By Roy Porter
Rewriting the Self is an exploration of rules of the self within the western cultural culture from the Renaissance to the current. The individuals study assorted non secular, philosophical, mental, political, psychoanalytical and literary types of non-public id from a couple of viewpoints, together with the background of principles, modern gender politics and post-modernist literary idea. demanding the got model of the "ascent of western man," they investigate the discursive development of the self within the gentle of political, technological and social adjustments.
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Additional info for Rewriting the Self: Histories from the Middle Ages to the Present
Autonomy’ appears to be both the consolation prize and the punishment for Eve’s and Adam’s transgression at the end of Paradise Lost. The penultimate word of the poem, in the course of perhaps the most famous exit in English literature, is ‘solitary’. Providence, it is true, is still to be their ‘guide’, but as ‘autonomous subjects’, Eve and Adam choose a ‘solitary way’ through the world; the immediacy of the divine nexus between the human creatures and God has been shattered. 30 SELF AN D SELFHOOD IN THE SEVE NTEENTH CENTURY We might contrast this poetic evocation of a lonely entrance into a psychologically (as yet) undiscovered country, with the socio-historical response to the problem of ‘selfhood’.
In its concern with the individual self, according to Burckhardt, Italy was the first modern culture. Italy was a model for the rest of Europe as Europe would later be for the rest of the world. However, all these statements are problematic, as historians have become aware in the last thirty years or so. Problematic from at least three points of view: geographical, sociological and chronological. In the first place, we cannot 17 PETER BURKE assume the uniqueness of the Western self without examining Japanese autobiographies, Chinese portraits and so on.
On the other hand, in ‘close-up’ the picture looks rather different, since the uses of the portrait were more often institutional than individualistic. There is a similar contradiction between the care taken by some artists and scholars to record or discover the features of certain individuals, and the lack of interest shown by others. A late fifteenth-century chronicle published in Nuremberg used the same woodcut to portray Homer, the prophet Isaiah, Hippocrates, Terence, the medieval lawyer Accursius and the Renaissance philosopher Filelfo.