Reading the Brontë Body: Disease, Desire, and the Constraints of Culture

Paperback | July 15, 2010

byBeth Torgerson

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Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë's literary representations of illness and disease reflect the major role they played in the lives of the Victorians and their frequent reoccurrence within the Brontës' personal lives. Blending medical anthropology and the history of medicine, this book offers modern readers a sense of how health, illness, and the body were understood in Victorian England. Reading the Brontë Body is the first scholarly attempt to provide both the theoretical framework and historical background to make such a literary analysis of the Brontë novels possible.

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Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë's literary representations of illness and disease reflect the major role they played in the lives of the Victorians and their frequent reoccurrence within the Brontës' personal lives. Blending medical anthropology and the history of medicine, this book offers modern readers a sense of how health, illne...

Beth E. Torgerson is Assistant Professor of English at Eastern Washington University.Maria H. Frawley is Director of the Honors Program at George Washington University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.45 inPublished:July 15, 2010Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230103286

ISBN - 13:9780230103283

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Table of Contents

Introduction * "Sick of Mankind and Their Disgusting Ways": Alcoholism, Social Reform, and Anne Brontë's Narratives of Illness * Ailing Women in the Age of Cholera: Illness in Shirley * Hysteria, Female Desire, and Self-Control in Villette * Vampires, Ghosts, and the Disease of Dis/Possession * Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

"A cogently argued book....provides a unique perspective on the structure and content of the novels, and also represents a valuable historical background for any Brontë reader."--Brontë Studies  "This is an important and very useful approach to the always compelling Bronte sisters, one that takes the reader back to a most important element of their lives and the lives of their fictional characters, the gendered body and its individual and cultural ills."--Gail Turley Houston, The University of New Mexico“Torgerson has done an admirable job of showing, as her subtitle indicates, the ‘constraints of culture’ that inflected and arguably fuelled the Bronte sisters’ representations of illness.”—Victorian Review“A clearly written, well organized book”—VIJ Reviews