1st Edition

Magical Epistemologies Forms of Knowledge in Early Modern English Drama

By Anannya Dasgupta Copyright 2021

    This book began with a simple question: when readers such as us encounter the term magic or figures of magicians in early modern texts, dramatic or otherwise, how do we read them? In the twenty-first century we have recourse to an array of genres and vocabulary from magical realism to fantasy fiction that does not, however, work to read a historical figure like John Dee or a fictional one he inspired in Shakespeare's Prospero. Between longings to transcend human limitation and the actual work of producing, translating, and organizing knowledge, figures such as Dee invite us to re-examine our ways of reading magic only as metaphor. If not metaphor then what else? As we parse the term magic, it reveals a rich context of use that connects various aspects of social, cultural, religious, economic, legal and medical lives of the early moderns. Magic makes its presence felt not only as a forms of knowledge but in methods of knowing in the Renaissance. The arc of dramatists and texts that this book draws between Doctor Faustus, The Tempest, The Alchemist and Comus: A Masque at Ludlow Castle offers a sustained examination of the epistemologies of magic in the context of early modern knowledge formation.

    This book is co-published with Aakar Books, New Delhi. Taylor & Francis does not sell or distribute the print versions of this book in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

    Introduction 1. Cunning for a Soul: Religion and Magic in Doctor Faustus 2. Magical Theatricality in Shakespeare’s The Tempest 3. Fraudulent Magic in Jonson’s The Alchemist 4. The Virtue of Magic in Milton’s A Masque at Ludlow Castle


    Anannya Dasgupta is an Associate Professor in the Division of Literature, and the Director of the Centre for Writing and Pedagogy at Krea University, Andhra Pradesh.