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Itch, Clap, Pox: Venereal Disease in the Eighteenth-Century Imagination Reviews

Itch, Clap, Pox: Venereal Disease in the Eighteenth-Century Imagination by Noelle Gallagher

Itch, Clap, Pox: Venereal Disease in the Eighteenth-Century Imagination

Noelle Gallagher

Score pending

1 review

Category: Non-fiction, History
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 1 Mar 2019
ISBN: 9780300217056

A lively interdisciplinary study of how venereal disease was represented in eighteenth-century British literature and art

4 stars out of 5
13 Jul 2019

"a reminder that there is much about 18th-century culture that still seems idiosyncratic or bizarre to 21st-century eyes"

As Noelle Gallagher shows in her elegant book, venereal disease was intellectually and imaginatively useful in this period: the obscurity, changeability and shiftiness people saw in its symptoms could be turned outwards. As a metaphor the pox had a rare cultural penetration. Its signs and symbols – the marked cheek; the collapsed nose; the quack doctor with his pills and tonics; the badly patched prostitute – were the lexicon of political cartoons and cheap jestbooks, and could be used to indicate pressure points and signs of weakness in social and economic systems... The great appeal of Gallagher’s approach is that she recognises this weirdness. ‘I am deviating from the current trend of relating the 18th century to the present day by identifying it as the beginning of, or precursor to, “modernity”,’ she writes. ‘Implicit in this book’s analysis is a reminder that there is much about 18th-century culture that still seems idiosyncratic or bizarre to 21st-century eyes.’

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