Uncovers the origins of midlife anxiety in Victorian print culture.
Aging by the Book offers an innovative look at the ways in which middle age, which for centuries had been considered the prime of life, was transformed during the Victorian era into a period of decline. Single women were nearing middle age at thirty, and mothers in their forties were expected to become sexless; meanwhile, fortyish men anguished over whether their “time for love had gone by.” Looking at well-known novels of the period, as well as advertisements, cartoons, and medical and advice manuals, Kay Heath uncovers how this ideology of decline permeated a changing culture. Aging by the Book unmasks and confronts midlife anxiety by examining its origins, demonstrating that our current negative attitude toward midlife springs from Victorian roots, and arguing that only when we understand the culturally constructed nature of age can we expose its ubiquitous and stealthy influence.
|Publisher:||State University of New York Press|
|Series:||SUNY series, Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century Series|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Kay Heath is Associate Professor of English at Virginia State University.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction: The Rise of Midlife in Victorian Britain
2. “No Longer the Man He Was”: Age Anxiety in the Male Midlife Marriage Plot
3. “The Neutral Man-Woman”: Female Desexualization at Midlife
4. Marriageable at Midlife: The Remarrying Widows of Frances Trollope and Anthony Trollope
5. In the Eye of the Beholder: Victorian Age Construction and the Specular Self
6. “How To Keep Young”: Advertising and Late-Victorian Age Anxiety
7. Afterword: The Future of Midlife