Time's Purpled Masquers: Stars and the Afterlife in Renaissance English Literature
Alastair Fowler's fascinating study describes forgotten Renaissance beliefs about stellification (an afterlife in the stars through transformation into stellar or angelic substance after death), and explores the extraordinary prominence of astronomical imagery in Renaissance literature. The new astronomy of Copernicus and Brahe, far from working against religious beliefs, encouraged hopes of access to the uncorrupted spheres. Seventeenth-century Christians of various persuasions believed in a stellar afterlife. Fowler's many-faceted book traces these ideas in literature, masque, architecture, and the pursuit of fame. Time's Purpled Masquers first characterizes the Renaissance as a period of reform and of theological focus on nature, rather than of desacralization. It goes on to show how astronomical discoveries led to new hopes of access to the uncorrupted translunary spheres. Alastair Fowler then examines evidence for a widespread belief in stellification. Further chapters relate this belief to the long-standing association of posthumous fame with the stars, and survey traces of the hope of stellification in various cultural forms.
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