how thoroughly the naturalist novel—with or without monster machines—is determined by the industrial conditions it represents. Portraying itself as a three-headed monster, it links the aesthetic power of naturalist narrative, as narrative, to the brutal factory system, emphasizing its complicity with that system to demystify the mechanical sources of its own most compelling effects.

Notes 1. Though not without their protuberances, these novels are less often faulted for aesthetic “defects” than the works of Hardy, Norris, and Zola. For example, though Sister Carrie’s plot may clank a bit when the safe Hurstwood thinks of robbing closes with the money in his hand, this “chance” event is plausible both as an accident and a sort of Freudian slip—an outcome determined by Hurstwood himself as he vacillates about taking the money, moving it in and out of the box. Thus, although Dreiser has sometimes been accused of “bad writing” (see note 4), his works—like those of Crane, Moore, and Wharton—have largely escaped the more acrid censure to which naturalists like Norris (see Chapter2, note 17) have been subjected. 2. As June Howard puts it, “one could ask for no more vivid description of commodity fetishism, of the life of objects that consumes the life of human beings who produce and consume them” (42).

Machined Aesthetics  85 3. In fact, writing “What IBelieve” in his rooms at “the corner of Broadway and Fifty-seventh Street, in New York” (248), Dreiser looks out over the very same world Carrie occupies as a successful starlet. Ending up on Broadway, she not only works but lives there, moving into the Wellington—a Broadway hotel—when its management determines that her status will reflect well upon the establishment (Sister Carrie 329). 4. As Amy Kaplan observes, the ending of Sister Carrie has caused “much discontent among critics” (511). She herself sees these lines as examples of Dreiser’s “notoriously bad writing: his cumbersome prose style, his highflown moralizing, his investment in the tawdry dream-worlds of his characters, his melodramatic chapter titles, and his flowery endings” (511). As Sandy Petrey has argued, however, “most chapters [in Sister Carrie] begin with lilting inspiration and continue in the coldest prose” (108), and though the narrative sometimes seems to speak the same courtly language as Carrie’s shoes—chapter titles like “The Machine and the Maiden: AKnight of Today” (37) seem to participate in the same quasi-chivalric discourse as the footwear—it also constantly exposes illusions as such. Just as Carrie is occasionally confronted with the actual source of her physical finery (“the method by which [her clothes]... came might intrude itself so forcibly that she would ache to be rid of the thought of it” [75]), Sister Carrie continually reveals, as mystifications, the “dream-worlds” it appears to sustain. 5. Ironically, but appropriately, Carrie’s unwillingness to contemplate the real conditions of her success seems to be the secret of that success. Just as the “voice of the... inanimate” (75), pledging love and supplying shoe-leather, inevitably reproduces the longing it can only pretend to requite, Carrie’s vocational embrace of the world of illusions appears to guarantee a luminous stage career. As Ames explains her fame toward the end of the novel, Carrie embodies a universal experience of inchoate need: the world “is always struggling to express itself,” but while “[m]ost people are not capable of voicing their feelings ...[s]ometimes nature does it in a face—it makes the face representative of all desire” (356). According to Ames (as an engineer, the character perhaps most capable of understanding the forces at work in the new, mechanized world), Carrie’s look of mystification makes her representative, and she is successful because she reflects a condition that seems, in her time, natural and universal: a perpetual desire for something that continually recedes. In her ever-unrequited longing, she embodies and projects the alienated consciousness of the society she occupies—a whole people subjected to the mystifications of a system they themselves have created. 6. In traditional Marxist terms, it could be argued that Lily’s labor in the millinery shop is closer to a “handicraft,” where goods are produced by hand, or a “manufacture,” which operates through the cooperative division of handicraft labor, than an “industry” in the factory sense (see Capital 588). Her very desire that it be “more than an industry” (219), however, suggests that it is not. Like the hairdos of the 20 working girls—the millinery shop employs, notably, the same number of women as Maggie’s collar-and-cuff factory—Lily’s hopes are exposed as “exaggerated” by the “harsh” (219) light of the workroom. In fact, before ending up in the shoe factory, Carrie Meeber actually turns down work at a hat-maker’s, and though Lily’s shop seems less industrial than the one Carrie visits (Sister Carrie’s “maker of boy’s caps” is more “dingily lighted” and “filled with machines and work benches” [18]), the labor she is offered is the same kind Carrie declines. The cap shop needs “wrappers and stitchers” (Sister Carrie 18), and Lily— reduced to “binding edges” (224) because of her lack of skill with decorative elements—is subjected to the drudgery she had expected “subordinate

86 Naturalism fingers” (221) to perform. Similarly, though Kate in A Mummer’s Wife is associated with a comparatively fashionable trade, evidently separated from working-class labor in the factories that surround her shop, she and her fellow seamstresses work in an “oven-like atmosphere” (46) inside a city composed of industrial kilns. Thus, like Lily’s, Kate’s stitching is identified with the factory work to which she is ostensibly superior. 7. Though most critics consider Kate and Maggie’s tragic fate more plausible than Carrie’s success, Jennifer Fleissner furnishes historical evidence to show that “Carrie’s striking professional mobility . . . might not be the stuff of sheer make-believe” (180). In America, the number of actresses “soared... from 780 to 15,436” between 1870 and 1910—the period in which Carrie takes to the stage—and did so, in part, because acting paid better than factory work for fewer hours and lighter labor (179–80). Thus, if Carrie’s success is “not the most realist... element” of the text, this is not because it is inherently improbable, but rather because it “serves as a marker for the future, for what has yet to take place” (166, emphasis in original). For Fleissner, Carrie’s meteoric rise—and her status as a “figure of fantasy” in the novel—is part of a “narrative of women’s work” (166) that did not yet know its own ending in the 1890s: a narrative that provoked fears about the future (most especially, the fear that working women would leave the home and, instead of “focus[ing] on children,... begin to see ‘self-gratification’ as an end in itself” [185]). In Fleissner’s view, the critical tendency to discount Carrie’s success is thus a holdover, or continuation, of period anxieties about women’s labor. Unfortunately, as powerful and illuminating as this argument is, accepting Carrie’s success as legitimate does not change its sources. In Dreiser’s novel, Carrie’s social independence is always a function of her ability to manipulate her own objectification (whether by machines or by men), and the same choices have far more tragic (though equally plausible) results for other naturalist heroines. 8. While Maggie and Kate seek to escape the factory through forms of personal objectification that reproduce the effects of its machinery, Lily takes the same path in the opposite direction. As Maureen Howard has suggested, the tableau vivant can be read as “the beginning of [her]... descent” (151)—the moment in which, by objectifying herself, she begins to travel irresistibly toward the millinery establishment’s “underworld of toil.” Further, though Howard does not link Lily’s figure in the tableau vivant to the representation of the girls in the millinery, she does note that Lily’s decision to pose as Mrs. Lloyd is a coded declaration of sexual availability: “What is not acknowledged in the novel is that in the painting Mrs. Lloyd is carving the name of her future husband on a tree” (147). 9. This is true regardless of the social origin or ultimate destiny of the heroine. Lily and Maggie, up- and downtown girls respectively, are alike in their fatal objectification in nineteenth-century New York, and Kate pursues the same dreams as Carrie Meeber, by similar means, to opposite conclusions. Taken together, these novels thus emphasize what they suggest individually: that the social order as a whole, though most immediately afflicting to the working classes, is in thrall to the machine. 10. In fact, critics have frequently remarked on the tenacity with which Wharton drives Lily to death. Maureen Howard reads the heroine’s apparent suicide as “clumsy, wasteful, blundering—unwilled,” while “[t]he novelist’s moves are chosen, productive, skillful—a triumph of her will” (138), and Hermione Lee notes that “Lily describes herself... to Selden, as ‘just a screw or a cog in the great machine called life’ ” while being “also a cog in the machine of

Machined Aesthetics  87 Wharton’s grimly moral plan” (202). As Lee points out, there is something especially “crushing... about the way Wharton traps Lily inside the novel’s metaphors” (198). When the heroine tries to “ ‘play the game in her own way,’ ” for example, she “is also losing at cards” (198), and this literalization extends to the metaphor of the “great machine” in which she is a “cog.” Ultimately, unwilling to accept the objectification of herself and others—as Lee puts it, “she is always losing her opportunities, because she cannot quite turn herself into a commodity” (197)—she must be crushed by the “the everrevolving wheels of the great social machine” (House of Mirth 205) in which she refuses to take a wholly functional place. 11. Wharton’s indictment of mechanization may, for those familiar with her biography, be surprising. Despite her representation of Old New York as a “social machine” (House of Mirth 205) ready to pulverize those unwilling to subject themselves to its functional order, her love of actual machines— particularly the automobile—is well documented. In fact, The House of Mirth was written under the influence of Wharton’s first car: a vehicle responsible, according to her autobiography, for an “immense enlargement of life” (A Backward Glance 177). Purchased in January1904, the advent of the motorcar coincided with the production of the novel Wharton “settl[ed] down to write... in the summer” of the same year (Lee 192–3), and she divided her time between writing and motoring with Henry James: “In October1904, she was writing The House of Mirth in the mornings, while, along the corridor, James was working on his essays for The American Scene. Afternoons were for trips in the new Pope-Hartford car” (193).   While the liberating power of the car seems to clash with Wharton’s vision of “the ever-revolving wheels of [The House of Mirth’s] . . . great social machine” (205), however, it is possible that the vehicle was more a symptom of than a remedy for the social predicament that afflicts Lily Bart in the novel. Like Lily, Wharton was a product of Old New York society, and—having made “the expected marriage to a Bostonian sportsman without any ideas” (M. Bell, Introduction 11)—had entered into exactly the kind of functional arrangement Lily seeks to elude. Moreover, though she divorced in 1913— and sought symbolic freedom, while still married, through the car—she remained captive to the “great social machine” into which she was born. In A Backward Glance (1934), she recalls how she and James (engaged in a thoroughly platonic relationship) named her cars after the scandalous George Sand and her lovers (152), and James himself referred to one of Wharton’s automobiles—as though it were the mechanism by which she might safely exercise extramarital desires—as her “Vehicle of Passion” (qtd. in Lee 224).   James also saw the car, however, as the product of the social position that led her to marry Teddy Wharton in the first place, and in one letter actually describes her money as a kind of motorcar (the “Car of your so wondrously india-rubber-tyred & deep-cushioned fortune” [Henry James and Edith Wharton 75]). Sadly, at least from James’s point of view, not even divorce could liberate Wharton from the functional order she had sought to transcend in the automobile. As a divorcée, according to James, Wharton was an eddy of “rush and movement,” dashing from “one great house party to another” with such rapidity that—evidently possessed of a “frame of steel” (qtd. in Fleissner 200)—she herself finally became a kind of machine. Thus, although it may be possible to argue, like Fleissner, that Wharton ultimately fashions herself into a posthuman “cyborg” (200) of the kind Donna Haraway would later envision in the “Cyborg Manifesto” (a woman-machine hybrid irreducible to the functional uses of either), her incessant movement

88 Naturalism from one soiree to another suggests her continued captivity to (and frenzied desire for release from) the machinery of her social order. 12. Whereas Maggie’s collar-and-cuff factory is hidden away in the tenement districts of New York, and Kate and Lily confront the laborious conditions of their own gentility in the back rooms of the draper’s shop and the “fashionable millinery establishment” (219), the library celebrates the fruits of oppression in the oppressive space itself. Distributing to its own shelves the products of the labor it imposes, it is a proof of civilization that reproduces the conditions civilization is supposed to exclude. Thus, for Marian, the Museum—already full of “more good literature... than any mortal could cope with in his lifetime” (137)—becomes a “trackless desert of print” (138), and even the successful Jasper notes that any new book is likely to be “swamped in the flood of literature that pours forth week after week” (493). In the library-factory, the harsher realities of the natural world—“deserts” and “swamps”—are reproduced by the mechanism that is supposed to supersede them, and the art object itself resurrects the circumstances it is intended to ameliorate. 13. As Bowlby observes, “The novel emphasizes this objectivity by making Marian and Amy interchangeable in another way: as cousins, they share the same name of Yule” (108). 14. As Bowlby notes, Reardon’s “inharmonious pattern of attempted regularity thwarted by personal incapacity is strikingly similar to what Gissing records of his own day-to-day life. As with both Reardon and Milvain, there is a meticulous notation of quantified work and times” (110–11) in his diaries. Struggling to get started on New Grub Street in 1890, for example, he penned this characteristic entry: “Frid. Sept. 19. Fine, changing to dull. Walked in morning, and wrote from 3 to 9.30 doing 5pp. No reading of any kind now-a-days. Abad, bad time with me; the wasting of my life in bitterness” (London and the Life 226). In the following months, though his mood vacillates dramatically, his laconic description of the weather, his output, and the misery of one or both is consistent. On “Wed. Oct. 1,” he announces “Afresh beginning, once more. It will be ‘New Grub Street’ after all. Did 4 pp.” (227), but on “Thursd. Nov. 20,” with the book almost done, it is “dull, rainy, warm. Morning did nothing. Went to Museum to get particulars of Pneumonia, for Reardon’s death. Wrote from 2.30 to 9, doing 4pp.- Asteamroller at work all day down in the street; maddening” (230). Here, noting the persistence (“all day”) of a steamroller that interferes with his labors, the diary draws ironic attention to Gissing’s failure to write with mechanical regularity. Nor do the ironies cease there. The morning he “finished ‘New Grub Street,’” finds him bound “[i]n afternoon to British Museum” (231–2, emphasis in original), the site of Marian’s mechanized subjection. 15. Like Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, which appears to reward all of Carrie’s ethical lapses on her way to the top, New Grub Street seems to endorse Milvain’s brutal practicality. Beginning and ending with him (the other literary workers emerge later in the book, and several expire before the finish), the novel gives Jasper a narrative priority that seems to affirm, with his material success, the cruel efficiency of his market logic. In doing so, however, it draws attention to its own necessary complicity in the system to which Milvain himself is confined—its own determination by the factors he perpetuates. 16. The triple-decker novel was the standard of the day. As Simon Eliot explains, “For most of the nineteenth century the three-volume set, or three-decker as it was frequently called, was the fashionable, respectable, and high-status way of publishing the first edition of a novel” (38). Because of the expense of the

Machined Aesthetics  89 triple-decker, many Victorian readers elected to “rent” novels, a volume at a time, from circulating libraries like Mudie’s in London, and this—assuring publishing sales to libraries, which were themselves assured the proceeds from subscriptions—reified a system many writers found constraining. “The combination of the expensive three-decker form and its tailor-made distributive system, the circulating library, imposed three restrictions on the novel: of price, of form and of content,” and this “proved to be something of a Procrustean bed” (40). In New Grub Street, the three-decker is precisely this kind of literary monstrosity—especially for Reardon.   It is also worth noting, however, that the triple-decker was finally dispatched by naturalist writers. When George Moore’s first novel, A Modern Lover (1883), was rejected by Mudie’s, he denounced the sentimental morality of the lending library in a pamphlet, Literature at Nurse or, Circulating Morals (1885), and brought out A Mummer’s Wife (1885) in a single volume. Thomas Hardy, likewise, took up the fight a few years later, arguing in “Candour in English Fiction” (1890) that the norms of Victorian publication— dictated by the circulating libraries and the family magazines—“directly tend to exterminate [the development of the novel]... by monopolising all literary space” (98). Such objections actually heralded the end of the threevolume system: In 1894, nine years after A Mummer’s Wife, four years after “Candour in English Fiction,” and three after the appearance of New Grub Street, Mudie’s “finally abandoned the three-decker novel” (Eliot 41). Sending notice to publishers, as Gissing notes in his diary, that it would “pay only 12/-” for a triple-decker, the lending library essentially forced the publishing houses to “give up the 3-vol. publication altogether” (London and the Life 343). Though feeling that his “own interests in the matter [we]re entirely dubious,” he was correct in predicting the results of “the recent Mudie revolution” (London and the Life 343). 17. Gissing was well aware of his complicity with the “triple-headed monster” (235). Though Howe argues that his novels typically suffer from the liabilities that beleaguer Reardon’s in New Grub Street—specifically, a tendency to stretch to three volumes material adequate for one at the most—New Grub Street itself, “cast within the heavy frame of the three-volume Victorian novel [that was]... all too often... the cause of padding,” is “now used to present a copious portrait of English literary life” (“George Gissing” 184). Thus, successful or not (when unsuccessful, Gissing’s novels succumb to the evils of the three-volume system; when successful, they perpetuate them), Gissing’s text colludes with the monster, at once the creation and the casualty of the mechanical system it discloses. Moreover, the fact that New Grub Street would end up in the British Museum (which still has multiple copies) is an irony that would not have been lost upon Gissing. In success or failure, his triple-headed monster contributes to what Howe describes as his “vision of defeat” (“George Gissing” 185).

Part II

Modernism versus the Machine

4 Lawrence and the Monster Machine

I. “Zolaesque Tragedy” in The Rainbow Though a modernist novel published during the First World War, D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow (1915) reads something like a RougonMacquart sequence in miniature. In this multi-generation chronicle of industrial decline, the Brangwen Marsh Farm—a kind of agrarian paradise—is linked to the collieries and city of Nottingham when a canal is built behind it, and the family attached to it gradually succumbs to a Zolian plight. In the beginning, Alfred Brangwen leaves the farm for the lace-factory, where the extreme rationalization of his work—his focus on the “tiny squares” of his designs—leaves him “set and rigid” (15) like a machine. In the next generation, less reified than his father, Will Brangwen is appalled by the “ponderous, massive, ugly superstructure of [the]... world of man [built] upon [the]... world of nature,” and retreats from circumstances he finds “almost monstrous” (179). Yet this retreat makes no difference to the progress of industrial modernity, and Will’s daughter grows up, inevitably, in a world of monster machines: Visiting a new mining town run by her uncle, Ursula “look[s] out the window and [sees a]... proud, demon-like colliery with her wheels twinkling in the heavens, the formless, squalid mass of the town lying aside.... How terrible it was!” (324). The agent of a “Zolaesque tragedy” (322) in progress, the Wiggiston colliery—awe-inspiring in its superhuman power, divine in its elevation, and demonic in its tyranny over the prostrated town—is akin to the “squatting god” (71) of Germinal. While Ursula’s colliery recalls the devouring Le Voreux, however, it also exercises a new power. In the “twinkling” wheels of the Zolian giant, there is something of the “beauty, beauty, beauty” of Dreiser’s man-made world (“What I Believe” 247), and Ursula is momentarily seduced by the machine.1 She finds “a horrible fascination in it—human bodies and lives subjected in slavery to that symmetrical monster.... There was a swooning, perverse satisfaction in it. For a moment she was dizzy” (324). Tempting Ursula toward a fall, the colliery in The Rainbow is not only demonic, but demonically attractive, and thus unites, in one “symmetrical

94 Modernism monster,” the two temptations of Genesis: the satanic desire for god-like supremacy over the terrestrial order and the sexual appeal that, in Eve’s seduction of Adam, completes the fall.2 Indeed, “proud” and “twinkling in the heavens,” the colliery is not only a mechanical version of Lucifer— fallen angel and morning star—but a kind of demon Eve. As “her wheels twinkl[e],” the mine, figured as a seductress—a woman—exercises an overtly sensual power over “human bodies and lives” (324, emphasis added).3 Eroticizing the satanic machine, The Rainbow not only amplifies its menace but—diversifying the appetites of the greedy Zolian giant—aligns the power of the colliery with a sexual vitality it both commands and perverts. According to Ursula’s uncle, the pit turns miners into functional beings and, as a consequence, interchangeable mates. To the colliery women, “[o]ne man or another—it doesn’t matter very much. They’re all colliers” (323–4). The pit “owns every man,” and the “women have what is left”—not a man but a “machine out of work” (324). As a result, the miners cede their biological force to the industrial threat, and their creative energies—captive to an inhuman mechanism—bring forth a dead underworld: “the red chaos, the rigid, amorphous confusion of Wiggiston” (323). The colliers are then “not like living people, but like spectres” (320), and their managers become “ghoulish,” capable of taking a horrible “satisfaction in... the monstrous” (324) conditions they both deplore and perpetuate. Even Ursula’s uncle, besotted with the pit he governs, is “like a man who reviles his mistress yet who is in love with her” (324), and he marries a woman—Ursula’s schoolmistress—who shares his love of mechanization: “His real mistress was the machine, and the real mistress of Winifred was the machine” (325). Cultivating desires at odds with biological reproduction (Tom and the lesbian Winifred are ultimately united only by their adoration of the mechanical demon), the man-made monster unleashes an underworld that threatens to destroy not just Wiggiston or Marsh Farm but, in its takeover of human sexuality, organic life as such. Revolted by the coercive power of her uncle’s colliery, Ursula vows in Wiggiston to oppose the satanic mine: “If she could she would smash the machine. Her soul’s action should be the smashing of the great machine” (325). In taking this stand, however, she pits her immaterial “soul” against an increasingly materialized force, and the conditional expression of her revolt (“could... would... should”) signals the precariousness of her rejection. Coming of age in Wiggiston—“It was in these weeks that [she]... grew up” (325)—Ursula seems to secure her release from the colliery when she maneuvers her teacher into marriage: “She stayed [in Wiggiston]... to get rid of Winifred” (325).4 Yet the marriage only perpetuates Tom and Winifred’s inhuman love of mechanization, and the next chapter finds Ursula fighting with her biologically fecund mother—“Mrs. Brangwen was so complacent, so utterly fulfilled in her

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  95 breeding” (328)—and applying to become a schoolmistress herself. Ultimately, then, Ursula seeks to become the thing she has just repudiated, and she feels as she does so that she has “connected herself with the outer, greater world of activity, the man-made world” (335): a connection that threatens, despite her avowed revolt against the machine, to complete The Rainbow’s chronicle of industrial decline.5

II. Machine Breaker Ursula’s situation has not improved by the end of The Rainbow. In the closing pages of the novel, in the wake of a failed relationship and a miscarriage—the first expires as her mechanical lover “fail[s] and br[eaks] down” (457), and the second, set on by a herd of horses, suggests her inability to sustain any new organic vitality—Ursula envisions the triumph of the satanic machine. Looking out over yet another mining town, she sees the stiffened bodies of the [Beldover] colliers, which seemed already enclosed in a coffin, she saw their unchanging eyes, the eyes of those who are buried alive: she saw the hard, cutting edges of the new houses, which seemed to spread over the hillside in their insentient triumph, the triumph of horrible, amorphous angles and straight lines, the expression of corruption triumphant and unopposed, corruption so pure that it is hard and brittle: she saw the dun atmosphere over the blackened hill opposite, the dark blotches of houses, slate roofed and amorphous,... the amorphous, brittle, hard-edged new houses advancing from Beldover to meet the corrupt new houses from Lethley, the houses of Lethley advancing to mix with the houses of Hainor, a dry, brittle, terrible corruption spreading over the face of the land, and she was sick with a nausea so deep that she perished as she sat. (458) Overlooking Beldover, Ursula apprehends the mechanical corruption of the entire countryside. Recalling the demonic appearance of Wiggiston, which had thrown up “a great mass of pinkish rows of thin, unreal dwellings” (320) within a year of its birth, the towns of Beldover, Lethley, and Hainor show the extent to which the deadly force of the satanic machine has spread. The mechanical “corruption” of each industrial town “advances” with precision and “triumphant” violence, threatening to turn the whole landscape into a rationalized waste land of “hard, cutting edges” and dead men. Thus, Ursula “perish[es]” where she sits, and the narrative—proclaiming the “triumph... triumph” of the mechanical principle—pushes toward its close in a linear assault akin to that of the “amorphous angles and straight lines” (458) of the sprawling industrial towns. Replicating the action of the machine in repetitions that

96 Modernism relentlessly assert its total success (the mechanized landscape is “amorphous . . . amorphous . . . amorphous” in its “corruption so pure,” “terrible corruption spreading” in “corrupt new houses” that declare “corruption triumphant” [458]), the novel clamps down, discursively, on the one character who has sworn to “smash the machine” (325). And yet, at the very moment of mechanization’s apparent victory, The Rainbow throws a kind of mythic spanner into the works: And then, in the blowing clouds, she saw a band of faint iridescence colouring in faint colours a portion of the hill. And forgetting, startled, she looked for the hovering colour and saw a rainbow forming itself. In one place it gleamed fiercely, and, her heart anguished with hope, she sought the shadow of iris where the bow should be. Steadily the colour gathered, mysteriously, from nowhere, it took presence upon itself, there was a faint, vast rainbow. The arc bended and strengthened itself till it arched indomitable, making great architecture of light and colour and the space of heaven, its pedestals luminous in the corruption of new houses on the low hill, its arch the top of heaven. (458) This rainbow, though apparently materializing according to logic and the laws of physics (Ursula looks for its emerging color where she expects “the bow should be”), rapidly takes on symbolic properties in excess of its predictable, geometrical “arc.” Springing from the rationalized “corruption of [the] new houses,” it becomes a mythic “architecture... of heaven”: And the rainbow stood on the earth. She [Ursula] knew that the sordid people who crept hard-scaled and separate on the face of the world’s corruption were living still, that the rainbow was arched in their blood and would quiver to life in their spirit, that they would cast off their horny covering of disintegration, that new, clean, naked bodies would issue to a new germination, to a new growth, rising to the light and the wind and the clean rain of heaven. (458–9) With a sudden certainty at odds with her vision of the machine’s “triumph... triumph” (458), Ursula apprehends the rainbow as the mythic sign of sure renewal, and the narrative—propelled now by the vision of the rainbow instead of the machine—jumps forward in a linear rush that not only repeats (“colouring in faint colours... the hovering colour... the colour gathered”) but bends (“arc . . . arched . . . architecture”) into a figure that transcends the mechanical corruption from which it springs. Thus, sketching a structure opposed to the reified forms of the

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  97 “hard-edged new houses” on which it stands, the arc of the rainbow not only promises rebirth at the moment of the machine’s apparent victory, but narratively enacts it: Pitting the mythic figure of the bow against the mechanical form of the narrative—against the plot of decline and the language that propels it—the novel subverts the machine at the moment of its ostensible triumph.6

III. Generating the Rainbow Not everyone appreciates this mythic ending. Famously, F. R. Leavis— though one of Lawrence’s earliest and, generally, most vigorous proponents—complained that the conclusion of the novel is effectively an act of narrative machine-breaking: Coming literally “from nowhere” (Rainbow 458), it does not cohere, he argues, with the novel’s chronicle of generational decline. And though he acknowledges that this “imperfection... is really in and of the essential achievement” of Lawrence’s anti-industrial vision, he dwells not on “the unique positive value” of the final passage, but rather its “incongruity” (171)—the extent to which it is “wholly unprepared and unsupported” (170). For Leavis, the ending is “a problem in art that [Lawrence]... couldn’t solve” because, in the course of writing The Rainbow, “he had grown into a more daunting perception of the problem in life” (171). Later critics disagree, arguing that Lawrence’s rainbow is consistent with the symbolic structure of the work as a whole—a work that begins, as we have seen, with the loss of a preindustrial Eden in Marsh Farm and figures the machine as a satanic monster. Yet this form of continuity has been perceived to threaten the novel in another way. Reading the “mythological structure” of the book as one that supplants the representation of “real history” (Holderness 188, 187), materialist critics have tended to argue that the ending of The Rainbow substitutes a fantasy of individual liberation for any “realist or historical content” (Holderness 186) and thus gives up on the possibility of changing the social and political conditions it represents. In the first sustained Marxist critique of Lawrence’s work, Graham Holderness insisted that the “conclusion [of The Rainbow] is... the true consummation of the novel’s form”—but accepted the ending only to deplore it as an “explicit refusal” of history (188). And Terry Eagleton, in a more recent account, continues this line of argument when he contends that the novel’s “inward spiritual history... takes precedence over its... realism,” and thus “threatens to devalue the common social world” (English Novel 273).7 Ultimately, for such critics, Lawrence replaces the representation of social struggle with a vision of individual transcendence that evades the historical realities it purports to critique. While it is certainly true that the ending of The Rainbow is personal, spiritual, and transcendent, however, it is also true that Ursula’s mythic

98 Modernism vision is conditioned by real historical circumstances. As in Zola’s Germinal, the figure of the demonic mine captures a reality—the genuinely superhuman force of the machine—beyond realist representation, and thus shows “the mythic and symbolic” to be, as Irving Howe argues of the Zolian novel, “the very substance of the historical” (“Zola” 287). Moreover, though the figure of spiritual transcendence fashions a deliberate break with empirical realism at the end of the novel, the visionary bow carries the symbolic pattern of the narrative to its logical conclusion: In biblical tradition, demonic temptation leads not only to a fall but, we will remember, a new covenant—and this, “arched in th[e] blood” (459) of the miners, is rendered in The Rainbow in terms that are not only symbolically consistent with the narrative as a whole, but true to a particular historical reality. Though more like specters than men— walking “hard-scaled and separate” (458), entombed in a “horny covering of disintegration” (459), as though “already enclosed in a coffin” (458)—Lawrence’s reified colliers render the mental and physical consequences of mechanization: the functional reduction of living people to mindless parts of a deadening, inhuman mechanism. Yet further, while critics like Holderness and Eagleton lament the mythological ending of The Rainbow for its apparent rejection of practical realities—especially the reality of social struggle, and the value of organized labor8—Lawrence locates a form of revolutionary potential in the very dehumanization of the colliers. “[B]uried alive” (458), the working men are robbed of their humanity—but simultaneously acquire the power to transcend the rationalized order that afflicts them. As Lawrence would put it in a letter of August31, 1925, what most impressed him about the mines was not their mechanical monstrosity, but the mythic state that monstrosity imposed, the darkness, the mystery, the otherworldness, the peculiar camaraderie [of the miners], the sort of naked intimacy: men as gods in the underworld, or as elementals....[T]he deathliness of steel, as against the comparative softness, silkiness, naturalness of coal. . . . Coal is a symbol of something in the soul, old and dark and silky and natural. (Letters II 852) Here, opposing the “naturalness of coal” to the “deathliness of steel” with which it is unearthed, Lawrence locates a site of possibility in the “underworld” conditions of the mine—conditions that impose a form of “naked intimacy” and thus induce an “elementa[l]” power among men.9 Forced underground, literally “buried alive” (Rainbow 458), the colliers are deprived of the faculties responsible for their objectification above it, and pressed into contact with a regenerative sensuality. Thus, the mine creates the means of its own transcendence, and the pit becomes the condition of the rainbow: As men dead on the surface become “as gods”

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  99 underneath it, they acquire an instinctive solidarity that inverts—and has the power to overthrow—the rational ascendancy of the machine. As Ursula foresees at the end of the novel, the miners’ reification itself produces the conditions of a “new germination” (Rainbow 459) with the power to sweep away the factories. As in Germinal, then, The Rainbow figures the demonic underworld of the mine as a source of rejuvenating power—the condition of a new “germination” of revolt against the machine. While Zola’s miners are doomed to submit, however, to the mechanical monster—reduced to functional nonentity in their revolutionary spirit as in their submission, and everywhere driven by the man-made forces of “warmth and light” (Germinal 524)—Lawrence foresees a genuine return of the organic world through the mechanical. For him, even the reduction of the miners to mere functional bodies is a positive consequence, insofar as it reduces rational being to the sensual power he often called “blood-consciousness.”10 Aforce “arched in [the miners’]... blood” and ready to “quiver to life in their spirit” (Rainbow 459), this erotic power begins in the mine but need not be confined to it—and it is thus that Ursula receives the final vision of the rainbow. Though she herself is not a miner, she is a person capable of sensual vitality, and it is this force that will finally enable her, the novel suggests, to “smas[h] the great machine” (325). Discursively, of course, the liberating act of sabotage has already been accomplished, as the ending of The Rainbow throws a mythic spanner (the span of the rainbow) into the works of the industrial plot. In the story, however, the span is still only a covenant—a promise—and the possibility of renewal is deferred to the sequel.

IV. Escaping the Machine Apocalypse: Women in Love A darker novel than The Rainbow, Women in Love (1920) is not simply a continuation of Ursula’s story but an escalation of it. In this sequel, the “terrible corruption” of the mines has continued to spread; Ursula, though still ready to smash the machine, is more isolated in her revolt against it; and the narrative, expanding its erotic focus, distributes at least as much attention to her sister Gudrun—a woman more ambivalent about men than machines.11 Thus, although the dark underworld created by the colliery reappears in Women in Love, it is represented far more equivocally, and the possibilities of “blood-conscious” transcendence are threatened even as they are evoked. Walking together through Beldover, the two Brangwen sisters see [m]iners... sitting on their heels, with their backs near the walls, talking and silent in pure physical well-being, tired, and taking physical rest. Their voices sounded out with strong intonation, and the broad dialect was curiously caressing to the blood. It seemed

100 Modernism to envelop Gudrun in a labourer’s caress, there was in the whole atmosphere a resonance of physical men, a glamorous thickness of labour and maleness, surcharged in the air....[I]t was potent and half-repulsive. She... realized that this was the world of powerful, underworld men who spent most of their time in the darkness. In their voices she could hear the voluptuous resonance of darkness, the strong, dangerous underworld, mindless, inhuman. They sounded also like strange machines, heavy, oiled. The voluptuousness was like that of machinery, cold and iron. (118–19) At first, evoking the dark, “elemental” intimacy of the mines, this passage recalls the erotic possibilities of blood-consciousness. In the “strong intonation” of the miners’ voices—the “broad dialect” of these “powerful, underworld men”—Gudrun hears a speech “caressing to the blood.” As the passage progresses, however, a new influence is introduced: She “also” hears the sound of machinery. As the miners’ salutary “mindlessness” gives way to the dumb tenacity of the mechanism that produces it, the darkness of a sensual underworld yields to a “mindless, inhuman” condition “like that of machinery” itself. The change in the miners, in Women in Love, is partly due to the passage of time and partly to the eye of the beholder. Unlike Ursula, who ultimately manages to resist the “swooning, perverse satisfaction” of mechanization in The Rainbow (324), Gudrun is attracted by the increasing reification of the colliers, and it is her perspective that dominates the passage above. More disconcerted by the organic man than the mechanized one, Gudrun finds “physical men... potent and half-repulsive,” and is drawn instead to the “voluptuousness... of machinery” (Women in Love 119). It is therefore no surprise that she falls in love, in the course of the novel, with Gerald Crich—the “Industrial Magnate” (218) who represents, and himself embodies, the progress of mechanization. In Gerald’s embrace, in the “vibrating, inhuman tension of his arms” (344), Gudrun feels an erotic force “more powerful and terrible” than that of the colliers he employs, and pursues a connection with a man like machinery, “cold and iron” (119). More “concentrated and supreme” (344) in his love than the miners, Gerald is not only more mechanical than his men but, as it turns out, directly responsible for their increasing reification. “[C]onvert[ing] the [coal] industry into a new and terrible purity” (239), introducing “[n]ew machinery” and “[a]n enormous electric plant ..., both for lighting and for haulage underground, and for power” (238), he perfects the efficiency of the industrial complex—and eliminates the conditions of bloodconsciousness. No longer working in dark, naked intimacy, the colliers’ sensual mindlessness in the pit is replaced in the newly illuminated mines by the “heart-breaking... mindlessness” of the machine: “The miners

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  101 were reduced to mere mechanical instruments.... The joy went out of their lives, the hope seemed to perish as they became more and more mechanised. And yet they accepted the new conditions” (238).12 Abolishing the possibility of blood-consciousness—eliminating the sensual darkness necessary to organic regeneration—the mechanical perfection of the mines in Women in Love not only destroys the miners but, of course, the Industrial Magnate himself. Having made the “whole system... so perfect that [he]... was hardly necessary any more” (240), Gerald produces the conditions of his own redundancy, and is suddenly beset by a fear that his physical body—no longer vital to the machinery he has put in place—is obsolete. Thus, although he continues “for some years in a sort of trance of activity” (240), he is increasingly reduced to a reflex of his own industrial processes, and pushes on in a kind of frenzy that ends, at last, with his death in the Alps: a death symbolic of the fatal conditions he has imposed on himself and others. In the icy wilderness of the Tyrol, seeking a holiday from the labor of industrial innovation with Gudrun, Gerald finally succumbs to his deadening mechanical impulses. At first, feeling “strong as winter,” like “living metal,” he finds erotic satisfaction in the “supernatural force” of his body (417)—the force of his own extreme rationalization. Soon baffled, however, by his lover’s attraction to a man yet more mechanized than himself—a sculptor of industrial friezes, who subordinates art to industry, and insists that “machinery and the acts of labor are extremely, maddeningly beautiful” (440)13—he gives way to frustration, attempts to throttle Gudrun, and then, having “had enough” (491), charges off in pursuit of an “end” that replicates the heart-breaking conditions of his mines. Lost in “illuminated darkness” (492), he confronts, symbolically, a magnified version of his colliery, and is reduced, like his men, to mechanical movement for its own sake. Wanting only “to go on, to go on whilst he could, to move, to keep going, that was all, to keep going, until it was finished” (491), he becomes, like his miners, more and more mechanized. And he accepts the new conditions: “Yet why be afraid? It was bound to happen....[H]e was waiting for the moment when he would stop, when it would cease” (492). Encountering a version of his own electrified pits in the frozen wilderness, the “Industrial Magnate” finally succumbs to a fatal reification, and one that threatens—as it replicates and generalizes the illuminated darkness of the industrial complex he has created—the European landscape as a whole. Even in this terminal winter, however, the possibility of bloodconscious transcendence persists. Though Gerald dies and Gudrun goes on to live a rationalized life of “knowledge in dissolution” (263), Ursula and Rupert Birkin sustain—in the famous “Excurse” chapter of the novel—the visionary potential of The Rainbow. As the odd title suggests, “Excurse” is both the story of an excursion in the narrative and, rhetorically, an excursion from it.14 And though the episode is literally

102 Modernism propelled by machinery—in this chapter, Rupert and Ursula go for a country drive—the mechanical order implied by the automobile is broken by an access of mythic discovery. Stopping for tea near Sherwood Forest, Ursula kneels before Rupert in the parlor of an inn and discover[s] something, something more than wonderful, more wonderful than life itself. It was the strange mystery of his life-motion, there, at the back of the thighs, down the flanks. It was a strange reality of his being, the very stuff of being, there in the straight downflow of the thighs. It was here she discovered him one of the sons of God such as were in the beginning of the world, not a man, something other, something more.... This was release at last. She had had lovers, she had known passion. But this was neither love nor passion. It was the daughters of men coming back to the sons of God, the strange inhuman sons of God who are in the beginning.... It was a perfect passing away for both of them, and at the same time the most intolerable accession into being, the marvellous fullness of immediate gratification, overwhelming, outflooding from the source of the deepest life-force, the darkest, deepest, strangest life-source of the human body, at the back and the base of the loins. (325–6) Here, Ursula and Rupert appear to achieve a blood-conscious union, accessing “the deepest life-force” of the human body in a moment of “overwhelming” gratification that evokes, in its references to “sons of God” and “daughters of men,” a biblical renewal after the pattern of Genesis. As a girl in The Rainbow, Ursula is haunted by Genesis 6:2, in which “[t]he sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair,” and muses that “perhaps... these sons of God... had known no expulsion, no ignominy of the fall” (Rainbow 256–7). Thus, “Excurse” implies a new beginning through the fulfillment of an old desire: as a son of God (Rupert) comes to a daughter of men (Ursula), the lovers access a prelapsarian order—a world in which paradise is not necessarily lost.15 Just how this form of Edenic renewal is achieved, however, remains obscure. While the declarative structure of the sentences in the passage (“It was.... It was.... This was ...”) suggests a direct statement of experience, that statement is simultaneously undermined by the overtly indeterminate language (“something, something . . . wonderful, more wonderful”). Further, the coherence of the narrative is undercut by a series of qualifications that seem to obfuscate the nature of Ursula’s erotic fulfillment even as it is asserted: “She had had lovers ...[and] passion,” but “this was neither love nor passion”; “[i]t was a perfect passing away” but also “the most intolerable accession into being.” Ultimately, then, the

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  103 passage seems designed to baffle, and scholars have generally responded in one of two ways, either dismissing it as bad writing or undertaking near-Herculean labors of exegesis, plumbing the depths of Lawrence’s occasional essays in an effort to vanquish “all speculations about ‘what really happened’ ” (Vitoux 831) in a scene involving loins, thighs, flanks, and—perhaps most disconcertingly—an overflow of the “deepest lifeforce” in the public parlor of an inn.16 I would suggest, however, that the passage emphatically resists the exegetical labor it also unmistakably provokes. After all, to explain what happens in the encounter is to submit a “blood-conscious” experience to the rational processes it is supposed to transcend, and thereby to destroy—like Gerald’s illumination of the mines—the conditions of sensual escape it depicts. Insisting upon its own obscurity, “Excurse” is certainly deplorable from the point of view of making narrative sense; yet its very refusal of coherence is, Iwould contend, the condition of its regenerative power. Like Rupert, who remarks at one point that an “idea of what he wanted” does not “agree very well” with “sensual fulfillment” (262), “Excurse” dispenses with rational clarity in the hopes of breaking with rationality as such. Resuscitating the mythic possibilities of The Rainbow, the chapter thus effectively throws another spanner into the works: liberating Ursula and Rupert from the reification that destroys Gerald and Gudrun in the Alps, it breaks up the instrumental order of a narrative that otherwise drives relentlessly toward catastrophe. As Lawrentian spanners go, of course, “Excurse” is a rather small one. Confined to a single chapter and a single couple in Women in Love, it both concentrates and curtails the mythic “accession into being” it represents. Yet it also holds open, under increasingly perilous circumstances, the possibility of transcendence—and helps guarantee a final “excursion” at the end of the book. In the closing chapters of the novel, just before Gerald’s death, Ursula and Rupert leave the frozen wastes of the Tyrol in search, as Gudrun mockingly puts it, of “Rupert’s Blessed Isles” (456). The “Blessed Isles” are, however, traditionally the Elysian Fields, and it is precisely this—a vital underworld—that Ursula and Rupert still seek. Affirming that this underworld of sensual vitality still exists, “Excurse” makes the final excursion possible, and the very unintelligibility of its aims—Ursula “do[esn’t] know a bit what is going to happen”; she only knows that she and Rupert “are going somewhere” (454)—helps guarantee its subversion of the rationalized order. Indeed, when Gudrun asks whether she will return, Ursula says, “Oh, we shall come back. . . . It isn’t a question of train-journeys” (454). Like the departure to the inn by Sherwood Forest—a trip made possible by a machine, but a machine transcended by the spiritual “excursion” it propels—the departure for the “Blessed Isles” accepts, as incidental, industrial conditions it feels sure of superseding.

104 Modernism

V. The Fascistic Mechanics of The Plumed Serpent Unfortunately, the possibility of visionary transcendence, as enacted in both The Rainbow and Women in Love, is not sustained in Lawrence’s later fiction. Having determined, like Ursula and Rupert, to escape industrial modernity, Lawrence himself left Europe after finishing Women in Love, and his subsequent novels suggest—as he tried and failed to find an actual equivalent of the Blessed Isles in comparatively undeveloped nations—that utopian excursions are ultimately too much a question of train journeys.17 In the 1920s, Lawrence traveled to Ceylon, Australia, America, and Mexico (Meyers 268–301), and the novels that resulted— Aaron’s Rod (1922), Kangaroo (1923), and The Plumed Serpent (1926)— all show a mounting dissatisfaction with the narrowness of possibility articulated in the earlier fiction. In these works, myth is still endowed with regenerative power, but—as Lawrence grew increasingly preoccupied with the social and political implementation of his vision—imposed with a relentlessness and clarity at odds with its revivifying potential. In The Plumed Serpent, the last and still most read of the so-called novels of power (Meyers 247), the achievement of blood-conscious transcendence is systematically elaborated as a scheme of personal and political regeneration in the Americas. Kate Leslie, a 40-year-old Irish widow, travels to Mexico and there becomes involved with the efforts of Don Ramón and Don Cipriano to transform the nation through the resurrection of its old gods. Don Ramón “manifests” Quetzalcoatl; Don Cipriano “manifests” Huitzilopochtli; and the two ask Kate to participate in the new religion by becoming the goddess Malintzi, wife of Huitzilopochtli.18 The chief conflict in the novel thus consists, for Kate, of accepting or rejecting the gods—a decision identical to accepting or rejecting Don Cipriano as a husband-god—and is resolved when she recognizes Cipriano’s “primeval” powers: The mystery of the primeval world! She could feel it now in all its shadowy, furious magnificence. . . . In his black, glinting eyes the power was limitless, and it was as if, from him, from his body of blood could rise up that pillar of cloud which swayed and swung, like a rearing serpent or a rising tree, till it swept the zenith, and all the earth below was dark and prone, and consummated. . . . Ah! and what a mystery of prone submission, on her part, this huge erection would imply! Submission absolute, like the earth under the sky. Beneath the over-arching absolute.... Ah! what a marriage! How terrible! and how complete! With the finality of death, and yet more than death.... She could conceive now her marriage with Cipriano; the supreme passivity, like the earth below the twilight, consummate in living lifelessness. (308–9)

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  105 As a form of transcendence accomplished through the impersonality of sensual contact, the experience Kate envisions with Cipriano is recognizable as a version of the “blood-conscious” union Ursula and Rupert achieve in Women in Love. Limitations are done away (Cipriano and Kate are not as man and woman, but as sky and earth); personality is submerged in a symbolic annihilation with “the finality of death”; and the supernatural quality of the encounter is amplified in the limitless power of Cipriano’s erections, which are compared to the biblical pillar of cloud, the rearing serpent of Quetzalcoatl, and the cosmic tree of Norse mythology.19 Unfortunately, these numinous erections impose, “on [Kate’s]... part,” a “mystery of prone submission” to which Cipriano is not himself subject, and terminate in a “supreme passivity” that is “terrible” in more ways than one. Despite its insistence upon “primeval... mystery,” the narrative does little to mystify its desire for masculine domination, as the revivification of Mexico’s old gods depends upon Kate’s subordination to Cipriano’s phallic ascendancy: “[s]ubmission absolute” to the “overarching absolute.”20 Instrumentalized as a political experiment, then, “blood-consciousness” loses its capacity for transcendence in The Plumed Serpent, and the narrative becomes as “willed and mechanical” (Leavis 71) as the industrial order Lawrence had originally set out to oppose. Discursively, as Katherine Anne Porter put it in an early review, “[t]he [myth of the] living Quetzalcoatl works through the cumbrous machinery of drums, erotic-mystic ritual, [and] ceremonial bloodshed” (266) that is—as later critics put it— at best “monotonous and boring” (Leavis 71), and, at worst, politically “execrable” (Eagleton, English Novel 272). Imposed as a remedy for European ills, myth in The Plumed Serpent becomes the basis of a social model that is not only sexist (in its insistence upon phallic supremacy) and racist (in its appropriation of indigenous traditions), but—in its vision of “organic” renewal rooted in the blood—potentially fascistic. Of course, as Bertrand Russell points out, the theory of “bloodconsciousness” had always been politically problematic. As he recalls in Portraits from Memory (1956), Lawrence—whom he met in 1915, the year The Rainbow was published—had a mystical philosophy of “blood” which I disliked. “There is,” he said, “another seat of consciousness than the brain—and nerves. There is a blood-consciousness which exists in us independently of the ordinary mental consciousness. One lives, knows, and has one’s being in the blood, without any reference to nerves and brain. This is one half of life belonging to the darkness. When I take a woman, then the blood-percept is supreme. My blood-knowing is overwhelming. We should realize that we have a blood-being, a blood-consciousness, a blood-soul complete and apart from a mental and nerve consciousness.” This seemed to me frankly rubbish,

106 Modernism and Irejected it vehemently, though Idid not then know that it led straight to Auschwitz. (106–7) Writing after the Second World War, Russell’s account of Lawrence’s philosophy is, of course, heavily inflected by the horror of Nazi Germany, and he traces Lawrentian thinking to a destination that Lawrence himself—who died in 1930, some years before the consolidation of Hitler’s power and the construction of the camps—would almost certainly have found appalling.21 Nevertheless, the totalitarian politics of The Plumed Serpent do resemble German fascism. As Anne Fernihough has shown, what began for Lawrence as a radical repudiation of the industrial order inevitably mutated into an anti-democratic political model rooted in an “organic” philosophy of renewal: “As soon as the ‘dehumanization’ of industrialized society is linked... to the idea of democratic levelling”—the “idea of reducing human beings to . . . ciphers” or so many coal-mining machines—“recourse is easily made to ‘natural categories’ and to a ‘natural hierarchy’ grounded in biology, to the differences universally inscribed in ‘nature’ ” (23–4).22 Horrified by the human consequences of industrialization, Lawrence sought to restore an organic order through a myth of “blood-consciousness” that turns out to be— when articulated as an explicit political program—all too consistent with the ideology of the twentieth century’s most monstrous regimes.23 Still, as a fascistic novel, The Plumed Serpent is of value as a limit case. Marking the furthest outpost of Lawrence’s political “excursions,” it distinguishes the point at which myth—grasped as a means of narrative machine-breaking—turns the modernist novel into a version of the mechanical monster it sets out to oppose. From this extremity, Lawrence could only retreat—and retreat he did. Renouncing, as he put it in a letter to the American poet Witter Bynner, the “leader of men ..., one up one down, lead on I follow, ich dien sort of business” (Letters II 1045), he finally distanced himself from the authoritarian politics of the Serpent—and beat back, as it were, to the location of his earlier fiction. In his last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), he returns to the mining regions of the English Midlands, and thus retreats—both geographically and ideologically—from the position articulated in the novels of power. In this final work, it must be admitted, the return is rather despairing. The miners live a life with “utterly no beauty in it, no intuition, always ‘in the pit’ ” (159), and Connie Chatterley reflects that “[f]orty years had made a difference, an appalling difference in manhood. The iron and the coal had eaten deep into the bodies and souls of the men” (159). Here, there is no distinction left between the “naturalness” of coal and the metal tools with which it is mined, and the possibility of mythic transcendence seems permanently curtailed as Connie, in a passage that recalls the end of The Rainbow, sees “an array of red-brick semi-detached ‘villas’ in new

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  107 streets... blotting out” (158–9) the old, organic world of rural England. Wondering “[w]hat would come after,” she raises, again, the question posed in the earlier novel—but now without recourse to Ursula’s vision of redemption. She simply “could not imagine. She could only see the new brick streets spreading into the fields, the new erections rising at the collieries” (159). Though she wonders “What next,” she “always felt that there was no next. She wanted to hide her head in the sand: or at least, in [the] bosom of a living man” (159). The bosom, however, is still available in the person of Oliver Mellors, and though the novel represents it as at best a retreat—Connie can only “hide,” in Oliver’s embrace, from the implacable realities of industrial England—his love is still figured as a site of potential renewal. Though the son of a coal miner, Mellors is “[n]ot quite” (159) the offspring of the new, spectral race whose bodies and souls have been utterly consumed by the mines. Rather, he and his woodland cottage—with its red-brick floor and pastoral environs—seem designed to redeem the vision of the red-brick, coal-mining towns. In this novel, it is true, the erotic scenes between Connie and Oliver tend to lack the numinous ambiguity of those in the earlier fiction.24 Yet the very reduction in mythic potential, after The Plumed Serpent, may be a political good. Marking the extent of Lawrence’s retreat from the totalitarian pitfalls of the novels of power, the demythologized sexuality may be a means of reviving the hopes of the earlier fiction—even in the collapse of its mythic designs. Indeed, in Lady Chatterley, the collapse is confirmed at the outset. As the narrator announces in the first paragraph, the machine apocalypse— so narrowly averted in The Rainbow and Women in Love—has now irrevocably come to pass: “The cataclysm has happened, [and] we are among the ruins” (5).25 Nevertheless, the novel carries on. “It is,” the narrator remarks, “rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live” (5). Thus, though not a hopeful book, Lady Chatterley may be described as a hard-working one, and its lack of a “smooth road” forward is, perhaps, a hidden good. In Women in Love, we will remember, the “Excurse” chapter depends upon a motorcar outing, and the “Blessed Isles” are accessible by rail (454). In Lady Chatterley, in contrast, the path to the future—though an arduous one for people—is no more passable for machines.

