Colonialism, Jewishness and politics in Bacon’s New Atlantis
This chapter explores whether Francis Bacon argues in the New Atlantis for England's continued imperial growth and whether he advocates a policy of Christian toleration of Jews. It focuses on the ways the New Atlantis refuses to 'speak plain' through an examination of Bacon's contradictory representations of Jewishness. The New Atlantis displays different attitudes to colonialism according to the relative civilisation and scientific sophistication of the home nation. The chapter presents the social, political, and cultural contradictions of early seventeenth-century England reflected in the New Atlantis. Bacon explicitly appropriates Scriptural quotation associated with King Solomon when he describes King Solamona's 'large heart. The fact that the New Atlantis reproduces the social contradictions and tensions of the time means that Bacon was unable to formulate unequivocal policies concerning Christian toleration of Jews and colonial endeavour.
Critical readers of Francis Bacon's New Atlantis have often drawn attention to the complex relationship between the production and dissemination of enlightened scientific knowledge in Bensalem. For readers of Bacon and students of the early modern period in England more generally, the New Atlantis unavoidably raises questions concerning the relationship between censorship and knowledge. Richard Burt's Licensed by Authority argues against any clear-cut distinction between criticism and censorship, poetic liberty and licensed poetry, within the multiple and dispersed, and often equivocal and contradictory, spaces and conditions of the court and market. The censorship and criticism become self-identical terms that can be juxtaposed in a stable opposition; the critic is "opposed" to censorship. Salomon's House exemplifies in ideal terms the advancement of learning, in the context both of academic principle and institutional practice. The orderliness of the institution's academic disciplines is mismatched by that of the conduct of its officials.
From her very first novel, Vu du ciel, which was published in 1990, Christine Angot has established herself firmly as a writer who has made it her mission to explore and expose relentlessly the thin line between reality and fiction. The last quarter of the twentieth century, in French literature, will probably be remembered, among other things, as the period in which a new genre, that of autofiction, emerged and flourished. Many literary theorists have long claimed that the meeting point between fiction and autobiography, which so strongly shapes contemporary self-representational aesthetics, is a fundamental area of women's writing. Both the fantastic and autofiction function as border or frontier genres which borrow elements from other related genres, and autofictions are not necessarily limited to borrowings from autobiography. Autofictions are also potentially subversive in a similar way to fantastic literature, as Rosemary Jackson identifies.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book focuses on various aspects of the subject and identity as they are conceived and represented in contemporary women's writing in France. Fears and fantasies are material reality in Marie Darrieussecq's novels of women in crisis, in the literalisation of metaphors pertaining to women's bodies, in the undercurrents of presence and absence, and in the void at the heart of emotional relationships. A recurrent theme in Clotilde Escalle's novels is the difficult relationships her female protagonists have with their mothers, and it is striking how frequently variations on the mother-daughter theme. The modern trend for self-referentiality in literature means that the writing self is also clearly manifested and, indeed, foregrounded in the work of a significant number of the contemporary French women writers.
In her Society at War (1931), the social analyst Caroline Playne concluded that the experience of thinkers and artists who had languished under the Great War was just as real as that of the shattered soldiers. The Bloomsbury Group, perhaps typically, reacted to the Great War on an individual basis. Other people also based their objection to the conflict on aesthetic or humanistic grounds, and did so from a wider cross-section of the cultural landscape. Although most of these people were from the educated middle classes, similarly linked anti-war feelings occurred throughout the war and beyond, and emanated from differing contexts; from the equally well known to the obscure, from male to female and from those who fought to those who did not. With the advent of the Great War, conflicts of morality ensued. Those who volunteered for military service in the early months of the war voluntarily laid down individualistic claims for a variety of reasons, not least due to the pull of pre-war collectivist patriotism and a resulting sense of moral duty.
The plays of Ed Thomas and the cultural politics of South Wales
The reference to Max Boyce in the title of Ed Thomas's 1997 article, 'A land fit for heroes' captures the image which he wishes to dispel: the caricature of Welshness whose soft sentimentality eases away the necessity of self-analysis. The thrust of Thomas's argument is that a people can only live in, and live up to, the images of themselves which circulate in the culture. Negative or disempowering stereotypes are an integral part of political and cultural colonialism. By the time of the film production in 1997, however, not only had Welsh culture taken on a different tone from that defined by Harry Secombe but Thomas's attitude to his native culture had consequently modified. Thomas's dramas are essentially domestic rather than social, his characters frequently traumatised by the deaths of parents or siblings with the social and economic dimensions to those tragedies.
The concept of the Devil's pact was a prominent theme in early modern European theology. Central to the debate was the idea that witches and magical practitioners of all types gained their powers from selling their soul to the Devil. The Devil's pact was considered the gravest of crimes and was punishable by death. The Devil's pact trials highlight the differing conceptions of female and male satanic relationships, and the way in which that fundamental tool of the Enlightenment enabled a wider section of society to engage with Satan rather than reject him. The characteristics of male contact with the Devil differed significantly from perceptions at the time of female relationships with the Devil, whether in the context of witchcraft or possession. Witchcraft accusations apart, women actually resorted to the Devil for personal gain, but adopted a different strategy from that of men, which was consequently open to different interpretation.
This chapter examines the nature and dissemination of the Zauberbücher or grimoires, which contained instructions to restore health, to reverse the effects of witchcraft and love spells and to safeguard and increase material wealth. Although there are some truths in the classic version of the Enlightenment there is reason to give it only partial credence, as the study of supernatural literature of the period demonstrates. In the shadows cast by the light of the Enlightenment, the transmission of magical knowledge was easier than ever before, and its impact far-reaching, with ripples reaching us today in the form of the current popularity of esoteric literature. The chapter considers the influence the burgeoning German magic media market had in America. Belief in miracles, magic knowledge and fortune-telling were exploited in the new market, and the more literature that was printed in general, the more magic and occult literature was also printed.
Western culture has always treated the eating of human flesh as taboo. Reluctant or not, cannibals evoke fear, loathing or, at best, horrified pity. No fourteenth-century English cook is known to have prepared for consumption the flesh of a real Turk, yet the Turk's Head, a sweet-and- sour meat pie shaped and decorated to resemble the outlandish features of a stereotyped Saracen, was a familiar late medieval dish. Richard Coeur de Lion, a romance whose medieval popularity is well attested, arrests modern readers with the spectacle of its man-eating king. Duped into mistaking a cooked Saracen for pork, the ailing Richard devours a dish of boiled flesh, faster than his steward can carve, and gnaws on the bones.
The New Atlantis is a text about natural philosophy which seems to offer connections at almost every point with moral and political philosophy. Francis Bacon's had shown himself willing and able to treat what he considered the most pressing issues of political and ethical theory and practical negotiation. Markku Peltonen stresses that the repeated identification of Bacon's philosophical with his political thought relies upon a 'rhetorical similarity'. Bensalem, the island conforms, as it soon becomes clear in the New Atlantis, to virtually all of Bacon's social and political criteria for the reform of knowledge. Bensalem's use of the Merchants of Light represents the proper Baconian relationship of the present to the past, and of the natural philosopher to his 'ancient' forebears. In the New Atlantis, the practice of science appears to be kept institutionally and geographically separate from politics, with considerable autonomy being given to the scientific community.