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“Sin-Sick Souls” Christian Invalids and the Literature of Consolation

“Sin-Sick Souls” Christian Invalids and the Literature of Consolation

(p.156) 4 “Sin-Sick Souls” Christian Invalids and the Literature of Consolation
Invalidism and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Maria H. Frawley
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines representations of and attitudes toward invalidism inscribed within a range of literatures directed to or written by the Christian afflicted, exploring the ways that Evangelical ideas about suffering, medical assumptions about what constituted the incurable, and an ideology of self-help converged to encourage invalid authors to use the conventions of conduct and commonplace books, and thus to produce a powerful model of Christian invalidism. To delineate the features that made this model distinct, one must look both at literature directed to the Christian “treatment” of invalids—for example, hymnals, prayer books, devotional manuals, and services for the sick—and at a substantial counterpart of spiritual literature written by invalids throughout the century and addressed to their fellow afflicted. These literatures combine to suggest not only the remarkable appeal of sickroom submission, but also the surprising ways in which invalids were empowered by Christian dogma.

Keywords:   representations, attitudes toward invalidism, suffering, incurable, self-help, spiritual literature, sickroom, Christian dogma

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