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Abstract

Anorexic narratives share the thesis that compulsive behaviours like eating disorders are determined by a strong existential component fuelled by women’s paradoxical position in present day capitalist western culture. After a review of social and psychological factors that play a significant role in the development of the disorders, this essay explores the representation of anorexia nervosa in three different first-person narratives. By portraying the psychological intricacies of the illness, these texts provide valuable information regarding its aetiology and cure in the line of recent bio-medical research on eating disorders that stresses the need to treat the disease as a symptom of a deeper emotional distress. In short, patients and characters manage to overcome the illness when they acknowledge a sense of constitutive absence as the root of their disease and learn to live with the ensuing need for identity definition.

Note on the Author

Mónica Calvo Pascual is a tenured lecturer in U.S. literature and British culture at the University of Zaragoza. Her current research focuses on gender and trauma studies, and her recent publications include Chaos and Madness: the Politics of Fiction in Stephen Marlowe’s Historical Narratives (Rodopi, 2011), Trauma in Contemporary Literature (Routledge, 2013; co-edited with M. Nadal), and articles in journals like Journal of Gender Studies (2014).

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