This title was first published in 2003. This collection of essays presents a variety of new approaches to the oeuvre of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, one of the most influential and controversial women writers of the seventeenth century. Reflecting the full range of Cavendish's output - which included poetry, drama, prose fictions, orations, and natural philosophy - these essays re-assess Cavendish's place in seventeenth- century literature and philosophy. Whilst approaching Cavendish's work from a range of critical (and disciplinary) perspectives, the authors of these essays are united in their commitment to recovering her writings from their frequent characterisation as "eccentric" or "idiosyncratic", and aim to present her work as historically legible within the cultural contexts in which they were written. The "Mad Madge" of literary legend and tradition is re-written as a bold, innovative and experimental creator of a female authorial voice, and as a thinker vitally in contact with the intellectual currents of her age.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction, Stephen Clucas; Prose Fictions; Contracting readers: 'Margaret Newcastle' and the rhetoric of conjugality, Kate Lilley; "How great is thy change": familial discourses in the Cavendish family, Marion Wynn-Davies; 'Of mixt natures': questions of genre in Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World, Nicole Pohl; Autobiography, parody and the Sociable Letters of Margaret Cavendish, James Fitzmaurice; Drama: Writing for the brain and writing for the boards: the producibility of Margaret Cavendish’s dramatic texts, Judith Peacock; 'Making a spectacle': Margaret Cavendish and the staging of the self, Rebecca D'Monté; 'The closet opened': a reconstruction of 'private' space in the writings of Margaret Cavendish, Julie Sanders; Poetry; Imagining the mind: Cavendish's Hobbesian allegories, Jay Stevenson; Margaret Cavendish's Poems and fancies and Thomas Harriot's treatise on infinity, B. J. Sokol; A well-spun yarn: Margaret Cavendish and Homer's Penelope, Emma L.E. Rees; Natural Philosophy: Margaret Cavendish and Henry More, Sarah Hutton; Variation, irregularity and probabilism: Margaret Cavendish and natural philosophy as rhetoric, Stephen Clucas; Margaret Cavendish and the doctors of physick and advice to the sick, Susan Fitzmaurice; Paradigms and politics: Hobbes and Cavendish contrasted, Neil Ankers; Bibliography; Index.
'... the essays in this volume present a rich and complicated view of Cavendish, one that emphasizes her intellectual breadth, daring, and complexity... the volume provides some interesting insights into the difficulties surrounding Cavendish and her work.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'The Clucas collection [...] contains the greatest treatment of her scientific works... offers a valuable introduction to the collection and brings out the range of emphases in the work.' Clio