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Herbert's Seventeenth-Century Reputation: A Summary and New Considerations by Robert H. Ray Numerous studies now exist on Herbert's reputation in his own century and later, the seminal ones being by Grosart, Hutchinson, and Summers.' My initial interest in Herbert's reputation led to doctoral work in 1967.2 Since then several scholarly articles and portions of books have added significantly to our knowledge of allusions to Herbert. Book-length studies of Herbert's critical reception also have appeared.3 I, too, continued to discover many references to him and concluded that a fully documented book on Herbert was needed — a research tool, as comprehensive and as accurate as possible, that would encompass chronological recording, in their first appearance, of all known seventeenth-century allusions in British books and manuscripts. In addition, an annotated bibliography of books and articles containing significant discoveries and commentary on such allusions and extensive indexes would make the tool particularly useful. I began in earnest in 1978 and completed the project in 1983 (making that yearthe ending date for scholarship and criticism noted in the book). The result has been published as The Herbert Allusion Book: Allusions to George Herbert in the Seventeenth Century (1986), a volume in the Texts and Studies series published by the University of North Carolina Press and Studies in Philology. My primary model was William Wells's Spenser Allusions of 1971-72 in the same series. In the present essay I illustrate some of the conclusions that can be drawn from the "raw data" of the Herbert Allusion Book, highlighting both previous opinions about Herbert's reputation that are indeed supported by further evidence and some views that are modified by new evidence. This essay includes statistics about the popularity of Herbert and his works, the fluctuations of his reputation in various decades, 2 Robert H. Ray and numbers and natures of those persons alluding to Herbert at certain times and in the century as a whole, as well as some suggested reasons for facets of Herbert's popularity and reputation. I also note representative types of allusions and their implications, including a few of the more interesting and important of the "new" allusions in the Herbert Allusion Book. In essence, my main purpose here is to introduce the Allusion Book, draw some of the possible conclusions from it, and offer it to scholars and critics as a resource for research of various kinds. I also wish this essay to be a tribute to the memory of that most generous and helpful scholar, Amy M. Charles. Not only her published work, but her personal advice, encouragement , and aid throughout the development of the Herbert volume were invaluable. Wells in the Spenser Allusions and Gerald Eades Bentley in Shakespeare and Jonson: Their Reputations in the Seventeenth Century Compared (2 vols., Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1945) establish the basic criteria for a valid allusion and the best editorial principles and format for an allusion book. Bentley stipulates that an allusion must mention the writer by name or mention the name of one of his compositions or quote a line from his works. Both Bentley and Wells limit their collections to British allusions. They also provide figures for total allusions to Shakespeare, Jonson, and Spenser that afford interesting comparisons to those compiled for Herbert. Bentley, in addition, provides statistics on the number of times major works by Shakespeare and Jonson are referred to in the seventeenth century, and these invite some surprising comparisons to, say, the number of times specific poems by Herbert are referred to. The Herbert collection records allusions from approximately 243 books and manuscripts (about 157 books and 86 manuscripts), and the authors of these allusions include about 175 individuals. The total of recorded allusions to Herbert and his works in the century is approximately 849. Of this sum about 1 38 (in 50 books and 6 manuscripts) are "new" ones — i.e., as far as I was able to determine, their existence as allusions to Herbert had not been noted in print prior to 1984 (each book or manuscript containing these "new" allusions is indicated by an asterisk preceding its entry in the Herbert collection). The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-1192
Print ISSN
0161-7435
Pages
pp. 1-15
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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