Democratizing Sir Thomas Browne: Religio Medici and Its Imitations

By Daniela Havenstein | Go to book overview

6
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.


CONJUNCTIONS

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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1
I have used Word Cruncher 4.5 as my main electronic text-analysis tool.

-104-

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Democratizing Sir Thomas Browne: Religio Medici and Its Imitations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • OXFORD ENGLISH MONOGRAPHS i
  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Tables x
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Preamble 1
  • Religio Writing in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries 5
  • 2 - Religio Medici and the Restoration Virtuoso 27
  • 3 - Religio Medici and Grubstreet 45
  • 4 - Religio Medici and Newgate 71
  • 5 - The Resurrection of Morris W. Croll 88
  • 6 - Anatomizing Croll and Religio Medici 104
  • 7 - Anatomizing Religio Medici's Imitations 129
  • 8 - Searching for the Limbs of Osiris 149
  • 'suicide' and Other Words in Religio Medici and Its Imitations 173
  • Conclusion 198
  • Appendix: Tables of Word-Classes 205
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 227
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