Anatomizing Croll and Religio Medici
We are now uniquely equipped for the task of scrutinizing Croll's theories. Quantitative techniques, if employed carefully, open avenues to examine most of his generalizations, as these are based on central, quanitifiable features of prose style--conjunctions. Having transferred the text of Browne Religio Medici, that of the three main imitators, and 4,000-word text samples from a control group of contemporary authors ( Donne Essays in Divinity and his Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, Baker Meditations and Disquistions on the Lords Prayer, and Taylor A Discourse of the Liberty of Prophesying) onto disk, I have been able to make use of electronic text-analysis tools.1 This has allowed me to scrutinize the entire texts of Browne and his imitators. Every co-ordinating conjunction and every correlative co-ordinator in these works has been evaluated. As a result of this all of my assertions are based on hard data rather than on subjective impressions.
Whereas I concur with Croll on the usefulness of an investigation of conjunctions, I shall prove that he neglects some conjunctions crucial to Browne's style, such as most of the correlative co-ordinators. Further, I shall also reveal that his theories concerning co-ordinating conjunctions do not hold if the text is put to the test of a large-scale investigation.
The importance of conjunctions in the criticism of prose style is obvious. They provide explicit indicators of sub- or co-ordination and the manner in which the author orders his material; they also allow, therefore, some speculations about his frame of mind. Since Croll's emphasis on syntactic links in his studies of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century prose style, their significance in any such____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Democratizing Sir Thomas Browne:Religio Medici and Its Imitations. Contributors: Daniela Havenstein - Author. Publisher: Oxford University. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 104.
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