Suffering in Paradise: The Bubonic Plague in English Literary Studies from More to Milton

Suffering in Paradise: The Bubonic Plague in English Literary Studies from More to Milton

Rebecca Totaro $70.00

Published in 2005 | 251 pages | cloth | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0362-6


“This study serves as a well-researched, focused, and significant work on plague in early modern British Literary Studies and fills a gap in scholarship on this topic in cultural and literary studies. Totaro reads pamphlets, plays, and prose materials in light of biographical events of each literary author, which situates her work as primarily historicist and also relevant to the ever-growing interest in the body and natural philosophy in early modern utopian Literary Studies.” — Sixteenth Century Journal


“[Totaro's] work contributes productively to utopian studies, cultural materialist approaches to early modern Literary Studies, and also to the rising interest in the body in early modern culture.” — Sixteenth Century Journal

Book Information:

In Suffering in Paradise, Totaro provides a unique and timely discussion of the bubonic plague as it shaped Literary Studies in England from 1500 through the first half of the eighteenth century. Within the experience and accounts of bubonic plague, men and women found their own understanding of the body, of the human relationship with nature, and of the degree to which they had faith in their nation and their God. An early modern writer's reading of the plague shows us in detail what he or she believes to be the parameters within which life is lived. Focusing on the broadest of these parameters, Totaro examines hope and despair as displayed within a range of imaginary realms designed to include and control the bubonic plague. Each of the works in this study—Thomas More's Utopia, William Shakespeare's Timon of Athens, Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis, Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World, and John Milton's Paradise Lost—provides literary and English answers that cohere in stunning form and resonate today.

Author Information:

REBECCA TOTARO is professor of English at Florida Gulf Coast University. She is the author of The Plague in Print and coeditor of Representing the Plague in Early Modern England. A member of the Folger Institute Year-Long Colloquium "Vernacular Health and Healing" (2007-08), she was awarded a short-term fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library for her work on early modern meteorology and physiology, and recently received the 2010 Monroe Kirk Spears Award for the best essay of the year published in SEL Studies in English Literary Studies 1500–1900 for her essay, "Securing Sleep in Hamlet."

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