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The Science of Starving in Victorian Literature, Medicine, and Political Economy$
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Andrew Mangham

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198850038

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198850038.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 08 December 2021

Charles Kingsley

Charles Kingsley

‘The Symbolism and Dignity of Matter’

(p.68) 2 Charles Kingsley
The Science of Starving in Victorian Literature, Medicine, and Political Economy

Andrew Mangham

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the conflict-laden work of Charles Kingsley. Kingsley was an avid follower of scientific developments. In 1842 he urged one of his correspondents to ‘study medicine [… I am studying it’. In the social novels Yeast (1848), Alton Locke (1850), and Two Years Ago (1857), we see the fruits of these labours, particularly in how the languages and methods of biology offer Kingsley a means of challenging views of starvation as an inevitable, necessary evil. In his portrayals of radical characters, Kingsley discusses how scientific ideas precluded the political appropriation of starvation as a means to beat the well-to-do. Famous for locking horns with John Henry Newman on the abstract question of what constitutes truth, Kingsley argues a case for seeing topics like the physiology of hunger not as a symbol of providentialist or radical thinking, but as the means of creating a more intelligent understanding of poverty.

Keywords:   Natural history, theology, medicine, social reform, truth

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