Supernatural Fiction in Early Modern Drama and Culture, Hardback Book

Supernatural Fiction in Early Modern Drama and Culture Hardback

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Magic and the supernatural are common themes in the philosophy and fiction of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This book explores varieties of scepticism and belief exhibited by a selection of philosophers and playwrights, including Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, Giordano Bruno, John Dee, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Middleton, explicating how each author defines the supernatural, whether he assumes magic to operate in the world, and how he uses occult principles to explain what can be known and what is ethical. Beliefs and claims concerning impossible phenomena and superhuman agency require literary historians to determine whether an occult system of magical operation is being described in a given text.

Each chapter in this volume evaluates whether a chosen early modern author is endorsing magic as efficacious or divinely sanctioned, or criticising it for being fraudulent or unholy.

By examining works of fiction, it is possible to explore fantastic settings which were not intended to be synonymous with the early modern audience's everyday experience, settings where magic exists and operates according to the playwrights' designs. This book also sets out to determine what historical sources provided given authors with knowledge of the occult and speculates on how aware an audience would have been of academic, classical, or popular contexts surrounding the text at hand.

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