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Chapter Eight - Of Webs and Wonder

The Atomic Vitalism of Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies

from Part III - Literature

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

Brandie R. Siegfried “considers three characteristics of [Cavendish's] volume of verse,” Poems and Fancies, arguing first that the book is "thoroughly engaged with philosophers and mathematicians, both ancient and modern: understanding the import of her poems often requires setting them in dialogue with those thinkers.” Second, Siegfried investigates the prefaces of Cavendish's poetry, further contending that they demonstrate a feminist sensibility as they explain her views for an audience that pointedly included women. Finally, Cavendish’s eclectic ideas are not simply the musings of a careless author, but rather are the works of a committed philosopher who uses the form of poetry to clarify her theories, making them more accessible to readers while “enhancing aesthetic pleasure through increased complexity and wit.” Giving special attention to Cavendish’s poetic revisions in Poems and Fancies, Siegfried further emphasizes the importance of Cavendish’s poetry for understanding the natural philosophy espoused in Philosophical and Physical Opinions, Philosophical Letters, and Observations upon Experimental Philosophy.

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Margaret Cavendish
An Interdisciplinary Perspective
, pp. 129 - 143
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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