Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare

Overview

Theirs was a world of exploration and experimentation, of movement and growth--and in this, the thinkers of the Renaissance, poets and scientists alike, followed their countrymen into uncharted territory and unthought space. A book that takes us to the very heart of the enterprise of the Renaissance, this closely focused but far-reaching work by the distinguished scholar Angus Fletcher reveals how early modern science and English poetry were in many ways components of one process: discovering and expressing the ...

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Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare

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Overview

Theirs was a world of exploration and experimentation, of movement and growth--and in this, the thinkers of the Renaissance, poets and scientists alike, followed their countrymen into uncharted territory and unthought space. A book that takes us to the very heart of the enterprise of the Renaissance, this closely focused but far-reaching work by the distinguished scholar Angus Fletcher reveals how early modern science and English poetry were in many ways components of one process: discovering and expressing the secrets of motion, whether in the language of mathematics or verse.

Throughout his book, Fletcher is concerned with one main crisis of knowledge and perception, and indeed cognition generally: the desire to find a correct theory of motion that could only end with Newton's Laws. Beginning with the achievement of Galileo--which changed the world--Time, Space, and Motion identifies the problem of motion as the central cultural issue of the time, pursued through the poetry of the age, from Marlowe and Shakespeare to Ben Jonson and Milton, negotiated through the limits and the limitless possibilities of language much as it was through the constraints of the physical world.

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Editorial Reviews

Bookforum

When was the last time you couldn't put down a book of literary criticism or didn't want it to end? Ever? In Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare, Angus Fletcher, a magically gifted teacher in whose presence we hear what thinking feels like, has given us not only a brilliant study of the early modern period but a handbook for our time as well...Quietly astounding observations punctuate his volume...Here is the critic as wizard, making us see what we have always seen but never seen before.
— Joan Richardson

Comparative Drama

Reading [Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare] is a bit like sharing a late-night conversation with a particularly brilliant, eloquent, digressive, athletically persuasive, and universally read colleague...Fletcher covers an astonishing amount of territory in this demanding, and rewarding, book.
— William N. West

College Literature

Fletcher convincingly demonstrates what he calls “the predominant conceptual, scientific, metaphysical and hence philosophic power of the idea of motion for the poets of the early modern age”...As a former student of Professor Fletcher at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, I have the advantage of imagining his voice and gestures, of remembering the kind of dumbfounding observations he would toss off seemingly out of nowhere as we students struggled to keep up with his incredible ability to think polysemantically.
— Anthony DiMatteo

Journal of Modern History

Of all the studies on the history of witchcraft that have appeared in recent years, this must surely be one of the most compelling. To a field and an episode that have often been melodramatized, if not sensationalized, Malcolm Gaskill brings an enviable sense of balance. He also writes with a novelist’s instincts for place and mood and for details of character, emotion, landscape, and weather, creating a wonderful evocation of East Anglia during the first Civil War...Gaskill takes us through case after case...writing with great sensitivity and compassion about the human and social dynamics involved, the conditions of imprisonment and trial, and the harrowing ends of those convicted...Indeed, Gaskill writes with such evenness and calm authority about the personal and collective turmoil that his book never fails to convince. It succeeds in two contrasting directions simultaneously: it accounts for an episode previously treated as singular and odd as the almost-to-be-expected outcome of prevailing historical conditions, and yet it never loses sight of the unique human tragedies from which it was made.
— Stuart Clark

