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Week 6: Sarah Grand

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Anne Jamison

on 31 July 2018

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Transcript of Week 6: Sarah Grand

"'to tell you the truth,' he added, in a worn-out, wear, satiated way - 'I am sick of all that.
I'm utterly used up

"Eugenia", p. 5.

"the fact that he was
reeking of tobacco and stimulants
could not fail to impress me unpleasantly, his somewhat
bloated features, inflamed eyes, and dissipated appearance
generally rendered him still more unattractive ... no care could conceal the
'used-up' look
about his eyes, nor produce a deceptive tinge of health on the
opaque sallow of his cheeks

"Eugenia", p. 6.

starved soul

"Eugenia", p. 14.

I'm quite used up
. My nerve's gone ..."

"Eugenia", p. 18.
Charles Darwin
Sarah Grand's "Eugenia" (1894)
Darwinism and Eugenics

Sarah Grand (1854-1943)
"[Sexual selection] depends, not on a struggle for existence, but on
a struggle between the males for possession of the females
; the result is not death to the unsuccessful competitor, but few or no offspring."

Charles Darwin,
The Origin of Species
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), p. 136.
"The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by
man attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than woman can attain
– whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands."

Charles Darwin,
The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex
, Vol. II, (Princeton: PUP, 1981), p. 327.
"It appeared to Darwin that since females did not compete for males, they did not have the same evolutionary opportunity to develop the same intelligence, perseverance, and courage as males. Thus for Darwin,
the result of natural and sexual selection was that men were ‘superior’ to women
. This is the central myth of social Darwinism."

Florence L. Denmark et. al., "Historical Development of the Psychology of Women" in
Psychology of Women: Handbook of Issues and Theories
, eds. Florence L. Denmark and Michele A. Paludi (Westport: Greenwood, 2008), p. 8.
"The word "eugenics" was coined in 1883 by the English scientist Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton ... took the word from a Greek root meaning
'good in birth'
'noble in heredity.'
He intended it to denote the 'science' of
improving human stock by giving 'the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable

Daniel Kevles,
In the Name of Eugenics
(LA: University of California Press, 1985), p. ix.
"Grand's ... "Eugenia" (1894) ...
functions as a manual on eugenic sexual selection

Angelique Richardson,
Love and Eugenics in the Late Nineteenth Century
(Oxford: OUP, 2003), p. 121.
"One could not help calculating what the
must be behind such ease, and what the
strength of the sinews
which were marked by her
ivory skin
… Her
ripe red lips
were slightly parted in a smile showing the
white teeth
between … one could trace
the course of the blue veins beneath the transparent skin
... But for those with the inner eyes that see beneath the surface, there was more about her to attract than mere good looks and the ineffable charm of youth. There shone in her face
the happy spirit that makes much of the smallest joy in life
, and sees in the most obvious admiration of her friends only an evidence of their own good dispositions. There is more beauty than character as a rule in the delicate curves and lineless smoothness of a young girl's face; but still, in studying Eugenia, one felt that,
for all her soft voice and gentle courteous bearing, she was not a person to be trifled with

"Eugenia", pp. 26-7.
"She was ... essentially
a modern maiden
, richly endowed with all
womanly attributes
, whose value is further enhanced by the strength which comes of
the liberty to think
, and of the
out of which is made the material for thought.
With such women for the mothers of men, the English-speaking races should rule the world

"Eugenia", p. 27.
"Bit by bit his family have been developing every quality in which my own was
. For hundreds of years the two have been living here side by side, ours slowly
, losing by degrees much of what they possessed, his, by their
, as gradually acquiring what we lost. Compare Saxon's father with Uncle Paul, for instance! and Saxon's career with Lord Brinkhampton's! not to mention their respective abilities.
Give me him for a husband!