Notes 1. In Germinal, though Zola’s Le Voreux has an obvious appetite for human bodies, “swallowing more and more men, drinking them down the dark abyss of its throat” (32), it for the most part lacks the pronounced erotic dimension of Ursula’s colliery. This is not to say, however, that Zola is without sexualized machines. Most obviously, Jacques’s engine in La Bête humaine is a sexy beast: given “a woman’s name, . . . a name he would

108 Modernism utter in fond tones,” La Lison seems to Jacques to have a unique “soul”—as well as an insatiable, sensual desire for “greasing: the cylinders especially devoured unreasonable quantities of grease, a constant hunger it was, absolute gluttony. Vainly he had tried to get her to moderate her appetite. But she became breathless at once, that was just the way she was. He had resigned himself to tolerating this voracious passion” (147). 2. Lawrence’s gendering of the colliery, though seemingly inconsistent with an industrial complex made, powered, and overseen by men, is not simply confused. Rather, it finds a justification in Milton’s Paradise Lost, where Lucifer, like all the angels, “Can either sex assume, or both” (1.424). 3. The erotic power of the machine may draw, further, on both pagan and Christian traditions. Since Lucifer, according to the OED, is not only the “name of Satan before his fall” but the “planet Venus when she appears in the sky before sunrise” (“Lucifer”), the colliery—“twinkling in the heavens” (Rainbow 325)—is at once satanic and venereal: as proud as Lucifer and as seductive as Venus. 4. Lawrence tends to represent lesbianism as a perversion of the biological order—a disruption of the organic “nature” of things aligned with the machine. What begins as an inherently reductive view of lesbian sexuality, however, grows somewhat more interesting through the symbolic elaboration of Winifred’s character in The Rainbow. As both “school” and “mistress” to Ursula, Winifred implicates education in the corruption of organic being, linking the rational development of Ursula’s mind to the sexual development threatened by the machine. Thus, Ursula’s maturity coincides with her realization of the evils, both external and internal (mine and mind), of instrumental rationality, and she liberates herself from the machine in her escape from Wiggiston and Winifred.   It is also worth noting that Lawrence, though lamentably consistent in his position on lesbianism, was not uniformly homophobic. Though Oliver Mellors, the hero of his last novel, says that “When I’m with a woman who’s really Lesbian, Ifairly howl in my soul, wanting to kill her” (203), one recalls, as Kate Millett remarks, “that Mellors’ first love was his colonel,” and that Lawrence’s novels frequently include “some symbolically surrogate scene of ...[homosexual adoration]: the rubdowns in The White Peacock and Aaron’s Rod, the consecration scene in The Plumed Serpent, the kiss denied in Kangaroo and the wrestling scene in Women in Love” (241n.18). Indeed, though he ultimately suppressed it, the Prologue to Women in Love makes Lawrence’s valorization of homoerotic contact between men explicit. Although the iconoclastic hero of this novel is “always drawn to women,... it was for men that [Rupert Birkin]... felt the hot, flushing, roused attraction which a man is supposed to feel for the other sex” (“The ‘Prologue’ ” 501). 5. Encountering the mine at the turn of the century, when Wiggiston is only “seven years old” (320), Ursula sees the monster as a force that has newly taken over the natural world. Lawrence, however, composed the Wiggiston section of The Rainbow during the First World War, and this helps explain a strange slippage of tense in the passage that describes Ursula’s repudiation of the machine: “She had departed. No more would she subscribe to the great colliery, to the great machine which has taken us all captives” (324). Here, even as Ursula chooses to resist the machine, the narrative’s implicit shift from the past to the present perfect (from “she had” to “has taken”) suggests that her resistance will make no difference to the course of historical events. Indeed, though Lawrence began writing the novel before the First World War and had considered it finished before August1914, he rewrote it

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  109 during the conflict, adding Ursula’s encounter with Wiggiston (see KinkeadWeekes xxviii–xlv). Thus, Ursula’s experience in her uncle’s mining town not only reflects a crisis within the text, but a crisis raging outside it—and one that Lawrence considered proof of the mechanical death drive of European civilization. In the “Study of Thomas Hardy,” a work undertaken “[o]ut of sheer rage” about the “colossal idiocy” of the First World War (Letters I 290), Lawrence argues that the war demonstrates the worthlessness of modern life: “No wonder there is a war.... Anything, anything to prove that we are not altogether sealed in our own self-preservation as dying chrysalides.... So we go to war to show that we can throw our lives away. Indeed, they have become of so little value to us. We cannot live, we cannot be.... Does not war show us how little, under all our carefulness, we count human life and suffering, how little we value ourselves at bottom, how we hate our own security” (“Study” 15–6, emphasis in original). In this passage, the war is associated with—indeed, attributed to—the process of rationalization responsible for the suppression of natural vitality in The Rainbow: like the miners of the novel, the “dying chrysalides” of the “Study” are buried alive within a “horny covering of disintegration” (Rainbow 458). 6. This argument is not unprecedented. In “The Ambivalent Approach: D. H. Lawrence and the New Physics,” N. Katherine Hayles suggests that the rainbow symbol is intended to subvert the novel’s linear progression. Pointing out that it is first associated with Anna Brangwen’s maternal fulfillment, Hayles argues that Lawrence redeems his symbol by asking the reader to make a leap of faith: “When Ursula rejects the fecundity that was her mother’s chief fulfillment, she does so in the context of scoffing at the Biblical story of Noah and his sons repopulating the earth....[H]aving once depleted the symbol [the rainbow of Genesis] by trapping it within Ursula’s skeptical (i.e., linear) consciousness, how can Lawrence free his symbol? Certainly not by analyzing it.... The alternative is to ask the reader to take on faith that the symbol has regained its potency” (94). Breaking with logic in an appeal to faith, Lawrence breaks with the rational order of the narrative—but in doing so saves both Ursula and the novel from terminal reification. 7. Though Holderness’s work was not published until 1982, Eagleton’s similar position in the more recent The English Novel (2005) demonstrates how little the Marxist appraisal of Lawrence has changed over the years. See, for further materialist debate, note 12. 8. Contesting Lawrence’s representation of the colliers in Sons and Lovers (1913), for example, Eagleton points out that “[t]he miners who are portrayed by Lawrence as sensuous, passive, inarticulate creatures were responsible, in the year in which [the novel]... was completed, for the greatest industrial strike which Britain had ever witnessed” (271). Interestingly, however, he is more favorably disposed toward Lawrence’s representation of dehumanization in The Rainbow, where “[w]e are told in the book’s apocalyptic final passage that the rainbow, symbol of human regeneration, is still living in the blood of the ‘hard-scaled’ creatures. . . . We have seen little evidence of this in the novel, . . . but the claim, even so, is heartening to hear” (274). Were the author’s symbolic renderings of working men always so hopeful, Eagleton implies, he would have more sympathy for Lawrence’s mythic vision. 9. Addressed to Kyle Crichton, an aspiring American writer, this letter begins as a critique of a short story by Crichton, suggesting that it is “too journalistic” and urging the author to consider the “human inside,” the “passionate sub-conscious” of the working man it represents, as well as “the insides of

110 Modernism steel works” (Letters II 851, emphasis in original). Lawrence then develops, at some length, the contrast between the “deathliness of steel, as against the comparative... naturalness of coal” (Letters II 852): an image of the mines that—since it seems to be missing in the story he is critiquing (“Create that in a picture” [852, emphasis in original])—appears to be altogether Lawrence’s own. 10. In a famous letter of January17, 1913, written shortly before he commenced the first drafts of The Rainbow, Lawrence wrote, “My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle. What do Icare about knowledge. All Iwant is to answer to my blood, direct, without fribbling intervention of mind” (Letters I 180). Opposing the wisdom of the “blood” to the intellect, Lawrence gradually developed a philosophy that pitted the sensual experience of “blood-consciousness” against the instrumentality of rational consciousness. 11. The story of The Rainbow was not originally separate from Women in Love, but—filling out Ursula’s romantic and familial prehistory—was elaborated as a retrospective solution to problems posed by the later story (see KinkeadWeekes). In fact, Women in Love was only divided from The Rainbow in January 1915, when Lawrence found his manuscript growing too bulky, and he returned to the omitted material—now conceived as a sequel—in April of the following year (Farmer xxvii). The mood in which he returned, however, was a dark one. The Rainbow had been suppressed for obscenity in November1915, and the First World War raged on. Thus, Women in Love reflects the crisis of the war to an even greater degree than The Rainbow, and the ultimate optimism of the first novel is largely depleted in the second. 12. Significantly, “The Industrial Magnate” chapter of Women in Love has inspired—in its mythic representation of material problems—almost as much debate as the ending of The Rainbow. Cobley offers a thrifty survey of the criticism, contrasting James F. Knapp’s reading, in which “Lawrence is to be praised for capturing the ‘degradation of industrial labor’ [and]... the ‘historically accurate depiction’ ” of the miners’ consent to the rationalization of their industry, with that of Macdonald Daly, who “foregrounds... inaccuracies” to show how Lawrence “reconfigure[s] historical events in [a] . . . metaphysical register” that can only end in “cultural apocalypse” (206–7). Though she herself favors the view that Lawrence is driven to “ideological mystifications... by his inability to deal with real social conflicts” (206), Cobley’s account connects Lawrence’s fictionalization of historical circumstances—especially the conversion into defeat of a “relatively successful rebellion of the miners” in the “Midlands mining lock-out of 1893” (206)—to his representation of the functionalization of human bodies and minds: “The miners have to be defeated and transformed into hapless cogs in the efficient machinery of production so as to allow Lawrence to condemn Taylorism” (206–7). 13. Loerke’s “frieze[s]” (440) not only precipitate but arguably portend—given the homophonic suggestion of “freezing” in the sculptural rendering of industrial labor—Gerald’s terminal reification in the frozen wilderness of the Alps. 14. Even the OED, which defines “excurse” as meaning “[t]o run off, wander, digress,” tends to conflate physical (“run off, wander”) with rhetorical action (“digress”). 15. As Jill Franks points out, Ursula is preoccupied by the most pagan moment in the biblical text. Having “extracted the least Christian part” (80) of her Bible lessons, she finds a kind of pre-Christian loophole in the story: the

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  111 possibility of an alternate genesis in the production of an “unfallen” line of human beings bred of the “sons of God.” 16. Vitoux, failing with great earnestness to put an end to the matter in 1976, is himself the most heroic of exegetes, reading “Excurse” against Lawrence’s later Fantasia of the Unconscious (1922)—a text that allows him to suggest that Ursula may be communing with the non-phallic life force of Rupert’s solar plexus. This explanation, however, reaches forward to a work that was not yet published when readers first tried to make sense of Women in Love, and seems driven largely by embarrassment (since Vitoux, in seeming relief, allows us to disregard “whether the sex was conventional or unconventional,” or “compatible with ...[Ursula and Rupert’s] presence in the parlor of an inn” [831]). Indeed, always impinging upon Vitoux’s reading is the more literal possibility that the “overwhelming, outflooding from the... back and base of the loins” (Women in Love 326) is in fact what it sounds like: a “sloppy bowel movement” (Stevens 62). However messy, such an event is at least as plausible as a discovery of the solar plexus, since anality is linked to sensual transcendence in Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) in the scenes that originally got the novel banned. These, like “Excurse,” are not very clearly delineated, as anal penetration is both concealed and revealed in “disingenuous puns” (Polhemus 304), e.g., “At the bottom of her soul, fundamentally, she had needed this phallic hunting out” (247). In any case, the interpretation of what “really happens” in the inn ultimately depends upon the text one places in dialogue with it (either Fantasia or Lady Chatterley) and always depends upon texts published after Women in Love. 7. In Women in Love, Gerald’s symbolic death—standing for the death of 1 England and white Europe in general—is consistent with the imagery of the semi-autobiographical “Nightmare” chapter of Kangaroo, in which Lawrence describes his departure after the war. Here, like Gerald in Women in Love, England is a dead, frozen body: “It was a cold day. There was snow on the Downs like a shroud. And as he looked back from the boat, when they had left Folkestone behind and only England was there, England... with her dead grey cliffs and the white, worn-out cloth of snow above ...[he] faced out all his memories like a nightmare in the night, and cut clear. He felt broken off from his fellow-men” (264–5). Leaving his home country just before Women in Love was published in 1920, Lawrence traveled perpetually in search of a revivifying sensuality he believed to be more accessible in comparatively undeveloped nations. In his determination to locate a geographical equivalent of Birkin’s utopia, however, he began to undermine his own mythic project. 8. “I am the First Man of Quetzalcoatl,” Don Ramón asserts, “Iam Quetzal1 coatl himself, if you like. Amanifestation, as well as a man” (314). Quetzalcoatl was a Mesoamerican god appropriated by the Aztecs when they invaded the Valley of Mexico, and Huitzilopochtli was an Aztec tribal deity and a god of war (L. D. Clark 555). Thus, Don Ramón and Don Cipriano attempt to resurrect the local pantheon by reinvigorating it in their own persons. Unlike Quetzalcoatl and Huitzilopochtli, however, Malintzi was never an Aztec goddess; rather, she was a real woman in Mexican history, not (to borrow the language of Women in Love) a son of God, but a daughter of men. Moreover, as the translator between Cortez (the European conquistador) and Montezuma (the Aztec leader), she is a controversial figure—variously held responsible for the fall of Mexico to European conquest and valorized as the mother of the mestizo people (since her son by Cortez was the first mestizo) (Neilson 317). In The Plumed Serpent, her role is equally problematic. Kate, as Malintzi, is a kind of European translator between Ramón and Cipriano, and her reversal of racial roles (she is

112 Modernism European, whereas the original Malintzi was Amerindian) can be read as a reversal of the conquest, symbolically subverting the history of white civilization in Mexico and foreshadowing the capitulation of “white” to “dark” consciousness in the novel. The fact that the indigenous religion needs to be resuscitated by a white woman, however—and, more specifically, by a white woman’s subjection to patriarchal authority—tends to undermine whatever might be salutary in Lawrence’s apparent reversals. (Indeed, Kate’s transfiguration—which does not in fact install her in the Aztec pantheon— exposes an imbalance of gendered power already in evidence in the earlier fiction: In The Rainbow, Rupert is deified as a “son of God” but Ursula, as a “daughter of men,” is not.) 19. In Exodus (13:21), God leads the Israelites out of Egypt in the form of a pillar of cloud, and in Norse mythology, evoked elsewhere in the novel in relation to “Thor and Wotan, and the tree Igdrasil” (246), the tree is central to the cosmos. 20. Though apparently unironic—Lawrence felt, according to a letter of June1925, that The Plumed Serpent was his “most important novel, so far” (Letters II 845)—the scenes of transcendence in this narrative often seem to travesty his mythic vision. In the passage Idiscuss here, for example, the use of Norse mythology is particularly odd. Not only does it recall the alpine geography associated with the mechanical death drive in Women in Love, but it tends to collapse the whole visionary enterprise—in the deification of Cipriano’s “erection” as a mythic tree—into a joke about “wood.” Meanwhile, Kate’s “[s]ubmission absolute” to Cipriano’s “over-arching” power not only evokes but seems to parody the mythic arc envisioned at the end of The Rainbow, and Cipriano’s phallic ascendancy as the “rearing serpent”— especially when juxtaposed with the pillar of cloud—inevitably calls to mind the biblical snake, and thus the satanic power of the machine. 21. At a bare minimum, the extreme rationalization of the concentration camps— which were essentially factories for the destruction of human beings, assembly lines for the disassembly of people (see Chapter9, note 9)—would have horrified the anti-industrial Lawrence. 22. Fernihough notes that Lawrence would have been acquainted, through his German wife and her sister, with the “völkisch ideologies” from which Nazism emerged in Germany. Personal disposition, however, probably had as much of an effect on his thought as direct German influence. As Fernihough observes, “völkisch ideologies were... inseparable from the fact that Germany had been undergoing a period of rapid industrialization[,]... an accelerated, intensified version of its British counterpart” (21). Lawrence’s acute sense of the tyranny of the machine would therefore tend to align his thinking with völkisch anti-industrialism and the reactive exaltation of the “organic.” Indeed, Fernihough’s anatomy of völkisch ideology could double for a description of Lawrence’s anti-industrialism: “One of the key [völkisch] concepts was rootedness, in a native soil and among a native people, and the overriding feeling was one of alienation or rootlessness: humanity’s kinship with the soil had been forgotten. This alienation was seen to have been caused by the tyranny of rationalism and the intellect in modern society, and a concomitant outwardness, an expansive materialism; ‘interiority,’ it was felt, must be brought back.... Man’s will to dominate nature through technology only led... to man being dominated by technology” (22–3). 23. Lawrence was, of course, not the only modernist to profess fascistic politics. Among the best known are writers like Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, who were overtly attracted to totalitarian regimes. Whereas Lawrence came to fascism through the very extremity of his opposition to the mechanized

Lawrence and the Monster Machine  113 world, however, Pound and Lewis tended to be vocally pro-fascist and promachine, approving of the aesthetic force and efficiency of instrumental domination and totalitarian politics alike. Thus, while Lawrence was writing the anti-industrial Rainbow (1913–15), Pound and Lewis were seeking to channel mechanical efficiency as a means to art. Pound’s Imagism, formulated in 1912, champions a stream-lined aesthetic (“absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation” [“ARetrospect” 3]), and the central symbol of his Vorticism is explicitly one of machine force. As he writes in BLAST, the “vortex is the point of maximum energy”; it “represents, in mechanics, the greatest efficiency” (153). A collaboration with Lewis, BLAST was first conceived after a London dinner in honor of the Italian Futurist, Marinetti, on Nov. 18, 1913 (Edwards vi), and though the Vorticists ultimately denounced Marinetti—proclaiming their independence through a “more vociferous (more Futurist, indeed)” (Edwards vii) repudiation of their Italian debts—BLAST retained an industrial aesthetic consistent with the Futurists’. In fact, though BLAST (like many of its contributors) did not survive the mechanized calamity of the First World War (the second and last issue appeared in 1915), its two founders remained committed to an industrial aesthetic that, as for the Futurists, coincides with fascist politics. Mussolini himself declared that “without Futurism there would never have been a Fascist movement” (qtd. in White 711), and Pound and Lewis both moved from the Futurist BLAST to enthusiasm for fascism as such. Pound became so vocal and committed a proponent of Mussolini that he made profascist broadcasts from Rome during the Second World War, and Lewis— though he recanted his enthusiasm upon receiving a clearer notion of Nazi anti-Semitism (Munton 486–91)—wrote the first book ever published about Hitler. 24. The scenes of sensual transcendence in Lady Chatterley are somewhat enfeebled, as they typically lack (with the possible exception of the passages for which the novel was banned [see note 16]) the emphatic incoherence of similar interludes in Women in Love. Though some critics prefer the common language—Jill Franks, for instance, appreciates the demystified vocabulary (153–4)—the very intelligibility of the scenes tends to make them tedious or embarrassing, and the sustained popularity of the novel probably has more to do with its reputation as a “dirty” book than with the transcendent possibilities of sexual experience. Indeed, it may be that Lawrence himself—rapidly dying of tuberculosis—simply despaired. In this last novel, the miners are not merely “[l]ike creatures with no more hope” (Rainbow 321), but irretrievably instrumentalized, and the narrative sometimes seems inclined to resolve the industrial problem through a vision of their final obliteration: “Perhaps with the passing of the coal they [the miners] would disappear again, off the face of the earth” (Lady Chatterley 159). 5. The “apocalypse” to which the narrator refers is, of course, the First World 2 War: “The war [brings]... the roof down over [Connie Chatterley’s]... head” (5) when her husband—whom she marries in 1917, when he is home on leave—is blown up in Flanders and returns incapacitated, unable to sire children and, indeed, half-mechanized. (He “could wheel himself about in a wheeled chair,” and he had “a bath-chair with a small motor attachment” [5]). Setting the novel shortly after the war (“This was 1920” [5]), Lawrence returns not only to the place (the English Midlands) but, roughly, the time of his initial departure: 1920 was the year Women in Love was published, and the year in which—having departed from England in November1919 (Meyers 231)—he attempted to “cut clear” of industrial modernity (see note 17).

5 Joyce’s Utopian Machine

I. Stephen Dedalus’s Malevolent Machines When Stephen Dedalus, in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), lists “machinery” among the things he fears most (264), the admission is at first surprising. Though a coming of age story like The Rainbow, no demonic mine ruptures the face of the earth in Portrait, and the only instrument explicitly described as a “machine” is a bicycle. Nevertheless, this bicycle turns out to be, in action, another kind of wheeled demon. At Clongowes Wood College, Stephen is “thrown by [a] . . . fellow’s machine lightly on the cinder path” (41), and the incident—despite the “light[ness]” of the bicycle’s push—precipitates a fall from grace. Stephen’s spectacles are “broken in three pieces,” the “grit of the cinders ...[goes] into his mouth” (41), and he is afterward pandied by Father Dolan because he cannot complete his lessons without glasses. In consequence, then, the “fellow’s machine” is a satanic engine—the vehicle of a plunge into religious ignominy—and though Stephen is eventually absolved of any wrongdoing by the rector, the force of his fall lingers.1 When he later refers to his fear of machinery, he imagines “that there is a malevolent reality behind” machines, as behind Catholic rituals (264). Stephen’s subsequent encounters with technology only increase his apprehensions. In Ulysses (1922), Dublin is newly electrified, and Stephen confronts a magnified version of the Portrait’s wheeled demon in the “Beingless beings” (10.822) of the city dynamos: huge, coal-fed wheels that—while still resembling, in shape, the “machine” of Clongowes Wood College—appear to have shed their biblical associations as they have grown in power. Unfortunately, the secularization of the machine in this later novel—its representation as an alien force dwarfing the old Christian menace2—is no dispensation. While the satanic bicycle of Portrait had at least implied the possibility of transcendence (as in The Rainbow, where the arc of a new covenant springs from the world of demonic machines), the “Beingless beings” prefigure no salvation. Rather, they seem to intensify, even as Stephen renounces the Church, his old Catholic

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  115 feeling of guilt and collusion.3 Driven by “flapping leathern bands,” the dynamos are partly composed, Stephen notices, of the same stuff he is, and their hum seems to externalize the motion of his own heart: “Throb always without you and the throb always within. Your heart you sing of” (10.822–3). Thus, although he envisions—like Ursula in The Rainbow— smashing the great machine, he can only imagine doing so at the price of his own immobility: “Shatter them, one and both. But stun myself too in the blow” (10.824–5). While Ursula vows that “[h]er soul’s action should be the smashing of the great machine” (Rainbow 325), Stephen feels transfixed—body and soul—by a force he cannot oppose. There are, of course, good reasons for Stephen’s overwhelming sense of disempowerment. In colonial Ireland, all power—including technological power—is imposed from abroad, and the “malevolent reality” of machines in Dublin is connected to the Irishman’s social and political oppression as the servant, as Stephen puts it, of “two masters”: the “holy Roman catholic and apostolic church” and the “imperial British state” (1.638–44). Having renounced the first, Stephen is nonetheless captive to the second, and thus seems to shake free of the satanic machines of Portrait only to confront the same menace in a more profane form4: In early twentieth-century Dublin, the giant dynamos drive the new system of electric trams, and these, as Cheryl Herr has shown, are the vehicles of an explicitly imperial power (86). Starting from Nelson’s pillar (“Before Nelson’s pillar trams slowed, shunted, changed trolley, started for Blackrock, Kingstown and Dalkey, Clonskea, Rathgar and Terenure” [7.3–4]), they radiate out from a monument to British naval prowess, and are followed immediately by “His Majesty’s vermilion mailcars, bearing on their sides the royal initials, E. R.” (7.16–7): Edward Rex, King of England and ruler of the British Empire in 1904 (Gifford 128). Propelled by the “Beingless beings” of the city dynamos, the electric trams figure the ramification of British power through Dublin and beyond. The trams are also, however, Stephen’s primary means of transport in Ulysses, and his sense of complicity—his inability to imagine smashing the great electrical machines—is secretly corroborated by his use of the new streetcars. As Hugh Kenner has shown, though we do not see Stephen board the trams in the novel, he could only travel the six miles between Dalkey, where we find him in “Nestor,” and the Strand, where he appears half an hour later in “Proteus,” with their help (Ulysses 14).5 Consequently, from the “Telemachiad” onward, the imperial apparatus silently abets Stephen’s progress. And though such structures are responsible for the sense of “sureness we feel underlying each page of the book” (Kenner, “Ulysses” 15), that sureness is acquired at the cost of implicating Stephen—and the narrative that contains him—in the oppressive system of imperial power. Securing its character’s mobility at the cost of its own complicity with the machinery of his subjection—internalizing the rationalized structures it associates with social and political tyranny

116 Modernism in Ireland—Ulysses subjects itself, like Stephen, to the alien menace of “Beingless beings.”

II. Ulysses versus the Monster Machine While Stephen feels unable to oppose the machinery of colonial Dublin, however, the novel he occupies seems to internalize the electrified tram system as a means of contesting its power. As Herr observes, although the “Aeolus” episode begins with the trams setting out from Nelson’s pillar, it ends with “eight lines of tramcars... becalmed in short circuit” (7.1043–7)—a detail that seems to imply that the tyrannical forces operating in Ireland can, at least temporarily, be disrupted (87–8). Further, as Patrick McGee has shown, when Joyce revised the episode in 1921, he chose to locate the stall opposite the General Post Office, where “the British empire would begin to short-circuit” with the Easter Rising of 1916 (190).6 Thus, the halted machines of “Aeolus” prefigure Irish revolt. And though the interruption of the system, in 1904, is a mere harbinger of the revolutionary disruptions to come, it points to the text’s essential opposition to the machinery on which it relies: If only for a moment, the short circuit of the trams liberates the novel’s characters from the apparatus the novel itself obeys. Freed by the municipal power failure, Dublin life “rattle[s], roll[s], horsedrawn, rapidly” on (7.1049). Still, the victory is only partial. Though stalled in “Aeolus” (7.1043–7), the system is working again by “Lestrygonians” (8.476), and the trams are, as it turns out, neither the only nor the most tyrannical machines in the episode. Also in “Aeolus,” in the offices of the Freeman’s Journal, Leopold Bloom contemplates the vast power of the newspaper’s printing apparatus: “Machines. Smash a man to atoms if they got him caught. Rule the world today” (7.80–1). Like the tram system, these printing machines exercise a titanic power, and though they seem to inspire in Bloom, like Stephen, an impulse to sabotage—as we learn afterward, he imagines himself as a machine-breaker, denouncing “manufactured monsters . . ., hideous hobgoblins produced by a horde of capitalistic lusts upon our prostituted labor” (15.1393–4)—his desire to oppose the machines is at first suppressed by his recognition of their pulverizing force (“Smash a man to atoms”). Like Stephen before the dynamos, Bloom appears to confront the futility of any opposition to the forces that “[r]ule the world” in Dublin—and for good reason. Like Stephen’s trams, the printing machines of Ulysses exercise a determining power not only over the body of the protagonist, but over the text itself. With a menacing “sllt to call attention”—“Sllt. The nethermost deck of the first machine jogged forward its flyboard with sllt the first batch of quirefolded papers” (7.174–5)—the printing machines draw attention to the produced, material quality of the text in which they appear. “Doing [their]... level best to speak” (7.176), they

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  117 remind us that Ulysses is not just a written document (a human production) but a printed one (the product of a machine). Thus, as Bloom stands amazed, he apprehends a force that threatens his whole world: not just his personal well-being (“Smash a man to atoms”), but the text (“Sllt”) of which he is a constitutive part. While Bloom feels unable to contest the machine, however, Ulysses is once again prepared to act. Famously, “Aeolus” is the episode in which the first major stylistic aberrations of the novel appear, and these— turning print against print, text against text—seem designed to contest the machine forces that “[r]ule the world” in the book. As McGee has shown, Joyce’s 1921 changes to “Aeolus” involved not only the addition of the electric trams, but the insertion of a series of interlinear “headlines” (190). Appearing on no authority, and bearing no stable relationship to the text they disrupt, these headlines—ranging from the descriptive (“GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS” [7.20]), to the portentous (“OMNIUM GATHERUM” [7.604]), to the excessively typographical (“???” [7.512])—seem to speak, like the printing machines, with an inhuman voice of their own. They thus induce, at the level of form, the kind of “short circuit” the trams dramatize at the level of story. Gesturing to the material production of Ulysses—calling attention, like the printing apparatus, to the produced quality of the text—they use print to expose and disrupt the threatening power of print. Upsetting the coherence of the ongoing narrative, they dispute the mechanical conditions on which that coherence relies.7 The result is, of course, radically disconcerting. Like Lawrence’s departure from narrative coherence in the “Excurse” chapter of Women in Love,8 the print ruptures of “Aeolus” throw a kind of discursive spanner into the works of Ulysses—and one from which the text never fully recovers. As the first of the novel’s major formal irregularities, the headlines not only break up the coherence of “Aeolus,” but disrupt what Joyce called the “initial style” (Groden 15): the relatively stable, streamof-consciousness technique of the opening chapters, which is never fully resumed.9 Moreover, anticipating the radically experimental tactics of episodes like “Cyclops,” “Oxen of the Sun,” and “Circe” (episodes Joyce had already composed when he added them [Groden 60]), the headlines ensure—as the novel introduces a new, experimental technique in each subsequent chapter—that the work never settles into any one new form. Disrupting the text as text, the headlines commence a practice of antimechanical radicalism that ramifies across the entire work.

III. Ulysses-Bloom’s “Infernal Machine” Significantly, the machine-breaking performed by Ulysses at the level of form is persistently staged at the level of story. In “Aeolus,” where the text begins a process of anti-mechanical self-disruption, both Stephen

118 Modernism and Bloom, as we have seen, apprehend the tyranny of the apparatus. And in “Circe,” the most experimental episode in the book, the novel literally performs its own radicalism. As the chapter takes the form of a play, Bloom makes his speech against capitalists and their machines— “Machines is their cry, their chimera, their panacea” (15.1391–2)—and the text, in accordance with the “hallucinatory” technique of the episode,10 magnifies his Aeolian meditations: Elevated to the position of Lord Mayor of Dublin, Bloom denounces, in Luddite fashion, “Laboursaving apparatuses, supplanters, bugbears, manufactured monsters for mutual murder, hideous hobgoblins produced by a horde of capitalistic lusts upon our prostituted labor” (15.1392–4). In this speech, machines swell to their most horrific proportions in the novel, Bloom’s antimechanical sentiments acquire revolutionary dimensions, and the text acts out, in a literal play on its own mechanics, a celebration of its formal radicalism. Giving Bloom “[p]rolonged applause” (15.1398, emphasis in original) for his denunciation of machines, it seems to exalt its own antimechanical convictions. Oddly, however, “Circe’s” transformation of Bloom into a revolutionary seems at least partly satirical. In this episode, the Nighttown “Watch” insists that Bloom is an “Anarchist” (15.1156) concealing an “[i]nfernal machine with time fuse” (15.1199). Yet he is not actually hiding a bomb—only a pig’s foot and a sheep’s trotter (15.158–9)—and the only acting anarchist in the episode would appear to be Stephen, who smashes a brothel chandelier with the object of producing the “ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry” (15.4245, emphasis in original).11 In this act of destruction, Bloom is in fact conservative, calculating the damages and reimbursing the madam on Stephen’s behalf. Thus, although the text of “Circe” suggests that Bloom cherishes revolutionary desires, these are not visibly enacted. And though later chapters confirm a utopian Bloom—according to “Ithaca,” he at one time “desired to amend many social conditions” (17.990)—a desire for social “amendment” is not obviously consistent with the actions of a “well-known dynamitard” (15.1158–9). Indeed, as the possessor of an “infernal machine” for destroying machines, Bloom would seem to pose a significant risk to the anti-mechanical principle he stands for in “Circe.” Not only would he propose to fight the “manufactured monsters” with another manufactured monster (reproducing the problem he seeks to remedy by means of his opposition to it), but he would threaten his own radicalism: As an “Anarchist,” Bloom would risk blowing himself up. In fact, just such a risk appears to be staged in the following episode. Though undiscoverable by the Nighttown Watch in “Circe,” Bloom’s “[i]nfernal machine with time fuse” (15.1199) appears to go off, in “Eumaeus,” when Bloom discovers that his name has been mis-transcribed as “L. Boom” in the Evening Telegraph (16.1260, emphasis in original). As an “explo[ded]” version of Bloom (Seidel 777), this “Boom”

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  119 can be read as a caution—especially given the newspaper context—to the would-be anarchist: Appearing in a news story about Paddy Dignam’s funeral (and in a newspaper that shares offices with the Freeman’s Journal, where Bloom first sees the machines that “[r]ule the world”), the explosion recalls the anti-mechanical “anarchism” of “Circe” together with the disputed mechanics of “Aeolus.” Thus, in the “Boom” and the “line of bitched type” (16.1262–3) that appears with it—“.)eatondph 1/8 ador dorador douradora” (16.1257–8)—the novel spells out, quite literally, the consequences of the revolutionary actions Bloom ostensibly takes in “Circe.” “Boom” is smashed to atoms when the tyrannical printing machines of “Aeolus” are disrupted. Turning Bloom into a revolutionary, then, Ulysses appears to extol its own anti-mechanical radicalism while also dramatizing the risks of those procedures. To explode the machine on which the text relies, “Circe” and “Eumaeus” suggest, is to explode the text itself: to sacrifice character and intelligibility (“Boom”) in the interest of liberation. Yet to allow the machine its supremacy would, it seems, be equally devastating. In “Aeolus,” imagining the sudden paralysis of the newspaper foreman, Bloom thinks, “Now if he got paralysed there and no-one knew how to stop them they’d clank on and on the same, print it over and over and up and back” (7.102–3). Without opposition, the printing machines would simply go “on and on... over and over” (7.103), tyrannical in their power and eternally stultifying in their representation of human life.12 Thus, if the novel is to sustain its integrity, it must neither give in to the machines that “[r]ule the world” (“clank on and on the same”) nor disable them altogether (“Boom”). The question is how—how to disrupt the machinery of the novel without destroying the essential coherence of the text itself.

IV. Underwriting Anarchy: The “Mythical Method” In Ulysses, Iwould venture, the solution to the problem of mechanization is announced in the title. As a modern-day Ulysses, Leopold Bloom is not just a Luddite Lord Mayor of Dublin, but a twentieth-century Odysseus, and though the monsters he battles are often monster machines, the mythic structure of the narrative appears to preserve him from the worst of their ravages. In the explosion of “L. Boom,” for example, Michael Seidel hears the expression of the futility of Bloom’s life when deprived of the enhancement of the mythic parallels, and his sense of the recuperative power of The Odyssey—its capacity to give “imaginative coherence” to the “contemporary randomness” of Bloom’s experience—recalls and implicitly endorses what is still the most famous account of Joyce’s “mythical method” (777): In “Ulysses, Order, and Myth” (1923), T. S. Eliot argued that the Homeric structure is “simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history” (177). And

120 Modernism though Eliot’s language explicitly deprecates the political agenda Bloom appears to embody in “Circe” (for Eliot, Joyce’s Ulysses is “anarchic” in that it reflects an alienated, disordered historical condition), it also emphasizes the risks dramatized by the “Boom” of “Eumaeus.” Myth, in contrast to the text’s “anarchy”—whether we understand anarchy like Eliot or like Anarchist-Bloom—is a way of putting an exploded world back together again. Organizing and ordering the narrative, the Homeric parallels underwrite Ulysses’s self-disruptions, ensuring that the novel’s self-sabotaging mechanisms never result in total incoherence (“Boom”). Indeed, an inspection of the mythic structure of Ulysses suggests that the Odyssean parallels are not only a “controlling” and “ordering” structure in the novel, but a compensatory one—a structure varying in relation to stylistic eccentricity. As Kenner observes, the parallels seem chiefly “ironic” in the first half of the book and “coercive” in the second, and though he argues that the shift in function is intended to force the plot into an Odyssean shape (“obligat[ing] what only chance procures” [Ulysses 62] in the ultimate meeting of Stephen [Telemachus] and Bloom [Ulysses]), the parallels also change function just where the relatively stable “initial style” lapses13—and protrude, thereafter, in proportion to the text’s formal variability. In chapters like “Cyclops” and “Circe,” for example, elements of the Homeric myth—generally submerged in the novel14—suddenly break into the narrative: In “Cyclops,” we confront a mythic giant “measur[ing] several ells” (12.155), and in “Circe,” Bloom is transformed into, among other things, a pig (15.2830–55). As Kenner puts it, the “analogy [to Homer] takes priority” (Ulysses 99) in these episodes, and though he argues that this is a plot-based priority—“as though to acknowledge that you could not write a book called Ulysses and leave out the Cyclops” (98)—plot seems to be a more arbitrary rationale than stylistic irregularity. In fact, though Ulysses never follows the plot of The Odyssey very exactly, the mythic parallels do become “coercive” in proportion to the formal peculiarity of the episodes they organize. In “Cyclops,” to return to the examples above, the Homeric referent not only explains the sudden magnification of the Citizen into a giant, but helps illuminate the firstperson narrative the magnifying passage interrupts: As the only “I” in the book, giving a one-sided picture of Bloom, the narrator of “Cyclops” is, so to speak, one-eyed—cyclopean. And in “Circe,” the parallel not only explains Bloom’s transformation into a female pig (15.2851–3) but justifies—in the most formally subversive episode in the novel—the breach of a basic narrative principle.15 Performing what Michael Groden calls a “violation of character” (41),16 “Circe” puts one person’s memories in the head of another, and thus breaks a narrative rule—the integrity of individual consciousness—that is otherwise upheld in Ulysses. As in “Cyclops,” however, the formal transgressions of “Circe” are authorized by the parallel. In The Odyssey, Circe is the violator of

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  121 character par excellence, and though she prefers a specific mutation— turning men, like the porcine Bloom, into beasts—the psychological ruptures of the Joycean episode can be understood as variations on the same theme. Ultimately, as a violator of norms, the Homeric witch can explain virtually any disruption of textual constants, and it is probably for this reason that Bloom’s transformation into an “Anarchist” occurs in this episode: In “Circe,” but only in “Circe,” the protagonist’s revolutionary shape-shifting is justified by the parallel, and his anti-mechanical radicalism is staged in the one context that can fully accommodate it. For the duration of the episode, Anarchist-Bloom—no matter how threatening to himself and the text he occupies—remains invulnerable to his “[i]nfernal machine with time fuse” (15.1199). In the following episode, however, where the parallel no longer holds, the justification expires, and Bloom is exploded (“Boom”) by forces the narrative can no longer contain. In Ulysses, then, the Odyssean parallels seem to operate essentially as Eliot contended: as a means of imposing a traditional form of coherence—of “controlling,... ordering, [and]... giving a shape and a significance” (“Ulysses” 177) to an “anarchic” world. And yet, like Anarchist-Bloom, I would contend that they only appear conservative: Apprehended in “Circe” as a “well-known dynamitard,” Bloom is exonerated, we will remember, when he produces “[p]ig’s feet” (15.1201) in lieu of an incendiary device—a gesture of innocence that, in light of the parallels, may actually confess to the revolutionary operations it pretends to efface. Anticipating the porcine transformations to come (deflecting attention to the Homeric structure of the book, and the parallel that will allow Bloom to sprout hooves in the course of the episode) the “[p]ig’s feet” may stand in, as a kind of alibi, for the revelation of the inevitable “bomb.” Keeping the anarchist’s “infernal machine with time fuse” ticking for the duration of “Circe,” the parallel holds Ulysses together—so Ulysses can blow itself apart.

V. Undoing the Tyranny of The Odyssey Anarchist-Bloom notwithstanding, it must be admitted that Joyce’s use of The Odyssey—long hailed by conservative readers like Eliot as a way of restoring order to an “anarchic” world—is not obviously revolutionary in a political sense. For most of the twentieth century, radical writers and critics apprehended the Odyssean structure as a static, ahistorical frame implying the impossibility of revolutionary struggle and social change.17 And though the critical wind has shifted in recent years, appreciation of the mythic method has remained uneasy at best. Even the Marxist reassessments of Jameson, McGee, and Margot Norris show the lingering force of a tradition that reads Joyce’s use of myth as a repudiation of history,18 and the power of this critical consensus is such that it is almost tempting to go back to the beginning—to throw out Eliot’s notion

122 Modernism of an ordering principle in favor of Ezra Pound’s competing suggestion that The Odyssey is nothing more than a disposable “scaffold[ing]” (“Ulysses” 406). Relieved to announce that the “interlinear Homer-Joyce homework” is done at last (Moretti 192), we might simply argue that Homer’s text is like the “throwaway” that pursues its own miniature odyssey over the waters of “Wandering Rocks” (10.1096–9). Just as the throwaway gives Bantam Lyons an inadvertent tip on the horses in “Lotus-Eaters” (5.531–41), Joyce seems to give us the option of seeing The Odyssey as a work of accidental value.19 But why this impulse to jettison the Homeric structure? It is just possible, of course, that years of critical opposition to Joyce’s “mythical method” might not be all wrong. The terms in which the parallels are typically described—“recuperative,” “conservative,” “authorizing,” “ordering”—hardly denote, it is true, “anarchic” behavior. And if they do underwrite the text’s self-disruptive practices, it is essentially because they are what Eliot said they are: a conservative, controlling, even dominating structure. As the narrative of Ulysses grows anarchic, myth is there to take control. It becomes, as Kenner so aptly put it, “coercive”— it begins to “obligate” the text—and thus inevitably reproduces, even in its support of the narrative’s most radical anti-mechanical strategies, the problem of instrumental domination it is supposed to help solve. Like Lawrence’s use of myth in the novels of power, Joyce’s Homeric parallels ultimately threaten to “[r]ule the world” they are designed to set free. Unlike Lawrence, however, Joyce seems to have anticipated that his mythic method would consolidate its own authority. There is considerable evidence that he understood the Odyssean structure as, from the beginning, an instrumental one, and though he routinely used The Odyssey as a means of describing and explaining Ulysses,20 he also tended to undo the work of that clarifying mechanism. Though the early commentators were furnished with an Odyssean ground plan for the novel, for example, Ulysses was published with only the title as a clue to its mythic structure—and the title is of notoriously limited value in terms of predicting the contents of the book. As noted above, Ulysses is often overtly at odds with its Homeric original: it shuffles the episodes, makes a departure into the Argonautica in “Wandering Rocks,”21 weds Odysseus to an unfaithful Penelope, and furnishes an ending that seems to deny the very restorations it is supposed to fulfill. Perhaps most significantly, although the Homeric parallels appear to compel the meeting of Stephen and Bloom (Telemachus and Odysseus) at the end of the novel, as well as Bloom’s triumph over Blazes Boylan (Odysseus’s defeat of Penelope’s suitors), Bloom and Stephen go their separate ways in the penultimate chapter, and Bloom’s Odyssean exaltation over Boylan is both enacted and radically compromised by the ending of Ulysses. As Frank Budgen observes, it is, appropriately, “in the bedroom that Bloom meets and disposes of the suitors” (260) in “Ithaca.”22 “From this

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  123 base he reviews and takes the salute of the host of his wife’s admirers” (260) and, with “bloodless thought... banishes his rivals to nonentity” (261): If he had smiled why would he have smiled?   To reflect that each one who enters imagines himself to be the first to enter whereas he is always the last term of a preceding series even if the first term of a succeeding one, each imagining himself to be first, last, only and alone whereas he is neither first nor last nor only nor alone in a series originating in and repeated to infinity. (17.2126–31) This passage, appearing immediately after Bloom’s discovery in his bed of “the imprint of a human form, male, not his” (17.2124), and followed by a list of men who have preceded Bloom in their attentions to Molly (17.2132–42), invokes the problem of Penelope’s suitors together with its solution. In the arithmetical view of the question, no one man is possessed of any significance, and Boylan is reduced to one in a series, banished to numerical nonentity. This triumph, however, is simultaneously an act of self-sacrifice, as Bloom—himself merely one in the long sequence of Molly’s admirers—is also obliterated. Thus, the ending of Ulysses seems to undo the mythic parallel that has compelled it, returning Bloom to “Ithaca” without restoring him to a position of Odyssean dominance. By undermining the authoritarian ending of the Homeric story, however, Ulysses departs from The Odyssey in a way that escapes the trap erected by its own mythology. As Jameson points out, any reading of the novel that insists upon Bloom’s recovery of lost authority in “Ithaca” tacitly assumes the value of a patriarchal order that should itself be questioned (“Ulysses” 146), and Bloom’s renunciative victory has the merit of reestablishing his position without an exercise of tyrannical power—over the suitors or, indeed, Penelope. In his arithmetical conquest, Bloom secures his place in the domestic order without requiring Molly’s submission.23 Moreover, though unbeknownst to him, Bloom’s renunciative triumph establishes a point of significant marital accord in Ulysses. In her closing monologue, Molly thinks that an ideal world would be governed nonviolently, by non-patriarchal authority (“you wouldnt see women going and killing one another and slaughtering” [18.1436]), and her thoughts tend, like Bloom’s, to banish her suitors to nonentity. Assigning no special significance to any sexual encounter after the first (“with all the talk of the world about it people make its only the first time after that its just the ordinary do it and think no more about it” [18.100–2]), she seems annoyed by the social mandate that would limit a woman to any one partner (“why cant you kiss a man without going and marrying him

124 Modernism first” [18.102–3]) and remembers the circumstances of her own marriage in terms that unite a relative indifference as to person—“Ithought well as well him as another” (18.1604–5)—with an abundant erotic acceptance: “yes Isaid yes Iwill Yes” (18.1608–9). Thus, in the final lines of the book, as in the first moments of his marriage, Bloom is “banished to nonentity” in the instant of conquest. The mythic parallel—undoing itself at the moment of resolution—elevates its Odysseus without requiring his supremacy. Further, ending with “Penelope,” Ulysses not only undoes the pattern of masculine domination implied by the ending of the original Odyssey, but the power of its monster machines. Lying in bed at night, Molly hears a “train somewhere whistling” (18.596), and her meditation on “the strength those engines have in them like big giants” (18.596–7) connects Ulysses’s mechanical monsters to the suitors Bloom confronts at the end of the day. In Molly’s monologue, the man-made “giants” inevitably recall the bodily giant (a “tremendous big red brute of a thing” [18.144]) she has encountered that afternoon, while the train’s whistle— “frseeeeeeeefronnnng” (18.596)—recalls the title lyrics to “Loves old sweeeetsonnnng” (18.598), a musical arrangement associated with Molly’s infidelity with Boylan.24 As she identifies her affair with the train, however, her recollection prioritizes neither Boylan nor Bloom. Her admiration for the “tremendous big” member is qualified by its “brute” nature, and her later reflections on the man-made engine suggest desire for Boylan but also regret for Bloom. Thinking of “the poor men that have to be out all the night from their wives and families in those roasting engines stifling it was today” (18.598–600), she recalls the sexual heat of “Blazes” Boylan (“its as hot as blazes” [18.951]) in a phrase that also evokes Bloom’s experience on this “stifling” day in June: He has been kept away from his wife, all day and much of the night, by her encounter with the “big giant.” In her recollection, however, Molly privileges neither partner, and her appreciation of the machine—“the strength those engines have in them” (18.596–7)—collapses into a parodic fart: Lying next to Bloom, she thinks, “give us room even to let a fart God or do the least thing better yes hold them like that a bit on my side piano quietly sweeeee theres that train far away pianissimo eeeee one more tsong... that was a relief” (18.906–9). Here, the train’s “sweeeee . . . tsong” sounds the note of adultery again—but disposes of it in an act of liberation (“relief”) that replaces the “train somewhere whistling” (18.596) with Molly’s own “whistle,” irrepressible and unsubdued.

VI. Joyce’s Utopian Machine Arguably, of course, “Penelope” is more liberating for Molly than for her husband, and it is probably for this reason that Bloom continues to revisit possible forms of retribution until he falls asleep in “Ithaca.”

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  125 Still entertaining Odyssean solutions, he considers “Assassination, never, as two wrongs did not make one right. Duel by combat, no. Divorce, not now. Exposure by mechanical artifice (automatic bed) or individual testimony (concealed ocular witness), not yet” (17.2201–3). Even as he mulls the possibility of Homeric violence, however, Bloom dispenses with Odyssean brutality (“Assassination, never”), decides to preserve his marriage as such (“Divorce, not now”), and evolves all-new self-abnegating triumphs (“ocular witness” and “automatic bed”). Indeed, even his most ingenious contrivance for future victory—his idea for a work of “mechanical artifice”—is self-undoing. The machine that would expose Molly’s infidelity (“automatic bed”) would simultaneously expose Bloom as a cuckold. Exhaustive in his renunciations, Bloom is persistently self-defeating— but also persistently anti-tyrannical: a more perfect Ulysses than his Homeric original, and one who embodies, here as elsewhere, the ideals of Ulysses itself. Like his imaginary apparatus (“automatic bed”)—a device that would undermine its objectives in the course of its regular operation—the narrative Bloom occupies is ultimately a work of selfsubverting artifice. And though it may sometimes appear—in its disruption of the machinery on which it relies, and its systematic undoing of the mythic structure that guarantees those disruptions—as self-sabotaging as its protagonist, it is also (like him) radically anti-authoritarian. In fact, in its willingness to compromise itself—to resist all forms of instrumental domination, including its own—it becomes, in the sheer consistency with which it renounces the machinery of power, potentially utopian. To call Ulysses utopian is, of course, to risk evoking a discourse of imperiled social experiments, installing Joyce’s text among the many works that seem doomed—from the “no place” of Thomas More’s original Utopia, to the failed modernist “excursions” of the Lawrentian Serpent25—to envision a world they can never realize. As Terry Eagleton reminds us, however, there are “good” utopias as well as “bad” ones. The latter, like the kind we see Lawrence reaching for in The Plumed Serpent, try to “gra[b] instantly for a future, projecting [themselves]... by an act of will or imagination beyond the compromised political structures of the present” (“Nationalism” 25). The “good” ones, however—less wishful and more committed to struggle—are willing and able “to trace within the present... the spot where a feasible future might germinate” (“Nationalism” 25). Not mere fantasies of a better life, these good utopias struggle through contemporary conditions, working against the forces that “[r]ule the world” to clear a space in which something new can take root.26 Notably, Bloom actually calls the universe a “Utopia” (17.1140) in “Ithaca.” Meditating on the infinite vastness of space, he speculates that a hundred of our solar systems could be contained in the belt of Orion (17.1049–50), estimates that “incalculable trillions of billions of millions of imperceptible molecules [are] contained by cohesion of molecular

126 Modernism affinity in a single pinhead” (17.1061–3), and concludes that if “progress [in either direction] were carried far enough, nought nowhere was never reached” (17.1068–9). Here again, as in the triumph over the suitors or the plan for the self-exposing bed, Bloom may be attracted to astronomy because, as Budgen puts it, it “flatter[s] his pessimism by making him feel small” (277). Yet his observation also suggests that the possibilities of the universe are infinite: “[n]ought nowhere”—no-place, utopia—is “never reached” because of the endless approach to infinity in either direction. Although there is “no known method from the known to the unknown” (17.1140–1)—no way of defining, or reaching, “utopia”—Bloom’s recognition of the limits of knowledge is the condition of utopia itself. But how, we inevitably ask, could we realize a Bloomian Utopia? In Joyce’s novel, the question is both evoked and permanently resisted by a text that is, I would venture, a utopia in itself. As Jacques Derrida famously observed, anyone who reads or works on Joyce will ultimately take comfort in the knowledge that there is no such thing as a Joyce “expert” (“Gramophone” 265)—and no means of ever becoming one. In all its self-subversion, Ulysses is famously difficult, and its difficulty has given rise to a huge scholarly apparatus—as Derrida characterizes it, a “powerful reading machine” (“Gramophone” 268)—singularly devoted to its explication. No matter how formidable in its erudition, however, this “machine” will always be outdone by the text it is constructed to illuminate. Indeed, even were we to build a “giant computer of Joycean studies,” able to collect “all publications, coordinate and teleprogram all communication, colloquia, theses, papers and... draw up an index in all languages” (“Gramophone” 286), we would never equal the Joycean text itself: a “hypermnesic machine” in which all our potential observations and interpretations seem to be programmed in advance (“Gramophone” 281). Ultimately, like so many Blooms contemplating the vastness of the universe, we confront the inexhaustibility of Ulysses—the realization that “knowing” it is a process never to be completed. And it is thus that the book not only represents but in fact is a “Utopia” (17.1140). Amachine to undo machines—including the most “powerful reading machine” we can imagine building to fathom it—it not only renounces its own pretensions to instrumental domination, but refuses, finally, the desire for rational mastery it itself provokes.27 Disabling all pretensions to authority, it is built to be indomitable, and remains ideally unavailable: an anti-tyrannical, anti-mechanical, utopian machine.

