Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel: The Bible in English Fiction 1678–1767 1108491030, 9781108491037

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Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel: The Bible in English Fiction 1678–1767
 1108491030, 9781108491037

Table of contents :
Cover
Half-title page
Title page
Copyright page
Contents
List of
Figures
List of
Tables
Appendixes
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I Rethinking the Secular at the Origins of the English Novel
Chapter
1 A Secular for Literary Studies
Chapter 2 The Bible, the Novel, and the Veneration of Culture
Part II Versions of Biblical Authority
Chapter 3 Sanctifying Commodity: The English Bible Trade around the Atlantic, 1660–1799
Chapter 4 Prop of the State: Biblical Criticism and the Forensic Authority of the Bible
Chapter 5 Object of Intimacy: Devotional Uses of the Eighteenth-Century Bible
Part III Uses of Scripture for Fiction
Chapter 6 Traveling Papers: Pilgrim’s Progress and the Book
Chapter 7 Surprised by Providence: Robinson Crusoe as Defoe’s Theory of Fiction
Chapter 8 Resilient to Narrative: Clarissa after Reading
Chapter 9 Breaking Down Shame: Narrating Trauma and Repair in Tristram Shandy
Conclusion
Appendixes
Notes
Works Cited
Index

Citation preview

Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel The Bible in English Fiction 1678–1767 Kevin Seidel

RETH INKING THE S ECULAR ORIGIN S O F T H E NO V E L

Literary histories of the novel tend to assume that religion naturally gives way to secularism, with the novel supplanting the Bible after the Enlightenment. This book challenges that teleological conception of literary history by focusing on scenes in seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury fiction where the Bible appears as a physical object. Situating those scenes in wider circuits of biblical criticism, Bible printing, and devotional reading, Seidel cogently demonstrates that such scenes reveal a great deal about the artistic ambitions of the novels themselves and point to the different ways those novels reconfigured their readers’ relationships to the secular world. With insightful readings of the appearance of the Bible as a physical object in fiction by John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Sarah Scott, Frances Sheridan, and Laurence Sterne, this book contends that the English novel rises with the English Bible, not after it. kevin seidel is an associate professor of English literature at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

RETHINKING THE SECULAR ORIGINS OF THE NOVEL The Bible in English Fiction 1678–1767

KEVIN SEIDEL Eastern Mennonite University

University Printing House, Cambridge cb2 8bs, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, ny 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, vic 3207, Australia 314–321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – 110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06–04/06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781108491037 doi: 10.1017/9781108867290 © Kevin Seidel 2021 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2021 A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. isbn 978-1-108-49103-7 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Contents

List of Figures List of Tables List of Appendixes Acknowledgments

page vii viii ix x

Introduction

1

part i rethinking the secular at the origins of the english novel

13

1 A Secular for Literary Studies

15

2 The Bible, the Novel, and the Veneration of Culture

37

part ii versions of biblical authority

65

3 Sanctifying Commodity: The English Bible Trade around the Atlantic, 1660–1799

67

4 Prop of the State: Biblical Criticism and the Forensic Authority of the Bible

94

5 Object of Intimacy: Devotional Uses of the Eighteenth-Century Bible

125

part iii uses of scripture for fiction

155

6 Traveling Papers: Pilgrim’s Progress and the Book

157

7 Surprised by Providence: Robinson Crusoe as Defoe’s Theory of Fiction

179

v

Contents

vi

8 Resilient to Narrative: Clarissa after Reading

202

9 Breaking Down Shame: Narrating Trauma and Repair in Tristram Shandy

231

Conclusion Appendixes Notes Works Cited Index

258 262 272 296 320

Figures

1 2 3

4 5

Sample entry transcribed from “Account of books page 81 gathered” in John Baskett v. Sarah Williams The total number of ESTC entries compared to the number 84 of Bible entries in the ESTC, by decade, 1660–1799 The number of ESTC entries for complete Bibles in English, 85 Authorized Version, 1660–1799, with separate lines for editions printed with royal privilege in London and for Bibles not printed with royal privilege in London Printed page of Job 39.11–40.11 from The Holy Bible, London: 139 J. Baskett, 1728 (Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia) Printed page of Job 40.12–42.17 from The Holy Bible, London: 140 J. Baskett, 1728 (Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia)

vii

Tables

1 Complete Bibles printed by John Baskett between page 83 1718 and 1723 compared to extant Bibles listed in the ESTC 2 Extant editions of the Bible listed in the ESTC not printed 86 with royal privilege in London

viii

Appendixes

1 The appearance of the Bible as a physical object in Early English Prose Fiction (EEPF) and Eighteenth-Century Fiction (ECF), 1500–1780 page 262 2 The appearance of the Bible as a physical object, prose fiction in English, Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO), 1701–1799 264 3 The four most popular biblical passages in printed sermons, 1660–1782, listed by percentage of total sermons in each decade 266 4 Extant editions of complete Bibles, Authorized Version, listed in the English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC), 1660–1799 268 5 Extant editions of complete Bibles, Authorized Version, listed in the ESTC not printed in London with royal privilege, by city of publication and format, 1660–1799 270

ix

Acknowledgments

This book has been personal, provoked by my own struggle with and delight in novelistic and biblical writing, shaped by a growing sense that I can only read one as well as I read the other, and finished with a determination not to identify these two loves as basically the same. Although literary critics have often helped me better understand aspects of the Bible, and novels by George Eliot and Fyodor Dostoevsky have sometimes moved me to religious devotion, I take to heart the “secular criticism” advocated by Edward Said, specifically his warning that the more hermetic or arcane literary criticism becomes, the more it functions as an agent of closure, shutting down human investigation (World, Text, and Critic 290). I also take to heart C. S. Lewis’s contention that any lasting influence of the Bible depends on its being read as a sacred book, not as mere literature (Literary 60). I have never managed to take novels as sacred texts – there are so many ways that they resist being read so – nor have I been able to read the Bible as a great and holy fiction. Keeping the gap open between what scripture writers might have thought then and what we as readers might think now is crucial to keeping our readings generative. This is something I’ve learned from the work of Avivah Zornberg, my hero of biblical interpretation, and more recently the work of womanist biblical scholar Wilda Gafney. I hope this book sharpens rather than blurs my readers’ sense of the differences between scripture and fiction, and I hope it makes room for surprising connections across those differences. Parts of this book were previously published as essays: the beginning of Chapter 1 is from “A Secular for Literary Studies,” Christianity and Literature (vol. 67, iss. 3, 2018), included here without the examples of Marilynne Robinson and Orhan Pamuk that I discuss in that essay; sections of Chapters 1 and 2 develop parts of “Beyond the Religious and the Secular in the History of the Novel,” New Literary History (vol. 38, no. 4, 2007, pp. 637–47). Chapter 6 is the same as “Pilgrim’s Progress and the Book,” English Literary History (vol. 77, no. 2, 2010, pp. 509–34), except for x

Acknowledgments

xi

the few additional paragraphs at the end of the chapter. Similarly, Chapter 7 is the same as “Robinson Crusoe as Defoe’s Theory of Fiction,” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction (vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 165–85), except for the few pages added to the end; also, a section on Farther Adventures from that Crusoe essay has been reworked and expanded in the last section of Chapter 1. This book owes a great deal to teachers and friends who have helped and inspired me along the way. My undergraduate thesis advisor, Ray Oliver, encouraged me when I naively thought reading Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales had something to teach me about love and marriage. I would never have considered graduate school without Evan Howard, who has been my pastor, spiritual director, and friend for many years now. Alain de Janvry and Elisabeth Sadoulet at UC Berkeley were wonderful supervisors as I was learning the ropes of data collection and collaborative analysis. At Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Loren Wilkinson’s example of thinking about all things together, especially theology and the arts, first inspired me to think about Watt’s Rise of the Novel and Frei’s Eclipse. At the University of Virginia, during my first year of doctoral work, Ralph Cohen called out what was best in an essay I wrote about Defoe (a piece of writing that is still in this book), and the apprenticeship in academic writing he gave me as a copyeditor at New Literary History has proven invaluable. My other dissertation advisors – Paul Hunter, David Vander Meulen, and Jennifer Geddes – each gave me advice that helped make this a better book. At my first ever academic conference, a midwest regional meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, I happened to sit next to Lori Branch at lunch, and the conversation we had about theology and literary theory was life changing. I’ve been trying to follow her example of intellectual passion and generosity toward others ever since. When I was starting out in research, Liana Lupus helped me navigate the collection of the American Bible Society, then still in New York City. Richard Goulden helped me find my way into the Chancery lawsuit records at the National Archives in Kew, London. A 2005 summer seminar led by Michael Warner and Peter Stallybrass at the American Antiquarian Society helped me think more clearly about book history and secularity. The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia gave me office space and a wonderful, interdisciplinary group of academic neighbors to work alongside as a graduate student. Some years later, Randi Rashkover’s strong encouragement helped me take the first steps toward turning my dissertation into a book. Jim Anderson gave me space to write in his amazing theological library above Circa in downtown Charlottesville. Nita Lumpkin also made room for me to write in her at-

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Acknowledgments

home retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A 2016 NEH summer seminar on Postsecular Studies and the Rise of the Novel gave me the time and intellectual support I needed to finish a first rough draft of the manuscript. Everyone involved in that amazing seminar, so skillfully organized and led by Lori Branch and Mark Knight, deserves credit for encouraging me to keep going on this book project, but Dwight Codr, Stephanie Hershinow, Jeff Galbraith, and Colin Jager were particularly helpful. I finished the last draft of the manuscript in March 2019, in the CascadeSiskiyou National Monument, while I was on sabbatical at the Oregon Extension. I wrote those winter mornings in the quiet, pine-and-window lined, rotunda chapel built by Phil Kling. At Eastern Mennonite University, where I teach literature, my friends Ted Grimsrud, Christian Early, and Peter Dula sharpened my thoughts on the three stages of secularization that I write about in Chapter 1. Outside of EMU, Jim Hinch, Matt Mutter, David Lewis, and Wilson Brissett have each read or talked me through different parts of this book. Their long friendship to me is a gift. I don’t know how many times I’ve trusted their sense of this book project and my capacity to finish it above my own. Kate Seidel helped me with data collection and analysis. Laura Merricks took pictures of the “median” Bible I spent so much time with in the special collections library at the University of Virginia. And I could never have made it this far in a financially tenuous career as an academic without the love and support of Mark and Amy Anderson, Deborah Conrad and John Galvin, and Debby and Bruce Prum. My kids, Elias and Matt, no longer kids really, seemed to know just when to laugh with me about the ups and downs of this long writing process – and when to laugh at me. We’re off to a good start at life together as adults. Finally, my wife Jennifer, the woman I first followed into literature classes years ago, who copyedited most of this book, who still lets me read poetry out loud to her in bed, and who sometimes reads to me from the Chicago Manual of Style in return – I would never have learned to love anyone or anything without you.

Introduction

A short, literary history of secularization might go something like this: once upon a time, the people of Europe read the Bible. Then, in the year 1700, Enlightenment dawned, and the people put down their Bibles. They began to read novels instead. But this story is getting harder to believe. Its simplicity will raise suspicions for some. It presumes too much uniformity among Europeans, an Enlightenment too neatly opposed to religion, and a Europe untouched by its interactions with the rest of the world. What constitutes a people or a cultural formation is far more complicated, far more contested, then as now. Some may balk at the false precision of the year – of any year, really. Whether one shifts the year when secularization started back to the Renaissance or forward to the nineteenth or twentieth century, fixing dates tends to hide more than it reveals. There is probably no chronological point before which everyone was religious in the same way, none after which everyone stopped being religious in the same way. Others may challenge such literary history in light of an emerging consensus among scholars that the old theory of secularization – the idea that society always and everywhere becomes less religious as it becomes more modern – no longer holds. One can find trenchant critiques of that idea in recent political theory, theology, sociology, anthropology, history, and literary studies.1 And insofar as the old idea of secularization falls apart under scrutiny, it no longer works as a tacit explanation of the rise of the novel. It has become harder to believe that once upon a time people read the Bible, and then they read novels. But what story do we tell instead? The novel has for so long been taken for granted as the great genre of secularity, the genre that emerged with our secular age, that it is hard to tell the story otherwise. The novel and secularity seem powerfully, mutually reinforcing. The novel reflects a world “abandoned by God,” we are told, and we know that God is absent because novels tell us so.2 But what if, in 1

2

Introduction

light of recent scholarship on secularism, we understood secularity not as the waning or disappearing of religious beliefs and practices so much as their reorganization? We could see better those religious beliefs and practices changing in literature. We could catch our notions of secularity hovering close by, in the process of formation. We could perhaps discover – through our reading of scripture and fiction – new insights about the world. Questions about the relationship between the novel and the Bible first caught my attention when I tried to reconcile the claims of two important, discipline-shaping books: Ian Watt’s The Rise of the Novel (1957) and Hans Frei’s The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative (1974). Watt was writing when the study of literature in English was still dominated by New Criticism, which, in its American version at least, considered literature (mainly poetry) great to the extent that it transcended its historical moment. Watt, however, argued that eighteenth-century writers such as Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, and Samuel Richardson wrote fiction immersed in history, great to the degree that it mirrored and responded to the social and psychological changes of its day. Watt called that capacity of eighteenthcentury fiction to represent its historical situation “formal realism,” and he attributed the rise of the novel to an emerging middle class of readers in eighteenth-century England with a taste for such realism in their fiction. Watt’s Rise has since been sharply and rightly criticized for presuming that English literary history is universal literary history and that, as the title of his book implied, the story of fiction in England was the story of “the novel” everywhere.3 Watt also presumed that novels by just three men – Defoe, Fielding, and Richardson, but mainly Richardson – could tell us everything we needed to know about the early formation of the genre, even though contemporary women novelists such as Aphra Behn, Delarivier Manley, Penelope Aubin, Eliza Haywood, Charlotte Lennox, Frances Sheridan, and Fanny Burney rivaled their male counterparts in popularity and formal innovation.4 Moreover, Watt’s Rise presumed to know what eighteenth-century fiction was rising to be – toward whatever he and other modern critics considered comprehensive psychological and social representation. Such critics, presuming progress toward an ideal novelistic “realism,” tend to notice only those attributes of eighteenth-century fiction already familiar to them in nineteenth-, twentieth-, or twenty-first-century novels.5 And yet by attempting to explain how social change interacts with literary change, Watt did anticipate the direction that literary studies would take after New Criticism, so his work remains an important starting point, however contested, for critics and historians of the novel today.6

Introduction

3

Frei’s Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, alongside work by his Yale colleague George Lindbeck, helped open what has been called a postliberal path in theological studies today. Frei attempted to bridge the disciplinary divide between biblical studies and theology, or to at least show how that divide came about, by carrying his history of modern biblical interpretation back past the “higher criticism” of nineteenth-century Germany, where such histories usually begin, to early eighteenth-century England, where scholarly debate about the historicity of scripture led to a profound change in the way that scripture was read. Rather than reading the Bible as what Frei called “realistic narrative” – that is, reading one passage of scripture as if it had something do with passages before and after, instead of looking for the passage’s meaning on the narrative plane of scripture – scholars became obsessed with the ostensive referents of the Bible, with figuring out whether biblical narrative matched the historical events behind it. Later in the century, as those debates became intractable, other scholars looked for moral systems hovering above or in front of the scripture. For them, the Bible became a book of ethical principles, useful insofar as it could confirm whatever moral schema the interpreter brought to the text. Reading for moral schema came to dominate theological studies, while reading for historical referents became the dominant mode for biblical studies. Neither side paid much attention to the verse-by-verse, passage-bypassage arrangement of biblical text – and that, for Frei, was the eclipse. His work has been criticized, deservedly so, for its antagonism toward any appeal to historicity, any hint of moral or philosophical schema given priority over the scripture. Frei thought that theological meaning should be generated by biblical narrative apart from its historical referents and present-day intellectual concerns. Frei sometimes talked about biblical narrative the way that New Critics talked about poetry: as if the only meaning that counted was meaning generated by the work itself, alone. Nevertheless, a salutary effect of Frei’s work has been to turn the attention of biblical scholars and theologians back to the narrative of scripture.7 Like Watt’s Rise, Frei’s Eclipse begins in early eighteenth-century England, but Frei points to a decline in the ability to read the Bible as “realistic narrative.” How could English readers show a growing demand for realism in their fiction, as Watt maintains, yet lose the ability to recognize the realistic elements of biblical narrative, as Frei argues? Are we to imagine two separate groups of readers – religious and secular – or, just as unlikely, individual readers whose habits of Bible reading never affected their novel reading and whose novel reading never affected their Bible reading?

4

Introduction

More questions were raised by a search for the word Bible in the Early English Prose Fiction (EEPF) and the Eighteenth-Century Fiction (ECF) full-text databases. Together these databases include 277 works of fiction printed between 1500 and 1780. Strikingly, as I show in Appendix 1, the Bible appears as a physical object in only 2 percent of the 211 works included in EEPF (1500–1700), whereas it appears in 20 percent of the 96 works included in ECF (1700–1780). The Bible shows up, then, both more often in works published after 1700 and more often in the fiction that has come down to us as originary in scholarly accounts such as Watt’s Rise and Michael McKeon’s Origins of the Novel, 1600–1740 – fiction by John Bunyan, Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding. Many other men and women were writing many different kinds of fiction during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Could the appearance of the Bible help explain why only a few authors get set apart, by some critics, as the progenitors of the English novel? Provoked by these questions of audience and canon, this book focuses on the appearance of the Bible that Christian holds at the outset of Pilgrim’s Progress; the Bible that Robinson Crusoe accidentally discovers in a chest of goods salvaged from his wreck; the Bible that Clarissa, halfdressed and under house arrest, copies verses from during her devotions; and the Bible in Tristram Shandy that Widow Wadman hurriedly sets down on her parlor table and Uncle Toby picks up in the midst of their beautiful (if awkward) declaration of love for one another. I use these scenes, in part, for critique, unsettling the secularist assumptions of literary criticism that have made these works of fiction central to the history of the English novel. I also use these scenes to criticize the novels themselves for their sometimes blinkered, distorted takes on the world, though I do this rarely. I mainly use these scenes to generate insight about how these particular works of fiction might change readers’ experience of the world for the better, then and now. What I advocate, with these fictional scenes of Bible reading, is not a turn from secular to religious ways of reading, and not just a sharper critique of secularism, but a shift from one kind of novelassisted experience of the world to another, better one. In the chapters that follow, I show how, turned one way, these scenes situate fiction within wider circuits of eighteenth-century Bible printing and distribution, biblical criticism, and devotional reading practices. But turned another way, these scenes reveal a great deal about the authors’ artistic ambitions, about how the novels themselves ask to be read. When the Bible gets put down, popped open, or pulled out by the novels’ protagonists, it exerts a curious, difficult-to-describe agency on characters

Introduction

5

in the novel that also guides readers of the novel. In other words, we learn how to read these early novels from the Bibles that appear in them. These fictions raise their status as works of art, then, not by relegating the Bible to a religious past but by tapping its contested authority for present artistic needs, using biblical authority for artistic innovation. At the same time, notions of biblical authority – the kinds of powers that accrue to the English Bible – change and expand. The working hypothesis of this book is that the English novel emerges alongside the English Bible, not after it. A few observations about the structure of Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel: Part I, “Rethinking the Secular at the Origins of the English Novel,” pries loose certain assumptions about religion, secularism, and culture that we are likely to carry into our reading of texts from the eighteenth century or before (Chapters 1–2). Part II, “Versions of Biblical Authority,” describes how the Bible was printed, distributed, criticized, and used devotionally in the eighteenth century (Chapters 3–5). Together, the first two parts point to potential, yet-to-be-explored connections between how we tell the story of the novel and how we tell the story of the Bible. Part III, “Uses of Scripture for Fiction,” works out those connections in more detail, paying close attention to the different aspects of secular experience that gather around the appearances of the Bible in particular works of fiction. Each chapter in Part III takes a similar path: It starts with a close reading of a Bible scene in the novel, follows the lead of that scene out to some aspect of how the Bible was used in eighteenth-century culture, and then comes back to the novel to describe its particular artistic achievement. So each chapter begins with the Bible but moves toward generating new insight about the art of eighteenth-century fiction: the representation of this world in Pilgrim’s Progress, irony in the Robinson Crusoe trilogy, resilience in Clarissa, and reparative reading in Tristram Shandy. Like any book, this one lets readers turn through it any way they like. Each chapter can be read on its own, but each was designed to be read in conjunction with other chapters. For example, the Bible chapters in Part II distinguish different versions of biblical authority that get taken up in the novels so that readers can better recognize the legal or forensic power associated with the Bible (Chapter 4) that Bunyan grapples with in Pilgrim’s Progress (Chapter 6); the commodity power (Chapter 3) that fascinates Defoe in Robinson Crusoe (Chapter 7); and the psychological power (Chapter 5) that Richardson amplifies in Clarissa (Chapter 8). The

6

Introduction

book is also arranged as a chiasmus, with the description of the Bible as a physical object (Chapter 5) at its center. The first chapter is designed to resonate with the last (Chapter 9) on Tristram Shandy; the second chapter to resonate with the eighth on Clarissa; and so forth. This chiasmatic and pairing design of the chapters is an open, loose one, however, meant to generate connections among the works discussed. Flipping back or forward to one chapter in order to understand another is not required.

