‘There was less me and more not-me’: Stevenson and Nervous Morbidity

  • Julia Reid
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Stevenson’s autobiographical writing, in letters, memoirs, and essays, shares degeneration theorists’ interest in psychological pathologies. His preoccupation with his own nervous morbidity runs through his writing, uniting his adolescent outpourings to his cousin with his final letters from Samoa, and demonstrating his enduring concerns about mental instability and fractured identity. His study of his own ‘borderlands’ coalesces around three areas of degenerationist apprehension: childhood, loss of faith, and masculinity. Like the neo-Gothic tales which he wrote in the 1880s, his autobiographical writing focuses on the causes of morbid psychologies, scrutinizing the relative influence of heredity, environment, and volition, and questioning whether degenerative tendencies can be controlled.


Moral Management Mental Power Christian Ideal Family Profession Autobiographical Writing 
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© Julia Reid 2006

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  • Julia Reid

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