Women and the Epistemology of the Novel

  • Josephine Donovan


It is a curious fact that although the novel emerged in the same historical era as early modern science and, therefore, was fostered in the same cultural matrix, no historian or theorist of the novel has explored possible links between the two. Revolutionary astronomical theories, which inaugurated the early modern era, such as Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus Celestium Orbium (1543), Kepler’s corrections of Copernicus (1596–1619), Galileo’s Dialogi de due massimi sistemi (1632), and Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687) had profound metaphysical and epistemological implications, effectively dismantling medieval cosmology and requiring and promoting new paradigms and new theories of knowledge such as, most significantly, Descartes’s Discours de la méthode (1637) and Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). The seventeenth century was thus one of revolutionary transformations in people’s view of the world and of their place in and knowledge of the cosmos.


Seventeenth Century Woman Writer Nature Picture Cartesian View Revolutionary Transformation 
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© Josephine Donovan 1999

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  • Josephine Donovan

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