Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

IV.3 Hudson

Self-control, or the balance necessary to maintain one’s productive powers, is framed in Roderick Hudson as a masculine strength. As Roderick grows more anxious over his artistic agency, he considers himself to be less of a man: “Six months ago I could stand up to my work like a man, day after day, and never dream of asking myself how I felt.” Roderick grows increasingly hysterical after his return. If Rowland’s hope centered on Roderick’s ability to balance his mysterious feminine energy with a masculine work ethic, then Roderick indeed disappoints.

As the stress of producing new artwork weighs on the artist, he grows increasingly emotional: “He was discontented with his work, he applied himself to it by fits and starts, he declared that he didn’t know what was coming over him; he was turning into a man of moods.” Roderick’s misreading of Rowland’s somnambulism metaphor causes him further distress, for he grows increasingly dependent upon moments of subconscious inspiration. He asks Rowland: “Is this of necessity what a fellow must come to . . . this damnable uncertainty when one goes to bed at night as to whether one is going to wake up in an ecstasy or in a tantrum?” Paradoxically, Roderick’s growing emphasis on his need for rest prevents him from attaining a full night’s sleep. By fretting over the possibility of awakening without inspiration, he deprives himself of the calm necessary for bodily repose.

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