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Out of the Blue? Epilepsy, Sensation and Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch

Year 2024, Issue: Special Issue: Wilkie Collins, 1 - 20, 28.01.2024
https://doi.org/10.47777/cankujhss.1413123

Abstract

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.

References

  • Ascari, M. (2009). ‘The Shadow of the Future’: Dreams, Fate and Suspense in Armadale. In M. Costantini (ed.), Armadale: Wilkie Collins and the Dark Threads of Life (197-215) Aracne.
  • Bauman, A. (2008). Epilepsy, Crime, and Masculinity in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Thou Art the Man. Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, 4(2), n.p.
  • Brodie, B.C. (1828). Pathological and Surgical Observations Relating to Injuries of the Brain. Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, 14, 325-428.
  • Brophy, G. (2019). Fit and Counterfeit: The Volatile Values of Epilepsy in Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch. Journal of Victorian Culture, 24(4), 535-550.
  • Brusberg-Kiermeier, S. (2023). The Sublimation of Unfitness in Victorian Fiction: Domesticating the Grotesque and Extending the Readers’ Sympathies. Universitätsverlag Hildesheim.
  • Collins, W. (1990). Basil, ed. by D. Goldman. Oxford World Classics.
  • Collins, W. (2000). Poor Miss Finch, ed. by C. Peters. Oxford World Classics.
  • Darwin, C. (1859). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. John Murray.
  • Durgan, J. (2015). Wilkie Collins’s Blue Period: Color, Aesthetics, and Race in Poor Miss Finch. Victorian Literature and Culture, 43, 765-783.
  • Esquirol, J. E. D. (1845). Mental Maladies: A Treatise on Insanity, trans. by E. K. Hunt. Lea and Blanchard.
  • Frank, A.W. (1995) The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, Ethics. University of Chicago Press.
  • Gladden, S. L. (2005). Spectacular Deceptions: Closets, Secrets, and Identity in Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch. Victorian Literature and Culture, 33, 467-486.
  • Gordon, C.A. (1886). New Theory and Old Practice in Relation to Medicine and Certain Industries. Williams and Norgate.
  • Greenblatt, S. H. (2023). John Hughlings Jackson: Clinical Neurology, Evolution, and Victorian Brain Science. Oxford University Press.
  • Guthrie, G. J. (1855). Commentaries on the Surgery of the War in Portugal, Spain, France, and the Netherlands (6th ed.). Henry Renshaw.
  • Hall, M. (1836). Lectures on the Nervous System and its Diseases. Carey and Hart.
  • J. J. (1886). Dr. Hughlings-Jackson on Epilepsy. Science, 11 June, 533-534.
  • Jackson, J.H. (1870). A Study of Convulsions. St. Andrew’s Medical Graduates’ Association Transactions, 1869, 162-204.
  • Jackson, J. H. (1875). Clinical and Physiological Researches on the Nervous SystemJ. and A. Churchill.
  • Jackson, J. H. (1890). Lumleian Lectures on Convulsive Seizures. British Medical Association.
  • Kendrick, W. M. (1998). The Sensationalism of The Woman in White. In L. Pykett (ed.), Wilkie Collins (70-87). Macmillan.
  • Luckhurst, R. (2008). The Trauma Question. London: Routledge.
  • Matus, J. (2009). Shock, Memory and the Unconscious in Victorian Fiction. Cambridge University Press.
  • Maudsley, H. (1897). Responsibility in Mental Disease. (Authorised ed.). D. Appleton.
  • Nayder, L. (2003). ‘Blue Like Me’: Collins, Poor Miss Finch, and the Construction of Racial Identity. In M.K. Bachman and D.R. Cox (eds), Reality’s Dark Light: The Sensational Wilkie Collins (266-282). University of Tennessee Press.
  • Otis, L. (2007). Howled out of the Country: Wilkie Collins and H.G. Wells Retry David Ferrier. In A. Stiles (ed.), Neurology and Literature, 1860-1920 (27-51). Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Pedlar, V. (2003). Experimentation or Exploitation? The Investigations of David Ferrier, Dr Benjulia, and Dr Seward. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 28(3), 169-174.
  • Peters, C. (2000). Introduction. In Collins (2000).
  • Pott, P. (1778). Observations on the Nature and Consequences of those Injuries to which the Head is Liable from External Violence, in The Chirurgical Works of Percivall Pott. James Williams.
  • Radcliffe, C. (1854). Epilepsy and Other Affections of the Nervous System. John Churchill.
  • Radcliffe, C. (1864). Lectures on Epilepsy, Pain, Paralysis and Certain Other Disorders of the Nervous System. John Churchill and Sons.
  • Reynolds, R. J. (1861). Epilepsy: Its Symptoms, Treatment, and Relation to Other Chronic Convulsive Diseases. John Churchill.
  • Sharp, W. (1841). Practical Observations on Injuries of the Head. John Churchill.
  • Shuttleworth, S. (1993). ‘Preaching to the Nerves’: Psychological Disorder in Sensation Fiction. In M. Benjamin (ed.), A Question of Identity: Women, Science, and Literature (192-222). Rutgers University Press.
  • Sieveking, E. H. (1858). On Epilepsy and Epileptiform Seizures: Their Courses, Pathology, and Treatment. John Churchill.
  • Sparks, T. (2002). Surgical Injury and Narrative Cure in Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch and Heart and Science. Journal of Narrative Theory, 32(1), 1-31.
  • Stirling, J. (2010). Representing Epilepsy: Myth and Matter. Liverpool University Press.
  • Talairach, L. (2023). Science and Medicine. In W. Baker and R. Nemesvari (eds), Wilkie Collins in Context (220-229). Cambridge University Press.
  • Taylor, J. B. (1988). In the Secret Theatre of Home: Wilkie Collins, Sensation Narrative and Nineteenth-Century Psychology. Routledge.
  • Temkin, O. (1971). The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy from the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology. (2nd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Tilley, H. (2023). Disability. In W. Baker and R. Nemesvari (eds), Wilkie Collins in Context (309-317). Cambridge University Press.
  • Todd, R. B. (1855). Clinical Lectures on Paralysis, Disease of the Brain, and Other Affections of the Nervous System. Lindsay and Blakiston.
  • Trousseau, A. (1868). Lectures on Clinical Medicine, trans. by P. Victor Bazire. New Sydenham Society.
  • Winslow, F. B. (1868). On Obscure Disorders of the Brain and Disorders of the Mind. (4th ed.). John Churchill.
  • Wolf, W. (2000). Epilepsy and Catalepsy in Anglo-American Literature between Romanticism and Realism: Tennyson, Poe, Eliot and Collins. Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 9(3), 286-293.
Year 2024, Issue: Special Issue: Wilkie Collins, 1 - 20, 28.01.2024
https://doi.org/10.47777/cankujhss.1413123

