In seventeenth-century England the poet George Herbert became known as `Divine Herbert', his poetry a model for those aspiring to the status of inspired Christian poet. This book explores the relationship between the poetry of George Herbert and the concept of divine inspiration rooted in devotional texts of the time. Clarke considers three very different treatises read and approved by Herbert: Savonarola's De Simplicitate Christianae Vitae, Juan de
Valdes's The Hundred and Ten Considerations, and Francois de Sales's Introduction to the Devout Life. These authors all saw literary production as implicit in a theological argument about the workings of the Holy Spirit. Clarke goes on to offer a new reading of many of Herbert's poems, concluding that implanted
in Herbert's poetry are many well-established codes which to a seventeenth-century readership signified divine inspiration.
`Richly academic book...Here we enter a world of contemporary linguistic scholarship, as befits an Oxford theological monograph.'
`We have tended to see Herbert as a solitary writer ... this richly academic books sees him as a part of a European tradition of spirituality ... It sets Herbert on a wider stage ... Clarke fleshes out the intellectual Herbert, and helps us to see him with Renaissance eyes tinted with modern scholarship.'
`the author is an acute and skillful reader of Herbert's poems; the book contains many fine, original interpretations that advance our understanding of the poetry ... this is a book of alert intelligence and subtle reading; it deserves to be studied by all readers of Herbert's poetry.'
Louis L. Martz, Yale University, George Herbert Journal, Vol 21, no 1 & 2, Fall 97/ Spring 1998
`learned, sensitive, and often eloquent study ... The book contains an impressive, select bibliography of primary and secondary sources, a quick perusal of which suggests the considerable research behind this tightly argued study ... The study is meticulously footnoted and cross-referenced. This is a sophisticated, convincing, and important study, one that should be essential reading for any who wish to deepen their understanding of Herbert's poetry and who
would hope to locate the poet within the richly syncretic Post-Reformation and Counter-Reformation theological discourse. Clarke has taken on the major Herbert critics - and will now herself be ranked among them.'
William C. Johnson, Northern Illinois University, Sixteenth Century Journal, vol 30, no 2, 1999
`Most students of Herbert will be pleased by the light Clarke sheds on Herbert's poetic methods. She buils a strong argument for the importance of the reader in Herbert's poetic/theological position. The book... provides an original contirbution to the understanding of poetic method for Herbert and for Christian poetry in the seventeeth-century.'
Douglas A. Northrop, Renaissance Quarterly