This article examines the narrative and political functions of illness in Zona Gale's 1923 novel Faint Perfume. Responding to representations of the female invalid in nineteenth-century domestic fiction, Gale challenges interpretations of the New Woman figure as a corrective to Victorian paradigms of feminine frailty and confinement. Through not only her protagonist's response to illness but also her novel's silences surrounding pain, Gale complicates pathologized notions of femininity by depicting the struggle to resist them. Faint Perfume emerges as a neuritic novel, one whose narrative muscles flare under the strain of political and cultural burden.


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