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Pathological Performance in Charles Lamb's Prose Writing



The English familiar essayist Charles Lamb's attachment to memories, triviality, and metropolitan London has long been regarded as a settled matter, but not until recently have the discussions about his disabilities received proper scholarly attention. In an effort to address Lamb's disabilities more holistically, this essay contributes to the Lamb scholarship through close analyses of his physical and psychological discomfort as presented in his literary works. Reading Lamb's writings about disabilities in the broader socio-medical context at the turn of the nineteenth century, however, suggests that Lamb's pathological performance of his non-normative embodiment under the persona of Elia allows him to better connect with the changing metropolis. This article persistently attends to Lamb's own paradox to approach and recognise his various disabilities. Lamb's pathological performance can be better understood and appreciated, as this article will elucidate and conclude, when his disabilities are better contained through prose writing.

Parallel abstracts



Appignanesi, Lisa. “Bad.” Mad, Bad and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors, W. W. Norton, 2009, pp. 13-49.
Birrell, Augustine. “Introduction.” Essays of Elia, J. M. Dent and Co., 1888, pp. ix-xxiii.
Burton, Robert. The Anatomy of Melancholy. Edited by Democritus Junior, www.gutenberg.org/files/10800/10800-h/10800-h.htm. Accessed 30 July 2021.
Cheyne, George. The English Malady. Strahan, 1733.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “This Lime-tree Bower my Prison.” Coleridge’s Poetry and Prose, edited by Nicholas Halmi et al. W. W. Norton, 2004, p. 136.