"The Language of the Heart, 1600-1750" by Robert A. Erickson, $36.95 cloth; 296 pages.
If the heart is most often associated with love, its meanings in the early modern period were far more complicated and unstable.
In "The Language of the Heart, 1600-1700," Robert A. Erickson contends that the making of the modern world coincided with the reconfiguration of gender and that the changes in the representation of the heart both reflected and helped produce this shift.
Erickson traces the textual history of the heart through the early modern period, including William Harvey's "The Motion of the Heart and Blood," Milton's "Paradise Lost," and Samuel Richardson's novel, "Clarissa."
A major review in last week's Times Literary Supplement states, "The Language of the Heart, 1600-1700," is a "fascinating account of [the heart's] multiple significations....The heart represented a number of emotional states including lust, courage, knowledge, benevolence, conscience, and faith. To be 'double-hearted' was to be a hypocrite, while 'pure in heart' were blessed and would see God."
"The Language of the Heart" is part of the Press's New Cultural Studies series, edited by Joan DeJean, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Peter Stallybrass, and Gary Tomlinson. Other volumes in the series include Nina Auerbach's "Ellen Terry, Player in Her Time," Roger Chartier's "Forms and Meanings," and "Writing the Image after Roland Barthes," edited by Jean-Michel Rabate.
--University of Pennsylvania PressFront page for this issue | Pennsylvania Current home page
Originally published on September 17, 1998