Strange Cases: The Medical Case History and the British Novel

Strange Cases: The Medical Case History and the British Novel

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Taylor & Francis
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Strange Cases: The Medical Case History and the British Novel

Strange Cases is the story of the mutual influence of the case history

and the British novel during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Fictions from Defoe's Roxana to James's The Turn of the Screw and

case histories from George Cheyne's to Sigmund Freud's have found

narrative impetus in pathology. The writer of a case history faces a

rhetorical bind unique to the human sciences: the need to display the

acumen of a scientist and the sympathy warranted to the suffering

patient. Repeatedly, case historians justify their publicizing of

extreme, often morbid or perverse, states of mind and body by

appealing to readers to take pity on patients and to recognize the

narrative as a vital social document. Diagnosis and sympathy, explicit

rhetorical modes in case histories, operate implicitly in novels,

shaping reader-identification. While these two narrative forms set out

to fulfill an Enlightenment drive to classify and explain, they also

raise social and epistemological questions that challenge some of the

Enlightenment's most cherished ideals, including faith in reason, the

perfectibility of humankind, and the stability of truth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780415977166
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 05/26/2006
Series: Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory Series
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 254
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures     vii
Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: A Story of Two Genres     1
Is Reading a Condition?     23
Science and Sensibility: Invasions of Privacy in Breast Cancer Narratives     61
Narrating Hypochondriacs: Jane Austen's Fiction and Three Case Histories     99
Agents of Insensibility: Altered States in Victorian Medicine and Fiction     139
"The Story Won't Tell": Ambiguity and Intersubjectivity in Henry James and Sigmund Freud     177
Afterword: Medical Agency and Human Remains     207
Notes     223
Works Cited     231
Index     241

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