“Peculiar Circles”: The Fluid Utopia at the Northern Pole in Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionUtopian Studies. 2019, 30 (2), 214-237. 10.5325/utopianstudies.30.2.0214
Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World is her most surprising work and contains characteristics from multiple forms; a reader can find elements of forms Cavendish worked on elsewhere and simultaneously recognize the text as something wholly new and unfathomable. Cavendish strategically located the entry to her utopia in the arctic in a time when the tradition of literary ideal spaces looked toward the heavens in descriptions of celestial worlds that paralleled the discovery of the New World. The farthest north offered her not only an empty landscape but the extreme, stark contrast of the binaries she wished to blur. This article will demonstrate that Cavendish’s Blazing World emerges as a utopia that demands fluidity to achieve its ideality. One must move fluidly between limiting binaries to transcend spirit and matter, cold and warmth, and ultimately knowledge and ignorance as the only means to conceive, and thus achieve, utopia.