Fictions of Disease in Early Modern England: Bodies, Plagues by M. Healy

By M. Healy

How did early glossy humans think their our bodies? What influence did the recent disorder syphilis and recurrent outbreaks of plague have on those psychological landscapes? Why used to be the glutted abdominal the sort of powerful image of pathology? starting from the Reformation during the English Civil battle, Fictions of sickness is a different research of a desirable cultural imaginary of "disease" and its political effects. Healy's unique method illuminates the period's disease-impregnated literature, together with works via Shakespeare, Heywood, Milton, Dekker, and others.

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For example, whilst ancient physicians appear to have been remarkably assiduous in their attempts to avoid religious interpretations of disease, later physicians and The Humoral–Paracelsan Body 23 writers (to varying degrees according to the social climate and their personal beliefs) attempted to accommodate the precepts of classical humoral theory to Christianity, which from its inception demanded recognition and inclusion in any medical model. As will become clear in the analysis of early modern regimens which follows, health and disease constructs are shaped by, and themselves exert an effect on, other socio-cultural phenomena: discourses of the body are sensitive indicators of social and intellectual change.

28 Indeed, Bostocke’s Auncient and Later Phisicke (1585) argues that Plato followed the ‘Priestes of Aegypt’ in subscribing to this ‘chymicall’ as opposed to ‘heathnish Phisick’, and that Paracelsus had simply revivified the art. In this system there are (since the Fall) ‘spirituall Seedes of al maner diseases, indowed with lively power’ (p. 80). Like the human body, all diseases are constituted of ‘Sal, Sulphur, and Mercury’ (p. 80) and they require cures which relate to the sphere of influence which contributed to the illness.

F. 2v) In this manual, ‘a meane and temperate dyet’ (‘The Epistle Dedicatorie’, f. 2v) is a mark of ‘the godly’ – it is essential Protestant regimen underscored first by the scriptural word, then by Aristotelian and Socratic philosophy (‘reason ought to rule, & all appetites are to be bridled and subdued’, f. 3r), also by common sense (‘such as the foode is, such is the bloud: and such as the bloud is, such is the flesh’, f. 4r), and finally by Galenic and Salernitan physiology. The Humoral–Paracelsan Body 33 Like Bullein’s regimen, Cogan’s deploys epidemic disease – particularly a mysterious ‘burning fever’ which raged among the notaries of Oxford in 1577 – as a warning to beware God’s displeasure, to ‘speedilie repent’ (pp.

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