Doctoring the Novel
Medicine and Quackery from Shelley to Doyle
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Ohio University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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How do we know whether a literary representation of a medical practitioner signifies authority or foolishness, science or irrationality, compassion or self-interest, orthodoxy or quackery? Scenes involving medical practitioners are common in nineteenth-century novels and are frequently addressed in criticism about this period, often taken as...
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Research for this book began several years ago at the Historical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia with the generous support of an F. C. Wood Fellowship, for which I was and am very grateful. My research continued in Pittsburgh because of two invaluable Faculty Fellowships from Robert Morris University. In my archival research...
Introduction: False Professions: Defining Orthodoxy and Quackery
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In one dramatic scene in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester leaves Jane to nurse his guest, the bleeding, traumatized Mr. Mason, on the third floor of Thornfield Hall after a mysterious midnight incident in which Mason is stabbed and bitten. After a long, dark night sponging Mason’s bloody wounds, Jane is relieved...
Chapter One: Orthodoxy or Quackery? Anatomy in Frankenstein
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In 1828, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Sir Astley Cooper, testified before the Select Committee on Anatomy. Charged with inquiring into the state of anatomical research, the committee’s report consists of questions by the legislators to various witnesses including surgeons, physicians, hospital authorities...
Chapter Two: Doctoring in Little Dorrit and Bleak House
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This chapter examines the complexities of doctoring in two novels by Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1853) and Little Dorrit (1857). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the verb “to doctor” may denote “to treat, as a doctor or physician; to administer medicine or medical treatment to” and also “to repair, patch up, set to rights.”1...
Chapter Three: Legerdemain and the Physician in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette
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As the sickly, secretive, first-person narrator of Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853), Lucy Snowe is often connected both to medicine and to narrative unreliability but only rarely to fraud.1 Athena Vrettos examines Lucy in the context of nineteenth-century nervous disease, arguing that Lucy’s narrative concretizes the vague symptoms of...
Chapter Four: Poisons and the Poisonous in Wilkie Collins’s Armadale
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Poison is a tricky entity. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines poison as “a substance which, on ingestion, inhalation, absorption, application, injection, or development within the body, in relatively small amounts, may cause structural damage or functional disturbance.”1 Thus, a poison is a chemical either foreign or native to...
Chapter Five: The Quackery of Arthur Conan Doyle
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At first glance, William Osler’s advice to medical students in “Aequanimitas” seems very practical. Although medicine lauds truth as an ideal, practitioners make decisions every day based on incomplete or ambiguous information, and Osler recognized that cultivating equanimity was one way of maintaining stability in emotionally...
Conclusion: The In-Laws: Orthodoxy and Quackery in Vernon Galbray
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The anonymous novel Vernon Galbray; or, The Empiric: The History of a Quack Dentist (1875) describes the career of Samuel Moses, a part-English, part-Dutch, Jewish dentist from Rotterdam. Moses changes his name to Vernon Galbray and moves to England...
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Publication Year: 2012