Mary Astell and John Norris: Letters Concerning the Love of God, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Mary Astell and John Norris

Letters Concerning the Love of God, 1st Edition

By Melvyn New

Edited by E. Derek Taylor


272 pages

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Given the progress made in recent years in recovering the writings of early modern women, one might expect that a complete set of the important works of Mary Astell (1666-1731) would have been reissued long before now. Instead, only portions of the thought of the 'First English Feminist' have reached a wide academic audience. This volume presents a critical and annotated edition of the correspondence between Astell and John Norris of Bemerton (1657-1711), Letters Concerning the Love of God, which was published in three separate editions during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (1695, 1705, 1730). This work had profound significance in eighteenth-century intellectual and religious circles, and represents a crucial step in the development of Norris and Astell's philosophical and theological opposition to that most prominent of Enlightenment figures, John Locke. Letters Concerning the Love of God includes, as contextual material, Norris's Cursory Reflections upon a Book Call'd, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), the first published philosophical response to (as Bishop Stillingfleet would later put it) Locke's 'new way of ideas,' and Astell's biting and comprehensive attack on Locke in the 'Appendix' to the second edition of The Christian Religion, As Professed by a Daughter of the Church of England (1717). These texts serve to place both Letters and its authors in the contentious philosophical-theological climate to which they belonged, one wherein, most significantly, Locke's present-day preeminence had yet to be realized. The editors' extensive introduction and annotations to this volume not only provide background on the historical and biographical elements, but also elucidate philosophical and theological concepts that are perhaps unfamiliar to modern readers.


'Copiously annotated, with a lengthy list of emendations, these three texts offer a valuable guide to religious theories that have faded from contemporary prominence… This edition of Letters is insightful and valuable. In these editors' able hands, neither Letters nor its authors is allowed to remain static or isolated.' The Sciblerian ’…a welcome addition to the scholarly reprints of Early Modern women’s writing and philosophy, one that provides an impetus for the revision of twenty-first-century understandings of the work of Norris, Astell, Early Modern philosophy and intellectual and cultural history more broadly.’ Parergon

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Works cited; A note on the text; Letters Concerning the Love of God; Notes to Letters Concerning the Love of God; Appendices; Index.

About the Author/Editor

E. Derek Taylor is an Assistant Professor of English at Longwood University. He has published several essays on Norris and Astell and is nearing completion on two related projects. Melvyn New has been a Professor of English at the University of Florida for more than thirty-five years and is the General Editor of the University Press of Florida edition of the Works of Laurence Sterne, six volumes of which are now in print.

About the Series

The Early Modern Englishwoman, 1500-1750: Contemporary Editions

The Early Modern Englishwoman, 1500-1750: Contemporary Editions
Designed to complement The Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works, Contemporary Editions presents both modernized and old-spelling editions of texts not only by women but also for and about women. Contents of a volume can range from a single text to an anthology depending on the subject and the audience. Introductions to the editions are written with the general reader as well as the specialist in mind. They are designed to provide an introduction not only to the edited text itself but also to the larger historical discourses expressed through the text.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature