Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) by Annali d'Italianistica

Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay)

By Annali d'Italianistica

  • Publication Date: 1997-01-01
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines

Book Synopsis

"Ho una voglia di caffe" is a statement which could be translated both as "I am craving some coffee" and as "I have a coffee-colored birthmark," alternately signifying desire or body, one's own appetite or one's mother's. In Romance languages the homonymy of craving and birthmark ("voglia" in Italian, "envie" in French, "antojo" in Spanish) points to a popular etymological link in turn based on the conviction that if a pregnant woman's craving goes unsatisfied it will translate itself into a colored spot on the unborn child's skin--metonymy of woman's desire (because causally contiguous with it) and metaphor of its object (because morphologically similar to it). What is reproduced in the course of pregnancy, then, is not only the species--a socially desirable reproduction--but also, more dangerously, woman's own desire. A belief in the strength of the latter underlies this homonymy and grounds it in cultural as well as physical anthropology: her desire is so powerful as to be deforming to the next generation; as a consequence, it needs to be observed, disciplined, even cured. Fairly innocuous birthmarks were in fact not the only outcome of unsatisfied urges, for the intimate connection between pregnant mother and unborn child could lead to multifarious abnormalities. A rather extreme example is the monstrous and evil Giali in Carolina Invernizio's Odio di donna (1907), "rassomigliante piu ad una bestia che ad una creatura umana," whose deformity is attributed precisely to his mother's moral impressionability and its physical effects, or impressions, on the developing fetus: "E doveva rimproverare quella povera donna, se durante la gravidanza di lui, ella aveva provato uno spavento cosi grande, alla vista del marito che sanguinava, sformato da orribili ferite, tanto da risentirne un'impressione morale, le cui conseguenze erano ricadute sulla creatura che portava in seno?" (181). As Jacques Gelis notes in his History of Childbirth, "It was generally believed that during the pregnancy the child saw what the mother saw, heard what she heard and felt what she felt. Any unpleasant sight or unsatisfied desire was echoed, with greater or lesser intensity, in the body of the foetus. Thus the mother's body had a dual function. Part screen, part filter, it protected the child from excessive heat or cold; but it was also a conductor which transmitted to the child various influences, some of which were far from beneficial. The mother's dreams and fantasies could make a harmful 'impression' on the foetus" (53). (1) Thus sociologist Ann Oakley describes the theory of maternal impressions as a "key theory about pregnancy commonly held prior to the modern obstetric era," which "stated that the condition and viability of the fetus was profoundly influenced by the mother's mental and emotional state--a view that, of course, fitted well with the prevailing model of successful pregnancy as guaranteed only by a life-style properly balanced in accordance with natural dictate." And most fundamentally, according to Oakley, "Until well into the nineteenth century [in our case, as late as 1893], the question for most medical men who contended this matter was not whether maternal impressions could cause deformed fetuses, but how they did so" (The Captured Womb 23-24).

Popular searches in Language Arts & Disciplines Books : Read online Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) by Annali d'Italianistica, Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) Annali d'Italianistica PDF EBOOK download, Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) Annali d'Italianistica epub iphone download, Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) Annali d'Italianistica AUDIOBOOK play, Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) by Annali d'Italianistica EPUB ebook reader, Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) book review , Download Annali d'Italianistica's book MOBI, free ebook apk , Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) book discussion forum, Impressive Cravings, Impressionable Bodies: Pregnancy and Desire from Cesare Lombroso to Ada Negri (Essay) Annali d'Italianistica zip rar ebook file, Language Arts & Disciplines

Comments