Abstract

References

  • Ascari, M. (2009). ‘The Shadow of the Future’: Dreams, Fate and Suspense in Armadale. In M. Costantini (ed.), Armadale: Wilkie Collins and the Dark Threads of Life (197-215) Aracne.
  • Bauman, A. (2008). Epilepsy, Crime, and Masculinity in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Thou Art the Man. Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, 4(2), n.p.
  • Brodie, B.C. (1828). Pathological and Surgical Observations Relating to Injuries of the Brain. Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, 14, 325-428.
  • Brophy, G. (2019). Fit and Counterfeit: The Volatile Values of Epilepsy in Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch. Journal of Victorian Culture, 24(4), 535-550.
  • Brusberg-Kiermeier, S. (2023). The Sublimation of Unfitness in Victorian Fiction: Domesticating the Grotesque and Extending the Readers’ Sympathies. Universitätsverlag Hildesheim.
  • Collins, W. (1990). Basil, ed. by D. Goldman. Oxford World Classics.
  • Collins, W. (2000). Poor Miss Finch, ed. by C. Peters. Oxford World Classics.
  • Darwin, C. (1859). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. John Murray.
  • Durgan, J. (2015). Wilkie Collins’s Blue Period: Color, Aesthetics, and Race in Poor Miss Finch. Victorian Literature and Culture, 43, 765-783.
  • Esquirol, J. E. D. (1845). Mental Maladies: A Treatise on Insanity, trans. by E. K. Hunt. Lea and Blanchard.
  • Frank, A.W. (1995) The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, Ethics. University of Chicago Press.
  • Gladden, S. L. (2005). Spectacular Deceptions: Closets, Secrets, and Identity in Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch. Victorian Literature and Culture, 33, 467-486.
  • Gordon, C.A. (1886). New Theory and Old Practice in Relation to Medicine and Certain Industries. Williams and Norgate.
  • Greenblatt, S. H. (2023). John Hughlings Jackson: Clinical Neurology, Evolution, and Victorian Brain Science. Oxford University Press.
  • Guthrie, G. J. (1855). Commentaries on the Surgery of the War in Portugal, Spain, France, and the Netherlands (6th ed.). Henry Renshaw.
  • Hall, M. (1836). Lectures on the Nervous System and its Diseases. Carey and Hart.
  • J. J. (1886). Dr. Hughlings-Jackson on Epilepsy. Science, 11 June, 533-534.
  • Jackson, J.H. (1870). A Study of Convulsions. St. Andrew’s Medical Graduates’ Association Transactions, 1869, 162-204.
  • Jackson, J. H. (1875). Clinical and Physiological Researches on the Nervous SystemJ. and A. Churchill.
  • Jackson, J. H. (1890). Lumleian Lectures on Convulsive Seizures. British Medical Association.
  • Kendrick, W. M. (1998). The Sensationalism of The Woman in White. In L. Pykett (ed.), Wilkie Collins (70-87). Macmillan.
  • Luckhurst, R. (2008). The Trauma Question. London: Routledge.
  • Matus, J. (2009). Shock, Memory and the Unconscious in Victorian Fiction. Cambridge University Press.
  • Maudsley, H. (1897). Responsibility in Mental Disease. (Authorised ed.). D. Appleton.
  • Nayder, L. (2003). ‘Blue Like Me’: Collins, Poor Miss Finch, and the Construction of Racial Identity. In M.K. Bachman and D.R. Cox (eds), Reality’s Dark Light: The Sensational Wilkie Collins (266-282). University of Tennessee Press.
  • Otis, L. (2007). Howled out of the Country: Wilkie Collins and H.G. Wells Retry David Ferrier. In A. Stiles (ed.), Neurology and Literature, 1860-1920 (27-51). Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Pedlar, V. (2003). Experimentation or Exploitation? The Investigations of David Ferrier, Dr Benjulia, and Dr Seward. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 28(3), 169-174.
