By Kay Heath
Getting older through the booklet bargains an leading edge examine the ways that heart age, which for hundreds of years have been thought of the major of lifestyles, used to be remodeled through the Victorian period right into a interval of decline. unmarried girls have been nearing center age at thirty, and moms of their forties have been anticipated to turn into sexless; in the meantime, fortyish males anguished over even if their “time for romance had long gone by.” famous novels of the interval, in addition to ads, cartoons, and scientific and suggestion manuals, Kay Heath uncovers how this ideology of decline permeated a altering tradition. getting older by way of the booklet unmasks and confronts midlife nervousness by means of interpreting its origins, demonstrating that our present unfavourable perspective towards midlife springs from Victorian roots, and arguing that basically after we comprehend the culturally developed nature of age will we disclose its ubiquitous and stealthy impact.
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Additional info for Aging by the Book: The Emergence of Midlife in Victorian Britain
In this chapter, I trace a history of intensifying loss for aging men chronicled in Victorian ﬁction. After ﬁrst considering how changing concepts of masculinity in a newly industrialized Britain increasingly stigmatized midlife as a time of danger, I then follow an accelerating age trauma both disclosed by and developed in novels that feature aging men on the marriage market. Written as whether “the time of love has gone by,” nervousness about loss of erotic and affective power appears repeatedly in male midlife plots that deﬁne the middle years as a liminal space that contests marriageability, where the difference between superannuation and success is tenuous and in which the aging man is increasingly devalued.
If masculinity is measured by physical ability at its youthful height, then waning vigor severely challenges aging men. As muscle took precedence, the older man increasingly was pushed to the margins, and aging became more and more debilitating and effeminizing. Imperialism exacerbated Victorians’ preoccupation with masculine physicality (Adams 109). As Britain struggled to retain colonial power, a strong empire came to be seen as a mark of the nation’s virility (MacKenzie, “Imperial” 178). Qualities essential to colonial conquest such as stamina, strength, and sacriﬁce for the team were taught on the playing ﬁeld (Walvin 250).
Fairfax’s comment as well as in her reply, “No, indeed, Mrs. Fairfax! . he is nothing like my father! No one, who saw us together, would suppose it for an instant. Mr. Rochester looks as young, and is as young as some men at ﬁve-and-twenty” (267). Jane’s estimation of Rochester as an age peer is apparent in a telling detail of the gypsy scene, when she recognizes his true identity by his hand, describing it as “no more the withered limb of eld than my own: it was a rounded supple member” (204).
Aging by the Book: The Emergence of Midlife in Victorian Britain by Kay Heath