This article engages with the discourse of food and eating especially as related to the representation of the abject eating-disordered body. I will be particularly interested in the gothic representation of the anorexic and bulimic body in samples of medical advice literature and NHS websites and how they reinforce popular myths about anorexia by imagining the eating disordered body as a fixed object of abjection. Focusing on the use of gothic devices, tropes and narrative structure, these imaginations will be read against alternative representations of anorexic/bulimic bodies in autobiographical illness narratives, fictional accounts and a psychoanalytical case history in order to explore how gothic discourses can help opening up new understandings and conceptions of illness, healing and corporeality in the dialogue between medical staff and patients.
By the first decade of the twentieth century, Russia was experiencing a decadent period of cultural degeneration. Simultaneous with this artistic response, science was developing ways to identify medical conditions that supposedly reflected the health of the entire nation. Leonid Andreev (1871–1919), the leading literary figure of his time, stepped into the breech of this scientific discourse with literary works about degenerates. The spirited social debates on mental illness, morality and sexual deviance which resulted from these works became part of the ongoing battle over the definition and depiction of the irrational, complicated by Andreev’s own publicized bouts with neurasthenia. Specific to the study is the way in which Andreev readily accepted and incorporated scientific conjecture into his cultural production and how these works were in turn cited by medical authorities as confirmation of their theories, creating a circular argument. This book demonstrates the implications of scientific discourse on Russian concepts of mental illness and national health. It examines the concept of pathology in Russia, the influence of European medical discourse, the development of Russian psychiatry, and the role that it had on popular culture by investigating the life and works of Andreev. Although widely discussed in its European context, degeneration theory has not been afforded the same scholarly attention in Russian cultural studies. As a result, this study extends and challenges scholarship on the Russian fin de siècle, the emergence of psychiatry as a new medical science, and the role that art played in the development of this objective science.
, or in some cases avoiding, the young
Andreev’s depression, abuse of alcohol and thoughts of suicide.
As with most scholarly works on Andreev, we will begin with his birth
and childhood, but where this study strikes a different cord is when we
begin to examine Andreev’s adolescent diaries, which provide a personalized narrative of illness. Attention is given to Andreev’s illnessnarrative in order to suggest that melancholic episodes were the impetus
for much of his abnormal behavior. Recognizing the strong impact that
bouts of melancholy had on Andreev’s personal
dynamic and overlapping spheres, including lay referral networks, religious beliefs
and affiliation, literacy, language, popular illnessnarratives and so on. Equally,
individual concepts of illness could vary greatly according to factors such as
location and social status in Wales, making it difficult to assume a universal
experience. For these reasons, a straightforward narrative of medical approaches,
WITHEY 9780719085468 PRINT.indd 29
Medical knowledge in early modern Wales
merely identifying what people ‘believed’, would probably fail to
amount of time. There were, unquestionably, many factors that
contributed to his success. Yet, this chapter will mainly concentrate on
the development of Andreev’s particular illnessnarrative and how it
contributed to the author’s cultural relevancy. Stories about sexual
deviance and criminal madness propelled Andreev beyond literary
discussions and into larger debates about the health of the Russian
nation. His works were used by scientists, journalists and scholars alike
to support arguments of all colors and stripes, but the most important
being that Andreev was
unanswered by scholars. Although there will always
be differing opinions, Andreev’s experience with neurasthenia (specifically depression and anxiety) offers keys to understanding his personal
life (drinking binges, mood swings, romantic endeavors) and literary
themes (performance, institutional spaces, illnessnarrative). In so
doing, I have attempted to show how this might then alter our understanding of Andreev’s literary allegiances (realist or symbolist), how his
literary works interacted with the popular science of the day (degeneration theory) and why this
fourth line of medical discourse, which concentrates on the
author’s life and works in the light of degeneration theory, and offers a
new interpretation of Andreev’s place in Russian literary and cultural
discourse within the larger context of science in Russia at the beginning
of the twentieth century. Previous biographies do not satisfactorily
situate Andreev within the larger popular concerns of the era, thereby
ostracizing him from the period for which he was an important representative.
The approach employed in this study, illnessnarrative theory and
Uncanny assemblage and embodied scripts in tissue recipient horror
expression and body language complicate reassuring verbal or statistical data, but these intimate and troubling data are difficult to express or capture. 5 As in my previous chapter, there is a challenge to find ways to represent suffering that occurs over a long duration. In several cases, these early fictions foreshadow conceptual and affective work that attends transplantation. I then examine millennial works which imagine accepting strangeness rather than resisting it, and which also trouble the convention that illnessnarrative should achieve ‘coherence’ or a
weeks trying to talk
Andreev through this psychologically difficult state.11
Viewed in the context of illnessnarrative theory, ‘Red Laugh’ takes on
new relevance. As already noted, Andreev was concerned with his public
image and realized that his fame was connected to his celebrity as much
as to his literary works. At the time, mental illness, unlike the Romantic
notion of the tortured artist, was something to hide and deny since it
was becoming more closely related to the psychopath and social deviant.
In the United States, neurasthenia and its resulting treatment
Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson, and Roiyah Saltus
around Redbridge is
a “political stunt” ’, 2 August, www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/politics/go_home_or_face_arrest_van_driving_around_redbridge_is_a_political_stunt_1_2313424
[accessed 1 March 2016].
Kleinman , A.
( 1988 ) The IllnessNarratives: Suffering, Healing and the Human Condition , New York : Basic Books .
Lee , R.
( 1993 ) Doing