This article examines a series of ‘patient-letters' that Cristina di Belgiojoso (1807–1871) wrote to her doctor, Paolo Maspero (1811–1895) over the span of three decades. Belgiojoso's notoriously frail health has been crucial to the construction of her unique and heroic position in the panorama of female patriotism in the Risorgimento. This article focuses on Belgiojoso's ‘patient-voice’ as represented in her letters to Maspero and foregrounds her self-diagnosis of hysteria. This diagnosis provides insight into the emotional and physical upheavals of a woman torn between transgression of and compliance with normative female gender behaviour of her time.
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