***

As much ground as this book covers and as much as I hope that readers interested in the origins of the novel will find themselves interested in the history of the Bible, and vice versa, this book is bound to disappoint. Some of that disappointment may be instructive. Writing about the novel has a way of conjuring up dreams commonly associated with the genre – impossible dreams of total psychological and social comprehension, of a full, complete disclosure of reality as we know it. Readers prone to such dreams could brace themselves for disappointment now by thumbing to the last pages of this book, letting their eyes rest on a blank page or two, and reminding themselves that it comes to an end. No book can cover everything. Similarly dream inducing, writing about the Bible has a way of conjuring up fantasies of absolute, immutable, irresistible textual authority. These dreams are, perhaps, easier to wake from, especially for skeptical academic readers, many of whom will likely have found something to quarrel with already in this introduction. If not, please, read on. Part of the work of this book will be to dispel both dreams – of total comprehension and absolute authority, of the novel that tells us everything there is to know and the Bible that forces us to believe it. Let me say more specifically, then, what I will and will not try to do in Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel. First, I will not finally resolve the problematic conceptual relationship between the religious and the secular. I do some untangling in Chapter 1, but this is mainly to clear the ground for better readings of the novels. I sometimes use novels to think better about that tangled relationship, but my goal is not to discover an everlasting concept of the secular. Instead, more pragmatically, I articulate a notion of the secular good enough to help us pay better attention to the novel, to keep us from missing aspects of fiction obscured by our commitments to either side of the religious–secular divide, and to notice more ways that novels connect us to more of the world. Second, I will not be making a strong argument for the importance of religion or the Bible to the eighteenth century. This will frustrate readers

Introduction

7

who feel religion is always neglected in the academy, but I take the importance of the Bible for granted. I have argued in a previous essay that a sense of religion has been important to histories of the novel from the beginning.8 The more difficult question is, Important how? Important in a way that reinforces our assumptions about religion and secularism, or that unsettles them? I aim to unsettle, but, for reasons I explain in Chapter 2, my ultimate goal is not to say something new about Enlightenment religion or to use the novel as a kind of wheeled carriage for touring eighteenth-century religious culture. That move of reading out from literature to culture – of always making some aspect of culture the final destination or prime mover of literary interpretation – tends to turn our ideas of culture into an imaginary, substitute scripture. Our interactions with both the Bible and literature suffer as a result, or so I argue in Part I of this book. In Part II, I try to learn enough about the eighteenth-century Bible and its cultural associations to catch what use the novels make of those associations. Like a New Historicist, then, I aim to follow those biblical associations into the novel; but, unlike some New Historicists, I do so without assuming a novelistic text totally subject to its religious context. More like a Formalist, I attribute a relative independence to formal features of the novel, and I try to describe how such artistic form returns readers to the world and alters their connections to it in the process. Third, this book will not contain any fine-grained, historically rich accounts of actual eighteenth-century readers reading Bibles or novels, valuable as that would be. In Part II I do discuss writing about the Bible by John Locke, Anthony Collins, and Matthew Henry, among others. I discuss the cultural associations that gather around the Bible through its printing, distribution, and use; and I describe the ideal reader envisioned by actual, material eighteenth-century Bibles and the typical features of a printed page of biblical text. What emerges is a set of Bible-reading practices and associations powerful not because they were absolutely unique, sharply demarcated from secular forms of reading, but just the opposite. The Bible was powerful because it combined and came into contact with so many kinds of reading. Grasping that pluriform authority proves crucial to understanding the different ways that the Bible gets taken up by its fictional readers – Christian, Robinson Crusoe, Clarissa, and Toby Shandy. They, too, count as Bible readers, but by comparing their interactions with the Bible to what we learn from Part II of this book, I aim to show how their reading of the Bible works as a guide to reading their novels. To get at eighteenth-century novel reading, I do examine the comments of actual, early readers of the novel and the comments of

8

Introduction

subsequent critics, but my main contribution will be to describe what we learn about reading these novels from their fictional characters’ reading Bibles. Fourth, I only discuss a few of the approximately 150 new works of fiction published in the eighteenth century where the Bible appears as physical object. This 150 is only 6 percent of the approximately 2,600 total new works of fiction published in the period (see Appendix 2, “The appearance of the Bible as a physical object in prose fiction in English, Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO), 1701–1799”). And those 2,600 account for fewer than 1 percent of the more than 330,000 eighteenth-century titles extant on library shelves around the world today and listed in the English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC). Why devote whole chapters, as I do in this book, to four works of fiction that make up approximately 0.001 percent of the titles published in the century? This statistical insignificance is worth reflection: What we now call “literature” – poetry, drama, and fiction, and much of it reprints of older works – never amounted to more than 20 percent of the overall British book trade in the eighteenth century, and fiction never amounted to more than 25 percent of that “literature.”9 Estimating the relative popularity of books based on the number of copies or editions on library shelves today is prone to serious error, as I discuss in Chapter 3 on the Bible trade, mainly because extant editions do not by themselves tell us anything about the size of print runs, whether the books were in fact read, or, if so, how. But where we do have additional evidence, comparisons can be made, and that evidence suggests the novel trade was small compared to the Bible trade. In 1719, for example, Robinson Crusoe was reprinted a remarkable five times, not including piracies and newspaper serializations – all signs of its surprising popularity. Most works of fiction never made it past the first edition or exceeded print runs of 500 or 1,000 copies. In 1719, Robinson Crusoe made it to its sixth edition at 1,000 copies each, for a total of 6,000. In that same year, John Baskett, the royal printer responsible for printing the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and all government documents, printed more than 35,000 Bibles, and another 30,000 the next year.10 The sharp increase in the number of fiction titles published in the 1740s – that supposed rise in popularity – had, scholars now agree, far more to do with the “great take-off” of the book trade overall (Raven, Business 130; cf. Hume 36). In other words, novels were rising with books more generally. Also, because of their length and high paper costs, novels were expensive in the eighteenth century, and thus were bought and read largely by the wealthy, not by a mass audience of middle- and lower-class

Introduction

9

readers. Crusoe may himself have been an upper-middle-class merchant when he was shipwrecked on his island, but at 5 shillings a copy, his novel was something he would have thought twice about buying from a London bookseller. Finally, while the pay for writing plays could sometimes be significant, the pay for writing novels “was mostly mediocre to wretched” (Hume 43; cf. Suarez, “Publishing”). Thinking about fiction by the numbers like this is a useful reminder that while there were bestsellers that flashed into popularity and were frequently reprinted, original fiction never dominated the eighteenth-century book trade the way it has dominated subsequent accounts of the eighteenthcentury in literary history as the period when the novel originated. The appearance of the Bible as a physical object promises insight into that second, retrospective dominance. In a search of Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), the Bible shows up in only about 4 percent of the fiction published between 1700 and 1780 (see Appendix 2). But it shows up in 20 percent of the fiction included in the ECF database (Appendix 1). The difference is even more striking when we consider gender. If we take the ECF database as a fairly accurate and equitable canon of the fiction written in the period – its 96 entries include 53 works written by women, 43 by men; its 29 authors break down into 17 men and 12 women – then we could note that the Bible appears in the work of only 2 out of the 12 women novelists represented, or 17 percent, but it appears in the work of 10 out of the 17 men, or 59 percent. The difference between 4 percent in ECCO (representing “all” the works of fiction from the period) and 59 percent among the men in ECF (representing the period’s “canonized” fiction) suggests, on the one hand, that the appearance of the Bible as a physical object never became a trendy, imitated literary device in eighteenthcentury fiction in the way, for example, the clue became ubiquitous in detective fiction around the turn of the twentieth century.11 On the other hand, the device may help explain why subsequent readers and critics elevated certain novels above others. And isn’t this what we have meant by “the rise of the novel” after all? Not a rise in the sheer number of works of fiction published, the population of literate, middle-class readers, or the prevalence of a “realistic” style, but a rise in status among later generations of readers?12 What the numbers suggest, and what Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel hopes to show, is that the Bible, or discourse about the Bible, played a crucial role in English prose fiction becoming “the novel.” In other words, the supposedly scandalous, merely entertaining romance narratives written for upper-class audiences in the seventeenth

10

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and eighteenth centuries become – by leveraging certain kinds of biblical authority – the supposedly uplifting, morally instructive, and entertaining “realistic” novel written for mass audiences in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. More simply, English prose fiction uses biblical authority to become “the novel.” To understand how this worked, I suggest in the first part of this book, we do not need to turn to religion so much as think critically about secularism. The more difficult task, which I take up in the final part of the book, involves showing that the reasons why such an elevation occurred, why some novels have been remembered above others, are not the same reasons we should remember those novels today. The secular literary criticism that first elevated and has since sustained those novels is not the secular criticism we need now. When I started this project at the beginning of my graduate studies in literature, I was following the lead of the EEPF and ECF database search results for the traditional origins of the novel period – English fiction up through the 1740s – which returned no hits for women writers. The Bible scenes in Pilgrim’s Progress, Robinson Crusoe, and Clarissa struck me immediately as full of potential insight about the workings of fiction, even if they were not intended to be scenes of metafictional instruction by their authors – in fact, precisely because they did not seem so intended. Rare as they were, the Bible scenes seemed to lie outside authorial planning. They were also overlooked by critics. I started out by focusing on the representation of religion and was naive, in retrospect, about my intentions. I thought I would investigate and write about every Bible scene in the ECF database, carry the study into the rest of the century, even include eighteenth-century American fiction. I temporarily set aside the Bible scenes in other canonical works of fiction: in Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749), for example, the Bible that Tom sells to his brother Blifil in order to give the money to the destitute family of the gamekeeper, Black George; in Sheridan’s The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1761), the Bible that Sidney observes an old clergyman reading when she visits him in debtors’ prison, an index of his integrity in the midst of suffering; and in Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall (1762), the Bible that blithe, young Fremont is moved to read at the very end of the novel after he has listened to the stories of the women who live together in Millenium Hall and witnessed the flourishing of the larger community, men and women, young and old, that gathered around them. I came back to the Scott and Sheridan scenes late in the writing process. They deserve their own chapters, but I discuss them only briefly in the pages that follow.

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I still think my initial approach – letting my interpretations of eighteenth-century fiction revolve around and be constrained by accidental, perhaps unintended appearances of the Bible – is a good one. But I worry about the exclusively male selection of focal texts that I have ended up with, and I want my readers to worry too, if they are not worried already. I could blame the long line of male critics before and after Watt with whom I have fallen into step. I could blame the ECF database search and claim to be impartially following the evidence. I could blame my own Christian religious tradition and the subordination of women it has wrongly sanctified. I could blame secularism itself, which is no friend of gender equality either. Joan Wallach Scott argues in her recent book Sex and Secularism that men and women caught up in the discourse of secularism are often quick to decry the mistreatment of women in religious cultures, especially Islamic ones after 9/11, but slow to recognize persistent injustices in their own secular cultures. The history of the English novel, to the extent that it forgets or minimizes the achievements of eighteenth-century women writers, illustrates Scott’s case: the presumed secularity of the novel has arguably hindered rather than helped critics, no matter their gender, recognize the imaginative, intellectual contributions of women novelists. Admittedly, my selection of focal texts reinforces an exclusively masculine canon, but I hope my way of writing about them does not. I will not cast my male authors as illustrious examples of “isolated achievement” (Spender 145), great insofar as they seem unmoved by literary predecessors and peers, yet powerful in moving other, later novelists. I have tried instead to write about them the way that feminist scholars have long written about women novelists – tracing lines of influence, implicit and explicit, that join them to other authors and other kinds of writing, and then returning them “to their interconnected and collective context” (Spender 145). Moreover, I do not take these four authors as representing the entire period of 1660–1800, what we scholars in the field call the long eighteenth century; nor does what they do with Bibles stand for what other authors do with scriptures everywhere, always. Instead, by trying to trace the particular artistic achievements of Bunyan, Defoe, Richardson, and Laurence Sterne, I hope to inspire better criticism of these and other works of literature where the Bible appears as a physical object, from antiquity to the present, and perhaps better ways of putting the Bible to artistic use today. What I hope Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel will add to previous novel criticism is both a self-conscious critique of the secular– religious binary that shapes so much Anglophone literary history and a recovery of diverse relationships between the secular and the religious

12

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before they ossified into enmity and mutual exclusion. This twofold project of criticism and recovery promises not only to generate new insight about the art of eighteenth-century fiction, but also to help readers, writers, and critics today keep our own stories of the secular, of our shared life in this world, open and unfinished.

part i

Rethinking the Secular at the Origins of the English Novel

chapter 1

A Secular for Literary Studies

What we mean by “the secular” takes its mottled, shifting shape in the light of ongoing arguments about secularism (a moral outlook or political doctrine) and secularization (a historical process).1 Many people today pursue the good life without taking their bearings from any belief in God or practice of religion, so there are many forms of moral secularism; similarly, states take varied approaches to managing the religious lives of their citizens, so political secularism looks different in England than it does in France, India, the United States, or Egypt.2 And there are numerous theories of secularization now that the old theory no longer holds: secularization is no longer presumed to be a universal historical process whereby societies inevitably become less religious as they become more modern.3 Concepts of “the secular” also have a great deal to do with “the religious” – though not everything. What more the secular might be, apart from its relationship to the religious, is hard to tell. Is it more than the absence of religion? Religion inverted? What comes after religion? Religion diminished? Religion transformed? Religion disguised? It is difficult to think outside these conceptual oppositions and equivocations because whenever the topic of religion or theology gets raised, as soon as the words secular or postsecular get invoked, academics almost always take sides according to their religious (or nonreligious) affiliations. They turn their scholarship into shovels, digging out what seems like a new line of inquiry, only to find themselves in another trench of the old battle between the religious and the secular. As I hope to show in this chapter, trying to understand “the secular” merely by its opposite, “the religious,” will not take us very far in reconsidering the relationship between the secular and the literary. One of many ironies about the relationship between the secular and religious, as José Casanova has pointed out, is that each has served time as a residual conceptual category of the other. The secular first developed in Western Christendom as a theological concept, while the religious seems to 15

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have emerged in the West as a modern secular concept. During the 1500s and 1600s, when wars in Europe fell increasingly along Protestant and Catholic lines, European traders fighting for gold and spices overseas brought back news of strange religions. At the same time, scholars caught up in these tangled economic and political ventures talked and wrote about “true religion” – a universal set of beliefs and moral standards that supposedly transcended (and justified) the cruelties done in the name of religion, at home and abroad. Where church leaders – “the religious” – once mobilized to make the lives of ordinary believers more like their own, now “the secular” – European political and intellectual leaders – mobilized to determine what counted as true religion.4 The lasting importance of religion to the Enlightenment in England, as something more than a set of archaic beliefs and practices to resist or let pass away, has been confirmed and complicated by recent work in eighteenth-century history (J. Gregory, “Transforming”). Religion has played a vital role in reassessing the vibrancy of the eighteenth-century Anglican church by focusing on the day-to-day pastoral work of clergy (Walsh et al.; Gregory and Chamberlain). Religion has also played an important role in rethinking the intellectual history of the period along the lines of reason, grace, and sentiment (Rivers). Furthermore, religion has played a role in reappraisals of the state as Anglican, aristocratic, and monarchical (Clark). As a result, religion is no longer a single thing in the period. Religion as the age-old practices of preaching and pastoral care is not the same as the religion of theologically inflected intellectual differences, which is not the same as a state-sanctioned set of beliefs and practices. All this recent scholarship shows the period was more religious than the old secularization theory assumed, which is illuminating, but it makes specifying what we mean by religion more difficult and more important, especially insofar as it determines what we mean by secular. Alluring as the attempt might be, this chapter will offer neither a comprehensive account of secularism, nor a history of secularization, nor a master concept of the secular. As much as I lean on previous work about secularism, I will take the word secular to refer simply to this world and this age; but instead of trying to fix exactly what we mean by world or age, I will describe various scholarly dispositions toward the world – that is, how we tend to connect with, let ourselves be changed by, try to control, refuse, or stand aloof from the world.5 My assumption going in is that arguments about the religious and the secular, however conceived, have become so entrenched that as soon as talk turns toward religion, as soon as a Bible is on the scene or the word secular gets invoked, many of us scholars

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and critics get so defensive and resentful, or anxious for definitions, or bored and droopy eyed, that we lose sight of the worlds that fiction envisions when anything resembling religion is on the scene. Thinking about definitions should be a start rather than a substitute for talking candidly about these dispositions. In the first part of this chapter, I criticize two prevailing ways of imagining the relationship between the religious and the secular on the way to hinting at a more open-ended, responsive, unfinished approach to the secular that I advocate in the rest of this book. In the second part, I give an example of that approach by reading a Bible scene in The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. With barely any justification for doing so, I read that scene as an allegory of the secular state and of Daniel Defoe’s procedures as a novelist. Then, in the third part, in light of that scene, I briefly discuss what is at stake in rethinking the secular today.

Three Stages of Secularization Theory: Enmity, Irony, Reciprocity I describe these approaches as three stages of secularization theory but do so with some qualifications. By secularization theory, I have in mind not ideas about historical process so much as methods for assessing the transfer of goods – whether artistic, intellectual, or practical – between religious and secular domains.6 Secularization tends to be thought of as a unilateral movement from one domain to the other, but I want to hold open the possibility, for the third stage, that the exchange might be reciprocal and generative of new, unanticipated goods on both sides. Referring to stages of secularization implies a discrete chronological ordering, which is partially true: In the literature on secularization, what I call stage one does precede stage two. Stages also imply valuation, also partially true: I do think stage three is a better approach to studying the secular than either stage one or two. But I do not think stage three is a mean between the extremes or a neat synthesis of one and two. Neither are they like stages of a rocket, where one falls away to ignite the next, or stages on a coach route, where passengers have to get out of one stage to ride another. They are more like stages at an outdoor theater or music festival, where the audience can move freely from one to the other. In this chapter, then, I try not to play a gavel-wielding critic of the first two stages or master of the entire festival so much as a fan of the new music happening on stage three. The first stage of imagining the relationship between the secular and the religious – let’s call this the way of enmity – treats religion and secularism as parts of a zero-sum equation, a winner-takes-all contest. Where religion is

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on the rise, secularism (either a political doctrine or moral orientation) must be on the decline, and vice versa. Regardless of whether one is alarmed by the resurgence of religion in the contemporary world or afraid of its disappearance, this approach tends to call its side to arms, to tally up scores for one side or the other – religion versus secularism – in order to discern which one is gaining ground. Scholars committed to religion’s demise generally assume that all religious phenomena can be fully explained, without remainder, by superior concepts drawn from sociology, psychology, neurology, economics, or ethics. Against them, scholars fighting for religion assume that all forms of secular reasoning or art lack a religious piece that only they (or the Bible or an important theologian) can supply. The intellectual game in this approach tends to be about identifying some clear sign of religion – stated belief in God, biblical allusions or typology, church attendance, tithing, particular religious practices, election results, instances of religiously motivated violence – and then using that as an index to prove that religion is either back or receding again. Scholars who take this approach to secularism tend to get bogged down in debate about the best way to measure the progress or regress of religion. The debate keeps old secularization theory largely intact, even if in an inverted form, because like old secularization theory, it assumes that religion and secularism are mutually exclusive. What this approach gets right is that the religious and the secular are often at odds with one another, and frequently understand themselves to be so; it does not shy away from or ignore that conflict. What it gets wrong is the assumption that the two sides must be in conflict, always. Second-stage secularization theory – call this the way of paradox or irony – starts with the good insight that the religious and the secular are always bound up with one another, but it then has trouble getting beyond that insight. This approach tends to become absorbed with the paradoxes of the religious–secular relationship, bringing the thread of its analysis back to that knot, again and again, to show just how fascinatingly tangled they have become.7 For example, we might consider with John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory (1990) and Beyond Secular Order (2014) how certain medieval theological debates mislaid the foundations of modern, secular, autonomous philosophy to the detriment of theology, social theory, and political theory today. Or consider with Brad Gregory’s Unintended Reformation (2012) how the Protestant Reformation effectively privatized religion by emphasizing individual belief rather than social practice and so unwittingly dug the secular pit in which some Christians now feel

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themselves buried. Or consider with Michael Warner’s “Evangelical Public Sphere” (2009) how today’s supposedly secular American public sphere, which so many evangelicals feel excluded from, has been profoundly shaped by eighteenth-century Protestant practices of evangelism and print-media mobilization. Or consider with Vincent Pecora’s Secularization and Cultural Criticism (2006) how literary authors and critics since Matthew Arnold habitually depict religion as simultaneously retreating into the past and transferring its powers to secular literature. Religion seems always passing, always persisting, in recognizable if distorted forms. It may be impossible to exaggerate the sway of stage-two secularization theory in literary studies. You can feel it, for instance, in Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis, where the Bible plays a paradoxical role as a source of realism. According to Auerbach, realism is, on the one hand, the legacy of biblical narrative, especially of the Gospels. The scene of Peter’s denial of Christ, Auerbach says, portrays “the birth of a spiritual movement in the depths of the common people, from within the everyday occurrences of contemporary life, which thus assumes an importance it could never have assumed in antique literature” (43). On the other hand, the serious treatment of the everyday comes to supplant notions of the transcendent, something Auerbach finds happening first in Dante’s Comedy, where the direction of figural interpretation is reversed: the figures of this world become more captivating than their otherworldly fulfillments. The secularization that Auerbach sees beginning in Dante culminates in early nineteenth-century French realism, where all forces outside of history or above the world are purposefully excluded from representation. For Auerbach, realism in Western literature is at once the descendant of the Gospels’ serious attention to everyday life and the signal of religion’s decay. The Bible also plays a paradoxical role as a textual power. Auerbach’s comparison of the styles of Homer and Genesis is well known. He says we find in Homer “fully externalized description, uniform illumination, uninterrupted connection, free expression, all events in the foreground, displaying unmistakable meanings, few elements of historical development and of psychological perspective” (23). By contrast, in biblical narrative, we find “certain parts brought into high relief, others left obscure, abruptness, suggestive influence of the unexpressed, ‘background’ quality, multiplicity of meanings and the need for interpretation, universal-historical claims, development of the concept of the historically becoming, and preoccupation with the problematic” (23). Less well known, however, is Auerbach’s initial comparison of Genesis and The Odyssey, where the Bible is described in ominous political

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Rethinking the Secular at the Origins of the English Novel

tones as a book of totalitarian statecraft, bristling with imperial ambition. Auerbach says, The Bible’s claim to truth is not only far more urgent than Homer’s, it is tyrannical – it excludes all other claims. The world of the Scripture stories is not satisfied with claiming to be a historically true reality – it insists that it is the only real world, is destined for autocracy. All other scenes, issues, and ordinances have no right to appear independently of it, and it is promised that all of them, the history of all mankind, will be given their due place within its frame, will be subordinated to it. The Scripture stories do not, like Homer’s, court our favor, they do not flatter us that they may please us and enchant us – they seek to subject us, and if we refuse to be subjected we are rebels. (15)

Auerbach does not explain how the same biblical narrative that he finds so full of the “suggestive influence of the unexpressed” and “the need for interpretation” (23) can also be tyrannical, autocratic, and “absolute” in its authority (14), but under the sway of what I am calling second-stage secularization theory, he does not need to explain. That paradox once felt – autocratic elements retreating while suggestive ones transfer – serves as explanation enough. I mention Auerbach’s Mimesis at the outset because Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel would not make any significant scholarly contribution by saying simply, “Look, religion is important to the rise of the novel after all.” Auerbach has already done that, and his book deserves the lasting respect it has received because he takes biblical narrative seriously and tries to articulate its influence in secular forms of narrative. But what would it look like to go past Auerbach, to treat the religious and secular as more than paradoxically related? What do we miss about “realism,” what gets lost from our literary histories, when we take Auerbach’s approach to secularization as the last word? I am not arguing against paradoxes per se, but against making these particular paradoxes, of religion’s retreat and transfer, the ultimate ones, settling for these as the final word on the role of religion in the literary traditions of the West. While emphasizing the surprising persistence of religion, stage-two secularization theory can also shift critical attention to secularity itself, a shift exemplified by Talal Asad’s Genealogies of Religion (1993) and Formations of the Secular (2003). In Genealogies, Asad was mainly concerned with criticizing the concept of religion that anthropologists took for granted – a concept that treated all religious rites and rituals as essentially the same, as gestures of symbolic meaning that pointed toward abstract “ideas of a general order,” a concept that, far from being universal, had “a

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specific Christian history” (42). Asad’s essays in Genealogies explored other possible histories within and outside of Christianity, other ways of conceiving religion, as practiced, for example, by medieval Christian monks (chapters 3 and 4) and in sermons by contemporary Muslim theologians (chapter 6). In Formations, Asad shifts his focus to the concept of the secular that underlies so many aspects of modern political secularism, a concept that is “not easy to grasp . . . directly” and is “best pursued through its shadows,” as he says at the end of his important introduction (16). In other words, wherever a critical light is cast on religion – particularly on Islam after 9/11 – look in the shadows to see what “the secular” is hiding about itself from itself. Where, for example, critics trace the roots of “Islamic terrorism” to the Qur’an and scriptural texts that (supposedly) force pious readers to believe and act in certain ways, notice those same critics representing themselves as free to interpret texts however they choose (and hiding the actual protocols that govern their own interpretations).8 Where spokespersons of the secular nation-state speak out and mobilize against religiously motivated violence (always Islamic? never Christian or Jewish?), look to see how the state is being cast as the arbiter and advocate of peace, above violence (and hiding, or at least justifying, its practices of torture in Guantanamo Bay and drone attacks in the Middle East and Africa.) Asad’s move to focus on the secular, on the way it forms and constructs itself as it represents religion, should be familiar to those who have read Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) or Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992). Said shifted the focus of criticism away from questions about whether Western scholarship represents the Orient accurately to how such scholarship functions as an index of the desires and ambitions of Western culture. Similarly, Morrison took the representation of black characters in early American literature as forms of “Africanism,” as literary sites that tell us more about the construction of whiteness than they do about the lived experience of enslaved black people. For Asad, likewise, representations of religion are occasions to see the secular in the process of formation. However – and this is a crucial difference – while white supremacy and colonialism are subject to critique in order to be dismantled – the sooner and more completely left to ruin, the better – there is something more reparative in Asad’s critique of the secular.9 When Asad says early in Formations that “Over time a variety of concepts, practices, and sensibilities have come together to form ‘the secular’” (16), he is setting out, under the auspices of critique, to show

