This book considers the construction and presentation of the masturbator in nineteenth-century fiction and medical writing, and the implication of him or her in a paradoxically ‘secret’ vice, made visible to the Victorians through a range of bodily signifiers yet invisible when perceiving the bodies of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It demonstrates how the symptoms of solitary self-abuse may be seen to disclose other textual vices and pathologies. The ongoing debate on Victorian sexuality encloses the related issue of autoerotic behaviour, a field which is both problematic in terms of extent and implication, and dogged by a certain humorous mode of discourse.
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