This open access book presents five different approaches to reading breath in literature, in response to texts from a range of historical, geographical and cultural environments. Breath, for all its ubiquity in literary texts, has received little attention as a transhistorical literary device. Drawing together scholars of Medieval Romance, Early Modern Drama, Fin de Siècle Aesthetics, American Poetics and the Postcolonial Novel, this book offers the first transhistorical study of breath in literature. At the same time, it shows how the study of breath in literature can contribute to recent developments in the Medical Humanities.
1. Introduction: Reading Breath in Literature - Arthur Rose -- 2. The Play of Breath: Chaucer’s Narratives of Feeling - Corinne Saunders -- 3. Wasting Breath in Hamlet - Naya Tsentourou -- 4. Out of Breath: Respiratory Aesthetics from Ruskin to Vernon Lee - Peter Garratt -- 5. Ebb and Flow: Breath-writing from Ancient Rhetoric to Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg - Stefanie Heine -- 6. Combat Breathing in Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh - Arthur Rose