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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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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 31 March 2020

‘Human Nature is Remorseless’

‘Human Nature is Remorseless’

Masculinity, Medical Science and Nervous Conditions in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway

Chapter:
(p.120) Chapter Seven ‘Human Nature is Remorseless’
Source:
The Male Body in Medicine and Literature
Author(s):

Avishek Parui

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781786940520.003.0008

Post-traumatic stress is the subject of Avishek Parui’s essay. For Parui the male body emerges in Woolf’s novel as ‘the site where the biopolitical gaze enacts its corrective measures and its heavy-handed censorship of deviance’, and the broken spirit and destroyed mind of Septimus Warren Smith are marginalised by clear social and medical discourses of ‘proper’ masculinity as defined by a militarised culture. Smith is subject to a very clear disciplinary regime that reminds him of his duty to be a man: Parui suggests that this brings about not just suppression but erasure of the emotional life, making Smith less, not more, of a man. Ultimately the essay suggests that Woolf’s treatment of this coerced manliness represents an epistemic shift towards the more conscious engagement with the dual functions of interior and exterior selfhood that characterised the twentieth century.

Keywords:   Posttraumatic stress, Virginia Woolf, Gender, Manliness

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