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Infinite Variety : Literary Invention, Theology, and the Disorder of Kinds, 1688-1730

Title
Infinite Variety : Literary Invention, Theology, and the Disorder of Kinds, 1688-1730 / Wolfram Schmidgen.
ISBN
9780812299908
Publication
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, [2021]
Copyright Notice Date
©2021
Physical Description
1 online resource (288 p.) : 0
Local Notes
Access is available to the Yale community.
Notes
In English.
Access and use
Access restricted by licensing agreement.
Summary
Unnerved by the upheavals of the seventeenth century, English writers including Thomas Hobbes, Richard Blackmore, John Locke, Jonathan Swift, and Daniel Defoe came to accept that disorder, rather than order, was the natural state of things. They were drawn to voluntarism, a theology that emphasized a willful creator and denied that nature embodied truth and beauty. Voluntarism, Wolfram Schmidgen contends, provided both theological framework and aesthetic license. In Infinite Variety, he reconstructs this voluntarist tradition of literary invention.Once one accepted that creation was willful and order arbitrary, Schmidgen argues, existing hierarchies of kind lost their normative value. Literary invention could be radicalized as a result. Acknowledging that the will drives creation, such writers as Blackmore and Locke inverted the rules of composition and let energy dominate structure, matter create form, and parts be valued over the whole. In literary, religious, and philosophical works, voluntarism authorized the move beyond the natural toward the deformed, the infinite, and the counterfactual.In reclaiming ontology as an explanatory context for literary invention, Infinite Variety offers a brilliantly learned analysis of an aesthetic framed not by the rise of secularism, but by its opposite. It is a book that articulates how religious belief shaped modern literary practices, including novelistic realism, and one that will be of interest to anyone who thinks seriously about the relationship between literature, religion, and philosophy.
Variant and related titles
De Gruyter University Press eBook pilot project 2021.
Format
Books / Online
Language
English
Added to Catalog
September 08, 2021
Contents
Frontmatter
Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1. Toward a Voluntarist Aesthetic
Chapter 2. Glorious Arbitrariness: Science, Religion, and the Imagination of Infinite Variety
Chapter 3. Energy and Structure: Remaking the Given in Blackmore and Pope
Chapter 4. Embarrassed Invention: Stillingfleet, Locke, and the Style of Voluntarism
Chapter 5. The Constructive Swift: Between the Hope and Fear of Decomposition
Chapter 6. The Providence of Gathering and Scattering: Dynamic Variety in Defoe
Conclusion
Notes
Index
Acknowledgments
Citation

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