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Literature and Medicine in Nineteenth-Century Britain
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  • Page extent: 0 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm

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 (ISBN-13: 9780511262326)

Although we have come to regard 'clinical' and 'romantic' as oppositional terms, romantic literature and clinical medicine were fed by the same cultural configurations. In the pre-Darwinian nineteenth century, writers and doctors developed an interpretive method that negotiated between literary and scientific knowledge of the natural world. Literary writers produced potent myths that juxtaposed the natural and the supernatural, often disturbing the conventional dualist hierarchy of spirit over flesh. Clinicians developed the two-part history and physical examination, weighing the patient's narrative against the evidence of the body. Examining fiction by Mary Shelley, Carlyle, the Brontës and George Eliot, alongside biomedical lectures, textbooks and articles, Janis McLarren Caldwell demonstrates the similar ways of reading employed by nineteenth-century doctors and imaginative writers and reveals the complexities and creative exchanges of the relationship between literature and medicine.

• Finds common ground in the history of nineteenth-century literature and medical science of the time • A truly interdisciplinary study as Caldwell is a trained medical doctor as well as a literary scholar • Caldwell demonstrates that medical diagnostic tools have much in common with narrative techniques


Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction: Romantic materialism; 2. Science and sympathy in Frankenstein; 3. Natural supernaturalism in Thomas Carlyle and Richard Owen; 4. Wuthering Heights and domestic medicine: the child's body and the book; 5. Literalization in the novels of Charlotte Brontë; 6. Charles Darwin and Romantic medicine; 7. Middlemarch and the medical case report: the patient's narrative and the physical exam; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


Review of the hardback: '… it contains some useful work on an impressive array of primary sources. The influence of medicine and medical theory on Romantic and Victorian writers remains insufficiently acknowledged. Janis McLarren Caldwell restores that influence to its rightful place.' The Times Literary Supplement

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