Title

Bachelor Sketches Invisible Women in Irving’s Domestic Writings

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2022

Abstract

This essay examines Washington Irving’s domestic writings of the 1820s, and it argues that Irving devised the sketch as the literary genre of bachelorhood. In lavish, detailed sketches of numerous homes, Irving created a literary counterpart of the still life, but the effect of these sketches depended on the excision of women’s domestic labor and the portrayal of the home in a state of static readiness, with all housework already completed. Irving’s tales, however, often depict women’s hidden domestic activities and show the invisible labors that underlie his sketches. These tales, however, portray women’s housework as a source of terror, and they provide an implicit explanation for his sketches’ omissions. The home in Irving’s writings is an appealing aesthetic spectacle, but it poses grave danger to the unwitting bachelor, and Irving suggests that it is better to remain detached and unsettled than to risk the perils of heterosexual intimacy.

Identifier

85125261377 (Scopus)

DOI

10.1353/EAL.2022.0007

Publisher

University of North Carolina Press

ISSN

00128163

Publication Information

Early American Literature

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