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that the secular is in fact contingent; it is not the static, unchanging set of assumptions about the world everywhere and always true that it purports to be. He goes on to show how the secular has skewed our thinking about literature, myth, pain, cruelty, violence, human rights, tradition, the law, and free speech – to name some of the major avenues that he explores in his essays. And while Asad’s overriding mode is one of cutting, skeptical analysis, the secular changes along the way and becomes something besides an object of critique, and this is Asad’s reparative work: after reading Formations, one begins to think of the secular not only in dialectical opposition to religion, but also through a host of discourses crucial to anthropology, sociology, literature, political theory, and international relations. Tracking the pervasive, negative influence of the secular along so many nonreligious paths of inquiry becomes a positively better way of understanding it. Moreover, because Asad’s argument against secularist assumptions involves a careful, affirming account of, for example, medieval Christian practices of disciplining the body (chapters 2 and 3) or modes of Islamic judicial interpretation that predate those taken up in colonial Egypt (chapter 7), one can catch in Asad’s essays a secular that is more aware of its limitations, more capable of learning from Christian and especially Muslim interlocutors. It is this combination of critique and affirmation that makes Asad’s work so compelling and worth reading. His wide-ranging analysis of the secular as always dependent on a distorted, truncated religion makes Asad a strong, stage-two secularization theorist, but the reparative work that happens in the process of his critique makes him an early player on stage three.10 A different secular emerges from Asad’s work: a secular not locked in resentful, conceptual opposition to religion; a secular that no longer considers itself always equal to reality; a secular aware of its false pretentions to universality; a secular curious about and willing to relearn its own Christian tradition; and a secular curious about and willing to learn from other religious traditions such as Islam.11 Reading Asad carefully and generously this way can help us to not only guard against some of the intellectual dangers of stage-two secularization theory, but also notice and appreciate what other secularization theorists are doing over on the third stage. I suggested earlier that stage two is better than stage one because it explores the interdependence of our notions of religion and secularity rather than assuming they are necessarily at odds. But stage two has its own dead ends. It can be too self-congratulatory in its overcoming of stage-one secularization theory and too easily satisfied in its pursuits, as if all it has to do is point out the flaws of stage one, gather

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evidence of some intriguing religious–secular paradox, multiply examples, and then brush off its hands, analysis complete. Moreover, stage-two theory sometimes sends scholars back with renewed vigor to stage one. The structural similarities in the West between forms of Christian belief and secular forms of economic, political, and social order appear so great that many scholars talk about “Christian secularity” to emphasize the way that contemporary secularity remains rooted in Christian habits of thought and life.12 The Christian or, more particularly, Protestant shape of so much modern secular life has led some artists and scholars to look for models in the West that predate Christianity, such as a paganism thought to be prior to and therefore more potent than its Christian antecedents.13 Similarly, Christian scholars, struck by the insights of stage-two theory, sometimes put their hope in reviving premodern forms of Christianity untainted or untamed by the modern secular present.14 Scholars on all sides may recognize the insights of stage-two theory only to feel themselves more intensely at stage one. But for a good example of emerging stage-three music, we can listen to the debate between William Connolly and Charles Taylor over Taylor’s A Secular Age. The major contribution of that book, I would contend, is not its nuanced history of ideas leading to present-day secularity, or its serene defense of traditional Christian belief – though Taylor does both of those things in A Secular Age.15 More important is the way Taylor discloses various senses of the good that get obscured when we pit the religious against the secular and when we fret about the course of history elevating one over the other. For example, Taylor hints at forms of “fullness” pursued by religious and secular people; he describes their shared social imaginaries – economic, civic, political, social; he describes the ethical appeal of the Immanent Counter Enlightenment and what it has in common with traditional religious belief, the way both chafe against “exclusive humanism” and its “immanent frame.”16 In doing so, Taylor tries to make a way for mutual recognition across the secular–religious divide – this is his normative goal. When he argues that we live in a secular age, the we is crucially plural. It does not include everyone: Taylor has been criticized, rightly so, for not discussing in his book the way Western notions of religion and secularism have always been shaped by encounters with the nonWest. Yet Taylor’s we is plural nonetheless, comprising those Westerners who self-identify as religious and those who self-identify as secular.17 As Taylor explains at the end of an important collection of essays responding to his work, he wrote A Secular Age to show that “it’s

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possible to build friendship across these boundaries based on a real mutual sense, a powerful sense, of what moves the other person” (Taylor, “Afterword” 319). Taylor’s clarity in expressing what moved him to write A Secular Age seems to have been sharpened and inspired by Connolly’s “agonistic respect” for Taylor’s work.18 Connolly agrees in large measure with Taylor’s critique of the modern, secular moral order and the way it closes off vital dimensions of human experience.19 But he disagrees with Taylor about how to get beyond that immanent frame. According to Connolly, Taylor takes the path of “radical transcendence,” looking for ways to reconnect to “a God who creates, informs, governs, or inspires activity in the mundane world while also exceeding the awareness of its participants” (World of Becoming 74). Connolly agrees with Taylor that “there is an outside of immanence,” but for Connolly that outside “does not translate into a divinity” (75). Instead of pursuing “radical transcendence,” Connolly advocates what he calls “mundane transcendence” (74), a horizontal, worldly transcendence that connects a keen sense of the limits of the world as we know it to the activity of persons and things just beyond those limits. Human awareness, according to Connolly, is not entirely passive or active in relation to the world; rather, human awareness is constituted by mutual interactions with a variety of human and nonhuman forces in the world. What interests Connolly especially is the “activity” outside our awareness, how we cannot fully represent that activity or fully explain how it crosses into our awareness (74).

Outside the Edges of Focalization, After the End In pointing to a third-stage secularization theory, I am looking for something more than a skeptical critique of “the secular.”20 I am also looking for something more than another return to religion in literary studies. Much of the literary scholarship currently gathering under the banner of the postsecular follows the stage-two-to-stage-one trajectory that I sketched above: It starts by exposing some aspect of secular dependence on religion and then focuses readerly attention on that religious inheritance, showing how it gets altered or amplified as it is taken up by some literary or cultural practice. Very few works of literary scholarship have tried to focus on the secular itself.21 The third stage that I am describing might offer a way to do that by (1) giving its attention to a secularity not fully explained by its conflict with or similarity to religion; (2) being open to the possibility of friendship across secular–religious lines that produces new insight about

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the world (rather than simply promoting more generous models of religion); and (3) significantly for literary fiction, attending to “mundane transcendence”: that is, to the limits of our perception, to what lies beyond those limits, and to the ways that both – the limits and what lies beyond them – can be changed by their interaction. Connolly’s philosophic attention to the boundaries of human awareness is deeply analogous to the kind of attention that realistic fiction cultivates in its readers. This will seem strange to those who think of fiction as aiming at full representation of reality and total explanation of causes, but most of what we call realistic fiction is after something else – stories that can catch what is in and just beyond our experience of the world. For example, when good fiction writers draw their circles of focalization, when they reflect narration through the lens of a single consciousness, whether it be a character or a narrator, readers see whatever is in focus, of course, but also something of the lens, and, more dimly, something of what is left out of focus, in the shadows, just offstage. What lies beyond the rim of narration is not a transcendent, free-floating religious or supernatural force, but rather more of this world – some aspect of the world or insight for living that we might not have thought possible, looked for, or ever noticed in the periphery without the novel’s assistance. Novel endings provide a similar threshold experience. For example, a reader of David Foster Wallace’s very long novel Infinite Jest asked him, “Is there no ‘ending’ to ‘Infinite Book’ because there couldn’t be? Or did you just get tired of writing it?” Wallace replied: “There is an ending as far as I’m concerned. Certain kind of parallel lines are supposed to start converging in such a way that an “end” can be projected by the reader somewhere beyond the right frame. If no such convergence or projection occurred to you, then the book’s failed for you.”22 Wallace spoke again about the ending of Infinite Jest in an interview, saying, “Plot wise, the book doesn’t come to a resolution. But if the readers perceive it as me giving them the finger, then I haven’t done my job. On the surface it might seem like it just stops. But it’s supposed to stop and then kind of hum and project. Musically and emotionally, it’s a pitch that seemed right.”23 This convergence of “parallel lines . . . somewhere beyond the right frame,” which projects and hums after the narrative stops, illustrates the kind of “mundane transcendence” that Connolly advocates. Third-stage secularization theory, then, as I am describing it, attends to the interactions between what is both inside and beyond the end of a novel as well as what is both inside and outside the rim of focalization.

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A crucial goal of Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel is to show how scenes in which the Bible appears in early canonical fiction disclose a world resonant with third-stage secularization theory – a world different from the one that either stage-one or stage-two theorists might recognize. Historians of the novel have always talked about religion, even if only slightingly. Again, this book would not be breaking any new ground by showing that religion or the Bible is important to the novel after all.24 Nor would this book accomplish much if it just played up the paradoxes of novel reading and Bible reading by, for example, merely showing how the canon of English fiction turns out to be deeply dependent on the authority of the Bible, and yet – wait for it – the Bible manages to persist as an authority by making itself an artifact of English literary culture. Religion is important. These paradoxes abound. But I take the resurgence of interest in religion in literary studies to be an invitation to rethink the secular and to look to eighteenth-century fiction for help. The Bible scenes there show a secular imagination not yet hardened in opposition to religion, a religious imagination not yet turned in resentment against secularism, and each side more than tangled with the other. Eighteenth-century fiction combines registers of experience we ordinarily keep separate in our secular age. In this sense, it discloses a different secularity, close to Taylor’s world where “itineraries” to radical transcendence remain possible (Secular Age 745), and closer still to what Connolly calls a world of becoming.25

Crusoe’s Island as a Secular State The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719), Defoe’s second Crusoe novel, is less often read than his first. It picks up Robinson Crusoe’s story about seven years after his deliverance from the island where he was stranded for nearly three decades. Crusoe is in his early sixties now, financially secure, happily married, with one child and another on the way, but he cannot stop thinking about his other “family” on the island – the quarreling Spaniards, natives, and Englishmen he left behind. He talks about the island ceaselessly, even when doing so worries and irritates his loved ones in London. Crusoe talks so fervently of the island, in fact, that he sometimes imagines himself there, having conversations with the characters introduced in the first book: “I actually suppos’d myself, often-times upon the Spot” (6). He broods most over the three Englishmen, those “reprobate sailors” led by Will Atkins, whom Crusoe thinks of as the island’s main source of political instability. One day, reports of their villainy become “so warm in [his] imagination, and so realiz’d to [him]”

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(6) that he daydreams about putting the men on trial, seeing all three hanged, and so securing the peace of the island. Not surprisingly, Crusoe is troubled by this kind of daydreaming, which he calls the “Power of [his] Imagination” (8) – a phrase full of preRomantic anxiety about the nonrational faculties of the mind but also freighted with questions of power: specifically, the power to decide whether a fellow human being lives or dies. In other words, imagining himself with such power, more than the imagining itself, may be what troubles Crusoe; it is not just his imagined return to the island, but also the calling to be its absolute ruler that Crusoe worries is bred in his bones or, as his wife puts it, “some secret, powerful impulse of Providence” (7). He tries to reason himself out of that impulse by naming it to himself in different ways: desire, natural instinct, imagination, providence. He tries to calm himself with arguments. When all that fails, he moves his family from London to Bedford and diverts himself with the management of their small farm. For a while Crusoe seems close to happiness. But then his wife dies suddenly, a “Blow from unforeseen Providence” (9). He briefly mourns her loss, saying she was “the Stay of all [his] Affairs; the Centre of all [his] Enterprises,” and when she is gone, he says, “the World look’d aukwardly around me” (9). Crusoe does not suffer her loss long before he feels a “deep Relapse” of his “wandring Disposition,” and he gives into it completely (9). To do otherwise, he says, would be “a kind of resisting Providence” (11). He quickly settles his legal affairs, arranges for a kindly old widow to see to the education of his children, and sets out to sea. Crusoe’s plan is to fashion a crude government for his island in the Atlantic, just as he had fashioned dwellings, furniture, and goatskin clothes for himself years before. He brings a group of new settlers skilled in particular trades. He brings tools, supplies, and weapons. He rescues a young French Catholic priest from a burning ship at sea. From another ship, he rescues its last passengers, a young man and a maidservant adrift and starving. When Crusoe arrives on the island with his provision of people and things, he finds the colony better off than he feared and far less in need of him than he imagined. Atkins and his two fellow Englishmen, formerly known for their treachery toward the Spaniards and natives on the island, have recently fought bravely alongside both groups, joining them in war against invading tribes from the mainland nearby, thus earning the Spaniards’ cautious respect and gratitude. The Englishmen also seem to have settled down comfortably with their native wives, whom they abducted during a raid of the mainland. So Crusoe decides, after taking

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counsel from the French priest, that he can best secure the political stability of his island by having Atkins and his men legally married to their spouses. Crusoe forgets his earlier dreams of capital punishment and opts for civil unions instead. Here is where we might begin to notice the story taking shape as an allegory of secularism understood as a political doctrine. Thinking about the politics of Robinson Crusoe is difficult, especially for those of us who are only familiar with the first Crusoe novel and steeped in its reception history as an apolitical castaway story, famously thought to represent “the old order of moral and social relationships . . . shipwrecked, with Robinson Crusoe, by the rising tide of individualism” (Watt 92). But Farther Adventures presents Crusoe as a figure of state who carries overseas the aspirations of English state-building. This is important to keep in mind as we approach other religiously charged scenes, because Crusoe’s fascination with the conversion of Atkins represents not a break but a continuation of his initial preoccupations with statecraft. After considering public executions, toleration of Catholics, and statesanctioned marriages, overseeing the authenticity of Atkins’s religious conversion becomes the last and most fully realized venture in Crusoe’s project of building an island government. The priest agrees to perform marriage ceremonies for the islanders on one condition: each man must promise to instruct his wife in the basic doctrines of Christianity. “Christian Knowledge,” says the priest, in a perhaps accidentally bawdy line, “ought to be propagated by all possible Means, and on all possible Occasions” (90). All possible means? It’s hard to say whether Defoe anticipated his readers’ smiling at the connotations of “propagate” here.26 Whatever the author’s intentions, Crusoe eagerly embraces this idea of conjugal evangelism, and when he tells the three men what they need to do, Atkins is the only one conscience-stricken by the request. Sex is not the problem for Atkins. It’s religious education. How can he teach his wife something that he himself knows nothing about? He agrees to go to her and try. Crusoe and the priest, meanwhile, are so intrigued by the former scoundrel’s sudden humility, by Atkins’s reticence to play missionary to his wife, that they decide to trail him secretly through the woods and watch what happens. They find a place in Crusoe’s “labyrinth” of trees where they can hide and see “Atkins and his tawny Savage Wife sitting under the Shade of a Bush, very eager in Discourse” (98). The stage is set. This scene – with all its muted eroticism, complicated political interests, mixed pleasures of surveillance and voyeurism – works as an allegorical reflection of

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what religion looks like to the state, with Crusoe and the priest occupying the vantage point of a political secularism that arranges and positions itself in relation to the intimate religious conversation between Atkins and his wife. Crusoe leads the priest to a place in the bushes where they can see the couple in serious conversation about religion, but they are too far away to hear them: two or three times we could see him embrace her most passionately; another time we saw him take out his Handkerchief and wipe her Eyes, and then kiss her again with a kind of Transport very unusual; and after several of these Things we see him, on a suddain, jump up again and lend her his Hand to help her up, when immediately, leading her by the Hand a Step or two, they both kneel’d down together. (99)

The repeated reminders that Crusoe and the priest are watching – “we could see him,” “we saw him,” and “we see him” – make sense because they can only see what’s happening, and they see only in part as Atkins and his wife move, kneel, embrace, take one another’s hand – all observed by Crusoe and the priest, like a second couple in the trees, in a kind of flickering, tantalizing surveillance. But the narrator’s repetition also suggests that Crusoe takes as much pleasure in how he sees (hidden, at a distance) as what he sees (the couple in intimate conversation). Here we might also read the scene as an allegory of fiction, with Defoe reflecting on his own experiment with focalization and writing a scene that lets us see his narrative’s vantage point. I don’t think Defoe imagines first a realistic castaway and then asks, What would it be like for that castaway to play the role of governor? I think Defoe works the other way around, asking first what the intimate lives of citizens look like to the state and then inventing a character, Crusoe, who embodies and sees the world from that perspective. Crusoe later pauses to describe the exact moment that Atkins and his wife kneel down together as “this Piece of still Conversation” [italics in original], as if, long before these technologies existed, Crusoe felt the film of his narration hold still and capture this moment like a photograph. This scene, Crusoe says, “I must confess, was the most affecting, and yet the most agreeable that ever I saw in my Life” (99). Confessions of pleasure are rare from Crusoe, and this one is important: it reminds us that Defoe’s fiction cannot yet presume the dominance of the novel as an art form, because it defers to the greater, already established powers of painting and print illustration to portray religious experience.27

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And yet Crusoe finds this moment more superlatively “affecting” and “agreeable” than any visual art. Why? Something about his distance from the couple, the inaudibility of the scene, and the limits of his perception makes new combinations of experience possible. Perhaps erotic possibilities are made “agreeable” by the ultimately religious climax of the couple on their knees. Or perhaps the bare gestures of religious longing are made tolerably “affecting” as variations of erotic touch. It is hard to tell. More than any fullness of perception, it seems that seeing without being seen, and seeing only in part – that is, seeing as a fictional narrator sees – is what gives Crusoe such pleasure. What about the Bible? It does not appear as a physical object quite yet, but hovers nearby as the object of Atkins’s unheard prayer. About eight pages after the passage above, when Atkins is reporting to Crusoe the substance of his conversation with his wife, a note interrupts the dialogue to connect the moving “still” of the couple on their knees with the exact moment when Atkins prayed for a Bible: “N.B. This was the Time when we saw him kneel down, and hold up his Hands” (107). The narrating Crusoe, reflecting back on this scene with Atkins, is impressed by the correspondence between Atkins’s inaudible prayer for a Bible and Crusoe’s feeling so deeply moved by what he saw. Before Crusoe leaves the island for good, he decides to give Atkins a Bible at a final gathering of Atkins, his wife, and some of the new colonists – the very same Bible that Crusoe salvaged from the wreck decades earlier. Crusoe says, “I did not perceive they had any Book among them, tho’ I did not ask, but I put my hand in my pocket, and pulled out my Bible. ‘Here,’ said I to Atkins, ‘I have brought you an assistant that, perhaps, you had not before’” (114). Atkins is thunderstruck by this direct answer to prayer. “Here’s the Book I pray’d for,” Atkins exclaims to his wife. “God has heard us, and sent it.” Overcome by this seemingly divine answer to his prayer, Atkins “fell into such Transports of a passionate Joy” that “Tears [ran] down his Face like a Child that was crying” (114). Insofar as Atkins’s gratitude for God’s provision gets mixed with thanks for the provision of governor Crusoe, the future peace of the colony seems secure. What are we to make of this Bible, which Crusoe pulled casually from his pocket? On the one hand, the Bible seems to be incredibly important: by Defoe’s unusually long setup of this episode, beginning with Crusoe’s initial departure from England and his anxiety about the state of his island; by Crusoe and the priest’s secretly trailing Atkins through the trees; by Atkins’s seen-but-not-heard prayer for a Bible; and by Crusoe’s bestowal of

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the book and Atkins’s tearful response. This presentation of the Bible is the crowning gesture of Crusoe’s return to settle the government of the island and the seal of his authority as governor, passed on to Atkins – proof of the importance of the Bible and religion to state-building. The whole episode shows the Bible gathering around itself powers judiciary, governmental, ecclesiastical, civil, intimate; and, in so doing, Defoe’s fiction gathers these powers, too. But Crusoe’s gesture can also seem like a kind of afterthought, a send-up of the Bible as prop of the state, as a vestigial if ceremonious instrument of political authority. Crusoe explains that another colonist, a young woman not mentioned before, who like Atkins was “very glad” about Crusoe’s gift, already had a Bible among her goods, as did a young man (115). Crusoe is not quite the exceptional benefactor he imagined himself to be in the moment of his giving, and he hints at that in recollection when he says that he “did not ask” to see if the colonists already had “any Book.” Crusoe’s presumption that the colonists need his Bible flecks the whole episode with irony, as do several other elements. Consider, for example, Crusoe’s all too easy appointment of Atkins as governor of the island, as if experience in previous island wars, an authentic conversion story, a legally sanctioned marriage, and possession of a Bible were qualifications enough to rule. Similarly, picture Crusoe’s far from miraculous provision of God’s word, pulled from the pocket of his coat: Crusoe explains the provision of this Bible to Atkins and his wife the same way he explained to himself, in the first novel, that the barley, sprouting from seed accidentally shaken out of a sack of chicken feed, was an at-first-blush miraculous means of provision, which only later was discovered to be “common,” though effectual still (1.115). Such letdowns – from miraculous to ordinary action – carry with them a residual sense of divine providence, as Crusoe is quick to point out (2.114–15). But they also carry a strong dose of irony. So far, I have been pulling at three strands woven through this long account of Crusoe’s return to the island: how the episode works as an allegory of political secularism, how it makes use of the Bible, and how it works as an allegory of Defoe’s procedures as a novelist. If we take the progression of Defoe’s narrative as representative of the progression of Crusoe’s plans for governing, from his first fantasizing about capital punishment to his leaving behind a Bible, we can see how the church is not gradually replaced by or separated from the state; rather, it is mobilized to help it oversee the religious lives of individual citizens.28 Secularism, as a political doctrine, is less about getting rid of religion than managing it more intensely, making it a matter of utmost privacy.

