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Shakespeare and DonneGeneric Hybrids and the Cultural Imaginary$
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Judith H. Anderson and Jennifer C. Vaught

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251254

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251254.001.0001

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Mapping the Celestial in Shakespeare’s Tempest and the Writings of John Donne

Mapping the Celestial in Shakespeare’s Tempest and the Writings of John Donne

(p.111) 5. Mapping the Celestial in Shakespeare’s Tempest and the Writings of John Donne
Shakespeare and Donne

Douglas Trevor

Fordham University Press

While scholars have paid copious attention to the relation between terrestrial maps and the writings of Shakespeare and Donne, celestial maps and globes have gone largely unnoticed. In this chapter, celestial objects are read as indicators of a widespread, early modern interest in theorizing the possible existence of other inhabited worlds. Within this argument, Montaigne’s essay “An Apologie of Raymond Sebond” is positioned as a key text by which such plurality is connected with the discourse of philosophical skepticism. For Montaigne, the more the earth and the heavens are mapped, the more they reveal how little is really known for certain. With these texts and ideas in mind, this chapter analyzes the Tempest as a work that imagines the moon as a site beyond the colonial reach and understanding of Europe. Caliban is explicitly fashioned as a product of this sphere: a mooncalf. In the case of Donne, a crucial link between cartography and Montaignian skepticism in the English writer’s mapping of space and the devotional self is proposed, such that the more intimately Donne connects the human with the cartographic, the more profoundly he insists upon faith and devotion to compensate for the all-too-apparent limits of human knowledge.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Donne, celestial, maps, skepticism, moon, cartography, Caliban, Tempest, Montaigne

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