[Review] Kristine A. Wolberg, “All Possible Art”: George Herbert’s The Country Parson.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christopher T. Hodgkins, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: George Herbert's prose pastoral manual has from the start been both linked to and overshadowed by his poetry. Completed in 1632, before his much more famed posthumous lyric masterpiece The Temple (1633), but not published until 1652, Herbert's most extensive prose work was, as Kristine A. Wolberg notes, the only piece of writing that he personally prepared for publication as, simply, The Countrey Parson (Wolberg updates the spelling). However, the remarkable popularity of The Temple (it was a true seventeenth-century best-seller) induced the printer to add A Priest to the Temple to the manual's title as a kind of marketing hook, Apparently it worked; the book played a unique role in the history of pastoral care, inspiring The Reformed Pastor (1656) by Puritan Richard Baxter, who pronounced Herbert's poetry and prose to be filled with “Heart-work and Heaven- work.” The Countrey Parson also added to the luster of Herbert's reputation as the pattern of Anglican godliness, so that he has been, in his elder brother Edward's semi-snide words, “little less than sainted.” However, as Wolberg also notes, this linkage has meant, ironically, that The Countrey Parson has since been treated mainly as a contextual annex to The Temple rather than as a free-standing, well-wrought literary structure.

Additional Information

John Donne Journal 28: 311-316.
Language: English
Date: 2009
Book review, Pastoral, Poetry, George Herbert

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