This brief article considers Leo Bersani’s descriptions of Maggie Verver, a character in Henry James’s novel The Golden Bowl, in relation to some of Bersani’s famous arguments about sexuality. Observing that Bersani’s presentation of Maggie in “The Jamesian Lie” and elsewhere makes her an apt figure not just for sexuality but also for Bersani’s later notion of queer sex as a negation of the social, the article considers both how an ampler consideration of this character might reflect back on Bersani’s use of her to instantiate his claims about desire, and how his account of Maggie might speak to readers torn between competing accounts of queer negativity.

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