Notes 1. Indeed, as the instrument of a transgression for which Stephen, though not directly responsible, is held to account, the bicycle is the vehicle of a kind of original sin. While the immediate consequences of the fall—a mouthful of ash—seem to pun on the biblical predicament (as “cinder path” echoes “sin”), they also recall Milton’s elaboration of the Genesis story in Paradise

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  127 Lost: In Book 10 of the epic poem, Satan appears among his rebel crew and tells the story of his victory in Eden—one accomplished, “the more to increase / Your wonder, with an apple” (10.486–7). Expecting applause, he is hissed by his followers, all of whom (punished, like Stephen, for a transgression they themselves did not commit) are turned into serpents, and taste the forbidden fruit like ashes in their mouths (10.504–66). 2. Stephen’s reaction to the dynamos is strikingly similar to one of the period’s most famous accounts of the new electrifying machines. As Henry Adams recalls in the “Dynamo and the Virgin” chapter of The Education of Henry Adams (1918), the “huge wheel” of the dynamo in the industrial exhibit at the 1900 Great Exposition in Paris seemed to exercise a “moral force” (1067) akin to that once wielded by the Virgin Mary. Like Stephen’s “[b]eingless beings” (Ulysses 10.822), Adams’s dynamos are the source of a seemingly “infinite” or “ultimate energy,” endowed with a religious power akin to but “not so human” as the old Christian symbols (1067). Though Ihave not been able to determine definitively whether Joyce was aware of this account when composing Ulysses, The Education was published in 1918, and may have been prominent enough (winning a Pulitzer in 1919) to attract Joyce’s notice while he was drafting the novel. We know, moreover, that he encountered it at some point, as Finnegans Wake (1939) contains oblique references. The Wake’s “exprivate secretary of no fixed abode” (40), for example, is glossed in the McHugh Annotations as an “expression of Henry Adams, Am. historian” (40), appearing in The Education. 3. This secularized fall is further implied by the circumstances of Stephen’s appearance at the beginning of Ulysses. Having taken flight for Europe at the end of Portrait in accordance with his determination to “fly by ...[the] nets” of “nationality, language, religion” (220) that constrain the Irish, Stephen finds himself in Dublin again at the start of the subsequent novel. Ulysses thus begins, despite Stephen’s pagan self-fashioning, where his Daedalean flight of transcendence fails—in yet another “fallen” condition. 4. Further, there is some question as to whether Stephen’s renunciations make any material difference to his relation to the Church. Coinciding with the death in agony of his mother, who pleads with him to pray with her (1.208– 9), his refusal to attest a faith only intensifies, finally, his sense of personal guilt. Meanwhile, the power of the machine—enlarged and detached, in its profane monstrosity, from any biblical narrative of redemption—migrates from the satanic bicycle to the secular dynamo. 5. As Kenner explains, while Stephen Dedalus’s “mind . . . can transport us instantly from Sandymount strand to Paris,” his “body, now subject to the necessity of getting some six miles from Dalkey (10:30 a.m.) to the strand (11:05 a.m.), would have been borne on the Dalkey tram from Castle Street, Dalkey, to Haddington Road, thence on the Sandymount line to Tritonville Road....[Stephen] must take the new electric trams to be in definite places at definite times” (Ulysses 14). 6. The Easter Rising began at the General Post Office on Easter Monday, 1916. Seizing the building, Patrick Pearse proclaimed Irish independence from its steps. 7. We know that Joyce paid specific attention to the text as a printed document. As Kenner explains, the first edition of Ulysses was set by hand in oldfashioned movable type, and this printing method allowed Joyce to make insertions (like the Aeolian headlines) when the book was in proof (“The Most Beautiful Book” 594–605). Newer technologies like linotype, which printed line-by-line from cast slugs, were far less flexible. Thus, the printing mechanism of Ulysses both allowed for the print disruptions of “Aeolus”

128 Modernism and—since every insertion meant that all the type after it had to be shifted— literally increased the chance of textual disruption at the level of print. 8. It is worth noting that the alignment Idevelop in this chapter, between Lawrence and Joyce, runs against the grain of a critical tradition that has usually dealt with these two writers separately. This division is partly owing to their antipathy for one another and partly to the influence of T. S. Eliot. While approving of Joyce (whom he praised for making “the modern world possible for art” [“Ulysses” 178]), Eliot disapproved of Lawrence (whom he denounced for an “incapacity for what we ordinarily call thinking” [After Strange Gods 58]), and his position was influential for many subsequent critics. As F. R. Leavis put it, “Those two... were pre-eminently the testing, the crucial authors: if you took Joyce for a major creative writer, then, like Mr. Eliot, you had no use for Lawrence, and if you judged Lawrence a great writer, then you could hardly take a sustained interest in Joyce” (vii).   Setting aside critical bias, however, we can distinguish a number of points in common between these two modernists. Early on, they shared a literary agent—J. B. Pinker represented Lawrence from 1914 to 1919, and Joyce from 1915 through at least 1920 (Farmer xxvi–xxxviii; Ellmann, James Joyce 384, 489–90)—and they both found a publisher for controversial works in B. W. Huebsch. Huebsch brought out Lawrence’s Rainbow in America (in 1915) after its English suppression, and published the first volume edition of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) when, owing to the prosecution of The Rainbow, Joyce was unable to find an English printer. As Ellmann notes, “[b]y March25, 1916, a succession of seven printers, alarmed by the recent prosecution of Lawrence’s The Rainbow [in November of the previous year], had refused to print the text [of Portrait] as it stood” (404). Moreover, though Portrait escaped Rainbowstyle suppression, Joyce did not elude prosecution entirely. The American Little Review, which printed an early version of Ulysses beginning in March 1918, was prosecuted for obscenity in 1921, and it was partly to avoid the problems of censorship and confiscation that the publication of Ulysses in volume form was arranged privately (by Sylvia Beach, who brought it out through her Paris bookshop, Shakespeare& Company, in 1922). Even here, however, Joyce and Lawrence had literary methods in common, as Lawrence had Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) printed privately in Florence and offered, like the first edition of Ulysses, by subscription (Lawrence, “APropos” 334). Nevertheless, Lady Chatterley was immediately seized by American customs officials, and afterward by English authorities (Meyers 360–1), and—like Ulysses, which was banned in America until the famous Woolsey decision of 1933—widely pirated. In fact, when Joyce issued an “International Protest” against piracy on February2, 1927, Lawrence was among the 167 writers to sign it (Ellmann, James Joyce 586; Gorman 310– 2). This, however, seems to have been the only instance of acknowledged accord between them. Joyce, nettled by a request from an English critic that he write an opinion of Lady Chatterley, wrote to Harriet Weaver that “Iread the first 2 pages of the usual sloppy English which is a piece of propaganda in favour of something which, outside of D. H. L.’s country at any rate, makes all the propaganda for itself” (Letters 309). Lawrence, meanwhile, told his wife that “The last part of [Ulysses]... is the dirtiest, most indecent, obscene thing ever written” (qtd. in Ellmann, James Joyce 615n.). Perhaps both writers had only read the “dirty” bits in the other’s work—or perhaps both were anxious to repudiate a resemblance that too often put them in competition. According to Ellmann, Joyce was displeased to discover, during a 1936 trip to Copenhagen (several years after Lawrence’s

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  129 death), that Lady Chatterley was outselling Ulysses in a local bookshop (James Joyce 691–2). 9. As Groden more minutely describes it, the “initial style” involves “a combination of third-person, past-tense narration and direct first-person, present-tense depiction of the characters’ thoughts” in interior monologue (15). Joyce coined the term in a letter to Harriet Weaver in 1919, noting—in light of the formal peculiarities of “Sirens”—that she might “begin to regard the various styles of the [later] episodes with dismay and prefer the initial style much as the wanderer did who longed for the rock of Ithaca” (Letters 129). He insisted, however, that “to compress all these wanderings and clothe them in the form of this day is for me only possible by such variation which, Ibeg you to believe, is not capricious” (Letters 129). 10. According to the Gilbert and Gorman schemas, which Joyce furnished to help these early critics understand the novel, the “technic” for “Circe” is “hallucination.” The Linati schema, registering the episode’s magnifications, has, alternatively, “vision animated to the bursting point.” For a transcription of the Gilbert, Gorman, and Linati schemas, see Richard Ellmann’s Ulysses on the Liffey (186 and following). 11. That this is the sound of anarchy is confirmed by a previous association of the phrase with revolutionary action. In “Proteus,” it appears in Stephen’s recollection of Kevin Egan: “under the walls of Clerkenwell ..., crouching, [he] saw a flame of vengeance hurl them upward in the fog. Shattered glass and toppling masonry. In gay Paree he hides, Egan of Paris, unsought by any save by me” (3.247–50). Based on the actual Joseph Casey, Egan is modeled on an Irish Fenian who had been imprisoned in Clerkenwell for his part in the rescue of two Fenian leaders in 1867, and whose own liberation was attempted by fellow revolutionaries, who “explod[ed] a keg of gunpowder at the base of the prison wall” (Gifford, Ulysses 52). Joyce met Casey, who was working as a typesetter for the Paris branch of the New York Herald, when he first lived in Paris in 1902–3 (Ellmann, James Joyce 125). Thus, in “Proteus,” Stephen refers to “Egan’s” profession: “Making his day’s stations, the dingy printing case, his three taverns, the Montmartre lair he sleeps short nights in” (3.251–2). Given the print disruptions of “Aeolus,” moreover, it is significant that revolutionary action is connected to typesetting. 12. Bloom’s use of the word “paralysis” is significant. In Dubliners, where many of the characters of Ulysses first appear, and to which the ur-version of the novel, a story called “Ulysses,” was originally intended to belong (Ellmann, James Joyce 230), Joyce represents the “paralysis” of the city and its occupants as a specifically political condition. Defending the book to Grant Richards, he wrote, “As for my part and share in the book ...[m]y intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and Ichose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis” (qtd. in Gorman 150). The “paralysis” to which Joyce refers is a condition of futility and hopelessness brought about, as Dominic Manganiello has argued, by Irish complicity with Ireland’s oppressors (96–8)—a self-enslavement to the “two masters” (1.638) Stephen identifies in Ulysses. In Dubliners, and still in Ulysses, the people of the city are trapped by and subordinated to the Catholic Church and British Empire because of their fidelity to those institutions. Thus, in “Aeolus,” where the tyranny of the machine is associated with the tyranny of imperialism, the “paralysis” Bloom envisions for Nannetti, the newspaper foreman, may in fact be the paralysis of Dubliners—a state resulting from complicity with the system of oppression (here represented by the machine).

130 Modernism 13. In the first half of Ulysses, which is dominated by the comparatively stable “initial style,” Kenner argues that the parallels merely comment ironically on the text: To make Bloom into Ulysses is to give him an inflated dignity, while the very idea of an unfaithful Penelope, in Molly Bloom, is ironic. In the second half of the work, with the lapse of the initial style, the parallels begin to function, Kenner argues, “coercive[ly]” (62), ensuring an Odyssean ending. Since the shift in the parallels coincides with a formal shift, however, it not only seems to conform to the needs of the plot, but responds to stylistic eccentricity in the novel. 14. The fact that early readers could miss the Homeric structure altogether attests to the submerged quality of the parallels. About a year after the first edition was published, Joyce wrote to Harriet Weaver that it was “curious that no critic has followed up Mr. Larbaud’s clue on the parallelism of the two books [Ulysses and The Odyssey]. They think it is too good to be true” (Letters 200). While Joyce had given Larbaud the Homeric clue when he lent him a schema, however, most early readers had only the title of the work to go on. 15. The episode most radically disruptive to the rest of the text, “Circe” is not only a play within Ulysses, but a play on Ulysses. As Kenner puts it, “Circe” is “Ulysses transposed and rearranged” (qtd. in Groden 54n.26), and Herr describes it as “a script, a dramatization of events, based on Ulysses” (150). Moreover, this episode may even be responsible for the self-disruptive patterns of the text as a whole. Because it anticipated, in order of composition, the formally eccentric episodes that now appear earlier in the book, “Circe” may have initiated the transgressive techniques it appears to perfect. As Groden puts it, even the Aeolian headlines may result from its “transforming powers” (60). 16. Groden notes that “Circe” disrupts one of the most basic units of narrative stability in the text: the interior monologue. While the first half of Ulysses seems to be “a novel in the traditional sense: it features three major characters, Leopold and Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, and it introduces a technical device, the interior monologue, that contributes to the illusion of verisimilitude in these characters” (13–14), the realism of the interior monologue is disrupted in “Circe.” In this episode, a phrase from Stephen’s thoughts (“nebrakada femininum” [10.849]) turns up in one of Bloom’s hallucinations (15.319), and one of Stephen’s hallucinations—“From the top of a tower Buck Mulligan...stands gaping at...[Stephen’s dead mother], a smoking buttered split scone in his hand” (15.4166–8, emphasis in original)— combines images that Stephen can remember with those he could not possibly recall. (Stephen has endured Mulligan’s disrespect concerning his mother’s death on the top of Martello tower in “Telemachus” [1.198–220], but has not seen the “smoking buttered split scone” that Mulligan eats with Haines in “Wandering Rocks” [10.1087–8]). Thus, “Circe” transgresses the ordinary limits of individual consciousness, and though Groden detects this violation of character as early as “Sirens,” the transgression is radically extended in “Circe,” where the whole of Ulysses becomes available to narrative “play.” 17. The most influential of the accounts politically opposed to Ulysses is probably Georg Lukács’s in The Meaning of Contemporary Realism. In this work, Lukács argues that the inward-tending, subjective explorations of Joyce’s interior monologue technique, together with his use of an “allegorical” frame (the mythic parallels), tend to suppress objective, historical content and thus deny the possibility of historical change. Less famous but equally representative are the negative reactions of revolutionary Soviets, who tended to object

Joyce’s Utopian Machine  131 to any work that did not represent class struggle directly (see, for example, Mirsky and Radek in James Joyce: The Critical Heritage [vol. 2, 589–92 and 624–26]). Though Joyce was not entirely without radical admirers in his own day (the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, for example, considered Joyce’s techniques in Ulysses similar to his own innovations in film [see “Laocoön” (193–6, 197–8) and “Literature and Cinema” (96)]), his recuperation would take some time (see note 18). 18. Though the critical consensus has moved away from the reading of Joyce as an apolitical aesthete with the publication of Manganiello’s Joyce’s Politics and the Marxist reassessments of Jameson (“Ulysses in History” and “Modernism and Imperialism”), McGee (Joyce Beyond Marx), Margot Norris (Joyce’s Web), and others, the reassessments rarely question the sense that myth is inherently ahistorical. Both McGee and Norris, for example, tackle the problem of myth as such, arguing that Joyce’s use of the parallels effaces history in a move intended to draw attention to the very thing it is effacing. On the one hand, McGee writes that Ulysses “produces the illusion of historical transcendence... in the systematic referencing of Homer’s epic” and thus becomes “a compromise formation or symptom of the real insofar as it posits itself as the imaginary resolution of the contradictions of real history” (125). On the other, Norris argues that the parallels “undo” or “unweave” themselves, exposing themselves as the aesthetic ideology of a particular historical (high-modernist) moment (8, 164–80)—a perspective that has been especially influential to my argument here. 19. The “throwaway” approach, first proposed by Pound, is then extended by Franco Moretti. In “Ulysses” (1922), Pound writes that the Homeric parallels are “chiefly [Joyce’s]... own affair, a scaffold, a means of construction” (406), and in “The Long Goodbye: Ulysses and the End of Liberal Capitalism,” Moretti asserts that “it is no longer possible to doubt that Joyce uses myth only to desecrate it, and through it to desecrate contemporary history: to parody Bloom with Ulysses, and Ulysses with Bloom; to create an order which gives greater relief to the absence of order, a nucleus gone haywire with irony and distortions” (192). 20. During the process of composition, Joyce routinely described Ulysses as a book based on The Odyssey. He told Frank Budgen, for example, that “The Odyssey... serves me as a ground plan” but that “my time is recent time and all my hero’s wanderings take no more than eighteen hours” (15). As Kenner has observed, this information is inadequate to describe the nature and content of Ulysses, but turns the book “into something that could be talked about” (Ulysses 23). The early commentators (Larbaud, Gilbert, Budgen, etc.) talked about it in just these terms. 21. In The Odyssey, though Circe proposes the Wandering Rocks to Odysseus as an alternative to Scylla and Charybdis, Odysseus in fact passes between Scylla and Charybdis twice, avoiding the Rocks. Thus, Joyce may be said to wander out of the Odyssey in the tenth episode of Ulysses and into the Argonautica—a poem in which Jason and the Argonauts do navigate the Rocks. Note, however, that Fritz Senn has observed a variant in the ending of the Odyssey: Odysseus implies that he has passed through the Rocks when he recounts his adventures to Penelope (156). 22. According to Budgen, Joyce considered the conclusion of The Odyssey quite un-Odyssean. For him, Odysseus was the first conscientious objector: the man who sought to avoid going to the Trojan War by feigning madness (he gives up the pretense when his baby son is set in the furrow in front of his plow), and whose chief triumphs in the war are not so much violent

132 Modernism as strategic. For example, Joyce described the Trojan Horse to Budgen as the forerunner of the tank: Odysseus was “an inventor.... The tank is his creation. Wooden horse or iron box—it doesn’t matter. They are both shells containing armed warriors” (17). 23. Here again, Ulysses eludes the mythic trap to which Lawrence’s novels ultimately succumb. While Cipriano, in The Plumed Serpent, achieves mythic apotheosis only by imposing “a mystery of prone submission” (309) upon his wife, Bloom is restored in “Ithaca” without insisting upon Molly’s subjugation. 24. From “Calypso” onward, Bloom knows that Molly is expecting Blazes Boylan, with whom she will rehearse “Là ci darem and ...Love’s Old Sweet Song” (4.314). 25. Thomas More, writing in Latin and punning on Greek in Utopia (1516), names his imaginary island “Utopia” to imply both a “good place” (eutopos) and “no place” (ou-topos). 26. Though Eagleton briefly discusses both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake in the essay in which he distinguishes between these different kinds of utopia, it must be noted that he adheres in it to the older Marxist reading of Ulysses as “ahistorical” (see notes 17 and 18). This argument is partly rescinded, however, in his more recent The English Novel (2005), where he distinguishes Joyce as both “outrageously experimental [and] . . . deeply egalitarian” (285). In this later work, he writes that Ulysses, “[i]n its playfulness and plurality, its rich inclusiveness and multiple identities,... prefigures an Ireland which has yet to come into being” (286), and thus “could even be described as utopian” (297). 27. It must be admitted that this vision, implying the ultimate futility of scholarly labor, has cast something of a dystopian shadow. At the turn of the twentyfirst century, describing “the ease with which we forget what has been written [about Joyce], and write it over and over again, using a new vocabulary to articulate the same insights” (170), Derek Attridge suggested that scholarship’s labors of explication were already exhausted. Derrida, however, is permanently optimistic. For him, the Joycean text—which he describes as a “1000th generation computer... beside which the current technology... remains a bricolage of a prehistoric child’s toys” (“Two Words” 147)—is, in effect, a utopian machine: designed to frustrate the scholarly “reading machines” it inevitably produces, it forever eludes the desire for mastery it itself generates.

6 Against the Quotidian Machine Woolf, Hemingway, and Proust

I. The Postwar Machines of Mrs. Dalloway Like Ulysses, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925) is preoccupied with tyrannical machines. Standing at the political heart of London, Westminster Clock Tower is yet more clearly identified with British imperial power than the machines that “[r]ule the world” in Bloom’s Dublin, and its massive bell declares a force akin to the one that threatens to “[s]mash a man to atoms” in Ulysses (7.81). “First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable” (4): Marking the time ominously, Big Ben tolls “leaden circles” into the air like cast slugs, and Clarissa Dalloway is reminded that it “was the middle of June. The War was over” (4). In summer 1923, the tolling of the bell recalls the recent eruption of machine violence in Europe—the force of a mechanized order that has literally smashed men to atoms in the trenches of the First World War. Yet it also recalls the resolutions British technological power has so recently secured. Thus, the “leaden circles dissol[ve]” (4). The machine is absorbed into the course of ordinary domestic life, and the narrative flows on from hour to hour toward Clarissa’s day-end party with only oblique reminders of mechanical devastation in the “suspense” she experiences “before Big Ben strikes” (4). Strike, however, it does. While Clarissa focuses on the tranquility guaranteed by machine violence (“but it was over; thank Heaven—over. It was June” [5]), Septimus Smith is driven by the clock into consultation with Sir William Bradshaw: “It was precisely twelve o’clock; twelve by Big Ben.... Twelve was the hour of th[e] appointment” (91–2). Bradshaw, who is scrupulous about the time (“To his patients he gave threequarters of an hour” [96]), intimidates the young veteran and his wife; calls shell shock “not having a sense of proportion” (94); and arranges to have Septimus confined to an asylum. Thus, the tolling of Big Ben— “First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable” (4)—adumbrates the soldier’s psychological capture, and the clocks striking in the wake of his appointment become Bradshaw’s violent devotees: “[s]hredding and slicing, dividing and subdividing, the clocks... counselled submission,

134 Modernism upheld authority, and pointed out in a chorus the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion” (100). Imposing a normative domestic order that is (“[s]hredding and slicing”) blithely destructive, these ancillary timepieces counsel a form of submission that, ironically, can only revive the conditions of Septimus’s wartime trauma. Haunted by his friend Evans, the young soldier is driven mad—as we know from a passage earlier in the novel—not by a lack of rational “proportion,” but an excess of it: [W]hen Evans was killed, just before the Armistice, in Italy, Septimus, far from showing any emotion or recognizing that here was the end of a friendship, congratulated himself upon feeling very little and very reasonably.... He had gone through the whole show, friendship, European War, death, had won promotion, was still under thirty and was bound to survive. He was right there. The last shells missed him. He watched them explode with indifference. (84) Having felt “very little and very reasonably” in the trenches, Septimus prides himself, initially, on being unmoved by machine warfare—on having, that is, a “sense of proportion.” Yet in time, this anesthetic rationality, however necessary to his emotional survival in the war, produces a state of constant anxiety. The price of indifference to falling shells is shell shock: a sensation, waking in the morning, that “[t]he bed was falling; he was falling”; and, in the evening, “panic... that he could not feel” (85). Induced by a “sense of proportion,” this neurotic state cannot, of course, be cured it, as the remedy merely resuscitates the conditions of the malady itself. For Septimus, then, there is no cure for the trauma of war that does not replicate its causes, and his consciousness persistently exposes what Clarissa Dalloway’s absorbs: the link between the technology of ordinary domestic life and the machinery of human destruction. When a motorcar backfires early in the book, for example, Clarissa “jump[s],” thinking she hears “oh! a pistol shot in the street outside!” (13). But for Septimus, the “pistol shot” revives the war. “[T]errified” and “rooted to the pavement” (15), his response seems, at first, out of “proportion” to its domestic cause—dislocated from its immediate context and magnified into a vision of fiery apocalypse: “The world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flames” (15). Denoting a reality that noncombatant Londoners like Clarissa are anxious to forget, however, the backfire of the official motorcar not only recalls wartime conditions—the explosive violence of the trenches—but emanates from the faceless, impersonal governing authority (the car is either “the Prince of Wales’s, the Queen’s, the Prime Minister’s ...[n]obody kn[ows]” for sure [14]) that has so recently sent men like Septimus to their deaths.1 Thus, while Clarissa hears a single

Against the Quotidian Machine  135 “shot”—a report that recalls the violence of the war but reduces it to an isolated, domestic incident—for Septimus, it is a revelation: the apocalyptic annunciation of deadly machine power. Still, the world only “threaten[s] to burst into flames.” Endowed with the power to kill, the machines that afflict Septimus in London after the war are also responsible for the wartime preservation of domestic life as such, and it is thus that the former soldier—walking on into Regent’s Park—sees a skywriting airplane as the vehicle of a possible dispensation: So, thought Septimus, looking up, they are signalling to me. Not indeed in actual words; that is, he could not read the language yet; but it was plain enough, this beauty, this exquisite beauty, and tears filled his eyes as he looked at the smoke words languishing and melting in the sky and bestowing upon him in their inexhaustible charity and laughing goodness one shape after another of unimaginable beauty and signalling their intention to provide him, for nothing, for ever, for looking merely, with beauty, more beauty! Tears ran down his cheeks. (21) From a normative point of view, this vision is of course ironic. Aformer war machine trailing “smoke,” the airplane puffs out an advertisement for Kreemo toffee (20), and thus promises a form of sweetness it imparts neither “for nothing” nor “for ever.” Nevertheless, for Septimus, the martial and commercial realities signaled by the plane dissolve into the conviction of an eternal, transcendent, divine bounty—a bounty that not only revives the mechanical conditions of his trauma (“Tears ran down his cheeks”), but redeems them in a vision of “unimaginable beauty”: the “beauty, more beauty” of a world the war machine, now repurposed, has helped to preserve.2 Thus, when Rezia points to the plane in hopes of getting Septimus to “take an interest in things outside himself” (21), he reads in its skywriting a sign of omnipotent benevolence. Despite the war and its devastating machines—indeed, because of them—things outside him still exist.

II. Holding the World Together: Clock, Motorcar, Airplane Linking the “exquisite beauty” of postwar life to the machine-made trauma on which it depends, Mrs. Dalloway continually exposes the cost of the peacetime order it represents through the consciousness of its shellshocked soldier. As it does so, however, it also relies for its own material coherence on the machines—clock, motorcar, and airplane—that beset its veteran protagonist. Originally entitled “The Hours,”3 Woolf’s streamof-consciousness narrative—devoted to the fluctuations of subjective

136 Modernism experience—secures a sense of linear order from the periodic striking of Big Ben. And the airplane and the motorcar function, likewise, as structural devices. Allowing Woolf “to present scenes which are happening simultaneously,” and linking characters who otherwise remain unknown to one another (S. Dick 54),4 the backfiring automobile shifts the narrative focus from Clarissa’s perspective (“oh! a pistol shot...!” [13]) to Septimus’s shock under the “violent explosion” (13), and the airplane marks events that are chronologically simultaneous while grounding subjective experience in objective circumstances. Clarissa arrives home from the flower shop just as the other Londoners gaze at an airplane she hasn’t seen (“What are they looking at?” [28], she asks the maid who opens the door), and the skywriter links Septimus’s euphoria (“beauty, more beauty!”) to its normative, material conditions: “It was toffee; they were advertising toffee, a nursemaid told Rezia” (21). Ultimately, like the everyday world of postwar London, the novel itself depends for order and stability on the machines responsible for the deformation of Septimus’s consciousness.5 The very need for such mechanical coherence, however, discloses a competing force in the narrative. On the streets of London, the “leaden circles” of Big Ben “dissolv[e]” (4) into a stream of consciousness that seems to engulf the novel’s ordering mechanisms. When Clarissa first hears the clock strike, for instance, the passage in which she does so— though beginning with the heavy tolling of the bell tower (“There! Out it boomed” [4]) and ending with her recollection of the date (“this moment in June” [4])—can hardly contain the exuberance of her inner life. Indeed, the novel’s structuring machines seem rather to be overturned by the force of Clarissa’s subjectivity, as she herself creates the objective world she apprehends: For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh....[London, for Clarissa, is in] people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June. (4) In these lines, Clarissa’s appreciation of the city seems to transcend its material conditions, as the narrative’s structuring machines become mere parts of the “tumbling” disorder her consciousness constructs. The “uproar” of motorcars becomes indistinguishable from the “swing, tramp, and trudge” of people; the “high singing” of the airplane transforms it into the instrument, together with “brass bands” and “barrel

Against the Quotidian Machine  137 organs,” of a jubilant urban life; and the passage as a whole, as though yielding to Clarissa’s subjective enthusiasm, seems to give the slip to forces of conventional discursive order. Shifting from stream-of-consciousness technique at the beginning (“For Heaven only knows why one loves it so”) into free indirect discourse at the end (“the strange high singing... was what she loved”), it starts in the first person and ends in the third; it produces a mild confusion of verbs and nouns as the “swing, tramp, and trudge” of London’s populous yields to a generalized “bellow” and “uproar”; it conflates people and things in a list that begins with carriages and ends with shuffling sandwich men;6 and it strains standard punctuation to the breaking point as semicolons bring the sentence to a stop only through a series of increasingly unconventional interventions. Thus, though beginning and ending with the leaden tolling of Big Ben, the passage unleashes, discursively, a subjective experience in excess of its mechanical constraints. As Erich Auerbach observes, external objects seem to “lo[se] their hegemony” in Woolf’s narratives; “they serve [instead] to release and interpret inner events” (538).7 Still, it must be acknowledged that this release is not complete. Even as Mrs. Dalloway’s machines produce, for Clarissa, the means of their subjective transcendence, this liberation is enacted at the cost of permanently brutalizing the novel’s other protagonist. Septimus, though capable of his own transcendent flights—able to convert, in his vision of the airplane, a war machine into an instrument of comfort, assurance, and “beauty, more beauty” (21)—is irrevocably damaged by technological violence. As we have seen, his visionary flights are a function of his shattered consciousness; the proposed cure for that consciousness (a “sense of proportion”) only reproduces the conditions of his wartime trauma, and his final effort to escape—when, beset by medical professionals, he jumps out the window to get away from his doctor—fatally reverses the movement of the airplane that has promised to set him free.8 As he falls onto the area railings of his Bloomsbury lodging house, his physical plunge recalls—and permanently inverts—the skyward flight of the airplane. At Clarissa’s party, it is true, Septimus is resuscitated in the heroine’s happier memory: “She felt somehow very like him—the young man who had killed himself,” and “felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away” (182). Yet Clarissa rejoices in Septimus’s possible liberation just as “the clock [i]s striking” (182). The moment of putative escape thus reinscribes the mechanical conditions it means to transcend, and Clarissa’s disturbing reflections (his suicide “[h]ad made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun” [182]) only partly redeem the soldier from the tyranny of the machine: “might he not then have said (indeed she felt it now), Life is made intolerable?” (180). In this parenthetical moment of fellow feeling, Clarissa raises a question the novel does not fully resolve: If life is made intolerable by the mechanical conditions of its preservation, is it still possible to live?9

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III. The Wounding Machines of The Sun Also Rises Published just a year later, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926) seems to take up where Mrs. Dalloway leaves off. Like Septimus, Jake Barnes is a living casualty of machine warfare, and one who physically embodies the predicament Clarissa apprehends at the end of Woolf’s novel. Aformer aviator, Jake has been mutilated in a flying accident on the Italian front, and—rendered permanently impotent—struggles with a physical wound as irremediable as Septimus’s psychological one.10 For Jake, however, the airplane—as the agent of his inalterable deformation—will never be an instrument of potential transcendence, and he makes every effort to ignore a plight he cannot escape. Dismissing “all the fine philosophies” he has entertained about the world, he asserts that he simply wants to know, now, “how to live in it” (152). Minimizing his problem through irony, he tells the woman he loves that “what happened to me is supposed to be funny. Inever think about it” (34). And though her reading of the situation is surely more accurate (Brett thinks “it’s hell on earth” [35]), neither perspective makes the condition tolerable. Deliberately suppressed in Jake’s narrative, the wounding airplane of The Sun Also Rises makes no direct appearance in the novel—but is constantly evoked as the condition of the protagonist’s physical and emotional trauma. In Paris, unable to requite Brett’s sexual desire, Jake is forced to witness in her a promiscuity he can neither tolerate nor relieve, and though his subsequent excursion to the Spanish countryside suggests an attempted retreat from the devastating mechanical order, this journey only reproduces the conditions he seeks to elude. As an “aficionado” of the Pamplona bullfights (Jake explains that “[a]ficion means passion” [136]), he at first appears to find a substitute, in the blood sport, for carnal desires he can no longer satisfy after the war. Yet the event only compromises his one remaining form of release: Symbolically requiting Brett when he arranges a tryst for her with Romero, the young matador, Jake’s displacement of his own physical needs ruins the integrity of the bullfight—while doing nothing to relieve his sexual agony. Moreover, the fight itself seems designed to make a spectacle of Jake’s loss. Called Guerrita (Spanish for “little war”) in the early drafts of the novel (Svoboda 61), Romero performs a phallic conquest in the ring (“for just an instant he and the bull were one” [222]) that Jake himself can no longer achieve, and fights with an instrumental precision—“It was all so slow and so controlled” (221)—that recalls the mechanical conditions of Jake’s physical incapacity. Thus, instead of assuaging the aficionado’s machine-made injury, the Pamplona “fiesta” in fact replicates the circumstances of his wounding: “At noon of Sunday, the 6th of July, the fiesta exploded. There is no other way to describe it” (156). In the cafés, the wicker chairs give way to armored furniture—“cast-iron tables”— as though the shop were “a battleship stripped for action” (157). And

Against the Quotidian Machine  139 when a “rocket... announce[s] the fiesta” on the first evening, “[t]he ball of smoke h[angs] in the sky like a shrapnel burst” (157). During the bullfights, Pamplona not only turns into a repetition of but, horribly, a celebration of Jake’s trauma. Given its failure as a consolatory excursion, it is no surprise that Jake’s trip to Pamplona becomes the occasion of a further retreat. Pursuing a new “escape... in [the] unevenly modernized parts of the earth” (Daly, “Machine Age” 285), Jake goes on a fishing trip to rural Burguete, and there appears to achieve, at last, a kind of symbolic mastery over the conditions of his injury. Bestowing a swift release from mechanical pain on his first catch—“He was a good trout,” he says, “and Ibanged his head against the timber so that he quivered out straight” (124)—Jake’s skill seems, at first, to limit the animal’s suffering while also restoring (in its quivering, erect body) something of his own lost capacity. Thus, cleaning and packing his kills, he recounts his actions with a technical precision that “many readers have identified as [therapeutic]” (Tichi 226): [The trout] were all about the same size. I laid them out, side by side, all their heads pointing the same way, and looked at them.... I took the trout ashore, washed them ..., and then picked some ferns and packed them all in the bag, three trout on a layer of ferns, then another layer of ferns, then three more trout, and then covered them with ferns. (124) Here, Jake’s orderly narrative, linear in its chronology (“then... then... then . . . then”) and regimental in the practice it describes (“side by side... three trout on a layer ..., then another layer ..., then three more trout”), enacts a rationalized ritual of consolation. Unfortunately, as a means of emotional relief, this ritual also replicates the instrumental violence Jake seeks to elude.11 Like his use of mechanical tackle and his identification with his first kill, his reverential treatment of the fish—laying their quivering bodies flat—inevitably reenacts the form of devastation it is supposed to undo. Even in the Spanish wilderness, then, Jake finds himself constrained by the forces he wants to escape, and when his friend Bill returns from another part of the stream, “sweaty and happy” (125), with several much bigger fish, the whole consolatory excursion becomes—in the seemingly inevitable reduction of technique to size—yet another reminder of Jake’s permanent, machine-made incapacity.12

IV. Breaking Down Unfortunately for Jake, while ignoring his machine-made wound turns out to be impossible, confronting it is even worse. Early in the novel,

140 Modernism going to bed in Paris, he looks directly at it, and the passage in which he does so seems to fracture under the force of its own suppressions: I lit the lamp ..., turned off the gas, and opened the wide windows. The bed was far back from the windows, and Isat with the windows open and undressed by the bed. Outside a night train, running on the street-car tracks, went by carrying vegetables to the markets. They were noisy at night when you could not sleep. Undressing, Ilooked at myself in the mirror of the big armoire beside the bed. That was a typically French way to furnish a room. Practical, too, Isuppose. Of all the ways to be wounded. Isuppose it was funny. (38) In this passage, as Jake looks—or tries not to look—in the mirror, his characteristic verbal economy begins to crack up under the pressure of maintaining emotional control. At first, the confrontation with his mutilated body is deferred by the enumeration of regular operations (lighting the lamp, turning off the gas, opening the windows)—and then deflected onto the night trains outside. The shift in focus, however, does nothing to distract the reader from Jake’s mounting anxiety; rather, we notice that the trains are “noisy... when [he cannot]... sleep,” and their reproductive implications (phallic engines pulling cars loaded with the fruit of the land) merely disclose, by means of one vehicle, the trauma wrought by another. Then, in the next line, Jake looks at himself in the mirror, and his “tight, functional prose” (Tichi 216) literally breaks into fragments as he sees his reflection: “Practical, too, I suppose. Of all the ways to be wounded.” Far from controlling his emotion, his refusal to represent the injury betrays his torment, and in fact reproduces, as Debra Moddelmog points out, the injury itself: “Jake does not tell us what he sees” in the mirror because “what he sees is, in fact, nothing: [his]... penis is missing” (129). Discursively, then, Jake’s suppression of the wound reenacts the mechanical amputation it refuses to acknowledge. Attempting to regain emotional composure, Jake asserts that his disability is “funny,” and then covers it up: “Isuppose it was funny. Iput on my pajamas and got into bed” (38). This coping technique, however, only further revives the trauma it seeks to suppress: My head started to work. The old grievance. Well, it was a rotten way to be wounded and flying on a joke front like the Italian. In the Italian hospital we were going to form a society. It had a funny name in Italian.... That was where the liaison colonel came to visit me. That was funny. That was about the first funny thing. I was all bandaged up. But they had told him about it. Then he made

Against the Quotidian Machine  141 that wonderful speech: “You, a foreigner, an Englishman” (any foreigner was an Englishman) “have given more than your life.” What a speech! Iwould like to have it illuminated to hang in the office. He never laughed. He was putting himself in my place, I guess. “Che mala fortuna! Che mala fortuna!” (38–9) In this passage, Jake’s narrative control is temporarily reasserted in the declarative sentence structure of the first line: “My head started to work” insists upon the functional and orderly consciousness it ostensibly represents (a “working” head). Yielding immediately, however, to a tortured recollection of his injury and its aftermath, the structure breaks down at “the old grievance” (28), and the lines that follow play with obsessive bitterness upon the “joke” of his wounding: “flying on a joke front ...[i]t had a funny name.... That was funny. That was about the first funny thing.” Succumbing to a kind of mechanical repetition compulsion, the terms in which Jake habitually seeks to suppress his trauma (“Isuppose it was funny”) then explode into excessive speech, and though he tries to transfer this excess to the colonel who visits him—“What a speech!”—and to objectify it in his ironic wish to “have it illuminated to hang in the office,” the effort is unsuccessful. His recollection of the man’s gravity (“He never laughed”) induces a moment of mutual recognition and identification (“He was putting himself in my place”) in which the Italian lament, stripped of attribution apart from Jake’s silent quotation marks (“Che mala fortuna! Che mala fortuna!”), becomes indistinguishable from his own. Forced to confront his wound, Jake finally loses his accustomed emotional control, and the functional order of his narrative succumbs to a fractured stream of consciousness. Like the interior flights of Mrs. Dalloway, Jake’s subjective break into stream of consciousness—temporarily overwhelming the rational coherence of his narrative—discloses the mechanical devastation his story struggles to contain. In this novel, however, the break fashions no “transfer of confidence” (Auerbach 547) to an inner state capable of overcoming the tyranny of the machine that has produced it. Whereas Septimus is at least temporarily liberated by the airplane that has contributed to his mental deformation, Jake is confronted at every turn by the knowledge of his machine-made wound. Thus, on the last page of the novel, we find him still in agony. Suspended in a slowing taxi between the pressure of Brett’s body and a hopelessly displaced erection in the traffic policeman’s “raised... baton” (251), he is faced with yet another image of his permanent deformation. In the end, even the taxi—that most quotidian of postwar machines13—reproduces the physical violation originally wrought by the airplane.

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V. Automobiles, Airplanes, and the Telephonic In Search of Lost Time Curiously, against the evidence of the novel itself, Hemingway tended to insist that The Sun Also Rises was not a hopelessly tragic book. Focusing on the title, he asserted in A Moveable Feast (1964) that he had “tried to balance” (61) the more pessimistic epigraph—Gertrude Stein’s “You are all a lost generation”14—against a quotation from Ecclesiastes: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever [and the]... sun also ariseth” (1:4–5). As Philip Young notes, however, the biblical quotation can itself be read as a “passage on futility” (84). The sun goes up and down in the same place, and though the earth on which it shines may “abide forever,” the world Jake inhabits is permanently deformed by the machinery of its preservation. Like Septimus in Mrs. Dalloway, Hemingway’s aviator is irremediably damaged by the First World War, and his destiny—like Septimus’s—seems to extend, inevitably, to noncombatants also. Just as Clarissa, glad that the young soldier has “thrown it away” (182), finally seems to endorse Septimus’s suicide as the only reasonable response to modern life, Brett Ashley joins the ranks of the “lost generation,” a secondary casualty—in her impossible love for Jake—of his machine-made wound. In both novels, the war is over, but its mechanical conditions—as irrevocable as they are intolerable—persist.15 As Marcel Proust reminds us, however, the world was beset by machines long before Hemingway’s “lost generation” came to inhabit it. In In Search of Lost Time (1913–27), the motorcars and airplanes that afflict Septimus and Jake after the war appear already in the Belle Époque, and though they are greeted at first as vehicles of liberation, they inevitably prefigure the devastation to come. In book IV of the Search—a volume Proust added as he expanded the novel during the war (Schmidt 67–8)— Marcel goes motoring with Albertine Simonet, and celebrates the car’s newfound capacity to bring far-flung villages into immediate proximity: Like “prisoners hitherto as hermetically confined in the cells” of separate visits, multiple destinations are now “delivered,” by the automobile, as by a “giant with... seven-league boots” (IV 538). However liberating to the landscape of the Belle Époque, however, this transcendent power is soon compromised by Marcel’s desire to imprison his traveling companion. In volume V, The Captive and the Fugitive, “shutting Albertine away” in a speeding car, he seeks to “restor[e] to the universe” the fading attractions of a woman who “required excursions like this” (225) to revive his jealous regard. Thus, like the car in Mrs. Dalloway, but in a more figurative sense, Marcel’s automobile backfires: the liberating machine becomes the instrument of containment and, ultimately, loss. Just before Albertine leaves him, Marcel proposes a trip to Versailles, where they see an airplane “high up there, very very high” (V 547). Unfortunately, the

Against the Quotidian Machine  143 feeling its elevation inspires in him—“a longing for my lost freedom” (V 547)—inspires Albertine also with a desire for flight. Thus, although they return to Paris together, she leaves him in the morning, and though he promises her a Rolls Royce (V 613–14), she does not come back. Indeed, dying subsequently in an accident, she never returns. In the Search, then, the automobile and the airplane become vehicles of loss, and help propel the quest—the search for lost time, and lost people—that animates the entire novel. Mostly added to the narrative during the war,16 however, they are neither the first nor the only such machines in the book, and serve rather to amplify the consequences of another, yet more quotidian device: At the beginning of The Captive, before imprisoning Albertine in the motorcar, Marcel muses in passing on the “supernatural” power of the telephone (V 32), and thus draws attention to the forgotten influence of an instrument intended, like the automobile and the airplane, to conquer the limitations of time and distance. A machine “before whose miracles we used to stand amazed” (V 32), but which “we now employ without giving it a thought, to summon our tailor or to order an ice cream” (V 32), the phone has long been assimilated to the course of ordinary domestic life. Nevertheless, in both its promise of liberation and its destructive effects, it wields, in the Search, a power equivalent to that of the vehicles that appear later in the novel. As a very young man, approaching the “magic orifice” of the new telephone at Doncières, Marcel begins a call to his grandmother, in the third volume of the Search, by invoking a plutonic god: the “All-Powerful by whose intervention the absent rise up at our side” (174). Marveling at the “sound of distance overcome” (III 174), young Marcel revels, at first, in the sense of instrumental mastery the telephone has produced. Yet this feeling of triumph soon gives way to anguish as his grandmother’s voice—“alone and attached no longer to [her] . . . body”—seems to “cr[y] to [him]... from the depths out of which one does not rise again” (III 175). Horrified by this premonition of her death—the sensation of “an eternal separation” (III 175)—he rushes home to Paris on the next train. But even there, he cannot shake the feeling of estrangement the telephone has produced: “[F]or the first time.... I saw, sitting on the sofa beneath the lamp, red-faced, heavy and vulgar, sick, day-dreaming, letting her slightly crazed eyes wander over a book, an overburdened old woman Idid not know” (III 185). Unable to repair the rift the telephone has created in bringing him together with his grandmother, Marcel encounters her living self as a “phantom image” (Danius 15),17 and is left not only with a permanent sense of her loss, but a loss that prefigures further losses to come. Years later, when he and Albertine hear the buzz of the airplane at Versailles, his “longing for... lost freedom” is evoked by “a noise... which my grandmother would also have loved” (V 547), and he thinks of her again when he receives the news of Albertine’s death in an accident. Drawing his “hand over [his mouth] . . . as Mamma

144 Modernism had caressed [him] . . . at the time of [his] . . . grandmother’s death” (V 642–3), he realizes that neither woman will ever kiss him again. Anticipating both the airplane and the automobile, it is thus the telephone that first induces the melancholy “search” of the novel’s title: the search for lost time and lost people. And yet, as an estranging device, the phone is not only the primary impetus for the multi-volume narrative, but the only machine empowered to undo its own destructive effects. At the end of the “Combray” section of Swann’s Way—the first volume of the Search—Marcel embarks on a 300-page description of Charles Swann’s love affair with Odette de Crécy—an “impossible” narrative in which he will recount, he says, a story of which he could have had no personal experience, the tale of “a love affair in which Swann had been involved before Iwas born,” and he will do so with a precision of detail which it is often easier to obtain for the lives of people who have been dead for centuries than for those of our own most intimate friends, an accuracy which it seems as impossible to attain as it seemed impossible to speak from one town to another, before we knew of the contrivance by which that impossibility has been overcome. (262) In telling Swann’s story, Marcel will appropriate a narrative power evidently incompatible with his limited perspective as a character in, and narrator of, his own tale. Yet what seems most “impossible” in this first-person account is precisely what is no longer impossible after the advent of the telephone. Built to exceed its material conditions—to overcome the natural limitations imposed by time and distance on human communication—the mechanical “contrivance” of the telephone guarantees the narrative contrivance through which Marcel retrieves lost time and lost people. Endowed in the third volume with the capacity to kill, it secures, in the first, a recuperative power capable of undoing all the damage it will itself produce.18

VI. The “Gesture of a Bomb Dropped upon Us” It is an important dispensation. Having “witnessed the birth of the telephone” (II 123), Proust’s narrative need not lament, like the novels of Hemingway and Woolf, the conversion of so many other Belle Époque machines into instruments of devastation. While the motorcar becomes a prison, and the airplane an inducement to flight, the telephone of the Search assures a restorative system in excess of its own capacity to harm, and thus sustains its liberating potential—even up to and through the First World War.19 In the final volume of the novel—a volume Proust expanded, during the war, to include the war (Tadié 635–7)—Marcel

Against the Quotidian Machine  145 goes out one night during the aerial bombardment of Paris, and is horrified to witness, from an airplane he persists in seeing as “only... stellar and celestial” (VI 163), the “gesture of a bomb dropped upon us” (VI 163). In this final “gesture,” the aerial machine loses all its transcendence: colluding with the forces of gravity, it transmutes its ethereal elevation into a means of “murderous” destruction (VI 163). Even in its earliest appearance, however, the airplane is haunted by this inevitable fall from grace. On the occasion of Marcel’s first sighting of the aerial machine, it seems to “yield to some attraction that [i]s the reverse of gravity” (IV 582), its “two great wings of... metal” flashing “against the sun” with a beauty that moves the young man as “deeply . . . as [though he were] an ancient Greek... seeing for the first time a demigod” (IV 582). Alluding to the story of Daedalus and Icarus, Marcel’s meditation aligns the ascendant flight of the vehicle—in its solar elevation and man-made wings—with the mythic image of the Greek artificer and his son. More like Icarus than Daedalus, however, the airplane heads “straight up into the sky,” and the “flas[h]” of its wings against the solar body anticipates not only the machine’s inevitable drop to earth, but the burning “gesture” of the falling bomb to come. Although Proust, who died in 1922, would not live to see it, this “gesture” would become characteristic of the airplane after the First World War. In the course of the twentieth century, aerial bombing became typical of modern warfare, and the “celestial” machine—still potentially transcendent in Mrs. Dalloway and the Search—returns in later narratives to menace the domestic tranquility its divine elevation had once appeared to ensure. Perhaps most ominously, in Woolf’s last novel, the communal scene of sky-gazing from Mrs. Dalloway recurs, but this time on the eve of the Second World War. In Between the Acts (1941), “[t]welve aeroplanes [flying] in perfect formation” (193) interrupt a village play, and divert the attention of the audience on the ground— “[t]he audience gaped; the audience gazed” (193)—to a terrifying future. As Gillian Beer observes, Woolf’s “first readers would have felt the force of the irony here. This is mid-June; by mid-September1939 all illumination w[ould] be doused and the blackout w[ould] be in place” (174–5). Prefiguring the Blitz, the airplanes of Between the Acts are no longer engines of postwar “beauty, more beauty” but the portent of coming destruction, and they not only disrupt the ongoing drama of domestic life—the village play is, significantly, a pageant of English history—but appear to endanger the future as such. Interrupting the pageant speaker as he utters the word “opportunity” (“[T]he word was cut in two. Azoom severed it” [193]), the squadron figuratively cuts off all prospects, demolishes all chances, and signals a reality that Woolf herself—who survived the Blitz but not the war—could not have anticipated.20 By 1945, in the “gesture” of aerial bombardment, the airplane would unleash a threat of genuinely planetary magnitude. Freighted with the atom bomb, it would