  • Peters, C. (2000). Introduction. In Collins (2000).
  • Pott, P. (1778). Observations on the Nature and Consequences of those Injuries to which the Head is Liable from External Violence, in The Chirurgical Works of Percivall Pott. James Williams.
  • Radcliffe, C. (1854). Epilepsy and Other Affections of the Nervous System. John Churchill.
  • Radcliffe, C. (1864). Lectures on Epilepsy, Pain, Paralysis and Certain Other Disorders of the Nervous System. John Churchill and Sons.
  • Reynolds, R. J. (1861). Epilepsy: Its Symptoms, Treatment, and Relation to Other Chronic Convulsive Diseases. John Churchill.
  • Sharp, W. (1841). Practical Observations on Injuries of the Head. John Churchill.
  • Shuttleworth, S. (1993). ‘Preaching to the Nerves’: Psychological Disorder in Sensation Fiction. In M. Benjamin (ed.), A Question of Identity: Women, Science, and Literature (192-222). Rutgers University Press.
  • Sieveking, E. H. (1858). On Epilepsy and Epileptiform Seizures: Their Courses, Pathology, and Treatment. John Churchill.
  • Sparks, T. (2002). Surgical Injury and Narrative Cure in Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch and Heart and Science. Journal of Narrative Theory, 32(1), 1-31.
  • Stirling, J. (2010). Representing Epilepsy: Myth and Matter. Liverpool University Press.
  • Talairach, L. (2023). Science and Medicine. In W. Baker and R. Nemesvari (eds), Wilkie Collins in Context (220-229). Cambridge University Press.
  • Taylor, J. B. (1988). In the Secret Theatre of Home: Wilkie Collins, Sensation Narrative and Nineteenth-Century Psychology. Routledge.
  • Temkin, O. (1971). The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy from the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology. (2nd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Tilley, H. (2023). Disability. In W. Baker and R. Nemesvari (eds), Wilkie Collins in Context (309-317). Cambridge University Press.
  • Todd, R. B. (1855). Clinical Lectures on Paralysis, Disease of the Brain, and Other Affections of the Nervous System. Lindsay and Blakiston.
  • Trousseau, A. (1868). Lectures on Clinical Medicine, trans. by P. Victor Bazire. New Sydenham Society.
  • Winslow, F. B. (1868). On Obscure Disorders of the Brain and Disorders of the Mind. (4th ed.). John Churchill.
  • Wolf, W. (2000). Epilepsy and Catalepsy in Anglo-American Literature between Romanticism and Realism: Tennyson, Poe, Eliot and Collins. Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 9(3), 286-293.

Details

Primary Language English
Subjects British and Irish Language, Literature and Culture, Literary Theory, Literary Studies (Other)
Journal Section Articles
Authors

Andrew MANGHAM This is me 0000-0003-3585-7162

Early Pub Date January 22, 2024
Publication Date January 28, 2024
Submission Date November 23, 2023
Acceptance Date December 5, 2023
Published in Issue Year 2024 Issue: Special Issue: Wilkie Collins

Cite

APA MANGHAM, A. (2024). Out of the Blue? Epilepsy, Sensation and Wilkie Collins’s Poor Miss Finch. Cankaya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences(Special Issue: Wilkie Collins), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.47777/cankujhss.1413123

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