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

Hardcover | November 9, 2008

byCeri Sullivan

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There is a kind of conscience some men keepe,Is like a Member that's benumb'd with sleepe;Which, as it gathers Blood, and wakes agen,It shoots, and pricks, and feeles as bigg as tenDonne, Herbert, and Vaughan see the conscience as only partly theirs, only partly under their control. Of course, as theologians said, it ought to be a simple syllogism, comparing actions to God's law, and giving judgement, in a joint procedure of the soul and its maker. Inevitably, though, thereare problems. Hearts refuse to confess, or forget the rules, or jumble them up, or refuse to come to the point when delivering a verdict. The three poets are beady-eyed experts on failure. After all, where subjects can only discover their authentic nature in relation to the divine it matterswhether the conversation works. Remarkably, each poet - despite their very different devotional backgrounds - uses similar sets of tropes to investigate problems: enigma, aposiopesis (breaking off), chiasmus, subjectio (asking then answering a question), and antanaclasis (repetition with adifference). Structured like a language, the conscience is tortured, rewritten, read, and broken up to engineer a proper response. Considering the faculty as an uncomfortable extrusion of the divine into the everyday, the rhetoric of the conscience transforms Protestant into prosthetic poetics.It moves between early modern theology, rhetoric, and aesthetic theory to give original, scholarly, and committed readings of the great metaphysical poets. Topics covered include boredom, torture, graffiti, tattoos, anthologizing, resentment, tears, dust, casuistry, and opportunism.

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There is a kind of conscience some men keepe,Is like a Member that's benumb'd with sleepe;Which, as it gathers Blood, and wakes agen,It shoots, and pricks, and feeles as bigg as tenDonne, Herbert, and Vaughan see the conscience as only partly theirs, only partly under their control. Of course, as theologians said, it ought to be a sim...

Ceri Sullivan is a Reader in English at Bangor University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.87 inPublished:November 9, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019954784X

ISBN - 13:9780199547845

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The conscience as a syllogism2. Torturing the conscience with divine isubjectio/i3. Godly graffiti, or, the enigma of the conscience4. Bumptious reading and priggish iantanaclasis/i5. Peevish weariness, iaposiopesis/i, and the irresolute conscience6. Eyes, tears, eyes, and the penitential ichiasmus/i7. Conclusion: the engineered conscienceBibliography