Wonders, Marvels, and Monsters in Early Modern Culture
Peter G. Platt
University of Delaware Press, 1999 - History - 341 pages
The essays in this collection reveal a variety of discursive practices of the marvelous: art theory, natural history, travel literature, religious polemics, literary flyting, proto-medical narratives, wonder books, political theory, personal essays, drama, theology, jermiad verse, philosophy, and "metaphysical" poetry. They also establish the variety of uses to which the marvelous could be summoned. One fundamental fissure seems to run throughout the period's depiction of the wonderful that paradoxically helps unify our understanding of the concept: there existed a marvelous that ultimately had to be contained and a marvelous that inevitably liberated--often within the same text. If the urge to control the marvelous is great--if the supernatural is always threatened with naturalization--it is the power of the marvelous that necessitates such a response. For the marvelous and the monstrous are almost always in danger of eluding mastery and classification. Yet it is this very intractability that can force of facilitate a recharting--of the map of artistic possibility, of the body, of the known world, of human potential. In the spirit of this figure that ever seeks to unsettle, this volume continues the ongoing reconfiguration of our view of wonder, the marvelous, and the monstrous in the early modern period. --From publisher's description.
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