146 Modernism become the vehicle of a technological force such as the world had never seen.

Notes 1. In a sense, Septimus’s vision is simply an acute manifestation of what everyone in the novel feels. The crowd, impressed by the Prince of Wales, the Queen, or the Prime Minister (no one knows which), feels that “mystery had brushed them ...; they had heard the voice of authority; the spirit of religion was abroad” (14). Only for Septimus, however, is this religious feeling amplified to visionary levels. Just as his name (from the Latin for “seven”) implies a link to the fiery Revelations of St. John (in which sevens proliferate [see, for example, Revelations 1:20]), Septimus becomes the prophet of a twentieth-century apocalypse. 2. The echo of Dreiser’s “beauty, beauty, beauty” is apropos here, extending the naturalist vision of a world “aesthetic in its results if by no means... so in its processes” (“What IBelieve” 247) to a postwar order preserved by machine violence. Indeed, despite its status as a former war machine and its peacetime role as a commercial skywriter, the airplane may function as precisely the instrument of beauty and benevolence Septimus apprehends. As Gillian Beer has argued, though “[e]ach person reads the plane’s message differently,” the “message does not matter; the communal act of sky-gazing does” (161). As an advertisement, the skywriting “prove[s] trivial” (160), and the machine, as the “bearer and breaker of signification, puffing dissolving words into the air” (152), breaks down barriers, deflates pretensions (spelling “T. O. F.,” it makes “[t]offs and toffee... lexically indistinguishable” [162]), and becomes, finally, a unifying force: “The liberated, egalitarian extreme of the aeroplane’s height, and the distanced eye of the writing, dissolves bonds and flattens hierarchies” (162). 3. In the working title of “this book, that is, The Hours, if that’s its name?” (Diary 248), Woolf emphasized her use of what critics often describe as an “inordinately heavy time symbolism” (DiBattista 142–3) in the novel: a chronological scheme so carefully constructed that the wanderings of the novel’s characters can be mapped and timed with precision. Indeed, so exactly can the characters’ movements be reconstructed that, like Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated—which includes maps on which the perambulations of Joyce’s Dubliners can be tracked precisely—Bonnie Kime Scott’s recent edition of Mrs. Dalloway prints a map of London, keyed to the appearance of recurring characters, ahead of the title page. Further, just as Ulysses has Stephen Dedalus take an unmentioned tram ride to get six miles from Dalkey to the Strand between 10:30 and 11:05 a.m. (Kenner, Ulysses 14), the text of Mrs. Dalloway obeys a mechanical order it does not always disclose. Noting that Clarissa could hardly have walked home from the florist’s in Bond Street (which she leaves at about 10:45) to Westminster (where Big Ben strikes 11:00) in under a quarter of an hour, John Sutherland concludes that she takes a taxi (215–24). This machine, like Stephen’s tram, never appears in the narrative, but explains the rapidity of Clarissa’s unnarrated journey—as well as the fact that she never sees the airplane that so transfixes the other characters (“ ‘What are they looking at?’ said Clarissa Dalloway to the maid who opened her door” [28]). Nor is the mechanical structure the only resemblance between Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses. As Scott notes in her introduction, “[b]oth [are]... urban-centered novels that are confined in their actions to a single day.... Both enter the consciousness of their characters

Against the Quotidian Machine  147 for extended periods [through interior monologue]....[And both] make an unexpected switch,” midway, “from the character who seems to be central at the start of the novel to an outside figure” (lii)—from Stephen Dedalus to Leopold Bloom and from Clarissa Dalloway to Septimus Smith. Thus, although Woolf tended to deprecate Ulysses, concluding in her journal that it was a “mis-fire” (Diary 199), Mrs. Dalloway actually resembles Joyce’s work in its structure, its narrative technique, and its anti-mechanical concerns. (Indeed, even her characterization of it as a “mis-fire” suggests a tacit recognition of the machine violence on which Ulysses, like Mrs. Dalloway, is predicated.) 4. In light of her critical work, Woolf’s use of machines as structural devices in Mrs. Dalloway may come as something of a surprise. In “Modern Fiction” (1921), written just a few years before the novel, she dissociates the objectives of modernist writing from the instrumental aims of modern life, objecting to “the analogy between literature and the process, to choose an example, of making motor cars.... It is doubtful whether in the course of centuries, though we have learnt much about making machines, we have learnt anything about making literature” (739). Despite her protest, however, Mrs. Dalloway internalizes—as an ordering mechanism—the very machine she dismisses as an inadequate analogy for literary construction. Contravening her own critical statement, she shows just how much the making of literature had come to depend on the making of machines. 5. Well aware of the mechanical brutality of her text, Woolf wrote in her diary on June19, 1923, that she foresaw “the devil of a struggle. The design is so queer& so masterful. I’m always having to wrench my substance to fit it” (Diary 249). While her need to “wrench” her material to fit “The Hours” implies a mechanical procedure obedient to the machine-dominated novel, however, her “struggle” suggests opposition to the forces that constrain it. 6. Woolf’s sandwich men are probably a quiet tribute to Ulysses, where Bloom sees five men in a walking advertisement for stationery: “A procession of whitesmocked sandwichmen marched slowly towards him along the gutter, scarlet sashes across their boards. Bargains.... He read the scarlet letters on their five tall white hats: H. E. L. Y. S. Wisdom Hely’s. Y lagging behind drew a chunk of bread from under his foreboard, crammed it into his mouth and munched as he walked” (8.123–8). Just as Joyce’s individuation of the hungry “Y” tends to reassert the identity of the human being functionally reduced to a part in the perambulating ad, Woolf’s conflation of people and machines early in the narrative draws subtle attention to the consequences of mechanization, especially its tendency to turn subjects (people) into objects (things). 7. Though his study of Woolf in Mimesis (1946) is mainly concerned with To the Lighthouse (1927), his observations are equally apt in relation to Mrs. Dalloway. 8. When Septimus jumps, he is in flight from “human nature” (90) in the form of Dr. Holmes, a man whose name seems partly intended (given his inadequacy) to be an ironic recollection of the super-rational Sherlock Holmes, and partly an evocation of the relentless invasiveness of instrumental reason: “Holmes was on him. Dr. Holmes came quite regularly every day” (90). Here, the mechanical repetition in the line, denoting the implacable consistency of Holmes’s professional attendance (“Holmes,... Holmes came quite regularly”), aligns the physician with the war machines that drive Septimus to his death. Indeed, as the “repulsive brute,” a figure of destructive “human nature,” Dr. Holmes is a kind of mechanical monster, and Septimus—thinking that his “only chance [i]s... to escape, without letting

148 Modernism Holmes know”—ultimately jumps out the window in accordance with his desire to get “anywhere, anywhere, away from Dr. Holmes” (90). Tragically, in a world preserved by the very machinery of its deformation, there isn’t “anywhere” left to get to. All escapes are themselves constrained, like Septimus’s final flight, by machines. 9. It is perhaps this that Auerbach—who sees in Woolf’s emphasis on subjectivity the possibility of “a common life of mankind on earth,” a “unification” at odds with the “unstable [external] orders over which men fight and despair”—refers to as her “doubt of life” (552–3). Sparing Clarissa Dalloway the fate of Septimus Smith, Woolf suggests that modern life is at least survivable for those who are sheltered from direct contact with the machinery on which their security relies. Septimus, however, seems to be the inevitable casualty of a system that failed to kill him during the First World War, and Woolf, in her introduction to the 1928 Modern Library edition of the novel, notes that “in the first version... Mrs. Dalloway was... to kill herself, or perhaps merely to die at the end of the party” she spends the day planning (“Introduction” 11). 10. Hemingway habitually objected to the suggestion that Jake is emasculated by his injury. Insisting upon a far more frustrating predicament in a late interview in the Paris Review (1958), he stressed that Jake’s “testicles were intact and not damaged” (Plimpton 31). He is yet more explicit in a letter of Dec. 9, 1951: “Iwondered what a man’s life would have been like... if his penis had been lost and his testicles and spermatic cord remained intact. I... tried to find out what his problems would be when he was in love with someone who was in love with him and there was nothing that they could do about it” (Selected Letters 745). 11. I am not the first to identify an alignment between these blood sports and the trauma of war. In The Wound and the Bow (1941), Edmund Wilson argues that the war “set[s] the key for the whole” (214) of Hemingway’s first collection of stories, In Our Time (1925), and points especially to the fishing trip in “Big Two-Hearted River.” For Nick, the freedom of fishing is inflected by the military horror from which he is trying to escape: “He [is]... conscious in a curious way of the cruelty inflicted on the fish, even of the silent agonies endured by the live bait, the grasshoppers kicking on the hook” (215). In Wilson’s formulation, the ritual of fishing, while ostensibly healing, reproduces the violence it is supposed to remedy. 12. The machine continues to pursue Jake for the remainder of the novel. Returning from Burguete to Pamplona, he departs at the end of the fiesta for Bayonne and then San Sebastian, where “[t]here was a bicycle-race on, the Tour du Pays Basque” (239). Thrown, as he then is, into close companionship with a fleet of French and Belgian cyclists, their girlfriends, and the “team manager of one of the big bicycle manufacturers” (240), it may seem odd that Jake ends up intentionally missing the race. In retrospect, however, it appears that the bicycle competition—like the bullfight and the fishing expedition—inevitably reminds Jake of his machine-made injury. During the fishing trip, Bill refers in sympathy to Jake’s accident, and does so in terms that explicitly link bicycles to the wounding airplane. Suggesting that Jake should never talk about his mutilation, he says, “That’s what you ought to work up into a mystery. Like Henry’s bicycle” (120). Areference to the “horrid [but] . . . obscure hurt” Henry James received in his youth while being “[j]ammed... between two high fences” as he helped put out a fire with a “rusty... old engine” (James, Notes 297–8), this “bicycle” is code for a mechanical injury to the genitals. Thus, although Bill and Jake joke

Against the Quotidian Machine  149 about the “mystery”—leaving out the fence posts, they jest about whether James’s wound was sustained on a bike, “on horseback,” or on an infantilizing “tricycle” (120)—“Henry’s bicycle” is aligned with Jake’s airplane. The point is then driven home when Jake observes that “[a] plane is sort of like a tricycle,” since “[t]he joystick works the same way” (120). This remark—to my knowledge, Jake’s only direct reference to his airplane in The Sun Also Rises—links the war machine to the bicycle through the phallic “joystick.” 13. Though Brett and Jake take this taxi for a drive around Madrid at the end of The Sun, the closing scene doubles one at the beginning of the novel in which the couple takes a taxi ride around Paris (32)—and Parisian taxis are, famously, former war machines. In September 1914, Parisian cabs were commandeered to transport reinforcements to the Battle of the Marne, assembling en masse in the Esplanade des Invalides. Though only “five thousand soldiers were transported” by this means, “the news of the ‘taxis of the Marne’ had a powerful effect on French morale... and has become a legend in French popular memories of the Great War” (Keegan 100). It seems also to have a similar standing in the imagination of American expatriates in Paris, appearing, notably, in several anecdotes in the memoir of Hemingway’s early literary mentor, Gertrude Stein. In The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), Stein—who was not in Paris at the time—recounts the story of the taxis of the Marne as told to her by three separate sources (see 149–51) and later recalls learning to drive on “one of the old battle of the Marne taxis” (162). See note 14 for a further discussion of the multiple connections between Stein, Hemingway, automobiles, and The Sun Also Rises. 14. Significantly, the epigraph—which quotes Stein quoting the owner of an auto shop—frames a novel driven by machinery within a story about machines. As Hemingway recalls in A Moveable Feast, “MissStein... had some ignition trouble with the old Model T Ford she then drove and the young man who worked in the garage and had served in the last year of the war had not been adept, or perhaps had not broken the priority of other vehicles, in repairing MissStein’s Ford.... Anyway he had not been sérieux.... The patron had said to him, ‘You are all a génération perdue’ ” (61), and Stein agreed, insisting that “All of you young people who served in the war... have no respect for anything. You drink yourselves to death.... You’re all a lost generation, exactly as the garage keeper said” (61).   By the time Hemingway wrote A Moveable Feast, of course, he had fallen out with his early mentor, and his discussion of the epigraph thus tends to rescind, with ill-suppressed rancor, the honor he had done her in the original quotation. Significantly, however, he also turns the car into the vehicle of an aesthetic dispute. Stein, according to the Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, began driving during the First World War and loved to write, afterward, in her Model T Ford: She “was particularly fond in these days of working in the automobile while it stood in the crowded streets” and “was much influenced by the sound of the streets and the movement of the automobiles” (206). Thus, the “ignition trouble” Hemingway describes in A Moveable Feast comes to imply—given Stein’s own alignment of her car with literary production—an aesthetic failure, and it is this failure on which he subsequently dwells: “But that night walking home Ithought about the boy in the garage and if he had ever been hauled in one of those vehicles when they were converted to ambulances. Iremembered how they used to burn out their brakes going down the mountain roads with a full load of wounded and braking in low and finally using the reverse, and how the last ones were driven over the mountainside empty” (62). Given that this is immediately followed by

150 Modernism the “thought of MissStein... and egotism and mental laziness versus discipline” (62), the representation of the Model T ambulance tacitly aligns the doomed machine with the literary woman—a woman incapable, by the analogy of the overturned ambulance, of withstanding the pressure applied by the “lost,” wartime generation. Indeed, unable to put on the brakes in the mechanical production of repetitive language (Hemingway refers elsewhere in the Feast to Stein’s “endlessly” repetitive prose and her “lazy” [27] opposition to revision), the older modernist becomes, for Hemingway, the automobile itself—the Model T that inevitably runs into “ignition” trouble and needs to be jettisoned: “who was calling who a lost generation?” (62). Setting aside the cheap shots, the literary dispute—which illuminates in both writers an implicitly mechanical aesthetic—is significant. 15. It is worth noting that Hemingway gives the protagonist of his first novel an injury apparently at odds with his own enthusiasm for aviation. In Lillian Ross’s 1950 New Yorker profile, Hemingway lists “airplanes” among the things he loves most (193), and his zeal for flight is well documented. Following two consecutive plane crashes in Africa in 1954, however—in the first of which Hemingway was assumed dead, and in the second of which he was very badly injured—he seems to resume the view of the plane voiced in The Sun Also Rises. As Young remarks, crashes “sufficient... to have killed a lesser man... permanently injured a strong one” (267), and when George Plimpton asked four years later when the “African air crashes” might become fictional material, he received an ominous response: “Those who do not last,” Hemingway said, “are always more beloved since no one has to see them in their long, dull, unrelenting, no quarter given and no quarter received, fights that they make to do something as they believe it should be done before they die” (37). Here, suggesting that dying in the plane crashes would have been easier than continuing to live and write, Hemingway recalls the plight of his first protagonist—and also adumbrates his own final struggle. Suffering from severe depression in 1961, he attempted to jump out of the airplane that bore him to the Mayo Clinic for electroshock treatments, and afterward, when it landed with engine trouble, “tried to walk into a moving propeller” (Hotchner 288–9). Captive, sedated, and bound for a mechanical form of psychotherapy—hopelessly constrained by the machinery intended to assure his survival—he seems, finally, to have tried (and failed) to turn Jake’s deforming machine into an instrument of personal release. 16. When publication of the Search was delayed by the First World War, Proust significantly expanded the novel, adding volumes in the middle of the work, including the “Albertine cycle”—The Captive and the Fugitive (Schmid 67–8)—in which most of the motorcars and airplanes appear. It is worth noting, too, that the link between Albertine and machines is far from accidental. First materializing in a notebook in spring 1913, this character coincides with the advent in Proust’s personal life of Alfred Agostinelli— originally his chauffer, and afterward his lover. Agostinelli moved in with Proust in May1913, took “flying lessons under the name Marcel Swann,” left in December, and died in a plane crash the following May (Schmid 68; see also Tadié 617–18). Thus, Marcel’s motor journeys with Albertine in the novel draw on his own car journeys with Alfred, and their sighting of an airplane takes on specifically tragic dimensions, since Alfred died in a plane crash on the eve of the First World War.   Moreover, although Albertine dies in a riding accident—not a plane crash—in the Search, the novel explicitly links the dangers of equine transport to airplanes when Marcel catches his first sight of a plane on horseback:

Against the Quotidian Machine  151 “Suddenly, my horse reared; he had heard a strange sound; it was all Icould do to hold him and remain in the saddle; then Iraised my tear-filled eyes in the direction from which the sound seemed to come and saw, not two hundred feet above my head,... two great wings of flashing metal.... I wept— for Ihad been ready to weep the moment Irealized that the sound came from above my head (aeroplanes were still rare in those days)....[J]ust as when in a newspaper one senses that one is coming to a moving passage, the mere sight of the machine was enough to make me burst into tears” (IV 582). Written by Proust after the loss of Agostinelli (see Tadié 633–5), this passage seems to anticipate Albertine’s death in the novel, since Marcel catches sight of the plane on horseback, loses Albertine after their joint sighting of an airplane, and then hears of her death in a riding accident. It also recalls—in its sheer emotional fervor—the death of her biographical original. 17. Noting the connection between the telephone’s estranging power and Marcel’s rush to join his living grandmother, Danius calls this scene the “cameraeye episode” (13), arguing that his vision—“cold, mechanical, and undistinguishing”—focuses on her with the “deadly power of [a]... photographic gaze” (15) that can only reproduce the trauma imposed by the telephone. Interestingly, Danius distinguishes—at least at first—between the estranging power of inscription technologies (like the camera) and the technologies of “speed” (like the airplane and motorcar), arguing that Marcel enthusiastically embraces the latter. Having uncoupled the machines I see as linked, however (phone, airplane, and automobile), she ultimately collapses inscription and speed technologies into one another, arguing that the window of the moving automobile or airplane turns the narrator’s vision into a kind of motion picture in which he becomes indebted to the very machines he opposes (135–46). Though I pursue a different and somewhat darker line—arguing that the auto and airplane are, in themselves, devastating technologies—Danius’s reading (suggesting that the narrative is ultimately captive to the instrumental forces it is constantly trying to exceed) has been extremely influential for my own. 18. Significantly, Marcel’s “telepathy” remains one of the most inassimilable inventions of modernist narrative. Even Gérard Genette, whose Narrative Discourse (1972) is an important study of Proust’s work and a foundational text for narrative theory, concludes that Proust “transgress[es] the limits of his own narrative system” when he “manifestly forgets or neglects the fiction of the autobiographical narrator” (208). Indeed, Genette is ultimately forced to posit an “ ‘omniscient’ novelist” outside the text to explain the “physical impossibility” (208) of Marcel’s knowledge inside it. As Jonathan Culler has observed, the quotes around “omniscient” indicate doubt or imprecision, and Culler himself therefore proposes “telepathy”—given Proust’s own “analogy of the telephone” (29)—as a better way of “describing what happens here and elsewhere” (29) in the novel. The “massive tale of Swann’s love, which includes both details that the hypercurious Marcel . . . might well have learned, and Swann’s most intimate thoughts, which it is impossible to imagine making their way to Marcel without telepathic transmission, beautifully instantiates the problem” (29–30). Still, for Culler as for Genette, Marcel’s “telepathic” knowledge is exactly that—a “problem.” In contrast to both positions, I would venture that the beauty of Marcel’s telephony lies rather in its capacity to transgress the narrative machinery without disrupting it. In the age of the telephone, since time and space are no longer insuperable barriers to first-person communication, Marcel’s “impossible” omniscience does not disrupt the system; rather, authorized by a technology

152 Modernism built to supersede the limitations of the first-person perspective, it is a feature of the system itself. 19. Sadly, it must be acknowledged that the narrator retains a faith in the telephone that the author did not. At the turn of the century, when fewer than one in a hundred Parisians owned a phone, Proust actually owned two: one for speaking, and one devoted to a “théâtrophone” service, by means of which live concerts could be transmitted to the comfort of his cork-lined bedroom (Gamble 18–19). “[T]oward the end of 1914” (Fuss 178), however, he had them removed. As Diana Fuss suggests, the phone may have become “too painful a reminder of exactly what it had always been: a disembodied voice carrying messages from the dead” (178). 20. Though Woolf, who committed suicide in 1941, may reflect here on the mechanical conditions of her own linguistic enterprise (the limited “opportunity,” so to speak, for future novels), she could not have foreseen the destructive—and genuinely world-destroying—force of the atom bomb. Though, as noted further below (see Chapter7, note 25), the Einstein-Szilárd letter warned US President Roosevelt of German interest in nuclear technology as early as 1939, the Manhattan Project—which produced the first atom bombs—began only in 1942.

Part III

Postmodernism Living with the Machine

7 The New Sunshine Ballard, Vonnegut, and Dick

I. From Modernist Machines to “Autogeddon” in Crash When, on August6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima, Proust’s vision of the airplane’s approach to the sun was realized in a new and terrible way. As President Harry Truman put it in the first American press release, the bomb “harness[ed]... the basic power of the universe,” the “force from which the sun draws its power,” and unleashed the “greatest destructive force in history” in the form of a solar blast (“Press Release” 1–3). Technically, of course, the bomb was a new “sun” in a somewhat imprecise sense: the star at the center of the solar system is a kind of natural fusion reactor, while the first nuclear weapons— splitting, not fusing, atomic nuclei—were fission bombs.1 Symbolically, however, the figure captured the mythic blaze of a machine that, “loosed against those who brought war to the Far East” (“Press Release” 1), signaled the dawn of a new and universally terrifying order. Foreseeing the “danger of sudden destruction” the atomic weapon imposed not only on Japan but on “us and the rest of the world” (“Press Release” 3), Truman expressed an ambivalence, in his initial press release, that is echoed and amplified in postwar fiction. In J. G. Ballard’s semiautobiographical Empire of the Sun (1984), for example—a novel whose title evokes imperial Japan at the moment of its destruction by a new, explicitly mechanical force—the second atomic bombing is described as the coming of a “second sun,” and its flash is figuratively infinite: “Its pale sheen covered everything” (210).2 This second sun is not only a second bomb—a “Fat Man” following hard on the heels of a “Little Boy”—but a solar power that dawns in the East to loom over the entire globe. As Ballard remarks in the earlier Crash (1973), “The enormous energy of the twentieth century” should be “enough to drive the planet into a new orbit around a happier star” (151). Unfortunately, beginning in 1945, the star around which the earth moved was a machine capable of destroying all life. Effectively reorganizing the heliocentric order, the atom bomb was described in the first American newspaper reports as the “Cosmic Bomb,”3

156 Postmodernism and afterward “just The Bomb, capitalized like a creature from myth” (Weart 104). Unlike the mythic machines of earlier periods, however, the bomb was a technology of genuinely ineffable force—and, as such, oddly difficult to grasp in its totality. Constructed in secret, tested in isolation, subatomic in operation, and global in its potential reach, the new “sun” was at once omnipresent and remote, small and large, everywhere and nowhere. Thus, in Empire of the Sun, it flashes but then “fade[s] within a few seconds” (210), and in Crash, it is evoked only obliquely—as a “star”—in the midst of distinctly preatomic machines. Stalled near London airport, Ballard’s narrator thinks that the “enormous energy” of the twentieth century has been “expended to maintain [only] this immense motionless pause” (151), and though this state of suspense evidently portends a machine apocalypse—as he puts it earlier in the novel, a “coming autogeddon” (50)—the looming menace is figured not by bombs but, oddly, by automobiles. Why this translation of an atomic into an automotive threat? As Nicholas Daly has suggested, in “forsak[ing] new machines for old,” Crash seems to use “a more visible aspect of late modernity... to ponder the less visible” (Literature 112, 113). Physical and finite, the automobile “harks back to older technologies” when “conceived of as an individual machine”; when “conceived of as part of a transport system,” however, it is “very much a late twentieth-century concern” (Daly, Literature 112). The “idea of traffic and traffic systems leads us directly to information technology,” and though it “would be perverse,” Daly suggests, “to read Crash as primarily about . . . late twentieth-century” machinery (113, emphasis in original), the novel seems to invite exactly this procedure. After the Second World War, the threat of atomic attack helped motivate the construction of the US interstates and the British motorways,4 and the “Road Research Laboratory, which makes a cameo appearance in Ballard’s novel,” began “using computer-based models in its work” to cope with the increase in high-speed traffic (Daly, Literature 114).5 In Crash, then, the motorways connect cars to traffic, traffic to information technology, and information technology to the bomb,6 and it is thus understandable that Ballard’s narrator—stuck at “the junction of the motorway and Western Avenue” (151) in outer London—perceives gridlock as an immolation in waiting. As the “molten colors” of the sunset dissolve the road into a “pool of cellulosed bodies,” the traffic jam prefigures the dropping of the new, man-made sun, and the people in the “double-decker airline coach” to his right look, not inappropriately, like “rows of the dead” (151). In the event of atomic attack, everyone on the road would be killed instantly, and the irony of that fate—annihilation on the very routes built to escape it—underscores a grim reality of the new traffic system: While evacuation would theoretically have been possible when the British motorways were first conceived, the Soviet development of intercontinental ballistic missiles in 1957—speeding the delivery of

The New Sunshine  157 a nuclear payload—had rendered the possibility moot by the time the first M-roads opened in 1958.7 Consequently, the narrator envisions the traffic jam as a coming apocalypse, and his passenger, Robert Vaughan, responds with a violence better attuned to a nuclear than an automotive threat: “Slap[ping] the door [of the car] impatiently,” he “pound[s] the panel with his fist” (151). Like the narrator, Vaughan foresees “the whole world dying in a simultaneous automobile disaster” (16), and though he never explains “his strange vision of the automobile and its real role in our lives” (64), his professional background implies that he could if he wished. A “one-time computer specialist” known for his work on “the control of all international traffic systems” (63), Vaughan almost certainly knows why the motorways were built—and his last act stages the connection he never articulates directly. In the incident that frames the narrative as a whole, he launches himself off the Heathrow airport “flyover” (the British term for an overpass), and thus revives the modernist dream of transcendent flight in a collision that illuminates the atomic impetus of all the traffic in Crash. Turning his car into both an airplane and a missile, Vaughan is symbolically driven by the impulse that built the London motorways, and his attempted apotheosis—collision with the Anglo-American film star, Elizabeth Taylor—implicates the new “sunshine” through the substitution of one man-made “star” for another.8 Of course, turning his Lincoln into a rocket, Vaughan does not so much escape the nuclear threat implied by the motorway system as hasten, symbolically, the calamities it was built to avert. But such appears to be the point. While the “ascent ramp of the flyover” (151) seems to promise an aerial liberation, Vaughan’s crash draws attention to the futility of fashioning any exit, by means of technology, from the deadly confines of technology. As N. Katherine Hayles observes, though the “drive toward transcendence... imprints its signature everywhere in the text” of Crash, the attempt can only end, as the title of the novel suggests, in “a flight to death” (“Borders” 323). Thus, missing the “star,” Vaughan hits a bus full of “package tourists” (7) instead, and the narrator—taking his own automotive flight in the second chapter, running “[o]ut of... control” on a “high speed exit ramp” (19)—realizes that escape is structurally impossible. In the course of his convalescence, looking out over another giant traffic jam on “the northern circular motorway” (48), it strikes him that “the entire zone which defined the landscape of my life was now bounded by a continuous artificial horizon, formed by the raised parapets and embankments of the motorways and their access roads and interchanges” (53). Fully enclosed even at the vanishing point, this new order absorbs all the exits into itself: Built for cars but driven by the atom bomb, it proposes an escape it simultaneously makes impossible, resurrecting the old dream of machine liberation—on “exit ramps” and “flyovers”—in the path of an insuperable technological threat.

158 Postmodernism

II. The Real as a Fiction of Security In Crash, given no escape from the nuclear threat the motorways represent, the automobile becomes a metonym for atomic technology, and traffic a figure for the ceaseless menace of the bomb. Endlessly jammed, the London “orbital” roads move, when they move, only in a perpetual circle; the action of the novel, beginning and ending with Vaughan’s death, starts and stops with disaster; and the characters—motivated by the automobile’s “real role” (64) in their lives—manifest a literal death drive through which even the reproductive instinct becomes suicidal. Vaughan, in addition to plotting his own terminal collision with the film star, imagines “millions of vehicles hurled together in a terminal congress of spurting loins and engine coolant” (16), and the narrator, in the wake of his own smash, fetishizes the machine-made wounds of crash victims: Imagining them as the orifices of a new, death-driven sexuality, he not only revels in the destruction of the human body, but—“dream[ing] of accidents” even beyond the car crash—wonders “[w]hat wounds would create the sexual possibilities of the invisible technologies of thermonuclear reaction chambers, white-tiled control-rooms, the mysterious scenarios of computer circuitry?” (179). Linking, once again, automotive, information, and nuclear technologies, the narrator underscores the essential meaning of his sexual encounters: In the atomic age, human beings literally embrace the means of their own extinction. As an indictment of nuclear technology, however, the erotic passages of Crash are disquieting—and perhaps too disquieting to be accepted as simply part of the “cautionary” tale Ballard sometimes claimed to have written (“Introduction” 98). Consider, for example, the narrator’s first encounter with a fellow crash victim: In this scene, recalling how his “first orgasm, within the deep wound on her thigh, jolted [his]... semen along th[e] channel, irrigating its corrugated ditch” (179), he objectifies his partner—a woman named Gabrielle—to the point of annihilation, reducing her to a machine-made orifice for the runoff of sexual expenditure. In doing so, he arguably points the moral of the anti-nuclear story: already deformed by machines, Gabrielle is exploited to the furthest possible degree—not only flattened, as a character, by her place in a narrative driven by the atom bomb, but actually hollowed out and debased (turned into a “corrugated ditch”) to express the death wish of a society that has engineered the means of its own destruction. The cruelty with which the point is inflicted, however, is undoubtedly excessive, and though the excess may be justified in this instance—attuned to the severity of the circumstances the novel represents—the narrative can only protrude the problem, we notice, by participating in (perhaps, like its narrator, even reveling in) the forms of sexual exploitation it depicts. It has been argued, of course, that such scenes are ethically neutral. Most famously, Jean Baudrillard contends that “all the erotic terms [in

The New Sunshine  159 Crash] are technical” and that the “functional language” of the work keeps it from encouraging any “intimacy of sexual violence” (“Crash” 115–6). As Baudrillard’s own terminology suggests, however, the narrative—even in the seeming neutrality of its “technical,” “functional” language—risks colluding with the instrumentalized order it represents. As the “first pornographic novel based on technology,” Crash may be, as Ballard himself asserted, “the most political form of fiction, dealing with how we use and exploit each other in the most urgent and ruthless way” (“Introduction” 98). Yet it can only operate as such, as the author also seems to acknowledge, by means of its complicity: by duplicating the “innate perversity” and “deviant logic” (“Introduction” 98) of the technological problem it seeks to expose. As pornography, then, Crash seems designed to disturb, and though Ballard’s academic critics have often sought to resist its provocations,9 his lay readers have tended to respond to the perversity of the book as such. Famously, an early publisher’s reader proclaimed Ballard “beyond psychiatric help” on the basis of the manuscript—a reaction the author greeted as proof of “total artistic success” (qtd. in Revell 49). And though the reader’s report obviously conflates author and narrator, mistaking a fictional representation for a rendering of J. G. Ballard’s actual mental state, the narrative unmistakably encourages this conflation: Though at first unnamed, the narrator is identified as “James” in Chapter5 (47), and “Mr. Ballard” in Chapter 6 (59)—a self-referential gesture that, implicating the author in the pathological obsessions of his characters, deliberately raises questions about the writer’s mental wellbeing. If there is madness in the self-referentiality of Crash, however, there is also an obvious method in it. Identifying the author with the narrator, the book not only pathologizes its writer, but draws attention—as it collapses the distinction between the fictional and the real—to the “ontological” (McHale 10) concerns now widely recognized as characteristic of postmodernist fiction. As both Brian McHale and Linda Hutcheon have argued, self-referentiality in postmodernist novels tends to call attention to a text’s constructedness, and thus raises questions like, “What is a world” and “how [is it] . . . constituted?” (McHale 10). “[P]ointing out that the orders we create are just that: human constructs, not natural or given entities” (Hutcheon 41–2), it shows that “there are all kinds of orders and systems in our world—and that we create them all” (Hutcheon 43, emphasis in original). If we pause, then, to consider what “orders and systems” Ballard might be trying to point out in Crash, we are confronted, once again, by the atom bomb: Implicating himself in the machine-made pathology of his characters, Ballard can call attention to the insane “orders and systems” that produce that pathology—the selfdestructive systems of the nuclear age. Indeed, considered as a postmodernist gesture, Ballard’s self-referential characterization has significant demonstrative power. Though James

160 Postmodernism Ballard, in the novel, cannot quite grasp the nuclear meaning of the motorway world he inhabits, the confusion he himself embodies—as both character and author, a confusion between the fictional and the real—draws attention to the significance of the “continuous artificial horizon” (53) that captivates him. With seeming perversity, Ballard feels that his traffic collision is “the only real experience [he] . . . had been through for years” (39), and his crash seems to him prefigured by “roadsafety propaganda”: “films of imaginary accidents” in which his death appears to be “rehearsed . . . in advance” (39). Reading the cautionary simulation as a predictor of actual calamity, and the crash as the realization of a fictional destiny plotted by systems designed to protect him, Ballard seems to overturn the logical order of things. And yet, in the motorway landscape, such inversions disclose the truth: Constituted in obedience to the atom bomb, the new roads substitute an illusion of safety for the real of the atomic threat, and thus reverse the priority of the actual and the imaginary. When the roads are built with the apocalypse in mind—when the very escape routes are determined by an unsurvivable technology—human security is, quite literally, a fiction projected by a mechanical calamity in waiting.10 Understood as a postmodernist technique, then, the metafictional gesture in Crash makes visible the technological dangers of the world it represents—and even achieves, in a startlingly literal way, what Fredric Jameson has called “[a]n aesthetic of cognitive mapping” (Postmodernism 54) in postmodernist fiction. According to Jameson, “cognitive mapping” is the “new political art” of postmodernity, and, in fact, the only art capable of “hold[ing] to the truth of postmodernism,” allowing us to “grasp our positio[n]” in a system that continually eludes the comprehension of the individual subject (54). Jameson is not, of course, referring specifically to the atom bomb in his theory of postmodernism; for him, the system organizing postmodernity is preeminently the system of global capitalism, and technology merely a convenient “shorthand” (35) for the economic forces that drive it. What Crash discloses, however, is the degree to which technology is no longer merely “a figure for something else,” but actually a “determining instance in its own right” (Postmodernism 35): in the new planetary order, the atomic threat literally puts the roads on the map. Thus, while Jameson proposes cognitive mapping as a possible solution to the problems of postmodernity (the essential condition of change, for him, is the recognition that historical circumstances are the result of human agency, and therefore alterable by it), the postmodernist novel maps a far grimmer reality: a “continuous artificial horizon” (53) without exits. In Crash, ultimately, the question is no longer whether it is possible to oppose the force of the machine, but whether it is possible to survive it—and the odds don’t look good. In the closing scene of the narrative,

The New Sunshine  161 linking his prevailing death wish to a final sexual expenditure, Ballard spreads a handful of semen on the mangled wreck of his automobile, and beholds his ejaculate glittering like the “first constellation in the new zodiac” (224) of an auto-erotic fixation. Still captive to his prevailing death drive—“[a]lready designing the elements” of his next car crash (224)—he seems to envision, in the deadly “constellation” prefigured by his seminal fluid, the proliferation of man-made “stars.” Still, it should be noted that the novel stops short of enacting this final “autogeddon.” The narrator has not yet designed his ultimate collision in Crash, and though his “new zodiac” suggests an amplification of the nuclear threat at the end of the narrative, the closing vision also seems to puncture its own solemnity. As Ballard executes a literally “auto-erotic” ending, the novel appears to pun self-consciously on its own vehicular fixations (auto-erotic, death drive), while the onanistic gesture—the selfreflexive action of a self-referential character—seems to mock the narrative’s most essential procedures.11 The act of self-satire can do nothing, of course, to rescind the apocalyptic conditions it is devised to illuminate. (Indeed, recursively redoubling its self-referential focus, it may only underscore the ironies the metafictional gesture is built to disclose.) Nevertheless, by satirizing its own terminal logic—expending the energies of its narrator not on “autogeddon” but on the vision of a new “zodiac”—it may find a resolution, finally, in its sheer self-referential excess. Concluding with an image of proliferating “stars,” the novel’s terminal “design” may owe something to the nuclear arms race: the strategy of Cold-War deterrence that, by continuously increasing the threat of global holocaust, aimed to turn a pileup into a dispensation. This pileup is not, it must be observed, a good solution; it is, in fact, a perverse solution. But it was, historically, the solution of Ballard’s time. Once unleashed, the nuclear threat could not be abolished; once split, the atom could not be put together again; and nuclear technology—igniting an international contest for atomic supremacy—drove the production of stockpiles that could never, short of “mutual assured destruction,” be used. As Ballard seems to recognize, however, there was an ironic upside to this stalemate: Converting a process of technological escalation into a form of stasis—a state of suspended animation, an “immense motionless pause” (151)—the arms race might at least defer the calamity it made ever more possible.

III. Breakfast of Champions and the Synthetic Apocalypse In Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions (1973), published in the same year as Crash, the science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout pens a novel called Plague on Wheels. It is

162 Postmodernism about life on a dying planet named Lingo-Three, whose inhabitants resembled American automobiles. They had wheels. . . . They ate fossil fuels. They weren’t manufactured, though. They reproduced. They laid eggs containing baby automobiles, and the babies matured in pools of oil drained from adult crankcases....[These] creatures were becoming extinct for a reason: they had destroyed their planet’s resources, including its atmosphere. (26) Like Ballard and Vonnegut, both of whom began their careers as sciencefiction writers, Kilgore Trout is an author of dystopian tales, and Plague on Wheels is a kind of science-fiction version of Crash. Adding a sexual dimension to automotive reproduction, Trout’s story of Lingo-Three— like Ballard’s novel—implies the naturalization of a destructive instinct born of technology. And though the car in Vonnegut’s version emerges more clearly as an apocalyptic threat in its own right (eating up fossil fuels and polluting the atmosphere like its real-life counterparts),12 the interstellar autos pose a mechanical problem akin, in its cosmic proportions, to the atom bomb. Though the inhabitants of Lingo-Three all die out, an inch-high space traveler promises to keep the “memory of the automobile creatures alive” (27), and incautiously tells the story to earthlings. Sadly, because there is “no immunity to cuckoo ideas on Earth” (29), the mechanical egg—transmitted in the form of a crazy idea and nourished by instrumental reason—fatally disrupts the natural order: “Within a century,... every form of life [on the planet]... was dying or dead” (29). As in Crash, the sexual possibilities of the automobile disclose an apocalyptic death wish. While Breakfast of Champions resembles Crash in its inclusion of a science-fiction version of “autogeddon,” however, the car is not Vonnegut’s primary means of visualizing the atomic problem. Rather, while Ballard looks back to older machines as a means of representing elusive nuclear forces, his American contemporary renders the threat through that most up-to-date of twentieth-century technologies: plastics.13 Like the bomb, plastics were synthesized in the laboratory, and proliferated during and after the Second World War. As Jeffrey Meikle observes in his history of the new substances, “Annual production in the United States nearly tripled” during the war years, and in 1945 alone, “818 million pounds went for such military uses as aircraft cockpit covers, mortar fuses, bayonet scabbards, helmet liners, and even the atom bomb” (1–2). Unlike the nuclear weapons they helped to compose, however, plastics were readily adaptable to household applications, and thus became a figure for atomic power in the postwar imagination: a “[p]hysically present, malleable... analogue” (128) for the less visible, nuclear technologies they resembled.

The New Sunshine  163 Vonnegut, insisting on the connection between plastics and the bomb in Breakfast of Champions, traces their development directly to “super-secret weapons work” (210) in the novel. Originating as runoff from the local robotics plant in Midland City, USA,14 the material is initially as invisible as the classified technologies it helps to construct. Soon revealing itself, however, in the form of giant plastic bubbles—spewed up by underground streams in the local “Sacred Miracle Cave”—it becomes a menace at once omnipresent and omnipotent: Miraculous in size and power, the bubbles prove invulnerable to conventional weapons—impervious, as it turns out, even to automatic shotguns (119)—and proliferate with a rapidity rivaling that of nuclear technology. As Kilgore Trout discovers when he takes a shortcut through Sugar Creek to the Midland City Holiday Inn, plastic in the water supply is, eventually, plastic everywhere—and a threat not only to Trout, but to human existence as such. Having fantasized about leaving soggy footprints on the carpet of the new chain hotel (“What... offends you so?... I am simply using man’s first printing press” [232]), Trout—together, figuratively, with all of recorded history—is obliterated when his legs come out of the creek wrapped in plastic.15 In place of the “bold and universal headline..., ‘I am here, Iam here, Iam here’ ” (232), his feet leave “no marks on the carpet, because they were sheathed in plastic and the plastic was dry” (232). As in Crash, where Ballard confronts a “continuous artificial horizon” built in response to an atomic menace from which there is no escape, the fate of the world in Breakfast of Champions is—on the evidence of Trout’s feet—literally sealed.16

IV. Deus ex Machina It is sealed, moreover, at a molecular level. Chemically, as Vonnegut shows in a felt-tip diagram, the plastic molecule that shrink-wraps Trout in Breakfast is composed of identical segments that replicate themselves in all directions, going “on and on and on, repeating [themselves]... forever to form a sheet both tough and poreless” (233). In its composition, then, plastic is literally infinite, and Vonnegut—unable to represent the self-replicating chain as a whole—marks its unlimited extent on all sides of the diagram with a thrifty “Etc.” An abbreviation meaning “sameness without end” (234), this “Etc.” figures the unvarying uniformity of the plastic molecule together with its devastating, god-like power: its capacity to turn the whole world into a synthetic.17 Vonnegut’s “Etc.,” however, is not only a part of the plastic molecule, but a part of speech, and thus poses a threat not just to the world Breakfast of Champions represents, but to the novel itself. Significantly, the last word in the book is a giant, hand-drawn “ETC.” (302), and this ominous closing is prefigured when the narrator, having just sketched the plastic molecule, muses that

164 Postmodernism The proper ending for any story about people it seems to me, since life is now a polymer in which the Earth is wrapped so tightly, should be that same abbreviation, which Inow write large[:]... ETC. And it is in order to acknowledge the continuity of this polymer that Ibegin so many sentences with “And” and “So,” and end so many paragraphs with “... and so on.” (234) Here, as Vonnegut literally “write[s] large” the menace of the plastic molecule in a giant “ETC.” (234), the passage not only adumbrates the “ETC.” that closes the book, but alerts the reader of the degree to which the narrative has already been infiltrated by plastic: Aligning “And,” “So,” and “and so on” with the “continuity of [the]... polymer,” Vonnegut points to the linguistic power of the synthetic force in a sentence that begins with “And” (“And it is in order to acknowledge ...”). Then, the next sentence begins with “And so on” (234), and the opening paragraph of the following section begins with “So” (235). Nor does plastic wait until this passage to take over the text. Vonnegut’s first “And so on” appears in the novel’s preface, and in doing so materializes in a context that extends the discursive power of the molecule to the construction of plot and character in Breakfast: “My own mother wrecked her brains with chemicals, which were supposed to make her sleep. When Iget depressed, Itake a little pill, and Icheer up again. And so on” (4). Here, the fateful “And so on” appears in a line that articulates a chemical theory of human disposition, and this theory—applied to Vonnegut’s mother (who committed suicide with sleeping pills [Shields 53]), and then to Vonnegut himself—extends the hegemony of the plastic molecule to the subjectivity of the author and narrator. “So it is a big temptation to me,” Vonnegut proceeds, “when Icreate a character for a novel, to say that he is what he is because... of microscopic amounts of chemicals which he ate or failed to eat on that particular day” (4). In this statement, though the “big temptation” still implies a personal choice in Vonnegut’s construction of his narrative, his liberty is canceled in advance by the initial “So.” From the start, then, Vonnegut writes the book he is “seemingly programmed to write” (4), and the plot of Breakfast of Champions scrupulously bears out the chemical theory of character induced by the plastic molecule. In the central incident of the novel, Dwayne Hoover goes on a rampage predetermined by “[b]ad chemicals” (14) in his blood stream when he encounters a bad idea, in the cocktail lounge of the Midland City Holiday Inn, in a novel by Kilgore Trout. Trout’s bad idea—that all human beings are robots except for the reader of the novel—closely resembles, as it turns out, the view of character Vonnegut has just propounded at the behest of the plastic molecule. And since Trout’s reader is Dwayne Hoover, even his apparent exception ends up proving the

The New Sunshine  165 narrative rule: Discovering that everybody else is a robot, Dwayne succumbs robotically to his “bad chemicals” and tries to kill 11 people (266). Meanwhile, the chemically programmed author, Vonnegut, turns up to “watch [the] . . . confrontation” between Hoover and Trout (197), and though his self-referential intrusion initially seems to draw attention to his creative control—his ability, as a sort of deus ex machina, to “do whatever he damn pleased” (197) with “two human beings [he has]... created: Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout” (197)—his passivity in the scene discloses the extent to which he is literally ex machina: a god from a machine. With seeming fatality, Dwayne goes on his inevitable rampage, and Vonnegut, attempting to liberate Kilgore at the end of the book—“Arise, Mr. Trout, you are free, you are free!” (301, emphasis in original)—seems terminally undermined by the plastic molecule. Trout, in response to his creator, calls “Make me young, make me young, make me young!” (302, emphasis in original), and Vonnegut—a textual deity now “dematerialized” and floating “pleasantly through the void” (301)—makes no answer except to pen the novel’s last word: the gigantic, felt-tip “ETC.” (302). As a textual god, he thus draws attention (literally, in a drawing) to a personal power of creation everywhere subordinated to the divine power of the polymer. Sketching the synthetic ending of “any story about people,” his answer to Trout is a final declaration of creative incapacity: Instead of the youth Trout calls out for, Vonnegut can give his character only “sameness without end” (234).18 Ultimately, then, the character of Kurt Vonnegut in Breakfast of Champions seems intended to point the apocalyptic moral of the story he is writing: As a god from the machine, Vonnegut shows how thoroughly planetary conditions are constructed by a synthetic force beyond the control of its creators. And yet, like Ballard’s self-referential appearance in Crash, there is something oddly self-satirizing about Vonnegut’s cameo in Breakfast. Not only is his introduction of a deus ex machina literally one of the oldest tricks in the book—possibly, in fact, the most widely lamented device in literary history—but his appearance as such hardly inspires confidence in his pronouncements. Most obviously, when he shows up in the cocktail lounge of the Holiday Inn, he is wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses—in the dark (197). Though ostensibly a disguise, these glasses do nothing but draw attention to their wearer’s self-referential intrusion. And though they are perhaps yet another signal of his creative subordination (an outward proof that Vonnegut simply reflects, instead of creating, the synthetic world he represents), his insistence upon wearing them in the murky lounge literally compromises the integrity of his authorial vision. Further, Vonnegut’s reflective lenses remind us that Kilgore Trout— though ostensibly constrained, throughout the text, by the author’s vision—would interpret his appearance differently. Trout, we find out early in the novel, calls mirrors “leaks” (19, emphasis in original), and

166 Postmodernism sees in them, not a reflection of the world at hand, but portals into another universe. Thus, “[w]here other people in the cocktail lounge had eyes,” Vonnegut writes, “I had two holes into another universe. I had leaks” (197). These two “holes into another universe” are not, it should be observed, the simple reflection implied by mirrored lenses. Rather, suggesting the possibility of worlds other than Vonnegut’s own, his “leaks” may look forward to an alternate reality, and thus—perhaps—to a planet not wholly constrained by the synthetic forces that govern Breakfast. Indeed, in a world wrapped in the “tough and poreless” (233) stuff of man-made polymers, a “leak” suggests an imperfect determinism. And though such a leak is not exactly a solution to a polymer—determined by the technological threat he represents, Vonnegut cannot simply dispense with the predicament he embodies in Breakfast, any more than Ballard’s self-satire can dismantle the atomic technologies of Crash—it does suggest a perforation in the seamless durability of the plastic text. It is therefore hopeful that Vonnegut, foretelling the future in the novel, envisions a world in which “leaks” have become pervasive: “By the time of Trout’s death,” he remarks, “everybody called mirrors leaks. That was how respectable even his jokes had become” (19).19

V. Atomic God in a Spray Can: The Infinite Synthetic Realities of Ubik In fastening his hopes on Kilgore, however, Vonnegut broaches the possibility of a liberated future on which, it must be admitted, he simultaneously casts doubt. In addition to forecasting the pervasive popularity of “leaks,” he awards Trout the Nobel Prize for Medicine in the (thenfuture) world of 1979—a distinction consistent with his character’s visionary power but undercut by the fact that, as Trout remarks in his acceptance speech, “human beings are now the only animals left on earth” (25). This planetary destiny, suggesting that all the “leaks” in the world have done nothing to alter the course of global extinction, is not very encouraging. Even less encouraging, however, is the fact that the real-life Trouts of Vonnegut’s time are still less optimistic.20 Though science fiction is often praised for its capacity for what Darko Suvin calls “cognitive estrangement” (4, italicized in original)—its ability to project, like Kilgore through his “leaks,” worlds and futures different than our own21—the preeminent writer of American pulp science fiction outdoes both Vonnegut and Ballard in his delineation of a future captive to postmodern technology.22 In Ubik (1969), one of his strangest and most disturbing novels, Philip K. Dick not only recognizes the synthetic menace of the plastic molecule and the universal threat of the atom bomb, but unites them in a scenario from which the novel envisions, emphatically, no escape.

The New Sunshine  167 In Ubik, as in Breakfast of Champions, the text is organized by a “ubiquitous” synthetic: god in an aerosol can. Like Vonnegut’s plastic, Ubik is packaged as a consumer product; its origins, like the gunk in Sugar Creek, are mysterious; and it is endowed, like the indestructible bubbles of the Sacred Miracle Cave, with divine power. Moreover, derived from the Latin “ubique,” its name literally means “[e]verywhere” (154), and though it takes no decisive action in the plot of the novel until Chapter10—where it turns up as an aerosol solution to “compulsive obsessive fears that the entire world” is regressing to its condition in 1939 (127)— it materializes, like Vonnegut’s polymer, throughout the book. Appearing in the commercial epigraphs at the head of each chapter, naming everything from automobiles to breakfast cereal (“[E]very Ubik on our lot has been used only as directed”; “Wake up to a hearty, lip-smacking bowlful of nutritious, nourishing Ubik” [3, 201; emphasis in original]), it not only pervades the text from beginning to end, but finally announces its universal power. In the terminal epigraph, it asserts its status as alpha and omega of the cosmic system: “I am Ubik.... I made the suns. Imade the worlds” (215, emphasis in original).23 Though Dick never demystifies the meaning or development of this synthetic god, Ubik’s occluded origins, together with its universal influence and solar power, strongly suggest a connection to the atom bomb. At the level of plot, certainly, Ubik is full of atomic explosions, and Joe Chip—who may or may not have died in a bomb blast on Luna, and who is stuck, subsequently, in a reality that constantly degrades to its state in 1939—is miraculously saved by a bottle of Ubik after the “lobby of the hotel” he is occupying “bl[ows] up in [his]... face” (169). In the story, the explanation for this event is that Joe is in the “half-life” of “cold-pac”—a state of cryogenic preservation—while his employer, Glen Runciter, labors to assist him from the “outside” (186). Glen himself, however, is unable to explain the origin or efficacy of Ubik inside “coldpac” (187), and exists in a reality that is itself exposed as an illusion on the last page of the novel. Just as Runciter’s appearance on Joe Chip’s money has previously tipped Joe off to the fictive nature of “half-life” (109), Glen, in the final scene, fishes a Joe Chip 50-cent piece out of his pocket: “It was the first Joe Chip money he had ever seen. He had an intuition, chillingly, that if he searched his pockets, and his bill-fold, he would find more. This was just the beginning” (216). The implication of the Joe Chip 50-cent piece, which comes to Glen with what may be a literal chill, is that he too is in “cold-pac,” subject to the illusory world of “half-life.” While the funny money alone suggests a collective hallucination (since all money is at base an illusion, its value dependent upon the universal agreement that it has value24), the fact that Walt Disney shows up on the currency of “cold-pac” (105) suggests— given the rumors of Disney’s cryogenic preservation—that the reality of

168 Postmodernism the novel is on ice. Indeed, the possibility that Glen (and everyone else in the narrative) is alive only in “half-life” is suggested from the first chapter, where Runciter is described as “boom[ing], sounding as if he possessed a voice electronically augmented” (7). Though passing initially as figurative (part of the language that suggests Runciter’s “customary show of energy” [10]), this detail may in fact be literal, since communication between the “real” world and “half-life” is performed, in Ubik, by means of a kind of telephone—a device that imposes, in an inverse Proustian touch, the very alienation it is supposed to reduce. With “each resuscitation into active half-life,” the “remaining time left [to the dead person]... ebb[s]” (11). Thus, while Runciter appears to be “crank[ing] up” his dead wife or, later, his employees “for a talk” (7), the electronic augmentation of his own voice implies that he also is in “cold-pac.” Systematically exposing every “real” in the text as an illusion, Ubik never explains its two most salient features: we never find out the nature and origin of the miraculous aerosol spray, and we never discover why— without its intervention—the reality of “cold-pac” should degrade to its state in 1939. As the nuclear valences of “half-life” imply, however, Ubik may be an atomic technology, and “cold-pac” a science-fiction rendering of the Cold-War order—an order dating, arguably, from 1939: the year the Second World War began, and the US initiated its plans for an atomic program.25 Ubiquitous, all-powerful, and elusive, Ubik certainly bears a striking resemblance to the nuclear threat, and though it appears in “cold-pac” as an ostensible solution to nuclear explosions, it miraculously staves off detonations with the solar power of the atom: Literally projected by an atomizer, it causes the air to “flick[er] and shimm[er],... as if the sun’s energy sparkled [t]here” (181). Thus, while apparently stabilizing “reality,” it guarantees the persistence of order and safety its very existence belies. Like a bottled version of the motorway landscape in Crash, it constitutes a “continuous artificial horizon” designed to hide the menace of the bomb it also represents.26 Ultimately, like Crash and Breakfast of Champions, Ubik exposes reality as a fiction in the nuclear age: an illusion of life as usual projected by the technology that imperils it. But while Vonnegut and Ballard still try to stave off the worst consequences of the atomic order, satirizing their own visions of fatality in the hopes of averting the apocalypse they predict, Ubik stages the futility of any such attempt. As Baudrillard observes, in Dick’s novels we encounter a simulated reality “impassible, unsurpassable, checkmated, without exteriority. We can no longer move ‘through the mirror’ to the other side, as we could during the golden age of transcendence” (Baudrillard, “Simulacra” 312; emphasis in original). Under postmodern conditions as envisioned by Ubik, there is simply no escape left—no refuge to be found in the ironies of nuclear proliferation, no “leaks” to be started in the synthetic order, no “outside” to “coldpac.” Every illusion, exposed as such, just yields another illusion, and the

The New Sunshine  169 postmodernist narrative—constructed in obedience to the realities of the nuclear age—projects a “continuous artificial horizon” without exits: a horizon closed at the vanishing points, made for and by an atomic sun.

