Milton, the Poetics of Matter, and the Sciences of Reading

  • Elizabeth Spiller
Part of the Palgrave Handbooks of Literature and Science book series (PAHALISC)


Early modern debate about physical matter was vexed and intense; the outcome of these debates was as profound as anything imagined by Copernicus’ astronomy or Vesalius’ anatomy. Challenges to Aristotelian hylomorphism, the excitement about the Renaissance rediscovery of Lucretius, the pressure that conflict between Galenic and Paracelsian medicine put on the conflicting theories of matter that those models implied—these debates were central to early modern science. They were also central to other aspects of early modern life. Distilling ale, eating food, turning lead into gold, writing poems, reading books, creating the universe out of matter ‘unformed and void’: from the mundane to the transcendent, such activities all involved the transformation of matter.


Good Book Textual Fact Christian Doctrine Paradise Lost Cartesian Dualism 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Spiller
    • 1
  1. 1.Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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