Heaven and the Flesh
Imagery of Desire from the Renaissance to the Rococo
Cambridge University Press | ISBN 9780521070942
Paperback – 256 pages
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Do angels make love? Will the souls of ordinary people feel sexual pleasure in the next world? Is the aspiration to spiritual salvation helped or hindered by sexual experience? In Heaven and the Flesh Clive Hart and Kay Stevenson explore the opinions of poets and painters on such questions, from the high Renaissance to the birth of romanticism. Hart and Stevenson analyse the work not only of canonical writers and artists, such as Milton and Michelangelo, but also of lesser-known figures such as John Gore and Richard Tompson, and the sometimes anguished speculations of philosophers and theologians. As the evidence of witty pornographic poems and drawings demonstrates, the relationship between sexual desire and spiritual ascension was not always treated with full seriousness. This wide-ranging survey offers sometimes surprising insights into material both familiar and unfamiliar.