This book examines the figure of the virgin, a symbol central to many aspects of society and sexuality in nineteenth-century England, and its effects on the Victorian literary imagination. Studying the virgin as a social, sexual, and literary phenomenon, the volume contributes to current critical accounts of the relations among the body and language, gender, and discourse.
These essays explore the ways in which virginity is not a natural ideal but a complex cultural and literary sign. The authors rethink the virginal as a textual counter-example to the idealization of "natural sexuality. "
Lloyd Davis is in the Department of English at the University of Queensland, Australia.
"It collects some of the finest critics of Victorian literature; these critics interpret specific texts in ways illuminated by the shared emphasis on the centrality and paradoxicality of virginity. The topic is sexy, and interesting for that reason alone, and these authors are successful in doing the topic justice. " — Lori Lefkovitz, Kenyon College