Names and Stories: Emilia Dilke and Victorian Culture

By Kali Israel | Go to book overview

5
THE RESOURCES OF STYLE

None of her early friends . . . can ever think of the ' Frances Pattison' of Oxford days without a strange stirring of heart.

--Mrs. Humphry Ward, A Writer's Recollections

Francis Pattison was famously associated with novels and domestic stories, but she was also written as a performer and a spectacle, a woman who enacted theatrical roles, proffered herself to vision, and made herself aesthetic and public, while eluding easy interpretation. This chapter uses the language of theater, performance, and painting to read some memoirs, letters, and nonfictional texts about Mrs. Pattison in Oxford, then places these stories of performances and pictures in relation to varied texts by E. F. S. Pattison/ Emilia Dilke. I ultimately range across genres, from art history to newspaper reports of speeches, but because different media and genres construct somewhat different relations to knowledge, clarifying without rigidifying some differences between novels, plays, and pictures may illuminate my choice of initial vocabulary. 1

The Victorian novel provides readers with a multitude of subject positions and detailed exploration of interior states, but in many cases a confident narratorial voice directs, highlights, emphasizes, and explains. The narrator claims access to and elaborates the subjectivity of characters--meanings, motives, intentions, and emotions even while those subjectivities are, overtly at least, harnessed to the requirements of the plot and movement toward closure. Inner movement and fluidity coexist with authority and structure. But in theater, the interior, subjective, and secret are subordinated to the visible and audible, spoken words and actions; audience members are able to see only what is shown and hear only what is said, usually without time for prolonged analysis, repeated viewing, or voice-over narration. Drama consumption thus heightens self-consciousness about the making of sense from spectacle and speech. Accounts of Francis Pattison in Oxford similarly attempt to surmise meanings and motives, to read the private from the public, but are unsettled by the awareness

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Names and Stories: Emilia Dilke and Victorian Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction Genres of Life-Writing 3
  • 1 - On Not Being an Orphan 19
  • 2 - Pictures and Lessons 39
  • 3 - Making a Marriage 74
  • 4 - Bodies Marriage, Adultery, and Death 108
  • 5 - The Resources of Style 162
  • 6 - French Vices 198
  • 7 - Renaissances 240
  • Notes 265
  • Identified Works by E F. S. Pattison/Dilke 341
  • Index 347
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