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Light without Heat: The Observational Mood from Bacon to Milton (Hardback)
  • Light without Heat: The Observational Mood from Bacon to Milton (Hardback)
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Light without Heat: The Observational Mood from Bacon to Milton (Hardback)

(author)
£37.00
Hardback 312 Pages / Published: 15/06/2018
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In Light without Heat, David Carroll Simon argues for the importance of carelessness to the literary and scientific experiments of the seventeenth century. While scholars have often looked to this period in order to narrate the triumph of methodical rigor as a quintessentially modern intellectual value, Simon describes the appeal of open-ended receptivity to the protagonists of the New Science. In straying from the work of self-possession and the duty to sift fact from fiction, early modern intellectuals discovered the cognitive advantages of the undisciplined mind.

Exploring the influence of what he calls the "observational mood" on both poetry and prose, Simon offers new readings of Michel de Montaigne, Francis Bacon, Izaak Walton, Henry Power, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Andrew Marvell, and John Milton. He also extends his inquiry beyond the boundaries of early modernity, arguing for a literary theory that trades strict methodological commitment for an openness to lawless drift.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9781501723407
Number of pages: 312
Weight: 28 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Light without Heat will gain deserving accolades as an innovative study of seventeenth- century literary and scientific writing.... [A]s an attempt at capturing and describing the shifting moods of reflection and observation that lie at the core of so much seventeenth-century writing, Simon has... written a deeply thought-provoking book."

-- Jonathan Sawday * Renaissance Quarterly *

"[B]y finding other forms of thinking within literature, and by practicing other forms of reading within criticism,... even the most familiar of texts come to be seen in a whole new light.... David Carroll Simon's magisterial Light without Heat [is] a highly thoughtful and revisionary study of the scientific imagination and, specifically, of the quality of thought that characterizes it in the seventeenth century. ... Simon challenges the consensus that the New Science was responsible for prioritizing this mode of investigation [objectivity] by exploring what he calls the latter's 'observational mood': a quality of Montaignean carelessness... an aimless and patient witnessing that is neither driven nor teleological."

-- Catherine Bates * SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 *

"Simon's careful close readings illuminate both the scientific and literary texts under study, while his overall approach of resisting reductive binaries (Baconianism as exclusively active at the expense of passive receptivity, labor as exclusively laborious at the expense of affective pleasure) serves as a compelling corrective against the tendency of scholarship on the history of science to slip into universalizing narratives. Scholars of seventeenth-century literature and science-and of seventeenth-century culture more generally-should find it to be a provocative and stimulating read."

-- Erin Webster * Milton Quarterly *

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