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The article introduces “the visceral novel reader” as a diachronic, context-sensitive mode of novelistic reception, in which fact and fiction overlap cognitively: the mental rehearsal of the activity of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching while reading novels and, vice versa, the mental rehearsal of novels in the act of perceiving the real world. Located at the intersection of literature, medicine and science, “the visceral novel reader” enhances our understanding of the role that novels played in the dialectic construction of erudition in English. In Georgian Britain, reading practices became a testing ground for the professionalization of physicians, natural philosophers, and men of letters. While it was in the professionals’ common interest to implement protocols that taught readers to separate body from mind, and fact from fiction, novels came to stand for “debased” (visceral) reading. Novels inverted these notions by means of medicalization (regimentation, somatization, and individuation) and contributed to the professional stratification of medicine and literature.