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Reading the Road, from Shakespeare's Crossways to Bunyan's Highways$
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Lisa Hopkins and Bill Angus

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474454117

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474454117.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

How Margaret Cavendish Mapped a Blazing World

How Margaret Cavendish Mapped a Blazing World

(p.220) Chapter 12 How Margaret Cavendish Mapped a Blazing World
Reading the Road, from Shakespeare's Crossways to Bunyan's Highways

Marion Wynne-Davies

Edinburgh University Press

Marion Wynne-Davies’s chapter quotes ‘Heaven was too long a reach for man to recover at one step and therefore God first placed him upon the earth’. Maps, and the roads they depicted, were therefore not only useful for navigation on earth, but also a guide on the spiritual road to ‘heaven’. This chapter considers Margaret Cavendish’s fictional accounts of road travel which are derived not from scientific exploration or a quest for spiritual truth, but from political necessity and harsh personal experience. Wynne-Davies argues that in order to understand the roads and journeys of Cavendish’s ‘blazing world’, it becomes necessary to consider her material experience of space in both its political and personal evocations. The Duchess’s fantastical narrative alludes to a host of material journeys: William Barentsz’s attempt to discover a North East passage; the protective delta of Antwerp; and the journeys to London and to Welbeck Abbey. The final confluence of the worlds occurs on the road through Nottinghamshire, as the Empress and the Duchess – in spirit form – fly above what is the A60 today. While Speed claims that ‘Heaven was too long a reach’, Cavendish’s ‘blazing world’ both challenges and undermines any certainty, political, spiritual or gendered, on the roads of early modern Britain.

Keywords:   Cavendish, blazing, Maps, Experience, Barentsz, Welbeck

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