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Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture

Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005), 305 pp. It might be argued that the fall of Freud has made this book possible, for the less we believe in him as a scientist, the freer we are to explore his thought as literary imagination. Armstrong offers his work as a study in “mnemohistory,” the history of memory, and hopes to avoid the simple issue of “where Freud went wrong.” He suggests that we are all necessarily post-Freudians who look upon Freud as both overlord and underdog — as both the dated and perhaps dishonest patriarch, whom we want to slay like the Year Daemon, and a protean figure who speaks to our modern or postmodern cast of mind. Some may wonder whether the question of Freud’s rightness or wrongness can be so easily set aside: not to judge a scientist by scientific criteria is on some level to decline to take him seriously. But Armstrong is right to maintain that Freud has become part of modern memory, whether we like it or not, and his book moves intelligently and illuminatingly between classical antiquity and the cultural and social milieus of Freud himself. It does not always make easy reading, but this book moves with a polymorphous fluidity of which the master himself might have approved. — Richard Jenkyns doi 10.1215/0961754X-2007-082 Stuart Clark, Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 428 pp. This deeply and widely researched book, intellectual history more than cultural history, pursues ideas about the sense of sight through a range of texts in natural philosophy, medicine, theology and magic, and also the theory of images. The period is the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries; the central issue is how far the eye deceives; and due attention is given to the domains of demonology, dreams, madness, and witchcraft. There is a real elegance about Clark’s adoption not only of a title, but also, as he explains, of an agenda and structure from George Hakewill’s The vanitie of the eye of 1608. Doing so enables Clark to sustain a period universe of discourse of the ripest kind. One can legitimately take it all in either of two ways — as an autonomous intellectual world reeking of its time or as a spectacular case of systematic equivocation and category misalignments which one unpicks. Never did “vision” mean so many quite different things. — Michael Baxandall doi 10.1215/0961754X-2007-083 Lit tle Rev iews Richard H. Armstrong, A Compulsion for Antiquity: Freud and the Ancient World http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture

Common Knowledge , Volume 14 (2) – Apr 1, 2008

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
© 2008 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
0961-754X
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-2007-083
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Abstract

(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005), 305 pp. It might be argued that the fall of Freud has made this book possible, for the less we believe in him as a scientist, the freer we are to explore his thought as literary imagination. Armstrong offers his work as a study in “mnemohistory,” the history of memory, and hopes to avoid the simple issue of “where Freud went wrong.” He suggests that we are all necessarily post-Freudians who look upon Freud as both overlord and underdog — as both the dated and perhaps dishonest patriarch, whom we want to slay like the Year Daemon, and a protean figure who speaks to our modern or postmodern cast of mind. Some may wonder whether the question of Freud’s rightness or wrongness can be so easily set aside: not to judge a scientist by scientific criteria is on some level to decline to take him seriously. But Armstrong is right to maintain that Freud has become part of modern memory, whether we like it or not, and his book moves intelligently and illuminatingly between classical antiquity and the cultural and social milieus of Freud himself. It does not always make easy reading, but this book moves with a polymorphous fluidity of which the master himself might have approved. — Richard Jenkyns doi 10.1215/0961754X-2007-082 Stuart Clark, Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 428 pp. This deeply and widely researched book, intellectual history more than cultural history, pursues ideas about the sense of sight through a range of texts in natural philosophy, medicine, theology and magic, and also the theory of images. The period is the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries; the central issue is how far the eye deceives; and due attention is given to the domains of demonology, dreams, madness, and witchcraft. There is a real elegance about Clark’s adoption not only of a title, but also, as he explains, of an agenda and structure from George Hakewill’s The vanitie of the eye of 1608. Doing so enables Clark to sustain a period universe of discourse of the ripest kind. One can legitimately take it all in either of two ways — as an autonomous intellectual world reeking of its time or as a spectacular case of systematic equivocation and category misalignments which one unpicks. Never did “vision” mean so many quite different things. — Michael Baxandall doi 10.1215/0961754X-2007-083 Lit tle Rev iews Richard H. Armstrong, A Compulsion for Antiquity: Freud and the Ancient World

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2008

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