In Wilkie Collins’s 1872 novel Poor Miss Finch, epilepsy is represented as an event which brings modifying effects through the kind of writing developed in Collins’s earlier, more ‘canonical’ sensation fictions. Drawing on ideas explored in the medical literature of his day, especially the works of Edward Sieveking, Charles Radcliffe, and Russell Reynolds, Collins portrays epileptic disorder as a shock which establishes a new plot trajectory and allows for an examination of the apparent intersections between biology, identity, and different models of (biological) determinism. The argyria experienced by Oscar Dubourg in response to chemical treatment for epileptic seizures and the theft of his identity by his identical twin brother Nugent both literalise a perceived loss of character believed to be an effect of epilepsy. But in Oscar the neurological condition also allows for modifications in the development of new, heroic, and sympathetic depths of character. The theories of neurological compensation developed by John Hughlings Jackson inspired Poor Miss Finch to demonstrate how the calamitous and the sensational (embodied here in epileptic seizures) play a fundamental role in real life and that our constitutions have evolved to respond creatively and dynamically to such events.
|British and Irish Language, Literature and Culture, Literary Theory, Literary Studies (Other)
|Early Pub Date
|January 22, 2024
|January 28, 2024
|November 23, 2023
|December 5, 2023
|Published in Issue
|Year 2024 Issue: Special Issue: Wilkie Collins
Çankaya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
Genel Yayın Yönetmeni, Öğretmenler Caddesi No.14, 06530, Balgat, Ankara.
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CUJHSS, ISSN 1309-6761