Cultural, Literary and Artistic Explorations of a Myth
Edited By Beatrice Laurent
The figure of the beautiful reclining female sleeper is a recurring theme in the Victorian imagination, invoking visual, literary and erotic connotations that contribute to a complex range of readings involving aesthetics, gender definitions and contemporary medical opinion. This book compiles and examines a corpus of Sleeping Beauties drawn from Victorian medical reports, literature and the arts and explores the significance of the enduring revival of the myth.
Sleep and Liberation: The Opiate World of Elizabeth Siddal
But bring me poppies brimmed with sleepy death …
— CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, ‘Looking Forward’
And then there were all those poems about women, written by men: it seemed to be a given that men wrote poems and women frequently inhabited them. These women were almost always beautiful, but threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of youth – the fate worse than death. Or, they were beautiful and died young.
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