Virginal Sexuality and Textuality in Victorian Literature

Edited by Lloyd Davis

Subjects: Anthropology
Series: SUNY series, The Body in Culture, History, and Religion
Paperback : 9780791412848, 257 pages, December 1992
Hardcover : 9780791412831, 257 pages, January 1993

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Table of contents


Part 1 Virginal Texts

Chapter 1 The Virgin Body as Victorian Text: An Introduction
Lloyd Davis

Chapter 2 Virginal Sex, Vaginal Text: The "Folds" of Frankenstein
Gerhard Joseph

Chapter 3 The Reader and the Virgin: What Next?
L. J. Swingle

Chapter 4 White Narratology: Gender and Reference in Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White
Diane Elam

Part 2 Virginal Poeisis

Chapter 5 Representation and Repristination: Virginity in The Ring and the Book
Herbert F. Tucker

Chapter 6 Becoming the Poet: The Feminine Poet-Speaker in the Work of Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Dolores DeLuise with Michael Timko

Chapter 7 The Frozen Fountain: Christina Rossetti, the Virgin Model, and Youthful Pre-Raphaelitism
Barbara Garlick

Chapter 8 Like a Virgin: Coventry Patmore's Still Unknown Eros
John Maynard

Part 3 Virgin de Siècle

Chapter 9 What Lily Knew: Virginity in the 1890s
Adrienne Auslander Munich

Chapter 10 Confessing and Editing: The Politics of Purity in Hardy's Tess
Susan David Bernstein

Chapter 11 Gender and Sexual Dis-Ease in Dracula
Jeffrey L. Spear

Chapter 12 "The Inner Chambers of All Nameless Sin": The Beetle, Gothic Female Sexuality, and Oriental Barbarism
Kelly Hurley





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