The last resort: A British perspective on the medical South, 1815-1870

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    Abstract

    It is a widely shared view that Victorian medical climatology held the Mediterranean in high therapeutic esteem. The 'change of air' literature had produced a medical map of the region that claimed to help health travellers determine the weather and scenery most favourable for their condition. Health factor, however, was only one of the many criteria involved in choosing a favourite spot. Social prestige and the rule of fashion, especially after the Napoleonic wars, provided an impetus for massive exodus abroad which, as contemporaries noted, did more damage than help. In advanced cases of consumption (TB) travelling South was to be the last medical resort, some agued, undertaken only after regimen at home failed to bring desired results. But the advice was rarely heeded and for many, Mallorca, Nice, and Rome were indeed the very last resorts visited. As death began to change the perception of a 'healthy' Mediterranean, the medico-meteorological experts were called in, whose discussions revolved as much as around statistics as their professional interests. The paper explores the nature of their competing claims in the context of patriotic, religious and scientific rationales which sometimes challenged and downplayed the healing powers of Mediterranean resorts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)271-298
    Number of pages27
    JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
    Volume27
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006

    Keywords

    • Air and health
    • Medical climatology
    • Mediterranean
    • Victorian travel

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