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The Grounds of Literature and Science: Margaret Cavendish’s Creature Manifesto

  • Liza Blake
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Handbooks of Literature and Science book series (PAHALISC)

Abstract

In the lines that serve as my epigraph, addressed to Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle—a writer active in the middle of the seventeenth century whose expansive and numerous works included natural philosophical treatises, poetry, scientific satire, fables, plays, philosophical arguments, political writings, and volumes of letters—Francis Fane attempts to count disciplines. In ancient days, he claims in this admittedly sycophantic poem of praise, poetry and philosophy were the two different disciplines that ‘cut’ ‘Learnings Empire … in twain’; in the work of Cavendish, however, these two previously separate disciplines at last ‘joyn’ into one. The numerical games then continue: her several ‘sacred Lines’ can be expressed in one paradox, itself a device that joins two contradictory ideas into one idea that contains them both without collapsing them. In Cavendish’s hands (or brain), Fane insists, truth is both naked (‘plain, straightforward’; perhaps also, ‘unencumbered, free’),1 and dressed (adorned, attired in more or less decorative fashion).2 By playing with the image of something that is at once naked and dressed, Fane here subtly maps these lines onto the (female) body, imagining, perhaps, Cavendish’s lines as Cavendish herself.

Keywords

Royal Society Volatile Implication Rational Part Infinite Variety Argumental Discourse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liza Blake
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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