Treating the Victorian medical past in Melissa Pritchard’s 'Captain Brown and the Royal Victoria Military Hospital'

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Abstract

This article examines Melissa Pritchard’s novella ‘Captain Brown and the Royal Victoria Military Hospital’ (2011) in its reimagining of the once famous but now demolished major Victorian military hospital of the title. I argue that the Royal Victoria offers a fitting illustration of the conflicted position the legacy of the Victorian scientific past occupies in the present, and show how this legacy is explored in Pritchard’s story. This conflicted position is layered with a further paradox in the narrative, as the novella picks up the historical thread of the Royal Victoria at the point of its 1944 take-over by the United States Navy as part of Operation Overlord. The novella’s return to this 1940s setting is therefore operated via the lens of the Victorian scientific past, a conflation of two distinct time frames which is marked by the deployment of an array of gothic images in the text. Yet, if the neo-Victorian medical gothic mode of the story conveys the lingering, haunting presence of the Victorian scientific past, I show how such ghostly presence is dismissed to be replaced by the more powerful spectre of the unresolved legacies of the Second World War in the twenty-first century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
JournalVictoriographies
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • D-Day landings
  • historical wounds
  • neo-Victorian scientific gothic
  • Pritchard
  • spectrality

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