Notes 1. As Spencer Weart notes, scientists in the 1930s “heightened the celestial glamor of nuclear energy when they suggested that it was the source of starlight,” and had “figured out the mechanisms” by 1939: “Deep within a star where the heat and pressure are high enough to smash the nuclei of hydrogen atoms together, the nuclei can fuse, and in that fusion release energy” (143). However, the “details [of this process]... remained obscure” until Edward Teller, “working single-mindedly to invent something a thousand times more powerful than [the] fission bombs” (143) dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, devised the hydrogen bomb: a thermonuclear weapon. 2. There is some question as to whether the blast of the atom bomb, which Jim sees from a stadium in Japanese-occupied China, would have been visible at such a distance. Indeed, the novel itself raises doubts about the veracity of Jim’s eye-witness account, as the image of the bomb is conditional (it is “as if an immense American bomb had exploded somewhere to the northeast of Shanghai” [210, emphasis added]), and the focalizing character is exhausted to the point of wishing for his own extinction (it is the “one way in which he could end the war” [209]). Jim’s death wish, however, may itself be proof of the bomb. Since this machine not only ended the war but made sudden, planetary, self-imposed extinction possible for the first time, his vision of a “second sun” (210)—whether real or imagined—is accurate in its implications. 3. So described in the New York Times coverage of Truman’s speech on August6, 1945 (see Shalett), the atom bomb inspired, even in the government press releases, a “millennial awe” (Weart 104). For Truman, “[t]he fact that we can release atomic energy usher[ed] in a new era in man’s understanding of nature’s forces” (“Press Release” 3), and for Winston Churchill, the bomb was “a revelation of the secrets of nature, long mercifully withheld from man” (qtd. in Weart 104). 4. Daly’s source is A History of British Motorways (1984), by George Charlesworth. In America in the mid-1950s, as Charlesworth explains, “President Eisenhower [called] for the construction of a national . . . interstate [system]... consisting of some 37,600 miles of controlled access highways” (34). These were considered “vital to the continued expansion of the economy” as well as “civil defence. Large-scale evacuation of cities was envisaged in the event of A-bomb or H-bomb attack[,] and the capacity provided by the proposed interstate system including the necessary urban connections thereto was regarded as a vital civil-defence measure” (Charlesworth 34–5). In Britain, government backing for the motorways dates from the same period, and Charlesworth cites economic improvement following the final end of wartime food rationing in 1953, increased traffic, and the example of the US road-building programs for a “change in the Government’s attitude towards capital investment” (34). 1953 was also, however, the year the USSR took its “first steps” in the making of an H-bomb (Winkler 76)—a machine capable of leveling “an entire metropolitan region” (Weart 144)—and this, together with the development of ICBMs in 1957 (Winckler 81), made motorways effectively obsolete as escape routes before the first opened to traffic in 1958 (Charlesworth 1).

170 Postmodernism 5. Digital and atomic technologies are, in fact, historical twins. See Chapter8 for a more detailed account of the connection. 6. Though Daly does not dwell further on the connection, which is somewhat incidental to his larger argument in Literature, Technology, and Modernity, his reading has been indispensable to my own. Arguing that modern technology shapes literary genres that seek to articulate and accommodate the anxieties produced by industrial development, he contends that a long-awaited “collision with technology” (134) is finally embraced in Crash because it can no longer be deferred: the “fantasy of escape [from the collision]... is no longer viable” (134) within the “completely built environment” (130) of the modern world. For Daly, the artificiality of this environment is signaled, above all, by the novel’s obsession with film, and it is on this point that we part ways. In my own reading, the built environment is itself a result of the atomic order, and the novel’s fascination with film (in, for example, Vaughan’s collision with the movie star and the narrator’s vision of “cellulosed [car] bodies” melting, like celluloid film [Crash 151], in an apocalyptic traffic jam) emphasizes the artificial—fictive, constructed—nature of the postmodern world. 7. Though proposals for a motorway system had been made before the Second World War, road works during the war were largely strategic, diverting resources to “airfield construction” and the building of roads for “access to military establishments and war factories” (Charlesworth 19). Thus, motorway planning did not begin in earnest until after 1945; construction did not begin until the 1950s; and the motorways on which most of the action of Crash takes place—the M40 (which meets Western Avenue at its first junction) and the M4 (which passes just north of Heathrow airport)—were not constructed until the 1960s and ’70s (see Charlesworth 114–15, 102–4). Moreover, the road Ballard refers to variously as the “northern circular motorway” (48) and the “outer circular motorway” (196) in the novel is actually the North Circular Road (the A406), which intersects with both Western Avenue and the M4 at points northeast of Heathrow. Though never actually converted into a motorway, the North Circular Road was one of the “ring roads” originally slated for upgrade as part of a plan for “four more or less concentric rings . . . moving outwards from the centre” of London (Charlesworth 196). First proposed during the War, this “radial/ring” concept was intended to facilitate traffic flow in, around, and out of the capital—but later mostly abandoned in favor of the M25, a single “orbital” artery built in the late ’70s and early ’80s (Charlesworth 196–7, 112–13). In Ballard’s time, however, the original plan—which was scrapped following the report of a Committee of Enquiry in 1973 (Charlesworth 197), the year the novel appeared—must have seemed dreadfully apt. Given the atomic impetus of the motorway system as a whole, a plan for concentric motorways (four rings radiating from the center of London) must have looked less like an escape route than the other thing it had always resembled: a target. 8. Although Crash is a British novel set in the UK, Ballard is concerned with a global condition of American origin. Like the atom bomb (which, as Truman noted in his announcement of the Hiroshima bombing, began as a collaboration between “American and British scientists working together,” but was pursued in American labs because they were comparatively “out of reach of enemy bombing” [“Press Release” 2]), Vaughan’s automobile is American-made— a Lincoln Continental. A car “named for an assassinated president [and also]... the car in which another American president, John F. Kennedy, was shot” (Daly, Literature 115), this vehicle ushers in an era in which televised

The New Sunshine  171 death, endlessly repeatable on film, becomes a means of immortality. Thus, Vaughan’s collision—aimed at an English-born actress who, as a Hollywood star, is another kind of American manufacture—is an attempt to use machinery to transcend machinery, death to escape death. 9. Though Ballard scholars have often sought to avoid taking what Enda Duffy describes as a “puritan” (255) position on the matter, this anti-puritanical stance appears curiously difficult to sustain, as the novel’s pornographic tendencies are no sooner neutralized by a given critique than they seem to propagate themselves elsewhere. As soon as Baudrillard minimizes the sexual violence of Crash, for example, his own interpretation is apprehended as a form of obscenity by Vivian Sobchack, who contends that “where Ballard is cautionary and his prose (as Baudrillard recognizes) technical, Baudrillard is celebratory and his own prose impassioned” (327). Thus, Baudrillard’s reading of Crash absolves the novel of its perverse eroticism only to become culpable, seemingly, on the same grounds, while Sobchack (taking, actually, much the same view as Baudrillard of Ballard’s language—she refers to the “anti-erotic technology of the novel’s style” [327]) eludes the problem only by insisting that it is Baudrillard’s. Of course, as Duffy observes, “Ballard... may be said to have carefully orchestrated this order of response” (252). Yet even Duffy’s attempts to resist Ballardian manipulation seem compromised by the novel. Arguing that “sex in Crash is to a large extent an afterthought” (255), he contends that it is essentially compensatory: the only pleasure left when automotive speed, the “only new pleasure” (1) of modernity, grinds to a halt (260). As fascinating as this argument is, however, it relies upon the assumption that the sex in Crash is in fact pleasurable—a position that is troubled by the novel’s insistence on the conflation of sexual penetration and deadly machine violence. 10. In interviews, as in his novels, Ballard repeatedly points to the illusory nature of the world we apprehend as real. Referring to the “whole of existence as...a huge invention,” a “conspiracy, in which we play our willing part” (Revell 43, 47; emphasis in original), he seems to approach the perversity of his characters when, for example, he announces a desire to have a cruise missile installed in the back yard: It “will give me a real sense of involvement with the world” (qtd. in Juno and Vale 27). The “real” Ballard identifies here is of course the reality from which the “conspiracy” of ordinary life is designed to protect him—the reality of a world organized not by the domestic safety of suburban gardens but the constant threat of nuclear holocaust. 11. Although the semen has ended up in Ballard’s hands by way of sexual congress with his wife in the wreck of Vaughan’s Lincoln, she is essentially vestigial—simply another “channel” or conduit—to his sexual union with the car. Gathering “the semen flowing from her vulva” (223) to anoint his own wrecked auto, he subordinates her to his love affair with machine violence. 12. Given the rapidly diminishing supplies of fossil fuels in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Ballard’s “autogeddon” (Crash 50) is now a technological apocalypse quite plausible in its own right; indeed, the year Crash was published (1973) saw the first major auto-related energy crisis with the OAPEC oil embargo—an event that disclosed the extent of the world’s dependence, especially in the west, on a non-renewal resource. The novel, however, was written earlier (between 1970–2 [Ballard, “From Shanghai” 124]), and—like the exhibit of crashed cars Ballard put on in April1970 at the New Arts Lab in London—links the significance of automotive collision to newer technologies. In the “Handout” that accompanied the exhibit, Ballard wrote that “[t]he 20th century has given birth to a vast

172 Postmodernism range of machines—computers, pilotless planes, thermonuclear weapons— where the latent identity of the machine is ambiguous. An understanding of this identity can be found in a study of the automobile” (Ballard, “Quotations” 154). 13. Though celluloid, “introduced in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt, an American mechanic,” had existed since the late nineteenth century, the first “chemically synthetic plastic” was Bakelite, “invented in 1907 by Leo H. Baekeland, an industrial chemist who had emigrated [to the US] from Belgium” (Meikle 5). Plastics are therefore a predominantly twentieth century, American phenomenon, and one that emerged into public consciousness in the postmodern period: Before the Second World War, “visible uses of plastic[s]” were limited to “such things as celluloid dresser sets and Bakelite radios” (Meikle 1). 14. Vonnegut may have a specific industrial culprit in mind when he links these plastics to the atom bomb. Originally a manufacturer of washing machines, Barrytron Ltd. of Midland City (Breakfast 248–9) is probably a satire on Dow Chemical. Headquartered in Midland, Michigan and with a UK branch in Barry, Wales, Dow began by manufacturing bleach, produced mustard gas during the First World War, helped make materials for the construction of military bombers during the Second World War, managed nuclear bomb production at the Rocky Flats Plant beginning in 1951, manufactured napalm during the Viet Nam conflict, invented Saran Wrap, and became one of America’s major producers of plastics and pharmaceuticals (Doyle 1, 22–32, 52–3, 187). Given the alignment with Dow, and the fact that this company was rather disastrously running weapons production at Rocky Flats through 1974 (see Doyle 185–96), the “super-secret weapons work” (Breakfast 210) of Barrytron Ltd. may in fact refer to the production of the atom bomb. 15. Though the plastic molecule of Breakfast of Champions is a new and timely menace, technological apocalypse is by no means unknown to the Vonnegut oeuvre. In Cat’s Cradle (1963), the world ends in nuclear winter by means of ice-nine, a substance engineered by the father of the atom bomb and spread, like plastic in Breakfast, through the water supply. Yet more famously, in Slaughterhouse 5 (1969), Billy Pilgrim—who comes “unstuck in time” (29) during the Second World War and is spirited away to a zoo on Tralfamadore—has the predetermination of the universe disclosed to him by a race of intelligent machines. And these machines—the same ones responsible for the meaning of human life in the earlier The Sirens of Titan (1959), in which Earth turns out to be part of a Tralfamadorian messaging system—are themselves fatally determined by their technology. Able to see all time at once, they forecast their extinction in an industrial accident involving flying saucer fuel: a test pilot presses a starter button and the “Universe disappears” (Slaughterhouse 149).   Significantly, this startlingly consistent vision of universal calamity dates from Vonnegut’s personal experience in the Second World War. As he put it in an address to a group of college graduates in 1970, he had thought as a child that “[s]cientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better.... Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable. What actually happened . . . was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima. We killed everybody there. And Ihad just come home from being a prisoner of war in Dresden, which I’d seen burned to the ground. And the world was just then learning how ghastly the German extermination camps had been. So Ihad a heart-to-heart talk with myself. ‘Hey, Corporal Vonnegut,’ Isaid to myself, ‘maybe you were wrong to be an optimist. Maybe pessimism is the thing’ ” (Wampeters 163, emphasis in original).

The New Sunshine  173 16. Vonnegut is by no means alone in his representation of plastic as a malignant power. Thomas Pynchon, in Gravity’s Rainbow (a novel published in the same year as Vonnegut’s Breakfast and Ballard’s Crash) links the imaginary “Imipolex G” (“nothing more—or less—sinister than a new plastic, an aromatic heterocyclic polymer, developed in 1939” [249]) with the development of the V2 rocket, the first long-range ballistic missile. Ballard himself, moreover, attributes the apocalypse to a global polymer in his earlier science-fiction novel, The Drought (1965): “The mechanism of formation of these polymers remained obscure, but millions of tons of highly reactive industrial wastes—unwanted petroleum fractions, contaminated catalysts and solvents—were still being vented into the sea, where they mingled with the wastes of atomic power stations and sewage schemes. Out of this brew the sea had constructed a skin no thicker than a few atoms, but sufficiently strong to devastate the lands it once irrigated” (47–8). Though not created in a weapons lab like Vonnegut’s plastic or Pynchon’s Imipolex G, Ballard’s polymers are nevertheless man-made and associated with the atomic menace: “Afew atoms” deep, they are partly synthesized out of the “wastes of atomic power stations.” 17. Plastics, at the molecular level, are long chains of smaller molecules. The polymer as Vonnegut draws it is thus composed of a series of repeating segments, and represents a larger segment that will itself repeat. Iam grateful to chemist Timothy Vaden for explaining the molecular structure of plastics to me, as well as the implied toxicity of Vonnegut’s particular molecule: The CN group at the top of the diagram (Breakfast 233), from which the repeating segments of the molecule branch, indicates cyanide. Though this does not, as Vaden notes, mean that the plastic molecule itself is poisonous, it suggests—as the molecule gradually takes over the world—a constitutive toxicity compatible with the chemical asphyxiation of the world by plastic. 18. Indeed, though Trout is a recurrent character in Vonnegut’s fiction, he is never young. He first turns up as the impoverished 66-year-old author of 87 science fiction novels (19–20) in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965); returns as a 62-year-old man with no idea how many novels he has written— “possibly seventy-five” (211)—in Slaughterhouse-Five (1969); and then appears as the “snaggle-toothed,” white-haired 65-year-old of Breakfast (32). Further, though Vonnegut does give him comparative youth in Jailbird (1979)—where Bob Fender, an incarcerated veterinarian, writes science fiction under the Trout pseudonym (82)—he takes away his freedom. And though he restores this freedom in Timequake (1997), Trout is older than ever in this last novel (at 84). All the same, even as Vonnegut qualifies any liberation he offers to Trout, the qualifications themselves suggest a “leak” in the predetermination of his fiction. Trout is not exactly the same in each incarnation, and thus perhaps not fatally constrained by his author’s vision of the world he inhabits. Indeed, in Timequake, Vonnegut allows Trout to live long enough to remind his creator that humanity may exceed its technological conditions. Calling Vonnegut up to stand with him as he makes a speech at the Xanadu writer’s retreat, Trout asks his maker to look at two stars in succession. Though it would take light years to travel between these two luminaries even in a spaceship, he points out, “something [has already]... passed between [them]... at, conservatively speaking, a million times the speed of light” (242). When Vonnegut asks what it is, Trout says, “Your awareness.... That is a new quality in the Universe, which exists only because there are human beings” (242–3). Thus, though never free, Trout is ultimately distinguished as the originator of a liberating vision for Vonnegut— the vision of human awareness, “Let us call it soul” (243, emphasis in original)—in excess of its mechanical conditions.

174 Postmodernism 19. Further, though the novel gives the plastic molecule the last word (“ETC.”), the final image in the book suggests a “leak.” In the very moment in which plastic appears to assert its all-determining power—the moment in which Vonnegut hears Kilgore cry out “make me young!”—he grabs a “small hand mirror” that happens to be floating by. “It was a leak with a mother-of-pearl handle and frame” (302, emphasis in original), he says, and draws a picture of what he sees in the “leak”: his own, weeping eye. The image is of course sentimental, and can be read as yet another vision of futility—a reflection, in what is probably a plastic frame (see Breakfast 230), of the author’s incapacity to change the synthetic world he represents. Yet the conflation in this image of the eye, the mirror, and Kilgore’s portal into another universe also suggests a “leak.” Indeed, the image may be a visual pun: a “tear” (a mark of compassion) that is also a “tear” (a perforation). After all, as a response to Kilgore’s plight, Vonnegut’s leaking eye suggests an appreciation of character fundamentally at odds with the synthetic view on which he has insisted throughout the novel. His compassion signals the possibility of a humanity that transcends its chemical determinants. 20. Though, as noted earlier, both Ballard and Vonnegut got their start as writers of science fiction (generally abbreviated SF in the criticism), Ballard was no longer writing SF as such by 1973, and Vonnegut had out-prospered the pulps from which he had originally emerged. Not that Vonnegut had initially aimed for a pulp market. His debut novel, Player Piano (1952), was first issued by Scribner’s in hard covers, but fared poorly until repackaged as a pulp paperback, retitled Utopia 14 (Shields 127, 136). His next novel, The Sirens of Titan, was then issued in paper, and it was not until the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five—still Vonnegut’s most famous work—that he moved out of the pulps and into the mainstream (Shields 159–60, 249). Breakfast of Champions, the next book after Slaughterhouse, sustains links to its pulp antecedents, incorporating SF elements—but mainly by quoting Trout. Similarly, though Ballard considered Crash an apocalyptic tale consistent with the several terminal futures he had devised in his earlier SF trilogy (The Drowned World [1962], The Drought, and The Crystal World [1966]), the later novel—dealing with a “pandemic cataclysm” that is already with us (“Introduction to Crash” 98)—is SF only in an oblique sense. The fact that Vonnegut and Ballard began as SF writers is, however, significant. As Brian McHale notes, SF is “the ontological genre par excellence,” and so “serves as a source of materials and models for postmodernist writers” (16). 21. Though sometimes still dismissed as a genre equivalent in quality to the wood-pulp paper on which it was frequently printed, SF began gaining critical traction in the 1970s. Beginning with Suvin’s influential Metamorphoses of Science Fiction (1979) and continuing in the journal Science Fiction Studies (which Suvin founded with R. D. Mullen), a series of important Marxist scholars (including Jameson, Peter Fitting, Carl Freedman, and others) championed SF as a “literature of cognitive estrangement” (Suvin 4, italicized in original). Quoting Bertolt Brecht, Suvin writes in Metamorphoses that an estranging representation “allows us to recognize its subject, but at the same time makes it seem unfamiliar” (6). It is thus “both cognitive and creative” (6), possessed of a “strange newness” (4) with the potential to effect socio-historical change. 22. Though Dick, for most of his lifetime, made at best a precarious living in the pulps, he has since been recognized as an important writer of SF and, indeed, postmodernist fiction. Since his death in 1982, the numerous film adaptations of his work—beginning with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner in the year he died—have transformed his popular reputation, while the persistent

The New Sunshine  175 attention of theorists of postmodernism has boosted his importance within the academy. Baudrillard, for example, sees in Dick’s work the complete rendering of what he terms the “hyperreal”—in Dick’s narratives, he says, “The era of hyperreality has begun” (“Simulacra” 311)—and Jameson not only discusses Dick at some length in Postmodernism but is often quoted for calling him “the Shakespeare of science fiction” (“Futuristic Visions” 17). 23. Ubik’s ubiquitous appearance as a series of commodities in the ad-style epigraphs, including more than once as a breakfast food (“Pop tasty Ubik into your toaster.... Safe when handled as directed” [158, emphasis in original]), makes roughly the same point about an all-pervasive synthetic reality as Vonnegut’s title in Breakfast of Champions. Acknowledging the alignment of that title with the “registered trademark of General Mills, Inc., for use on a breakfast cereal product” (1), Vonnegut draws immediate attention to the manufactured, proprietary quality of the world his novel represents. Moreover, in both Ubik and Breakfast, food is the mass-produced and potentially toxic product of machinery. Ubik ads continually assert the safety of Ubik if “taken as directed” (19, emphasis in original), and “breakfast of champions” is, in addition to the General Mills trademark, a waitress’s joke name for a martini: a drink composed entirely of alcohol, chemically a toxin (216). 24. Critics have long recognized a correspondence between Ubik and the “universal equivalent” (Fitting, “Ubik” 44; italicized in original) of exchange value. See Fitting, “Ubik: The Deconstruction of Bourgeois SF” and “Reality as Ideological Construct.” 25. The Einstein-Szilárd letter, written by the physicist Leó Szilárd and signed by Albert Einstein (who later regretted his hand in the production of the bomb), was sent to President Roosevelt on August2, 1939, less than a month before the onset of the Second World War. It warned of possible German interest in nuclear chain reactions, urged the funding of nuclear research in America, and led to the Manhattan Project (1942–6) (see R. Clark 549–57 and Hewlett and Anderson 16–20). As Truman remarked in his announcement of the Hiroshima bombing, “Before 1939, it was the accepted belief of scientists that it was theoretically possible to release atomic energy. But no one knew of any practical method of doing it” (“Press Release” 1). After 1939, the theoretical possibility was realized. 26. This is even clearer in the screenplay version of Ubik Dick composed in October1974. Here, as the Luna bomb detonates, the stage directions indicate that an image of Ubik is superimposed on the film and “then without warning the drawing of the spraycan and the writing burst apart like a paper sign; they are destroyed by fire, blasted by explosion.... The two realities— the spraycan versus the actual photographed events—merge into one ruin of particles, as if an entire planet had burst, and nothing remains of it but radioactive waste” (55). Here, the odd union of the explosion and its apparent remedy—Ubik—visually unites them as two parts of a single horrific reality: the end of the world by nuclear bomb.   It is also worth noting that Ubik, simply as an aerosol, would become a threat to the safety it appears to guarantee. As Vonnegut puts it in Timequake, “So much for science, and how helpful it can be in these times of environmental calamities. Chernobyl is still hotter than a Hiroshima baby carriage. Our underarm deodorants have eaten holes in the ozone layer” (165).

8 The Digital and Atomic Plots of Pynchon and DeLillo

I. The Postmodern Condition and the Digital Computer So complete is Dick’s vision of the synthetic reality of postmodern life that he seems, ultimately, to have succumbed to it himself. Preparing a screenplay version of Ubik in October1974, he wrote to a friend that he had begun “dreaming scenes” from the novel “six months before he even knew he was going to be writing the screenplay,” and concluded that reality must be an artificial projection—a movie like the one he was writing. “Did you know that Ubik is true,” he wrote, “and we’re in a sort of cave, like Plato said, and they’re showing us endless funky films?” (qtd. in Williams 93). Of course, by the time he was working on the screenplay, Dick had undergone the experience he called “2–3–74,” a revelation in which, earlier in the same year, “information-rich” pink light (Sutin 218) was beamed at his head by a deity unknown. As a consequence, he had become deeply uncertain of the authenticity of the world he inhabited, and had begun a search for illumination in two new writing projects: the million-word Exegesis, penned in journal form between 1974 and his death in 1982, and the much-abridged, fictional version of the experience, VALIS (1981). In VALIS, a metafictional novel, Dick appears both as Philip K. Dick and his schizoid alter ego, Horselover Fat, and both characters labor to discover the nature and meaning of reality in a world possibly in thrall to a “Vast Active Living Intelligence System” (156). As god-like and seemingly inexplicable as the aerosol Ubik, VALIS remains mysterious in the story; we never find out what it is. And yet, like the atomizer in the earlier novel, its essential features suggest that it is what it acts like: Capable of firing “whole libraries at [Fat] . . . in nanoseconds” (73), breeding the conviction that “the nature of the universe is information” (17), and named like the early digital machines (ENIAC, UNIVAC, BINAC, etc.), VALIS may in fact be a supercomputer. Though primitive in comparison to today’s personal computers, the first digital machines—beginning in Britain with the aptly named Colossus— were formidable hulks, and huge not only in size, but in memory and

Digital and Atomic Plots  177 calculating speed. Built to “transcend the [computing] capacity of each of their users” (Lyotard 51),1 they were intelligent machines—and their knowledge was power. Colossus, the first programmable digital computer, was a secret code-breaking machine developed for the British army during the Second World War (Copeland 209, 362–3), and ENIAC—the first of the big machines in America—performed its inaugural calculations for the Manhattan Project (Goldstine 214).2 Thus, from their advent, digital computers were endowed with nearly inconceivable potency. Potentially omniscient (in their command of data), omnipotent (in their connection to the bomb), and omnipresent (as part of a global network of technological force), they realized in machine form the traditional qualities of God.3 God, of course, is what Horselover Fat calls VALIS in VALIS (14), and though his perspective is pathologized in the novel—drug use and schizophrenia are both suggested as explanations for his pink-light revelations4—Dick’s fictional rendering of his real psychological state is startlingly consistent with one of the most famous representations of postmodern subjectivity. In Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 (1965), Oedipa Maas suffers from a Dickian sense that the world is organized by a covert communications technology, and her attempts to verify its existence are explicitly evoked in terms of the digital computer5: In pursuit of the shadowy Tristero, a vast underground postal network that eludes her to the end of the novel, Oedipa reflects that it was now like walking among matrices of a great digital computer, the zeroes and ones twinned above, hanging like balanced mobiles right and left, ahead, thick, maybe endless. Behind the hieroglyphic streets there would either be a transcendent meaning, or only earth.... Ones and zeroes.... Another mode of meaning behind the obvious, or none. Either Oedipa in the orbiting ecstasy of a true paranoia, or a real Tristero. (150–1) For Oedipa, of course, the “zeroes and ones” of the “great digital computer” appear to be metaphorical. Representing the many unsolved puzzles that confront her over the course of the novel, they seem to figure a series of “either/or” scenarios: either there is “meaning behind the obvious,” or “none”; either there is a dark communications system at work “beyond the appearance” (151) of everyday American life, or there isn’t; either W. A. S. T. E. is the cryptic acronym of a postal service operating through the trash (“WE AWAIT SILENT TRISTERO’S EMPIRE” [139]), or a garbage can is just a garbage can.6 For Oedipa as for Horselover Fat, however, the answer to the many riddles of the postmodern world may lie not in the message the “zeroes and ones” appear to represent, but in the medium. Construed as a series

178 Postmodernism of choices (ones or zeroes, meaning or none), Oedipa’s code is uncrackable. Understood as a computer language, however, all her intuitions are confirmed. After all, whether or not there really is an underground postal network secretly organizing life in postwar America, there is certainly an occult communications system at work: operating in secret and possessed of “transcendent” (150) knowledge encoded in ones and zeroes, this system is the digital computer.

II. The Binary Code of The Crying of Lot 49 Significantly, from Oedipa’s first sight of San Narciso—the southern California town in which she first gets wind of the Tristero—the urban street grid implies both the possibility of a covert postal service and the existence of digital machines. Looking out over the grid upon her arrival, she is instantly reminded of the time she’d opened a transistor radio to replace a battery and seen her first printed circuit. The ordered swirl of houses and streets, from this high angle, sprang at her now with the same unexpected, astonishing clarity as the circuit card had. Though she knew even less about radios than about Southern Californians, there were to both outward patterns a hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning, of an intent to communicate. There’d seemed no limit to what the printed circuit could have told her (if she had tried to find out); so in her first minute of San Narciso, a revelation... trembled just past the threshold of her understanding. (14) Overlooking the San Narciso street grid, Oedipa’s intuition of an enigma in the “ordered swirl” seems to hint immediately at the existence of the Tristero, as the bare fact that she is reminded of a transistor radio—given the echo of both words in the name (transistor radio: Tristero)—suggests a premonition of the cryptic postal service. Adumbrating the “hieroglyphic streets” (151) of Oedipa’s digital vision at the end of the novel, however, the passage also points to a different and far more verifiable communications technology: the “hieroglyphic” grid of a transistorized mainframe computer. And it is the computer, significantly, that she finds when she sets out in search of the Tristero. Spotting the emblem of the ostensible postal service on the breast of an Inamorato Anonymous—the first person in the novel willing to explain his connection to the sign—Oedipa finds out that the Inamorato knows nothing definite about the Tristero, but traces his order to a Yoyodyne Aeronautics executive who was “automated out of a job” (91) by an IBM 7094. As the Inamorato tells the story, the Yoyodyne executive takes three weeks to determine what the IBM would

Digital and Atomic Plots  179 have required “twelve micro-seconds” (93) to decide—that he should kill himself—and is in the midst of dousing his body with gasoline when he hears his wife come into the house with the “efficiency expert... who had caused him to be replaced by an IBM 7094” (93). Electing to do the irrational thing and stay alive, the executive then notices that the fuel with which he has inundated himself has exposed a peculiar watermark on the stamped letters in his pocket: a muted horn. Taking the watermark for a sign, he vows to found a society for suicidal lovers, and adopts the horn as the emblem of his destiny—a destiny organized, however, not by a postal service, but by an IBM 7094. Known today as the “classic mainframe computer,” the IBM 7094 was created as an upgrade of the IBM 7090—a machine originally developed for the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) in Greenland (Ceruzzi 70–1). Distinctive for its use of “transistors rather than the bulky vacuum tubes of earlier models,” it was “[t]op of the line” in the early 1960s (Grant 115), and would look—on the inside—much like the transistor radio Oedipa remembers when she gazes out over San Narciso’s “hieroglyphic streets” (150). Consequently, what springs at the heroine with the “astonishing clarity” of a “printed circuit” in the street grid is not (or not just) the possibility of a Tristero, but the imminent “revelation” of the 7094: a transistorized machine endowed not only with an “intent to communicate” (14) but, given its intimate connection with nuclear ballistics, a dread power over life and death. There are plenty of additional proofs that the “hieroglyphic streets” (150) of San Narciso portend the “revelation” (14) of the 7094. Yoyodyne Aeronautics—a company whose headquarters are flanked by “two sixty-foot missiles” (15)—is San Narciso’s chief employer; Yoyodyne’s “founding father” (15) is Pierce Inverarity, the former lover whose will Oedipa has been summoned to execute; and Oedipa’s first experience as executrix seems to dramatize, in miniature, the ballistic menace the IBM 7094 was built to detect. On her first evening in San Narciso, trying to win or foil a game of “Strip Botticelli” with Metzger—the attorney sent to assist her in the execution of the Iverarity estate—Oedipa puts on all the clothes in her suitcase and ends up falling over, upsetting an aerosol can that proceeds to “caro[m]” around the bathroom of her motel room. “[H]issing malignantly” in its flight, “atomizing” it contents, and destroying everything in its path (25), this Ubik-like missile is effectively a miniature warhead, and Oedipa—helpless on the floor—reflects that only “something fast enough, God or a digital machine,” could “comput[e] in advance the complex web of its travel” (25). Divine in its calculating speed, the computer Oedipa imagines on the floor of her San Narciso motel room is of course the IBM 7094: the machine specifically built, at BMEWS and Yoyodyne Aeronautics, to anticipate the path and timing of nuclear strikes. Thus, Strip Botticelli—a somewhat escalated version of the common guessing game—comes into

180 Postmodernism focus as a darkly comic dramatization of ballistic realities: Proceeding to the soundtrack of a Second-World-War movie playing in the next room, involving a paralyzing proliferation of clothing out of keeping with the climate of southern California, and resulting in the launch of a missile that threatens to destroy everything in its path, the game emerges as a rather hilarious refiguration of Cold-War conditions—especially the ironies of the nuclear arms race. Further, the episode helps clarify—at the very beginning of Oedipa’s quest for the Tristero—the significance of such oddball orders as the Inamorati Anonymous. Wearing the muted horn of the putative Tristero, but founded in response to an IBM 7094, the Inamorati are yet another expression of the nuclear predicament: Driven to the brink of suicide by the digital computer, the founder eludes his fate by resurrecting it as a social condition, and thus—as the inaugural member of a “society of isolates,” a “whole underworld of suicides who failed” (94)—establishes an order for the atomic age: an order that, while actively confronting its own extinction, has not so far killed itself—an “underworld” watched over by the IBM 7094.7

III. “APlot Has Been Mounted against You” If all paths lead, however, to the IBM 7094, the question remains: Why can’t Oedipa grasp the significance of her own “hieroglyphic” (150) vision?8 To borrow a phrase from Marshall McLuhan, whose influential Understanding Media (1964) appeared just a year before The Crying of Lot 49, the problem would seem to be that she mistakes a medium for a message.9 Imagining the solution to the riddles that confront her as a binary series of “zeroes and ones” (150), she must at some level recognize that the digital computer is the answer she is seeking. Unfortunately, mistaking the medium (a computer language) for a message (a code she can crack), she is seduced into binary thinking, and thus struggles to decide among options (one/zero, either/or, meaning/none) that cannot be deciphered as such. Consider, for example, the first apparent proof Oedipa encounters of the Tristero: “REPORT ALL OBSCENE MAIL TO YOUR POTSMASTER” (33). Evidently a misprinted postal cancellation, this “potsmaster” thriftily prefigures the many binary propositions Oedipa will confront in the course of the novel: As a cancellation, the mark at once validates a postage stamp and invalidates it; as the possible signature of the Tristero network, it either confirms the existence of an underground postal system or it means nothing; as a typo, it is either the first material sign that, as Oedipa thinks later in the novel, “a plot has been mounted against you,” or proof that she is “fantasizing some such plot” (141). Confronted with the “POTSMASTER,” Oedipa tries to decide: meaning or none, proof or no proof, plot or no plot? In doing so, however, she gets nowhere at

Digital and Atomic Plots  181 all, as the binary cipher—construed as a message—obscures its status as digital code. Oedipa is not, however, the only victim of a medium she takes for a message in The Crying of Lot 49. The plots to which she is apparently subject in the novel are also, of course, the plots of the novel, and a great deal of critical labor has been expended over the years in an effort to untangle the complexity of a situation involving “items like the forging of stamps and ancient books,...[the] planting of post horn images all over ..., [the] bribing of librarians, [the] hiring of professional actors” (Crying 141), etc. In general, the results are no more definitive for readers than for Oedipa, and recent criticism has, as a consequence, tended to give up the pursuit of fixed answers.10 Thomas Schaub, for example, concludes that the sense of an invisible pattern of meaning in the book— whether there is one or not—“constitutes the affective politics” (32) of the narrative. And Stefan Mattessich argues along similar lines, interpreting the novel’s “refusal to mean” as its only way of escaping the “malignancy of [a] social power” (57) that controls everything—even the idea of an “aesthetic freedom” (44) able to comment on the society in which it is produced. For both of these critics, the value of the work lies not in the solution to its mysteries, but rather in its irresolution, and Mattessich even describes the book as a “type of ‘broken machine’ ” (13): a device that, like the most radical modernist narratives, subverts its own intelligibility to expose the operation of a tyrannical social order. As powerful as these readings are, however, they assume that there is no ultimate solution to the puzzles of The Crying of Lot 49, and thus avoid becoming embroiled in the irresolvable plot of the novel at the cost of overlooking the digital machine that creates it—a machine that, as part of a global system of apocalyptic power, can neither be broken nor unmade. To overlook this machine is, certainly, to shake free of the search for ultimate meaning in the novel, but to do so at the price of missing the ominous predicament it labors to disclose: the digital and atomic “revelation” (14) trembling behind Oedipa’s “hieroglyphic streets” (150). There is, however, a third way of dealing with the binary code of The Crying of Lot 49, and one modeled, helpfully, within the text of the novel itself. In the same moment in which Oedipa is seduced into her hunt for the Tristero, Metzger—her partner, significantly, in Strip Botticelli— dismisses the “POTSMASTER” cancellation in light of the real concern: “So they make misprints,” he says, “[L]et them. As long as they’re careful about not pressing the wrong button, you know?” (33). If we pause for a moment to consider which “wrong button” he means, we are instantly confronted with, of course, the IBM 7094: the computer, “God or a digital machine” (25), whose knowledge of ballistic technology may ultimately decide the fate of the planet. As part of a silent, secret communications system, this computer bears a striking resemblance to the occult Tristero— that other mute instrument of information transfer—but differs in being

182 Postmodernism indisputably real. Thus, pointing to the “wrong button,” Metzger demystifies the plots of The Crying of Lot 49 at the outset. Dispensing with Oedipa’s binary dilemma (is there, or is there not, a Tristero?), he calls attention to a much more terrifying system: a system mounted not like a postage stamp but like an intercontinental ballistic missile.

IV. Death Sentences Then again, such a revelation is hardly encouraging. Though Metzger’s approach to the postal misprint has the power to liberate us from Oedipa-style paranoia—from the unverifiable sense that “a plot has been mounted against you ...[o]r you are fantasizing some such plot” (141)— it does so only to show us what excellent reasons there are to be paranoid under the atomic conditions of postmodernity. Paranoia becomes, in short, the condition of our liberation from it, and though the experience is widely recognized as crucial to Pynchon’s fiction—as Amy Elias observes, “[t]here has been more published” on Pynchonian paranoia “than perhaps any other subject related to his work” (126)—it is not universally admired as a critical state. On the one hand, as Leo Bersani contends, Pynchon’s narratives manage to “depathologiz[e] the paranoid structure of thought” (“Pynchon” 101), demonstrating that patterns of “invisible interconnectedness” (“Pynchon” 102, italicized in original) legitimately exist in the postmodern world.11 In fact, as Elias elaborates the point, paranoia may be “the only hermeneutic compatible” with an order beset by structures of “totalitarian control that wis[h] to remain invisible” (126): the only available means of “cognitive mapping” in the Jamesonian sense. On the other hand, Jameson himself might easily be describing The Crying of Lot 49 when he dispenses with “ ‘high-tech paranoia’ . . . in which the circuits and networks of some putative global computer hookup are narratively mobilized by labyrinthine conspiracies . . . in a complexity often beyond the capacity of the normal reading mind” (Postmodernism 38). For him, the revelation of such a technological order does nothing to enable human agency, and is thus a “degraded attempt . . . to think the impossible totality of the contemporary world system” (38). Disabling opposition just as it gets to the bottom of things, “high-tech paranoia” exposes a problem it represents as insoluble, and thus confronts the reader with a “winner loses” scenario: “[T]he more powerful the vision of some increasingly total system or logic[,]... the more powerless the reader comes to feel. Insofar as the [writer]... wins, therefore, by constructing an increasingly closed and terrifying machine, to that very degree he loses, since the critical capacity of his work is thereby paralyzed” (Postmodernism 5).12 In light of the IBM 7094, it must be admitted that The Crying of Lot 49 constructs just such a “closed and terrifying machine” (5). Internalizing

Digital and Atomic Plots  183 the digital-atomic-ballistic system at the level of plot, the narrative inevitably turns itself into a version of that system, insisting upon its collaboration with a threat it cannot both represent and oppose. The result, as Jameson would contend, is certainly a “winner loses” scenario.13 But then again, so was the Cold War. Waged on the grounds of “mutual assured destruction,” this conflict was in fact the “winner loses” scenario par excellence, and one that Pynchon—in fidelity to the atomic age— could hardly resolve. The best he could do, as Bersani and Elias suggest, is to depathologize paranoia, systematically demystifying the sources of nuclear anxiety in the hopes of making the escalating threat visible to those it imperils. The inevitable successor to The Crying of Lot 49, as well as the actual one, is thus Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)—a Cold-War narrative yet more explicitly concerned with the revelation of ballistic technology. In this novel, insisting that there is “some Creature, some Presence so large that nobody else can see it,” a “monster” in the sky that is easily “mistaken for clouds and other plausibilities” (241), the protagonist is indisputably paranoid—but also demonstrably correct in his suspicions. In Pynchon’s Rainbow, “clouds and other plausibilities” do nothing to obscure the imminence, for Tyrone Slothrop (or anyone else), of the V2 rocket: the “Vergeltungswaffen-2,” or “revenge weapo[n]” (Weisenburger 15) developed by Nazi scientists during the war. Constructed by the Germans, the V2 was the first long-range ballistic missile and, as such, the secret Nazi forefather of all the Cold War’s ICBMs. This is not to say, however, that Slothrop’s paranoia does him any good. Though constantly intuiting, in Gravity’s Rainbow, the existence of the system Oedipa, in The Crying of Lot 49, never quite figures out, Slothrop’s verification of the ballistic order seems to be fatal in itself. Hot on the trail of a super-secret version of the V2 (a rocket marked 00000), he begins to disintegrate as a character in the middle of the book, and actually breaks into pieces—“scattered all over the Zone” (712) of postwar Germany—after reading a fragmentary newspaper headline about the detonation of the atom bomb: “MB DRO / ROSHI” (Gravity’s Rainbow 693). Like a latter-day Leopold “Boom,” Slothrop thus bears witness, in his own person, to the threat posed by the technology the novel represents: As soon as the narrative links the rocket—the forerunner of the ICBM—to its future atomic freight, the protagonist is subjected to a devastating blast, blown to pieces by the “[BO]MB DRO[PPED ON HI]ROSHI[MA].” This explosion has, curiously, been read as a dispensation. Bersani, for one, argues that Slothrop’s demolition as a coherent individual in Gravity’s Rainbow is the material condition of his disappearance as a target in the new postwar rocket state (“Pynchon” 112). Yet this form of annihilation can only be achieved, it must be noted, by reproducing the kind of explosion it is supposed to avert. Moreover, it fashions an exemption that

184 Postmodernism is deliberately withheld from the reader. On the last page of Gravity’s Rainbow, we discover that we are sitting in a movie theater, watching a film of the book, our reality about to be detonated as the rocket descends. The last line of the narrative, “Now everybody—” (760), is thus a literal death sentence: the inevitable ending of a novel that, plotted in obedience to the V2 missile, plots not only against its protagonist but against the reader as well. And yet, as in The Crying of Lot 49, the final ballistic revelation is postponed. Though the closing line of the rocket novel is a death sentence, it is also—as a fragment ending in a dash—a death sentence still and forever to be completed. Though the missile must logically come down (in “gravity’s” rainbow, the Lawrentian figure of biblical transcendence bends inexorably back to earth14), its detonation is permanently deferred by the narrative. Thus, while collecting us in a global embrace (“Now everybody—”), Gravity’s Rainbow predicts an extinction it does not yet enact—and in The Crying of Lot 49, the rocket is never even launched. On the last page of the novel, Oedipa is still “trying to guess which [person]... was her target, her enemy, perhaps her proof” (152) of a vast conspiracy she will never be able to verify. Suspended forever in the “orbiting ecstasy of a true paranoia,” she is permanently unable to grasp the digital and atomic logic her own vision of the “hieroglyphic streets” implies (150). But nobody presses “the wrong button” (33) either. Mercifully, the narrative stops short of enacting the ballistic revelation it predicts.15

V. The Plutonic Number of Underworld Happily, like Oedipa, we are all still waiting. The fateful button has never been pushed, and the constant anxiety that it will be has subsided, for the most part, since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. The political end of the standoff, however, is not the end of the technological threat itself, and the post-Cold-War novel revisits the nuclear predicament to find that the problem has not so much abated as moved underground. In Don DeLillo’s Underworld (1997), the atomic order is organized not just by weapons but by nuclear waste, and this—proliferating in secret, and buried in the dark corners of the earth—generates a covert system not unlike the “W. A. S. T. E.” network of the putative Tristero. As Nick Shay puts it, echoing Oedipa’s binary logic in The Crying of Lot 49, the nuclear byproduct of Underworld may be secreted “under a mountain in Nevada that will or will not accommodate thousands of steel canisters of radioactive waste for ten thousand years” and “may or may not explode” (804). As Nick knows well, however, his binary propositions (“may or may not,” “will or will not”) denote a clandestine order that indisputably exists in Underworld.

Digital and Atomic Plots  185 In this novel, the protagonist is himself part of the system of nuclear waste management—for a period, an executive at Whiz Co., short for “Waste Containment” (278)—and the narrative systematically confirms the existence of all the technological threats The Crying of Lot 49 implies. As we find out in the closing pages, “[a]ll human knowledge [is] gathered and... hyperlinked” in the age of the Internet, “this site leading to that, this fact referenced to that,” and all tending inevitably toward “the H-bomb home page” (825). Absolutely “[e]verything in your computer, the plastic, silicon and mylar, every logical operation and processing function, the memory, the hardware, the software, the ones and zeroes,... it all culminates” (825) with the bomb. In Underworld, then, the nuclear weapon is “preserved in the computer that helped to build it” (826), and the H-bomb homepage—verifying Oedipa’s sense of a binary code in control of the postmodern order— enshrines “the flash, the thermal pulse” (825) of a device in which Sister Edgar, a “cold war nun” (245) entering eternity on the Internet, “sees God” (826).16 Attempting to deconsecrate this vision, the narrator immediately rescinds the statement: “No, wait, sorry. It is a Soviet bomb she sees, the largest yield in history, a device exploded above the Arctic Ocean in 1961” (826). Yet even as it issues the correction, the narrative appears to succumb, discursively, to the power it has just attempted to explain away: The Soviet bomb was “fifty-eight megatons—add the digits and you get thirteen” (826). In this reference to the unlucky number— ominous for Christians like Sister Edgar since 13 sat down at the Last Supper—the novel itself yields to “the power of false faith, the faith of paranoia” (825) it has just laid to rest. Voiced in the closing pages, however, the narrator’s slide from demystification (“No, wait, sorry”) to religious dread (“add the digits and you get thirteen”) is nothing new in Underworld. Throughout the book, various characters note the sinister recurrence of the number, and none with greater frequency than Nick, whose sensitivity sets in on the day the novel opens, October3, 1951: the day the Giants beat the Dodgers at the New York Polo Grounds and the Russians test a nuclear weapon (23).17 Confirming American fears of the USSR as a technological adversary, the nuclear test effectively launches the Cold War, and its coincidence with the Giants’ victory aligns the winning homer—the “Shot Heard Around the World” (669)—with the less visible atomic blast. Thus, long before he joins the staff at Waste Containment, Nick becomes attuned to the covert menace of nuclear technology, and begins to see “all sorts of signs pointing to the number thirteen” (95). This starts with “the date of the game. October third or ten-three. Add the month and day and you get thirteen” (95). Ralph Branca, the pitcher who loses the game when Bobby Thomson knocks in a three-run homer, wears the number 13 (95); Russell Hodges, the sports announcer, has a name 13 letters long (133);

186 Postmodernism and—“this is where he started going crazy” (679)—the name of the losing pitcher yields a multiple of 13 if you assign a number to each letter based on its position in the alphabet.... The B is two. The r is eighteen. And so on and so on. You end up with thirty-nine. What is thirty-nine? It is the number which, when you divide it by the day of the month of the game, gives you thirteen. (679, emphasis in original) Years later, Nick traces this sinister numerology to its atomic source. Watching “men in moon suits bury drums of nuclear waste” for Whiz Co., he reflects that “[t]he most common isotope of uranium is bombarded with neutrons to produce plutonium that fissions,” and this isotope “has the mass number two three eight. Add the digits and you get thirteen” (122). Plutonium, with an atomic number of 94, also adds up to 13, and this proliferation of dark numerals illuminates, finally, the paranoia that besets Nick as a teenager in the Bronx: Like Oedipa in The Crying of Lot 49, who may or may not be beset by the Tristero, but is certainly at the mercy of the systems that control the bomb, Nick may or may not be haunted by the number 13—but is indisputably menaced by the specter of thermonuclear war. As an adolescent, however, Nick has no means of corroborating the nuclear meaning of the number, and thus begins to go mad—and bad—in accordance with a plutonic menace he cannot yet recognize as such. Less than a year after the Dodgers’ loss, he is spontaneously moved to kill a man, and though he has no clear idea why he does so, the act fashions— for the reader—a kind of cognitive map of the Cold-War order. Nick’s murder of George Manza, perpetrated in a basement, is as covert and subterranean as the production of nuclear bombs and the disposal of plutonium waste; juvie, as a “system designed to contain” (503) a social threat, is structurally similar to the systems Nick subsequently designs at Waste Containment18; Nick’s therapist in “correction” (502) traces his act of violence to the fission of the nuclear family (512), connecting it to the loss of a father Nick believes was “wasted” (106) by the mob; and Nick himself—unable to accept that “the two events [are]... connected” (512)—finally suppresses the knowledge of his crime, hiding it like the waste he later buries professionally. Yet even Nick’s act of erasure (“He erased it,” his brother says, “What else could he do?” [219]) duplicates the systematic erasure of nuclear technology in the novel. In Underworld, the secret production of the bomb is denoted only by unmarked entrances and “white places” (404) on the map. Thus, Nick’s personal violence replicates the public violence threatened by the Cold War, and his murder of George Manza gradually comes into focus as a private remedy for nuclear anxiety. George,

Digital and Atomic Plots  187 identified by vocation as George the Waiter, is also a “waiter in a second sense”—a man “suspended in some dire expectation” (663). Consequently, when Nick shoots George with a gun George says isn’t loaded, he resolves the man’s sense of impending doom, undoing the “inward tension that kept him apart” (663) in a terminal blast. Tragically, Nick’s actions—motivated by a world-determining force that operates in secret—remain largely unintelligible to Nick himself. In the first moments after the crime, he wonders how it came about (“Why would the man say no if it was loaded?” but “first why would he point the gun at the man’s head?” [781]); in “correction,” his therapist’s interpretation of his act as a response to familial fission is “news to [him]” (512); and though he spends the bulk of his adult life “managing” radioactive waste, he never quite grasps the relationship between his own anger and nuclear violence. Professionally concerned with keeping a threatening reality out of sight, he literally buries the source of his rage, and thus— no longer able to understand the connections he himself discloses in Underworld—remains in thrall to the mythic power of atomic technology. Though observing that the word plutonium “comes from Pluto, god of the dead and ruler of the underworld” (106), Nick ultimately becomes, quite unconsciously, a demonic force in his own right—and even longs, at the end of the Cold War, for a return of the conditions that have created him: An “Old Nick” (Osteen 222) forever constrained by his vocational connection to the bomb, he yearns for a “breach of peace, the days of disarray when Iwalked real streets and did things slap-bang and felt angry and ready all the time, a danger to others and a distant mystery to myself” (810). In this craving for the “real” of the Cold War—a “real” characterized, as in Crash, by the reality of violence underlying the illusion of peace—Nick ultimately wishes himself into an incarnation of the bomb. Nostalgic for the days when he was a “danger to others” and a “distant mystery” to himself, he longs to replicate the universal menace and secret construction of the thermonuclear warhead.

