Cherished Torment: The Emotional Geography of Lady Mary Wroth's Urania

Cherished Torment: The Emotional Geography of Lady Mary Wroth's Urania

Sheila Cavanagh $60.00


Published in 2001 | 300 pages | cloth | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0320-6


“Her easy familiarity with the often bewildering array of characters and events is impressive. She tracks characters, motifs, themes, ideas with a quiet assurance. . . . One learns a great deal about the Urania, Mary Wroth, and the debates and issues at the turn of the seventeenth century in its pages.” — Seventeenth-Century News

“The scholarly importance of Cavanagh's book lies in the fact that it provides very comprehensive and well documented criticism of various compositional and thematic aspects of Urania: narrative, structure, empire, gender, and sexuality.” — Renaissance and Reformation"

Cherished Torment offers the first detailed account of the intellectual foundation of the first prose romance published by a woman in English: The Countess of Montgomery's Urania, written by Lady Mary Wroth, the niece of Sir Philip Sidney. Part one, printed in 1621, prompted an intense outcry due to Lady Mary Wroth's thinly veiled representation of actual events in the lives of prominent families. It was not republished until 1995. The remainder of Urania, published in 2000, marks the first opportunity for most readers to experience this 600,000-word romance firsthand.

Book Information:

The Urania's lengthy text may initially appear daunting, but Cavanagh argues that the romance rewards its readers with a richly textured narrative that artfully engages with numerous aesthetic, literary, and intellectual concerns from the early seventeenth century, including race relations, tensions between Christianity and the occult, global expansion, and the composition of the universe.

A sophisticated and erudite study, Cherished Torment moves beyond the intriguing and scandalous events of Wroth's personal life that have understandably captivated the attention of many modern readers to a closer look at the latter's masterful integration of the issues fueling her era's political, scientific, and philosophical debates. Cavanagh's important study will enable readers to better recognize and appreciate Urania's intellectual heritage.

Author Information:

SHEILA CAVANAGH is a professor at Emory University and editor of the Spenser Review. She is the author of Wanton Eyes and Chaste Desires: Female Sexuality in The Faerie Queene (Indiana, 1994) and numerous articles on Renaissance Literary Studies and pedagogy. She is also director of the Emory Women Writers Resource Project, which received a major grant from the NEH.


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