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'A Great Beneficial Disease': Colonial Medicine and Imperial Authority in J.G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur.

Goodman, S., 2015. 'A Great Beneficial Disease': Colonial Medicine and Imperial Authority in J.G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur. Journal of Medical Humanities, 36 (2), 141-156.

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DOI: 10.1007/s10912-014-9313-5


This article examines J. G. Farrell's depictions of colonial medicine as a means of analysing the historical reception of the further past and argues that the end-of-Empire context of the 1970s in which Farrell was writing informed his reappraisal of Imperial authority with particular regard to the limits of medical knowledge and treatment. The article illustrates how in The Siege of Krishnapur (1973), Farrell repeatedly sought to challenge the authority of medical and colonial history by making direct use of period material in the construction of his fictional narrative; by using these sources with deliberate critical intent, Farrell directly engages with the received historical narrative of colonial India, that the British presence brought progress and development, particularly in matters relating to medicine and health. To support these assertions the paper examines how Farrell employed primary sources and period medical practices such as the nineteenth-century debate between miasma and waterborne Cholera transmission and the popularity of phrenology within his novels in order to cast doubt over and interrogate the British right to rule. Overall the paper will argue that Farrell's critique of colonial medical practices, apparently based on science and reason, was shaped by the political context of the 1970s and used to question the wider moral position of Empire throughout his fiction.

Item Type:Article
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:21848
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:15 Apr 2015 09:17
Last Modified:15 Aug 2021 09:10


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