This book is a study of constructions of masculinity in a range of medical, cultural and Gothic narratives at the fin de siecle. The final decades of the nineteenth century provide a particularly complex set of examples of how the dominant masculine scripts came to be associated with disease, degeneration and perversity. The book first outlines the theories of degeneracy, explaining how they relate to masculinity. It then charts an alternative British tradition of degeneracy as this British context provides a more immediate background to the case histories that follow. The book presents a close reading of Sir Frederick Treves's Reminiscences; Treves's memoirs focus on the issues confronted by doctors working in the late Victorian period. The Whitechapel murders of 1888 are then discussed. The book focuses on how and why the medical profession became implicated in the murders. The murders also suggested the presence of a demonic, criminalised form of masculine control over the East End. Continuing with its focus on medicine, the book discusses medical textbooks on syphilis in the 1880s and how they responded to a shift in attitude towards attributing responsibility for the spread of syphilis. An examination of how London appears as a gendered space in the work of male authors such as Thomas De Quincey, and Charles Dickens, and later Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, is presented. Finally, some aspects of Oscar Wilde's trials are also examined as well as a range of his writings.
writing on the city is freighted with ideas about gender, so that
the city itself becomes figured as a space which possesses often
conflicting gender identities. These early and mid-nineteenth century
narratives also provide a conceptualisation of the city which underpins
Doyle’s and Stoker’s versions of the city at the fin de
siècle. To this end I will explore ThomasDeQuincey’s nightmares of
Quarterly Review that the
essay was autobiographical (a contention which failed to convince those
who knew Lamb well). The fact that it was first published eight years
before ThomasDeQuincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-eater makes
it the earliest example we have of the ‘confessional’ narrative of addiction
– a narrative form which would play a central role in shaping wider cultural
beliefs about both what addiction was and how it should be treated.
‘Confessions of a drunkard’ was unique because it was written from
most influential statements of poetic theory of the period, Wordsworth’s 1800/1802 Preface to the Lyrical Ballads and Shelley’s 1821 ‘Defence of Poetry’. 43 But it is also famously encapsulated in ThomasDeQuincey’s influential distinction between the literature of ‘power’ and the literature of ‘knowledge’. De Quincey first broaches the topic in five articles published in 1823 in the London Magazine entitled ‘Letters to a Young Man Whose Education has been Neglected’. It is in the third letter that the distinction is fully explained. The ‘philosophical’ use of
contribute to the reformation of the canon of 1890s decadent writers by
Richard Marsh and object relations
arguing that the middlebrow Richard Marsh was very much a product of
the aesthetics and decadence espoused by ThomasDeQuincey, Walter
Pater and Oscar Wilde, and a significant transmitter of aesthetic discourse into the popular fiction of the period.
Marsh had engaged with the debate over the value of art in his earliest writings, including his final novel as Bernard Heldmann, Daintree
(1883), his very first as ‘Richard Marsh’, The Devil’s Diamond (1893), the
There may, of course, be many texts that have not yet attracted our
attention in the still neglected field of Romantic-period Sino-British
cultural relations; however, the absence of a major literary treatment of
an explicitly Chinese subject by one of the canonical Romantic poets,
novelists or essayists raises questions. The only exceptions are Coleridge’s
‘Kubla Khan’, Lamb’s rather whimsical essays ‘Old China’ and ‘A
Dissertation Upon Roast Pig’ and, of course, ThomasDeQuincey’s
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821). All these texts, it might
The Books of Blood and the transformation of the weird
(1927), an important critic and constructor of a canon. Lovecraft
himself uses the term ‘weird’ to denote, in typically
overblown fashion, ‘a malign and particular suspension of
those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the
assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space’. 10 Here
there is an echo of ThomasDeQuincey's essay on
Macbeth , where
Documentary Life of Herman Melville, 1819–1891, 2 vols
(New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1951), vol. 2, p. 557.
9 Stendhal, quoted in Bruce Hayley, Living Forms: Romantics and the Monumental
Figure (New York: State University of New York Press, 2003), p. 203.
10 Dickens, Pictures from Italy, pp. 147–8.
11 ThomasDeQuincey, ‘Percy Bysshe Shelley’, in The Works of ThomasDeQuincey, 16
vols (Edinburgh: Adam & Charles Black, 1862), vol. 5, p. 28.
12 Shelley’s Poetry and Prose, p. 240.
13 Shelley’s Poetry and Prose, p. 238.
14 Nathaniel Hawthorne, French and Italian Notebooks
which the reader can interpret as a metaphor for the
morphine alluded to in the title, is presented in ambivalent terms and
seems to be constructed using various literary references. The morphine
injection that draws the poem to a close is dedicated to such a figure. The
lack of punctuation marks and proper grammatical structures throughout
the poem, paired with the many references to desolation, add a nightmarish atmosphere to a composition dominated by intertexual references
to ThomasDeQuincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821),
Marcel Schwob’s Le
Conflicting signifiers of vice in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Mystery of Edwin Drood
paralysis of all the noblest forms of life’ – opium certainly could be part of that process of degradation. 39 ThomasDeQuincey, the original, self-styled, English opium eater, commenced his use of the drug on the advice of a friend. After suffering ‘excruciating rheumatic pains in the head and face’ for twenty days, De Quincey recalls, ‘By accident, I met a college acquaintance who recommended opium’. 40 Although De Quincey’s recourse to the drug had a medical origin, a friend (such as Dorian Gray) might, equally, commend the drug to others for recreational or non