Pestilence in Medieval and Early Modern English Literature

Synopsis

This book examines three diseases - leprosy, bubonic plague and syphillis - to show how doctors, priests and literary authors from the Middle Ages and through the Renaissance interpreted certain illnesses through a moral filter. Lacking knowledge about the transmission of contagious diseases, doctors and priests saw epidemic diseases as a punishment sent by God for human transgression. Accordingly, their job was to properly read sickness in relation to the sin. By examining different readings of specific illnesses, this book shows how the social construction of epidemic diseases formed a kind of narrative wherein man attempts to take the control of the disease out of God's hands by connecting epidermic diseases to the sins of carnality.