chapter  9
20 Pages

Intersubjectivity, Intertextuality, and Form in the Self-Writings of Margaret Cavendish

WithElspeth Graham

Margaret Cavendish was a prolific and innovative writer. Her letters, read as part of an interactive and intertextual sequence, become part of a mutual meditation on selfhoods and representation as well as on aesthetic traditions and modes and contextual matters of gossip, politics, and history. For her, autobiography is neither an occasional form of output nor an accidental by-product of conventionally poetic, fictional, or dramatic texts but is intrinsic to the whole project of her writing. Critical writing on Cavendish has tended to choose between the versions of her self either as singular or as part of a network of cultural connections which she set up. The common paradox of identity afforded to women by marriage, a paradox comprising both a mark of identity and recognition of deletion from history and view, is intensified by the context of the Cavendish's exile. Equally, imagination, the mental processes that produce romance and poetry are forms of scientific thinking.