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Complete Bodies, Whole Arts, and the Limits of Epic

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Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)

Abstract

In the first decades of the seventeenth century, the English philosopher and statesman Sir Francis Bacon declared in both The Advancement of Learning and The Great Instauration that any and all works that claimed or were believed to have brought the arts and sciences to a state of perfection actually left human knowledge woefully incomplete. In his plan to advance and achieve complete knowledge, Bacon recognized the need to compile a comprehensive account of all phenomena; he likewise acknowledged that the limitations of human memory and mortality ensured that such an account would take lifetimes and legions to complete. His emphasis on comprehensiveness and long-term collaboration, whether the result of design or necessity, set the new learning in opposition not only to the many self-described whole arts and complete systems attempted before, during, and after his lifetime, but also to traditional (though never uncontested) interpretations and praise of the classical epics.

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Notes

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© 2014 Seth Rudy

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Rudy, S. (2014). Complete Bodies, Whole Arts, and the Limits of Epic. In: Literature and Encyclopedism in Enlightenment Britain. Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137411549_2

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