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Jana Funke

his chronic dyspepsia. The offspring of a grocer who had ruined his business through an ever increasing 194 ‘The World’ and other unpublished works fondness of brandy, of a woman so physically unfit to breed that the birth of their son had proved her undoing, Paul had ailed from the moment he drew his first breath. A puling infant, a sickly child, he had known all the galling deprivations that fall to the lot of a delicate boy, preparing the soil for adult inhibitions. At school he had been the butt of the strong, and at home the butt of his drunken father. When

in ‘The World’ and other unpublished works of Radclyffe Hall
Frederick H. White

, real symptoms seemed to lead to very unattractive outcomes. The point is not to dismiss these diagnoses as simple hocus-pocus, but to understand them in their cultural context and the personalized anxiety they caused. Irina Sirotkina argues that the Russian diagnosis of neurasthenia was different from the Western diagnosis in which the rapid pace of industrial life supposedly sapped the individual’s life-force. ‘The archetypal Russian neurasthenic was hard-working, intelligent, often poor and a physically unfit person, oppressed by a lack of freedom and suffering

in Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle