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The Wandering Bachelor: Irving, Masculinity, and Authorship

American Literature Irving’s famous status as bachelor, the man without his own family, mirrored his equally well-known identity as expatriate author, the man without a country. At the same time, his chosen vocation as author rendered him a man without a profession. Unemployed, unmarried, and expatriated, Washington Irving was, so to speak, a man without.4 One of the early male sentimentalists in the United States, Irving understood well the connection between personal privation and the production of sentiment, a recipe for literary output memorably embodied in the figure of expatriate tourist Geoffrey Crayon, Irving’s early national bachelor-author. In the ironic sentimentality of Crayon’s scribbling tourism, Irving constructed a voice of early national bachelordom, a discourse that contained contradictory aspects of American masculine selfhood in the 1820s. On the one hand, the bachelor’s idle and sexually suspect un-reproductivity served as a focal point in much of the writing about bachelors in this period. Negative accounts of the bachelor implied a range of disagreeable traits, from excessive vanity, to suspicious misogyny, to the celibate’s destruction of America itself. In his unfettered itinerancy, on the other hand, the bachelor embodied the fantasy of American freedom as self-directed mobility and political independence. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Literature Duke University Press

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