In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

modem edition of an obscure play Jike The Tlzracian Wonder is to explain its difficulties, forcing a reader to keep moving back and forth between play and notes is counterproductive. Furthermore, the explanatory notes are not very informative, often overworking the obvious or pushing the Heywood connection with speculation. It is, however, in the textual notes where, for this reader, the elements that most seriously undermine the authority of this ed:ition are found. Particularly signiiicant are this play's stage directions and their reproduction in the quarto, but Nolan seems uninterested in them except as an element to be edited into conformity with some artifical modem standard. Directions are moved, asides are added} and words are deleted with minimal or no explanation. Not only would it be unthinkable to treat dialogue in this way, but the result is that an opportunity to make a real contribution to scholarship has been missed. (LESLIE THOMSON) Daniel W. Doerksen. Conforming to the Word: Herbert, Donne, and the English Church b~(ore Laud Bucknell Uruversity Press. 182. us$33-50 Daniel Doerksen writes for students of both history and literature} and serves both audiences well. Indeed, the historical context he develops is, as he suggests, fundamental to our understanding of two of the chief literary figures during the reign of James 1. But although the title names John Donne along with George Herbert, the latter dominates the book. For the most part Donne's prose serves as part of the backgrormd for a reading of Herbert's poetry, while DonneJs poems receive only cursory treatment. Scholars of seventeenth-century English literahue will nonetheless find this book a valuable contribution to their understanding of the religious dimate in which Donne and Herbert wrote. In the first three chapters Doerksen sets out to correct a prevailing view of the Jacobean church as a lax and benign hiatus between the Elizabethan and Caroline churches, arguing rather that it was 'vibrant and purposeful' and, above ail, doctrinally committed. More specifically, he dissents from Christopher Hodgkins's 1993 study of Herbert in insisting that the poet's via media developed not out of nostalgia for the Elizabethan church of his youth, but from acommitment to the vital and dynamic church of his adulthood . To those familiar with the rich religious writing of the Jacobean period, this will seem light work It was, after all, the Word-centredness of the church, which King James fostered, that set the conditions under which the golden age of English preaching and devotional writing flourished. Doerksen's most important contribution to our current understanding of the Jacobean religious climate is his. redrawing of the boundaries of the conforming church to include the majority of Puritans. Conformists of the 452 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 church before Laud held in common a commitment to the basic Calvinist doctrine of the Thirty-Nine Articles and a tolerance on secondary or 'indifferent' matters, such as ceremony and liturgy. TI1is was enough to hold together a broad spectrum of ecclesiastical perspectives that included all but extreme dissenters- the separatist and Anabaptists on the left and recusants (and later the Laudians) on the right. (Doerksen provides a valuable table which charts these various groups and their relation to the Jacobean middle way.) As the rest of the book demonstrates, the involvement of a large number of Puritans in the mainstream of religious life bore a considerable influence on Herbert's piety and poetry. To illustrate the important place Puritans held in Jacobean religious life, Doerksen develops a network of Herbert's relations, which also serves as a context for reading his poems. Among the best portions of the book are chapters 4 and 5, where we are provided a great deal of new information about the churches and parishes with which Herbert was involved, duefly St Martin-in-the-Fields~ where his mother~ Lady Danvers, attended from 1601 onward. The remainder of the book sets out the Puritan influences in Herbert's (and to a lesser degree Donne)s) spirituality. Chapters 7 and 8 emphasize their Word-centred piety characterized by an emphasis on inward conformity to Christ, in contrast to the ceremonial orientation of Andrewes and Hooker. One...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 451-452
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.