The Servant′s Hand

English Fiction from Below

The Servant′s Hand

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: Published: September 1993

Author: Bruce Robbins

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

A work of innovative literary and cultural history, The Servant's Hand examines the representation of servants in nineteenth-century British fiction. Wandering in the margins of these texts that are not about them, servants are visible only as anachronistic appendages to their masters and as functions of traditional narrative form. Yet their persistence, Robbins argues, signals more than the absence of the "ordinary people" they are taken to represent. Robbins's argument offers a new and distinctive approach to the literary analysis of class, while it also bodies forth a revisionist counterpolitics to the realist tradition from Homer to Virginia Woolf. Originally published in 1986 (Columbia University Press), The Servant's Hand is appearing for the first time in paperback.


“The relations [Robbins] perceives between servants and those they serve are dense with complexity and sophistication. . . . [This] magisterially learned and wide-ranging book looks backwards over social structures, tensions, and cooperations that have defined our shared past for centuries.” — Dinah Birch , London Review of Books

“It is not simply one of the best books I know on nineteenth century English fiction; it is also one of the most powerful, inventive, and consistently interesting works of Marxist criticism. . .” — Andrew Parker, Amherst College

"This is one of the best books of the last decade. . . remarkably original and important. Robbins's deep concern for literary and cultural theory supports and focuses his close attention to reading specific works as they arise from and function within a history lived and made by human beings. I don't know a better example of the connections between literary and cultural studies." — Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Bruce W. Robbins is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface ix

Introduction: The Secret Pressure of a Working Hand 1

1. From Odysseus' Scar to the Brown Stocking: A Tradition 25

2. Impertinence: The Servant in Dialogue 53

3. Exposition: The Servant as Narrator 91

4. Agency: The Servant as Instrument of the Plot 131

5. Recognition: The Servant in the Ending 167

Conclusion: Commonplace and Utopia 205

Notes 227

Bibliography 239

Index 255
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1397-7
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