VI. Atomic Baseball In telling the story of the Cold War through Nick Shay, Underworld— like Gravity’s Rainbow before it—appears to plot against its protagonist, turning its character into a version, and thus a casualty, of the bomb. In doing so, however, it also systematically unearths the underworld of nuclear technology Nick systematically buries, and corroborates what everyone in the novel suspects but never knows for sure: that “[e]verything is connected” (Underworld 825) by the plutonic menace of “weapons and waste” (Osteen 216). In this way, as Mark Osteen observes, the plot of the novel “grasps the unity” that eludes its characters (215), depathologizing the paranoia it represents, and compensating its people—at least to some degree—for a problem it cannot, in fidelity to the

188 Postmodernism realities of the nuclear order, resolve. Thus, though permanently in thrall to an atomic technology he “erase[s]” (219) from the face of the earth, even Nick can join in the “shared sense of unconnectedness” (Osteen 216, emphasis in original) that results from that erasure—and is allowed, as though by a kind of special narrative dispensation, to acquire the emblem of unconnectedness in the “quasi-magical object” (Osteen 216) of the Branca/Thomson baseball: the ball that sets the plutonic plot of the novel in motion. In Underworld, everyone is linked, directly or indirectly, to the Branca/ Thomson baseball, and the ball is identified with the bomb. According to Marvin Lundy, the memorabilia collector, a baseball is “the exact same size” as the “radioactive core” of an atom bomb (172), and though his quest for the Branca/Thomson ball is ultimately incomplete—he cannot trace it back to the day of the game, but only to the day after—the novel itself finishes “the whole wandering epic” (175) of his search. From the Prologue on, the reader knows what Lundy does not: that Cotter Martin, a 14-year-old African American kid, jumps the gates and grabs the ball in the bleachers. Cotter then loses the ball to his unreliable father, Manx, and Manx sells it to Charles Wainwright at Yankee stadium the night before the World Series—where Lundy picks up its trail. Charles buys the ball for his son Chuckie; Chuckie loses it in the midst of a divorce; Chuckie’s wife sells it to Genevieve Rauch; Genevieve loses it to her deadbeat husband Judson; Judson is shot by the Texas Highway Killer; and Lundy retrieves the ball from Judson’s personal effects, afterward selling it, through the agency of Brian Glassic, to Nick Shay. Notably, this secret history of the baseball is a history of loss, separation, and violence: Cotter’s loss, Chuckie’s loss, at least two divorces, and a homicide. But this, of course, is the reason Nick wants it. As a figure for the atom bomb, the baseball is a visible proof of the plutonic threat the waste manager has hidden from himself and others—a means of corroborating the “mystery of bad luck, the mystery of loss” (97) he has associated, since the day of the Giants/Dodgers game, with the number 13. Moreover, restoring broken connections and fashioning links among alienated individuals, the atomic baseball actually undoes some of the damage the bomb has induced: Bringing together black kids and white guys, estranged fathers and sons, divorced husbands and wives, serial killers and suburbanites, it is in a sense radically democratic—and it exposes the binary logic of the Cold-War period (black/white, his/hers, us/them, US/USSR) as an essential misunderstanding of a global order united by a shared technological threat.19 Unfortunately, as a unifying force, the bomb levels social divisions only by being precisely that: a great leveler. As Louis Bakey tells Chuckie Wainwright—his crewmate in the belly of a B52 bomber—the flash of an atomic weapon is “too bright to make racial niceties. All the same in God’s eyes, so let that be a lesson” (614). As the survivor of a simulated

Digital and Atomic Plots  189 nuclear drop in Nevada (the drop is simulated, the bomb real), Louis recalls how the “glow [of the explosion] enter[ed] the body... like the touch of God,” eliminating color in an apocalyptic X-ray: “Imove my head, there’s whole skeletons dancing in the flash” (613). Even as the bomb obliterates racial differences, however, the resolution is celebrated in Bakey’s vision only by dancing skeletons (dead men flying), is implicated in the duplicity of the military (which tests its weapons on its own men), and is finally undone altogether by the mushroom cloud, “alive and white” (614), above Louis’s plane. In the color and elevation of the cloud that marks its disappearance, the divisions the bomb destroys are revived in an “almighty piss-all vision” (614) of machine supremacy. In episodes like the “ballad of Louis Bakey” (614), then, Underworld appears to voice a critique of its own construction. Reflecting upon a plutonic force that unites its characters at the cost of their total subjugation, it draws attention to the fact that it achieves social and narrative unity only by reproducing the technological threat it opposes. Revealing its creation of what Jameson would call a “closed and terrifying machine,” it seems to develop, quite overtly, a “winner loses” scenario—a “vision of [an]... increasingly total system” that inevitably “paralyz[es]” its own “critical capacity” (Postmodernism 5). And yet, the fact that the novel’s “winner loses” vision is enshrined in an American baseball seems designed to acknowledge—even, perhaps, to deconstruct—the sporting metaphor its structure evokes. Ultimately, depending upon the same kind of binary thinking (white/black, us/them, US/USSR) that keeps people apart in a world actually united by the threat of the bomb, the discourse of “winners” and “losers” is itself, Underworld demonstrates, an invidious construction of the Cold-War order. After all, to be a winner in this novel is always to be a loser too: to be a Branca is to be a Thomson, “joined at the hip for life” (465) by a baseball the size of an atom bomb’s core; to be a nuclear Giant is always to be a Dodger also; and to possess atomic supremacy, as Bakey’s vision implies, guarantees nothing except the possibility of total destruction. Thus, as lamentable as a “winner loses” scenario may be, it is also, Underworld shows, the inescapable condition of the postmodern order—an order that the novel, faithful to the world it represents, does not allow itself to elude.

VII. “Does the Power of Transcendence Linger?” Indeed, although the Cold War is over at the end of Underworld, the nuclear threat lives on. “All those decades,” says a Russian waste manager to Nick, “we thought about weapons all the time and never thought about the dark multiplying byproduct” (791). With a half-life in excess of 24,000 years, plutonium waste will outlive everyone who produced it, and thus becomes a new source of anxiety that waste managers—in a joint US/Russian venture—propose to blow up, at the end of the novel,

190 Postmodernism in a subterranean explosion. With ironic optimism, this ending appears at first to eradicate all the lingering problems of the Cold-War era: as the technological threat is transformed into its own remedy, the oppositional politics of the period are seemingly resolved in a joint effort to cope with the global menace the Cold War has produced. And yet, at the same time, this ending undermines all its apparent assurances: The detonation of nuclear waste only sends the plutonic threat further underground;20 the world, no longer dominated by weapons, is still plagued by their byproduct; the nuclear remedy only replicates the nuclear problem; the detonation site is yet another “[w]hite space on [the] map” (789); and the last word of the novel—“Peace”—materializes “on your monitor” (826), uttered by the digital computer that, as the narrator reminds us in the closing pages, built, tracks, and now preserves the bomb. This is not to say that there is no hope. At the very end of the book, shifting its focus from Nick Shay to the “cold war nun” (245), Sister Edgar, the novel tells the story of the “angel Esmeralda”21—a story that suggests, even as the nun meets her maker on the H-bomb home page, that technological conditions may yet be transcended. Early in the novel, when a young girl Edgar tries to save is caught on a Bronx rooftop, raped, and killed, her devastation produces the conditions of a postmodern apotheosis: night after night, the murdered girl’s face seems to materialize in a Minute-Maid billboard illuminated by an elevated train. When the lights of the train move across the advertisement, they “hit the dimmest part of the billboard [and] a face appears” (821), and this illumination— literally machine-made—sends a shock like “godsbreath passing through the crowd” (821). Momentarily liberated by this vision from her ColdWar isolation—suddenly free of the “false faith of paranoia” (825)—the nun “yanks off her [prophylactic] gloves and shakes hands, pumps hands with the great-bodied women who roll their eyes to heaven” (822), and even embraces a man she is convinced has AIDS, a disease she has long suspected of being a biological weapon of the KGB (243). Like other moments of potential transcendence in DeLillo’s novels, however, this moment in Underworld seems to raise a hope on which it deliberately casts doubt.22 Though it would be problematic enough were it only dependent upon the violation of a young girl Sister Edgar has failed to save, the nun’s vision is further vitiated by its appearance in an advertisement linked, elsewhere in the narrative, to Cold-War violence. Nick Shay’s brother Matt, plotting targets for Louis Bakey in Viet Nam, thinks that drums of Agent Orange look like “cans of frozen Minute Maid enlarged by a crazed strain of DNA” (463). And though the erasure of the ad suggests the possibility of rescinding this image of technological proliferation, the “white sheet” (824) of the denuded billboard inevitably recalls Matt’s other job working on the bomb in New Mexico: work pursued at a base marked only by “white places” (404) on the map. Thus, while the blank billboard proves that Esmeralda’s image was not

Digital and Atomic Plots  191 merely a shadow projected by an underlying advertisement (822), it also suggests the persistence of the atomic threat. Indeed, even the possibility of the vision’s authenticity is articulated, in the narrative, in terms that evoke the bomb: Is the memory thin and bitter and does it shame you with its fundamental untruth—all nuance and wishful silhouette? Or does the power of transcendence linger, the sense of an event that violates natural forces, something holy that throbs on the hot horizon, the vision you crave because you need a sign to stand against your doubt? (824) Here, while the narrative refrains from directly affirming or denying the possibility of transcendence, its reference to the “fundamental untruth” of Edgar’s vision is not posed in conditional terms, and the “power of transcendence” itself looks much like the detonation of a nuclear bomb—a “holy” power that “throbs on the hot horizon” with the vigor of a manmade sun. Sister Edgar, “hold[ing] the image tight in her mind,” perishes and “pass[es] peacefully” on (824). Ending up, however, in “cyberspace, not heaven” (825), her translation is permanently captive to the mechanical conditions of its production. Like the novel that contains her, Edgar has a final vision, on the Internet, of a “world without end” (825): a world in which “[e]verything is connected” (825) by digital machines and a nuclear menace that will live forever.

Notes 1. Totalizing the condition first apprehended in the naturalist novel, digital computers resurrect the force of nature (here, not only the force of the human body but the mind) in the figure of the machine that supersedes it; they are thus, as Lyotard puts it, “ ‘nature’ for postmodern man” (51). As Jameson observes, however, postmodernism can also be understood as what you get when “the modernization process is complete and nature is gone for good” (Postmodernism ix): what you have when machinery has permanently replaced nature as a determining force of global magnitude. 2. Friedrich Kittler offers a yet more extensive genealogy of the many digital “son[s], each more colossal than its secret father,” the Colossus: “According to the ministry of supply, Turing’s postwar computer ACE was supposed to calculate ‘grenades, bombs, rockets, and cruise missiles’; the American ENIAC ‘was to simulate trajectories of shells through varying conditions of air resistance and wind velocity’...; John von Neumann’s EDVAC was being designed to solve ...‘aerodynamic and shock-wave problems [associated with]... shell, bomb and rocket work ...’; BINAC worked for the United States Air Force; ATLAS, for cryptoanalysis; and finally, MANIAC, if this suggestive name had been implemented in time, would have optimized the pressure wave of the first H-bomb” (260). 3. They were also, despite their huge size, largely invisible to lay people. As Ceruzzi notes in A History of Modern Computing, the “first customers

192 Postmodernism for commercial computers were military and government agencies” (10), and these—organizations not regularly accessible to the general public— “installed large mainframes in special climate-controlled rooms, presided over by a priesthood of technicians” (77). Indeed, since the “cost of hardware made it impractical for users to interact with computers” as they do today (78), even those who used digital machines rarely saw them. Instead, a “typical transaction” involved “submitting a deck of cards to an operator through a window (to preserve the climate control of the computer room)” and returning later for a print-out of the results (77). 4. Dick’s abuse of pharmaceuticals—especially amphetamines, which allowed him to produce his early novels at an ultra-accelerated pace—is well documented, and probably contributed to the visions that encouraged him to speculate periodically that he was schizophrenic (see Sutin 50, 119–29). His major biographer, however, asserts that he “was surely not crazy by any standard that Iwould dare to apply,” and points to interviews with “a psychiatrist and a psychologist who saw Phil during two of the most difficult periods of his life,” both of whom “declare him to have been as fully sane as the rest of us” (9). Further, although VALIS insists on the pathology of its metafictional characters, there is an obvious method to its madness. Dramatizing a dissociative episode, “Philip K. Dick” begins by announcing that “Iam Horselover Fat,” asserts that he is “writing this in the third person to gain much-needed objectivity” (3), and then ostensibly forgets, in the space of eight pages, that this character is a personal fiction: “Horselover Fat slipped by degrees into madness.... I wish Icould have helped him” (11). Here, although it is theoretically possible that the author—like the Philip K. Dick narrator he creates in VALIS—actually forgets that Horselover is the same person, this seems unlikely: at one point, another character reminds the narrator that “ ‘Philip’ means ‘Horselover’ in Greek” and “ ‘Fat’ is the German translation of ‘Dick.’ So you’ve translated your name” (185). This in turn calls attention to the “ontological” questions at the heart of the novel— especially the idea that “sometimes an appropriate response to reality [is] to go insane” (2). Thus, whether or not the “real” Philip K. Dick suffered a bout of chemically induced insanity on and after 2–3–74, the fictional rendering of that reality—accomplished in a metafictional gesture that persistently calls attention to itself as a constructed effect—is typically postmodernist. 5. Interestingly, though the name he gives VALIS suggests that it is a digital computer, Dick may never have been certain of the meaning of his own vision. Still attempting to work through 2–3–74 after the completion of the novel, he thought he had neared the end of his search after a vision on Nov. 17, 1980 (Exegesis 645): a vision in which God tells Dick that “where infinity is, there am I” and that “All roads—all explanations for 2–3–74—lead to an infinity of Yes-No, This or That, On-Off, OneZero” (639–40). Here, God may point to his own medium (the “On-Off, OneZero” of the digital computer) while also trying to steer Dick clear of a faulty hermeneutic, as he points out that binary thinking (“OneZero”) will lead only to “an infinity of regress, of thesis and antithesis” (640) if he tries—as Oedipa Maas will in The Crying of Lot 49—to choose between one explanation and another. Unfortunately, God also sends some mixed messages: “Do not think in terms of absolute theories,” he says to Dick; “[w]atch where the piles heap up, of the same theory essentially repeating itself. Count the number of punch cards in each pile.... You can never know for sure what 2–3–74 was.... So do not try to know.... Guess on the basis of the highest pile of computer punch cards” (640). Here, God seems to contradict himself, insisting that

Digital and Atomic Plots  193 Dick should “not try to know” but also that he should “Guess.” Yet even as he does so, one thing remains constant: Dick is to “Guess on the basis of... computer punch cards.” Thus, even as God lays an all-new binary booby-trap for Dick (“do not try”/“Guess”), he draws attention to the fact that the binaries are not choices but rather the computer language in which he communicates—God in this case being a digital machine. Dick himself approaches this possibility when he suggests that “You could be testing out a logic system in a giant computer and Iam—” (640). Unfortunately, he still conceives of this possibility in binary terms (either/or, true/not true), and this keeps him in a cycle of “infinite regress” (640). If Dick had seen the cards as part of a digital communications system instead of trying to count them, he might really have ended his Exegesis here. Instead, he continued to write it until his death in 1982. 6. Bizarrely, Dick seems to have suspected that there was just such a postal system operating secretly through the trash. In 1974, following 2–3–74, he wrote a series of wild letters to the FBI denouncing his early critical admirers—Marxists like Peter Fitting, Darko Suvin, and Fredric Jameson— as KGB agents working under the direction of Stanislaw Lem, a Polish science-fiction writer (see Philmus). Though he mailed a few of these letters conventionally, many more exist in carbon copies than originals—a fact that Tessa Dick, Dick’s fifth wife, explains as follows: Dick would “write a letter, address and stamp an envelope, go out in the back alley, and drop the letter in the trash bin”; his theory was that “[t]he authorities w[ould] receive the letter, if and only if, they [we]re spying on him” (qtd. in Rickman 276, emphasis in original). 7. Pynchon, who wrote The Crying of Lot 49 shortly after leaving a technical writing job at Boeing, would have been well aware of the connection between postwar computing and ballistic technologies. Although biographical data on this famously reclusive author is scarce, we know that Pynchon worked as a Boeing writer from about February1960 to September1962 (Krafft 11), composing “twenty-five to thirty technical articles” (Wisnicki 9) for the house magazine devoted to the Bomarc missile, Bomarc Service News. Pynchon’s personal implication in the military-industrial complex helps explain his persistent focus on rocketry—implied in The Crying of Lot 49 and explicit in the subsequent Gravity’s Rainbow. 8. Oedipa’s encounter with hieroglyphic meaning seems to evoke and conflate two separate sphinxes—the Greek riddler Oedipus meets at the gates of Thebes and the Egyptian figure linked, by cultural association, to hieroglyphics. Both, however, are associated with puzzles or ciphers, and both suggest that the mystery Oedipa confronts is man-made. Oedipus’s answer to the original puzzle posed by the Greek Sphinx (what walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening?) is, of course, “man,” and the mysterious language of the circuit board denotes a man-made system responsible for invisibly organizing life in San Narciso. Indeed, as the Greek name of the “hieroglyphic” city implies, Oedipa may be looking, like Narcissus, at an image she cannot recognize as her own. As Marshall McLuhan argues in Understanding Media (a book that appears to have exercised a pronounced influence on The Crying of Lot 49—see note 9), the Narcissus myth thriftily prefigures the human response to modern technology: Narcissus “is from the Greek word narcosis, or numbness” and “Narcissus mistook his own reflection in the water for another person. This extension of himself by mirror numbed his perceptions until he became the servomechanism of his own extended or repeated image” (63). Thus, when Oedipa looks at San Narciso

194 Postmodernism and sees a circuit board, she is struck dumb by a digital figure she cannot recognize as man-made—a technological extension of her own (human) agency. Moreover, her reaction is likely the result of the connection between the digital and the ballistic order. According to McLuhan, the narcotic relationship to the man-made world is particularly pronounced in relation to nuclear weapons: “With regard to the bomb and retaliation as a deterrent, it is obvious that numbness is the result of any prolonged terror” (48). 9. McLuhan’s book seems to have exercised a considerable influence on the novel. As David Seed argues, the place name San Narciso is probably an allusion to McLuhan’s reading of the Narcissus myth in Understanding Media (114; see also note 8), and the predicament that befalls Oedipa can be understood as a result of her failure to grasp that “the medium is the message” (McLuhan 17): “Oedipa’s constant search for truth, for a final piece of information which will make everything clear, is doomed to failure because, as McLuhan showed, the media impact through their processes and not through any detachable ‘content’ ” (114). Thus, “[e]very new experience introduces yet another permutation of the media so disconcerting that by the middle of the novel Oedipa has developed a paranoid sense of everything being interconnected” (114). Significantly, though he does not trace the medium-as-message to the digital conclusion Ipropose here, Seed identifies Oedipa’s vision of the circuit-like San Narciso street-grid as a “moment... symptomatic of the whole novel” (114). 10. For example, if we set out to determine, by means of archival evidence, whether Pynchon actually meant anything by his novel—whether, as Oedipa thinks in the novel, any plot “so labyrinthine... must have meaning beyond just a practical joke” (141)—we soon find that he referred to the book in a letter to his agent as a “potboiler”: one he hoped she could “unload... on some poor sucker” (1965 letter qtd. in Gussow). On the one hand, this letter strongly suggests that the novel has no “meaning beyond just a practical joke”; on the other, the description of the book as a “potboiler” cancels its significance in language strikingly similar to Oedipa’s own postal cancellation (“POTSMASTER” [33]). This linguistic coincidence might be accidental (or not), just as the postal cancellation might be a mistake (or not), and a return to the primary text at this point seems to encourage ever wilder biographical conjectures: When Oedipa asks Metzger what a “potsmaster” is, he replies, “Guy in the scullery... in charge of all the heavy stuff, canner kettles, gunboats, Dutch ovens” (33). That is, according to Metzger, a potsmaster is a master of pots—literally, when it comes to suppertime, a potboiler—and since a potboiler is what we are supposed to get in The Crying of Lot 49, the misprint at the beginning of Oedipa’s San Narciso adventures seems to point back, at the onset of the Tristero plot, to the guy in charge of everything: Thomas Pynchon, maker of plots, master of pots, potboiler extraordinaire. There is meaning after all! Unless the whole thing is “just a practical joke,” in which case we are back to the original binary. Like all the mail in The Crying of Lot 49, Pynchon’s mail to his agent only perpetuates the mystery we think it will help solve. 11. Though Bersani’s argument is focused primarily on Gravity’s Rainbow, his remarks are applicable to Pynchon’s fiction in general. For example, while he does not discuss The Crying of Lot 49 explicitly, he does point to the existence of digital systems as a major justification for postmodern paranoia: “Information control is the contemporary version of God’s eternal knowledge of each individual’s ultimate damnation or salvation, and both theology and computer technology naturally produce paranoid fears about how we

Digital and Atomic Plots  195 are hooked into the System, about the connections it has in store for us” (“Pynchon” 103). 12. Significantly, in this passage, Jameson is making an argument not just about postmodernist writing but about postmodernist theory, and thus distinguishing his own work from the fatalistic writing (both fictional and critical) he sees as a “degraded” (Postmodernism 38) exercise in cognitive mapping. As Enda Duffy points out, however, Jameson’s position is “apparently contradictory if we only accept the terms he explicitly gives us” (27). Based on his argument alone, it is not clear how, “in such a bombarded, intellectually crippling, and ‘decentered communicational network in which we find ourselves caught as individuals subjects,’ we can still establish the coordinates of our situation” and achieve a grasp of the elusive world system (27). Duffy himself proposes to resolve the problem by introducing the remedy of “speed”—a form of movement that makes action possible, he argues, within otherwise paralyzing conditions. Yet Duffy’s “history of speed” (4) ends with an analysis of Crash (the postmodernist work in which, as he observes, “speed [finally] stops” [260]), and seems to accept Paul Virilio’s suggestion that the “near instantaneousness of... three kinds of [postmodern] movement (the split second of computer communication, the finger on the nuclear button, and supersonic speeds in air transport) has led to a disappearing point where speed itself is more or less superseded” (212). Thus, under postmodern conditions—under, that is, the conditions for which Jameson specifically wishes to account—speed can no longer resolve the apparent contradictions inherent in the theory of cognitive mapping. 13. As Bersani puts it, if the Pynchonian narrative “is to have a potential for... resistance” to the sinister systems it represents, “that potential will have to be disengaged from [its]... very collaboration with the systems it would oppose” (“Pynchon” 107). Pynchon, however, “insists on [his narratives’]... inescapable complicity with the most sinister plot-making activities and strategies of control” (“Pynchon” 107), and thus dramatizes his novels’ irremediable captivity to the systems they are built to disclose. 14. The cruciform, four-finned V2 rocket inevitably turns a vision of technological apotheosis—the mythic rainbow, implying a new covenant and the possibility of resurrection into new life—into a casualty of the gravitational forces it will never transcend. The irony is repeatedly inscribed in the novel. Franz Pökler, the engineer, sees the rocket as a means “to leave the earth. To transcend” (400), but finds out that his wife’s interpretation—“They’re using you to kill people,... and you’re helping them” (400)—is the truth. The same is the case for Captain Blicero, whose personal mania for transcendence takes the form of the secret rocketry project for which Pökler and others are recruited, and which Slothrop spends most of the novel trying to verify: the building of the 00000 rocket, in which Blicero shoots a young blond boy named Gottfried (“God’s peace”) into the heavens on Easter Morning, 1945. This attempt to literalize the resurrection through rocketry is of course doomed by its material conditions. The rocket that goes up inevitably comes down, and Pynchon—literally exploding Blicero’s pretensions to transcendence—exploits the fact that Easter 1945 fell on April Fools’ Day. Thus, as Weisenburger observes, the “cyclical structure of the novel” aligns the events of the narrative’s “four parts ...[with the] Christian liturgical calendar, suggesting possibilities for return and renewal” on which it also strongly “equivocates” (3). Indeed, Gravity’s Rainbow not only plays upon the alignment of Easter and April Fool’s, but marks the ironic coincidence of the Feast of the Transfiguration and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on

196 Postmodernism Sunday, August6, 1945 (Weisenburger 3). Still, there is some hope encoded in the structure of the novel: stopping three months short of a year, the plot that “approaches,...[also] avoids, closure” (Weisenburger 11), and thus defers the completion of a mythic cycle that—yoked to the rocket—figures transcendence as a fool’s dream and transfiguration as an atomic nightmare. 15. Indeed, though both are structurally unhopeful, Gravity’s Rainbow and The Crying of Lot 49 represent delay as a means to living and suspense as a condition of possibility. Near the end of The Crying, Oedipa meditates on the disinherited people of America—the “squatters who stretched canvas for lean-tos behind smiling billboards along all the highways, or slept in junkyards in the stripped shells of wrecked Plymouths, or even, daring, spent the night up some pole in a lineman’s tent like caterpillars, swung among a web of telephone wires, living in the very copper rigging and secular miracle of communication, untroubled by the dumb voltages flickering their miles, the night long, in the thousands of unheard messages” (149). Cocooned “like caterpillars” in copper wiring, these people are literally suspended in a condition that converts mechanical systems of global power into a network of support for something other than itself. Though they have yet to realize their potential, their capacity to persist within the system on which they literally depend—“daring” and “untroubled”—suggests a vitality in waiting. 16. The divine status of the computer in Underworld not only corroborates Pynchon’s vision in The Crying of Lot 49 but DeLillo’s in his own earlier novel, White Noise (1985). In this narrative, Jack Gladney (who sometimes goes by the more fashionable—and indeed, more digital—J. A. K. [17]) goes to the ATM, types in his “secret code,” and feels that a computer—a “mainframe sitting in a locked room in some distant city”—has “blessed ...[his] life” (46). Capable of “authenticat[ing] and confirm[ing]” (46) Jack’s existence, the remote mainframe is both omniscient and omnipotent, god-like in its power over human destiny. In the wake of an industrial accident and the consequent Airborne Toxic Event (105), however, the computer that has previously blessed him schedules his death in a readout of “pulsing stars” (136). Figuratively reorganizing Jack’s whole cosmos as a “massive database tally,” these stars reduce his humanity to “the sum total of [his]... data” (136), after which every approach to a computer terminal is exactly that: terminal. (The link between the computer and the atom bomb may also be implied in the figure of the mechanical star, just as the mainframe and bomb are conflated by Jack’s son Heinrich when he refers to intercontinental ballistic missiles not as ICBMs but as IBMs [222]). Further, though Jack subsequently experiences a “moment of splendid transcendence” (149) when he leans over his sleeping daughter in the evacuation center and hears her mumble “words that seemed to have a ritual meaning[:]...Toyota Celica” (148, emphasis in original), even the experience of transcendence literally voices its mechanical origin: “She was only repeating some TV voice. Toyota Corolla, Toyota Celica, Toyota Cressida. Supranational names, computergenerated, more or less universally pronounceable” (149). Here, as Jack’s daughter gives voice to a TV—and a TV speaking a computer-generated language to sell automobiles—the phrase strikes Jack as divine (“mysterious, gold-shot with looming wonder” [149]). Yet it is also menacing: a power capable of colonizing not just the human body but consciousness itself. 17. In “The Power of History,” DeLillo describes finding the historical starting point of his novel on the “[f]ront page of The New York Times. Oct. 4, 1951. Apair of mated headlines, top of the page. Same typeface, same size type. Each headline three columns wide, three lines deep. . . . Giants

Digital and Atomic Plots  197 capture the pennant . . . . Soviets explode atomic bomb.” The symmetry of these twinned stories, and the identity implied by the font and layout, “revealed... an unexpected connection” DeLillo enshrines, fictionally, in the Branca/Thomson baseball. 18. As Mark Osteen points out, “ ‘Containment’ was... the name of the official policy that the United States adopted toward the Soviet Union in the postwar period” (221). Thus, Nick’s need for “containment” in correction, and his ultimate job at Waste Containment, link his personal fate to the global destiny implied by nuclear competition. 19. Though it is possible to argue that the terminal pattern is not completed, this lack of closure in Underworld is not—as in Pynchon’s novels—a dispensation. Though Marvin Lundy does most of the legwork to establish the “long arching journey of the baseball” (318) in the story, neither he nor the narrative quite locate it in relation to Chuckie Wainwright, and Chuckie can’t remember what happened to the ball—“The ball he’d more or less lost. Or his wife had snatched when they split. Or he’d accidentally dumped with the household trash” (611). Lundy leads us to suppose that the wife took the baseball, since he is able to trace the ball to her but not to Chuckie. Chuckie himself, however, is less certain, and since he remembers the loss of the ball happening somewhere around “Greenland, his previous posting, not a bad place to survive the breakup of a marriage” (610), the ball goes missing at the one place it should—given its alignment with the atom bomb—have been possible to locate. Disappearing from the narrative in the vicinity of the first Ballistic Missile Early Warning System installation, it fashions a break in the provenance that raises, never to allay, the frightening possibility of imminent (and unforeseen) nuclear attack. 20. Indeed, from a scientific point of view, blowing up nuclear waste with a nuclear bomb would probably not work at all. Uranium 238, which Nick identifies as the “most common” (122) uranium isotope, is bombarded with neutrons to produce fissile plutonium 239, which has a half-life of about 24,000years (Bernstein 76). As Jeremy Bernstein notes in his history of the element, some of this waste “can be ‘burned,’ that is, used up in power reactors” (170); however, the expense of the process and the quantity of plutonium to be eliminated means that “most of [the]... excess... will have to be stored” (170). Thus, in Underworld, the Russian waste-manager Viktor estimates that “Worldwide, who is counting? Maybe [there are] twelve hundred metric tons” of plutonium waste, and Nick says “More” (795). Bernstein, though more modest in his estimate—he thinks that “there [we]re about 155 metric tons” (170) of military-grade plutonium worldwide as of 2007 (the date of his history)—nevertheless describes the world as “awash in plutonium” (170). Though “no effort or expense was spared during the war to ...[create] plutonium for military use,” it has, unfortunately, “almost no other use. Now we are stuck with it” (171). 21. This portion of Underworld first appeared as a short story called “The Angel Esmeralda” in the May1994 issue of Esquire magazine. 22. The most-discussed instances of “transcendence” in DeLillo’s fiction are the orange juice billboard of Underworld and the “postmodern sunsets” and “Toyota Celica” incident of White Noise. Interestingly, despite the dread technological sources of these phenomena (the “postmodern sunset[s]” [216] are the result of industrial pollution; “Toyota Celica” [148] discloses the mechanization of consciousness [see note 16]; and the image of Esmeralda evokes a chain of industrial menaces from agent orange to the atom bomb), critics tend to read them optimistically. A series of essays in the

198 Postmodernism recent Cambridge Companion to Don DeLillo is a case in point: John Duvall suggests that “there lurks in DeLillo’s writing the possibility... of spiritual transcendence” regardless of his “pessimism of... intellect” (4), and Philip Nel (23), Peter Knight (38–9), and Joseph Dewey (64) all offer redemptive readings of the three scenes noted above. Still, like Osteen, who argues for a redemptive vision in Underworld that “may nonetheless remain out of reach” (217), all these critics also acknowledge that the possibility of transcendence is, as Duvall puts it, “never overtly confirmed” (4) by DeLillo’s novels.

9 The Machinery of Liberation Georges Perec

I. In the Ruins of the Future Six months after finishing Underworld, in 1997, DeLillo described the experience of being between books as a state of historical uncertainty: the late 1990s were “no longer the Cold War and not yet whatever will follow” (qtd. in Remnick 48), and he found himself at a loss for narrative material. Four years later, however, what had followed was inescapable. The ’90s had become “that interval between the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the current age of terror” (qtd. in Barron), and his novels—in light of the World Trade Center attacks on September11, 2001—had begun to seem prophetic of a disaster he had once felt unable to predict. In Mao II (1991), a novel partially concerned with terrorist plots, Brita is disturbed by the “deadly” size of the Twin Towers (40), and in Underworld, the buildings seem to rise out of Fresh Kills landfill: The towers of the World Trade Center were visible in the distance and [Brian Glassic] . . . sensed a poetic balance between that idea and this one....[A]ll the great works of transport, trade and linkage were directed in the end to this culminating structure [of waste]. (184)1 As though foreseeing the destruction of the Trade Center—its “culmination” in the rubble of September 11—Underworld not only prefigures the destiny of the Towers, but connects their demolition to the “deadly” size on which Brita remarks in Mao II.2 Not simply an American center of “trade and linkage,” these towers are the center of “World Trade”: a monumental annunciation of American power rooted in technology of planetary dimensions. As DeLillo puts it in his 2001 meditation on September 11, “In the Ruins of the Future,” the “World Trade towers were not only an emblem of advanced technology but a justification, in a sense, for technology’s irresistible will to realize in solid form whatever becomes theoretically allowable” (38). They showed that

200 Postmodernism [t]echnology is our fate, our truth. It is what we mean when we call ourselves the only superpower on the planet.... We don’t have to depend on God or the prophets or other astonishments. We are the astonishment. The miracle is what we ourselves produce, the systems and networks. (37) Unfortunately, the technological “miracle” DeLillo describes is a force still—as ever—beyond the control of its creators, and one seemingly destined to realize a “fate” American machines had made possible since at least the end of the Second World War: As US “passenger jets . . . become manned missiles” in the hands of a terror “so obsolete it must depend on suicidal fervor to gain its aims” (“Ruins” 38, 40), the ballistic death sentence suspended in so many Cold War novels is suddenly—and unexpectedly—completed.3 Given the apocalyptic power of postmodern machines, the terrorists can simply use technology “as what it is, a thing that kills” (38).4 Standing in the “ruins of the future,” DeLillo seems to cast doubt on America’s capacity to supersede the devastation its own technology has wrought. Indeed, though he suggests that “it is left to us to create ...[a] counter-narrative” (34) to the one imposed by terror, the September11 article itself is oddly static—a series, as the subtitle puts it, of “Reflections on terror and loss.”5 And his subsequent 9/11 novel, Falling Man (2007), reads like a protracted narrative pause. Obsessively replicating a still image, the book—from the title onward—duplicates and reduplicates the famous photograph of a man falling, head-first and straight down, from the World Trade Center.6 In the story, a performance artist continually refigures this machine-made image, and the narrative itself reproduces the photo in the final pages, as Keith tries to rescue his friend Rumsey in the Towers: Things began to fall, one thing and then another.... Then something outside, going past the window. Something went past the window, then he saw it. First it went and was gone and then he saw it.... He could not stop seeing it, twenty feet away, an instant of something sideways, going past the window, white shirt, hand up, falling before he saw it. (242) Like Keith, who registers the same instant four times “before” he can see it, the narrative in this passage seems to get caught in a traumatic loop. Neither it nor its character can stop seeing the image of the falling man, and the book as a whole—closing where it begins, in the falling towers—refigures the traumatic return at a structural level. The result is the representation of a calamity suspended, stilled—but in a way that

The Machinery of Liberation  201 can no longer do anything to delay catastrophe. Whereas Cold-War narratives could at least defer the apocalyptic consequences they predict, Falling Man is transfixed by a disaster that can no longer be prevented. DeLillo is not alone in his interpretation of September11. In Pynchon’s The Bleeding Edge (2013) also, the events of 2001 complete the story of Cold-War technology. As random-number generators cease being random just before the attack (315), the fall of the Towers is predicted by the Internet, and the web materializes as a sinister extension of the deadly global order already implied by the digital computer in Underworld and The Crying of Lot 49. Born as “DARPAnet . . . to assure survival of U.S. command and control after a nuclear exchange with the Soviets,” the Internet has, as the heroine’s father puts it, “never stopped carrying in its heart a bitter-cold death wish for the planet” (Bleeding 419–20). More optimistic, his daughter objects that “[t]he Cold War ended” and “the Internet ke[pt] evolving, away from military, into civilian” (420). But “the promise, the freedom” she points to is no sooner uttered than unmasked: “Call it freedom,” says her father, “it’s based on control. Everybody connected together, impossible anybody should get lost, ever again. Take the next step, connect it to these cell phones, you’ve got a total Web of surveillance, inescapable[,]... handcuffs of the future” (420). This future is, of course, the future in which the novel was written, and though the twenty-first century is still provisionally hopeful in The Bleeding Edge,7 the reader recognizes, in the narrative’s grimmer predictions, a destiny that has since been fulfilled. In the world of the published novel—the world of 2013—the union of the Internet and the cell phone has already completed the catastrophe the heroine’s father predicts, fashioning a kind of virtual apotheosis of Proust’s death-dealing machine: Web-enabled, the telephone is no longer empowered to supersede the devastation it itself has wrought, but totalizes the destructive and alienating force of a device originally intended to unite its users. Like DeLillo, then, Pynchon can no longer defer disaster. In the world in which The Bleeding Edge was written, the calamity has irrevocably come to pass, and the novel raises, like Falling Man, a question it seems as yet unable to answer: how is one to live in the ruins of the future? This is, however, a question that has been asked before, and one that may find an answer in the past. Though America, after the Second World War, secured its “superpower” status by means of technologies such as the world had never seen, these technologies—digital, atomic, and ballistic—were themselves devised in response to a project of industrial devastation already in progress. As President Truman put it on the occasion of the Hiroshima bombing, “By 1942,... we knew the Germans were working feverishly to find a way to add atomic energy to the other engines of war with which they hoped to enslave the world” (“Press Release” 1).8 Within the Reich, as the world discovered with the liberation of Ohrdruf, Dora-Mittelbau, and Buchenwald in April1945

202 Postmodernism (Berenbaum 2), these engines included not only bombs and V2 rockets, but a huge complex of concentration camps—a vast system of railways, gas chambers, and incinerators—in which the fascist state sought to annihilate an entire people: people it marked for extermination, even before the advent of the atomic “sun,” with a yellow star. Thus, although the war would magnify the genocidal power of technology—as one of the bomb’s makers later remarked, “nations are now lined up like people before the ovens at Auschwitz” (Rabi qtd. in Herken 338)—the threat of machine-made extinction was, by war’s end, nothing new. For the millions of Jews killed in the camps, the war was already a machine apocalypse—and for its survivors, the ruin of the future as it might have been.9 One such survivor is Georges Perec. AFrench writer of Polish-Jewish origins, Perec lost both parents in the war—his father at the front in 1940, and his mother at Auschwitz in 1943—and his recollection of the conflict is thus one of unrelenting industrial violence. As he recalls in W or the Memory of Childhood (1975): War came. My father enlisted and died. My mother became a war widow. She went into mourning. Iwas put out to a nanny. Her business was closed. She signed on as a worker in a factory making alarm clocks. Iseem to remember she injured herself one day and her hand was pierced through. She wore the star. (32) Here, the paratactic alignment of Perec’s last phrases about his mother (“her hand was pierced”; “She wore the star”) connects the accidental violence of the Vichy clock factory to the intentional violence of the death camp—that “huge machine,” as Perec describes it later in the book, devised for “the systematic annihilation of men” (W 161, italicized in original). Deported to Auschwitz after her son was evacuated to the free zone, Cyrla Perec suffered a fate the author knew but did not witness directly, and her crucified hand thus comes to prefigure the fate of her body as a whole: the industrial destruction of a woman forced to “wear the star.” Meanwhile, Perec’s laconic reference to his father’s death (“My father enlisted and died”) underscores the brevity of that life together with its place in the decimating machine order. Wounded “in the abdomen by machine-gun fire or a shell splinter,” Perec’s father “lost all his blood and died for France before they could operate” (W 37). Another casualty of mechanization, Icek Perec thus became the first in a sequence of technological fatalities—a sequence in which Perec too, but in another sense, lost all his blood in the war: his father, his mother, and the person he would have become had they raised him. In Perec’s works, however, the loss of his parents gives rise to a creative project in excess of its devastating mechanical conditions. As he puts it in W,

The Machinery of Liberation  203 I write because we lived together, because Iwas one amongst them, a shadow amongst their shadows, a body close to their bodies. Iwrite because they left in me their indelible mark, whose trace is writing. Their memory is dead in writing; writing is the memory of their death and the assertion of my life. (42) In this moving passage, the present tense (“[t]heir memory is dead”) already reshapes the parents’ absence into the physical trace of writing, transforming the past (in which Icek and Cyrla Perec are still alive) into the present, reviving their memory (which is at once Perec’s memory of them and their own ability to remember), and turning their extinction into a form of vitality: “the assertion of my life” (42).10 Retrieving their “shadows” through the “indelible mark” of a familial union “whose trace is writing,” Perec—once “a body close to their bodies”—gives them new life in the written body of his work. Those works, from A Void (1969) to Life a User’s Manual (1978), can thus be read as a primer of creative reconstruction: how to live in the ruins of the future.

II. E: The Machine-Made Void From 1967 on, Georges Perec belonged to the Oulipo (short for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle), the French group of experimental writers most famous for the use of what are often described as literary “machines”: sets of mechanical constraints adopted as a means of liberating creative potential.11 For most of the Oulipo, of course, these “machines” were largely metaphorical—sets of rationalized limitations that bear no necessary relationship to actual machinery.12 For Perec, however, they had peculiarly literal dimensions. Beginning with A Void, his first Oulipian novel, the “device” he adopts is the lipogram: a machine that is “literal,” in the first sense, because it is “of or relat[ed] to a letter” (OED, “literal”), but also literal in a second sense—in the sense of reproducing the work of real machines. As Warren Motte’s crucial studies of the novel have shown, by composing a narrative entirely without the letter E, Perec not only imposes radical constraints on his fiction, but silently reproduces the losses inflicted on his family by war machines. Without the E, Perec “cannot say the words père, mère, parents, famille,” nor “can he write the name Georges Perec” (“Reading” 5). Thus, in the many linguistic “voids” created by the missing letter, the lipogrammatic novel reenacts the machine-made devastation of the war: Replicating the violence of the “machine-gun fire or... shell splinter” (W 37) that killed his father, and the camps in which his mother died, the literary “device” annihilates the possibility of father, mother, parents, and family—even the identity of the author himself.13

204 Postmodernism In the novel, of course, there is no direct reference to the personal history that creates its many “voids”—but that missing history determines the narrative at virtually every level. Discursively, the omission of the E organizes the text at the level of the letter, the word, the sentence—but then is also imposed as the condition of characterization, plot, and novelistic structure. Refigured in the story as a missing person, the absent E of A Void is writ large, as it were, in the character of Anton Vowl (literally, A. Vowl)—a man driven to distraction, and then disappearance, by a figure he cannot grasp (the E, of course, missing from his own name). The plot, as the remaining characters search for this missing Vowl, is determined by the absence of the protagonist, and the structure of the narrative is, in turn, determined by the plot: Since E is the fifth letter of the alphabet and the second vowel, the book lacks a fifth chapter (of 26) and a second Part (of 6)—an erasure that not only pokes holes (literally) in the fabric of the text, but portends, as it turns out, the war-torn end of the world. In A Void, Anton Vowl is writing a diary called A Void (25), in which he composes a synopsis of a work of fiction in which Aignan—an alter e-go, so to speak—is possessed of “25 cousins” in the “tranquil days... without wars or riots” (27). With the loss of these “tranquil days,” the cousins “abruptly... start to vanish” (27), and though Anton does not complete his story—only “jotting down 25 or 26 random notations, amplifying 5 or 6 crucial points” (35)—his outline prefigures linguistic calamity. Since his “5 or 6 crucial points” correspond to the alphabetic vowels (A, E, I, O, U and the “semivowel Y” [Motte, “Reading” 4]), his “25 or 26 random notations” constitute the alphabet as a whole. Consequently, when Anton himself goes missing, the novel sets in motion the events of the story he has been writing inside it—a story in which the loss of AVow[e]l portends the loss of his 25 alphabetic “cousins” as well. The logical conclusion of A Void, then, is a literal apocalypse, and the lipogrammatic E emerges as a kind of doomsday device: alpha and omega of a mechanical system that spells the end of the world in writing. As Motte observes, E is the “beginning and end of écriture” (“Reading” 5). Still, all is not lost. Though responsible for a literal apocalypse in the story—and reenacting the devastation of the author’s own world outside it—the elision of the E in A Void is also the occasion of a creative recursion. Notably, A Void contains a book called A Void (Anton’s diary), which contains another book (the Aignan fiction), which tells the same story as A Void (the novel as a whole). Thus, though literally inexpressible within the work, the extinction of the letter launches the production of a potentially infinite series of texts inside it, enabling the very écriture it imperils. On the evidence of subsequent works, moreover, the missing E is also the productive condition of texts beyond A Void.14 Though repressed in Perec’s first Oulipian experiment, the absent letter returns in the

The Machinery of Liberation  205 dedication of W or the Memory of Childhood as a further reason for writing: Inscribed “for E,” this autobiographical novel begins by restoring the lost letter of A Void, and thus—at the outset of a book also concerned with the war (though more explicitly than A Void) and focused on a letter (the W of the title)—begins to address, and perhaps redress, the losses reenacted by the lipogram. As David Bellos points out, the dedication of W—retrieving the letter E from erasure—not only honors the aunt and cousin, Esther and Ela, who rescued Perec during the war, but revives, in the sound of the letter, both Icek and Cyrla Perec: Pronounced “eux,” the letter E sounds like the word for “them” in French. Thus, “for E” is also “pour eux”: for them, the parents lost in the war (Bellos, Georges Perec 561–2).

III. W: The Origin of the Lipogram Instead of simply redeeming the lost letter of A Void, however, W or the Memory of Childhood extends, and appears to magnify, the literal potential of the lipogrammatic novel. Unlike the missing E—the most common vowel in the French language—the W of W or the Memory of Childhood is a kind of natural lipogram in French:15 a letter rarely used, and then almost exclusively in foreign words. It thus becomes, in Perec’s autobiographical novel, the figure for his “feeling of exile” (Poucel 151) after the war, as well as the literal equivalent (W or the memory of childhood) of the memories destroyed by it. In Part I, Perec’s autobiographical narrative begins with the assertion that “Ihave no childhood memories” (6), and the W—a letter always on the point of vanishing from the French language—stands for a constitutive absence: the missing elements of a “story [that] comes to barely a couple of lines: Ilost my father at four, my mother at six” (6). Starting in Part II, however, the W takes on a new and more complex significance, as memories begin to form after the war: From this point on, there are memories—fleeting, persistent, trivial, burdensome—but there is nothing that binds them together. They are like that unjoined-up writing, made of separate letters unable to forge themselves into a word, which was my writing up to the age of seventeen or eighteen. (68) Unbound, “unjoined up,” Perec’s missing memories return after the war in the figure of the letter-as-lipogram: that “separate lette[r,] unable to forge [itself]... into a word,” in which the machine-made losses of the war are imposed as the condition of writing itself.16 As a lipogrammatic letter, however, W is a particularly special case. Unlike the E at the heart of A Void, the W is not entirely suppressed in W or the Memory of Childhood (where it appears, most obviously, in the

206 Postmodernism title), but is rather a letter always on the point of disappearing. As such, it takes on a double potentiality in the text: In its partial and periodic inscription, it not only prefigures, in Perec’s childhood, the wartime voids to come (the machine-made losses the war will enact), but refigures, in the process of its inscription, the rupture at the heart of the lipogram. In French, as Bellos—Perec’s English translator—points out, the letter is pronounced as it is written: “as a double V” (Bellos, prefatory note to W). Thus, in both speech and writing, the W is effectively two letters in one, “unjoined up” not only in the sense of its separation from other letters, but as a character constituted by rupture—a character replicating, internally, the condition afflicting Perec’s postwar writing as a whole. Yet further, pronounced in French not as a “double-yū” (as in English) but rather a “double vé” (Bellos, prefatory note), the double V seeks vainly, within its own figure, to “forge [itself]... into a word” (68). As a double vé, it just misses the enunciation of the profound loss it stands for in W: the double vie (in French, the word for life) of Perec’s two parents.17 Thus, like the E of A Void—a letter whose elision says everything the omitted letter itself cannot—the lipogrammatic rupture at the heart of W speaks the truth of Perec’s loss. In the dismemberment of the word (the incomplete utterance of the double vie) we hear the sound of lives cut short, and the passing away of the two figures (the two characters who are also people) whose disappearance is the condition of Perec’s writing in W. Indeed, split apart, the sundered Vs of the W become, as Perec reflects in Part II of the autobiographical novel, the basis of a “geometrical fantasy” capable of expressing, through a series of “complex convolutions,” the whole story of his desolation: two Vs joined tip to tip make the shape of an X; by extending the branches of the X by perpendicular segments of equal length, you obtain a swastika (卐), which itself can be easily decomposed, by a rotation of 90 degrees of one of its ᛋ segments on its lower arm, into the sign ᛋᛋ; placing two pairs of Vs head to tail produces a figure (XX) whose branches only need to be joined horizontally to make a star of David (✡). In the same line of thinking, Iremember being struck by the fact that Charlie Chaplin, in The Great Dictator, replaced the swastika with a figure that was identical, in terms of its segments, having the shape of a pair of overlapping Xs. (77) Understood as figures for his two lost parents, the two Vs of the W join together in this passage to create “the shape of an X”: a figure for the infinite possibility of Perec’s youth (since X can stand for the “mathematical unknown”)—but also, inevitably, the “sign of a word deleted” and the “contrastive sign of ablation” (77). Thus, in a series of geometrical

The Machinery of Liberation  207 “exten[sions],” this X “trace[s] out [all] the major symbols of the story of ...[Perec’s] childhood” (77): the swastika, the SS, the Star of David— even the insignia of the “Great Dictator” himself.18 As in A Void, the lipogrammatic letter (W as double V) recapitulates the story of Perec’s youth—at the cost of reviving the agents of its wartime demolition. In doing so, however, the lipogram becomes again the condition of a work of “potential” literature in the Oulipian sense: the mark of a machine-made suppression in which the devastation of the Perec family is turned into the means of its creative supersession. Broken in two by the war, the W as “double V” is not only “unjoined up” (68), but, as such, also inscribed as a joining-up of separate letters. These letters, in their very dismemberment, seek to forge themselves into a word—the double vé that is always on the cusp of articulating the double vie (the double life) its disappearance marks.19 And this double vie, in its very incompleteness, generates a whole series of further vies, in which the losses of the war (lost parents, lost memories, lost childhood) are turned into the constitutive material of W or the Memory of Childhood. In W, out of the loss of his two parents arises the double vie of Perec himself (the life of the author before and after the war), and these two authorial vies are in turn inscribed in the double form of the novel—a novel that continually shifts, in alternating chapters, between a lost story of Perec’s youth (a story called “W”) and the story of his lost youth (another story called W). Like the letter of their titles, written as two separate Vs overlapping in the middle, the two stories of W are apparently separate but—as Perec points out in a paratextual note—“inextricably bound up with each other.”20 One story, he says, is “imaginary,” and the other is “autobiograph[ical]”—but both are organized by rupture. The autobiography is “a fragmentary tale of a wartime childhood”; the fictional “adventure story . . . begins to tell one tale, and then, all of a sudden, launches into another”; and both—alternating in consecutive chapters throughout the book—are suspended by a “split” in the middle, breaking off at the end of Part I in two consecutive ellipses (60–1). Consequently, as Perec puts it in the paratext, what is “never quite said in one, never quite said in the other,” is articulated by “their fragile overlapping” at the typographical sign of absence: an overlapping that shadows forth, once again, the vanishing figure of the double V. Redistributed and reconnected, the six points of the ellipses with which Part I ends can be understood as the six points of the disappearing figure (VV): the “points of suspension on which,” according to Perec’s paratextual note, “the broken threads of childhood and... writing are caught.”

