[Milton-L] Herbert's poetry and belief

Hannibal Hamlin hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
Fri Oct 2 15:57:10 EDT 2009

Confronted with this bibliography, one begins to wonder whether one can
understand Herbert if one isn't Jewish!

There is indeed a larger issue at stake, since the reductio ad absurdum of
this argument would be that we could only understand works written by
ourselves (and even then, am I who I was a year ago?). If non-Christians
can't understand Herbert, who is to say that Catholics could understand this
strongly Protestant poet, but then Herbert's Protestantism is of a
particularly English, 17th c. variety, and so on. And what, then, does one
do with a figure like Donne, with his peculiar mix and muddle of Protestant
and Catholic, with a variable admixture of scepticism. Would someone with
firmer, more consistent convictions be unable to understand him? One could
play the same game with gender and sexuality, political beliefs, social
class, etc. Rather defeats the whole purpose of reading, writing, and
teaching -- education, as Richard says.


On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 12:49 PM, richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>wrote:

> Thank you, Daniel. But think also of the work of Fish, Lieb, Chana Bloch,
> etc.
> I think the T. S. Eliot statement really is the key one, and well worth
> pondering.
> As I just wrote to Samauel Smith off-line:
> The ability to enter into the imaginative and intellectual and religious
> worlds of
> others should be one of the major things that education is all about.
> Richard Strier
> Department of English
> University of Chicago
> 1115 East 58th Street
> Chicago, IL 60637
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Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1340
hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
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