Deprivation And Power

Overview

Looking at the sociohistorical and sociocultural context, this study investigates examples of anorexia nervosa, a highly symbolic form of nonverbal discourse, in a selection of French novels spanning the period 1835-1889. In each of the novels, there is an unmistakable association between literal and figurative hunger, whereby the protagonists become human signs of their private, unconscious protest. They refuse food not because they are not hungry, but because they hunger too much for effectiveness and ...

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Overview

Looking at the sociohistorical and sociocultural context, this study investigates examples of anorexia nervosa, a highly symbolic form of nonverbal discourse, in a selection of French novels spanning the period 1835-1889. In each of the novels, there is an unmistakable association between literal and figurative hunger, whereby the protagonists become human signs of their private, unconscious protest. They refuse food not because they are not hungry, but because they hunger too much for effectiveness and self-fulfillment in the face of a repressive society.

Each protagonist, when confronted with her severely limited options and overwhelming sense of ineffectiveness, discovers self-empowerment through disorderly eating. The starving body functions as a register of emotional anguish, low self-esteem, and powerlessness. Through a kind of gender-switching, most of the protagonists voluntarily take on, in an attempt to challenge society's restrictive view of femininity, what are commonly considered to be masculine characteristics. This book will be of interest to students and faculty of literature as well as women's and gender studies. Professional therapists dealing with anorexia will find new insight in this informative and unique presentation of the topic.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Finds in French novels of the period 1835-89 examples of women who deny themselves adequate food intake in order to exert their need for self-empowerment, a practice McEachern interprets as an attempt to compensate for Eve's original sin of eating. The period produced no novels specifically about anorexia, but the symptoms are visible in several women characters and can reveal how the disorder functioned as a literary device for accessing power. Excerpts are in both French and English. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

PATRICIA A. McEACHERN is Assistant Professor of French in the Department of Languages at Drury College, Springfield, Missouri.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Eve's Curse 1
1 A Woman's Place: "Much Ado About Nothing" 25
2 Lenten Ladies: "Tis a Consummation Devoutly to be Wished" 73
3 Worth Her Weight: Embonpoint and la Femme-Homme 111
4 The Cult of Fragility: How Enfeeblement Leads to Empowerment 141
Conclusion 173
Bibliography 179
Index 189
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