Margaret Cavendish was one of the most subversive and entertaining writers of the seventeenth century. She invented new genres, challenged gender roles, and critiqued the new science as well as the mores of society. “Paper Bodies” was the wonderful phrase she used to described her manuscripts, which she hoped would continue to make “a great Blazing Light” after her death. There are connections here to Cavendish’s most famous work, The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World (1666), a unique tale of a woman travelling through the north pole to a strange new world.
In addition to The Blazing World, this volume includes Cavendish’s brief autobiography, A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding and Life (1667), her play The Convent of Pleasure, and selections from her Sociable Letters, her poetry, and her critical writings. A variety of background documents by other seventeenth-century writers helps to set her work in context for the modern reader.
“Paper Bodies gathers together important and representative selections from the poetry, fiction, prefaces, and letters of Margaret Cavendish. The book also sets the work in context by printing extracts from Francis Bacon, Mary Evelyn, and Aphra Behn. Cavendish scholars will be very pleased by the appearance of this highly useful collection.” — James Fitzmaurice, Northern Arizona University
“Cavendish always hoped that a future audience might read her texts—the ‘paper bodies’ that remained after her death—more attentively than had her contemporaries. This anthology facilitates that readership. Its lucid introduction and careful selection of texts and contexts adumbrate key topics in Cavendish studies, and its potential to enrich courses on early modern literature, the history of science, and gender studies is great.” — Anna Battigelli, SUNY, Plattsburgh