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    Starving for identity: wasting women in German literature 1775-1820

    Richards, Anna (1997) Starving for identity: wasting women in German literature 1775-1820. German Life and Letters 50 (4), pp. 417-428. ISSN 0016-8777.

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    Abstract

    Late eighteenth‐ and early nineteenth‐century physicians and thinkers emphasised women's physical and moral sensitivity and their subsequent vulnerability to wasting illnesses such as chlorosis. Many heroines of the period, including Sophie in Johann Martin Miller's novel Siegwarl, eine Klostergeschichte (1776) and Mine in Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel's Lebensläufe nach aufteigender Linie (177&81), grow pale and thin and finally die from what seems to be a form of chlorosis as a result of unrequited love, and thus appear to reinforce the contemporaiy stereotype of female fragility. Viewed in another light, however, a heroine's wasting death can be seen as a rejection of the maternal imperative, associated with bodiliness, which existed alongside the popular image of women's ethereality. In contrast to the widely held contemporary view of the femalf sex as permanently ‘receptive’ (Moreau, Novalis and others), self‐starvation such as that of Ottilie in Goethe's Die Wahluerwundtschuften (1809) provides an image of closure and may be read as an act of self‐assertion.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Arts > Cultures and Languages
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 29 May 2018 09:20
    Last Modified: 29 May 2018 09:20
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/22572

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