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Ira Clark, Christ Revealed: The History of the Neotypological Lyric in the English Renaissance. Gainesville: University Presses of Florida (University of Florida Humanities Monographs Number 51), 1982. xiv + 221 pp. $15. by Albert C Labriola In this excellent study Ira Clark traces the origin, development , and decline of a "new form of sacred song" (p. x), the English neotypological lyric, during a span of approximately 100 years — from the middle of the reign of Henry VIII to the settlement of Massachusetts. Clark uses the term "neotypological " to refer to the distinctive lyric persona of selected religious poetry. Through an unfolding process of selfperception , the lyric persona identifies with traits of Old Testament types — for example, with David's remorse over human failings. Such identification leads to intense selfexamination on the part of the lyric persona, who by perceiving himself as a failure in his own era and circumstances becomes an updated example of David, ora neotype. Further identification with Old Testament types leads the persona to acknowledge Christ as the New Testament antitype, whose offer of salvation applies not only to David but also to himself, the neotype. Psychologically, sadness and remorse over sinful human failings give way to joy at the offer of salvation. Such a psychoreligious outlook, according to Clark, characterizes the neotypological lyric. Though I have defined it simply, Clark more fullyelaborates the features of the neotypological lyric while he establishes the historical context in which it was originated and as he charts various influences that contributed to itsdevelopment. Because of the breadth of his outlook, Clark is remarkably successful as a historical scholar. In large measure the neotypological lyric resulted from a Reformed attitude toward scriptural exegesis. By the term "Reformed" Clark means Protestants, Anglican traditionalists, and Counter-Reformation Catholics who advocated a stricter, more literal interpretation of Scripture — in contrast to the figurai and allegorical interpretations of 55 Albert C Labriola medievalists and the Church Fathers. As a consequence of their attitude, Reformed typologists emphasized not only the historical actuality of Old Testament types but also intense self-examination derived from identification with types. Conveyed in theological tracts and biblical commentaries of Protestantsand Catholics alike, Reformed typology is likewise evident in forms of meditation and in liturgical and sacramental celebration. Integrated with the foregoing religious influences were literary trends, notably devotional verse echoing the Psalms, emblem literature, and religious adaptations of Petrarchan images and metaphors, in which virtually the same Reformed typological attitude was projected. From the commingling of both religious and literary influences emerged this "new kind of poem" (p. xii) in which personae having first identified with Old Testament types then become joyful at the awareness of recovery offered by the antitype, Christ. Comprehensively developed by Clark, such a context is used to explain many of the features of neotypological poetry during its 100-year lifespan. From its beginnings in the poetry of Robert Southwell and William Alabaster, the neotypological lyric was enhanced by English emblematists and by John Donne. Reaching its magnificence in the work of George Herbert, the neotypological lyric undergoes decline in the work of Henry Vaughan and Thomas Traherne. In charting the rise and fall of this kind of poem, in which personae are characterized in relation to Old Testament types and their antitype, Christ, in which the tonal range of self-perception is fully delineated, and in which several influences, religious and literary, are melded, Clark is extraordinarily sensitive to nuances of language and to differences, major and subtle, in the works of writers constituting the line of neotypological poets. Throughout his study Clark achieves balance between an explanation of context and influences, on the one hand, and an interpretation of poetry, on the other. Accordingly, he avoids the excesses of some historical critics whose emphasis is on background material, while he also shuns the narrowmindedness of some critics of the text whose explications lack historical sophistication. With the exception of the chapter on George Herbert, an earlier version of which was published as an essay in ELH 56 BOOK REVIEWS (1972), the material in Clark's book is new. Significantly Clark positions the chapter on Herbert at the midpoint, preceded and followed by three chapters. By this...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-1192
Print ISSN
0161-7435
Pages
pp. 55-57
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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