By Janis McLarren Caldwell
Janis Caldwell investigates the hyperlinks among the transforming into clinical materialism of the 19th century and the endurance of the Romantic literary mind's eye. via heavily studying literary texts from Frankenstein to Middlemarch, and reading fiction along biomedical lectures, textbooks and articles, Caldwell argues that the best way "Romantic materialism" motivated those disciplines compels us to revise traditional debts of the connection among literature and medication.
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The way in which a culture creates narrative sense – the way it constructs and revises and reproduces stories – is an excellent indicator of its ethics. The texts that I examine here, from medical lectures to mythic narratives, all speak to a hermeneutic technique for evaluating ethical perplexities, oscillating between the two different ways of reading required by – in the terms of the Romantic materialists themselves – the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture, God’s work and his word. e. something more defined than an attitude or stance, but less prescribed than a method, algorithm, or set of principles.
31 Perhaps because Gregory’s Lectures were addressed to practicing doctors rather than the general public, it fell to nineteenth-century literary writers to develop a more widely accessible language of sympathy. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, like Gregory, worried about the moral consequences of conceiving of sympathy as an involuntary reflex. Steeped in both medical 36 Literature and Medicine in Britain discourse and moral philosophy, Coleridge was concerned that materialist explanations could destroy the concept of moral will, as well as of creative imagination.
They had not hitched their religious beliefs onto literalistic modes of biblical exegesis; indeed, they were among the most vehement critics of the scriptural geologists. 52 Emphasizing the analogous relationship between science and religion, these latter-day natural theologians welcomed hermeneutic theory, which was then articulating a way both to attend to the material, historical reality and to respect a religious sense – but without a literalist reading practice. Rudwick’s claim may seem confusing to literary scholars who know that George Eliot had not translated Strauss’s Das Leben Jesu into English until 1846; how would early nineteenth-century British scientists have been exposed to German Biblical criticism?