[Milton-L] Herbert's poetry and belief

Daniel W. Doerksen dwd at unb.ca
Fri Oct 2 22:10:21 EDT 2009

Probably one contribution of these fine Jewish critics of Christian works 
(in the case of Fish I am thinking of Surprised by Sin and The Living 
Temple) is a relative objectivity, and a consequent willingness to venture 
where previous critics had not thought to go.

Dan Doerksen

At 12:57 PM 10/2/2009, you wrote:
>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 
><<mailto:rastrier at uchicago.edu>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 
>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
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>The Ohio State University
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>Columbus, OH 43210-1340
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Daniel W. Doerksen 
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