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BOOK REVIEWS Donne scholars have displayed in arguing about particular poems, both about interpretations and about scholarly glosses. The closest parallel in Herbert criticism is probably the dispute between Tuve and Empson over "The Sacrifice," but their exchange stands out, a rare moment of confrontation. With his "detailed examination of the work of others, [his] dependence on them and [his] differences with them," Novarr demonstrates just how "the whole will arise from a long collaboration" (p. 12). It is precisely this kind of dialogue between scholars, carried on with "a little generous prudence, a little forbearance of one another, some grain of charity, joining into one general and brotherly search after truth" (p. 10) that Novarr inspires. And that, I think, is precisely what the George Herbert Journal can — and should — provide more frequently. We have only to rise to Novarr's challenge. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Anthony Low, Love sArchitecture:DevotionalModesinSeventeenthCentury English Poetry. New York: New York University Press, 1978. 307 pp. $16.00 cloth; $6.95 paper. by Sidney Gottlieb If I treat Love's Architecture: Devotional Modes in Seventeenth -Century English Poetry by Anthony Low primarily as a book for students rather than experts, I hope it is clear that I mean no disrespect. Low's impressive background and abilities as a scholar are evident on every page, and there are more than occasional bits of information and analyses of particular poems that will be of interest even to those who are hardly newcomers to the seventeenth century. But for all that, Love's Architecture seems especially intended for readers who need 57 Sidney Gottlieb to be convinced that seventeenth-century religious verse can and should be taken seriously. In his "Preface," Low points out that modern readers and critics respond well to the ingenuity and artistry, but not the faith and spirituality of such poets as Donne and Herbert. As a result, much of what can legitimately be called the greatest poetry of the seventeenth century "has been an unacknowledged embarrassment to the main currents of modern criticism" (p. ix). Low has no easy solution to the problem of belief and poetry — How indeed can a nonreligious reader in a secular age be captivated by the religious poetry of a religious age? — but he suggests that "An open mind, willingness to learn, and the suspension of disbelief will go far toward replacing the committed faith Herbert and his fellows expected" (p. xi). Equally important, we must become conversant with the variety of devotional techniques that Herbert and his fellows used or were influenced by. The study of these techniques and their applicability to the poetry of Donne, Herbert, Crashaw, Vaughan, Herrick, Marvell, and Traherne is the main substance of Love's Architecture. Because the book is so gracefully written the reader may not immediately notice how argumentative it is. Besides the above-mentioned argument with naive critics and readers who insist that seventeenth-century religious poetry must be consistent with twentieth-century canons of taste and judgment, Low tilts at a number of other opponents. Nearly every individual chapter on a particular poet revolves in one way or anotheraround a dispute with a common critical misconception of that poet: Vaughan's poetry, we find, is not as structurally deficient as is frequently claimed; Crashaw's excesses are not unique and disgusting, but rather sanctioned and encouraged by particular devotional traditions; Traherne's poetry does not induce "mental fatigue" (p. 259) but mystical illumination. These new, corrected readings arise when we approach the poets with a fuller understanding of the broad range of devotional techniques they rely on. Ironically, as much as Low depends upon Louis Martz's The Poetry of Meditation — and he acknowledges this debt in a number of places — he returns to it again and again as an example of a narrow critical approach that is unable to explain fully the variety of seventeenth -century religious verse. By way of correcting and supplementing Martz, Low points out that "Seventeenth58 BOOK REVIEWS century poets employed at least four major devotional modes: vocal, meditative, affective, and contemplative" (p. xi). There are, to be sure, other styles that could be added; even Low feels the need to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-1192
Print ISSN
0161-7435
Pages
pp. 57-62
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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