Chapter

Epilogue: Between Testimony and Hearsay

Wes Williams

in Monsters and their Meanings in Early Modern Culture

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577026
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728662 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577026.003.0008
Epilogue: Between Testimony and Hearsay

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The epilogue takes the story into the eighteenth century, into Enlightenment quarrels, reports produced by learned societies, and the novel. Its initial focus is on the work of Malebranche, theorist of compassion, sympathy, and the power of the imagination. His account of a monstrous birth generated by the occasion of Pius V's beatification serves as a reflexive retrospection of the themes developed in this study. There follows discussion of the ‘Turner-Blondel’ controversy, a further reworking of the questions discussed here: children, the dangers of exposure to the fables told by nourrices, the potentially harmful effects of certain painted images, such as (once again) those found in/generated by Heliodorus's Aethiopica. The study concludes with a gesture at once recursive — back to Ovid, Pliny, Rabelais, and Shakespeare's Othello — and prospective: forward to Swift's Gulliver's Travels, in which the monsters of modernity take on their own and peculiar shapes.

Keywords: Malebranche; theology; medicine; imagination; monstrous births; Heliodorus's Aethiopica; Enlightenment; compassion; Turner; Blondel

Chapter.  7845 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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