Love's Pilgrimage: The Holy Journey in English Renaissance Literature

Love's Pilgrimage: The Holy Journey in English Renaissance Literature

Love's Pilgrimage: The Holy Journey in English Renaissance Literature

Love's Pilgrimage: The Holy Journey in English Renaissance Literature

Synopsis

In Love's Pilgrimage, Grace Tiffany explores literary adaptations of the Catholic pilgrimage in the Protestant poetry and prose of Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, and John Bunyan. Her discussion of these authors' works illuminates her larger claim that while in the sixteenth century conventional pilgrimages to saints' shrines disappeared - as did shrines themselves - from English life, the imaginative importance of the pilgrimage persisted, and manifested itself in various ways in English culture.

Excerpt

The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worship
ping and Adoration, as well of images as of Relics, and also Invo
cation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded
upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the
Word of God.

Articles of Religion of the English Church, 22 (1544)

Then is his pain more than his wit,
To walk to heaven, when he may sit!

—John Heywood,
The Play Called the Four PP, ll. 356–67

HOW DID ENGLISH AUTHORS WRITE ABOUT PILGRIMAGE AFTER THE PROTestant Reformation?

Through much of the Middle Ages, real and imagined journeys to saints’ shrines were an important part of English life. Upper- and lower-class English people alike not only rode and walked to English shrines, like those of St. Thomas in Canterbury and St. Mary in Walsingham, but undertook perilous sea and lengthy overland journeys to Continental holy sites, most notably the shrine of St. James of Compostela in northwestern Spain. As late as 1520, the Reformminded monarch Henry VIII himself made the journey to St. Mary’s of Walsingham, setting a royal standard for the observance of saint cults. Even for those who stayed home, literary and dramatic representations of holy pilgrimages created imaginative pictures of travels to sacred places. Among aristocratic readers, Percival’s Grail quest, recounted in Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur (c. 1450), both drew from and romanticized the tradition of arduous travel to holy sites to venerate saints’ relics. Malory’s near contemporary, the latefourteenth-century courtier and expatriate Frenchman Jean Froissart, wrote chronicles from the English royal court recalling both his . . .

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