By Kay Heath
Getting older by way of the booklet bargains an cutting edge examine the ways that heart age, which for hundreds of years have been thought of the major of lifestyles, was once reworked through the Victorian period right into a interval of decline. unmarried girls have been nearing heart age at thirty, and moms of their forties have been anticipated to develop into sexless; in the meantime, fortyish males anguished over no matter if their “time for romance had long past by.” taking a look at 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 means of the e-book unmasks and confronts midlife anxiousness by means of reading its origins, demonstrating that our present destructive angle towards midlife springs from Victorian roots, and arguing that in simple terms after we comprehend the culturally developed nature of age will we reveal its ubiquitous and stealthy effect.
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Additional info for Aging by the Book: The Emergence of Midlife in Victorian Britain
Their campaigns put youthfulness before a mass audience as an imperative of midlife, using decline fears about race, gender, and class to raise the proﬁle of anti-aging as an important component of the middle years. In this chapter, I explore ways in which soap advertisements both expose and accelerate late-Victorian age anxiety by projecting fears of national decline onto the commercialized, midlife body. VI. While middle age had been considered the prime of life for hundreds of years before the nineteenth century, as a greater percentage of the population survived into old age, concern about longevity shifted to apprehension about midlife.
Age anxiety has continued to accelerate into a major crisis about identity in the West and, increasingly, throughout the world. The Aristotelian prime of life and medieval celebration of “the perfect age of man’s life” contrast markedly with our current preoccupations, as we anxiously seek to thwart the earliest encroachments of decline and prevent and repair the slightest wrinkle, gray hair, or sagging ﬂesh. Though longevity remains an issue of interest in Western societies, youthfulness has become a mania, especially in the middle and upper classes.
At age twenty-six he is debauched, “hopeless” (311), and by the time he tells his tale to Jane, feels “contempt” for his past behavior as a “gross, grovelling, mole-eyed blockhead” (309–10). Rochester also portrays these youthful episodes, however, as training for his current hardy masculinity: When I was as old as you, I was a feeling fellow enough; partial to the unﬂedged, unfostered, and unlucky; but fortune has knocked me about since: she has even kneaded me with her knuckles, and now I ﬂatter myself I am hard and tough as an Indian-rubber ball; pervious, though, through a chink or two still, and with one sentient point in the middle of the lump.
Aging by the Book: The Emergence of Midlife in Victorian Britain by Kay Heath