Writing as Medication in Early Modern France

Literary Consciousness and Medical Culture



In this study, D. Heitsch examines fifteenth- to seventeenth-century French authors who treat writing as a process of medication and whose literary production effectively yields a therapeutic substance. Through reference to Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Ficino, and advocates of alternatives to Western medicine such as John Mesue and Leone Ebreo, these writers emphasize the material/gendered soul and the role of the body in cognitive functions, illustrating knowledge as a result of physical interaction.

The study explores Hélisenne de Crenne alongside the ‘pneumo-physiology’ of Galen and the ‘dolce stil novo’, Rabelaisian anatomy together with the anti-Arabist Champier, and debates among natural philosophical poets on the transmigration of souls. The author also considers Marie de Gournay in relation to Juan Huarte’s humoral theory and Jean d’Espagnet’s alchemical philosophy, as well as Michel de Montaigne’s interest in Jacques Dubois’s Arab-influenced approaches to medicine.

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Violaine Giacomotto-Charra in: Renaissance Quarterly, LXXII.1 (2019), 382-383, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/rqx.2018.102

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Daniel Fliege in: Jahrbuch Literatur und Medizin, Bd. X (2018), 183ff