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Margaret Cavendish and the Exiles of the Mind

by Anna Battigelli

Availablecloth$60.00x 978-0-8131-2068-3
Studies in the English Renaissance
192 pages  Pubdate: 08/27/1998  6 x 9  

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Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (1623-1673), led a dramatic life that brought her into contact with kings, queens, and the leading thinkers of her day. The English civil wars forced her into exile, accompanying Queen Henrietta Maria and her court to Paris. From this vantage point, she began writing voluminously, responding to the events and major intellectual movements of the mid-seventeenth century.

Cavendish published twenty-three volumes in her lifetime, including plays, romances, poetry, letters, biography, and natural philosophy. In them she explored the political, scientific, and philosophical ideas of her day. While previous biographers of Cavendish have focused almost exclusively on her eccentric public behavior, Anna Battigelli is the first to explore in depth her intellectual life. She dismisses the myth of Cavendish as an isolated and lonely thinker, arguing that the role of exile was a rhetorical stance, one that allowed Cavendish to address and even criticize her world. She, like others writing during the period after the English civil wars, focused squarely on the problem of finding the proper relationship between mind and world. This volume presents Cavendish's writing self, the self she treasured above all others.

While previous biographers have focused on her eccentric public behaviour, Anna Battigelli is the first to explore in depth Margaret Cavendish's intellectual life. -- Cahiers Elizabethans

Battigelli's superb contribution is that she presents readers with a sympathetic and sophisticated examination of Cavendish as a thinker who was wrestling with many of the same issues as the great male thinkers of the age. . . . Thanks to this study, students and scholars can no longer ignore Cavendish's depth and seriousness as a writer and thinker. -- Choice

Reading Margaret Cavendish and the Exiles of the Mind is surely one of the most efficient ways to learn about this writer in a wonderfully thorough historical context and to prepare to read her texts in interesting ways. -- In-Between

This study succeeds at recovering the intellect and social engagement of a figure who, before Battigelli's book, many had excluded from the ranks of those about whom one writes an 'intellectual biography'. -- Margaret Cavendish Society Newsletter

This highly readable intellectual biography is something of a landmark in Margaret Cavendish studies. -- Seventeenth-Century News

A definite ‘must’ for every student, scholar, or plain old fan of the seventeenth century, a book that instructs, delights, and always excites. -- South Atlantic Review

1999 Choice Outstanding Academic Book given by Choice Magazine

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title