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Forms of EngagementWomen, Poetry and Culture 1640-1680$
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Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199676521

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199676521.001.0001

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Margaret Cavendish as Editor and Reviser

Margaret Cavendish as Editor and Reviser

(p.60) 2 Margaret Cavendish as Editor and Reviser
Forms of Engagement

Elizabeth Scott-Baumann

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses techniques from the history of the book to show that Margaret Cavendish reformed her style through intervention in the print publications of her work. Cavendish presented herself as a modern rather than an ancient, championing imagination over learning. As her career progressed, however, she placed more value on the formal elements of her writing, revising poems and prose to conform to principles of uniformity and transparency. This chapter uncovers Cavendish's role as her own editor, as she responds to her readers and to contemporary shifts in literary and scientific culture. As her career progresses, Cavendish defines herself no longer in opposition to dominant scientific and literary cultures, but conforms more to uniformity of rhyme and metre, and transparency of technical prose. As critical opinion turned in her favour, and as she returned from exile to a position of social and political prominence after the Restoration, Cavendish's works no longer represent a rejection of both the new science and 'fine words'.

Keywords:   Margaret Cavendish, the Royal Society, revision, history of the book, print publication, prosody, science and poetry

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