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MRS. SEACOLE PRESCRIBES HYBRIDITY: CONSTITUTIONAL AND MATERNAL RHETORIC IN WONDERFUL ADVENTURES OF MRS. SEACOLE IN MANY LANDS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2010

Jessica Howell*
Affiliation:
University of California, Davis

Extract

In an 1857 Saturday Review article of the novel Two Years Ago, T. C. Sanders characterizes Charles Kingsley's ideal man: he “fears God and can walk a thousand miles in a thousand hours – [he] breathes God's free air on God's rich earth, and at the same time can hit a woodcock, doctor a horse, and twist a poker around his fingers” (qtd. in Haley 108). Tom Thurnall, the fearless, constitutionally robust, well-traveled doctor and hero of Two Years Ago, fits these requirements. His physical strength also manifests itself as a charmed immunity to illness: during a cholera epidemic in Aberalva (a fictional Cornish town), “[Tom] thought nothing about death and danger at all . . . Sleep he got when he could, and food as often as he could; into the sea he leapt, morning and night, and came out fresher each time” (Kingsley, Years 288). Charles Kingsley's own self-proclaimed medical and religious philosophies give clear insight into Two Years Ago's intended effects. A sanitary reformer in the mould of Edwin Chadwick and Florence Nightingale, Kingsley felt that disease arose from crowding, filth, and poisonous vapors. Kingsley's contemporaries named his perspective “muscular Christianity,” recognizing that Kingsley “strong arms” his readers by inspiring in them fear and uncertainty about their own health practices and then shows them the way, with examples like Tom, to an active, devout lifestyle.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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References

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MRS. SEACOLE PRESCRIBES HYBRIDITY: CONSTITUTIONAL AND MATERNAL RHETORIC IN WONDERFUL ADVENTURES OF MRS. SEACOLE IN MANY LANDS
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