Irish Neo-Victorianism and An Gorta Mór: the Gendered Body in Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder (2016)

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Emma Donoghue’s novel The Wonder (2016) provides a modern day, fictional entry into Ireland’s traumatic history, through the narrative of Anna O’Donnell, an eleven-year-old “fasting girl” living in post-Famine Ireland. The lingering detail on Anna’s body presents a reflection on the Famine, but the novel also evaluates contemporary notions of anorexia as a consequence of Anna’s rejection of food. The management of Anna’s sexually abused body through medical observation (Foucault’s clinical gaze) also provides a reflection on her identity as a pre-pubescent girl heading toward sexual maturity, whilst the logic of this surveillance is also mapped onto the landscape and body politic (through the tourist gaze). The novel therefore identifies broader themes and concerns specific to Ireland, nationhood and Catholicism, as well as how sexual ethics and body image have been imposed on women both in the nineteenth century and the present day.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeo-Victorianism and Medievalism
Subtitle of host publicationRe-Appropriating the Victorian and Medieval Pasts
EditorsMartin A. Danahay, Ann F. Howey
Place of PublicationLeiden, Netherlands
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789004688353
ISBN (Print)9789004677876
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2024

Publication series

NameNeo-Victorian Series

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