IV. W: The Camps Literally called “points of suspension” in French, the ellipses at the narrative center of W not only refigure the lipogrammatic letter in the sign of

208 Postmodernism its disappearance, but mark the crux of the W-shaped novel—the “break” or “split,” as Perec puts it in the paratext, that “suspend[s] the story on an unidentifiable expectation.” At the end of the first half of the fictional story, “W,” a man living under the alias of Gaspard Winckler is recruited to locate his namesake, a young deaf-mute who has disappeared off the coast of Tierra del Fuego. The ellipsis with which the chapter ends thus implies the continuation of a search that actually breaks off at this point: “Would [I] have better luck than the Coast Guard? But that was a question which, from then on, only Ishould be able to answer ...” (60, italics and ellipsis in original). Meanwhile, at the end of the first half of the autobiographical part, Perec is evacuated during the war from the Gare de Lyon, and since this was the last time he saw his mother (who was subsequently deported to Auschwitz), he replaces—as a means of articulating a fate he knew but did not witness—the next chapter in the autobiographical sequence with an ellipsis, set apart in parentheses as a missing reference: ( . . . ) (61, bold in original)21 At the end of Part I, then, both the autobiographical and the fictional stories are suspended at a typographical symbol that (doubled, in consecutive chapters, at the center of the book) marks the “break” or “split” in both texts: the point at which they are irreparably divided, internally ruptured by loss. And yet, this “break” or “split” is also, as Perec observes in the paratext, the “point of departure of the whole book”—the point at which, in two consecutive “points of suspension,” the two stories not only divide but merge, overlapping in consecutive ellipses that imply a moment of identity between the fictional and the autobiographical parts. The “unidentifiable expectation” raised by the “adventure story” thus raises a question equally applicable to the autobiography: What became of the lost boy? Beginning in Part II, in the autobiographical story, Perec goes on after the ellipses into a kind of void (after the loss of his parents, “[t]here was no past and for very many years there was no future either” [69]), while the fictional tale—evidently forgetting all about the young Gaspard— also seems to lose track of its missing child. Indeed, launching suddenly into an ethnographic study of an imaginary island called W, the adventure story appears to give up on the search altogether. Yet it also fashions, in doing so, a tacit answer to the question (what happened to the lost boy?) it simultaneously appears to forsake: Populated by an “almost exclusively Aryan” (67) people obsessed with the athletic perfection of the race, and located in Tierra del Fuego (literally the “land of fire”), the island of W gradually comes into focus as a version of the crematoria. Thus, disappearing after the ellipsis that is typographically identical to the sign of Cyrla Perec’s annihilation, the lost Gaspard finally emerges, via the fictional ethnography of “W,” as a double for Georges Perec. Disappearing on the way to the “land of fire,” the fictional boy becomes a

The Machinery of Liberation  209 figure for the real child lost on the way to the camps; his mutism becomes a mark of the silence imposed on the Perecs by the war (as Perec puts it, “the scandal of their silence, and of mine” [42]); and his absence stands in for the future Perec lost, with his mother, at the Gare de Lyon.22 In the second half of the book, then, what happened to the lost boy of W is a question answered only by the history of “W” (a fictional story of the camps Perec suffered from but never saw), while Perec’s implicit question about himself (what happened to the boy he left with his mother at the Gare de Lyon?) is answered only by W as a whole. This W is a double book (both a novel and a personal history), whose two parts are held together in the middle by a double void—an absence, a rupture, created by the camps. Held together by the crematoria, it is thus compelled to inscribe, over and over, the losses wrought by the concentration camp (W)—is compelled to internalize, as the literal mechanism of the work’s construction, that “huge machine” built for the “systematic annihilation of men” (W 161, italicized in original). And yet, in doing so, it also transcends the limitations imposed by the machine. Though the narrator of “W” never finds the mute boy whose name he bears (the victim of the island, W), the missing boy is born anew in the “witness” (4) to his plight—the other Gaspard Winckler (who narrates the story of “W”)— and in Georges Perec (who narrates another story called W). The mute child, lost at the Gare de Lyon and on the way to W—lost, in both stories, on the way to the crematoria—acquires both a fictional and an autobiographical double: a doubled and redoubled life (W as double V[ie]), in which the death camps are turned into the instrument of their survival.

V. New Life: A User’s Manual Gaspard Winckler, abandoned but also reborn as the narrator of “W” in W, is revived once more in Life a User’s Manual.23 In this late novel, the most formally constrained and most celebrated of Perec’s works, Gaspard is reincarnated as a diabolical maker of jigsaw puzzles—and is, once again, a double for the author. Reproducing the first part of the second chapter devoted to Winckler (Chapter44, “Winckler, 2” [189–91]) as his own “Preamble,” Perec foregrounds his renewed connection to Gaspard. Yet in doing so, he raises a question he conspicuously refuses to answer: Though the reappearance of Winckler implies a connection between Life and Perec’s earlier fictions, there is no way of knowing for sure, based solely on the text, whether this novel is driven by the same machinery as the lipogrammatic Void and W. Rather, as Perec takes care to point out in the “Preamble”/“Winckler, 2,” the book is like one of Winckler’s jigsaw puzzles, not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analysed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure:...

210 Postmodernism [T]he parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it. (“Preamble” and 189) With no way to determine the governing “pattern” of the jigsaw novel based on its constituent “parts,” we might still make, of course, a few guesses about its construction. We might deduce, for example, that the puzzle pieces are the 99 chapters of the narrative, and that these correspond to the 99 rooms of the setting—the big apartment building at 11 rue Simon-Crubellier. To recognize the puzzle as a puzzle, however, is not to discover the literary machinery that generates it, as the governing “pattern”—the logic underlying the jigsaw puzzle—cannot possibly be determined based on a reading of the 99 parts.24 Fortunately, Perec was not unwilling to disclose his methods elsewhere. As he reported to the Oulipo, the generative “pattern” of Life is the recursive use of a “bi-square of order ten” as the basis of another puzzle, the “knight’s tour” (Bellos, Georges Perec 514; emphasis in original). Superimposing a 10 x 10 grid, like an “oversize chessboard,” on an apartment block of 100 rooms, Perec devised a magnified version of the “tour”—the object of which is to move the knight around the chessboard without landing on the same square twice (Bellos, Georges Perec 514). This tour then dictates the order of the chapters in Life, where each chapter corresponds to a square (or room) on the grid. Each square is a “bi-square” designated by two coordinates; the bi-square dictates the contents of each chapter; and the contents—the things that must appear in each square (or room, or chapter)—shape the separate stories that make up the book. Instead of simply using the coordinates of the original grid in the distributive mechanism, however, Perec chose to replicate the original bisquare constraint in the generation of a further constraint. In place of “two sets of ten elements” to be distributed across the magnified chessboard of the novel, he ultimately “employed twenty-one bi-squares, each comprising two lists of ten ‘elements,’ giving forty-two lists in all, with 420 ‘things’ to distribute [across the novel], forty-two to a box (and never the same forty-two twice)” (Bellos, Georges Perec 515). Nor does the recursive use of the bi-square exhaust the constraints that govern the text. These also include a law of self-reference (to other works by Perec, published or unpublished, written or unwritten), the incorporation of at least one element that came to Perec’s attention while drafting the chapter, the numerical inclusion in each chapter of the coordinates of the square to which it corresponds on the grid, and the use of constraints designed to engineer their own negation (Bellos, Georges Perec 605–6, 601). Of the 42 lists of constituent features noted above, for example,

The Machinery of Liberation  211 lists 39 (called manque or “lack”) and 40 (called faux or “false”) disrupt the others (Bellos, Georges Perec 600–1). These lists impose either a “lack” on the distribution of 42 things per chapter—the elision of an element that would otherwise be dictated by the use of the distributive bi-square—or the “falsification” of a particular element (the appearance of something else, for example, in its place).25 This makes the puzzle, as Bellos remarks, “not just hard but completely impossible” (Georges Perec 601) to reverse-engineer, and structures a work that, as the product of textual machinery, resembles the terrible technologies of the postmodern period: the digital and atomic systems that, once created, cannot be broken or unmade. Well aware of the monstrosity of the literary machinery he had devised, however, Perec thematizes his own diabolism in the plot of Life. In Chapter 1, Gaspard Winckler—Perec’s authorial double—“is dead, but the long and meticulous, patiently-laid plot of his revenge is not finished yet” (6). This “patiently laid” plot is, of course, the plot of Life itself, and the puzzle-maker’s revenge takes the form of the permanent frustration of the puzzle-solver. In the last chapter, Bartlebooth—the commissioner of 500 puzzles from Winckler—has “just died,” and [o]n the tablecloth [in front of him], somewhere in the crepuscular sky of the four hundred and thirty-ninth puzzle, the black hole of the sole piece not yet filled in has the almost perfect shape of an X. But the ironical thing, which could have been foreseen long ago, is that the piece the dead man holds between his fingers is shaped like a W. (497) Here, as knowledge of the discursive manque and faux principle may allow us to foresee, the plot of the novel (engineered by Perec) and the “patiently laid plot” (of Winckler’s revenge) come to a close with a “lack” or a “falsification” at the level of story: a “black hole” that makes the jigsaw puzzle impossible for Bartlebooth to complete. Moreover, as it does so, it wreaks Winckler’s revenge upon the reader as well, as Life— properly composed of 100 chapters—comes to a premature end with Bartlebooth’s death over the puzzle in Chapter99. Replicating in its own structure the “lack” Bartlebooth confronts in Winckler’s puzzle, the jigsaw novel thus confronts the reader with a puzzle that cannot be finished. Yet the really diabolical thing, which we could perhaps have “foreseen long ago” (497), is the persistence, in Life, of the literal constraints of W. For the puzzle-solver (Bartlebooth or the reader), the W-shaped piece with which the novel ends cannot be fit into the X-shaped hole that remains. But for Perec, as we know from W or the Memory of Childhood, the W is morphologically identical to the X-shaped void. Internally sundered—“unjoined-up” (W 68) into two Vs—the letter represents, through the series of “complex convolutions” (77) traced in the earlier

212 Postmodernism novel, the multiple voids wrought by the war: the loss of his parents (the W as double V[ie]), the loss of his childhood (the X as a joining-up of two lost V[ies]), and all the “major symbols” (swastika, SS, star of David) of a period of machine-made devastation (77)—a period that ended literally (with the death of his mother), and figuratively (in the W of Tierra del Fuego), in the camps. Thus, for the author, Life comes to a close in the 99th chapter, extinguished by the same figure (W) that has destroyed it before.26 But then, out of all this destruction comes a book called Life. Though the jigsaw puzzle is finished for its author in Chapter 99,27 for the puzzle-solver, the W does not and cannot fit the X. For both Bartlebooth and the reader, the jigsaw cannot be completed, and the X-shaped void at the end of the novel fashions a kind of machine-made dispensation: In the story, having employed Winckler to make puzzles of 500 watercolor seascapes he plans to reassemble, reconstitute, deback, dissolve, and restore to the blank paper on which he originally painted them, Bartlebooth is ultimately stymied in his pursuit of creative dissolution. Thus, despite his physical death, the puzzle-solver lives on in the incomplete jigsaw puzzles—and the reader is released by the same means. Ending with Bartlebooth’s death over the incomplete puzzle, the jigsaw novel of Life— omitting the hundredth chapter—structurally reproduces the “lack” or “falsification” that makes the machinery of the narrative impossible to reverse-engineer, and the puzzle forever incomplete. As a consequence, the machinery of Perec’s annihilation becomes the instrument of our escape. Impossible to finish, forever open-ended—a puzzle made, finally, to resist its own negation—the novel creates the conditions of its own infinite extension. Internalizing a void that can never be filled, it becomes, like another Ulysses, a utopian machine: for the reader, “nought nowhere [is]... never reached” (Ulysses 17.1068–9) in the book of Life.

V+I. For Perec, Another V To become a utopian machine, however, Life must accept, as the conditions of its existence, far more monstrous technologies than those that “[r]ule the world” (7.81) in the modernist Ulysses. As Perec puts it in a meditation on the writing of the Holocaust survivor Robert Antelme, “History is not, as Joyce said, ‘a nightmare Iam trying to wake up from.’ We have no other life to live. Even if this life was... that of the camps” (“Robert Antelme” 265). While it might be more comforting to deny or forget that “huge machine” devised for the “annihilation of men” (W 161, italicized in original), dismissing it as part of “a horrible world the possibility of whose existence we can never succeed fully in understanding,” this world “did exist” (“Robert Antelme” 265). And though a “relatively privileged portion of our planet knows, or thinks it knows, the angst of history,... the angst of a monstrous technology (‘will it kill

The Machinery of Liberation  213 off mankind?’),” this “world exists” as well (265–6). Thus, like Antelme, Perec “fights with the means that have been left to him” (266). Internalizing the machinery of his own devastation, he turns a “monstrous technology” into a means of liberation, diverting the power of the postmodern machine (irreversible, indestructible) toward the infinite continuation of life (and Life) itself. There is, moreover, another end to the story. Though Life a User’s Manual enacts the completion of Perec’s project in the closing of the mechanism that drives it (for Perec, the W fits the X), the novel also contains an alternate ending for its author. Valène, the oldest occupant of 11 rue Simon-Crubellier, has, in the Epilogue, just begun a sketch of the building, and his plan—“divid[ed]... up into regular square boxes, the sketch of a cross-section of a block of flats” (500)—is not only identical to Perec’s plan for the novel, but contains an image of its creator. As we know from Chapter 51, “Valène (Servants’ Quarters, 9),” the painter plans to be in the painting himself, . . . not [in] a central place, not a significant or privileged place ...[that] could give rise to a reinterpretation of the whole painting, but an apparently inoffensive place, as if it had been done just like that, in passing, a little accidentally,... as if it were only supposed to be a signature to be read by initiates ...: as soon as the painter died it would become an anecdote to be handed down ..., a legend people would no longer believe in until, one day, proof of its truth would be found, thanks to a chance crossreference,... just as when reading a book you come across sentences you have read before somewhere else: and maybe people would realize then what had always been a bit special about that little figure, not just the greater care taken with the facial detail, but a greater blankness, or a certain way he tips his head imperceptibly to one side, something that might resemble understanding, a certain gentleness, joy tinged perhaps with nostalgia. (226) In this passage, “thanks to a chance cross-reference,” we can recognize in Valène’s plan for a tiny artist’s cameo an image of Perec himself. In the “imperceptibl[e]” tip of his head, Valène recalls in his own figure two photographs of the author with his mother that Perec describes in W: In one, Perec has “big ears, a slight sad smile, and [his]... head leans a little to the left” (W 51). In the other, he has “big ears, puffy cheeks, a small chin, and a lopsided grin and sidelong glance” (W 49). In both, there is something “a bit special about th[e] little figure,” an attention to “facial detail” and “a certain way he tips his head” (Life 226)—which leans slightly to the left in one image, and is implicitly tipped in the “lopsided” smile and “sidelong” look of the other (W 49). There is also—since the

214 Postmodernism photographs are proof of experiences Perec was too young to remember (W 49)—a certain “blankness” in these figures, and though the “crossreference” is not supposed to “give rise to a reinterpretation of the whole” of Valène’s picture, the “signature to be read by initiates” (Life 226) does in fact signal an alternate way of interpreting Life. In Valène’s painting, Perec embeds and reproduces two photographic images of his childhood, inscribing a machine-made version of himself from W that precedes the loss of his parents. It thus restores, with a “joy tinged,” appropriately, with “nostalgia” (Life 226), something of the lives the Perecs lived before the “machines of war” (W 68) caught up with them. Further, since Valène plans to paint himself “standing beside his almost finished painting, . . . in the process of painting himself, sketching in with the tip of his brush the minute silhouette of a painter... painting the infinitesimal figurine of a painter painting” (227), the tiny artist’s portrait—copied from W—gives the repossessed Perec a kind of infinite creative existence: As Valène pursues “once again one of these nested reflections . . . as if his eyes and his hand had unlimited magnifying power” (227), he embeds the image of the author—within an image of the author—within an image of the author—and thus turns the mechanical replication of a machine-made (photographic) figure into a form of eternal life. Nor is this all. In the Valène chapter, in addition to reproducing and infinitely extending the image of himself as an unorphaned child, Perec recapitulates—in a six-page list of the 179 tableaux Valène plans to paint—the contents of the entire novel (228–33). This list, often called the “Compendium,” is another image of the novel (as a list), within an image of the novel (Valène’s painting), within the novel itself (identical in construction to Valène’s plan). It is also a giant, six-page acrostic, and, as such, a puzzle within a novel built like a puzzle. Each line consists of 60 characters, including spaces; the whole is split into three sections of 60 lines each, and each of the three sections is an acrostic shot through on the diagonal—from the upper right to lower left—by a single letter. These sectional acrostics, when solved, spell out—a, m, e—the French word for soul, “âme.”28 Thus, at the heart of the novel, the mechanics of the text produce not only a further image of Perec and his book of Life—the last line of the acrostic is another embedded image of the text, Valène “putting every bit of the block onto his canvas” (233)29—but an immortal soul. Left-leaning, sidelong, this hidden “soul” is not only the “soul... of [Perec’s]... oeuvre” (Bellos, Georges Perec 606) but the soul of the author who inscribes himself again, “not [at] a central place” (Life 226), but obliquely and ad infinitum: forever. This is not to say that Perec’s soul is unconstrained by the machinery of the text. In fact, it is governed by the literal machinery that constrains Life, W, and A Void. Just as the novel ends a chapter short of its plan, the 180-line acrostic ends with line 179, and the missing line “is the last

The Machinery of Liberation  215 line of [the] set... in which the letter e would have moved [on the diagonal] to position 1” (Bellos, Georges Perec 605). As Bellos points out, the “absence of the line starting with e” obeys yet another mechanical constraint observed in Life: the rule of self-reference, according to which Perec alludes in each chapter to another of his works (Georges Perec 605, emphasis in original). In this case, the reference is of course to A Void, and is enacted through the repetition of the lipogram—the suppression of the E which (as in Perec’s first Oulipian text) reenacts yet again the mechanical annihilation of his parents in the war. This time, however, the “soul” of the work escapes by means of the very mechanism that constrains it. Whether the final “e” occurs 59 or 60 times in the puzzle, the “âme” remains visible and inviolate. Existing in no single line but manifested by the text as a whole, it is present even when its constituent parts are eliminated. By uniting the lipogram and the acrostic, Perec thus engineers a dispensation from the machinery that never ceases to control him. Though made by the machine, he is also finally liberated, in Life, by the same means.

Notes 1. For Brita, the problem with the Twin Towers is “only partly size. The size is deadly. But having two of them is like a comment, it’s like a dialogue, only I don’t know what they’re saying” (Mao 40). This encrypted dialogue of power is then decoded in Glassic’s meditations in Underworld. 2. Fresh Kills did in fact receive debris from the World Trade Center. Now a park, the landfill was slated to close on December31, 2001, and received its last barge of waste on March22 of that year. After September11, however, the closure was temporarily suspended, and the landfill received and sifted through materials from the Twin Towers, retrieving remains before burying the debris—the last waste ever interred in it (“Site History”). 3. In DeLillo’s Underworld, the “bombs were not released.... The cities were not destroyed” (122); in Ballard’s Crash, the novel stops short of “autogeddon” (50); and in Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, the death sentence with which the narrative ends, “Now everybody—” (760), is suspended. Published in 1973, however, Gravity’s Rainbow appeared in the year the World Trade Center opened, and thus seems to prefigure (though unknowingly) the completion of all of these suspended visions: as airplanes are converted into missiles, the collision/crash/explosion so long deferred is finally accomplished, and the Towers collapse into Fresh Kills. 4. Though DeLillo frames this view of technology as the terrorists’, his use of free indirect discourse in the final sentence merges his own perspective with the one he describes, and thus acknowledges what he tries not to say outright: that the attacks find their source in American technological and economic dominance. He is not alone in this view. Baudrillard, whose “L’Esprit du Terrorisme” appeared in Harper’s shortly after DeLillo’s “In the Ruins of the Future,” argues that terrorism is an “almost automatic” function of the brutality of global power (14). And Pynchon makes a similar point when he allows a character in The Bleeding Edge to escape the Towers because of his capacity to predict market conditions. When Horst wonders how “predicting market behavior [could] be the same as predicting

216 Postmodernism a terrible disaster,” Maxine replies, “If the two were different forms of the same thing” (320). 5. The full title of the article, published in December2001, is “In the Ruins of the Future: Reflections on Terror and Loss in the Shadow of September.” 6. The photograph, first published in the New York Times on September12, 2001, was taken by Richard Drew for the Associated Press. Shooting while the Towers fell, he afterward “recognized, instantly, what only his camera had seen—something iconic in the extended annihilation of a falling man” (Junod 178). 7. On the penultimate page, Maxine’s boys are busy building the “virtual hometown of Zigotisopolis” (476) on the web. As the name suggests, Zigotisopolis is a collective enterprise and new life in embryo: “zigote” not only conflates the names Ziggy and Otis, but—punning on the Greek word for joined or “yoked” (see OED, “zygote”)—suggests a virtual union more productive than the “handcuffs” of a future in which “everybody [is] connected together” (420) by the web-enabled cell phone. As a bright and hopeful space “still safe from the spiders and bots that one day too soon will be coming for it” (476), however, it is already destined for destruction. 8. Announcing the secret Manhattan Project to the public, Truman recalled that “[w]e may be grateful to Providence that the Germans got the V-1’s and V-2’s late and in limited quantities and even more grateful that they did not get the atomic bomb at all” (“Press Release” 1). Ironically, of course, German ballistic technology was later united with the American atom bomb in the creation of ICBMs, and Nazi scientists—including, notably, Wernher von Braun, the father of the V2—were recruited to American rocketry programs after the war. (Indeed, von Braun, in a glamorous conversion from Nazi enemy to American hero, became the father of the space program [Weisenburger 8]). 9. Historically, the Holocaust developed just in advance of the atom bomb. The “Einstein-Szilárd letter,” which warned of German nuclear research and kick-started the Manhattan Project, was sent to President Roosevelt in 1939 (see Chapter7, note 25), the same year Nazi officials—aided by sorting machines furnished by a German subsidiary of IBM—began to draw up deportation lists of Jews based on census data (Berenbaum 38). (Notably, the digital machine developed in tandem with both the atom bomb and the Holocaust.) By 1941, all Jews except children under six were required to wear the Star of David (Berenbaum 65), and production of the bomb—that other terrestrial “star”—was underway by 1942.   Moreover, like the bomb, the Holocaust was quite literally a huge killing machine—a feat of engineering and an apotheosis of the deadly and dehumanizing effects of technology. As Michael Berenbaum notes, the “killing centers [were] carefully situated along rail lines” for maximum efficiency; manufacturers “bid for contracts to build ovens and supply the gas used for extermination”; the ovens themselves were devised to relieve the “dangerously unsettling effect[s]” of mass shootings “on the perpetrators”; and the camps were not only built to destroy human beings but to disassemble them into functional parts: “Every part of the body was recycled to serve the Nazi war economy: gold teeth went to the treasury, hair was used to stuff mattresses, and ashes from the incinerated corpses became fertilizer” (109, 103, 104, 105). As Evelyn Cobley observes, for the architects of the camps, “the victims... were numbers proving... the efficiency of the camp as a killing machine” (79)—a machine built for the destruction of an entire people. 10. In the original, the passage runs as follows: “J’écris: j’écris parce que nous avons vécu ensemble, parce que j’ai été un parmi eux, ombre au milieu de

The Machinery of Liberation  217 leurs ombres, corps près de leur corps; j’écris parce qu’ils ont laissé en moi leur marque indélébile et que la trace en est l’écriture: leur souvenir est mort à l’écriture; l’écriture est le souvenir de leur mort et l’affirmation de ma vie” (63–4). Although Bellos’s English translation conveys much the same effect as the original by using—as is conventional—only the simple present and past tenses (e.g., “Iwrite because they left in me their indelible mark” [42]), Perec’s frequent use of the present and the passé composé—e.g., “j’écris parce qu’ils ont laissé en moi leur marque indélébile,” literally, “I write because they have left in me their indelible mark”—emphasizes the continued presence of his parents, even in death. 11. The group, consisting at first “mostly of writers and mathematicians,” began by “under[taking] a vast programme of investigation into the formal devices used by writers . . . and into the literary potential of patterns that could be cannibalized from formal languages such as mathematics, logic, computer science, [etc.]” (Bellos, Georges Perec 349). Thus, against what Motte describes as a prevailing “antimathematical prejudice in literature,” which derives from “fear of the mechanistic model that subtends it, the Oulipo embraces this mechanistic model” (Introduction 15). Perec, convinced that writing was “the product of technique, not genius,” embraced the Oulipo in 1967 (Bellos, Georges Perec 365, 364). 12. Still active, the Oulipo was founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau as an “ouvroir,” or “workshop,” associated by name with the tradition of French handicrafts. As the Oulipian Noël Arnaud reconstructs the etymology, “ouvroir” originally referred to “a light and mobile shop made of wood, in which the master cobblers of Paris displayed their wares and pursued their trade... as late as the eighteenth century” (xii). Consequently, Perec’s literary mechanics are frequently described as “artisanal” (see, for example, the special issue of Yale French Studies, “Pereckonings” [2004], in which Perec is described as a literary craftsman by Motte [59], Burgelin [18], Roubaud [103], and Poucel [128]). As Arnaud also observes, however, the word ouvroir could likewise “denote that part of a textile factory where the looms are placed; or, in an arsenal, the place where a team of workers performs a given task;... or a charitable institution for impoverished women and girls who found therein shelter, heat, light, and thankless, ill-paid work;...[or] a group of well-to-do women seeking to assuage their consciences in needlework for the poor and in the confection of sumptuous ecclesiastical ornaments” (xii). Given the artisanal origin of the word and the preponderance of bleak industrial associations (textile factories, arsenals, and manufactories of the sort that afflict the heroines of the naturalist novel), it is all the more “[c]uriou[s],” as Arnaud puts it, that the male-dominated Oulipo should identify mainly with the last kind of ouvroir—the leisured feminine “sewing circle” (xii). Whatever the views of the group as a whole, however, Perec’s textual “machines” are linked directly to the industrial machinery of modern life. 13. The mechanical elision of the letter marks not only the disappearance of the Perec family but the horrific uncertainty of the mechanism that imposed it. Though Icek died of “machine-gun fire or a shell splinter” (W 37), Perec doesn’t seem to have known which, and though he searched for “any trace of [his]... mother” (W 40) after her internment at Drancy, her death was never recorded. Unfortunately, the lack of any record (she was never tattooed [Schnitzer 112n.3]) points only to a further efficiency of factory slaughter: “It may be that [she was]... deported towards Auschwitz and then diverted to another camp; it is also possible that [her]... entire trainload was gassed on arrival” (W 40). Like the uncertainty about his father’s death (gunfire or

218 Postmodernism artillery shell?), the doubt about his mother’s resolves only into a devastating array of equally mechanical options. 14. As Perec puts it in an essay on the “History of the Lipogram,” the “suppression of the letter” becomes “something like constraint degree zero, after which everything becomes possible” (107). Though such experiments are often perceived, he notes, as “pathological monstrosities of language and of writing” (98)—and are indeed monsters in the sense of being driven by horrific machines—his genius lies in his ability to turn a mechanical monster into the means of its own supersession. Hearing an excerpt of A Void in 1969, the Oulipo were unable to detect the mechanism that had produced it (Roubaud 102): a sure sign that the work, composed under the most laborious conditions, had realized a creative potential in excess of its formal constraints. 15. I owe this insight, and the phrase itself, to Alex Woloch, who expressed it thus in conversation on January3, 2014. For many other critics, however, the connection between the E of A Void and the W of W is actually obscured by the natural scarcity of the consonant in French. As Bellos puts it, “the Oulipian interest of a lipogram was in proportion to the natural frequency of the letter(s) missed out” (Georges Perec 395), and Raymond Queneau specifically contrasts the difficulty of a lipogram on E with a lipogram on W in “Potential Literature”: “The lipogrammatic difficulty is obviously zero if one uses all the letters of the alphabet. The frequency of W being 0.02 (in English [—the W is even less frequent in French]), writing a text of 100 words without using the letter W would thus be of difficulty 2. The frequency of E being 0.13, writing a text of 100 words without using the letter E would be of difficulty 13” (53). It is therefore understandable that A Void has always been recognized as a lipogram, while W is usually not even considered an Oulipian text. Bellos, for example, notes that Perec never reported his progress on this work at meetings of the Oulipo (Georges Perec 550n.2) and holds that “W or The Memory of Childhood... has no explicit formal constraints” (Georges Perec 597). This sorts rather oddly, however, with his remark earlier in the same book that Perec spoke of W in conversation with a friend as “the most difficult thing he had ever set out to write,” and “[o]ne day... let slip that he had found le truc—the trick, the device, or the mechanism—that would make the rest of it plain sailing” (Georges Perec 538). Perec simply “never... said what [the device]... was” (Georges Perec 538), and though Bernard Magné has proposed a solution—that the fictional and autobiographical sections of the text are connected by “sutures” (similar elements repeated in consecutive chapters [see Magné, “Les Sutures”])—I would venture that W extends the lipogrammatic project of A Void. 16. Indeed, though Perec’s description of his “unjoined-up writing” implies that his language ultimately recovered—after “the age of seventeen or eighteen” (W 68)—from its dismemberment in the war, we find out in the same passage that W is the long-delayed completion of a youthful work called “W,” a work that dates from the period of Perec’s “unjoined-up” writing: [A]t the time of “W,” roughly, that is, between my eleventh and fifteenth year, Ifilled whole exercise books: human figures unrelated to the ground which was supposed to support them, ships with sails that did not touch the masts and masts which did not fit into the hulls, machines of war, engines of death, flying machines and implausible mechanical vehicles with disconnected nozzles, discontinuous cordage, disengaged wheels rotating in the void. (68)

The Machinery of Liberation  219 Aligning the first version of a story called “W” with the literal inscription of machines, this passage seems to refigure the trauma of Perec’s separation from his parents in a fanciful image of “unjoined-up” bodies. Surprisingly, however, many of the machines in the passage are themselves dismembered, and should logically lose their function together with the integrity of their detached masts, “disconnected nozzles,” “discontinuous cordage,” and “disengaged wheels” (68). Unfortunately, this is not the case. All either preindustrial or fantastical, the disassembled machines are the “implausible” vehicles that figure the consequences of those others—“machines of war, engines of death”—that are not dismembered. Disconnected, discontinuous, “unjoined-up,” Perec’s fictional devices thus emerge as the broken vehicles of a lost story (“W”) and a prefiguration of the mechanical constraint of the lipogram: the fantastical, fictional machine that reproduces the losses imposed by real “machines of war” in the hopes of gaining traction—like “disengaged wheels rotating in the void”—on the absences wrought by “engines of death.” 17. The pun is of course more exact if the “double V” is uttered in English (since the English “vē” corresponds more exactly with the French vie)—and this linguistic coincidence may in fact have contributed to Perec’s sense of the possibilities of the letter. Not only are many of the W-words in French borrowed directly from English (e.g., le week-end, le western, le whiskey), but we know that Perec was fond of Anglo-Gallic puns. In 1969, the year he began writing a preliminary, serial version of W for La Quinzaine littéraire, he began to compose New Year’s puzzles for his friends—“alphabetic gamelets, brainteasers, sequences of (very approximate) thematic puns” (Bellos, Georges Perec 441). And in 1975—the year W was published in volume form—his New Year’s puzzles were specifically “Anglo-French in inspiration” (Sturrock 289). Titled “Les adventures de Dixion Harry,” and actually composed in England, the 1975 word puzzles “take... English proverbs or sayings and distort them phonetically so as to produce French sentences (of a kind) from them” (Sturrock 289). The punny “adventures of Dictionary” thus rely—as the vé/vie of W may too—on the puzzler’s recognition of sonic similarities between English and French. 18. As Bellos points out, Perec actually mis-remembers the Chaplin insignia, which is really an X above an X, “not . . . overlapping but . . . superimposed” (Georges Perec 548). Like the memory of the Chaplin comic, then (see note 21), this memory is partly inaccurate—but for that reason more psychologically illuminating. As Bellos puts it, “The degree of precision involved in this error... makes it difficult to accept as a careless slip” (Georges Perec 548). 19. Indeed, though the “vé” is not quite “vie,” the “x” constructed from the two Vs is, as Perec observes, a “letter that has turned into a word,... that noun which is unique in the language in being made of a single letter, unique also in being the only one to have the same shape as the thing it refers to” (W 77). A “saw-horse made up of a pair of up-ended parallel crosses, each in the shape of an X,” is “called, quite simply, an x” (76). Grimly, of course, this “x” forges itself into a word that has, in its reference to an object, ominous implications: Also “called a ‘Saint Andrew’s Cross’ in French” (76), the “x” evokes a crucifixion (since St. Andrew was martyred on an x-shaped cross), and thus recalls once again the destruction of the Perec family (especially the annihilation of Cyrla Perec, pierced through the hand in Vichy Paris [32]). By the same token, however, the “x” becomes a mark of pain and violence that is also the basis of creative activity: the saw-horse on which any number of new constructions can begin.

220 Postmodernism 20. In the most readily available French paperback edition, the paratextual note, signed with the author’s initials (“G. P.”), appears on the back cover; in the English edition, it appears on the page preceding the dedication (“for E”). In both cases, the note frames the text to come, and points the reader—though somewhat more clearly in the original French—to the significance of the double ellipsis at the center of the novel: “Car il commence par raconter une histoire et, d’un seul coup, se lance dans une autre: dans cette rupture, cette cassure qui suspend le récit autour d’on ne sait quelle attente, se trouve le lieu initial d’où est sorti ce livre, ces points de suspension auxquels se sont accrochés les fils rompus de l’enfance et la trame de l’écriture.” Though Bellos retains Perec’s special emphasis on the “points of suspension” in his English version (“In this break, in this split suspending the story on an unidentifiable expectation, can be found the point of departure for the whole of this book: the points of suspension on which the broken threads of childhood and the web of writing are caught”), the importance of the phrase is less obvious (since ellipses in English are called ellipses—not “points of suspension”) in the translation. 21. Though this second ellipsis is typically understood as a figure for Perec’s mother’s disappearance, these “points of suspension” actually raise—in a complex play on the idea of suspensory apparatus—the question of what became of the Perec family as a whole. In W, Perec recounts the “only surviving memory of my mother” (26) three times, and in all three versions, she has given him a Charlie Chaplin comic at the Gare de Lyon. In the first version it is “Charlie and the Parachute: on the illustrated cover, the parachute’s rigging lines are nothing other than Charlie’s trousers’ braces” (26); in the second, it is a “magazine which must have been an issue of Charlie” (32); and in the third, it is “an issue of Charlie, with a cover showing Charlie Chaplin, with his walking stick, his hat, his shoes and his little moustache, doing a parachute jump. The parachute is attached to Charlie by his trouser braces” (54). Although all of the memories are probably inaccurate (see Lejeune 82–5), they unite to forge an image of suspension in which Charlie, as parachutist, is aligned with Perec by a suspensory device: In the first version of the memory, he wears his “arm in a sling” although he has “no broken bones” (W 26); in the second, he sees his mother “waving a white handkerchief” (32); in the third, he rescinds the sling (“my aunt is quite definite: Idid not have my arm in a sling” [55]), but seems to merge it with the handkerchief, suggesting that “perhaps Ihad a rupture and was wearing a truss, a suspensory bandage” (55). In any case, a triple theme runs through this [triple] memory: parachute, sling, truss: it suggests suspension, support, almost artificial limbs. To be, Ineed a prop. Sixteen years later, in 1958, when, by chance, military service briefly made a parachutist of me, Isuddenly saw, in the very instant of jumping, one way of deciphering the text of this memory: Iwas plunged into nothingness; all the threads were broken; Ifell, on my own, without any support. The parachute opened. The canopy unfurled, a fragile and firm suspense before the controlled descent. (55) This illuminating passage connects Perec’s departure at the Gare de Lyon with a jump into the void that is marked, in W, by “points of suspension” in a double and redoubled sense: the ellipsis into which his mother disappears (after the Gare de Lyon, he never saw her again) not only doubles the ellipsis with which the previous chapter of W ends (the ellipsis of Winckler’s

The Machinery of Liberation  221 story), but finds a mechanical double in the parachute that supports and suspends Perec, a falling man, over the void created by his parents’ death. Indeed, as Schnitzer has shown, the “points of suspension,” refigured as the parachute, imply not only the mother’s disappearance but the father’s as well: Icek’s “death is itself encrypted into the wordplay ‘para-chute/pèrechute/chute du père’: (para-chute, father-fall, fall of the father)” (112). Thus, “plunged into nothingness” with “all the threads... broken,” Perec falls “on [his]... own” (W 55) in a double sense: the loss of his mother completes the loss of both parents and the destruction of the future he would have had with them. In yet another sense, however, he survives because of that dispossession, and this may explain why the idea of the parachute is so often inflected with guilt. Escaping with his Chaplin comic from the Gare de Lyon, Perec is aligned with a parachuting figure whose “little moustache” (W 54) implies a connection to Hitler (especially since Chaplin played Hitler in The Great Dictator [W 77]), and this image of complicity—probably a result of having escaped the camps at the cost of both parents—seems to be extended in Perec’s memory of his actual parachute jumps. First, there is the “terrible” weight of the parachute: “You can’t carry it, can’t walk with it. You’re forced to put up with it”; second, there is the “fact that you know [your fellow jumpers are] . . . fascists” (“Parachute Jump” 114). Though Perec was strongly opposed to French military operations in Algeria and his enforced participation as a conscript (Sturrock 113n.), his reference to fascism in “The Parachute Jump” seems equally specific to the earlier historical context—the link, forged in the Second World War, of Perec to Chaplin and Chaplin to Hitler. Thus, the apparatus that saves him (the parachute and its typographical equivalent, the “points of suspension”) ties him irrevocably to the machinery of his irremediable loss. 22. The father is in a sense lost here as well. As Bellos observes, “Tierra del Fuego, ‘Land of Fire’ in Spanish, is called Terre de Feu in French. Feu does not mean only ‘fire,’ however. As a child, perhaps at school, [Perec]... must have been asked about his father. It would not have been polite for teachers to refer to him as ton père; rather, out of respect for the dead, a speaker of formal French in the 1950s would have asked the little boy about his late father, feu ton père. Thus those islands near Cape Horn are, in the mind of a French-speaking child, the ‘Lands of the Dead’ ” (Georges Perec 441–2), and would figure, for Perec, not only the camps into which his mother disappeared, but the death of his father also. 23. Gaspard Winckler is a recurrent character in Perec’s oeuvre even before W or the Memory of Childhood. In fact, he is mentioned in W as the title character of “the first more or less complete novel Imanaged to write”—a novel first called, significantly, “Gaspard pas mort” (“Gaspard not dead”), and afterward “Le Condottiere” (W 108–9). This earlier Gaspard, a “brilliant forger” (W 109), not only prefigures the Gaspard who lives under a forged identity in W, but is already a double for Perec: as the attempted forger of the Portrait of a Man Known as Il Condottiere, Gaspard duplicates the one painting in the Louvre Perec identified with himself. Le Condottiere, like Perec, had a scar on his left upper lip (W 108–9), and thus seemed to bear in advance “a personal mark, a distinguishing feature” (W 108) that Perec suffered during the war. (When Perec accidentally dropped a ski on a fellow student at school in Villard-de-Lans, the boy turned “in a mad fury, picked up one of his ski-sticks and hit [Perec]... with it on the face, with the spike end, cutting open [his]... upper lip” [W 108]. This incident—a brutal punishment for accidental circumstances, structurally similar to the

222 Postmodernism unwarranted persecution Perec was supposed to be escaping in Villardde-Lans—left a mark that Perec always took care to expose, wearing a beard but shaving his mustache [W 108].)   On the surface, the fact that Perec should identify his scar with that of a Renaissance man seems hopeful, as the painting that appears to predict Perec’s wartime scarification also appears to guarantee the rebirth of the author (in both the re-nascent Condottiere and the forger of his identity, Gaspard Winckler). Like the mark of unwarranted brutality that determines Perec’s otherwise funny beard, however, the funny name of his fictional double is rooted in a series of grim allusions. David Bellos, tracing the origin of Gaspard Winckler in his biography of Perec, tracks the first name to a poem by Verlaine, “Gaspard Hauser chante.” This Gaspard is a “peaceful orphan” who “wanted to die in war” but found that “Death had no use of me” (Georges Perec 109). In Verlaine’s subsequent prose treatment, Gaspard is also a patricide who kills—perhaps in anticipation of Winckler’s revenge on Bartlebooth, the British millionaire—his “natural father, an English millionaire” (Georges Perec 109n.1). Winckler, meanwhile, is the surname of the woman who gives shelter to a child-murderer in Fritz Lang’s M (1931), a movie in which the murderer is marked by a boy who chalks an M onto his palm, but—since “[t]he camera watches the lad chalk the letter... not from over his shoulder but front on”—what “the spectator sees” is W (Georges Perec 554). Joining Gaspard (orphan and patricide) to Winckler (shelterer of child-murderers), Perec forges his fictional double from the material of familial devastation, and the guilt of a peaceful orphan who, not dying in the war, was doomed to survive it. 24. As Bellos notes, Perec’s progress on Life was first announced at a meeting of the Oulipo on November8, 1972; his plan incorporated several mechanical challenges proposed by other members (Georges Perec 513–16). 25. Though Bellos is my primary source for this information, the operation of the manque and faux is further clarified by Marcel Bénabou, who gives the following useful example of the operation of “lack” and “falsity” in his article on absence as a “generator” in Perec’s works: “In chapter thirty-six [of Life],... the expected combinatory game [of 42 elements] would impose the presence of a sideboard; but the intervention of ‘lack’ in this chapter affects this element, modifying the initial program such that the expected sideboard is not present. The category ‘falsity’ works in the same way, obliging the element it affects to be replaced by another” (32). Thus, in lists 39 and 40, we move “from ‘constraint’ to ‘metaconstraint’ (a constraint that governs another constraint)” (32) in a redundancy that characterizes the other constraints also. For example, the knight’s tour suffers its own “lack” in the intentional suppression of “the sixty-sixth move (into the bottom left-hand corner of the [10 x 10] board)” (Bellos, Georges Perec 599), while, as we shall see, the rule of self-reference ends up imposing the mechanical constraints of the earlier novels (especially the lipogram) upon the present one. 26. In fact, everything about this chapter may be determined by the machines that destroyed Perec’s parents. Bartlebooth dies on the 23rd day of June, holding a puzzle piece that is itself shaped like the 23rd letter in the alphabet— the W that not only stands for the camps but coincides, alphanumerically, with the date of Cyrla Perec’s internment at Drancy: January23, 1943 (W 33). The number of the puzzle (439), added to the numerical position (23) of the W in the alphabet, thus fashions a kind of numerical anagram—a puzzle within the jigsaw puzzle—of the date on which her life was last recorded (the 23rd day of the 1st month of the 943rd year of the century), while

The Machinery of Liberation  223 the month of Bartlebooth’s death (June) recalls the earlier death of Perec’s father (in June1940 [W 37]). The date of Perec’s mother’s deportation to the camps, February11, 1943 (W 41), may also be commemorated in the street address of the apartment building at 11 rue Simon-Crubellier, and the starting and endpoints of the “knight’s tour” of the building, beginning at bisquare 66 and ending in Chapter99, may figuratively enclose Cyrla Perec’s story in “German opening and closing quotation marks” (Bellos, Georges Perec 599). The 42 elements distributed to each chapter may further refer to the year (1942) Perec said goodbye to his mother at the Gare de Lyon, while the two lists that do not behave like the others, 41 and 42, are different in that they are not subject to the “gaps” and falsifications of lists 39 and 40 (the manque and faux). Invulnerable to elision, these lists inscribe, among other things, the “horrors of modern history” (Bellos, Georges Perec 601). For example, while three sets of terms in these lists—“Night and Fog,” “Ashes and Diamonds,” and “Arable and Livestock” (Georges Perec 603)— initially appear as innocuous as pairs like “Laurel and Hardy” and “Beauty and the Beast,” they in fact denote the “NN, standing for Nacht and Nebel (‘Night and Fog’),” emblazoned on “the tunics of Sonderkommandos [the staff of the crematoria] in the extermination camps”; the “title [Ashes and Diamonds] of Andrzej Wajda’s harrowing film about the failed uprising of the Warsaw ghetto in 1944”; and the slogan, “Arable and livestock farming are the two teats of France,” of the Vichy regime (Bellos, Georges Perec 601n1.). Thus, among the only unfalsifiable, indestructible elements in the book are the irremediable and unopposable agents of the Nazi war machine. 27. The W-shaped piece of Life, realizing the “patiently laid plot” (6) that begins with the puzzle-maker’s death in the novel, not only puts an end to the book but to Perec’s writing project as a whole. In “Notes on What I’m Looking For” (1978), Perec describes his entire literary enterprise as the assembly of a jigsaw puzzle. The question “why do Iwrite,” he says, can only be answered “by writing, by endlessly deferring that moment when Icease from writing and the image becomes visible, like a puzzle that has been inexorably completed” (143). What is startling in this statement is that Life a User’s Manual—published in the same year as the essay—completes the puzzle Perec has “deferred” through the course of the novel and all his earlier writings. Since the W, for Perec, fits the X, the puzzle—together with the jigsaw-book it organizes—is finished. Perec thus succumbs, in Life, to the inexorable operation of his textual mechanism, governed (in Life as in A Void and W) by the literal machinery of his wartime childhood. 28. Bellos explains the mechanical organization of the acrostic in his biography of Perec (see Georges Perec 594–5 and 602–3) and manages to create an English version, in his translation of Life, by replacing the “âme” with “ego.” Since “there is no three-letter word meaning ‘soul’ in German, Helmle [Perec’s German translator] obtained Perec’s approval to replace âme with ich (‘I’)” (Georges Perec 603n.1), and Bellos availed himself of the same dispensation. Unfortunately, this change—while an ingenious work-around— obscures the re-imposition of the lipogram in line 180 (which omits an o, in the English version, instead of the e), and substitutes stubborn personality for irreducible soul. 29. A comparison of the English translation to the original French is instructive here. Bellos’s translation ends with “Lonely Valène putting every bit of the block onto his canvas” (Life 233); but in French, the painter is not lonely but simply old: “Le vieux peintre faisant tenir toute la maison dans sa toile” (La Vie 286). In fact, Valène is no more lonely in his work than

224 Postmodernism Perec, whose project is in a sense a vast cooperative effort. As he notes in the “Preamble” (reproduced in “Winckler, 2”), “puzzling is not a solitary game: every move the puzzler makes, the puzzle-maker has made before.... [E]very blunder and every insight, each hope and each discouragement have all been designed, calculated, and decided by the other” (191). While this is in a sense diabolical—a revenge on the puzzle-solver that tends to recall Leo Bersani’s objection to Ulysses (that the process of reading Ulysses is the process of reconstructing everything Joyce has already thought [“Against Ulysses” 225])—it is also what makes Perec’s work so welcoming. As Philippe Lejeune puts it, “there is in [Perec’s]... texts a place for me, for me to do something” (41, my translation). In setting us a puzzle we can never solve, he reproduces a series of mechanical constraints that—although first imposed by the terrible machinery of the Second World War—end up liberating personal agency (in him and in us), and a creative power in excess of its predetermined conditions.

