Mutual Accusation: Seventeenth-Century Body and Soul Dialogues in Their Literary and Theological Context
Published: December 1990© 1990
304 Pages, 6.14 x 9.21 in
The body and soul dialogues portray this tradition of conflict in its most fundamental form. They bring together psychological concerns about the nature of humanity and theological concerns about the responsibility for sin. They provide the conceptual centre from which the multiple metaphors and analogies in the rest of the literature radiate.
Rosalie Osmond examines both literal and metaphorical aspects of the relationship between body and soul in seventeenth-century literature and their significance within a primarily dualistic philosophy. She begins with an overview of the beliefs concerning body and soul from the time of the Greek philosophers to the seventeenth century. Within the seventeenth century these views, as they manifest themselves in the works of scientific writers and theologians, are examined in some detail.
In the central section of the work, she focuses on the medieval dialogues and their seventeenth-century counterparts. The reappearance of the latter, after the form had apparently died out and their subsequent final disappearance late in the century are examined in the light of other literature and theological writings of the period.
The final section of the book brings the insights of the first two to bear on seventeenth-century literature other than the debates themselves, including poetry and drama.
‘The discussion is both lively and enlightening…it should become the definitive work on the body and soul dialogue.’