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Familiar Epistolary Philosophy: Margaret Cavendish's Philosophical Letters


Barnes, D, Familiar Epistolary Philosophy: Margaret Cavendish's Philosophical Letters, Parergon, 26, (2) pp. 39-64. ISSN 0313-6221 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2009 Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)

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DOI: doi:10.1353/pgn.0.0163


The autobiographical terms in which Margaret Cavendish's writing is often read obscure the degree to which she engaged with her intellectual heritage. Philosophical Letters (1664) in particular has been interpreted as Cavendish's bid to establish her friendship and parity with her philosophical peers, but her argument has broader implications. She uses the genre of the familiar letter, or letter of friendship, to demonstrate that her philosophical ideas issue from sociable principles. Cavendish opens with a discussion of Hobbes' Leviathan ostensibly focused upon non-political issues. However her political views are implied through the inherently sociable form of the letter. Cavendish uses the friendship letter to portray sociability as natural, and therefore, an ideal basis for the restored royalist polity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:British history
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology
UTAS Author:Barnes, D (Dr Diana Barnes)
ID Code:60326
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:History and Classics
Deposited On:2010-02-01
Last Modified:2012-05-07

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