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‘Unseen Battles: H.G. Wells and Autointoxication Theory,'

Vlitos, PMJ (2013) ‘Unseen Battles: H.G. Wells and Autointoxication Theory,' Wellsian, No.36. pp. 25-38.

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‘It is a pity’, laments the narrator of The History of Mr Polly (1910), that human beings ‘are not more transparent’. For were the dyspeptic Mr Polly ‘even passably translucent’ he might have more insight into the gastric turmoil and internal unrest that blight his afternoons, ‘those grey spaces of time after meals’ when all his courage has ‘descended to the unseen battles of the pit’. Wells’s novel is far from the only text of its period to bemoan the general public’s ignorance of how the body functions - particularly in regard to digestion. Indeed, this paper will argue that the fascination with the digestive processes evident in Wells’s work places it in conscious dialogue with contemporary medical and scientific writings on health and digestion, and in particular with the theories of autointoxication propounded by the American diet reformer Horace Fletcher (1849-1919), the celebrated British surgeon Sir William Arbuthnot Lane (1856-1943) and the Nobel-Prize-winning Russian immunologist, zoologist and anatomist Elie Metchnikoff (1845-1916). Published in The Wellsian, this paper was awarded the Giles Hart Memorial Prize for 2013.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages > English
Authors :
Vlitos, PMJ
Date : 1 July 2013
Additional Information : Posted here by kind permission of the publisher.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 20 Feb 2015 08:33
Last Modified : 01 Jan 2017 02:08

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