"And in another make me understood": Reading George Herbert in the Light of His Contemporaries Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Menkens, Anne Judith
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This dissertation examines the ways critics have coupled George Herbert with different authors and thinkers of his era and analyzes the effects of these pairings on what Herbert has meant to readers. The specific fellow writers considered are Richard Hooker/John Calvin (in whose company Herbert looks like a religious partisan); Francis Bacon (as modern thinker, examining the physical world separated from a religious interpretation); and John Donne (as artist, creating dramatic speakers in conversation with God). To a great extent, critics have used such couplings to convey the values they wish to impart to readers and build the literary canon thereby. Herbert is a special case because of the sheer variety of appropriations made of his work since its first publication and the often contentious nature of these appropriations. Moreover, Herbert seems aware of his own work's flexibility and describes the uses of this quality in social discourse. The review of the literature traces not only the roller coaster ride that has been Herbert's critical reception but also the dozens of introductions to Herbert's works. Then, for each case, we look first at the shifting scholarship surrounding the fellow authors and then examine how Herbert engages with the questions raised by the other authors' works. Herbert on the Religious Spectrum examines the contentious area of study that places his work on the religious spectrum between presbyterianism and what would later be called Anglo-Catholicism. Herbert and Bacon starts with Herbert and Bacon's mutual admiration and examines how both men's works use nature to talk about God in complicated ways. And Herbert and Donne examines the assumptions and biases surrounding Herbert's coupling with John Donne, the fellow poet-priest and founder of the metaphysical school of which Herbert was considered a member by many critics from the late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. In every case, we parse where critics' concerns start and Herbert's end, concluding, ultimately, that Herbert's intention in using argument, philosophy, and artistry, and in examining his own role in the discourse of religion, science, and art, is to fulfill a pastoral mission.
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  • In Copyright
  • Barbour, Reid
  • Open access

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