Light and DeathFiguration in Spenser, Kepler, Donne, Milton

Light and DeathFiguration in Spenser, Kepler, Donne, Milton

Judith H. Anderson

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780823272778

Publisher: Fordham University Press


Death, light, figuration, and, especially, analogical expressions of figuration are the primary subjects of this book. They generate associated interests: the relation of literature and science, the methodology of thought and argument, and the processes of narrative, discovery, and interpretation. Creativity, optics, and rhetoric come into focus as well. Anderson’s book begins as an intellectual process that employs mathematical science, semantics, rhetoric, grammar, and major poems inclusively as a single culture, not as C. P. Snow’s cultural opposites. It explores the figuration of Sin and Death in Spenser, Donne, and Milton, then turns to light because of its inseparability from the figuration of life, death’s other. Accordingly, Anderson examines the history and structure of analogical figuration and the bearing of analogy on light in physics and metaphysics. Analogy, a type of metaphor also called proportion, has always been the connector of the known to the unknown, the sensible to the subsensible and infinite. The perceptual opposites of light and its intermediating forms are likewise focal: blackness, darkness, shade, twilight, and night. Traditionally, light also implies vision and imagination, light being essential to optics, creation, and the figuration of Being. Chapters on Kepler’s studies of light and optics, on Donne’s epic Anniversaries of personal death and cultural loss, and on analogy, night, and light in Paradise Lost conclude the book.