Castration, Impotence, and Emasculation in the Long Eighteenth Century

1st Edition

Anne Leah Greenfield

December 11, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 280 Pages - 17 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780367437398 - CAT# K455139
Series: Routledge Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature

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This essay collection examines one of the most fearsome, fascinating, and hotly-discussed topics of the long eighteenth century: masculinity compromised. During this timespan, there was hardly a literary or artistic genre that did not feature unmanning regularly and prominently: from harrowing tales of castrations in medical treatises, to emasculated husbands in stage comedies, to sympathetic and powerful eunuchs in prose fiction, to glorious operatic performances by castrati in Italy, to humorous depictions in caricature and satirical paintings, to fearsome descriptions of Eastern eunuchs in travel narratives, to foolish and impotent old men who became a mainstay in drama. Not only does this unprecedented study of unmanning (in all of its varied forms) illustrate the sheer prevalence of a trope that featured prominently across literary and artistic genres, but it also demonstrates the ways diminished masculinity reflected some of the most strongly-held anxieties, interests, and values of eighteenth-century Britons.

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