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And if we take the progress of Crusoe’s plans to be an allegory of political secularism, then showing true religious experience to be inexpressibly private is not an early form of statecraft (like public hangings) but rather its most modern. The Bibles that appear in eighteenth-century fiction do different things, and this scene in Farther Adventures provides a helpful, introductory case study for exploring its multivalent connotations. There are in effect three Bibles in this scene. First is an absent Bible, the one that Atkins prays for in secluded conversation with his wife: the Bible as a medium of affectionate, tender correspondence between a person and God, between two people, or within a person and his- or herself. John Bunyan draws on this intimate Bible confidently in Pilgrim’s Progress, especially in the sequel (part two), but Defoe steers clear of it, conspicuously so. His narrators may sometimes feel the effects of that intimate Bible, as when Crusoe was spying on Atkins and his wife, but they feel it indirectly, once removed. This Bible’s speech remains inaudible to them, as if Defoe is acknowledging that he has no ear for such conversation in his fiction, though this does not mean that Defoe is uninterested in the private spiritual fears of his characters. Crusoe, Moll Flanders, Roxana, and the narrator in A Journal of the Plague Year do sometimes fret about their spiritual condition. But we get their fears at a distance, even in the first-person narratives. Arguably, Defoe’s characters seem as distant from their inner lives as Crusoe is from Atkins, separated by a thicket of leaves, close enough to see but not to hear. And yet that absent, intimate Bible is the object around which Defoe’s fiction organizes itself, from which it finds its vantage point, and relative to which it takes its position. Defoe’s fiction finds its bearings, then, by an intimacy that never quite makes it onto the page and by an absence we can only glimpse through the leaves of his narrator’s descriptions of the world. The second Bible, closely related to the first and also absent from the scene, is an ordinary devotional Bible, the Bible that one of the colonists already had with her (115). This is “the Book” that Crusoe, a little embarrassed, says he forgot to ask his islanders whether they had or not (114). Unlike the intimate Bible, where the scripture spoke to readers in extraordinary, often idiosyncratic ways about their particular griefs, joys, fears, or hopes, this Bible of ordinary devotions was more outward facing, more social; it was a Bible of individual moral responsibility, or The Whole Duty of Man, to borrow a title from a popular devotional guide of the period. If it was a Bible bound with a Book of Common Prayer, as many Bibles were in the period, its liturgy and daily schedule of scripture readings would have connected its devotional reader to the life of the church of England. I talk

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about the reading practices associated with this ordinary devotional Bible in some detail in Chapter 5, but here we need only note Crusoe’s forgetfulness as significant, as a clue to what Defoe is up to in his fiction. Just as the intimate Bible seemed to Crusoe to be something he could only feel without hearing, so the devotional Bible seems to be something he only feels judged or corrected by (“I did not think to ask,” 114), without actually reading. Both these Bibles, the intimate and the devotional, are absent to Crusoe, and Defoe carefully draws attention to those absences in his narrative. The third Bible mentioned is the governor’s Bible, or the civil Bible, which Crusoe pulls from his pocket as a benevolent gift of state – the Bible that confers legitimacy on Atkins’s leadership of the colony. Through a sleight of hand, this third Bible, the only one that actually appears as a physical object in the narrative, presents itself as the fulfillment of the other two Bibles. Its appearance enacts the kind of retreat and transfer of religious powers that secularization theory teaches us to look for.29 The governor’s Bible seems to derive its power from Atkins’s earnest prayer and deeply felt religious need; it presents itself as a fulfillment of the religious and sexual possibilities of the earlier scene, and, at the same time, casts the intimate Bible as prior, invisible, inaudible, incapable of representation. The governor’s Bible also appropriates the Bible of ordinary devotions, of individual moral responsibility, as if it were nothing more than the Bible that the colonists already had. Atkins may cry out to God for a book that will teach him how to love his partner, and the colonists may ask for a book that will teach them their duty to one another. What they get from Crusoe is a book of state, the powers of which flow back into the moral and intimate Bibles. And yet the novel’s trick is so obvious that it allows us to see the secular power exemplified in governor Crusoe, in his performance on behalf of the state, as slightly ridiculous in its disheveled care for religion. Defoe’s fiction does not mask the slips, connections, and distortions among these three Bibles; it does not conflate identity, private religion, and state power so much as render them visibly distinct. The governor’s Bible is made to seem at once a miraculous answer to prayer, a book no different from the Bible that the colonists already had, and a somewhat laughable political tool, all at the same time. Remarkably, instead of criticizing this fallible governor’s Bible, Defoe appropriates it as an emblem of his fiction. The narrative moves toward this Bible as the one that Defoe is most interested in representing and as the one most like Defoe’s own novel. At the

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moment Crusoe gives the Bible to Atkins, we can hear the author, Defoe, speaking to readers about his new form of fiction: “Here is an assistant,” he says to us, “that you, perhaps, had not before.” Why take this as a double-voiced line about the Bible for Atkins and about Defoe’s fiction for us as readers? So much of the scene seems to work as metafictional reflection. When Crusoe accepts the priest’s invitation to lead him through his island “labyrinth,” it seems like we as readers are being led through the paths of Defoe’s imagination, including its tangling of religious and political concerns. When Crusoe describes the hiding place that he and the priest occupy as “far harder to see in, than to see out” (98), we seem to be getting a pithy description of the narrative vantage point of Defoe’s realistic fiction: the objects of narration appear with relative clarity – it’s easy to see out – while the mode of narration and its underlying assumptions about the world remain obscure – harder to see in. Also, that easy exchange of words – Book for Bible when Crusoe says he hadn’t noticed whether the colonists had a “Book” among them already – reminds us that the Bible was not thought a wholly separate kind of book, as it often is today, bound in faux leather and pages edged with gold. Rather, the Bible was the index of a common literacy, the book of books, and interactions with it determined interactions with books more generally. Crusoe’s Bible may work then as a type of Defoe’s fiction, the “assistant” that we have “here” in our hands, but it does not give us a new language for intimacy with one another, or teach individual moral responsibility toward one another. Instead, it makes us more aware of the powers that shape our lives in the imagined island communities we now call nation-states. If I am right about this Bible scene, it discloses a secular fiction surprisingly aware of its pretensions to authority and aware that it can only “perhaps” instruct us in our relations to such powers. There is a selfteasing humility about the word perhaps that raises questions about whether the colonists read their Bibles, whether the recipients of Crusoe’s gift don’t already have a guiding book, and whether the Bible or any book can assist them after all. However we read this episode and draw out its implications, it is only one of several Bible scenes in the Crusoe trilogy that show Defoe working out his nascent theory of fiction, a theory that he will not be clearer about, as I argue in Chapter 7, until the very end of his third book in the Crusoe trilogy, The Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe.

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At the Limits of the Secular There is, I have suggested in this chapter, a strong confluence between the eighteenth-century secular and our own. The novels that have come down to us as canonical do contain the secular assumed by stage-one secularization theory – the secular steadily displacing religion. They also contain the secular assumed by stage-two theory – the secular paradoxically dependent on religion. We should not be surprised to find both those seculars in the novels, but I want to look for a more multifaceted secular, one not always locked in enmity with or masking as religion.30 An example of such a secular is the self-teasing political secularism that gathers around the Bible that Crusoe pulls from his pocket in Farther Adventures, a political secularism that Defoe experiments with in fiction. Defoe makes political secularism’s way of seeing the world his narrator’s own, as if to say, this is how an individual life looks to the state, or this is as real as reality gets for individuals living within the frame of a secular state. If Farther Adventures helped its first readers feel what they were getting into as citizens of such a state, it may help today’s readers who are trying to cross that same threshold (though in other directions), who are wondering what it might be like to live and worship (or not worship) outside the confines of secularism, under the sway of different political visions.

*** Why try to rethink the secular as an attentiveness to limits and to what interacts with us beyond those limits? What is in it for scholars who think of themselves as religious? First, if secularism has shaped, in all kinds of ways, what counts as religion or what we mean by religion, it behooves believing scholars to study the secular so that they can better understand why they are defending this one idea of the religious or trying to recover that other aspect of their tradition. A critique of the secular might entail a useful, critical adjustment of their sense of the religious. Second, if faith-minded scholars approached the secular in a more affirming way, they would provide an important corrective to a “god of the gaps” approach to the humanities. It is easier to catch how “god of the gaps” thinking fails in the sciences by too quickly making God the answer to whatever scientific question can’t be figured out (yet). It is harder to catch how this happens in the humanities, where whatever seems to exceed our current capacity for description or elude our disciplinary methods of study is quickly named God, the spiritual, or the religious. Whenever a social, moral, or artistic problem seems too

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difficult to untangle, we preemptively invoke God, a favorite theologian, or a verse from the Bible as the solution. But what if, instead of this condescending, bad faith approach to the world – and here is a third reason for believing scholars should be more interested in the secular than the religious – one thought it possible, expected even, to learn something new or crucially important about one’s faith from those outside it, as the spies at Jericho learn from Rahab (Josh. 2), as David learns from Abigail (1 Sam. 25), and as Jews and the first Christians learn from the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10). This is something that theologian Stanley Hauerwas and secular, radicaldemocracy advocate Romand Coles touch on in their insightful response to Taylor’s Secular Age, specifically in their comments on the parable in Luke 10: “When the legal scholar asks Jesus ‘and who is my neighbor?’ Jesus isn’t just responding: ‘the outsider, too.’ Rather he teaches that Jews and Christians might well often learn the very meaning of the word and practice of neighborliness from the outsider” (357). What is in it for scholars who think of themselves as basically secular or nonreligious? First, they might be surprised at the extent to which their secular commitments are bound by older religious ones. In Chapters 2 (on the postcritical) and 5 (on the devotional uses of the Bible), I examine the extent to which literary “critique” today is secularized devotion, and I explore the potential benefits to both critique and devotion of loosening the ties between them. Second, this open-mindedness might encourage a less anxious, more curious approach to boundaries and limits – whether limits of language, genre, philosophical schemes, even death – and less worry that venturing beyond such limits will make the scholar a follower of some wooly brained version of religion. Instead of always installing barbed wire at those limits to protect against the threat of the supernatural or spiritual, one might begin to explore what is on the other side, what transcends those limits in a mundane, worldly sense. Third, free from an unthinking opposition to religion, scholars might decide to explore literary and cultural phenomena traditionally associated with religion, such as close reading, wonder, joy, devotion, conversion, or the afterlife. They might do so in cooperation with religious studies scholars and theologians, learning from their work while on the way to discovering their own insights as literary scholars. This is something that’s already happening with the “postcritical turn” in literary studies, galvanized by Rita Felski’s Uses of Literature and Limits of Critique, which I will discuss further in Chapter 2.

chapter 2

The Bible, the Novel, and the Veneration of Culture

After contending in the preceding chapter for a better concept of the secular – a secular that traverses the known and unknown world, that is open to but not reducible to theological description, that is neither always locked in enmity toward the religious nor always paradoxically related to the religious – I explain in this chapter why I will not be trying to make that concept any clearer. Both the Bible and prose fiction generate tremendous pressure to read for conceptual clarity: that is, both kinds of writing are often considered authoritative to the degree that they confirm ideas discoverable elsewhere, through a medium other than the Bible or the novels themselves. Put another way, reading the Bible and fiction under the auspices of “realism” typically means reading for confirmation of “the real” that we already know. What would it be like, I wonder, if instead of reading novels as representing conditions already extant and otherwise knowable, we let fiction reconfigure old conditions or even generate new conditions? These novel conditions will be easier to notice in subsequent chapters if I clear some additional conceptual ground here, specifically regarding concepts of culture and realism. I start with a brief summary of the recent postcritical turn in literary studies, addressing in particular the new attention to close or surface reading, which I compare to Hans Frei’s earlier attempt to recover for postliberal theology a return to the literal sense of scripture. Then I compare histories of the English Bible and histories of the English novel in order to show how certain notions of culture prevent us from noticing new kinds of text–context connections. Next, I work out an alternative notion of culture by drawing on Bruno Latour’s Reassembling the Social and a few passages about the Bible from Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative. Finally, I compare the realism of Frei, a theologian, and the realism of Ian Watt, a literary critic, on the way to discussing what scholars stand to gain from recognizing how the fortunes of reading scripture and literature are bound up together. 37

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Critique and Postcritique In her insightful, generative essay “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading” (1997), often cited as starting the recent postcritical turn in literary studies, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick casts as “paranoid” the suspicious, theory-driven reading – so envied and emulated by many academics – in order to hint at a second possibility of “reparative” reading. Sedgwick was moved to write that essay, she says, by her losing faith in the political efficacy of suspicious reading: merely exposing the social injustices at work in a text or in the world no longer seemed sufficient to change them (3–4). Sedgwick also wanted to articulate and affirm the reparative reading practices that she noticed among queer theorists, in particular those who had contributed essays to a special issue of Studies in the Novel she was editing (1–3). What distinguishes Sedgwick’s essay, and why it still deserves praise for opening a new path in literary studies, is her attempt to do more than simply oppose theory. The profession already had a long tradition of writing against theory and of doubling down on suspicion with suspicion. Instead, Sedgwick tries to think through critique to what might be next, to what else we might do as academic readers. Her aim is not to eradicate paranoid reading but to refuse its pretensions to exclusivity, to embrace it on other terms by adding to it, doing more as a critic. It is “a great loss,” she says, “when paranoid inquiry comes to seem entirely coextensive with critical theoretical inquiry, rather than being viewed as one kind of cognitive/affective theoretical practice among other, alternative kinds” (6). Sedgwick contends for a reparative reading beyond the binary inversion or dialectical opposite of critique to one that is “additive and accretive” (27–28); it does not simply come after critique in time, but could be found already operative within or alongside critique. Sedgwick’s thinking through critique this way – as “one kind” of reading practice among many “other, alternative kinds” – has helped provoke an exploration of various precritical, uncritical, and postcritical reading practices and has led the way to a more nuanced, multifaceted account of critique itself.1 Sedgwick’s focus on delineating reading “positions” or “practices” as paranoid or reparative, rather than typing individuals or schools of criticism as such, can prevent us, at the outset, from mistakenly assuming that religious forms of reading scripture, properly practiced, will be reparative whereas secular forms of reading literature will be suspicious and critical. Both scripture and literature have long histories of being read both ways. In his essay “Uncritical Reading,” Michael Warner

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extends Sedgwick’s insights about where we draw the line between practices of reading by showing, in one especially illuminating example, that the same book (a Bible) was read during the same period (the late seventeenth century) using the same method (the discontinuous reading of single verses) in both critical and uncritical ways.2 Warner describes the way Baruch Spinoza links disparately located Bible verses to establish his moral and philosophical principles, often against principles found elsewhere in the Bible. Warner comments, “the agency of interpretation [for Spinoza] is everywhere manifested by movement between passages” (30). But when Mary Rowlandson happens upon one and then another consoling verse in the Bible, “The apparently random movements offered by the codex format are the medium not of critical agency but of providential direction. The chance opening of the pages helps to ensure that her reading will not be an expression of her agency” (31). Warner’s insight about the critical and uncritical aspects of Bible reading is briefly echoed in Rita Felski’s The Limits of Critique, when she gives as a positive example of uncritical reading “the religious believer who pores over a sacred text in a state of reverence and joy” (55, cf. 57, 64). Elsewhere, Felski puts religious reading on the side of critique: summarizing Ian Hunter’s Rethinking the School, Felski says there are “striking parallels between the practice of relentless self-scrutiny that typifies the workings of Protestant conscience in the seventeenth century and the culture of critical self-reflexivity that reigns in present-day humanities departments” (134).3 The same book that calls its readers to a state “of reverence and joy” also calls them to a state of “relentless self-scrutiny.” The line between the critical and uncritical runs within Bible reading traditions, not between religious and secular traditions, and also within historical periods, not between a supposedly less critical seventeenth century and more critical, more enlightened eighteenth century. If every critic, school of criticism, and literary period carries within themselves forms of critical and uncritical reading, and if every literary work, religious and secular, elicits possibilities for both critical and uncritical reading, then it seems fair to say that we have always been postcritical. There may be nothing especially new about the recent postcritical turn in literary studies, but it may have gone unrecognized without critics like Sedgwick, Warner, and Felski helping us see that turn in the first place and begin to explore its variations. One of these variations occurs in the history of biblical interpretation, which has had its own postcritical turn and halting movement back toward the literal or surface sense of scripture.

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Limits of Critique in the History of Biblical Interpretation In The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative (1974), Frei argues that scholars in mideighteenth-century England and early nineteenth-century Germany lost the ability to recognize what he calls the “realistic” or “fact-like” elements of biblical narrative. Instead of looking for meaning in the narratives themselves, instead of staying with the words on the page, passage by passage, critics looked for meaning in two other ways. One was to look behind or beneath the biblical text for its historical referents, so that the Bible became authoritative to the degree it could be proven to square with historical events. When debate about the historicity of scripture became intractable, critics took a second way, which was to look in front of or above the biblical text for its ideal or moral referents, and the Bible became authoritative to the degree that it could be shown to support the philosophical ideas, universal myths, or moral schemes that critics carried into their reading of scripture. Both of these moves away from biblical narrative were fueled by suspicion of traditional modes of interpretation: the historically minded critic tended to rail against allegorical interpretation, while the moral-philosophical critic tended to see in the Bible only the seed or beginning of ideas that would find fruition in the critic’s thought or in the critic’s culture. Frei’s Eclipse is important because it shows how the centuries-long obsession with the ostensive and ideal referents of the Bible created an institutional divide, a disciplinary enmity between biblical studies and theology, with biblical scholars arguing endlessly about the Bible’s exact relationship to its historical context (or so it seems to theologians) and theologians using bits of scripture to adorn whatever ideational or moral schemes they happen to have worked out apart from the antiquated meaning-as-referent Bible (or so it seems to biblical scholars). How might Frei’s work shed light on the history of critique in literary studies? The two targets of Frei’s criticism – reading the Bible for the history buried beneath it and reading for the moral or ideational schemes projected onto it – bear a striking resemblance to the targets of Felski’s criticism in chapter 2 of Limits of Critique, “Digging Down and Standing Back,” where Felski describes two main forms of suspicious, academic reading today: one that “digs down” to find the psychological or socioeconomic causes hidden beneath texts and the other that “stands back” to take notice of the text’s embeddedness in its cultural contexts. Felski does not object to critics’ connecting literature to history, psychology, culture, or politics – not at all. It is the knowing ahead of time what those connections will be, the

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predetermined quality and almost routinized maintenance of those connections that Felski quarrels with, as if, after Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, we already know how the literary text will be displaced by familiar historical forces. After Michel Foucault, we already know how a text will be subject to surrounding cultural contexts. What interests Felski is the possibility that literature has something to teach us about our relationships with one another and the world that we could not have learned otherwise except through a particular work of literature, but critics tend to overlook that possibility when they read because they are already committed to certain underlying causes and all-encompassing contexts. Frei and Felski draw attention to a similar avoidance of texts supposed to be central to their discipline, and both thereby raise important questions about what a postcritical return to those texts might look like.

Prospects for the Literal Sense After Eclipse, Frei continued to defend the idea that biblical narrative exerts a force independent from both its original historical conditions and theologians’ subsequent appropriation. Frei and his Yale colleague George Lindbeck were credited with (and criticized for) charting a new, postliberal direction for theology. Narrative theology, as it was called, became fashionable, and Frei worried that his advocacy for reading the Bible as a “history-like,” “realistic” narrative would become another general theory, another ideational scheme projecting itself onto the text, thereby slighting the narrative agency of the scriptures themselves. Ironically, “narrative” might become a new rallying cry for scholars marching away from or around biblical narrative. To address that concern, Frei wrote an important essay called “The ‘Literal Reading’ of Biblical Narrative in the Christian Tradition: Does It Stretch or Will It Break?”4 Frei’s main concern, as it was throughout his writing, was methodological. He did not offer any “literal” readings of the Bible, just as he did not offer any “narrative” readings of the Gospels in Eclipse. Instead, he set out to argue for a practice of reading and a way of thinking about that practice that would remain “supple” and “modest” (118, 119). Literal reading taken as a practice, Frei contended, would stretch, but literal reading understood as a grand theory would break. After briefly discussing “the primacy of the literal sense” among early Christian interpreters of the Bible, for whom “allegory tended to be in the service of literal interpretation” (121), Frei devotes most of the essay to criticizing modern defenders of the sensus literalis, especially the

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phenomenologists, as represented by Paul Ricoeur, and also the New Critics. What troubles Frei about the phenomenologists, and about Ricoeur in particular, is their using the Bible to illustrate a general theory about, for example, the narrative shape of human consciousness; according to Frei, they pay attention to biblical narrative only insofar as it confirms their general theory (139). Similarly, the New Critics extrapolate from the workings of a few poems a general theory of literature such that all subsequent “close readings” confirm their general theory (141–42). Frei even doubles back on his own theory of realistic narrative, conceding that there may or may not be a class called “realistic narrative,” but to take it as a general category of which the synoptic Gospel narratives and their partial second-order redescription in the doctrine of the Incarnation are a dependent instance is first to put the cart before the horse and then cut the lines and claim that the vehicle is self-propelled. (142–43)

Frei argues that when we read for the literal sense under the banner of a general theory – phenomenological, New Critical, narratological – the literal sense is compromised and made brittle, because it is so often used as evidence to support that larger theory. Frei describes two features of a more supple, open-ended way of reading for the literal sense: First, it should be a “case-specific reading” that “governs, and bends to its own ends whatever general categories it shares – as indeed it has to share – with other kinds of reading” (“Literal” 143). It does not rule out other reading practices or disavow general theories, but it does reverse the usual interpretive hierarchies, bending general theories to the particularities of the textual case at hand. Second, Frei says the literal sense should be determined by “the context of a sociolinguistic community, that is, of the specific religion of which it is a part” (143). The early church is the “sociolinguistic community” responsible for writing, transmitting, and collecting the Christian scriptures; and for Frei, focused as he is on method rather than content, the way that community read the scriptures, more than any particular interpretive conclusion, is what he wants to recover.5 He wants their way of attending to the literal sense to shape the way we read now. Frei’s two emphases – (1) a reading for the literal sense that is governed by the words on the page more than by any general theory, and (2) an attentiveness to how those words have actually been interpreted and put to use by its originating community – “involve lowering our theoretical sights,” he says, “to the level of mere description rather than explanation, to the specific set of texts and the most specific context, rather than to a general class of texts (‘realistic narrative’) and the

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most general context (‘human experience’)” (144). Frei’s vision of a future for the literal sense along the lines of “mere description rather than explanation,” a direction that he thinks would promote Christian and Jewish interpretive collaboration without collapsing differences between the two religions, strikes me as very close to recent work in literary studies that envisions a future for close reading along the lines of “surface reading.”

Prospects for Surface Reading Perhaps the most insightful turn in Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus’s widely cited “Surface Reading” occurs near the end. Early in the essay, they discuss the limits of “symptomatic reading” – that is, the psychoanalytic and Marxist practices of criticism, so vital to literary studies, that are interested primarily in what texts hide, repress, or obscure (3–9). Best and Marcus call for a renewed attention to the surfaces of texts, to “what insists on being looked at rather than what we must train ourselves to see through” (9). They go on to discuss how New Criticism and Formalism have already taught us to look at rather than through texts. Best and Marcus highlight newer criticism focused, for example, on “description” where the “modest” if difficult aim is to “indicate what the text says about itself” (11) or pursue “literal readings that take texts at face value” (12).6 But the surprise occurs when the authors move from differentiating symptomatic- and close-reading practices to joining them, pointing out how both strive for a total freedom. For Marxist and psychoanalytic critics, freedom is achieved by opposing the ideological or pathological forces operating through the text. For New Critics and formalists, freedom is achieved by immersing oneself in the text’s independence from its historical conditions, authorial intentions, and subsequent criticism. Both approaches require vigilance: one always against the text, the other always for it. Both promise freedom: one a freedom from the text, the other a freedom in it. But what if instead of these bids for freedom – and this is the wonderfully insightful moment in the essay – what if we learned, Best and Marcus ask, “to stay close to our objects of study, without citing as our reason for doing so a belief that those objects encapsulate freedom” (15). In other words, what might it look like to read not as an “instrumental means to the end” of individual freedom, whether that freedom is achieved by a self-effacing identification with the text or a self-aggrandizing opposition to it, but simply to draw near to a text, take time with it, give open-ended attention to it?7 To do so would require from us as readers “a paradoxical space of minimal critical agency,” what Best and Marcus call a “nonheroic”

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stance toward the text (17), which is close to Frei’s affirmation of a way of interpreting scripture that is “minimal, reiterative, and formal, so that the very term ‘interpretation’ is already misleadingly high powered” (“Literal” 140). In the end, Best and Marcus anticipate a surface reader less concerned with defending or correcting texts than with learning “to correct for her own critical subjectivity” (17), but correction here has less to do with selferasure than with navigation, with acquiring a capacity for course correction in the process of reading. For literary scholars walking the borders of critique, Frei’s work shows that there is no easy way through in biblical or theological studies, fields which have long faced interpretive problems analogous to those in literary studies. In Chapter 5, I show that one reason why staying with the literal sense has proven so difficult, why it raises such intractable theoretical problems in text-interpretive fields, is that close, low-powered, purposeless attention to texts goes against a long-held devotional commitment to keeping critical distance from the texts that we read. The printed surfaces of eighteenth-century Bible pages and protocols for devotional reading actively discouraged what today we call surface or close reading. They encouraged instead a self-critical distance from and resistance to biblical narrative and made that posture the dominant devotional one. Exploring those older habits of devotion, I hope to show, can help us understand present-day commitments to critique. But for now, in the next few sections of this chapter, I explore how concepts of culture developed by eighteenth-century biblical scholarship influence histories of the novel today, overdetermining the way we think about relationships between literary texts and cultural contexts. Insofar as culture is thought to be the ultimate, originating source of meaning, it prevents us from staying close to and staying with biblical and novelistic narrative; it keeps us from generating insight about connections between those texts and their contexts in the first century, the eighteenth century, and now.

