Friendship, Love, and Letters
‘Friendship, Love, and Letters’ explores a distinctive form of affectionate personal relations: Seraphic friendship. It is seraphic friendship’s specific nexus of the discourse of Neo-Platonic love, the ideals of friendship, and the shared practice of religious devotion that allowed, authorized, and idealised the affectionate association between early modern women and men. As seraphic friends, men and women participated in the discourse of friendship, as well as in philosophical and religious debates. There are three couples of friends at the centre of this study: Margaret Blagge Godolphin and John Evelyn, Elizabeth Gauden and Simon Patrick, Anne Conway and Henry More. The communication between these friends is documented in their correspondences. By rewriting social codes and epistolary themes, the couples of seraphic friends negotiate historical gender inequalities while appropriating notions of Neo-Platonic metaphysics of love to the social practice of friendship. ‘Friendship, Love, and Letters’ focuses on the letter as a literary means of conducting and cultivating friendships and presents the poetics of seraphic friendship.