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Spectacle of DeformityFreak Shows and Modern British Culture$
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Nadja Durbach

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257689

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257689.001.0001

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Two Bodies, Two Selves, Two Sexes: Conjoined Twins and “the Double-Bodied Hindoo Boy”

Two Bodies, Two Selves, Two Sexes: Conjoined Twins and “the Double-Bodied Hindoo Boy”

(p.58) Two Two Bodies, Two Selves, Two Sexes: Conjoined Twins and “the Double-Bodied Hindoo Boy”
Spectacle of Deformity

Nadja Durbach

University of California Press

At the same moment that “the Elephant Man” was admitted to the London Hospital in the summer of 1886, “Lalloo the Double-Bodied Hindoo Boy” began to exhibit himself across the United Kingdom. Lalloo was what was frequently referred to in the medical literature as a “double monstrosity,” the scientific term then used for what are now called conjoined twins. But rather than being attached to a fully grown brother, Lalloo had a much smaller sibling growing out of his chest. This chapter argues that as both a spectacular entertainment and a pathological exhibit, Lalloo's double body generated popular and professional debate about the boundary between the self and the other, and the distinction between male and female. However, his act also raised concerns about the sexual potential of a double-sexed body. Although they never explicitly addressed the sexual relationship between Lalloo and Lala, the promotional materials that accompanied the exhibition and the medical case reports that circulated in professional journals suggested that this body was intriguing because of the ways in which it exploited late Victorian anxieties about masturbation, incest, pedophilia, and child marriage.

Keywords:   conjoined twins, freak show, double body, self, the other, double-sexed body

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