In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 333 G. S. Rousseau, Enlightenment Borders: Pre- and Post-Modem Discourses: Medical, Scientific. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991. Distributed in the United States and Canada by St. Martin's Press, xv + 359 pp. Clothbound, $90.00. Enlightenment Borders is the middle volume of a three-volume set of G. S. Rousseau's essays on eighteenth-century British studies issued last year by Manchester University Press. Volumes 1 and 3 are Enlightenment Crossings and Perilous Enlightenment. Just as this second volume focuses on medical and scientific borders in British cultural history, the first and last volumes deal with subjects anthropological and sexual (volume 1) and historical (volume 3). Volume 2 contains thirteen essays divided into two parts, medical (seven essays) and scientific (six essays). Rousseau has pubUshed all these essays elsewhere over the past twenty-two years, and he introduces each essay with a few intellectual, personal, and historical notes. He has rewritten neither the essays nor the notes for this collection. "Disguise," he writes in his acknowledgments, "plays no role in the act of collecting and presenting them here, and the fact is that these essays were written over the span of a quarter of a century for different audiences on different occasions. It insults the reader's intelligence to pretend that this had not been the case, or to glaze over this plain fact by artificially recasting or reshaping them here" (p. vii). Rousseau is no stranger to readers of Literature and Medicine. He has been a contributing editor since 1984 and one of its authors as well. Indeed, the second essay in Enlightenment Borders first appeared in volume 5 (1986) as "Literature and Medicine: Towards a Simultaneity of Theory and Practice." For those readers who pitch their tents wherever and whenever other Uterature-and-medicine followers congregate, Rousseau will also be famiUar as a respected exegete of matters eighteenthcentury at Modern Language Association conferences and as a founder of the Society for Literature and Science, the organization for which he wrote essay 10, originally titled "Till We Have Built Jerusalem," in 1986. Anyone who has heard Rousseau explicate subjects ranging from Bachelard to AIDS in fiction appreciates firsthand the clarity that is not given to every scholar, and certainly not to many wearing MLA robes. This talent for clear and careful exposition is one of the book's strengths. Another is Rousseau's success in his professed effort to demonstrate the bidirectionality of the influences between literature and science . One must also admire Rousseau's "act of intellectual will as much as a temperamental proclivity" for "writing essays in the borderlands 334 BOOK REVIEWS between academic disciplines and crossing over their perilous boundaries " (p. ix). Rousseau does this well and does it often. His essays— each an object lesson in interdiscipUnarity—mix and match such disciplines as history, Uterature, philology, and sociology, while they treat subjects that range from pineapples (essay 7) to the statistics and profiles of readers and publishers in eighteenth-century England (essay 12). It is inspiring to watch Rousseau lope (and, some might criticize, interlope) over the entire terrain of eighteenth-century England and traverse both those well-marked and heavily trafficked domains that are guarded by the professorial sentries of estabUshed disciplines and the rambling preserves on the outskirts of those domains, where scholarship—the most exciting scholarship for some of us—is best called poaching. We thus encounter essays like "Medicine and Millenarianism," a study of George Cheyne, wherein Rousseau blends biography, social history, history of medicine, literary criticism, and other genres to analyze the interactions, in Cheyne's Ufe and career, between cultural and personal events of the eighteenth century. Rousseau's essay is well developed , fair, and astute in placing Cheyne in context. He is at the heart of certain movements, such as millenarianism and dietary reform; in other contexts, he is more at the periphery, where he is acted upon and not the actor; and in still other contexts, such as iatromechanics and Newtonianism, his importance oscillates. Like Linus Pauling in James D. Watson's book The Double Helix, Newton is an unseen force that dominates Enlightenment Borders and lurks in the background of each essay. Rousseau...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 333-336
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.