"Eugenia", p. 49.
"By the 1890s, Darwin’s theories of the evolution of the species had been developed by his followers into what Anne McClintock has called
‘scientific racism’
– a narrative of social and racial ranking, which placed the British white middle and upper-class men at the pinnacle of the evolutionary pyramid, with women from the same social location following, and all other races and classes lagging behind. Much influenced by these racially biased evolutionary theories, late-Victorian medical discourse sexualised insanity, regarded it in terms of evolutionary regression, and suggested interconnections between promiscuous sexuality (specifically, women’s), insanity, and racial degeneration in the nation.
It was feared that transmission and spread of moral, mental, and physical degeneration might lead to the extinction of the British nation

Iveta Jusova "Imperialist Feminism: Colonial issues in Sarah Grand’s
The Heavenly Twins
The Beth Book
English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920
43.3 (2000): 300-1.
The New Woman
"In one sense the 'new woman' was a journalistic and literary construction, but she also had a basis in reality: the increased opportunities for middle-class women to enter higher education and employment and the various gains made by feminism more generally ... She was generally thought of as a middle- or upper-class young woman,
concerned to reject many of the conventions of femininity and to live and work on free and equal terms with the opposite sex

Lucy Bland,
Banishing the Beast. Feminism, Sex and Morality
(London: Tauris, 1992), p. 144.
Lecture Questions

1. In what ways does Eugenia represent the 'New Woman' figure in nineteenth-century literature?

2. What is the science of eugenics?

3. What is the significance of Eugenia's female ancestry in Sarah Grand's "Eugenia"?

1. In what ways does Eugenia represent the 'New Woman' figure in nineteenth-century literature?
2. What is the science of eugenics?
"I am a humble artist,
studying always in the life-school of the world
, blinking nothing that goes to the making or marring of life, more especially to the marring of it,
for if we would make it lovely, we must know exactly the nature of the diseases that disfigure it
, and
upon them until we discover the great specific which, when properly applied, shall remedy all that."

"Eugenia", p. 1.

"There was no knowing exactly how she would act under the circumstances, and the uncertainty was great enough to relieve the story from insipidity.
I thought it would be interesting to watch the plot unfold
, and I was anxious to see for myself how this
hero would really strike a modern maiden with ideas of her own."

"Eugenia", p. 16.


"Eugenia", p. 27.

"I sat on the window-sill long after they had crossed the lawn ... once more
weighing the probabilities
, and wondering if she would accept him."

"Eugenia", p. 44.
The narrative perspective of the story is one which alerts the reader to the story's interest in the scientific study of human nature. It further highlight's Grand's appropriation of scientific authority.


The Narrator

Saxon Wake
The New Woman - Wash Day (1901)
hatless, gloveless
, robed in
, with a purple parasol shielding the
burnished brightness
her lovely tresses
from the too ardent kisses of the sun."

"Eugenia", p. 9.
The frank assurance of her manner seemed to surprise him
. He glanced at her gloveless left hand to see if perchance she were married, and he confessed to me afterwards he could not quite class her when she found she wore no wedding-ring, being 'puzzled to make out whether she was
Americanised, unsophisticated, or not quite the right form
, don't you know.'"

"Eugenia", p. 10.

"... in order to be convincing, a study from life must be a garnished interpretation rather than a literal translation. An actor has to paint his face to make it look natural in the glare of the footlights, and some analogous process must be resorted to by the writer who would produce the effect of life in his work.
We are accustomed to the false and conventional
in this branch of art as we are to the distorted figure of a fashionable woman, and,
consequently, when truth and nature are presented to us, they strike us at first as strange; we do not recognise them, and we do not like them

Sarah Grand, Preface to
Our Manifold Nature
, p. v.
From the very beginning of the story, Eugenia is depicted as 'different' to other more conventional women.
"for Sarah Grand, she [the New Woman] was (or ought to be)
a model of civic virtue
. What these competing definitions of the New Woman have in common is her apparent newness,
her autonomy and her determination to set her own agenda in developing an alternative vision of the future

Angelique Richardson, "The Eugenization of Love: Sarah Grand and the morality of Genealogy,"
Victorian Studies
, 42.2 (1999/2000), p. 1.
What is the alternative vision that Eugenia sets up in the story?
Francis Galton (1822-1911)
3. What is the significance of Eugenia's female ancestry in Sarah Grand's "Eugenia"?
"in the one it is between the individuals of the same sex, generally the male sex, in order to drive away or kill their rivals, the females remaining passive; whilst in the other, the struggle is likewise between the individuals of the same sex, in order to excite or charm those of the opposite sex,
generally the females, which no longer remain passive, but select the more agreeable partners.

Charles Darwin,
The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex
, Vol. II, (Princeton: PUP, 1981),

pp. 398.

"With primeval men under the favourable conditions just stated...sexual selection will probably have acted in the following manner. The strongest and most vigorous men — those who could best defend and hunt for their families, and during later times the chiefs or head-men — those who were provided with the best weapons and who possessed the most property, such as a larger number of dogs or other animals, would have succeeded in rearing a greater average number of offspring, than would the weaker, poorer and lower members of the same tribes.
There can, also, be no doubt that such men would generally have been able to select the more attractive women.

