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Stephen Gill (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977), p. 177. 19. Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas: Word and Phantasm in Western Culture, trans. Ronald L. Martinez (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), pp. 31–5. 20. By the 1860s the fetish was a familiar anthropological concept, explored in John Lubbock’s Pre-Historic Times (1865), and in Edward B. Tylor’s Researches into the Early History of Mankind d (1868). Auguste Comte’s Cours de Philosophie Positive (1830–42) connected primitivism and fetishism, following the work of Charles de Brosses in the eighteenth century.

Episodes from James’s The Golden Bowl and Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) form the last part of my discussion, examples of breaking and making relationships respectively. The golden bowl lies dormant through most of James’s novel until Maggie discovers it. Despite releasing economic language of debt and payment it is not a symbol. The non-transparency of the bowl and its gilt covering, suggesting a pun on guilt, is less important than the afterlife of the bowl, when it has been broken, but has come into light.

1 Ice pail. A typical oriental centre piece from the Great Exhibition of 1851, of the kind satirized by Thackeray in 1855. Illustrated in the Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition. 2 An example of the double body. Shell-like bowl with stem formed of struggling sea-nymphs. Illustrated in the Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue. Here things are not stable: they transform themselves and us by forcing us into different usages and discrepant roles. Is the relation between persons and things inherently unstable?

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