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Project MUSE - Madness: A Brief History (review)

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Bulletin of the History of Medicine

Exclusive: Humans placed in suspended animation for the first time Why the medicine you take could actually be bad for your health CO2-guzzling bacteria made in the lab could help tackle climate change What hypnosis does to your brain, and how it can improve your health One in 16 US women were forced into having sex for the first time. The Matrimonial News was the most popular newspaper devoted solely to marriage.

Any given issue of a matrimonial paper would contain hundreds of personal ads.

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Advertisers were identified by number only, but the publisher would hold their names, addresses, and, photographs to be released to admirers with their consent. Whether or not the ads were genuine or successful, of course, remains a mystery.

A Brief Madness

The most common question critics sought to answer was why any respectable person would engage in such abnormal courtship behavior in the first place. Image published with permission of ProQuest. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission.

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Some critics turned their attention to the display of distasteful immodesty and fraudulent self-presentation in matrimonial ads. Apparently only one poor woman failed in the art of self-promotion.

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Should this meet the eye of any gentleman wanting a wife, and in a position, and generous enough to take one with these disadvantages, the editors can give address. Indeed, letters that were for a previous generation a proper expression of true feeling become for these journalists a false and potentially dangerous form of self-definition. Fun magazine featured a series of cartoons parodying the misleading nature of matrimonial advertising, which included self-deception as much as lying to others.

Bloaterbrain Figure 2. Just as he declares his passion for Araminta, his padding slips giving him a pudgy stomach instead of a full chest.

A Brief Madness

Of course, Araminta immediately rejects him for both his false self-presentation and his unattractive figure. Unfortunately for Aurora, the frightened man turns out to be the piano tuner and not a suitor answering her ad. She has, thus, fallen victim to her own willful self-deception.

These scenarios comically expose some of the serious pitfalls of personal ads that twenty-first-century users of Match. Packaging oneself for the marriage market is still a risky endeavor, though it is a widely accepted one.

In the past years, advertising for love has gone from a scandalous—though, for some, attractive—alternative form of courtship to a common—if still slightly embarrassing—way to find a partner. Name: required :. Email: required :. Your email address will never be published.


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