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The Male Body in Medicine and Literature$
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Andrew Mangham and Daniel Lea

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940520

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786940520.001.0001

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‘Intellectual suicides’

‘Intellectual suicides’

The Man of Letters in Middlemarch

(p.64) Chapter Four ‘Intellectual suicides’
The Male Body in Medicine and Literature

Christine Crockett Sharp

Liverpool University Press

In her essay Christine Crockett Sharp addresses the body as afflicted by a debilitating search for knowledge and truth, which runs against the doctrine of Victorian muscular masculinity. Masturbation, Sharp demonstrates, provoked horror in the nineteenth-century mind because of its association with a deliberate self-incapacitation. The weakness and impotence that it was believed to induce, allied to its suspiciousness as a solitary pursuit, runs counter to the imperatives underpinning imperial and commercial vigour. In Middlemarch, Casaubon is an etiolated husk of a man not primarily because of the impossibility of his intellectual task but because of his self-inflicted moral wound.

Keywords:   Middlemarch, George Eliot, Masturbation, Male body, Reproduction, Casaubon

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