Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Heaven in Ordinary: George Herbert and His Writings

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Heaven in Ordinary: George Herbert and His Writings

Article excerpt

Heaven in Ordinary: George Herbert and his Writings. Edited by Philip Sheldrake. (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2009, Pp.viii, 178. $29.99.)

George Herbert (1593-1603) died at forty, these days the age at which most folks are in early or mid-career. There's more. Though Herbert was from a family of considerable means he could not make up his mind about how he was to spend his life. He was a university orator, a member of parliament, and much distracted by diverse things over many years. He was married only four years before his death, adopted his deceased sister's children, and was a priest (and parish pastor) for less than three years. What he is remembered most for is what was published in the year of his death (his poems) and some time after his death (his Country Parson, 1652). In spite of such late blooming, he has never really been forgotten. Instead he has been recovered and "re-recovered" and admired yet again. These past few decades are a good example of the latest bloom.

It says on the outside of this volume that Philip Sheldrake is its editor. This is not really true. It would be better to say that this volume is Sheldrake's introduction to the writings of George Herbert into which Sheldrake has put many samples of Herbert's poetry and prose. And this is in fact just what is needed. For there are many fine scholarly monographs on aspects of Herbert's poetry and prose, and there are expansive interpretations of his writings and his life. There are also two very helpful, footnoted editions of his writings; Anne Pasternak Slater's "average educated reader's" George Herbert: The Complete English Works (1995) and the ultimate critical edition (though curiously absent from Sheldrake's bibliography), Helen Wilcox's The English Poems of George Herbert (2007).

What has been lacking recently has been what Sheldrake offers: a warm, accessible and disciplined invitation to readers only vaguely or summarily aware of George Herbert, and who have some appetite for either the evolution of formative seventeenth-century Anglicanism, or its poetry, liturgy, theology, spirituality, or architecture-or better yet, who have an appetite for the interplay of all of these. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.