Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body

Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body

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Anna Krugovoy Silver examines the ways nineteenth-century British writers used physical states of the female body - hunger, appetite, fat and slenderness - in the creation of female characters. Silver argues that anorexia nervosa, first diagnosed in 1873, serves as a paradigm for the cultural ideal of middle-class womanhood in Victorian Britain. In addition, Silver relates these literary expressions to the representation of women's bodies in the conduct books, beauty manuals and other non-fiction prose of the period, contending that women 'performed' their gender and class alliances through the slender body. Silver discusses a wide range of writers including Charlotte Bronte, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Bram Stoker and Lewis Carroll to show that mainstream models of middle-class Victorian womanhood share important qualities with the beliefs or behaviours of the anorexic girl or woman.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 236 pages
  • 151 x 229 x 12mm | 351g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reissue
  • 2 Halftones, unspecified
  • 0521025516
  • 9780521025515
  • 1,223,762

Table of contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction; 1. Waisted women: reading Victorian slenderness; 2. Appetite in Victorian children's literature; 3. Hunger and repression in Shirley and Villette; 4. Vampirism and the anorexic paradigm; 5. Christina Rossetti's sacred hunger; Conclusion: the politics of thinness; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
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Review quote

'Silver's rigorous investigation of the relationship between anorexia and Victorian literature and culture has the revelatory effect of crystallizing latent knowledge.' The Times Literary Supplement
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About Anna Krugovoy Silver

Anna Krugovoy Silver is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Women's and Gender Studies at Mercer University. She has published essays in Studies in English and Victorians Institute Journal.
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Rating details

40 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
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4 40% (16)
3 22% (9)
2 5% (2)
1 0% (0)
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