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If Lombroso's brigands and other assorted villains were cast as spectacularly monstrous (with handle-shaped ears, hairy faces, thick skins, etc.), others feared less visible forms of social morbidity, suspecting the presence of mutations and lesions inside the offender's body.Lombroso's works, such as L'uomo delinquente (1876; Criminal Man, 1911), were always controversial but lay at the center of international debate about the nature of the criminal for several decades. Translation of La violence nazie: Une généalogie européene.But the Traité was far more than a manifesto to promote the interests of a professional "vested interest." Rather, it pulled together into a compelling narrative diverse fears about madness, crime, political upheaval, inheritance, and death.
Labels and diagnoses of "dégénérescence" multiplied still further in Charles Samson Féré's series of works on criminality, pathological emotions, and neuropathic families, and in the Viennese physician Richard von Krafft-Ebing's frequently reissued Psychopathia Sexualis (1886).The cluster of distinguishable but interconnected beliefs now referred to under headings such as "the new scientific racism," "eugenics," "social Darwinism," and "degenerationism" provided new positivist rationalizations of much older social anxieties, hatreds, prejudices, and hierarchies.But Victorian theories of evolution and degeneration also reshaped in powerful ways the understanding of the self and society, international relations, laws, and institutions.Readers of É mile Zola's contemporaneous cycle of novels on the degeneration of the Rougon-Macquart family would not have been surprised by such gloomy American conclusions. Degeneration was used to comprehend a bewildering range of physical, mental, and sexual conditions.
This was the issue that increasingly exercised Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, who coined the term eugenics in 1883 to describe a potential science of selective breeding that would produce an improvement of "the race." Galton urged the necessity of a series of "positive" and "negative" measures to shape future human reproduction—encouraging "the fit" to have babies and discouraging or preventing "the unfit" from doing so.