By Stanton J. Linden

ISBN-10: 0813119685

ISBN-13: 9780813119687

The literary impact of alchemy and hermeticism within the paintings of so much medieval and early sleek authors has been ignored. Stanton Linden now presents the 1st complete exam of this impression on English literature from the past due center a long time in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries. Drawing greatly on alchemical allusions in addition to at the sensible and theoretical heritage of the paintings and its pictorial culture, Linden demonstrates the pervasiveness of curiosity in alchemy in this three-hundred-year interval. such a lot writers―including Langland, Gower, Barclay, Eramus, Sidney, Greene, Lyly, and Shakespeare―were acquainted with alchemy, and references to it look in quite a lot of genres. but the needs it served in literature from Chaucer via Jonson have been narrowly satirical. In literature of the 17th century, specifically within the poetry of Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, and Milton, the services of alchemy replaced. concentrating on Bacon, Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, and Milton―in addition to Jonson and Butler―Linden demonstrates the emergence of latest attitudes and leading edge issues, motifs, pictures, and concepts. using alchemy to signify religious progress and alter, purification, regeneration, and millenarian principles mirrored vital new emphases in alchemical, clinical, and occultist writing. This new culture didn't proceed, despite the fact that, and Butler's go back to satire used to be contextualized within the antagonism of the Royal Society and spiritual Latitudinarians to philosophical enthusiasm and the occult. Butler, like Shadwell and quick, extended the variety of satirical sufferers to incorporate experimental scientists in addition to occult charlatans. The literary makes use of of alchemy hence exhibit the altering highbrow milieus of 3 centuries.

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Extra info for Darke Hierogliphicks: Alchemy in English Literature from Chaucer to the Restoration

Example text

Tymme's notion of a world not "perishing" but wrought "to a greater perfection then now it hath" reflects the joyful hope that is commonly expressed at this prospect. Other writers explain in greater detail their reasons for optimism, statements usually based on expectations of improved conditions for human beings while on earth, not an escape from a temporal "vale of tears" into a conventional Christian afterlife. Drawing heavily on a millenarian passage included in the Preface to Sendivogius's Treatise ofSulphur, John French states that the "fourth Monarchy which is Northerne, is dawning, in which (as the ancient Philosophers did divine) all Arts and sciences shal flourish, and greater and more things shal be discovered then in the three former....

As Christopher Hill states, "the cosmic hopes which the Hermetic philosophy seemed to open up were not wholly unreasonable in the mid-seventeenth century when magic and science were still advancing side by side. "84 The philosopher's stone would become the vehicle for the return of the Golden Age. In the final analysis, alchemy presents us with a series of irreconcilable paradoxes, many of which have persisted to complicate, enrich, and enliven its literary reflections. " For these reasons, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to pursue a single line of development or argument in the following chapters.

23 The preservation of these works demonstrates an abiding interest in alchemy throughout the centuries and guaranteed a wealth of detailed knowledge from which both alchemical writers and literary authors who used alchemy could draw. But for purposes of this study, the abundance of alchemical texts is also important as the means to achieving a serious, respectable reputation for the art and its followers. The weighty discussion of alchemical theories with their cosmological and metaphysical implications, the bewildering (but tantalizing) practical directions and recipes, the promise of riches and longevity, the injunctions to lead a pious life, the appeal to revered authorities-all of these are characteristic of alchemical writing and helped to establish its reputation as a worthy subject for study and pursuit.

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Darke Hierogliphicks: Alchemy in English Literature from Chaucer to the Restoration by Stanton J. Linden


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