Using Alchemical Memory Techniques for the Interpretation of Literature: John Donne, George Herbert, and Richard Crashaw

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Overview

This study examines the ways in which three seventeenth-century metaphysical poets, Donne, Herbert, and Crashaw, used mnemonic devices from Raymond Lull to express dissenting views of purgatory. Studying three alchemico-Lullian signs - the fiery sword, mercurial tears, and the bloody breast - Dr. Albrecht shows how these poets express purgatory as a place where the process of purification occurs and addressed this idea to both Calvinists and members of the Church of England. This book has thirty black and white ...
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Overview

This study examines the ways in which three seventeenth-century metaphysical poets, Donne, Herbert, and Crashaw, used mnemonic devices from Raymond Lull to express dissenting views of purgatory. Studying three alchemico-Lullian signs - the fiery sword, mercurial tears, and the bloody breast - Dr. Albrecht shows how these poets express purgatory as a place where the process of purification occurs and addressed this idea to both Calvinists and members of the Church of England. This book has thirty black and white photographs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780773451988
  • Publisher: Mellen, Edwin Press, The
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword Helen B. Brooks Brooks, Helen B.

A Note on Ramon Llull

Introduction 1

Ch. 1 Donne 39

Ch. 2 Herbert 97

Ch. 3 Crashaw 139

Ch. 4 Mary Magdalen 171

Select Bibliography 207

Index 229

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2008

    Using Alchemical Memory Techniques for the Interpretation of Literature: John Donne, George Herbert and Richard Crashaw

    Albrecht's study is yet another revelation of how learned were Donne and his peers in the esoterica of their age. The study at hand shows us that the medieval Catalan philosopher Raymond Lully, both in his perceived alchemical conjectures and in his system of spiritual logic, was a probable source for some of the better known poetry of the age. Of incidental interest to the modern student of this connection is the fact that Lully was a passionate witness of the Muslim world of his time and in fact helped bring Muslim thought to the attention of Europe. The references to Lullian alchemical lore and logic extend to Herbert and Crashaw. Subtle argument here insinuates that anxiety about the need for purgation and the desire for a final unity in the cosmos, as well as the alchemical-artistic process, mean the employment of several hermetic codes. Albrecht begins by identifying both the signs and the adept community of readers engaging with them. Then she proceeds to the more important task of investigating how these signs invited these same readers to discover their own versions of purgatory, penance, and intercessory prayer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2008

    Using Alchemical Memory Techniques for the Interpretation of Literature: John Donne, George Herbert and Richard Crashaw

    I thought I was familiar with the metaphysical poets of the 17th century. But Albrecht's book has opened a door to a strange and unusual language that renders these texts not the same. I suppose a good way to compare my experience with this book is to cite the film, Pleasantville. There we learn that the black and white world of Pleasantville is challenged by the language of color. Once color is introduced, the world changes. Albrecht shows how the language of the occult changes the way early modern readers understood a given text. Now, when I read Donne, Herbert, and Crashaw, I am compelled to think in terms of this esoteric language, which is the language of the alchemico-Lullian sign. Wow. I'm back to square #1.

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