Sleep, Romance and Human Embodiment

Sleep, Romance and Human Embodiment : Vitality from Spenser to Milton

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Garrett Sullivan explores the changing impact of Aristotelian conceptions of vitality and humanness on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature before and after the rise of Descartes. Aristotle's tripartite soul is usually considered in relation to concepts of psychology and physiology. However, Sullivan argues that its significance is much greater, constituting a theory of vitality that simultaneously distinguishes man from, and connects him to, other forms of life. He contends that, in works such as Sidney's Old Arcadia, Shakespeare's Henry IV and Henry V, Spenser's Faerie Queene, Milton's Paradise Lost and Dryden's All for Love, the genres of epic and romance, whose operations are informed by Aristotle's theory, provide the raw materials for exploring different models of humanness; and that sleep is the vehicle for such exploration as it blurs distinctions among man, plant and animal.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1139169254
  • 9781139169257

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. Aristotelian Vitality Ascendant: 1. 'Both plant and beast together': temperance, vitality and the romance alternative in Spenser's Bower of Bliss; 2. Sleeping minds: romance, affect and environment in Sidney's The Old Arcadia; 3. Sleep, history and 'life indeed' in Shakespeare's 1 and 2 Henry IV and Henry V; Part II. Aristotelian Vitality Embattled: 4. 'From the root springs lighter the green stalk': vegetality and humanness in Milton's Paradise Lost; Part III. Aristotelian Vitality Undead: 5. 'Desperate sloth, miscalled philosophy': Descartes and the post-Aristotelian romance episode in Dryden's All for Love; Coda: beyond undeath.
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Review quote

'This is a major new study with wide ranging implications for a variety of early modern interests - in the contested category of the human, in the ecological place of the human body in relation to its environment, in the legacy of Aristotelianism against the advent of Cartesianism, and in the relations between epic and romance.' Gail Paster, Folger Shakespeare Library '... a scholarly, intelligent and provocative study that raises many important questions about the relationship between genre and content that are certain to invite further debate.' Richard A. McCabe, Milton Quarterly
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