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Vivisection through the eyes of Wilkie Collins, HG Wells and John Galsworthy

Abstract

The article argues that, unlike Collins’ adamantly negative view towards vivisection in the latter half of the nineteenth century and approaching the end of his writing career and life, Wells and Galsworthy’s changing opinions responded to medical advances, reflected the dynamics of public opinion, and their own knowledge and experience at their time of writing. With its primary focus on Galsworthy, the study also explores the reactions of contemporary critics, readers, scientists and medical practitioners to these depictions of vivisection. Above all, the article argues that popular writers, particularly before modern multimedia, greatly influenced public attitudes towards changes in society, including medical research by vivisection. The ultimate change of heart towards vivisection by Nobel Prize winner Galsworthy, an indirect and eminent beneficiary of vivisection, the article concludes, would have boosted public acceptance and the cause of modern medicine.

  • english literature
  • literature and medicine
  • literary studies
  • veterinarian
  • medical ethics/bioethics
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