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Doubting the Divine in Early Modern Europe
The Revival of Momus, the Agnostic God


  • Date Published: June 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108470278

£ 83.99

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About the Authors
  • In this book, George McClure examines the intellectual tradition of challenges to religious and literary authority in the early modern era. He explores the hidden history of unbelief through the lens of Momus, the Greek god of criticism and mockery. Surveying his revival in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and England, McClure shows how Momus became a code for religious doubt in an age when such writings remained dangerous for authors. Momus ('Blame') emerged as a persistent and subversive critic of divine governance and, at times, divinity itself. As an emblem or as an epithet for agnosticism or atheism, he was invoked by writers such as Leon Battista Alberti, Anton Francesco Doni, Giordano Bruno, Luther, and possibly, in veiled form, by Milton in his depiction of Lucifer. The critic of gods also acted, in sometimes related fashion, as a critic of texts, leading the army of Moderns in Swift's Battle of the Books, and offering a heretical archetype for the literary critic.

    • Adds new evidence for the history of agnosticism and atheism in the early modern era
    • Offers a new reading of the first Latin novel of the Renaissance
    • Examines the intellectual tradition of challenges to religious and literary authority in the West
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This study is most valuable in its masterful interpretations of ancient and early modern texts, and it concludes by showing how Momus 'became a useful trope in the emergence of a self-conscious art of literary criticism'. McClure skillfully captures the subtleties of complex works and draws engaging connections between diverse authors.' Anton M. Matytsin, Renaissance Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108470278
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The classical tradition
    2. Renaissance Antihero: Leon Battista Alberti's Momus, the novel
    3. Momus and the reformation
    4. The execution of Giordano Bruno
    5. Milton's Lucifer
    6. God of Modern critics
    7. Conclusion: Momus and modernism.

  • Author

    George McClure, University of Alabama
    George McClure is Professor of History at the University of Alabama, where he has taught since 1986. He is the author of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism (2016), which won the Marraro Prize of the Society for Italian Historical Studies and The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy (2004).

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