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Material TransgressionsBeyond Romantic Bodies, Genders, Things$
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Kate Singer, Ashley Cross, and Suzanne Barnett

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621778

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621778.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 11 April 2021

Phantasmion, or the Confessions of a Female Opium Eater

Phantasmion, or the Confessions of a Female Opium Eater

Chapter:
(p.275) Chapter Twelve Phantasmion, or the Confessions of a Female Opium Eater
Source:
Material Transgressions
Author(s):

Donelle Ruwe

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789621778.003.0013

This chapter analyzes the female opium narrative through a comparison of Sara Coleridge’s children’s novel Phantasmion and the texts of De Quincey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Phantasmion, the first fairy tale novel in English, explores the fluidity of the physical body through the travails of its hero, Prince Phantasmion. He metamorphoses into insects, falls into vision states, and finally comes into his own in a climactic scene in which he carries the dead body of his mother out of a sand trap. Part insect narrative, part opium text, and part guilt-ridden maternal autobiography, Phantasmion exemplifies Teresa Brennan’s concepts of entrainment and the transmission of affect. This essay begins with a discussion of the maternal body and opium use, with a focus on Coleridge’s breastfeeding diaries and her verse for children. The second section links the novel’s use of insect poetics and physical metamorphoses to Jane Bennett’s ideas about the vibrancy of matter. The concluding section explores the autobiographical elements of Phantasmion as well as its use of a particular opium involute that was inspired by Martin Dobrizhoffer’s account of his time among the Guarani people of Paraguay. As Coleridge repeats this involute throughout her text, the hero Phantasmion gradually comes to understand his own human frailty.

Keywords:   Sara Coleridge, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, Insect poetics, Opium, Maternal body, Teresa Brennan, Jane Bennett, Dobrizhoffer, Phantasmion

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