Academic journal article Parergon

Siegfried, Brandie R., and Lisa T. Sarasohn, Eds, God and Nature in the Thought of Margaret Cavendish

Academic journal article Parergon

Siegfried, Brandie R., and Lisa T. Sarasohn, Eds, God and Nature in the Thought of Margaret Cavendish

Article excerpt

Siegfried, Brandie R., and Lisa T. Sarasohn, eds, God and Nature in the Thought of Margaret Cavendish, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015; hardback; pp. xvi, 257; 8 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. 65.00 [pounds sterling]; ISBN 9781472439611.

God and Nature in the Thought of Margaret Cavendish is a collection of twelve essays with an Introduction, that examine the religious and scientific ideas of seventeenth-century intellectual, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-73). Divided into three sections, the collection explores Cavendish's multi-genre works in relation to her orthodox and/or unorthodox religious beliefs.

The first section focuses on Cavendish's thoughts on theology and nature, and the contributions herein examine her poetry, drama, philosophy, and fiction in this context. Although Cavendish claimed orthodoxy and Anglicanism, she was nevertheless a proponent of a negative theology that anticipated the more natural religion of the eighteenth-century Deists. Sara Mendelsohn observes that 'despite her protestations, Cavendish is not all that convinced in the role of conventional Anglicanism in the technical sense of the term' (p. 40).

The essays in the second section consider the relationship between Cavendish's works and those of contemporary natural philosophers, such as Robert Hooke, Henry More, and Rene Descartes. Cavendish showed her mistrust of the Royal Society's experimentations, but believed passionately that the body is not merely a medium for experiencing the world, but rather a particular and paradoxical medium by which worlds are made possible; there are ways of knowing God that are similar to forms of grace. …

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