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Morbid Taste, Morbid Anatomy and Victorian Popular Literature

Laurence Talairach-Vielmas    Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès/Centre Alexandre Koyré, France    



This article examines the role that references to morbid anatomy played in some popular Victorian novels, such as those of Wilkie Collins. Because the allusions to morbid anatomy were closely related to the new type of realism that Victorian popular literature proposed, they participated in the definition of popular literature as vulgar, offensive and dangerous for impressionable young women. As this paper shows, indeed, images of morbid anatomy do not simply highlight and capitalize on the Victorians’ morbid fascination with death. Above all, by embodying and recording cultural responses to medical science, they offer insights into definitions of popular literature and popular taste. 

Dec. 1, 2015

Keywords: MedicineAnatomySensation fictionBody

Copyright: © 2015 Laurence Talairach-Vielmas. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.