Charles Darwin,
The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex
, Vol. II, (Princeton: PUP, 1981),

pp. 368-9.
"survival of the fittest"
"Social purists sought to reverse the androcentric bias of sexual selection, reinvesting women with the agency of selection on the grounds that only they were sufficiently race-aware to make responsible sexual choices ...
Social purists and eugenists argued that women were biologically designed to be morally superior; the moral and physical degeneration of the race thus depended on them taking responsibility for sexual selection
. By contrast, men were biologically designed for immorality; if the future were left to them, racial degeneration would inevitably result."

Angelique Richardson, "The Eugenization of Love: Sarah Grand and the Morality of Genealogy,"
Victorian Studies
42.2 (1999/2000): 7.
"Sarah Grand deployed the discourse of scientific theories such as Darwinism and evolutionary psychology to advocate her feminist ideas."

Stephanie Eggermont, "The Scientific Design of Sarah Grand's Short Story Collection Our Manifold Nature (1894)",
Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies
7.2 (2011): 1.
gender reversal
urban vs. rural
"That summer saw me seated one afternoon in a shady nook on a cliff in the north, overlooking the sea. Behind me there was a lovely stretch of country, hill and dale, field and forest, with the gold and ripening grain, the scarlet tint of intrusive poppies, and the manifold tints of green, shooting to gray, and even to yellow and brown in the woods, where the earlier trees were already assuming a dash of their autumn bravery ...
It was a scene to soothe and enlighten, for such solitudes people the mind with goodly companies of glad ideas, and just and vigorous thoughts

"Eugenia", p. 8.
"the clatter of tongues was bewildering.
Rank odours
of a variety of scents saluted one's afflicted nostrils ...
were more evident, and
grosser in the conduct
of them, than in Belgravia, and powder, paint, and paste-diamonds were flaunted more conspicuously. Tight lacing was also carried to a more painful extent. Women's voices shrilled loudly ... Most of the things said struck me as being disagreeably personal and flippant, when not actually course and rude. The laughter was noisy and incessant, but mirthless ...
there was obviously little if any genuine pleasure, and as to happiness, I could detect no line, even on the youngest face, to indicate it
. The predominant expression was one of anxiety ... Out of the crowd and heat into the open air was an intoxicating transition, so great was the relief of it. I stood for some minutes on the pavement inhaling deep draughts of the freshness, and feeling as if I could never rid myself of
the fever and fumes of that tawdry place

"Eugenia", pp. 3-4.
"his evening dress was altogether too calculated for effect, too evidently the outcome of
serious attention to be manly
. There was more than a suspicion of some horrid expensive
about him, and his cheeks had a velvety texture which was cruelly suggestive of

"Eugenia". p.11.
"he picked up the sticks by their dryest ends, and held them away from him

"Eugenia", p. 28.

shattered nerves
, shaken already by the horror of the quicksand, betrayed him."

"Eugenia", pp. 37-38.
Brinkhampton lacks both moral and physical courage.
scientific racism
"I believe I see the mistake we women have all made in the choice of our husbands. It is a universal mistake. We admired mere animal courage in a man which is only one form of courage, instead of requiring moral courage, which includes every other kind - until I came.
But I chose my husband for his moral qualities

"Eugenia", p. 51.
Women are given no agency in Darwin's theories of sexual selection, unlike their animal counterparts
"It [Eugenia's property] was a good deal encumbered by debts, but has been well nurse during Eugenia's long minority, and she is bent upon economy herself until it is cleared."

"Eugenia", p. 15.

"It's rather hard on the boys, but if it had not been for the curse, there probably would not have been any property by this time."

"Eugenia", p. 33.
Brinkhampton lacks the physical vitality of Eugenia and his physical degeneration is linked to his moral degeneration
Honore de Balzac,
The Wild Ass's Skin [La Peau de Chagrin]

"the mind was fuelled by willpower, or by a finite quantity of
, which constituted the vital force allotted to each individual; it could either be used sparingly, economised, and accumulated, or be
squandered unwisely through the gratification of desires

G. Blix, "The Occult Roots of Realism: Balzac, Mesmer, and Second Sight",
Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture
36 (2007): 265.
Eugenia is similarly connected to nature and to the 'old world'
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