Early Modern Asceticism: Literature, Religion, and Austerity in the English Renaissance

By Patrick J. McGrath

© 2019

In discussions of the works of Donne, Milton, Marvell, and Bunyan, Early Modern Asceticism shows how conflicting approaches to asceticism animate depictions of sexuality, subjectivity, and embodiment in early modern literature and religion. The book challenges the perception that the Renaissance marks a decisive shift in attitudes towards the body, sex, and the self. In early modernity, self-respect was a Satanic impulse that had to be annihilated – the body was not celebrated, but beaten into subjection – and, feeling circumscribed by sexual desire, ascetics found relief in pain, solitude, and deformity. On the basis of this austerity, Early Modern Asceticism questions the ease with which scholarship often elides the early and the modern.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.5in x 1.0in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP005512

  • PUBLISHED OCT 2019

    From: $52.50

    Regular Price: $70.00

    ISBN 9781487505325
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2019

    From: $52.50

    Regular Price: $70.00

Quick Overview

Challenging contemporary perceptions of the ascetic in the early modern period, this book explores asceticism as a vital site of religious conflict and literary creativity, rather than merely a vestige of a medieval past.

Early Modern Asceticism: Literature, Religion, and Austerity in the English Renaissance

By Patrick J. McGrath

© 2019

In discussions of the works of Donne, Milton, Marvell, and Bunyan, Early Modern Asceticism shows how conflicting approaches to asceticism animate depictions of sexuality, subjectivity, and embodiment in early modern literature and religion. The book challenges the perception that the Renaissance marks a decisive shift in attitudes towards the body, sex, and the self. In early modernity, self-respect was a Satanic impulse that had to be annihilated – the body was not celebrated, but beaten into subjection – and, feeling circumscribed by sexual desire, ascetics found relief in pain, solitude, and deformity. On the basis of this austerity, Early Modern Asceticism questions the ease with which scholarship often elides the early and the modern.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.5in x 1.0in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "Patrick J. McGrath explores the surprisingly varied ways that asceticism persisted after the Reformation; one of the pleasures of this project is the way it upends assumptions about how asceticism persists and who might be attracted to it."


    Brooke Conti, Department of English, Cleveland State University

    "Patrick J. McGrath’s discussion of asceticism makes a definite, significant contribution to research on the relationship between early modern religion and selfhood – an impressive accomplishment, given that many other scholars have discussed this relationship in other terms."


    James Kuzner, Department of English, Brown University
  • Author Information

    Patrick J. McGrath is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction

    1. John Donne and Asceticism      
    2. A Mask, Asceticism, and Caroline Culture    
    3. The Virgin’s Body and the Natural World in Lycidas   
    4. Upon Appleton House and the Impossibility of Asceticism  
    5. Self-Denial, Monasticism, and The Pilgrim’s Progress

    Conclusion

    Notes

    Bibliography

    Index

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