Light and Death: Figuration in Spenser, Kepler, Donne, Milton

Light and Death: Figuration in Spenser, Kepler, Donne, Milton

Light and Death: Figuration in Spenser, Kepler, Donne, Milton

Light and Death: Figuration in Spenser, Kepler, Donne, Milton

Synopsis

Light figures being; darkness, death. Bridging mathematical science, semantics, rhetoric, grammar, and major poems, Judith H. Anderson seeks to negotiate writings from multiple disciplines in the shared terms of poiesis and figuration rather than as cultural opposites. Analogy, a type of metaphor, has always been the connector of the known to the unknown, the sensible to the infinite. Anderson's study moves from the figuration of light and death to the history of analogy and its pertinence to light in physics and metaphysics, from Kepler to Donne, Spenser, and Milton. Topics proliferate: creativity, optics, the relation of literature to science, the methodology of thought and argument, and the processes of narrative, discovery, and interpretation.

Excerpt

Introducing this book, the word issue, derived from Latin exire, “to go out” or “go forth,” embraces a range of meanings, among them “outflows,” “questions,” or “problems,” which in turn suggest “results,” “departures,” “developments,” or even “extensions.” English issues is itself a historical extension of exire, one issuing from this verb over time. For readers of early modern texts, issues and its implied Latin root hold a haunting memory of Donne’s play on it in Deaths Duell, famously his own funeral sermon, which examines the issues from, in, and through death—Latin à (ab), in, and per death—and charges them with lingering emotional content. By using this word, I want to encompass my thematic concern with death, light, and figuration and, as this book progresses, specifically with analogical expressions of figuration. These concerns variously overlap, now two of them in a given chapter, now all three. Remaining central, they generate associated and extended interests: the relation of literature and mathematics, the methodology of thought and argument, and the processes of narrative, discovery, and interpretation. Creativity, optics, rhetoric, and language, which inhere in my central themes and their offshoots, or outflows, recurrently come into focus as well.

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