Takes a new look at problems surrounding the physical and material nature of the human body in eighteenty-century England.
This original book takes a new look at problems surrounding the physical, material nature of the human body, in particular as represented in the works of Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe. It examines the role that literary invention (with its rhetorical and linguistic strategies) plays in expressing and exploring the problems of physicality, and deals with issues such as sexuality, cannibalism, scatology and the fear of contagion. Swift and Defoe are seen as writers confronting the essentially modern problem of what it is to be human in a rapidly developing consumer economy, where individual bodies, beset by poverty and disease, are felt to be threatened by the enveloping masses of urban crowds. In an eclectic synthesis of recent approaches, Carol Flynn works into her study the insights provided by biographical and psychoanalytic criticism, Marxism and social history, studies of eighteenth-century philosophy, and feminist readings. Her challenging approach reviews the cost of being human, the 'expense' of material as opposed to spiritual life in eighteenth-century society, as it is revealed in its literature.
Table of Contents
Introduction: literary remains: the body as
matter for text
1. Dull organs: the matter of the body in the
2. The burthen in the belly
3. Consuming desires: Defoe's sexual systems
4. Flesh and blood: Swift's sexual strategies
5. The ladies: d--ned, insolent, proud,
6. Chains of consumption: the bodies of the poor
7. Consumptive fictions: cannibalism in Defoe
Afterword: ... suppose me dead
and then suppose ...