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A-bomb see atom bomb aeroplane see airplanes aerosol: as ballistic missile in Crying 179 – 80; environmental consequences of 175n26; and Ubik 167 – 9; see also atom bomb; ballistics, nuclear agriculture see farming machines airplanes: and aerial bombing 144 – 6, 155; in Bend in the River 30n24; in Between the Acts 145 – 6; in Mrs. Dalloway 11, 135 – 7, 146nn2 – 3, 147 – 8n8; Hemingway’s personal relationship to 150n15; in In Search 20, 142 – 5, 150 – 1nn16 – 17; as instrument of deformation in Sun 138 – 42, 148n12; as manned missiles on 9/11 200, 215n3; in Mayor 54; Proust’s personal relationship to 150 – 1n16; in Underworld 188 – 9; in W 218 – 19n16; see also character; discourse; structural devices; war machines alcohol still see distilling machine ambulance 149 – 50n14; see also automobile; Model T apocalypse, machine-made: and aerosols 175n26; and airplanes 145 – 6; as “autogeddon” in Crash 155 – 61; and automobiles in Breakfast 161 – 2, 171n12; and ballistics in Crying and Gravity’s Rainbow 181 – 4; Crash 155 – 61, 170n6, 174n20; and Mrs. Dalloway 134 – 6, 146n1; and digital computer in Crying 179 – 84; and Drought 173n16; First World War as 108 – 9n5, 113n25,

134 – 5; Gravity’s Rainbow 182 – 4; Holocaust as 202 – 3, 216n9; in Lady Chatterley 106 – 7, 113n25; as literal in Void 203 – 4; 9/11 as 199 – 201; and nuclear bomb in Breakfast 162 – 6; and plastic in Breakfast 162 – 6, 172n15; and postmodernity 12 – 14, 21 – 2, 199 – 201; in Rainbow 10, 95 – 9, 108 – 9n5, 109n8; Second World War as 172n15, 201 – 3, 216n9; Ubik 166 – 9; and Underworld 185 – 91, 197n19; in Women 10, 99 – 103, 110n12; see also mythic machines arms race, nuclear 161, 180, 201 – 2; see also Cold War Armstrong, Nancy 19, 27n16, 28n20 Armstrong, Tim 16 artillery shell: in Mrs. Dalloway 133 – 7; in W 202 – 3, 217n13; see also shell shock; war machines Aspects of the Novel 50n16 assembly line: concentration camp as 112n21, 216n9; in Maggie 74 – 6, 79 – 81; and Sister Carrie 74 – 9; see also efficiency; factory; factory labor L’Assommoir see Zola, Émile, works of atom bomb: and cognitive mapping 160, 186 – 9; and Crash 12, 155 – 61, 170n6; Crying 177 – 84; development of 152n20, 169n3, 170n8, 172n14, 175n25, 216nn8 – 9; and digital computer in Crash 156 – 8; and Drought 173n16; in Empire 155 – 6, 169n2; as figured by aerosol in Crying

240 Index 179 – 80; as figured by automobiles in Breakfast 161 – 2; as figured by baseball in Underworld 187 – 9, 197n19; as figured by “ice-9” in Cat’s Cradle 172n15; as figured by number 13; as figured by plastics in Breakfast 12, 162 – 6, 172n14; as figured by “Ubik” in Ubik 12, 166 – 9, 175n26; in Gravity’s Rainbow 182 – 4; and the Holocaust 201 – 2, 216n9; and metafiction 159 – 61, 163 – 6, 176 – 7; in Midnight’s Children 30n24; as “new sunshine” 155 – 7, 167 – 9, 169n1, 191; planetary magnitude of 12, 155 – 6; and “post-industrial” society 25 – 6n12; as prefigured in Between the Acts 145 – 6, 152n20; relation to motorways of 156 – 61, 169n4, 170n7; and Ubik 166 – 9; as unbreakable machine 13, 160 – 1, 181, 211; and Underworld 184 – 5, 190 – 1, 196n16; in Underworld 184 – 8, 196 – 7n17; see also apocalypse, machinemade; ballistics, nuclear; character; Cold War; discourse; Hiroshima; Nagasaki; nuclear technology; plot, driven by; structural devices Auerbach, Erich 137, 141, 148n9 Auschwitz 14, 106, 202, 208 – 9, 217n13; Fordist efficiency of 17 – 18; see also concentration camp Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas 149nn13 – 14 automobile: as airplane or manned missile in Crash 157; as apocalyptic technology in Breakfast 162; Crash 12, 156 – 61; and Mrs. Dalloway 134 – 6; and digital computer in Crash 156 – 8; as figure for atomic technology in Crash 155 – 61, 170 – 1nn6 – 8; in In Search 142 – 5, 150 – 1nn16 – 17; and the making of literature in “Modern Fiction” 147n4; as vehicle of aesthetic dispute between Hemingway and Stein 149 – 50n14; as version of airplane in Sun 141; Wharton’s personal relationship to 87n11; in White Noise 196n16; in Women 102 – 3; see also character; Model T; motorways (UK); plot, driven by; structural devices; taxi

Ballard, J. G.: works of (Crash 12, 155 – 63, 165 – 6, 168, 170– 2nn6–12, 173n16, 174n20, 187, 195n12, 215n3; Crystal World 174n20; Drought 173n16, 174n20; Drowned World 174n20; Empire of the Sun 155 – 6, 169n2; “From Shanghai to Shepperton” 171n12; “Introduction to Crash” 159, 174n20; “Quotations by Ballard” 172n12) Ballistic Missile Early Warning System see BMEWS ballistics, nuclear: Ballard’s personal desire for 171n10; in Crying 13, 179 – 84; development of 156 – 7, 169n4, 173n16, 216n8; and digital computer 177 – 85, 190, 191n2, 196n16, 201; Gravity’s Rainbow 13, 182 – 4; Pynchon’s personal knowledge of 193n7; and Underworld 184 – 91; see also BMEWS; IBM; ICBM; missile; nuclear weapons; V2; war machines Baudrillard, Jean 26n14, 158 – 9, 168, 171n9, 175n22, 215n4 Belle Époque: machines of 142 – 4 Bellos, David: on mechanical constraints of Life 210 – 11, 214 – 15, 222 – 3nn25 – 6, 223n28; as translator of Life 223nn28 – 9; Void 218n15; and W 206, 217n10, 218n15, 219n18, 220n20 Benjamin, Walter 27n17 bestial machines: coal mine as beast of prey in Germinal 34; department store as beast of prey in Au Bonheur 34; elephant engine in Hard Times 3 – 7, 23 – 4n6, 24n8, 24n10; gold mine as “fabulous beast” in McTeague 62; horse drill neither fish nor fowl in Mayor 54; Nana as “biblical beast” in Nana 47n3; railroad/railway as octopus in Octopus 63 – 5; railway as “giant creature” in La Bête 34; railway engines as “tame dragons” in Dombey 24 – 5n10; and Tess 63; see also mythic machines La Bête humaine see Zola, Émile, works of Between the Acts 145 biblical machines: and the abyss in Germinal 39 – 41; apocalyptic

Index  241 automobile of Mrs. Dalloway 134 – 5; and “autogeddon” in Crash 156; and bad shepherd in Octopus 66; cruciform rocket of Gravity’s Rainbow 195 – 6n14; in Crying 179 – 80; demonic bicycle in Portrait 114, 126 – 7n1, 127n4; demonic coal mine in Hard Times 6; demonic distilling machine in L’Assommoir 1, 7, 33, 38; demonic factory in Capital 2; demonic factory plots of naturalist novels 76, 79 – 82; demonic thresher in Tess 1, 57 – 8; diabolical puzzles of Life 209 – 11, 224n29; digital computer as God 177, 191 – 2n3, 194 – 5n11; divine plastic in Breakfast 163 – 6; dynamo as new Virgin in Education 127n2; ethereal airplane of Mrs. Dalloway 135 – 7; in Exegesis 192 – 3n5; and falls in Portrait 114; and floods in L’Assommoir 21, 33 – 4, 38; Hard Times 3 – 4, 6; and hellish conditions in Germinal 39 – 40; and House 80; hydrogen bomb as God in Underworld 185, 189 – 91; and “infernal machine” in Ulysses 118 – 19, 121; and Internet as eternity in Underworld 185, 191; and limbo in House 75; literal machine as alpha and omega in Void 204; Maggie 79 – 81; and Mill 3; Mummer’s Wife 79 – 81; Nana as in Nana 47n3; “Old Nick” as in Underworld 187; and Rainbow 10, 93 – 9, 101 – 3, 108n3, 109n6, 115; and rainbow of Gravity’s Rainbow 21, 184, 195 – 6n14; as secularized in Ulysses 114 – 15, 127n4; Sun 138; and Tess 57 – 60; Ubik as alpha and omega in Ubik 167; and “valley of the shadow of books” in New Grub Street 75; and in White Noise 196n16; see also mythic machines bicycle: as airplane in Sun 148 – 9n12; in Portrait 114, 126 – 7n1, 127n4; in Things Fall Apart 30 BLAST 112 – 13n23 Bleeding Edge see Pynchon, Thomas, works of BMEWS 179, 197n19; see also ballistics, nuclear; IBM; structural devices

bombs: in Empire 155 – 6, 169n2; in Gravity’s Rainbow 183 – 4; in In Search 144 – 5; in Midnight’s Children 30n24; in Octopus 64 – 5; in Ubik 167 – 9, 175n26; Ulysses’s “infernal machine with time fuse” 118 – 19, 121; in Underworld 185 – 91, 196 – 7n17, 197nn19 – 20; see also atom bomb; ballistics, nuclear; hydrogen bomb Au Bonheur des Dames 33 – 4, 50n17 Breakfast of Champions see Vonnegut, Kurt, works of cameras 17, 19, 216n6; and automobiles and airplanes in In Search 151n17; as “chronophotographic guns” 28n20; as instrument of liberation in Life 213 – 14; as structural device in Falling Man 200 – 1; see also film; photography Capital 1 – 4, 23n3, 35, 47n6, 70n11, 85n6 capitalism: and colliery of Germinal 71n18; and development of railways 52, 67n1; machine as “shorthand” for 160; as machine in Pit 72n20; and machines in Ulysses 116, 118; and mechanical monster as commodity fetish 35; mechanized in Octopus 64 – 7; see also Capital; cognitive mapping car see automobile cell phone see Internet; telephone character: and coal mines in Germinal 7 – 8, 39 – 41, 43 – 4; as cogs in narrative machinery 42 – 4, 46, 50n17, 86 – 7n10; constrained by airplanes and automobiles in In Search 142 – 4, 150 – 1n16; and Mrs. Dalloway 134 – 7; and death drive in Crash 157 – 61; determined by department store in Au Bonheur 50n17; as dictated by plastic in Breakfast 164 – 6, 173 – 4nn18 – 19; and distilling machine in L’Assommoir 7, 37 – 8, 42 – 4; Dombey 25n10; as driven by clocks in Mrs. Dalloway 133 – 7, 147 – 8n8; as driven by gold mine in McTeague 9, 62 – 3; as driven by railway/railroad in La Bête 8, 41 – 3; as driven by steam engine in

242 Index Hard Times 4 – 7; as driven by V2 in Gravity’s Rainbow 183 – 4; in excess of mechanical determinants in Breakfast 173 – 4nn18 – 19; exploded in Gravity’s Rainbow 183 – 4; and factory labor in Hard Times 4 – 7; flatness or roundness of machine-made in Crash 158; Hard Times 4 – 7; and horse drill in Mayor 8 – 9, 54 – 5; Lady Chatterley 106 – 7, 113nn24 – 5; Life 213 – 15; and literal machines in Life 209, 211 – 15, 222 – 23nn26 – 7; Mayor 55; Middlemarch 23n4; and naturalist novels 9, 75 – 84; and nuclear weapons/waste in Underworld 185 – 7; and Octopus 9, 64 – 7, 73n24; Rainbow 93 – 9; Rougon-Macquart novels 42 – 4; and steam thresher in Tess 8 – 9, 58 – 60, 70n12; and Sun 138 – 41; Tess 58 – 60, 70n12; and Ulysses 118 – 19, 121; Void 203 – 5; and W 205 – 9; of Wharton, constrained by automobile 87n11; and Women 100 – 1, 110nn12 – 13; see also stereotype cinema see film cities: and colonial paralysis in Dubliners and Ulysses 129n12; and digital computer in Crying 178, 194n9; Dublin electrified in Ulysses 10, 114 – 16; and machine shock 27n17; mechanical conditions of in Mrs. Dalloway 135 – 7; as monster machines in naturalist novels 9, 61, 74 – 8; Paris rationalized in Rougon-Macquart 34; as shaped by automobile 27n15; see also urbanization Civil War (US) 28n20, 61 clocks: in Mrs. Dalloway 10 – 11, 133 – 7, 146n3; and railways 34, 61; Vichy factory in W 202; see also character; structural devices cloud computing 19 – 20, 28 – 9n21; see also digital computer; Internet coal mine: as antecedent of gold mine in McTeague 62; as basis of machine ecology 20 – 1; as driver of climate change 28 – 9n21; as driver of Industrial Revolution 52, 67n1; as driver of media 20; as driver of railway 52, 67n1; as figure for life

of naturalist heroine 53, 74; as fuel for dynamos 114; in Germinal 1, 7 – 8, 33 – 6, 39 – 41, 43 – 4; in Lady Chatterley 106 – 7; in Rainbow 10, 93 – 9; and steam engines 6; Taylorization of 110n12; in Women 10, 99 – 103; see also character; discourse; plot, driven by Cobley, Evelyn 17 – 18, 27 – 8n18, 110n12, 216n9 cognitive estrangement 166, 174n21; see also science fiction; Suvin, Darko cognitive mapping 160, 182 – 3, 195n12; see also Jameson, Fredric Cold War 12 – 13; binary thinking of 188 – 90; “cold-pac” as metaphor for in Ubik 168 – 9; as completed by 9/11 199 – 201, 215 – 16nn3 – 4; Crash 161; Crying 180; and nuclear arms race in Breakfast 163; origin of as represented in Underworld 185, 196 – 7n17; persistent technological conditions of 184 – 5, 189 – 91, 197n20; political end of 184, 199; and Underworld 189 – 90; as “winner loses” scenario 182 – 3, 189; see also atom bomb; ballistics, nuclear; digital computer Colossus: first digital computer 176 – 7, 191n2; railroad as in Octopus 64; Rougon-Macquart as 46 communication technologies see cell phone; cloud computing; digital computer; film; Internet; literal machines; phonography; photography; postal systems; printing machines; radio; telegraph; telephone; TV; typewriter; typography computer see digital computer concentration camp 106, 172n15; as factory 112n21, 202, 216n9; as “huge machine” in W 202, 209, 212; as literal machine in Life 211 – 12, 222 – 3nn26 – 7; Void 203 – 5, 217 – 18n13; and W 205 – 9, 218 – 19n16, 219n19, 220 – 1n21; see also Auschwitz; character; discourse; Holocaust; plot, driven by; structural devices; war machines

Index  243 Crane, Stephen: in comparison to other naturalists 61, 84n1; works of (Maggie: AGirl of the Streets 9, 74 – 6, 79 – 81) Crash see Ballard, J.G., works of Crying of Lot 49 see Pynchon, Thomas, works of Culler, Jonathan 151n18 cybernetics 16; see also communication technologies; information technology cyclopean machines: in Capital 1 – 3; and elephant engine in Hard Times 3 – 7; and Octopus 1, 9, 63 – 4; railway/railroad as in La Bête 8, 20, 33 – 4, 41 – 3, 46n2, 52, 63; see also mythic machines Daly, Nicholas 16 – 17, 27n15, 139, 156, 170n6, 170 – 1n8 Danius, Sara 16 – 17, 19, 143, 151n17 database see digital computer Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari 26n14 DeLillo, Don: works of (“Angel Esmeralda” 190, 197n21; Falling Man 13, 200 – 1; Mao II 199, 215n1; “Power of History” 196 – 7n17; “In the Ruins of the Future” 199 – 201, 215 – 16nn4 – 5; Underworld 13, 184 – 91, 197 – 8nn19 – 22, 199 – 201, 215n1, 215n3; White Noise 196n16, 197n22) demonic machines see biblical machines Derrida, Jacques 126, 132n27 Dialectic of Enlightenment 27n17 Dick, Philip K.: reception of 174 – 5n22, 193n6; works of (Exegesis 176, 192 – 3n5; Ubik 12, 166 – 9, 175nn23 – 24, 176; Ubik: The Screenplay 175n26, 176; VALIS 176 – 7, 192 – 3nn4 – 5) Dickens, Charles: works of (Dombey and Son 24 – 5n10; Hard Times 3 – 8, 23 – 4nn5 – 10; “On Strike” 24n9) digital computer: and acronyms 176 – 7, 191n2, 192n5, 196n16; in Bleeding Edge 201; connection to atom bomb 12 – 13, 20, 177, 191n2; in Crash 156 – 8; in Crying 177 – 84; connection to Holocaust

216n9; connection to hydrogen bomb in Underworld 184 – 5, 190 – 1; development of 176 – 80, 191 – 2nn1 – 3; in Exegesis 192 – 3n5; as God 177, 192n3, 194n11; Joyce industry as 126, 132n27; as “nature for postmodern man” 191n1; in Underworld 184 – 5, 190 – 1 in VALIS 176 – 7; in White Noise 196n16;; see also ballistics, nuclear; character; Colossus; discourse; IBM; Internet; nuclear weapons; plot, driven by discourse: aesthetic effects of machinemade in naturalist novels 9, 76 – 84; binary logic of in Crying 180 – 2, 194n10; breaks down in Sun 139 – 41; compulsive in naturalist novels 45, 50 – 1nn19 – 21, 71n17; constrained by literal machines in Life 211 – 12; Crash 159 – 61; dictated by plastic in Breakfast 163 – 6; disrupted by airplanes in Between the Acts 145; disrupted typographically in Ulysses 116 – 19, 127 – 8n7, 129n11; Dombey 24 – 5n10; driven by atom bomb in Crash 159 – 60; driven by coal mine in Germinal 39 – 41; driven by distilling machine in L’Assommoir 37 – 8; driven by gold mine in McTeague 62; driven by railway/railroad in La Bête 42; driven by steam engine in Hard Times 6 – 7; enacts collapse of “scientific” realism in naturalist novels 7 – 9, 38 – 42, 45 – 6; in excess of mechanical structures in Mrs. Dalloway 136 – 7; exploded in Ulysses 117 – 19, 121, 129n11; Gravity’s Rainbow 183 – 4; instrumental in novel form 29n23; mechanical in Plumed Serpent 105; myth as spanner in works of in Rainbow 96 – 9; and Octopus 64; organized by nuclear weapons/waste in Underworld 185 – 6, 190 – 1; pornographic in Crash 158 – 9; Rainbow 95 – 9; rationalized in Rainbow 95 – 6; self-referential in Breakfast 164 – 6; and Sun 139 – 41; “telepathic” in In Search 143 – 4, 151 – 2n18; and Underworld 184 – 6, 189 – 91; and

244 Index VALIS 176 – 7; Void 203 – 5; and W 205 – 9; and Women 101 – 3; see also first-person narrative; free indirect discourse; interior monologue; letter; metafiction; omniscience; punctuation and machinery; telepathy; typography distilling machine: in L’Assommoir 7, 21, 33 – 4, 38, 43; see also character; discourse; plot, driven by; structural devices Dombey and Son 24 – 5n10 Dreiser, Theodore: in comparison to other naturalists 61, 84n1; works of (Sister Carrie 9, 61, 71n16, 74 – 9, 81 – 2, 84n1, 85 – 6nn3 – 7; “What IBelieve” 78 – 9, 85n3, 93, 146n2) Dubliners 129n12 dynamos: in Education 127n2; in Ulysses 10, 114 – 16, 127n2, 127n4; see also electricity Eagleton, Terry: works of (English Novel 55 – 6, 68n5, 97 – 8, 105, 109nn7 – 8; “Nationalism: Irony and Commitment” 125, 132n26) Education of Henry Adams 127n2 efficiency: of concentration camps 17 – 18, 216n9, 217 – 18n13; Fordist and Taylorist 17 – 18, 27 – 8n18; of narrative in Sun 11, 28n19, 139 – 41; in New Grub Street 82, 88n15; in Women 27 – 8n18, 100 – 1, 110n12; see also assembly line; factory electricity 10, 16, 25n12, 28n21; and electroshock therapy 150n15; and light in New Grub Street 82; and microphone access to “cold-pac” in Ubik 168; and trams in Ulysses 115 – 16, 127n2, 127n5; and Women 100 – 1; see also dynamos Eliot, George: works of (Middlemarch 23n4; Mill on the Floss 3, 23nn3 – 4; “Natural History of German Life” 4) Eliot, T. S. 119 – 21, 128n8 Empire of the Sun 155 – 6, 169n2 Exegesis of Philip K. Dick 176, 192 – 3n5 “Experimental Novel” see Zola, Émile, works of

factory: alarm clock in W 202; ceramics in Mummer’s Wife 68n3, 75, 79 – 81; circus as in Hard Times 6 – 7, 24n9; collar-andcuff in Maggie 9, 74 – 6, 79 – 81; concentration camp as 202, 216n9, 217n13; draper’s shop as in Mummer’s Wife 9, 74 – 6, 79 – 81; and as evoked by Oulipo 217n12; library as in New Grub Street 74 – 6, 81 – 4, 88n12; Marian Withers 23n2; as mechanical monster in Capital 1 – 2, 70n11; millinery establishment as in House 9, 74 – 6, 79 – 81, 85 – 6n6, 86n8; relation to manufactures and handicrafts 85 – 6n6; representation of avoided in industrial novels 3, 23n2; shoe in Sister Carrie 9, 74 – 9; textile in Hard Times 3 – 7; in W 202, 209; see also discourse; factory labor; mill factory labor: in Hard Times 3 – 7, 23 – 4nn6 – 9; in naturalist novels 39 – 40, 74 – 84, 85 – 6nn6 – 7, 88n12; in Rainbow 93 – 9; representation of avoided in industrial novels 3, 23n2; resemblance of Gissing’s writing habits to 88n14; resemblance of Zola’s writing habits to 50n19; in Women 99 – 101, 110nn12 – 13; see also assembly line; character; factory, plot, driven by Falling Man 13, 200 – 1 farming machines: in Mayor 54 – 5; and Tess 57 – 60; see also horse drill; steam thresher film 16 – 17, 27n17, 130 – 1n17; adaptations of Dick’s novels 174 – 5n22, 175n26, 176; and atomic technology in Crash 157, 160, 170n6, 170 – 1n8; as condition of mechanical demolition in Gravity’s Rainbow 184; and machine shock 27n17; and shooting 28n20; see also cameras; photography Finnegans Wake 127n2, 132n26 first-person narrative: and omniscience in In Search 144, 151 – 2n18; as one-eyed in “Cyclops” episode of Ulysses 120; see also discourse;

Index  245 interior monologue; omniscience; telepathy First World War: Mrs. Dalloway 133 – 7; as driver of technological innovation 28n20; effect on construction of BLAST 112 – 13n23; Rainbow 108 – 9n5, 110n11; In Search 142 – 5, 150 – 1n16; and Sun 138 – 42; taxis in 149n13; and telephone 143 – 4, 152n19; and Women 108 – 9n5, 110n11; see also apocalypse, machine-made; war machines Fleissner, Jennifer 45 – 6, 50 – 1nn19 – 21, 86n7, 87n11 free indirect discourse: in Mrs. Dalloway 137; in “In the Ruins” 215n4; see also discourse; first-person narrative; interior monologue; omniscience; telepathy futurism 113n23 Gaskell, Elizabeth 23n2 Genette, Gérard 151n18 Germinal see Zola, Émile, works of giant: automobile “with sevenleague boots” in In Search 142; baseball team as nuclear Giant in Underworld 189; coal mine as in Germinal 39 – 40, 93; digital computer as 176 – 7; Joyce industry as “giant computer” 126; railway as in La Bête 34; railway engine as in Ulysses 124; Rougon-Macquart as 46; see also Colossus; mythic machines Gissing, George: in comparison to other naturalists 53, 68n5, 69n6; works of (“Dickens’ Portrayal of the Working Classes” 4; London and the Life of Literature 69n6, 88n14, 89n16; New Grub Street 9, 53, 69n6, 74 – 6, 81 – 4, 88 – 9nn12 – 17) Gitelman, Lisa 29n22 Goble, Mark 19 god-like machine: airplane in In Search 145; atom bomb as 155 – 6, 169n3; coal mine as in Germinal 33, 93; in Crying 179, 181; and Mrs. Dalloway 135; digital computer as 176 – 7, 194 – 5n11; Exegesis 192 – 3n5; hydrogen bomb

as in Underworld 185, 191; nuclear technology as in Underworld 185 – 91; plastic as in Breakfast 163 – 5; postmodern technology as 200; and Rainbow 93 – 4; replacing “god of the weather” in Mayor 54; steam engine as “prime mover” in Capital 2; telephone in In Search 143 – 4; and Tess 57 – 8, 70n11; Ubik in Ubik 166 – 9; VALIS 176 – 7; and White Noise 196n16; see also mythic machines; omniscience; telepathy gold mine: in McTeague 9, 62 – 3, 71n18; see also character; discourse; plot, driven by Gravity’s Rainbow see Pynchon, Thomas, works of guns: in Breakfast 163; camera and typewriter modeled on 28n20; and gunfire in Mrs. Dalloway 133 – 6; in Underworld 187; and W 202 – 3, 217 – 18n13; see also ballistics, nuclear; war machines H-bomb see hydrogen bomb Haraway, Donna 87n11 Hard Times see Dickens, Charles, works of Hardy, Thomas: in comparison to other naturalists 36, 48n10, 53, 63, 67, 68 – 9nn5 – 6, 74 – 6, 84, 84n1; Lawrence’s “Study of” 109n5; works of (“Candour in English Fiction” 89n16; Jude the Obscure 71n15; Life and Work of Thomas Hardy 60; Mayor of Casterbridge 8 – 9, 53 – 8, 60, 69n7, 71n19; “Science of Fiction” 36, 48n10; Tess of the D’Urbervilles 1, 8 – 9, 55 – 60, 63, 67, 69 – 70nn9 – 14, 71 – 2n19, 73n24) Hayles, N. Katherine 16, 109n6, 157 Hemingway, Ernest 11, 28n19; works of (In Our Time 148n11; Moveable Feast 142, 149 – 50n14; Selected Letters 148n10; Sun Also Rises 11, 138 – 42, 148 – 50nn12 – 15) Hiroshima: bombing of 155, 169n1, 170n8, 172n15, 175nn25 – 26, 201; in Gravity’s Rainbow 183, 195 – 6n14; see also atom bomb

246 Index Holocaust: as factory slaughter 216n9, 217n13; as historical twin of atom bomb and digital computer 216n9; in life and work of Perec 202 – 9, 211 – 15, 217n13, 218 – 19n16, 219n19, 220 – 2nn21 – 3, 222 – 3nn26 – 7, 224n29; see also Auschwitz; concentration camp; Second World War Homer 53; see also Odyssey Horkheimer, Max and Theodore Adorno 27n17 horse drill: in Mayor 54 – 5, 57; see also character; farming machines; plot, driven by House of Mirth see Wharton, Edith, works of Hu, Tung-Hui 19 – 20, 28n21 Hutcheon, Linda 159, 26n13 hydrogen bomb: development of 155 – 6, 169n1; and digital computer 185, 190 – 1; as figured by number 13; as God in Underworld 185, 191; as thermonuclear weapon 158, 172n12, 185; in Underworld 185 – 8; see also ballistics, nuclear; character; nuclear weapons; plot, driven by IBM: and Holocaust 216n9; as ICBM in White Noise 196n16; 7094 178 – 82; 7090 179; see also ballistics, nuclear; BMEWS; digital computer; plot, driven by ICBM: development of 169n4, 183, 216n8; see also ballistics, nuclear; BMEWS; digital computer; IBM; nuclear weapons; V2 imperialism: British 4, 23 – 4n6, 28n20, 30n24; Mrs. Dalloway 10, 133 – 4; French, in Algeria 221n21; Japanese, as eclipsed by atom bomb in Empire 155; and machines in Hard Times 4, 23 – 4n6; and Ulysses 115 – 17, 129n12; see also postcolonial narrative; Second Empire industrial novel 3, 23n2; see also Victorian machines Industrial Revolution 3, 7, 20, 24n6, 52 – 3, 67n1; see also Civil War; industrialization; Second Empire

industrialization: in America 9, 61; in England 3, 7, 9, 67n1; in France 7 – 8, 34, 45 – 6, 52 – 3, 67n1; in Germany 112n22; see also Industrial Revolution; urbanization information technology 16, 156 – 7, 195n12; in Bleeding Edge 201; Crash 156, 158; Crying 177 – 84; Underworld 185, 190 – 1; and VALIS 176 – 7; see also cloud computing; cybernetics; digital computer; film; Internet; literal machines; phonography; photography; postal systems; printing machines; telephone; TV inscription machines 15 – 17, 19 – 21, 26n14, 28n20, 29n22, 151n17; skywriting airplane as in Mrs. Dalloway 135 – 6, 146n2; see also cameras; digital computer; phonography; photography; printing machines; telegraph; TV; typewriter; typography interior monologue: as breakdown in Sun 141; in “initial style” of Ulysses 117, 129n9, 130nn16 – 17; and mechanical conditions in Mrs. Dalloway 11, 136 – 7; see also discourse; first-person narrative; free indirect discourse; omniscience; telepathy Internet 15, 20; and atomic technology in Bleeding Edge 201; and cell phone in Bleeding Edge 201; as eternity in Underworld 185, 191; Greenpeace reports on 28 – 9n21; as layered on older technologies 19 – 21; and Underworld 185, 191; see also cloud computing; digital computer interstates (US): and atom bomb 156, 169n4; see also automobile; motorways (UK); roads James, Henry: criticism on 19; works of (“Émile Zola” 7, 37, 44 – 6, 48 – 9n12, 50nn18 – 19; Letters 87n11; Notes of a Son and Brother 148 – 9n12) Jameson, Fredric 50 – 1n20, 121, 174n21, 193n6; works of (Antinomies of Realism 49 – 50n15; “Futuristic Visions” 175n22;

Index  247 “Modernism and Imperialism” 131n18; Political Unconscious 83 – 4; Postmodernism 26n12, 26n14, 160, 175n22, 182 – 3, 189, 191n1, 195n12; “Ulysses in History” 123, 131n18) Joyce, James: works of (Dubliners 129n12; Finnegans Wake 127n2, 132n26; Letters 128n8, 129n9, 130n14; Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 114, 126 – 7n1, 128n8; Ulysses 10 – 11, 17, 27n17, 30n24, 114 – 26, 127nn2 – 5, 127 – 32nn7 – 24, 132nn26 – 7, 133, 146 – 7n3, 147n6, 212, 224n29) Kenner, Hugh: works of (“Most Beautiful Book” 127n7; Ulysses 115, 120, 122, 127n5, 130n13, 130n15, 131n20, 146n3) Ketabgian, Tamara 4 – 6, 15, 23n2, 24n6, 24n8, 69n7 Kittler, Friedrich 26n14, 28n20, 191n2 Kreilkamp, Ivan 15 Lady Chatterley’s Lover see Lawrence, D.H., works of Lawrence, D. H.: works of (Aaron’s Rod 104, 108n4; Fantasia of the Unconscious 111n16; Kangaroo 104, 108n4, 111n17; Lady Chatterley’s Lover 106 – 7, 111n16, 113n24, 128n8; Letters 98, 106, 109n5, 109 – 10nn9 – 10, 112n20; Plumed Serpent 10, 104 – 7, 108n4, 111 – 12n18, 112n20, 125, 132n23; “APropos of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ ” 128n8; Rainbow 10, 21, 93 – 99, 100 – 7, 108 – 9nn2 – 6, 109n8, 110nn10 – 12, 112n18, 112n20, 113nn23 – 4, 114 – 15, 128n8, 184; Sons and Lovers 109n8; “Study of Thomas Hardy” 109n5; Women in Love 10, 27 – 8n18, 99 – 105, 107, 108n4, 110 – 11nn11 – 18, 112n20, 113nn24 – 5, 117) letter see lipogram; literal machines; postal systems Lewis, Wyndham 112 – 13n23 Life a User’s Manual see Perec, Georges, works of

lipogram: in Life 209, 211 – 15, 222n25, 223n27; Void 14, 203 – 5, 217 – 18nn13 – 14; and W 205 – 9, 217 – 19nn13 – 19; see also character; discourse; literal machines; plot, driven by; structural devices literal machines: of Perec 203 – 9, 211 – 15, 217 – 24nn11 – 29; see also character; concentration camp; discourse; lipogram; plot, driven by; structural devices; war machines locomotives see railways; cyclopean machines loom see power looms; textile mills Lukács, Georg 25n11, 45 – 6, 50 – 1n20, 67n2, 71n17, 130n17 Lyotard, Jean-François 177, 191n1 machine-breaking: as narrative strategy in Mrs. Dalloway 147n5; Rainbow 95 – 9; Ulysses 116 – 26; and Women 101 – 3; see also myth machine gun see guns; war machines McHale, Brian 26n13, 159, 174n20 McLuhan, Marshall 180, 193 – 4nn8 – 9 McTeague see Norris, Frank, works of Maggie see Crane, Stephen, works of mail see postal systems Manhattan Project 152n20, 170n8, 175n25, 177, 216nn8 – 9; see also atom bomb Marx, Karl 27n17, 35, 131n18; works of (Capital 1 – 4, 22 – 3n1, 47n6, 70n11, 85n6) Mayor of Casterbridge see Hardy, Thomas, works of Meaning of Contemporary Realism 25n11, 130n17 mechanical monster see myth; mythic machines Médan group 29n24, 36, 47 – 8n8, 61; see also Zola media: studies of 15 – 17, 19 – 21, 26n14, 27n16, 28n20, 29n22, 180, 193 – 4nn8 – 9; as undergirded by monstrous technologies 19 – 21; see also communication technologies; information technology; inscription machines Menke, Richard 15, 19, 29n23

248 Index metafiction: in Breakfast 164 – 6; Crash 159 – 61; and VALIS 176 – 7, 192n4; see also self-referential fiction Middlemarch 23n4 mill see factory; textile mills; water mills Mill on the Floss 3, 23nn3 – 4 Mimesis 137, 141, 148n9 mines see coal mine; gold mine missile: airplane as on 9/11 200 – 1; automobile as in Crash 157; see also artillery shell; ballistics, nuclear; ICBM; V2 Model T 149 – 50n14; see also assembly line; automobile; efficiency monster machine see myth; mythic machines Moore, George: in comparison to other naturalists 36 – 7, 48n11, 52 – 3, 67 – 8n2, 68n4, 84n1; works of (Confessions of a Young Man 36 – 7, 48n11, 53; Drama in Muslin 52, 68n3; Literature at Nurse 89n16; Modern Lover 52, 89n16; Mummer’s Wife 9, 52 – 3, 68n3, 74 – 6, 79 – 81, 89n16) motorcar see automobile motorways (UK): and atom bomb 156 – 61, 169n4, 170n7; in Crash 12, 156 – 61, 170n7; see also atom bomb; automobile; interstates (US); roads; structural devices Motte, Warren 14, 203 – 4, 217nn11 – 12 movable type: disruption of in Ulysses 127 – 8n7; see also inscription machines; printing machines; typography Moveable Feast 142, 149 – 50n14 movies see film Mrs. Dalloway see Woolf, Virginia, works of Mummer’s Wife see Moore, George, works of Murphet, Julian 19 myth: appropriated in Plumed Serpent 104 – 5, 111 – 12n18; curtailed in Lady Chatterley 107, 113n24; of Icarus in In Search 145, 155; as instrumental in later novels of Lawrence 10, 104 – 5, 132n23;

as machine-breaker in Rainbow 10, 95 – 9; as machine in Plumed Serpent 104 – 5; as mystification 35, 47n6, 74; of Narcissus 193 – 4nn8 – 9; and Portrait 127n3; as potentially fascistic in Plumed Serpent 105 – 6; as putatively ahistorical in Marxist criticism 97 – 8, 109n8, 110n12, 121, 130 – 1nn17 – 18; versus realism in materialist criticism 97 – 8, 109n8, 110n12; resurgence of in modernist novels 27n17; as self-undoing structure in Ulysses 11, 121 – 6, 131n18; as “substance of history” 34 – 5, 98; and Ulysses 11, 119 – 26, 122; and Women 101 – 3; see also mythic machines; Odyssey mythic machines see apocalypse, machine-made; bestial machines; biblical machines; cyclopean machines; giant; god-like machine; myth; underworld Nagasaki, bombing of 155 – 6, 169n1; see also atom bomb “Narrate or Describe?” 45 – 6 Narrative Discourse 151n18 narrative, machine-made elements of see character; discourse; plot, driven by; structural devices New Grub Street see Gissing, George, works of 9/11 13 – 14, 199 – 201, 215 – 16nn1 – 6; see also World Trade Center Norris, Frank: in comparison to other naturalists 36, 61 – 2, 71nn16 – 17, 76, 84n1; works of (Collected Letters 48n9, 66, 73n23; McTeague 9, 62 – 4, 71n18; Octopus 1, 9, 63 – 7, 72 – 3nn20 – 4, 76; Pit 72n20; “Zola as a Romantic Writer” 36, 73n23) North and South 23n2 nuclear technology: bunkers and data storage 20; “containment” of 185 – 6, 197n18; see also nuclear weapons nuclear weapons: development of 12, 20, 152n20, 155 – 6, 169n1, 170n8, 175n25; and digital computer 28n20, 177, 201, 216n9; Dow’s production of 172n14; and nuclear

Index  249 waste in Drought 173n16; and nuclear winter in Cat’s Cradle 172n15; proliferation of 161 – 3, 167 – 9, 180, 184, 189; reception of 169n3, 171n10, 171 – 2n12, 216n8; Ubik 175n26; and Underworld 184 – 91, 197n20; see also airplanes; arms race; atom bomb; ballistics, nuclear; character; digital computer; discourse; hydrogen bomb; Manhattan Project; nuclear technology; plot, driven by; war machines Octopus see Norris, Frank, works of Odyssey 11, 27n17, 119 – 25, 130nn13 – 14, 131 – 2nn18 – 22; see also cyclopean machines; myth; structural devices omniscience: of digital computer 177, 196n16; and telephone in In Search 11, 143 – 4, 151 – 2n18; see also discourse; telepathy One vs. the Many 42 – 3, 50n16 Otis, Laura 15, 19, 23n4 Oulipo: founding principles of 14, 203, 217nn11 – 12; Perec’s involvement with 14, 22, 203, 210; Perec’s reports to 210, 218nn14 – 15, 222n24; see also literal machines parachute 220 – 1n21; see also literal machines; suspense Paradise Lost 59, 70n14, 108n2, 126 – 7n1 Perec, Georges: works of (“History of the Lipogram” 218n14; Life a User’s Manual 14, 203, 209 – 15, 221 – 4nn23 – 9; “Notes on What I’m Looking For” 223n27; “Parachute Jump” 220 – 1n21; “Robert Antelme or the Truth of Literature” 212 – 13; Void 14, 203 – 7, 209, 214 – 15, 218nn14 – 15, 223n27; W or the Memory of Childhood 14, 202 – 3, 205 – 9, 211 – 15, 216 – 17n10, 217n13, 218 – 22nn15 – 23, 223n27) phonography 16, 28n20 photography: critical works on 16 – 17, 19, 27n16, 28n20, 151n17; in Falling Man 200 – 1, 216n6;

Life/W 213 – 14; Sister Carrie 77; and Ubik 175n26; see also cameras; film piano: as industrial machine 54, 69n7 plastic: development of 162, 172nn13 – 14; in Drought 173n16; as figure for atom bomb in Breakfast 12, 162 – 6, 172nn14 – 16; in Gravity’s Rainbow 173n16; molecular composition of 163 – 4, 173n17; resemblance to “Ubik” in Ubik 166 – 7; see also character; discourse; plot, driven by plot, driven by: atomic death drive in Crash 157 – 61; coal mine in Germinal 7 – 8, 38 – 40; digital computer in Crying 13, 177 – 84; distilling machine in L’Assommoir 7, 37 – 8, 41; Dombey 24 – 5n10; factory labor in naturalist novels 9, 74 – 84; gold mine in McTeague 9, 62 – 3; horse drill in Mayor 8 – 9, 54 – 5; Lady Chatterley 106 – 7; literal machines in Life 211 – 12, 222n26; Middlemarch 23n4; nuclear weapons/waste in Underworld 13, 184 – 91; and Octopus 9, 64 – 7, 72n21; plastic in Breakfast 162 – 6; railway/railroad in La Bête 8, 41 – 2; Rainbow 10, 93 – 9; steam engine in Hard Times 4 – 7; steam thresher in Tess 8 – 9, 57 – 60; telephone in In Search 143 – 4; “Ubik” in Ubik 12, 166 – 9; V2 in Gravity’s Rainbow 13, 183 – 4; and VALIS 176 – 7; Void 204; and W 207 – 9; and Women 10, 99 – 103; see also character; discourse; machine-breaking; structural devices; suspense Plumed Serpent see Lawrence, D.H., works of Portrait of the Artist 114, 126 – 7n1, 128n8 postal systems: in Crying 177 – 84, 194n10; in life of Dick 193n6; in Tess 56, 73n24; in Ulysses 115 – 16, 127n6 postcolonial narrative: machines in 30n24; see also imperialism Postmodern Condition 177, 191n1 Postmodernism see Jameson, Fredric, works of

250 Index Pound, Ezra 112 – 13n23, 122, 131n19 power looms: in Hard Times 5 – 7, 24n7; see also character; textile mills printing machines: disruption of in Ulysses 11, 116 – 21, 127 – 8n7, 129n11; Trout as in Breakfast 163; see also character; movable type; stereotype; typewriter; typography Proust, Marcel: works of (In Search of Lost Time 11 – 12, 142 – 5, 150 – 2nn16 – 19, 155, 168, 201) punctuation and machinery: ellipses in W 207 – 9, 220 – 1nn20 – 1; and “headlines” of Ulysses 117; italics in James’s review of RougonMacquart 44; quotation marks in Sun 141; semicolons in Mrs. Dalloway 137; see also literal machines; printing machines; typography Pynchon, Thomas: works of (Bleeding Edge 13, 20, 201, 215 – 16n4; Crying of Lot 49 13, 177 – 86, 192n5, 193 – 4nn7 – 11, 196nn15 – 16, 201; Gravity’s Rainbow 13, 21, 173n16, 183 – 4, 187, 193n7, 195 – 6nn14 – 15, 215n3) radio 28n20, 172n13; and digital computer in Crying 178 – 9 railroads (US): and clock time 61; as driver of technological development 20, 61; in Octopus 1, 9, 63 – 7, 72 – 3nn20 – 1; see also railways; trams railways (UK and Europe): in La Bête 8, 33 – 4, 41 – 3, 49n15; and clock time 34; in Dombey 24 – 5n10; English origin of 52, 67n1; and Holocaust 202, 216n9; in Jude 71n15; in Middlemarch 23n4; Second-Empire France structured by 34; in Sun 140; in Tess 63, 71 – 2n19; in Ulysses 124; in Women 103 – 4; see also character; concentration camp; discourse; plot, driven by; railroads; structural devices; trams Rainbow see Lawrence, D.H., works of roads: in Crying 177 – 84, 194n9; in Lady Chatterley 107; see also interstates (US); motorways (UK)

rocket see ballistics, nuclear; missile; V2 Rougon-Macquart see Zola, Émile, works of “In the Ruins of the Future” 199 – 201, 215 – 16nn4 – 5 science fiction: Ballard as writer of 162, 174n20; in Breakfast 161 – 5, 173n18; and cognitive estrangement 166, 174n21; Crash as continuous with vision of 174n20; Dick as writer of 166, 174 – 5n22; as model for postmodernist fiction 174n20; Vonnegut as writer of 162, 174n20; works of (Crystal World 174n20; Drought 173n16, 174n20; Drowned World 174n20; Ubik 12, 166 – 9, 175nn23 – 4, 175n26, 176; VALIS 176 – 7, 192 – 3nn4 – 5) In Search of Lost Time see Proust, Marcel, works of Second Empire: as documented by Rougon-Macquart 1, 7 – 8, 33 – 4, 42 – 6; end of prefigured in La Bête 8, 42, 49n15; industrialization of 52 – 3, 61 Second World War: and development of atom bomb 12, 145 – 6, 152n20, 155 – 6, 168, 170n8, 172 – 3nn14 – 16, 175n25, 177, 191n2, 201 – 2, 216n9; and development of digital computer 12, 28n20, 176 – 7, 191n2, 216n9; and development of motorways 156 – 7, 170n7; and literal machines of Life 209, 211 – 15, 221 – 2n23, 222 – 4nn26 – 8; and planetary technology 12; and the posthuman 16; Pound’s fascist broadcasts during 113n23; and proliferation of plastics 162 – 3, 172 – 3nn14 – 17; as shaping Vonnegut’s view of science 172n15; and technological conditions of Cold War 168; Void 203 – 5, 215, 217 – 18n13; and W 205 – 9, 211 – 15, 218 – 22nn15 – 23; see also airplanes; apocalypse, machine-made; atom bomb; concentration camp; digital computer; Holocaust; literal machines; Vichy France; war machines

Index  251 self-referential fiction: purpose of 159; and rule of self-reference in Life 210, 215, 222n25; see also metafiction Seltzer, Mark 16, 47n4, 66, 72n22 September 11, 2001 see 9/11 shell see artillery shell; shell shock shell shock: in Mrs. Dalloway 133 – 7; see also artillery shell; war machines Sister Carrie see Dreiser, Theodore, works of speed: critical works on 151n17, 171n9, 195n12; see also communication technologies; digital computer; efficiency; transport machines; war machines steam engine: character as in L’Assommoir 43; critical works on 15; development of 2, 24n8, 29n23, 67n1; in Germinal 39; in Hard Times 3 – 7, 23 – 4n6, 24n8; piano as 69n7; prefigured in Mill 3; as prime mover in Capital 2; and Tess 57 – 8, 70n11; see also character; discourse; plot, driven by steam thresher: in Tess 1, 57 – 60, 70n11; see also character; farming machines; plot, driven by Stein, Gertrude 142, 149 – 50nn13 – 14; see also automobile; Model T; taxi stereotype 28n20; and character in Tess 70n12; see also character; printing machines; typography stream-of-consciousness technique see interior monologue structural devices: airplane, automobile, and clock in Mrs. Dalloway 10 – 11, 135 – 7, 146 – 7n3; airplane and automobile in In Search 150n16; BMEWS in Underworld 197n19; camera in Falling Man 200 – 1; distilling machine in L’Assommoir 7, 35 – 8; literal machines in Life 209, 211 – 15; motorway as figure for atom bomb in Crash 158 – 61; Odyssean parallels in Ulysses 119 – 24; Perec as clinamen in this work 22; railway piling up love triangles in La Bête 42; taxi in Mrs. Dalloway 146 – 7n3; telephone in In Search 143 – 4; three-decker in New Grub Street 84, 88 – 9n16; trams in Ulysses 115 – 16; Ubik as

atomic alpha and omega in Ubik 167; V2 in Gravity’s Rainbow 183 – 4, 195 – 6n14; Void 203 – 5; and W 205 – 9; see also character; discourse; plot, driven by; suspense Sun Also Rises see Hemingway, Ernest, works of suspense: of Cold-War plots 161, 184; as condition of Cold-War life 161; as condition of possibility in Crying 196n15; as condition of writing in W 207 – 8, 220 – 1nn20 – 1; in Crash 161; Crying 184; and Mrs. Dalloway 133; end of in 9/11 novels 200 – 1; Gravity’s Rainbow 184; and “stuckness” of naturalist novels 45 – 6, 50 – 1nn20 – 1; see also parachute; plot, driven by; structural devices; telephone Suvin, Darko 166, 174n21, 193n6 Tabbi, Joseph 16 – 17 taxi 141, 146n3; as war machine 149n13; see also automobile; structural devices telegraph 15, 19 – 20, 23n4, 28n20 telepathy: in In Search 144, 151 – 2n18; see also first-person narrative; omniscience; telephone telephone: in Bleeding Edge 201; Crying 196n15; Proust’s personal relation to 152n19; In Search 11 – 12, 20, 143 – 4, 151 – 2nn17 – 18; system in US 20; and Ubik 168; see also discourse; plot, driven by; structural devices; telepathy television see TV Tess of the D’Urbervilles see Hardy, Thomas, works of textile mills 3 – 7, 23n2, 217n12; see also character; factory; plot, driven by; power looms thermonuclear weapons see hydrogen bomb; nuclear weapons three-decker novel 83 – 4, 88 – 9nn16 – 17; see also structural devices; Victorian machines thresher see steam thresher; farming machines Tichi, Cecelia 18, 28n19, 139 – 40 trains see railways; trams trams, electric: in Sister Carrie 77; in Ulysses 115 – 17, 127n5, 146n3; see also dynamos; railways; structural devices

252 Index transport machines see airplanes; ambulance; artillery shell; automobile; ballistics, nuclear; bicycle; guns; missile; parachute; postal systems; railways; speed; taxi; trams; V2 trench warfare: in Mrs. Dalloway 133 – 5; see also First World War; Second World War; war machines Trotter, David 20 – 1, 29n22 Turing, Alan 191n2; see also digital computer TV 20, 196n16 typewriter 28n20, 51n21; see also typography typography: disruption of in Ulysses 11, 117 – 21, 129n11; and origin of Underworld 196 – 7n17; in works of Henry James 44; see also discourse; literal machines; movable type; printing machines; punctuation and machinery; stereotype; typewriter Ubik see Dick, Philip K., works of Ulysses see Joyce, James, works of Understanding Media 180, 193 – 4nn8 – 9 underworld: atomic in Crying 180; coal mine as in Germinal 39 – 40, 49n14; Coketown as in Hard Times 3 – 4; distilling machine as in L’Assommoir 38; library as in New Grub Street 75, 82; of nuclear weapons/waste in Underworld 13, 184 – 91; and plutonic machines in In Search 143; Rainbow 10, 93 – 9; of toil in naturalist novels 75 – 7, 79 – 82, 86n8; and Underworld 13, 184 – 91; Wessex as in Tess 58; and Women 99 – 101; see also mythic machines Underworld see DeLillo, Don, works of urbanization: in atomic age 157; as driven by industrial development 34, 52, 61; and shock 27n17; and steam engine 2; see also cities Utopia 125, 132n25 VALIS see Dick, Philip K., works of Vichy France 202, 219n19, 223n26; see also Second World War Victorian machines: critical works on 15 – 16, 23n2, 27n16;

representation of avoided in mid-century realism 3, 7, 23n2; in works of Dickens 3 – 8, 23 – 5nn5 – 10; see also industrial novel; Gissing, George; Hardy, Thomas; Industrial Revolution; Moore, George; three-decker Vizetelly, Ernest 53, 60, 68nn3 – 4 A Void see Perec, Georges, works of Vonnegut, Kurt: works of (Breakfast of Champions 12, 161 – 8, 172 – 4nn14 – 20, 175n23; Cat’s Cradle 172n15; God Bless You Mr. Rosewater 173n18; Jailbird 173n18; Player Piano 174n20; Sirens of Titan 172n15, 174n20; Slaughterhouse-Five 172n15, 173n18, 174n20; Timequake 173n18, 175n26; Wampeters, Foma, and Granfalloons 172n15) V2: and American space program 216n8; as first long-range ballistic missile 173n16, 183, 202, 216n8; in Gravity’s Rainbow 183 – 4, 195 – 6n14; see also ballistics, nuclear; character; discourse; missile; plot, driven by; structural devices W or the Memory of Childhood see Perec, Georges, works of war see Civil War; Cold War; First World War; Second World War; war machines war machines: and Mrs. Dalloway 10 – 11, 133 – 7, 146nn1 – 9; and In Search 142 – 5, 150 – 2nn16 – 19; and Sun 138 – 41, 148 – 50nn10 – 15; in works of Perec 202 – 15, 217 – 24nn12 – 29; and Ulysses 132n22; see also airplanes; ambulance; artillery shell; atom bomb; automobile; ballistics, nuclear; bombs; character; clocks; concentration camp; digital computer; discourse; guns; hydrogen bomb; literal machines; missile; nuclear weapons; parachute; plastic; plot, driven by; structural devices; taxi; trench warfare; V2; war water mills 1 – 3 Wharton, Edith: in comparison to other naturalists 29n24, 67, 84n1;

Index  253 works of (Backward Glance 87n11; House of Mirth 9, 74 – 6, 79 – 82, 85n6, 86 – 8nn8 – 12) White Noise 196n16, 197n22 Woloch, Alex 42 – 3, 50n16, 218n15 Women in Love see Lawrence, D.H., works of Woolf, Virginia: works of (Between the Acts 145; Mrs. Dalloway 10 – 11, 29 – 30n24, 133 – 8, 141 – 2, 145, 146 – 8nn1 – 9; Diary 146 – 7n3, 147n5; “Modern Fiction” 147n4) World Trade Center 199 – 201, 215 – 16nn1 – 6; see also 9/11 World War I see First World War World War II see Second World War Zola, Émile: and American naturalists 36, 46, 60 – 3, 71n17, 73n23, 74 – 6, 80, 84, 84n1; as casualty of own machinery 50n19; censorship of 53, 68n4; and English naturalists

36, 46, 52 – 3, 55, 57, 67 – 9nn2 – 6, 80, 84; influence on works of Lawrence 93, 98 – 9, 107 – 8n1; and Médan group 29n24, 36, 47 – 8n8, 61; theory versus practice of 7, 33, 36 – 7, 47n7, 61; works of (L’Argent 47n3, 69n6; L’Assommoir 1, 7, 21 – 2, 33 – 4, 36 – 9, 41 – 3, 48 – 9nn11 – 12, 52; Au Bonheur des Dames 33 – 4, 50n17; La Bête humaine 7 – 8, 20, 33 – 4, 41 – 3, 46n2, 47n7, 49n15, 52, 63, 107 – 8n1; La Débâcle 42, 49n15, 69n6; Le Docteur Pascal 46n1, 49n15, 69n6; “Experimental Novel” 1, 8 – 9, 33 – 8, 46, 47n3, 48n8, 48nn10 – 11, 61, 67 – 8n2, 68n5, 71n17; Germinal 1, 7 – 8, 20, 33 – 6, 39 – 41, 43 – 4, 46n2, 49n14, 52, 62, 71n18, 93, 98 – 9, 107 – 8n1; Nana 47n3; Le Ventre de Paris 47n3)

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