Democratizing Sir Thomas Browne: Religio Medici and Its Imitations

By Daniela Havenstein | Go to book overview

7
Anatomizing Religio Medici's Imitations

The investigation into the use of conjunctions in Religio Medici has produced results against which the extent and nature of the imitation by its successors may now be examined. Pairings, correlative coordinators, co-ordinating conjunctions, and the nature of their connection again assume central importance. A comparative analysis of these features is particularly helpful in determining the extent of the imitation of Religio Medici in Religio Stoici, Religio Bibliopolœ, and Religio Libertini. With the exception of pairings, the nature of these features does not lend itself easily to imitation. As Louis Tonko Milic points out: 'mature writers will express a consistent preference [for particular connectives over others]' (123)1. The implication of this statement for any imitation is obvious: imitation is rendered more difficult as personal preferences need to be overcome. Furthermore, the selection of conjunctions is a constant necessity in the process of writing in contrast to, say, the choice of imagery (which at times assumes a major part whereas at others it recedes into the background). This again prevents facile imitation. The difficulties which conjunctions present to imitation, however, do not alone commend them as a means of judging imitation. Ultimately, their essential role for the structure of a sentence and, consequently, for the structure of an argument, determines their importance for the examination of the imitations of Religio Medici.

Some remarks on the scope, methodology, and structure of this investigation should precede the analysis. The complete texts of Religio Medici, Religio Stoici, Religio Bibliopolœ, and Religio Libertini, totalling more than 100,000 words, have been scrutinized in order to isolate all co-ordinating conjunctions ('and', 'or', 'but') and correlative co-ordinators ('either . . . or', 'nor, 'neither', 'neither . . . nor',

____________________
1
Louis Tonto Milic, A Quantitative Approach to the Style of Jonathan Swift ( The Hague, 1967), 123.

-129-

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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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