John Rogers
This meditation on the relation of literature and science in the late sixteenth and earlier seventeenth centuries is certainly in a class by itself. More than any other living literary critic, Fletcher brings a perspective on the world of letters that we might call Olympian.
John Hollander
A radically new kind of exploration, Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare is a profoundly original work by a major scholar, with considerable potential resonance for a wide range of contemporary discourse on such matters as science and poetry, imagination and belief.
Kenneth Knoespel
The openness and clarity of Fletcher's argument invites one to think of it not as another literary study but rather as an essay within an American tradition of public intellectual engagement. While Time, Space, and Motion in English Renaissance Poetry illuminates multiple intersections of thought and experience in the early modern period, it also manifests a lifetime of thinking about the challenges of contemporary civilization and the ways in which literature resonates with science.
Harold Bloom
Angus Fletcher is an Orphic seer, a curious universal scholar of Renaissance vintage, a fusion of the best traits of Northrop Frye and Kenneth Burke, his true peers.... His new book on Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, Milton and so much more is a marvelous demonstration that cosmology, rhetoric and psychology are not three entities but one. Here they fuse together with the magus Fletcher performing his superb critical alchemy.
Bookforum - Joan Richardson
When was the last time you couldn't put down a book of literary criticism or didn't want it to end? Ever? In Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare, Angus Fletcher, a magically gifted teacher in whose presence we hear what thinking feels like, has given us not only a brilliant study of the early modern period but a handbook for our time as well...Quietly astounding observations punctuate his volume...Here is the critic as wizard, making us see what we have always seen but never seen before.
Comparative Drama - William N. West
Reading [Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare] is a bit like sharing a late-night conversation with a particularly brilliant, eloquent, digressive, athletically persuasive, and universally read colleague...Fletcher covers an astonishing amount of territory in this demanding, and rewarding, book.
College Literature - Anthony Dimatteo
Fletcher convincingly demonstrates what he calls “the predominant conceptual, scientific, metaphysical and hence philosophic power of the idea of motion for the poets of the early modern age”...As a former student of Professor Fletcher at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, I have the advantage of imagining his voice and gestures, of remembering the kind of dumbfounding observations he would toss off seemingly out of nowhere as we students struggled to keep up with his incredible ability to think polysemantically.
Journal of Modern History - Stuart Clark
Of all the studies on the history of witchcraft that have appeared in recent years, this must surely be one of the most compelling. To a field and an episode that have often been melodramatized, if not sensationalized, Malcolm Gaskill brings an enviable sense of balance. He also writes with a novelist’s instincts for place and mood and for details of character, emotion, landscape, and weather, creating a wonderful evocation of East Anglia during the first Civil War...Gaskill takes us through case after case...writing with great sensitivity and compassion about the human and social dynamics involved, the conditions of imprisonment and trial, and the harrowing ends of those convicted...Indeed, Gaskill writes with such evenness and calm authority about the personal and collective turmoil that his book never fails to convince. It succeeds in two contrasting directions simultaneously: it accounts for an episode previously treated as singular and odd as the almost-to-be-expected outcome of prevailing historical conditions, and yet it never loses sight of the unique human tragedies from which it was made.
Bookforum
When was the last time you couldn't put down a book of literary criticism or didn't want it to end? Ever? In Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare, Angus Fletcher, a magically gifted teacher in whose presence we hear what thinking feels like, has given us not only a brilliant study of the early modern period but a handbook for our time as well...Quietly astounding observations punctuate his volume...Here is the critic as wizard, making us see what we have always seen but never seen before.
— Joan Richardson
College Literature
Fletcher convincingly demonstrates what he calls “the predominant conceptual, scientific, metaphysical and hence philosophic power of the idea of motion for the poets of the early modern age”...As a former student of Professor Fletcher at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, I have the advantage of imagining his voice and gestures, of remembering the kind of dumbfounding observations he would toss off seemingly out of nowhere as we students struggled to keep up with his incredible ability to think polysemantically.
— Anthony DiMatteo
Comparative Drama
Reading [Time, Space, and Motion in the Age of Shakespeare] is a bit like sharing a late-night conversation with a particularly brilliant, eloquent, digressive, athletically persuasive, and universally read colleague...Fletcher covers an astonishing amount of territory in this demanding, and rewarding, book.
— William N. West
Journal of Modern History
Of all the studies on the history of witchcraft that have appeared in recent years, this must surely be one of the most compelling. To a field and an episode that have often been melodramatized, if not sensationalized, Malcolm Gaskill brings an enviable sense of balance. He also writes with a novelist’s instincts for place and mood and for details of character, emotion, landscape, and weather, creating a wonderful evocation of East Anglia during the first Civil War...Gaskill takes us through case after case...writing with great sensitivity and compassion about the human and social dynamics involved, the conditions of imprisonment and trial, and the harrowing ends of those convicted...Indeed, Gaskill writes with such evenness and calm authority about the personal and collective turmoil that his book never fails to convince. It succeeds in two contrasting directions simultaneously: it accounts for an episode previously treated as singular and odd as the almost-to-be-expected outcome of prevailing historical conditions, and yet it never loses sight of the unique human tragedies from which it was made.
— Stuart Clark
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674023086
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Angus Fletcher is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the City University of New York Graduate School.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Galileo's Metaphor

2. The Theme of Motion

3. On Drama, Poetry, and Movement

4. Marlowe Invents the Deadline

5. The Defense of the Interim

6. Structure of an Epitaph

7. Donne's Apocryphal Wit

8. Milton and the Moons of Jupiter

Conclusion

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

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