Reading for Health: Medical Narratives and the Nineteenth-Century Novel
In Reading for Health: Medical Narratives and the Nineteenth-Century Novel, Erika Wright argues that the emphasis in Victorian Studies on disease as the primary source of narrative conflict that must be resolved has obscured the complex reading practices that emerge around the concept of health. By shifting attention to the ways that prevention of illness and the preservation of well-being operate in fiction, both thematically and structurally, Wright offers a new approach to reading character and voice, order and temporality, setting and metaphor. As Wright reveals, while canonical works by Austen, Brontë, Dickens, Martineau, and Gaskell register the pervasiveness of a conventional “therapeutic” form of action and mode of reading, they demonstrate as well an equally powerful investment in the achievement and maintenance of “health”—what Wright refers to as a “hygienic” narrative—both in personal and domestic conduct and in social interaction of the individual within the community.
A good and proper aristocrat on the isolated, seemingly backward planet of Haven, Genevieve has been carefully instructed in the Covenants – the ancient, inflexible laws governing the women of her class. She knows what is expected of her: marriage in her mid-twenties to a groom of her father's choosing, childbirth at age thirty. And then soon…
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