The Genreless World

Our class discussion about genre in Cavendish’s The Blazing World was fascinating. @jks1052 raised the idea of this story as a utopian narrative in their blog post, asking “us to consider what is rare about our world,” and questioning what we consider to be a utopia. The language used by Cavendish serves to suggest a that the Blazing World is a plentiful land, such as in this passage:

“At last, having passed by several rich Islands and Kingdoms, they went towards Paradise, which was the seat of the Emperor”

The Blazing World, 9

Cavendish goes so far as to explicitly state that the seat of power in this world is Paradise, which borrows religious imagery from the Garden of Eden. Other aspects of the narrative, however, suggest other genres. One passage describes a technology used by boats in the Blazing World:

“a certain Engin, which would draw in a great quantity of Air, and shoot forth Wind with a great force; this Engine in a calm, they placed behind their Ships, and in a storm, before; for it served against the raging waves, like Cannons”

The Blazing World, 7

This appears to be an early prototype of a propeller or turbine, which suggests that this may be a science-fiction narrative, proposing new technologies that work in a seemingly logical way. Then again, the different creatures in the Blazing World are suggestive of fantasy. Cavendish even describes the Satyrs, which come from mythology. This narrative presents a fascinating blending of genres and explores political, social, and scientific spheres within the same space.

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