[PAST EVENT] Lunar Descent and the Earthly Fall in Bacon, Godwin and Milton
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Access & Features
- Open to the public
Midway through his pseudo-ethnographic description of the “paradisian” Lunar society, the narrator of Francis Godwin’s The Man in the Moone (1638) tells us that Lunar beings found morally insufficient are exiled to a “certaine high hill in the North of America, whose people I can easily beleeve to be wholly descended of them.” Early modern lunar fiction routinely analogizes the “New Worlds” of outer space with that of the Americas. But Godwin’s conjecture goes further, literalizing the connection between the two through a line of “descent” that is both physical and genealogical.
In this paper, I examine the significance of Godwin’s speculations by reading them alongside two other works containing a “fantastic voyage” to a “New World”: Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1627) and John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). I argue that in each of these works, the narrator’s voyage serves to defend European Christendom’s central place in God’s universe by bringing both the terrestrial and extraterrestrial “New Worlds” of seventeenth-century Europe into the framework of Christian redemptive history.