The KJB at 400 No book conjures up the dream of simple and absolute textual authority like the Bible, but its authority has never been simple. It has always been complex, constituted by a variety of textual and extratextual forces. Different schools of rabbinic interpretation, various liturgies of church and synagogue, writings of the church fathers, practices of textual scholarship and translation, technologies of copying and distribution, habits of

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private devotion – all these forces form the ground of biblical authority, the landscape that interpreters of the Bible cultivate and build on. Moreover, biblical authority has never been exclusively religious. Its texts have been so long and so variously incorporated into music, art, architecture, legal history, political reasoning, and literature that to live completely free of its influence in the West would be to live adrift and disconnected from the world. Yet the effect of most writing about the King James (or Authorized) version of the Bible – first published in 1611 and still the most famous English translation, if no longer the most widely read – is not a greater appreciation for how the King James Bible teems with different religious and secular powers. Instead, commemorations of the KJB tend to keep separate in the libraries of our imagination two very different Bibles. One is archaic and religious: an absolute, inviolable, reader-effacing set of commandments. The other is modern and secular: pliable, diffuse, and easily bent to all kinds of social purposes. The secular Bible featured prominently in museum and book celebrations of the KJB’s 400th anniversary in 2011. One such commemoration, “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible,” sponsored by the National Endowment of the Humanities, included three portable copies of an exhibit that travelled to public and university libraries around the United States between September 2011 and July 2013. These exhibits were smartly designed informational panels without artifacts. A stationary exhibit with artifacts was on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, between September 2011 and January 2012. I visited the exhibit in December 2011.8 The exhibit was arranged in a rectangle along the walls of a room near the entrance of the Folger Library, so that the first display case was a few steps away from the last. Next to the first case on John Wycliff and William Tyndale, martyrs in the cause of translating the Bible into English, the second case featured a crowded, visually compelling frontispiece of a 1540 Great Bible.9 The Great Bible was the first legally sanctioned, crown-approved Bible in English, and the frontispiece shows Henry VIII enthroned high in the center, handing the word of God in book form (verbum dei is legible on the cover) to bishops on his right and left. These men, in turn, distribute the Bible to clergy beneath them. Near the bottom left corner of the page, one of these clergymen preaches to a crowd gathered beneath him, his words a long, speech ribbon of the first words of 1 Timothy 2 in Latin, commending prayer for all men, especially those in authority. The crowd, gathered to listen, responds, “vivat rex.” One person speaks the translation in English, “God save the kinge.” Another crowd, on

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the bottom right, seems to represent the same group of people after the sermon, still saying “vivat rex” while they go about their business. Thus, the distribution of the scriptures in English, carefully mediated by the clergy, works both in and out of the church to uphold the authority of the king. From that display, exhibit-goers followed the fortunes of the English Bible to its revision under James I (cases 3–6), its various printings and misprintings (case 7), its function as a family memorial (cases 8–9), its not being translated in any part by Shakespeare (case 10), its eventual export (“Sailing to America,” case 11), and its widening cultural influence thereafter. Case 12 displayed, among other things, a copy of G. F. Handel’s Messiah, a still from Charles Schultz’s Charlie Brown’s Christmas, and Elvis Presley’s KJB on loan from his Graceland estate. The exhibit ended with “The Democracy of Bibles” (case 14), which displayed a slightly tattered collection of individual Bibles in various sizes and covers. This final case looked like what one finds in the Bible section of many bookstores today, a Bible for every target audience: for teen girls, teen boys, college students, women, men, mothers, fathers, athletes, environmentalists, soldiers, and so forth. The there-and-back arrangement of the exhibit, from the crowds at the bottom of Henry VIII’s Great Bible on one side of the room to the personal Bibles in the last case on the other side, suggests the triumph of the Bible as a book of the people – the book of political submission to the king becomes at last the book of individual choice. Viewed more skeptically, however, considering the proximity of the first case to the last, one could argue that the uses of scripture have remained nearly the same for 400 years. Once upon a time, we were subjects of the king; now, of shopping. Like many books and newspaper articles commemorating the anniversary of the KJB, “Manifold Greatness” sought traction with its audience by dispelling the myth that the KJB was inspired by God, at least in any literal way. The exhibit included some embarrassing misprints, like the 1631 Bible printed by Robert Barker that omitted the crucial not from Exodus 20.14: “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Scholars suspect that mistake was an act of sabotage by rival printers to ruin Barker’s reputation (Norton, King James 139). Other KJB anniversary articles and books took special note of the 1717 Bible printed by John Baskett that announced in the headline above Luke 20 the parable of “the Vinegar” instead of “the Vineyard,” exactly the sort of change one might expect from the overly religious – not water to wine but wine to vinegar, the celebratory turned medicinal. Commemorations of the KJB also tried to poke holes in divine inspiration by telling stories

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about the KJB translators, sometimes to emphasize their great learning, sometimes sharing the sordid details of their personal lives, if known, to remind viewers that it was not God so much as God’s admirable and fallible secretaries who wrote the book. Thus, praised for the genius of its translators more than its content or use in worship, subjected to petty printers’ rivalries and misprints, the KJB becomes hard to imagine as the word of God. The KJB gains status as a secular book in part, then, by exposing naive views about divine inspiration. This is easy to do, especially in academic settings where, from the podium or over crackers and cubes of cheese, you can say, “If the King James was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me,” and get a polite laugh. Funny as these gibes against a certain kind of KJB literalism may be, they also perform a sleight of hand. They make an imaginary, straw-stuffed KJB reader the representative of all or most of the religious readers who over the centuries have experienced the Bible as the word of God. They also keep us from recognizing other myths about the KJB that are, well, not quite as funny. Jokes about the KJB as a once-upon -a-time or only-in-rural-America religious book fertilize other myths, such as the idea that the KJB is a sign of the superiority of the English language itself or a product of English culture during its finest age or a masterwork of English literature.10 Few of these myths would convince without being dressed in faint praise of the KJB. Put another way, the bulk of the KJB’s secular reputation would disappear were it not loaded with myths about the greatness of English culture, language, and literature. The secular Bible that seemed so different going into centennial celebrations of the KJB – so much more than its old commandments to obey God, the king, and your parents – turns out on closer inspection to be a vehicle of new imperatives.

The 1760s and the Literature of the Bible as Literature In his two-volume History of the Bible as Literature – a sweeping, richly exampled, and carefully analyzed survey of writing about the Bible from St. Augustine to Frank Kermode – David Norton notes how rare positive comments on the literary merits of the Bible were until the 1760s.11 Before that, commentators tended to praise the Bible for its lack of linguistic and literary sophistication. Its simplicity was taken as evidence of its truthfulness. But in early eighteenth-century England, when thinking about literature meant thinking almost exclusively about poetry, several writers began to describe the simplicity of scripture as sublime, as powerful in its expression and effects on readers, even if it was not precise in its meter or

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careful in rhyme and diction. Citing critical precedents in PseudoLonginus and contemporary French critic Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, English writers defended the Bible as a “sacred classic” better than the classics of Greece and Rome, and in that defense, their understanding of literature began to change.12 The locus of poetic power gradually shifted away from meter and rhyme to what Boileau called “sublime style.” Richard Blackmore’s preface to his Paraphrase on the Book of Job (1700) is an early example of such writing about the Bible’s literary quality, and Norton includes it in his History to show that Blackmore emphasizes the literary power contained in the original, not yet in the English translation (xlii–xliii, qtd. in Norton English Bible, 195). What changes after the 1760s, according to Norton, is that the free-floating poetic power of the Bible gets attached to the stately antiquated prose of the KJB. It is no longer the Bible but the English Bible in particular that is thought to be great literature (or to contain the greatness of literature). Norton does not venture to explain exactly how this happens (nor will I), but he does point out several conjoining factors. During the 1760s, Bishop Robert Lowth began lecturing and writing about Hebrew poetry in the Old Testament, drawing new attention to literary features of the Bible. The 1760s also happen to be the period when Frances Parris at Cambridge and then Benjamin Blayney at Oxford worked on scholarly editions of the KJB. They compared printed texts from the previous 150 years and endeavored to make the punctuation consistent, correct cross-references in the margin, and modernize the spelling (Norton, King James 162–66). Blayney’s 1769 Oxford edition of the KJB became the standard for printed KJBs today, which is why the spelling of a KJB we read online or find in a bookstore is so different than the original KJB printed in 1611.13 The 1760s were also when a number of writers openly criticized the KJB for its archaic prose style and diction. These complaints roused a larger group of defenders who advanced, according to Norton, several lasting myths about the KJB, the first being that it was originally undertaken as a literary translation, remarkable for its mellifluous English prose. In fact, the KJB translators were mainly concerned with keeping word-by-word, formal equivalence to the Hebrew and Greek originals and with preserving as much as they could from prior English translations. Another was that its publication was a major event and the new translation an instant success among the people, but the KJB did not displace the Geneva Bible in popularity until around the time of the Restoration in 1660. Another mischaracterization was that the KJB had become a kind of standard for

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the English language, so woven into the discourse of the common people that a new translation would do irreparable harm to their moral and spiritual lives. Norton points out that it was the uncommon, literary elite who tended to advance this conservative defense of the KJB. Thus, Norton’s careful survey of the fortunes of the Bible as literature draws attention to the 1760s: this is when a few key factors – real advances in understanding the literary features of biblical Hebrew poetry; a scholarly, modernized spelling edition of the text of the KJB; and some wishful thinking about the KJB as a translation – combined to produce the idea of the KJB as a masterpiece of specifically English literature.14 Readers who take the scriptures to be divinely and distinctively inspired will understandably view this development with some skepticism. As literature, the Bible seems less like the “living and active” word of God (Heb 4.12, NRSV) and more like a word preserved in amber – a cultural artifact of the seventeenth century that was first admired as such in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and safely kept under glass in “Bible as literature” classrooms today.15 But readers would also do well to view the notion of literature that gathers around the Bible with some skepticism.16 In “The Loss of the University,” Wendell Berry criticizes teaching the Bible as literature not because he thinks the scriptures should be for believers only, but rather because it furthers an already distant approach to literature as something “to be learned about” and not something “to be learned from” (91). Berry says, “we could not consider teaching the Bible ‘as literature’ if we were not already teaching literature as ‘literature’ – as if we do not care, as if it does not matter, whether or not it is true” (92). Berry’s noticing how our thinking about secular literature coalesces around the Bible, fashioning itself in the process of redefining religious reading, is something Talal Asad notes in the introduction to Formations of the Secular (8–10); it is also what I called (in Chapter 1) an insight of stage-two secularization theory: namely, that the fortunes of secular literature and religious scriptures are always intriguingly entangled.

The Culture of the Cultural Bible In The Enlightenment Bible, historian Jonathan Sheehan shows how scholars in eighteenth-century England and Germany, amid widespread uncertainty about the authority of the Bible as the word of God, reconstituted the authority of the scriptures as a cultural book, one no longer divine but powerful nonetheless as the first chapter of the story of the West (xi, xiv). This happens in three interconnected phases, according to Sheehan: first,

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in eighteenth-century England, writing about the Bible proliferates among translators, literary critics, moralists, and historians; second, in eighteenthand early nineteenth-century Germany, those multiple lines of biblical inquiry coalesce into a unifying notion of culture; third, in the early and middle decades of the nineteenth century, that notion of culture is exported back to England. Sheehan’s argument is not that theology disappears. He is, after all, contending for the enduring importance of scholarly writing about the Bible through and beyond the Enlightenment. He argues only that theology no longer unifies the Bible, no longer provides the terms for its coherence. What Sheehan describes is a phase change in biblical authority, where an older project for unifying the Bible in theological terms gives way to scholarly inquiry along several interconnected lines: Just as political discussion in the period was distributed across a variety of new outlets – newspapers, coffee houses, or what have you – so too was Bible distributed across a variety of genres, scholarly practices, and disciplines. It was not an accident that the Enlightenment Bible had no single center, that it was not an object as much as a project. (91)

While tracking the plural Enlightenment Bible in scholarly writing about philology (chapter 4), morality (chapter 5), aesthetics (chapter 6), and history (chapter 7), Sheehan nowhere claims those areas to be the exclusive outlets of biblical authority, so I take the passage above as an invitation to consider the novel as one of the “variety of genres” through which biblical authority was distributed. One important benefit of Sheehan’s tracking multiple lines of Enlightenment Bible authority is that it allows us to notice certain cracks and fault lines in the resulting culture of the cultural Bible – a culture that might otherwise appear monolithic and smooth in hindsight. He can help us see divisions where we might be prone to assume unity. For example, Sheehan points out that work on moral-pedagogical truth in Germany was increasingly connected to the New Testament, while work on poetry and aesthetics was connected to the Old Testament. “The New got truth, the Old beauty,” Sheehan says. Consequently, “the repeated insistence on the distance between ancient Jew and modern German was thus legitimated by a system in which the Hebrew sublime served to mark the alterity and thus irrelevance of the Hebrews to modern moral reform” (178). Drawing on the work of Susanna Heschel, Sheehan notes in several places how biblical scholarship steadily marginalized Judaism by casting it as an early stage in the progress of culture – an initial step from which the West measures its

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progress or an almost-origin beyond which the West tries to find its more pristine source. Arguably, the progress narrative so essential to old secularization theory starts here, not with secular thinkers doing to Protestant thought what Protestants had done to Catholics but with secular thinkers repeating what the church had long done to Judaism, misrepresenting the Jewish past as prelude to a Christian secular present. Yet for all its flaws and assumptions about progress, the cultural Bible is not an object of critique for Sheehan so much as a cause for tentative praise. He ends his book talking about the changed authority of the Bible as exemplifying the “productive transformation” of religion (260). “If secularization assumes that religion is essentially and formidably stable,” he says, “I have tried to show its malleability in the face of new challenges” (260). Whereas many scholars in thinking about the Bible take simple secularization for granted – once the Bible was important, not so much now – Sheehan, like Norton, shows the enduring importance of the Bible, though it may not be a Bible that many religious readers would recognize as their own.17 Like Sheehan’s work, Deborah Shuger’s The Renaissance Bible points to ways our notions of culture have been deeply formed by old and generally forgotten assumptions about scripture. Shuger focuses on the portrayals of the suffering and crucifixion of Christ in the period to show that “before the Enlightenment the dominant models of subjectivity in the Christian West originate as passion narratives” (8). Shuger also discusses the way biblical scholarship exemplified and fueled “the Renaissance’s scholarly fascination with the material culture of antiquity: the detailed explanations of clothing, pots and pans, burial customs, coinage, table manners, and other such ephemera” (29). In fact, Shuger finds biblical scholarship in the period “oddly parallel to contemporary cultural materialism” (30). Renaissance study and writing about the Bible, in Shuger’s account, seems uncannily similar to New Historicist study and writing about literature today. Few critics have done more to hallow the power of culture in literary studies than Stephen Greenblatt. In “The Word of God in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” for example, Greenblatt shows how Tyndale’s translation work and the technology of mass printing moved social power from the church to the Bible, effectively making the book a talisman of such psychological force that it overwhelms its devotees (111). Tyndale, according to Greenblatt, becomes incapable of intimate self-disclosure in writing because he has been wholly absorbed by the project of translation; he has lost himself in making scripture an absolute authority (113).

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Greenblatt makes this case against Tyndale, I think, to keep himself and his readers from similar kinds of absorption, to keep us wary of any claim to absolute authority, and to cultivate instead a habit of showing power contested, contingent, portable, capable of change. Elsewhere in his work, however, Greenblatt turns to culture not for critique so much as meaningful contact. As Greenblatt and Catherine Gallagher write in chapter 1 of Practicing New Historicism, “We wanted the touch of the real in the way that in an earlier period people wanted the touch of the transcendent” (31). Extrapolating from Gallagher and Greenblatt here to New Historicism more generally, one might say that culture is both the object of criticism and the ultimate source of meaning. And in this doubled, contradictory way, culture recapitulates scripture. Just as biblical texts, despite their great diversity of authors, genres, topics, and historical situations, can be understood by the inspired interpreter to figure and fulfill one another, so too cultural phenomena, no matter how disparate, no matter their chronological sequence, can be associated by the astute critic, who works on the assumption, however unacknowledged, that culture operates like a sacred text. All cultural practices – whether holding elections or raising children, designing buildings or shop-keeping, printing newspapers or policing – can be read in unison by the critic as verses of a single scripture whose logic is everywhere and always the same. Quarreling with or about such a text, as most church-, synagogue-, and mosque-attenders know, only proves one’s devotion. Practicing New Historicists, deft at tracking homologies and navigating paradoxes, would likely relish such associations of scripture and culture.18 Greenblatt’s doubled critique of and affirmation of culture are just what second-stage secularization theory would notice: the retreat of some forms of biblical power (not that absolutist culture of Tyndale) coinciding with a transfer of other biblical powers (but this transcendent-in-theimmanent culture of Shakespeare). A skeptical, stage-two theorist would also wonder whether the “religious” Bible invoked by Greenblatt’s account of Tyndale, and by KJB commemorators more generally, is anything more than the backward projection of his “secular” Bible. Was there ever a sizable population of Bible readers whose faith in God could be broken by typos and knowledge of the translation process or by the slightest awareness of human history and cultural change? Perhaps such readers were not past players on the stage of history so much as the inventions of a subsequent secular criticism that seeks to redefine what counts as religious reading: that is, a secular criticism fashioning the religious readers it needs to understand itself as more humane, more sophisticated.

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As a secular critic, Greenblatt consistently puts the Bible on the side of the forms of power that he writes against, not anywhere (that I have found, at least) on the side of his immanent real. But it could be otherwise: the Bible could be – as I argue in Chapter 6 that it was for Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress – the means by which we criticize the prevailing powers, come to know ourselves, connect to the material world, and achieve an enduring intimacy with others. Put another way, Bunyan finds in biblical discourse what many literary scholars today find in culture. This brief linking of New Historicism and the reception history of the English Bible suggests one crucial afterlife of the KJB: the power that academics attribute to culture. In his book The Idea of Culture, Terry Eagleton helpfully distinguishes three main ways that we have talked about culture in the past, each one potentially relevant to our discussion of the Bible so far. For example, if we think of culture in terms of civilization – that is, culture as the universal, largely unconscious values of a nation or people embedded in their common customs, habits, and ways of life – then we would learn a great deal from Sheehan’s analysis of the “cultural Bible” and its becoming a great book of the West. If we were to explore culture in terms of the high arts or, more specifically, the emergence of literature as a distinct category of imaginative writing, we would learn a great deal from Norton’s History of the Bible as Literature. And if we were to explore culture in terms of minority cultures that suffer at the hands of the dominant civilizational order and find their cultural identity in opposition to that dominant culture, we would learn a great deal from the “passion narratives” that Shuger focuses on in The Renaissance Bible. I am pulling at the connections between the Bible and these various notions of culture – civilizational, artistic, minority – mainly to create some slack, to loosen their hold a bit, so that when we get to reading eighteenth-century fiction we do not associate the Bible too quickly or too exclusively with any one aspect of culture as we already know it, which should make it easier to stay closer to the Bible scenes in the fiction and stay with them longer. Norton’s and Sheehan’s work will help us notice certain threads running out from those scenes to contemporary questions regarding public standards of English, the literary sublime, moral self-reflection, and the progress of history; but the fiction will change the quality of those connections and add new ones: regarding the legal authority of the state and the language of intimacy (Pilgrim’s Progress); fictionality and irony (Robinson Crusoe); religious devotion and suffering (Clarissa); and trauma, shame, and sympathy (Tristram Shandy). Third-stage secularization theory helps us notice such altered and additional connections because it leaves

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the relationship between the Bible and culture open, explorable. We can ask what the Bible might do if it were not tending to the aforementioned variations of English culture, which is also to ask what English culture might be if not the fulfillment of English scripture. Moreover, a plural, desacralized notion of culture will help us to think more critically about histories of the English novel in the next section.

The Secular at the Origins of the English Novel When Watt’s Rise of the Novel was published in 1957, the title presumed that telling the story of eighteenth-century English fiction by Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Henry Fielding was telling the story of the novel everywhere, always. No matter how insightful and readable Watt’s novel-by-novel criticism, no matter how useful the six attributes of “formal realism” he identifies,19 the presumption that one national literary tradition is the progenitor of all others has given Watt’s book a strange, haunting influence. In the sea of novel studies, it floats like a burning wreck that scholars tend to take shots at from a distance, steer around, almost superstitiously avoid.20 Writing about eighteenth-century English fiction today seems to be about everything except origins, rises, and realism, which, I suggest in this section, leaves in the holds of that criticism a secularity that still influences the course of scholarship about the novel more generally – a secularity that we might want to salvage, Crusoe-like, and put to other uses. In other words, without returning to the wreck, without prying open certain scholarly assumptions about secularism, studies of the novel may never find the tools they need to repair their ship, to steer clear of old rise, origins, and realism stories, and to make their way into other channels and seas. Some scholars avoid origin stories altogether by taking a comprehensive approach to fiction; they start their history of realistic representation early, with Genesis (Erich Auerbach), Greek romances (Margaret Anne Doody), or medieval romances (Michael Schmidt), and end late, somewhere in the twentieth century, with novelists who take up formal or thematic strands of earlier fiction. Instead of trying to pin the genre on one particular formal feature or one national literary tradition, these critics range across many texts and periods in order to keep older fiction in the company of recent fiction.21 Even if only a daring few would write (or read) such accounts, most of us familiar with old and new fiction carry some kind of in-process, inchoate version of a comprehensive account in our heads as we read. Open

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a recently published novel with a group of students or friends familiar with older fiction from around the world, and you’ll feel the voices of that older fiction in the room, joining the conversation. Moreover, contemporary fiction, like good theory and criticism, gives us more to look for in early novels, expands our sense of what those older novels might be doing; and while I do not connect today’s fiction to eighteenth-century fiction explicitly anywhere in this book, I have learned from ambitious, comprehensive accounts of the novel to let connections between past and present fiction give me more questions to ask of and more things to look for in that older fiction. Another approach to the novel, besides the comprehensive, is the encyclopedic, where instead of pretending novels are part of one multifaceted conversation, the study of the novel is broken into discrete units. A good example of this approach is the Cambridge History of the English Novel, edited by Robert Caserio and Clement Hawes, which weighs in at 944 pages and includes 54 essays, each on a different topic, from the eighteenth century to the present. The title of the collection carefully qualifies its scope to one national literary tradition, avoiding any claim to stand in for other national traditions. Conspicuously absent are sweeping accounts about the progress or development of the novel. In fact, the Cambridge History seems to be organized anti-teleologically, so that no defining attribute of the novel or particular period of time, no metaphysical or historical telos, can be used to measure how far individual novels approximate an ideal. Once the pursuit of ideal forms is abandoned, possible entries to the encyclopedia seem endless, as varied as the particular things represented in novels, and because novels are in fact about almost everything, scholarship on the novel, in this encyclopedic vein, seems to be about everything, too.22 Taken together, comprehensive and encyclopedic approaches check and balance each other. The encyclopedic can keep the circle of great authors open, keep the lofty discussions of universal themes and transhistorical artistic devices tethered to particular times, places, and features of the world. At the same time, comprehensive accounts can keep the novel from becoming mere evidence for sociological or historical inquiry – that is, from only illustrating what we already knew or could have discovered otherwise about the Bible, the religious, the secular. Comprehensive accounts often do a better job of keeping alive questions about the distinctive ways that fiction connects us to the world. When it comes to writing about the novel in eighteenth-century studies, encyclopedic approaches dominate and do so for a couple reasons.

