“Beyond Hope, Help, or Remedy”: Confession, Cure, and the Hypochondriac's Narrative

Maria H. Frawley

in Invalidism and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2004 | ISBN: 9780226261201
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226261225 | DOI:
“Beyond Hope, Help, or Remedy”: Confession, Cure, and the Hypochondriac's Narrative

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This chapter explores the use that invalid authors made of the confessional mode and studies how its conventions aided their self-fashioning as particular kinds of patients. Edward Bulwer-Lytton's “Confessions and Observations of a Water Patient,” the anonymous Confessions of a Hypochondriac, and, much later in the century, John Addington Symonds's Memoirs reveal a variety of ways that the confessional mode served especially well those invalids who believed the source of their debility was deeply rooted in Victorian ideologies of manhood, particularly those that linked sexual health to industry. To begin an inquiry into these issues, the chapter examines rhetoric deployed in the opening pages of Confessions of a Hypochondriac, describing the symptoms that led the author on a long and difficult journey of medical and personal discovery.

Keywords: invalid authors; confessional mode; Edward Bulwer-Lytton; Hypochondriac; John Addington Symonds; Memoirs; manhood; sexual health

Chapter.  21224 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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