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HUMANITIES 411 resists the temptation to give them a unity greater than the sum of their parts and yet manages to assert, against the reservations of recent criticism, their penitential struggle for love. The discussion of Devotions upon Emergent Occasions provides a useful account of Donne's dramatization of the temporal motions of rational consciousness, and a brief but brilliant consideration of Death's Duel concludes by focusing on the importance of Donne's own person, body and soul, in his work. It is refreshing to find that an illuminating study of Donne can be written without reference to the poet's ability to live like an amphibian in divided and distinguished worlds, and even without much reference to his wit. Sherwood is less interested in style and tone than in ideas and argument. He turns away from the ironies, tensions, and juxtapositions which attracted many modern readers, and concentrates instead on the drive towards coherence that animates Donne's thought from beginning to end. This has its own drama, and provides a fresh and exciting revaluation of the poet's work which has the particular advantage of making his mature writings more accessible to us. (HUGH MACCALLUM) The Works of Thomas Vaughan. Edited by Alan Rudrum with the assistance of Jennifer Drake-Brockman Clare~don Press. xiii, 761. $142.50 This landmark edition brings the techniques of literary scholarship to works which have long been considered extraliterary. Its stated purpose is to make ThomasVaughan's prose moreintelligible and thus more useful to readers of Henry Vaughan's poetry. But it has succeeded in getting the prose classified as literature, at least by the British Library. (The Library of Congress classified A.E. Waite's editions of 1888 and 1919 as occultism and philosophy, respectively, and has relegated the new edition to the occult.) In British libraries (and, one hopes, in some Canadian ones) Thomas is now shelved beside his twin brother, where perhaps he belonged all along. Douglas Bush referred to Thomas Vaughan's works as an example of 'literature ... wedded to learning,' and Alan Rudrum has respected both sides of the union. Vaughan's delight in words and word play has necessitated deep forays in the OED, and his frequent, often obscure quotations have occasioned lengthy excursions in Renaissance anthologies of alchemy and cabala. By far the most impressive feature of this altogether impressive edition is the Commentary, which occupies 157 pages of 60 lines each. The text of Vaughan's works, with photographed title-pages and illustrations, accounts for 550 pages and includes two polemical tracts never before reprinted. The transcriptions are faithful with only a few errors in typing (not typesetting, alas: the book has a 412 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 budget look despite the price). The editorial policy is explained in a Textual Introduction of 15 pages, and Vaughan's life and works are summarized in a Biographical Introduction of 31 pages. There is an index of 7 pages, though only to the editorial apparatus. No other Renaissance occultist has received such careful editorial attention - not Ficino or Agrippa or Fludd, all more learned than Vaughan. The reason for Vaughan's popularityis that he did not write in Latinbut in English of often sparkling originality. He exploited the devices of Sir Thomas Browne, and so ably thatHenryMore suggested he retitle his first book ReligioMagici. He thought himself'no antiquary' but I an usher to the train' of magi - in short, a popularizer. Like Agrippa, he offered a synthesis of alchemy, astral magic, and cabala. Like Fludd, he called the synthesis Rosicrucian. But his personal writing style allowed readers to interprethim as a mystic first andforemost. His fortunes rose and fell with the occult revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As they fell, however, he gained readers from the profession of English literature. A.C. Judson asked whether Henry Vaughanwas a hermetist (a word Henry coined) and pointed to parallels in Thomas's works. The question has persisted, despite T.S. Eliot's effort to end it by defining terms, and Rudrum has taken over from Elizabeth Holmes in arguing the affirmative. Having prepared authoritative editions of Henry's poetry and Thomas's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 411-413
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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