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Eighteenth-century scholars try to resist the impression of those outside their field that the novel was the main thing happening in the literature of the period. There is still a great deal of writing about fiction in eighteenthcentury studies, but it tends to use fiction for cultural study and avoid questions of origins, which inevitably locate causes and culminations elsewhere, outside the period. There is also a sense that scholarly work on the origins of the novel has been finished, the big questions answered, by two important books: Michael McKeon’s Origins of the English Novel and William Warner’s Licensing Entertainment. What McKeon does supremely well in Origins is analyze the prehistory of the concept of the novel. He shows England grappling with two distinct problems between 1600 and 1740. One is a crisis in epistemology, a widespread disagreement about how to tell the truth in writing. McKeon conceives this crisis dialectically: “romance idealism” is undermined by “naive empiricism,” which is in turn opposed by “extreme skepticism.” The other is a crisis of social categories around the question of how one ought to live. Here McKeon shows “aristocratic ideology” eroded over time by “progressive ideology,” which is in turn opposed by “conservative ideology.” The novel originates, McKeon says – and this is the central claim of his book – in the recognition by fiction writers and readers in the 1740s that the epistemological crisis and the socioethical crisis are deeply analogous. He puts it this way: “This insight – the deep and fruitful analogy between questions of truth and questions of virtue – is the enabling foundation of the novel” (22). McKeon argues that these dialectically constituted crises coalesce into a perceived unity in the work of Richardson and Fielding. Richardson, Fielding, and their readers participate in triple mediation: the novel is poised between progressive and conservative ideology; between “naive empiricism” and “extreme skepticism”; and, most importantly, between the two lines of crises, where novelistic realism emerges to give us the sense that the made-up story we are reading might really happen in the world and that the stories we tell in fiction are deeply analogous to the way we live. After McKeon, we can say, yes, deep social changes affect reading and writing in identifiable ways; and with the benefit of historical hindsight and dialectical analysis, we can discern those changes. We can crack the shell of seeming historical inevitability, break open the apparent simplicity of concepts such as “the novel” and “the middle class.” That is what McKeon’s work does; and without the general, abstract social formations that he discerns, drawing on evidence from so many different works over

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the period, it would be impossible to recognize the contribution and response of individual works and authors. In Licensing Entertainment, Warner begins with a trenchant genealogical essay that shows how once seemingly essential attributes of the novel – moral seriousness, nationalism, and realism – are largely products of later criticism about the novel. In subsequent chapters, comprising the core of his book, Warner argues that eighteenth-century fiction is responsible for licensing entertainment: that is, the novel gives to the print-media market a moral credibility that it did not have prior to the novel. So which is it? Does the novel rise with an emerging middle class, resolving their contradictory questions of truth and virtue, or is the rise of the novel a retrospectively formed illusion, powerful nonetheless, generated by print-media culture? McKeon tracks the origins of the novel in prior social history; Warner attributes origins to later reception history. McKeon’s causes are in the tectonic shifts of class leading up to the 1740s; Warner’s causes emanate from a print-media culture increasingly powerful at immersing readers after the 1740s. In the printed debate between McKeon and Warner (and the formalist Ralph Rader), there is less of a substantial disagreement among them, it seems to me, than a difference in concern.23 McKeon is best on social history before the novel. His approach attributes more agency to social forces, specifically the linked crisis of truth and virtue. Warner is best on criticism of criticism about the novel. His approach attributes more agency to the emerging print-media industry. Rader is best on the formal similarities among novels after Pamela. His approach attributes more agency to formal conventions of the genre. Comparing all three, one might say that the intellectual problems involved in telling the history of the English novel – that is, the changes that occur in English prose fiction during the eighteenth century – have not been resolved so much as displaced by other problems, like the rise of the middle class or the advent of the print-media entertainment industry or the generic similarities of a bounded set of fictional works. We only feel the main question answered – What changed with eighteenth-century fiction? – as we become preoccupied with other questions. But there are other ways to take up prior work on the novel. We might connect it to the three interrelated aspects of narrative representation that Ricoeur describes in Time and Narrative: Mimesis1 has to do with our narrative preunderstandings of the world (McKeon’s main concern), Mimesis2 with the ways we configure those preunderstandings in literary narratives (Rader’s concern), and Mimesis3 with the imaginative and

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practical ways we put those narratives to use and reconfigure our lives in the world (Warner’s concern).24 Instead of searching for (or contending for) a single explanatory cause for the rise of the novel, instead of assuming infinite causes, we could track several active, interrelated forces: sociohistorical (McKeon), print media (Warner), and generic (Rader). By questioning the seemingly inevitable progress of history, I am following McKeon’s lead but adding “secularization” to the list of concepts such as “the novel” and “the middle class” that require dialectical analysis. To the extent that I track seemingly essential attributes of the novel as the back formation of subsequent novel criticism, I am following Warner’s lead while adding secularism to the list of attributes that require genealogical critique. In fact, secularism – in its moral and political forms – might be a good, overarching term for the novelistic realism, moralism, and nationalism that Warner identifies as projections of novel criticism. A sharper critique of secularism would sharpen our critique of those attributes. Moreover, by paying attention to the agency of the book industry, I am again following Warner’s lead while adding the Bible as a licensing force in that industry. Finally, insofar as I attend to questions of form in eighteenth-century fiction, I am following the lead of Rader and others, but I do so by not taking secularity for granted. By looking for ways that fiction appropriates aspects of the Bible, biblical authority, and Bible reading, I hope to further and better describe fiction’s formal innovations.

Culture in the Making The central questions in eighteenth-century studies, perhaps in the profession of literature generally, still seem to be about culture – which is to say, if you are reading a piece of literature and you want to know why the narrative unfolds this way, a character speaks that way, an object appears here, or an event happens there, do not look to the author, to precedents in other literature, or to categories conceived by subsequent critics. Look instead to eighteenth-century culture, the tectonic force beneath all literary works and their criticism. What is happening in fiction is better described, or so it seems, by what is happening in culture. In some ways, this is the fiction’s fault. When critics turn from novels to culture they are looking where fiction points, following fiction’s lead out to the known world or in toward our experience of that world. Likewise, when critics discern contending social forces in a novel, they are again responding to fiction’s capacity for representing numerous, conflicting voices and powers without necessarily valorizing any single one.

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In other ways, preoccupation with culture is the fault of the literary profession. Periodization discourages literary scholars from teaching and writing about fiction outside the domain of their expertise, so instead of connecting fiction across periods, scholars tend to use fiction to explore just one period. Eighteenth-century fiction becomes a diving bell to explore eighteenth-century seas. Moreover, literary studies have for so long imbibed the assumptions of other scholarly fields, such as anthropology and sociology, that we sometimes take it for granted that culture should be our ultimate object of concern. The trouble with New Historicism or cultural studies has not been its tracing of connections between literature and various aspects of culture. Not at all. New Historicism is what taught me to look for connections between the rise of the novel and the eclipse of biblical narrative in the first place. What is problematic, however, is New Historicism’s routine, often exclusive combination of that tracing and a hermeneutics of suspicion, so that the only social energy that critics notice flowing between texts and contexts is the power of the object of their critique, such that every work of art, every social practice becomes a mere conduit of its irresistible force. Only the heroic critic who exposes that power seems capable of standing apart from it, if only fleetingly, in arduous prose. The overwhelming tendency to treat literature as a pretext for cultural critique is starting to change in literary studies, drifting back to older modes of formalism but without, one hopes, that older formalism’s fencing literature off from culture. Felski has been an early, incisive advocate of this change, drawing on Latour’s actor–network theory to raise important questions about method in literary studies.25 Particularly clarifying and useful for me have been Latour’s reflections on how we handle abstract concepts in our intellectual work, how we account for the agency of nonhuman things, and how we trace the connections between the various actors in a network, whether those actors are books themselves, concepts, critics, social practices, authors, or ordinary readers. In telling this story about the Bible and the origins of the English novel, then, and following Felski and Latour, I try to avoid presenting the secular as a great and abstract power toward which all features of the novel must bend. I also avoid trying to take down the secular as hollow and powerless merely because it is constructed and abstract. Instead, I look for ways that fiction treats religion as receding (stage-one theory) and ways that fiction advances a secular intriguingly dependent on the religion it supplants (stage two), but I resist making such seculars the ultimate explanations

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for what is happening in the fiction. I note them mainly to make them one among many connections that fiction makes. What I have been calling a stage-three theory of the secular provides at the outset not a finished concept of the secular so much as a better method, or a way of letting the method go, as much as possible, out in front of any concept that I am trying to prove. By demoting rather than dispatching previous concepts of the secular and by attending carefully to scenes in fiction where the Bible appears as a physical object, I aim to let more connections between the religious and secular be, letting the fiction lead, as much as possible, in making those connections. To put this another way, I will not be reading novels to show how they originate in a cultural force called the secular that I already anticipate to be fascinatingly complex and contradictory. Rather, I follow the connections that fiction makes when the Bible is on the scene, letting those scenes tell me something new about the fiction, and about secularity, that I did not know before.

*** A brief example from Equiano’s Interesting Narrative (1789) illustrates the shift of approach that I am after, from invoking causes to describing attachments. Equiano recounts a time before he learned to read when he would pick up books, hold them to his ear, and wait for them to speak. His contemporaries told of similar encounters (245n68). But, in retrospect, Equiano does more than describe his primitive, superstitious encounter with books. In the middle of his account of his preliterate encounter with the Bible, Equiano inserts a postliterate reflection on his searching the scriptures for proofs of the origins of things. Notice the shift in tense from “had often” to “have often” when he says, I had often seen my master and Dick employed in reading; and I had a great curiosity to talk to the books, as I thought they did; and so to learn how all things had a beginning: for that purpose I have often taken up a book, and have talked to it, and then put my ears to it, when alone, in hopes it would answer me; and I have been very much concerned when I found it remained silent. (68)

Why connect his present, postliterate questions about cosmology – “how all things had a beginning” – to his preliterate desire to hear the book talk? Perhaps Equiano is criticizing the widespread tendency of his day to read the Bible for proofs of origins, whether the origins of the universe, of peoples, or of conflicts.26 Who knows how many times Equiano heard slavery justified by those who said the institution had its beginning in God’s judgment against Cain. Perhaps such readings of the Bible struck

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Equiano as identical in form to his own first, superstitious readings. Equiano could be modeling confession for such readers in this scene, giving them a turn to admit that the Bible is silent when read that way.27 Or perhaps Equiano is simply admitting that he still reads the Bible expecting it to talk to him about origins, his own or the world’s, and he is baffled that it does not. He realizes that he has felt this confusion before, in his earliest experiments with books. So the passage could be a kind of lament rather than a critique, an acknowledgment of unfulfilled expectations. Either way, the Bible as an explanation of origins pulls Equiano into a reflective melancholy, a one-sided conversation, an unproductive silence. But the Bible does not always work on him this way. Later in his autobiography, he describes the Bible as a book that connects him to friends, to better work, and to his past. He writes about Daniel Queen, a former shipmate, who took very great pains to instruct me in many things. He taught me to shave and dress hair a little, and also to read in the Bible, explaining many passages to me, which I did not comprehend. I was wonderfully surprised to see the laws and rules of my country written almost exactly here; a circumstance which I believe tended to impress our manners and customs more deeply on my memory. (92)

Here Equiano’s education in Bible reading is linked to his learning “to shave and dress hair a little,” and that connection leads to others, to something more than an apprenticeship with Queen, who was “like a father” (92) to Equiano. It also leads to a new awareness of the “manners and customs” of his home country in southeastern Nigeria. If the earlier example of reading the Bible as a proof of origins led to silence, then this example of reading the Bible while learning a trade leads to surprises about origins. Insights about beginnings emerge as other kinds of connections are made, when beginnings are not the sole, exclusive focus of study. Leaving aside for now the debate about whether Equiano was in fact born in Africa,28 we could take these two Bible scenes in Interesting Narrative as representing two approaches to studying culture. The first looks for culture or some aspect of culture to be an ultimate explanatory power, to which all our customs and manners, all the different things we do and say, trace their beginning. The second approach is less heroic: culture is not a force that we know ahead of time operating through all things. Rather, insights about culture, including our customs and manners – even those between barbering and Bible reading – emerge as we listen to the connections that literature makes.

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Reassembling “Realism” The causes of the rise of the novel, I have been suggesting, are plural. They include, at least, eighteenth-century English fiction, previous and subsequent English fiction, previous and subsequent non-English fiction, and writing about all of it up to the present day,29 and rethinking secularism promises to rearrange this network of associations for the better. If scholarship struggles to account for the plurality of actors that constitute the novel, it may be because so much scholarship still ascribes to a stage-one theory of secularization locked in rivalry with Christian forms of universalism. Too often, scholarship only counts as legitimate those explanations for the novel’s rise that can rival the deistic creator once believed to have set the world ticking and whirring in the first place. No longer under the spell of such universalism, literary scholars might give up contending for any single explanation of fiction’s new attentiveness to ordinary life, or to what lies beyond that ordinary life, and give instead a more pluralistic account of the novel’s rise. In other words, rethinking the secular promises to help us envision studies of the origins of the novel not as a search for a secular first cause or prime mover, but as a description of the various and variously related actors by which the novel first emerged and by which it sustains itself as a recognizable form today. To give one example of how rethinking the secular can open up new insights about old causes of the novel, and to circle back to the questions that first pulled me into this study, I want to say a few things about realism. We can map the difference between reading the novel for print-media causes and for historical causes to two different kinds of realism. From Watt to McKeon, the emphasis falls on the world-generated aspects of realism, where the real is in the world first (for example, changes in philosophical outlook, in the desires of the reading audience, in social questions about truth and virtue) and then secondarily picked up in the narratives. The richer that uptake, the more complete, the more realistic the fiction. But from Auerbach to Warner, the emphasis falls on the world-generating aspects of realism and the capacity of these fictions to alter readers’ sense of the world. The real is in the narrative and then gets projected out onto the world. These two ways of talking about realism need not be mutually exclusive. We tell world-generated histories of the novel to keep fictions from becoming myopic, isolated islands that nowhere connect to the rest of world. And we tell world-generating stories of fiction to keep

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novels in play with the deeply mediated worlds that we inhabit today, letting novels guide and lead us through the sea of entertainments we find ourselves in. Novels help make that sea. Novels can also make it navigable. When Frei wrote The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, he was lamenting the lost ability to recognize the world-generating aspects of biblical narrative, the capacity of scripture to generate a habitable theological world, whereas Watt was writing about the world-generated aspects of fiction and the capacity of fiction to reflect the world we live in. Watt and Frei were talking about two different kinds of realism, one apparently disappearing at the same time the other was on the rise. The most straightforward explanation of why Frei found realism in eclipse during the eighteenth-century and Watt found it on the rise? They were looking for different things, a real generated by biblical narrative versus a real reflected by fiction – different things that we might now recognize as connected. For example, and this is something we will look at more closely in the next two parts of this book, early eighteenth-century debates about Frei’s meaning-as-referent Bible likely spilled into other channels of thought, became portable and eventually attached themselves to prose fiction, so that Watt detected a kind of mimetic, world-generated representation that began not sui generis with the novel or empiricist philosophy but with early eighteenth-century scholarship about the Bible. This is one way the Bible helped make the novel. At the same time, what Frei considered missing from biblical scholarship – an attentiveness to the world-generating narrative power of scripture – may not have been lost to the past, not simply eclipsed during eighteenth-century debates about the historicity of scripture, but still to come with the novel.30 This is one way the novel helped make the Bible. Rethinking the secularity of eighteenth-century English fiction in the way I have suggested promises several things. First, it encourages more accurate critique: whatever the cultural phenomena laid out on the table, scholars conducting their autopsies will write better reports when secularism is included as a possible cause of death alongside other causes such as moralism, nationalism, and realism. Second, provincializing the “once we were religious, now we are secular” story that structures so much English literary history will help eighteenth-century English fiction rejoin, with fewer pretensions to universality, other literary traditions around the world. Third, it yields a wider array of connections between fiction and the world: forms of prayer, devotion, worship, and matters of theology can all get renewed, open-ended,

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searching attention as being not just vestigial but potentially vital to the art of the novel. Reopening the secular will help us track new lines leading out from text to context – fiction to culture, novel to world – lines that we would not have noticed under the old habits of thinking about the secular in terms of enmity and entanglement.

part ii

Versions of Biblical Authority

chapter 3

Sanctifying Commodity: The English Bible Trade around the Atlantic, 1660–1799

To track the printing and distribution of English Bibles around the Atlantic during the long eighteenth century, let’s begin by noticing how comparatively easy it is to track them in Robinson Crusoe (1719). They first appear in a description of several things brought out of the wreck, “things of less Value,” Robinson Crusoe says, “but not all less useful to me” (105).1 He lists pens, ink, paper, a few parcels from the ship’s crew, several compasses, mathematical instruments, dials, spyglasses, charts, and books of navigation – “all which I huddel’d together, whether I might want them or no” (105). Then he adds: “also I found three very good Bibles which came to me in my Cargo from England, and which I had pack’d up among my things” (105). He mentions next some “Portugueze Books,” which included “two or three Popish Prayer-Books,” and ends his list with “a Dog and two Cats” (105). The Bible is a thing among other things at first appearance, a book among other books, its potential use on the island not immediately obvious. He catalogs the Bible between no-longer necessary tools for guidance and potential sources of comfort, after compasses and navigation books, before a dog and two cats. The three Bibles next appear when Crusoe, sick from eating turtle eggs, searches among his salvaged goods for some tobacco that he hopes to use as medicine. He finds the tobacco and Bibles together and says these are a “Cure, both for Soul and Body” (126). Later, while mentioning Bible reading as one of his “daily Employments” (141), Crusoe says, “I never open’d the Bible, or shut it, but my very Soul within me bless’d God for directing my Friend in England, without any Order of mine, to pack it up among my Goods” (141). Later still he comes to recognize the value of the Bible for instructing Friday (220). After that, though biblical allusions and references continue to be scattered through the narrative, the Bible itself does not resurface until the second volume, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719), when Crusoe gives to Will Atkins and his native wife (we are never told her name) a Bible as a parting gift.2 Somewhat 67

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incredibly, Crusoe’s author makes it the very same Bible that spoke to Crusoe almost 40 years earlier, in his tobacco-induced haze.3 Daniel Defoe’s supplying of narrative detail here allows us to trace the three shipwreck Bibles from London to Lisbon to Crusoe’s plantation in Brazil in 1655, then to the island where he is castaway in 1659, back to London after his rescue in 1686, and finally back to his island again in 1694.4 The circulation of these Bibles in Crusoe – packed beneath a bundle of uncured tobacco leaves, proved an instrument of religious conversion, and then, years later, bestowed on Atkins at the inauguration of his governorship of the island – touches on a number of ways that the Bible was used in the eighteenth century. The Bible was, among other things, a commodity, a charity gift, an instrument of religious devotion, and a prop of the state. I discuss its force as a bearer of state power in Chapter 4 and its devotional uses in Chapter 5. Here I suggest that Defoe was intrigued by how the Bible as a gift of charity endured as such even when bundled among other trade goods or used to ratify the governor’s authority. In Crusoe, the Bible is a surplus good that exceeds its customary uses, a book worth more than its exchange or use value.5 And if what I propose in Chapter 7 is correct – namely, that the Bible reveals the artistic operations and ambitions of the novel where it appears – then Crusoe too aims to be a book worth more than its exchange or use value, even as it travels the circuits of commerce and entangles itself in questions of state. The charity Bible cut a path through channels of trade and politics that Defoe hoped his novels would follow.6 In an essay that helped define the field of book history, “What Is the History of Books?,” Robert Darnton describes the “communications circuit” that connects book compositors, printers, paper suppliers, distributors, shop owners, readers, publishers, and authors (68). What happens at any one point along that circuit relates, Darnton says, to every other point – so, for example, the way a compositor lays out the type for a printed page will determine a reader’s experience of the book, and if that book proves too difficult to read, too badly printed compared to its competitors, poor sales will likely push compositors to change the batch of type they use or the way they assemble it for a page. Moreover, Darnton says, what happens at any one point in the circuit is related to everything else happening at that point. For example, a publisher’s decision to put up the money for one book will be constrained by ongoing investments in other books. Similarly, readers’ experience of one book, regardless of its genre or purpose, will be influenced by their other experiences of reading other books. By studying the interactions between points or “phases” in the

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communications circuit, as well as what is happening at each phase or point, Darnton aims to show how books “do not merely recount history; they make it” (80). Extrapolating from Darnton’s essay to Hans Frei’s Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, we might say that it is not the ostensive referents of what a book says that ultimately determine its meaning; nor is it, as Frei contends, careful attention to the arrangement of words in realistic narrative. Rather, printed narratives and their ostensive referents combine with the whole “communications circuit” of the Bible to determine its meaning. Biblical scholars, often focused exclusively on uncovering original historical contexts, tend to overlook that circuit, with a few notable exceptions.7 Book historians, meanwhile, working like other scholars under the light of secularization, tend to see Bible printing and distribution as “bastions of old regime publishing,” as that which gives way to the book trade as we know it today (Raven, Business 198), or as a special, religious trade mostly separate from the rest of the secular trade.8 Following Darnton’s lead, and drawing together the work of scholars who have focused on various aspects of Bible production in the eighteenth century, this chapter shows how interconnected the Bible trade was with the rest of the book trade, increasingly so during and after the 1740s, when the book business as a whole begins its rapid, steady expansion. Attending to the communications circuit that connected Bibles to other books and commodities may seem profane to some of my readers, or beside the point to scholars preoccupied with scripture’s original historical contexts, or irrelevant to theologians looking for moral truths that float above the historical particularities of the Bible’s transmission and circulation. However, a God who deigns to communicate through writing on stone tablets; then through the multiauthored, edited, translated stories associated with those tablets; then again through the oral deliberations of the Jewish people who first took those stories as scripture – a God who in the Christian Bible relies on the communication skills of unschooled fishermen and the testimony of women disciples and then entrusts the recording and transmission of their stories to papyrus, parchment, codex, and the fallible work of numerous copyists and translators – that God will not balk or worry overmuch at the Bible’s circulation through eighteenth-century culture with other things, or at its accruing new meanings and new associations in the process. Perhaps the lasting influence of the Bible is due not to its isolation from existing communication networks but to its participation, its making and being remade by those networks.

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In this chapter, I give an overview of key changes in the Bible trade from 1660 to 1800 by (1) assembling important secondary sources on the Bible and book trade that have yet to be thought about together; (2) focusing on the career of John Baskett, the royal printer in London from 1710 to 1742, who for a time controlled Bible production at all the presses where it could be legally printed: Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, and London; and (3) tabulating Bibles extant on library shelves today and listed in the English Short-Title Catalog (hereafter ESTC).9 Court records from the almost perpetual lawsuits in which Baskett was involved provide rare evidence about the number of Bibles coming off his press, evidence that can help us use the ESTC data on extant Bibles with more confidence. It bears remembering at the outset of this chapter what the ESTC data can and cannot tell us about the eighteenth-century book trade. It cannot tell us, for example, how many Bibles were printed in a given year: changes in the number of ESTC entries do not correlate to changes in the popularity of the Bible. However, the ESTC data can tell us about shifts in the competitiveness of the English Bible trade, the emergence of the Bible as a nongovernmental book after the 1730s, and shifts in the geographical centers of English Bible production, from Amsterdam and Oxford in the 1680s, to London in the early 1700s, and to Cambridge and Scotland in the 1760s.

