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Chapter Fifteen - Close Reading (and) Textual Bibliography

How Many Parts Does Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World Have?

from Part V - New Directions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2022

Lisa Walters
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
Brandie R. Siegfried
Affiliation:
Brigham Young University, Utah
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Summary

This chapter examines what is arguably Cavendish’s most famous publication, her proto-science fiction novel The Blazing World, from a textual bibliographical perspective, for the purpose of showing that textual bibliography and more traditional literary interpretive analysis can and should be brought together in Cavendish studies. The printed volume in which Cavendish’s novel was originally published, the 1666 collection, printed in London, includes both a treatise and the novel together. I establish a collation formula for this book, and examine the binding, signature marks, pagination, running titles, and systematic hand corrections. These textual bibliographical details demonstrate that the original intention was for Blazing World to end with what we now call Part I, and that Part II was hastily sent to the printer after Part I and the Epilogue had already been printed as a completed whole. The essay ends by showing how this bibliographical fact might change our reading of the narrative itself, and might also prompt us to ask new questions of Cavendish’s writing methods.

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Margaret Cavendish
An Interdisciplinary Perspective
, pp. 233 - 247
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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