The Ludic Spirit in Literature

Anna Nardo describes the ludic spirit in literature and human psychology as a playful and conscious act of self-definition.  She describes how such “playing” provides an important psychological middle ground from which a writer may examine questions about mortality, religion, and behavior. Definitions of “play” from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century are discussed, including its changing relationship to religion. Nardo focuses on seventeenth-century ludic writers, primarily metaphysical poets and baroque prose stylists such as William Shakespeare, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, and John Donne. Nardo’s research was later published as The Ludic Self in Seventeenth-Century English Literature.

At the time of this interview, Nardo, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1981-82), was professor of English at Louisiana State University.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.


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