Chapter

Bumptious Reading and Priggish <i>antanaclasis</i>

Ceri Sullivan

in The Rhetoric of the Conscience in Donne, Herbert, and Vaughan

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199547845
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191720901 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547845.003.0005
Bumptious Reading and Priggish antanaclasis

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This chapter moves on to the heart's reception of scripture in the well-known subgenre of ‘wreath’, ‘corona’, or ‘coronet’ verse. Here, the approved secular mode of reading selectively, pen in hand, is performed with conscientious obtuseness on divine texts. These verses see themselves as anthologies or florilegia, gatherings of commonplaces to be rewoven into other poems. Once again a rhetorical trope precedes the theological image in their antanaclasis (a repetition of words with a subtle shift in meaning). Unfortunately, though by now predictably, these three bustling poets show themselves to be more concerned with the physical practice of collection than with its effect on interpretation. The reception theory implicit in early modern pedagogy on the collection of loci endorses rhetorical inventio over the intervention involved in understanding any text when reading it. Snorting with earnestness to anthologize from divine texts simply allows the three poets to ignore the intention of the revealed law of God. Their repetition of words culled from scriptures has a self-centredness that assassinates one proper meaning to allow another in subsequent use. Selves are woven into the wreaths presented to a justly irritated God, who must by now be wondering what it takes to get the soul to talk to him directly.

Keywords: wreath; coronet; corona; anthologies; florilegia; commonplaces; loci; inventio; reception theory

Chapter.  16840 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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