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The priest in The Temple: the relationship between George Herbert’s English poetry and The Country parson Allen, Matthew

Abstract

This dissertation describes the relationship between George Herbert's two principal works, The Temple (1633) and The Country Parson (1651). The introduction discusses the main problems faced by readers of The Temple: its paradoxical religious statements, its apparent lack of unity, its variable poetic voice, and its place in literary history. Chapter 1 argues that The Temple and The Country Parson are complementary: that they may have been written together and considered companionpieces, that they are similar in form and content, and that they should be read together. Chapter 2 places The Country Parson in the genre of the clerical manual, and explains its distinctive form as the influence of various kinds of renaissance prose, including the essay, the professional handbook, the courtesy book, the prose character, and the moral resolve. Chapter 3 provides the first thorough analysis of the prose style of The Country Parson, a style which may be loosely characterized as a combination of Ciceronian and Senecan attributes, but is better thought of as "Anglican" or "poetic." Chapters 4 and 5 apply The Country Parson to the problems faced by readers of The Temple, and describe the Anglican spirituality, pastoral voice, and coherence of The Temple, along with its proper place in literary history.

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