The Bible Trade through the 1680s The royal privilege of printing the Bible in England seems to have come with as many problems as profits. Christopher Barker, in 1577, was the first to be given, by royal patent, the exclusive privilege of printing the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, along with government statutes, proclamations, injunctions, and acts of parliament (H. Carter 28; Handover, “Printing,” 73). In 1603, the Stationers’ Company was granted the sole right of printing the Psalms and metrical Psalters in English, in addition to primers and almanacs – the basis of what came to be called the English Stock (Blagden 92ff). Metrical Psalters were so often included in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Bibles that the Stationers’ Company was always indirectly involved in the trade. In 1629, the university press at Cambridge was granted the limited privilege of printing quarto and medium-sized folio Bibles and the singing psalms (McKitterick 1.194–216); the press at Oxford was granted the same privilege in 1636 (H. Carter 29). However, legal privilege did not guarantee immediate profits from

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production, and it would be many years before either university press competed with the King’s Printing House for a substantial share in the Bible trade.10 From the beginning, the gift of the royal printing patent was sold and mortgaged in parcels to numerous partners, creditors, assignees, and inheritors, so that the “monopoly powers” of the royal printer were always “endlessly divided” (Mann 115). In fact, Robert Barker, the king’s printer responsible for the very first editions of the Authorized Version, sank into debt during the 1630s after his reputation was ruined by the printing of what came to be known as the Wicked Bible – the 1631 imprint that omitted the crucial not in the seventh commandment, making adultery obligatory. The same Bible rendered “God’s greatnesse” in one place as “God’s great asse” (Westbrook). The errors were “almost certainly the result of sabotage” by Barker’s enemies in the trade (McKitterick 1.197; cf. Handover, “Wicked Bible”). Barker mortgaged his share in the profits from the king’s printing office to Miles Fletcher in 1634, but he was eventually sent to the King’s Bench prison as a debtor in 1635, where he remained until his death in 1645. All the while, “Robert Barker and the assignees of John Bill” continued to appear on the imprint of the Bible and official government documents (Plomer 368; DMH 194).11 This is not a story often told about Barker, the first printer of the King James Bible, but it serves to show that the name of the king’s printer on the title page of the Bible was often suspended there by an invisible web of creditors. Another factor that made the royal printer’s control of the trade tenuous was the steady stream of English Bibles printed in Holland for shipment to English ports. As early as the 1630s, J. F. Stam was printing quarto editions of the Geneva Bible in Holland sold with the imprint “London by the deputies of Christopher Barker . . . 1599” (McMullin, “Bible Trade” 467). Such Bibles “printed beyond the seas” were sent to London stationers in unbound sheets, where they were then “mingled and bound up with English Bibles” to evade detection (Greg 262). Sometimes they were hidden beneath shipments of blank paper sent from Amsterdam to stationers in London (Greg 291). Customs officers were known to overlook illegal shipments or intercept them for a fee (Greg 307–9). John Canne was printing the Authorized Version in Amsterdam during the 1640s and into the 1660s (Mann 92), and the flow of Dutch English Bibles increased through the interregnum. In his 1659 pamphlet Dangerous Errors in Several Late Printed Bibles to the Great Scandal, and Corruption of Sound and True Religion, William Kilburne reports that “during the time of the late Parliament, great numbers of Bibles in a duodecimo edition were imported

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from Holland in 1656. with this False title, (Imprinted at London by Rob. Barker &c. Anno 1638)” (Kilburne 12). After the Restoration, Dutch imports continued to swell due to the printing work of Joseph Athias, who arrived in Amsterdam in 1661 and sometime afterward began printing massive quantities of the Authorized Version in smaller formats. One extant eighteenmo is the first known stereotype edition of a book (McMullin “Joseph Athias”). Printed from plates – one for each column of text – rather than from type, it bears the imprint “Roger Daniel . . . Cambridge 1648.” In 1673, Athias entered into partnership with Anna Maria Stam and Susanna Schippers, also in Amsterdam, and together they were given privilege by the state to print English Bibles for the next fifteen years (McMullin, “Bible Trade,” 467; Mann 92). “The scale of the post-Restoration English-language Bible trade of Amsterdam was massive,” says Alastair Mann in a richly documented section of his Scottish Book Trade, 1500–1720. “Joseph Athias, one of the most prolific Bible printers of the period, was able to boast in 1688 that he had manufactured over a million English bibles, and this is a believable figure” (92).12 The numbers do seem believable when broken down: if Athias produced 50,000 copies a year during the approximately 20 years that he was in business, and if he was printing the Bible in editions of 4 or 5 different formats, then print runs would be about 10,000 to 12,000 copies per edition. The royal printer in London could only keep his profits afloat by managing the inflow of English Bibles printed in Amsterdam (whether by confiscating them at the dock or cutting deals with English distributors), just as he had to manage his complex network of investors. The balance of power between those involved in the trade – printers with royal privilege in London, Dutch printers, customs officers, booksellers, creditors – fluctuated erratically as different players entered or left their roles in the field of competition, but it seems to have settled somewhat when Oxford University Press entered the trade in the 1680s. Writing to Archbishop William Sancroft in January 1680, John Fell, who was vice-chancellor of Oxford and in charge of the university press, said that Dutch Bibles “to the equal shame and damage of the Nation, supply half this Kingdom, all Scotland, all Ireland, and all our Plantations.”13 Fell was writing in defense of his having just led Oxford into the Bible trade, leasing the university’s privileges to a group of London publishers led by Thomas Guy and Peter Parker. Together these publishers dramatically expanded the printing operations at Oxford and began printing inexpensive, small-format Bibles of sufficient quality to compete with those printed overseas and to overturn the comfortable alliance at home

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between the king’s printer and the Stationers’ Company. By 1683, Fell could boast that whereas “great numbers of Holland Bibles” imported into England once supplied “Scotland, Ireland, and our Plantations,” they were “now mostly furnished” by Bibles from Oxford (Gutch 277). Fell’s claim that Oxford supplanted Holland in the overseas trade finds some support in early extant evidence of the trade between London and the American colonies: the correspondence between Boston merchant and bookseller John Usher, London merchant John Ive, and London bookseller Richard Chiswell, who was described by one of his contemporaries as the “metropolitan bookseller of England, if not of all the world” (Dunton 280). Before 1680, Usher clearly prefers English Bibles bound in Holland and shipped directly to him in Boston. In a July 2, 1675, letter to Ive, Usher objects to being charged for a shipment of “bibles bound in England” that he cannot sell, presumably because they are too expensive. He also objects to charges for another shipment of “bibles you sent me for my Acco. from Holland” because they were sent “to Barbados first. the which act hath so spoiled the bibles, that I haue 1/2 or more of them by me still” (W. Ford 8n2). Usher’s preferences change around 1680. At the end of an invoice from Chiswell to Usher dated October 18, 1680, Chiswell writes, “Bibles are very plenty and of divers sorts and very much cheaper than formerly of the true English prints” (W. Ford 85).14 He cites as the cause of the drop in prices “the late Popish Plott broke out amongst us, which is not two yeares, which shook so great a damp upon all trade.” A 1683 invoice drawn up by Chiswell, included in a shipment that Ive sent to Usher, lists ten “Oxford Bibles 8°Ca Clasps” for 4 shillings each (W. Ford 114). A 1684 list mentions the same octavo Bibles with clasps and bound in calfskin, this time six “Oxon Bibles large 8°Ca Clasps,” still at 4 shillings a piece. This is in the year that Fell says octavo prices had dropped from 6 shillings to 2 shillings and 8 pence (W. Ford 276), which may indicate that Chiswell is marking up his Bibles by 1 shilling and 10 pence when he ships them overseas to Usher. It is important to note that there is no record of Usher’s haggling with Chiswell over the prices or of his asking for Oxford Bibles because of their superior quality. He simply takes what Chiswell has to offer, which suggests that Oxford Bibles had displaced Dutch-printed English Bibles in Chiswell’s channel of distribution. Guy may have been responsible for this shift in supply from Amsterdam to Oxford.15 It seems that up until 1680, the king’s printers and the Stationers’ Company were working with Guy in the resale of Dutch Bibles. It is not clear whether Guy was importing those Bibles himself,

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simply buying the ones that were confiscated by the Stationers’ Company, or both (H. Carter 95; Plomer et al., Dictionary 137). By cooperating with Guy, the official printers could keep the prices of Dutch Bibles high enough for their own locally printed Bibles to turn a profit. This would explain Fell’s contention that before Oxford entered the Bible trade in 1679 – even while the market was flooded with Dutch imports, according to Fell’s own testimony – the king’s printers still had “a monopoly of Bibles, especially in all the most useful and portable volumes, which they sold at very unconscionable rates, whereby the poorer sort in the nation became utterly unfurnished with Bibles” (Gutch 276). It is difficult to reconcile Fell’s claim about high prices with his other claim about the ubiquity of Dutch imports unless perhaps official printers and importerdistributors like Guy were working together. Sometime in 1680, Guy temporarily shifted his allegiance to Fell at Oxford. He agreed to purchase Fell’s surplus of academic books, added four presses to those already at the Sheldonian Theater printing house in Oxford, and began printing Bibles in every format.16 In his History of the Oxford University Press, Harry Carter says the Bible press became “a scion that soon overshadowed the stock, leaving Fell’s learned imprimery far behind in the volume and commercial value of its production, and for two hundred years to come it was to be the dominant part of the university’s business in publishing and printing” (95–96). While Bible production remained a vital part of the university’s publishing business for the next two centuries, it soon lost its strong position in the trade overall. Thus, as shown in Figure 2, the sharp rise in the number of extant Bible editions from the 1680s falls off in the 1690s. In 1691, Guy and Parker lost their contract with Oxford, and a new delegacy of the press leased the Oxford Bible privilege to the Stationers’ Company for £200 per year (H. Carter 105). Usher’s invoices between 1696 and 1699 show him selling Bibles for 5 to 6 shillings each in dozens and half-dozens. The invoices do not identify the city of publication or the format, but if they are octavos, which seems likely, then the price in Bibles had risen back up to the levels that Fell had complained about 20 years earlier. Meanwhile, Guy continued to sell Bibles, managed to augment his fortunes over the next 40 years, and died in 1724 famous for his wealth and frugality, bequeathing £200,000 to the founding of Guy’s Hospital in London (Hervey). This long excursus on the 1680s is important because it shows that although the printer with royal privilege clearly had the legal advantage in the printing and initial distribution of Bibles in England, no single

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player could dominate the trade. On its cover page, the English Bible presents itself as a privileged government book, but in its financing and distribution it is a commodity like any other.

The Bible Trade in the 1720s Baskett began his career in 1690 as a stationer, supplying paper to various government offices (Goulden, “John Baskett”; Gibson). He was successful enough to buy for himself a one-third share in the Newcombe-Hills royal printing patent in 1710, which gave the patentees exclusive rights to print government documents such as parliamentary records, royal proclamations, and government laws, in addition to the privilege of printing the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Baskett expanded his privileges by gaining the right to print Bibles in Scotland in 1711. He then acquired the lease of the Bible privilege at the university press at Oxford in 1712; in that same year, he contracted with the Stationers’ Company to buy from its stock of metrical Psalms, as long as it agreed not to print any Bibles at Cambridge, where it held control of the Bible privilege. Thus, by 1712 Baskett effectively controlled all the legal outlets of Bible production in Great Britain: royal printing in London and Edinburgh, and Bible printing at the university presses in Oxford and Cambridge (Goulden, “John Baskett” 21; Mandelbrote, “John Baskett” 118). From almost the moment Baskett began trying to acquire his monopoly, he became a target of suspicion and complaint by those who worried that so much important publishing should rest in the hands of one person. Defoe, working as a government agent promoting trade between Scotland and England after the 1707 Act of Union, wrote to Robert Harley three times in 1711 asking him to put a stop to Baskett’s attempt to gain control over Bible printing in Scotland.17 A 1712 petition to Parliament, the Case of the poor paper-makers and printers further stated, describes Baskett as “making a monopoly of the greatest and best part of the printing trade in Britain” (qtd. in Goulden, “John Baskett” 21). Yet Baskett never managed to realize the profits that he (and those who envied him) expected he would, because he bought his way into the king’s printing office with enough borrowed money – and so often funded his printing responsibilities by selling off shares of his royal patent – that he was entangled throughout his career with legal wrangling over his debts. Nevertheless, Baskett became master of the Stationers’ Company in 1714 and 1715 (Gibson). Moreover, key publishers in the book and Bible trade testified on Baskett’s behalf in court. In a 1718 appeal case against James Watson, the

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royal printer in Edinburgh, Guy gave expert testimony on Baskett’s side about the price of Bibles since the 1680s, as did Thomas Norris, who was a prominent Bible distributor in London (Watson 7, 23). Thomas Jekyll, a “Surveyor of Paper, and of the Customs paid for Paper,” testified on Baskett’s side (21). Even the well-known bookseller Jacob Tonson gave evidence for Baskett about the importing of English Bibles from Holland (25). Thus, between 1710 and 1718, Baskett seems to have pulled the major players in the book and Bible trade onto his side – but not Watson. Baskett’s rivalry with Watson probably began from the moment the two men became partners in 1711, when they, along with Robert Freebairn, acquired the royal printing privilege in Scotland. Baskett planned to pay the other two men a yearly compensation for not printing the Bible in Scotland, much like his arrangement with the university press at Cambridge. Watson seems to have planned otherwise. By 1713 he had purchased new type and hired six pressmen from Holland (Couper 256; Watson 21). In 1714 he printed a quarto Bible designating himself on the imprint as “One of the Printers to the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty,” and so began his competitive Bible printing operation in Edinburgh. He went on to print octavo editions in 1715 and 1722; duodecimos in 1716, 1719, and 1722; and a folio in 1722. Baskett tried in court to dispute the terms of the original patent with Watson and acquire a new one that excluded him, but Baskett never achieved the legal victory sometimes ascribed to him (Plomer et al., Dictionary 23). On the contrary, Watson’s privileges as one of the king’s printers in Edinburgh were backed by the decision of the Court of Session in December 1716, and again in the final appeal before the House of Lords in February 1718 (Mann 121–22). The 1718 decision by no means resolved the dispute between the two representatives of royal printing in Scotland and England, respectively. It only began the century-long legal quarrel that would be the main subject of John Lee’s Memorial for the Bible Societies in Scotland in 1814. Yet the dispute continued as it did after 1718 precisely because Watson’s legal standing was firmly established. This is the position that Watson himself takes in A Previous View of the Case (1720), the pamphlet that made his case against Baskett public. Watson argues that under the terms of the Act of Union ratified between Scotland and England in 1707, the royal printer in Edinburgh has the same right as the royal printer in London to print and distribute Bibles in Great Britain (31). When Watson published this pamphlet in 1720, he was preparing new folio, octavo, and duodecimo editions of the Bible, and the pamphlet may have been intended to remind adversaries (and

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customers) in London that his Bibles could be purchased without fear of legal retribution. The pamphlet announced that a new competitor had arrived, supported by a decision of the court, and that the people were finally free to buy their Bibles from someone other than Baskett. The steady increase in Bible editions printed without London privilege after the 1720s (Figure 3) suggests that Watson’s legal victory had important ramifications for the trade. Besides the legal challenge from North Britain, Baskett faced opposition closer to home from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).18 Formed in 1698 by members of the Church of England, the SPCK was an organizational pioneer in the distribution of inexpensive, religiously edifying reading materials for the use of its members and “for the use of the poor.” Book catalogs were included in society publications, such as the catalog printed with continuous pagination and signatures at the end of the SPCK’s first history, An Account of the Origin and Designs of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. It was titled “No. IV For the Use of the Poor, Bibles may be Bought at the following Prices” (32).19 There is a separate section for testaments and Psalters and another for Common Prayers with Psalms, which are available in sizes from octavo to twenty-four. The SPCK probably relied on Baskett for the Bibles, prayer books, and Psalms that it offered. Although the society once sponsored a 1722 Dublin octavo edition of the Bible for use in charity schools, it preferred to leave Bible printing to Baskett and, if the numbers of Bibles given away by the organization over the century are any indication, perhaps distribution as well. The SPCK distributed just under 1,000 Bibles per year during the 1720s and 1730s, rising gradually to 5,000 per year in the 1790s (Mandelbrote, “English Bible” 48). The greater contribution of the SPCK is found in the last section of the catalog, where seven pages of religious and devotional books and pamphlets are listed, with prices given for single copies and batches of 100. These pages appeal to the reader as both a recipient and a potential distributor of SPCK charity. This distribution of inexpensive reading materials, together with the SPCK’s advocacy for inexpensive Bibles, creates an association between small-format Bibles and charity to the poor. The Bible monopoly was designed to preserve the integrity of the text in printing and to keep prices low, but, under Baskett, neither was the case. Public anxiety about Baskett’s Bibles – that the paper and type were bad, that the octavo editions were too expensive, that the smaller duodecimos were too difficult to read, that none were carefully corrected at the press – led to a treasury investigation of Baskett’s pricing policies in the early 1720s.

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In 1724 the king issued a royal proclamation that samples of the Bible in its various formats be kept by the office of the Secretary of State, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Bishop of London. These samples would serve as standards by which to measure the quality of subsequent printing. The king also directed Baskett to print the price of each Bible on the title page, in order to determine whether Baskett or the booksellers were to blame for the perceived rise in Bible costs.20 The proclamation is probably best understood as a defense of Baskett against his critics. The keeping of exemplary copies of the Bible by high officials in state and church was intended to alleviate fears about the quality of the Bible as well as shore up the strong ties between the English Bible and its proper institutional guardians: the church, the king, and their privileged printer. The proclamation also probably helped defray some of the publicity costs associated with printing and selling the Bible, shifting some of the responsibility from Baskett to church and government officials and to the booksellers. Yet the proclamation may have ruined Baskett’s business nonetheless because it fixed the price at which his distributors could resell his Bibles. Finding it harder to cover their costs, especially on small-format Bibles, distributors of Baskett’s Bibles may have begun to buy them in lesser quantities. Whatever the cause, Baskett was slipping irreversibly toward bankruptcy. Baskett’s creditors were kept satisfied until about 1718 (Goulden, “John Baskett” 22). In that year, Baskett began borrowing money from John Eyre, who is described as a London grocer and Baskett’s kinsman in the court records. In December of 1723, Baskett signed an indenture stating that he owed Eyre almost £25,000. In 1724, Baskett sold the reversion of his share in the king’s printing office to Eyre for £10,000. (His descendant, Charles Eyre, took over the patent in 1770.) When Baskett sued Eyre in 1726 for misrepresenting the amount of money owed to him, Eyre responded with a series of lawsuits that laid claim to Baskett’s diverse but already shrinking assets. Baskett declared bankruptcy in 1728, and he was not discharged from bankruptcy until eight years later, in 1736, at which time he resumed his grant-infringement lawsuits, “though not with great vigour” (Goulden, Some Chancery Lawsuits 3). On the night of January 13, 1738, when Baskett was finally close to paying off his creditors, his printing house in Blackfriars went up in flames. He was able to stay in business, partly because of his fire insurance and the presses loaned to him by other printers, but primarily

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because of the king’s acceptance in November 1738 of Baskett’s petition to supply Parliament with stationery wares for 40 years. Basket had begun his career in the Bible trade as a paper supplier, and it ended that way. He died at Blackfriars, London, on June 22, 1742, leaving his print shop to his son Thomas Baskett (bap. 1701, d. 1761), careful instructions about keeping the remaining patents in the family, and legacies totaling £5,000 to relatives and employees in his printing house.21

Reading the Catalog Data So far, we have seen the Bible’s important role in establishing Oxford University Press in the 1680s. The Bible also becomes a tightly controlled government publication during the 1710s, which will be important to remember in Chapter 4 on the legal or forensic authority of scripture. And in the 1720s, there is more public scrutiny of Bible prices and concern about making the Bible available to the poor. These associations – the Bible as backbone of scholarly printing, prop of the state, and object of charity – are not confined to those decades. They are cumulative, beginning well before and extending further into the eighteenth century. It is reasonable to assume that Bible production rose over the course of the eighteenth century along with the trade in books more generally. We could plot a line, for example, between Athias’s claim to be printing 50,000 English Bibles per year in Amsterdam around 1680 (Mann 92) and the British Bible Society’s purchase of more than 243,000 Bibles in 1830 (Howsam 113). The number of Bibles in circulation obviously increased between 1680 and 1830, but what happened during these 150 years? What can we learn about the Bible trade by quantifying extant editions held in libraries around the world today? Compared to the piecework of stitching together scraps of historical evidence regarding the Bible trade, analyzing the various catalogs that list extant English Bibles held in libraries around Great Britain and the United States seems to offer a more comprehensive and easily accessible view of the past, but the catalogs need to be used with caution.22 Older printed catalogs such as D. G. Wing’s short-title catalog (hereafter Wing), which was based on A. W. Pollard and G. R. Redgrave’s short-title catalog (hereafter STC), differ in their criteria for distinguishing separate Bible entries, and each of these differs from the catalog devoted specifically to extant Bibles – A. S. Herbert’s Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the

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English Bible (DMH).23 Now that all three of these catalogs have been succeeded by the electronically accessible ESTC, it seems one need only extract the Bible data from the ESTC, chart the changes in the number of editions of the Bible over time, and then estimate changes in the level of Bible production or consumer demand. If there are more extant editions of the Bible from the 1640s than the 1710s, why not conclude that the Bible was becoming less popular and England more secular?24 There are numerous problems with this approach to the catalogs. First, it is impossible to tell from any single extant Bible how many copies were actually printed. Print runs may have ranged from 3,000 to 12,000 to 20,000 copies (Sparke; Haig 156; McKitterick 1.184). Second, catalog data often reflects the priorities of later collectors and libraries rather than Bible readers in the eighteenth century. The British and Foreign Bible Society library, for example, founded in London in 1804 and now held in the Cambridge University library, contains the largest collection of English Bibles in the world.25 The Bible Society established its collection as the largest in the world by acquiring Francis Fry’s 1,200-volume collection of Bibles in 1890 (DMH x). A note in DMH mentions that “Fry possessed more than twenty octavo copies of 1630, 1631, and 1631” (160). Fry seems to have made it a point to collect Bibles from those years – where there appeared to be a mixing of sheets from different printings – but Fry’s particular interest in Bibles from the 1630s is not accounted for in estimates of the Bible’s influence during that period (I. Green 52, 57). In other words, the peak in extant Bibles from the 1630s may not mean that the scriptures played an outsized role in precipitating the English Civil War; it may only correlate to Fry’s later collecting habits. Similarly, the relatively high number of quarto Bibles cataloged in the ESTC, as we will look at below, may have less to do with their popularity or contemporary influence than the fact that they were often used to record family births, marriages, and deaths. In other words, higher numbers of quarto Bibles in the ESTC does not mean they were more popular than other kinds of Bibles at the time of their printing; it just means they were more important as corroborating evidence to later historians. I do not raise these issues to undermine the historical significance of the ESTC records. They do tell us truth about the past, but unless the histories of those collections – as well as the histories of the trade itself – are accounted for in our analysis, the data will remain too pliable, too easily bent to what we already think we know.26

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John Baskett v. Sarah Williams We can get a clearer sense of how accurately the ESTC data represents what was being printed at the time by examining the records of one of Baskett’s lawsuits. Sarah Williams was in charge of gathering and stitching printed sheets of paper as they came off the press at the king’s printing office – government publications as well as Bibles and Books of Common Prayer. After a dispute between her and Baskett, her employer, about how much she was owed for her work, she hid Baskett’s accounting books until he agreed to pay. Baskett refused and filed a Chancery lawsuit against her in 1724.27 Among the documents of this lawsuit is a “schedule” of all the books that Williams gathered for Baskett from 1718 through 1723. Organized roughly by year, with separate accounts for government printing and religious printing, each account lists the total number of books, the title of the book, the number of sheets in the book, and the total price for stitching or gathering. A transcription of a portion of the accounts can be seen in Figure 1. Account of Books Gathered betwixt Dec. 24

18000 2000 4500 2000 5000 5500 5000 10000 10000 4000 5000 5000 5000 9000 7500 10000 10000

1719 & Dec. 24. 1720 –

[shts.]

[£]

[s]

[p]

Com. pr Brev 12° Books of Rates Services to the L. Prim 4to. Bible Books of Rates 2d. Gathering Bibles Nonpl. 12° Bibles L. pri 4to. Com. prs Nonpl. 24° Bibles Min. 8° Testaments. Min. 8° Indices to the L. pri 4to. Bible Bibles Nonpl. 12° Services perle Large 12° Com. prs Nonpl. 24° Com. prs pica 8° Com. prs Min. 12° Bibles Min. 12° Testaments. Min. 12°

14 34 17 26 37 6 11 22 15 5 37 5 11 26 13 15 11

2 – – – 1 – – 1 1 – 1 – – 1 – 1 –

2 11 12 8 10 5 9 16 5 3 10 4 9 19 16 5 18

– 4 9 8 10 6 2 8 – 4 10 2 2 – 3 – 4

Figure 1 Sample entry transcribed from “Account of books gathered” in Baskett v. Williams Source: National Archive C 11/2011/9

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Altogether, the accounts appear to be a complete list of everything Baskett printed during the six-year span of 1718–23.28 Documents like this, with reports about the exact number of sheets in a given book and the number of copies coming off the press, are extremely rare for the eighteenth-century book trade.29 When comparing the titles and number of sheets given in the legal documents to the titles and collations given in the ESTC, the government documents match almost exactly. What light do the Williams lawsuit records cast on the ESTC data for Bibles? First, they show that the cataloging procedures of the printers are not quite the same as the librarians’.30 ESTC entries tend to combine complete Bibles of the same size printed in the same year by the same publisher, even if there are recognizable differences in type, while the Williams records also distinguish between the type used in printing (for example, Nonpl for nonpareil and Min for minion). Second, and more significantly, Table 3.1 shows that small Bibles are grossly underrepresented in the ESTC. The twenty-fours are missing altogether, and the twelves, which came off the press in massive quantities – almost 20,000 per year over the six-year span – barely register at all. Third, we cannot extrapolate from extant copies on library shelves to historical print runs: that is, we cannot gauge the quantity of books produced from the quantity that remain. In fact, the correlation may run the other way: the fewer copies produced (in folio or quarto), the more likely they are to be found on library shelves today; whereas the more copies produced (in duodecimo), and the more common, the less likely they are to be in our libraries.

Reading the ESTC Data In the analysis section that follows the presentation of the data below, I will assume relative stability from 1660 to 1799 in the practice of mixing sheets, in the size of the print run, and in the survival rate of extant editions, but I will avoid speculating about the relative popularity of the Bible or consumer demand. It seems far more reasonable, as I suggested earlier, to presume that the popularity of the Bible corresponds to the popularity of books more generally – that changes in the size of the Bible trade follow changes in the book trade. Figure 2 compares the total number of ESTC entries per decade (in thousands) with the number of Bible entries. The correlation between the Bible trade and the book trade generally is striking. The sharp increase in the number of cataloged Bible editions (in the 1680s and 1760s) coincides

Table 3.1 Complete Bibles printed by John Baskett between 1718 and 1723 compared to extant Bibles listed in the ESTC 1718 Bible format 2° 4° 8° 12° 24° Total

extant copies

9 3

1719 printed copies

1720

extant copies

printed copies

9

9,500

1 0

21,250 5,000 35,750

16,000 27,500 43,500

Sources: ESTC and PRO C 11/2011/9.

extant copies

2 1

1721

printed copies

10,000 20,000 30,000

extant copies

1

1722 printed copies

6,250 6,250

extant copies

3

1723

printed copies

20,000 20,000

extant copies

printed copies

18 19

3,500 9,600

0

17,500 30,600

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90 Total number of Bible entries listed in ESTC

80

Bible entries (number)

Total ESTC entries (in thousands)

70

80

60 50

60 40 40

30

ESTC entries (thousands)

100

20 20 10

s

s

90 17

s

80 17

s

70 17

s

60 17

s

50 17

s

40 17

s

30 17

s

20 17

s

10 17

s

00 17

s

90 16

80 16

70

60

16

16

s

0 s

0

Figure 2 The total number of ESTC entries compared to the number of Bible entries in the ESTC, by decade, 1660–1799 Source: Appendix 4.

with increases in the number of entries overall. This cursory, visual comparison cannot show the exact nature of the relationship between Bible printing and the overall book trade, but it does suggest that such a correlation exists and, at the least, shows that the Bible trade did not lag behind the rest of the trade in books. Figure 3 shows the number of ESTC entries for complete editions of the English Bible, Authorized Version, printed between 1660 and 1799. Based on the ESTC data gathered in Appendix 4, the top line of Figure 3 represents the total number of entries for the period. The two lines below plot separately the Bibles printed with royal privilege in London and those printed without such privilege (see note to Appendix 4). Plateaus in the trade are largely the result of royal printer control, whereas peaks are the result of activity by other Bible printers. The long plateau that ends in the 1740s corresponds to Baskett’s career. The sharp peak in the 1680s corresponds to Oxford University Press’s strong initial entry into the trade. The sharpest increase over the whole period occurs in the 1760s, due mostly to printers working without London royal privilege. By 1770, Bible editions printed with London privilege were fading into insignificance.

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100

80

60

Bible entries

40

Bibles printed with London privilege

20

Bibles not printed with London privilege

s 30 s 17 40 s 17 50 s 17 60 s 17 70 s 17 80 s 17 90 s 17

s

20

17

s

10

17

s

00

17

s

90

16

s

80

16

70

16

16

60

s

0

Figure 3 The number of ESTC entries for complete Bibles in English, Authorized Version, 1660–1799, with separate lines for Bibles printed with royal privilege in London and for Bibles not printed with royal privilege in London Source: Appendix 4.

The data in Figure 3 point to the 1720s as the low point in Bible printing not associated with royal privilege in London; but for Bible editions printed without London privilege, the 1720s also mark the beginning of rapid growth through the rest of the century. Again, the rise in catalog entries does not necessarily correspond to a rise in the number of Bibles coming off the press, but it does correspond to a rise in the number of Bible printers involved in the trade: the earlier comparison between Baskett’s printing inventory and ESTC records suggests that the number of extant editions correlates more closely to number of printers in the market rather than the quantity of Bibles in circulation. What this growth in production suggests is that up until the 1740s, the Bible was primarily a government book – that is, its printing was controlled by government privilege – but after the 1740s, it becomes a nongovernmental book, increasingly caught up in the larger book trade. Table 3.2 lists by city the ESTC entries for Bibles printed without London royal privilege between 1660 and 1799. Comparing the subtotal for the years 1730–99 with the total number of entries for that same period (see Appendix 4), we can see that Bible printing without London privilege

Table 3.2 Extant editions of the Bible listed in the ESTC not printed with royal privilege in London Amsterdam

Cambridge

1660s 1670s 1680s 1690s 1700s 1710s 1720s

6 4 2 0 2 1 0

11 5 9 0 0 0 0

0 0 0 0 0 2 1

0 3 0 6 4 12 12

1660–1729

15

25

3

1730s 1740s 1750s 1760s 1770s 1780s 1790s

4 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 2 4 17 6 11 15

1730–1799

4 19

Total

Dublin

Edinburgh

London

Oxford

Other*

0 0 0 1 0 0 0

0 5 36 6 9 9 20

0 0 0 0 0 0 0

37

1

85

0

1 7 6 3 0 3 4

6 5 12 11 13 13 17

0 1 1 2 8 7 17

13 10 13 14 15 19 15

0 1 2 3 7 13 32

55

24

77

36

99

58

80

27

114

37

184

58

Source: Appendix 5. Other cities include Bath, Belfast, Berwick, Birmingham, Carlisle, Carmarthen, Glasgow, Leipzig, New York, Newcastle upon Tyne, Philadelphia, Trenton, and Worcester (Mass). *

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accounts for 353 out of the 406 extant editions from the period after 1730 (87 percent), up from 166 out of 322 (52 percent) in the period before 1730. Table 3.2 also shows that Oxford and Edinburgh are the only major competitors to the royal printer in London before 1730, but as Baskett loses his grip on the trade, other legally privileged printers are the first to take up the slack: George Grierson in Dublin in the 1740s, Alexander Kincaid in Edinburgh in the 1750s, Cambridge in the 1760s, and Oxford in the 1770s. Bible printing without royal privilege gets off the ground in London during the 1760s. Provincial printing, listed as Other in Table 3.2, takes off first in the 1770s, and it produces more editions than any other location during the 1790s. To summarize, what the ESTC data show, more than fluctuations in the number of Bibles produced, are shifts in the number of publishers involved in the Bible trade. Often, new publishers would signal their entry into the trade with a folio or quarto Bible, an edition likely to survive and be noticed by subsequent catalogers. In short, the ESTC Bible data show (1) a rough correlation to the book trade in general and (2) fluctuations in the competitiveness of the Bible trade more specifically: the long plateau through the 1740s represents Baskett’s monopoly, while the peaks before and afterward show more players involved in the trade.

The 1730s Bible Trade in the Provinces and Colonies Baskett’s slide into bankruptcy during the 1720s does not seem to have slowed the Bible trade during the 1730s or afterward. Bibles took the lead in provincial booksellers’ advertisements and were often sold alongside other commodities. In his study of the provincial book trade in England, John Feather notes that typical book advertisements in the middle of the century consistently lead with the Bible: “In 1730, Thomas Hammond of York (Plate 3) sold, ‘Bibles, Prayer-Books, School-Books, Histories, Law, Physick-Books, and other of various Sorts’”; around the same time, Thomas Payne of Wrexham “Sells Books in all Faculties, Bibles, Common Prayer books”; and a handbill from John Hogben of Rye, Sussex, in business from 1735, begins, “All Sorts of Bibles, and Common Prayers, Books of Divinity, History, and all other Books, both Ancient and Modern” (Feather 74–75). The evidence leads Feather to conclude, “In the middle years of the century, there is a degree of uniformity in booksellers’ advertisements which suggests a certain standardisation of stocks. . . . Bibles and Prayer Books were the one class of literature which could be guaranteed a place on the shelves of any country bookshop” (74, 75).

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Interestingly, this standardization of book stocks was part of an increase of general merchandising in the typical provincial bookshops. “All of them sold stationery,” Feather says, most of them sold patent medicines, a significant number sold insurance, and many leading booksellers and stationers were also Stamp Distributors. . . . [T]he bookshop of a small country town was full of paper and bottles and packets of tea, sharing the shelves with Bibles, Prayer Books, chapbooks, school books, and a couple of hundred other volumes, some of them for loan rather than sale. (87)

One can find a similar mingling of Bibles and everyday commodities in the bookshops of provinces overseas – the British colonies in America. Thomas Hancock’s business may serve as an example. Hancock opened his Boston bookshop in 1724 with the help of his father-in-law, Daniel Henchman, whose prominence as a bookseller and publisher was dependent on his success as a general merchant. Without bankers to mediate payments and moderate currency exchange between London and Boston, Hancock, like any other businessman in the eighteenth century, had to be his own importer, exporter, and exchange broker, using “commodity money” to secure books from London in lieu of currency. Merchants in the tobacco colonies could arrange for a two-way flow of goods with London, using tobacco as a simple substitute for cash; but for merchants like Hancock in the northern colonies, the trade was more complex. Hancock peddled what he could get in Boston all over the North Atlantic, using beef, pork, molasses, lumber, and fish to establish a triangular trade with London. He sent supplies to fisherman and whalers in Newfoundland, who then sent whale products to Hancock’s contact in London, Francis Wilks, who in turn sent English manufactures to Hancock in Boston (Baxter, House of Hancock 48–52). When London could not answer for all the fish sent, shipments were sent to Portugal and Spain, where fish could be bought in sterling and remittances sent back to Wilks in London. Sometimes the sterling was exchanged for wine from Madeira, which was sent from Portugal to Hancock in Boston. Thus, the effort to pay for London books carried Hancock into a complex trade around the Atlantic, establishing business connections with merchants in France, Portugal, Spain, and Surinam, and eventually making him a ship owner who could control his own traffic between ports. Even as Hancock’s business grew from bookselling and publishing to include general importing and exporting, the Bible remained a staple commodity. We can glean something of the Bible’s lasting importance to

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Hancock’s business by comparing two of his advertisements. One is from a 1727 ad: Thomas Hancock. Bookseller. At the Bible & Three Crowns in Drawbridge Street near the Town Dock Boston. Sells Bibles large and small, Testaments, Psalters, Psalm Books with tunes or without, Singing-books, School-books, with Books in Divinity, Philosophy, History, Navigation, Physics, Mathematics, Poetry, etc. Also Pressing Cartridge and Writing paper, Books for Accounts or Records, Ink, Quills, Sealing-wax, Inkhorns, Spectacles, letter-cases, with other Stationery wares, and all sorts of Cutlery ware at the lowest prices, by Wholesale or Retail. Books are also rebound.31

Hancock’s bookselling and stationery business of the 1720s remained operative in the 1730s, but it is squeezed into the last line in this 1736 ad in the Boston News Letter: Just imported, and sold by Thomas Hancock. Best Russia Duck, choice 3/ 4th, 7/8th and Yard wide Garlix, fin Oznabrigs and middle ditto, Callicoes of two and three Colours, blew and white ditto, purple and white Chints, Muslines, Cotton and Lungree Romals, Sooses, black & white and mourning Crapes, Cheloes, Buckram, Pistol-Lawns, Threds, Tapes, black, blew, green and red Taffeties, fine India Damasks, belladine sewing Silk, lowprized Fans, ferrets, Girdles and sundry other sorts of Haberdashery, Likewise silk Shoes, Mens and Womens Hose, Bohea and Green Tea, best Velvet Corks, large Bibles, Paper, and most sorts of Stationary [sic] and Cutlary Ware.32

The “large Bibles,” which probably stand for Hancock’s entire stock of books, are associated in the advertisement with a whole range of import commodities, mixed in with the duck, tea, hose, and cutlery. Hancock may have capitalized on Baskett’s decline by partnering with his father in-law, Henchman, in an illegal printing of a quarto Bible in Boston in 1731. Among the Henchman papers is an August 1731 bill from Kneeland and Green that says, “To printing your part of a Book, Intitled, The &c.”33 Amory makes the case that the bill refers to a printing of the Bible: A note in another hand (Henchman’s?) at the foot of the page explains that the total cost of printing “The &c” was £382 10s. for 1,500 copies of 127 1/2 sheets at £3 a sheet, and an additional £191 5s. “To setting up [i.e., composing] the first sheets . . . and several others” – £573 15s. in all; a monstrous sum, an unusually large edition, and an exceptionally expensive rate. . . . Only one book so large was conceivably worth printing without the advance sales that subscription guaranteed – the Bible; English quarto editions contained from 131 to 136 sheets. (Amory, “New England Book Trade” 327–28)

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There is further evidence that supports Amory’s case in the huge shipment of paper that Hancock had delivered from Holland via London by his agent Wilks. An August 2, 1731, letter from Wilks to Hancock says, “of the Paper is none in Town, it is wrote for to Holland, and shall be sent as soon as arrives.” On August 24, Wilks writes that 228 bales of paper were being shipped across the Atlantic in a boat just arrived from Holland (Baxter, House of Hancock 70).34 Whether or not Hancock arranged an early, American printing of a Bible, it’s clear that Hancock purchased Bibles regularly and in large quantities throughout his career. In the late 1730s, Hancock writes to his main London contact, Thomas Longman, for an order of Bibles: “As to the Bibles, I will take a 1000 of ’em at 2/4d well bound in Calves Leather Claspt & with New England Psalms, note if they have not the N. Eng. Psalms don’t send ’em for they will not answer here” (qtd. in Baxter, House of Hancock 41). He also went in on a large shipment of Bibles with some other Boston booksellers in 1741 (Baxter, “Daniel Henchman” 19). Hancock and Henchman may have been among the first to venture printing the Bible in the wake of Baskett’s bankruptcy, but the steady increase in the number of Bible editions after the 1730s not associated with the name of the royal printer in London (Figure 1) shows that they were not the last. If the Bible was ever an exclusively governmental book, it would not be for long.

The Bible Trade in the 1760s With the royal printer in London beginning to leave off Bible printing altogether and printers in Scotland taking up the slack, the Bible trade expanded dramatically during the 1760s. Thomas Baskett, who in 1742, after his father’s death, had taken charge of the king’s printing house in Blackfriars, died in 1761, and Bible printing dwindled under the management of his son Mark Baskett (H. Carter 353). By 1770 the patent given to the Baskett family had expired (Johnson 38; Haig 166–67), and the 30-year patent belonging to Charles Eyre had begun. Eyre, who had no printing experience, contracted with William Strahan, who used the royal privilege to focus exclusively on government documents – an immensely lucrative business around the years of the Revolutionary War in America – and the two men made a fortune (Handover, Printing in London 93). By 1780, Strahan had left Bible publishing completely. There is good evidence that Scotland became the main supplier of English Bibles to the colonies in America during the 1750s, when Glasgow merchants were exporting Bibles, prayer books, Psalters, and

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other books to colonists in Virginia and Maryland in exchange for tobacco (McDougall 25–27). A June 27, 1751, advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette reads, “Just imported from Scotland, by the Way of Boston, and to be sold by David Hall, at the Post-Office in Philadelphia, by the Dozen, or single, Quarto, Octavo, Twelves, and Eighteens Bibles, fine and coarse; Likewise Prayer Books and Psalm Books” (qtd. in McDougall 27). Scotsman David Hall had taken over Benjamin Franklin’s post-office operations in 1747. He purchased his Bibles from Adrian Watkins, the king’s printer in Edinburgh between 1748 and 1758 (McDougall 27–28). Business relations between the two men were strained – like many colonial merchants, Hall complained about the terms of credit and the quality of shipments he received – and they finally snapped in 1760, about two years after Watkins lost his position as royal printer. Hall turned to his main London contact, Strahan, who had not yet joined with Eyre in managing the royal privilege in London, and asked him to speak to Kinkaid, the new royal printer in Edinburgh, about shipping Bibles to Hall in Philadelphia. Strahan tells Hall in June 1760 that Kincaid “will serve you better, and give a longer Credit. He is now here, and returns to Scotland tomorrow, and I intend to see him as far as Cambridge in his Way. We are very Intimate, and he is indeed much of a Gentleman. He comes here generally once a year to buy Paper” (qtd. in McDougall 28). The king’s printer in London at the time, Thomas Baskett, is conspicuously absent from the negotiations between Hall, Strahan, and Kincaid.35 By 1766, Strahan was corresponding with Eyre about taking over management of the royal printing operation when Baskett’s rights expired (Cochrane 124), and Eyre did so in 1770 (DMH 287), writing to Hall that same year to ask about distributing London Bibles in America. Hall writes back to explain how the Scots had cornered the market. From this letter, we learn that “common” Bibles were twelves and often used in schools. The “pocket” Bibles are smaller: eighteens and twenty-fours.36 Strahan considers Hall an important distributor, someone “retailing” books on the “continent,” and, like many book importers in cities such as Boston and New York, Hall was almost certainly distributing his books to a geographic region wider than Philadelphia.37 The correspondence between Hall and Strahan suggests that during the 1760s and 1770s, a great number of the English Bibles in America were from Scotland, purchased for both their quality and cheapness.

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More Cultural Associations of the Bible Hugh Amory has drawn attention to the curious absence of Bibles in scholarly histories of the book in America. His great essays on the Bible in late seventeenth-century America – on the scrap of an English Bible discovered in an Indian burial ground, on the Bible and other books common to late seventeenth-century Essex county probate records, and on the meager 1700 inventory of bookseller Michael Perry – dispel the idea that the New England mind was shaped fundamentally by the output of the Boston press or the books in college libraries. Amory highlights the importance of the Bible up to 1700 as a way of emphasizing, I think, the provinciality of early American reading habits and the lack of any robust trade in books (“A Bible and Other Books” 63).38 In so doing, he sets the stage for the merchant booksellers to come, such as Henchman and Hancock, who would be instrumental in breaking down “New England’s characteristic separation of printing from bookselling,” which “divided the world of the covenanted from the world of the commercial, ‘a plantation of religion,’ as the minister John Higginson insisted, from ‘a plantation of trade’” (Amory, “Printing and Bookselling” 84–85). Using the categories of “religion” and “trade” given to him by Higginson’s declension sermon, Amory preaches the opposite and hails “a gradual triumph of Boston merchants, royal governors, and the English Board of Trade over the Cambridge press, the General Court, and the ‘New England Way’ of its Congregational churches” (85). However, Amory’s “tale of two cites” (85) does not explain how the representatives of the English state end up on the side of trade and freedom and opposed to censorship and religion. One suspects that Amory’s usually precise and trenchant criticism falters in this passage under the lights of stage-one secularization theory: he sees religion, but only as part of the old order of things – always passing away. Amory is right that the world of the single, censored printing press gives way early in the eighteenth century to multiple printers in competition with one another, but he does not recognize the way that the Bible jumps the gate and plants itself in the new commercial world.39 The eighteenth-century Bible became far more than a church or government book, as I have suggested throughout this chapter. It grew in its range of cultural associations. Folio Bibles were still found in church lecterns, quarto Bibles were read aloud for family instruction, and duodecimos or common Bibles were kept in the closets of private devotion (Amory, “Trout and Milk” 24). Those associations remained, but they were often connected to others, so the large folio Bibles became more widely

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advertised alongside luxury commodities; a quarto Bible handsomely bound with the Book of Common Prayer in Turkey leather was presented by Queen Anne to each of the four Iroquois leaders who visited her in London in 1710 (Pascoe 69); and common Bibles were marketed for the poor and children of charity schools. In this way, the Bible mediated church and social status, family and nation, private devotions and public charity. During the 1710s, the SPCK, the parent organization of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), sponsored translations of the Bible in Tamil and Portuguese (DMH no. 1567; 233–34), sending a press and printing supplies for the work to Danish Lutheran missionaries in Tranquebar, in southeast India (Koilpillai 3; Brunner 101–20; Allen et al. 258–63). The English Bible – in all its great diversity of print types, paper sizes, and bindings – was closely connected to the burgeoning economy at home and the expanding empire abroad. This range of associations, the variety of uses that the Bible was put to, overturns simple stories of secularization. If we imagine the small Bible, being read devoutly in private closets of devotion, to be the main reading material of ordinary citizens in the seventeenth century; if we take the Reformation Bible or the Puritan Bible or the New England Bible, being read and available in massive quantities, to be the genesis of modern individualism; if this is the picture of biblical authority that we take with us into the eighteenth century – authority by individual numbers – then the authority of the Bible will seem to be in decline: we notice the few extant editions of small-format Bibles in libraries today, count instead the origin of so many other kinds of writing, and the waning of biblical authority seems obvious. But if we shift our attention to the interleaving of family records in quarto Bibles, the elevation of the university presses on profits made from their Bible printing, the increased concern about availability of Bibles for the poor, the bundling of the Bible with other commodities, and English cooperation with Protestants overseas in the work of translation, then we see something like a great diffusion of different kinds of biblical authority, and the sites for investigating the cultural force of the Bible become as diverse as the number of Bibles available – diverse in all manner of paper, type, and binding. Religious societies, government agencies, and merchant booksellers all become vehicles for the distribution of the Bible, diverse brokers of its cultural authority.

chapter 4

Prop of the State: Biblical Criticism and the Forensic Authority of the Bible

Drop a bucket down in writing about the Bible at the turn of the eighteenth century, and it will come up full of talk about the law. John Locke, for example, writes about the New Testament as the consummation of all moral philosophy, an “unerring Rule . . . a sure guide,” he says in The Reasonableness of Christianity: “Such a Law of Morality, Jesus Christ hath given us in the New Testament. . . . Here Morality has a sure Standard, that Revelation vouches, and Reason cannot gainsay, nor question; but both together witness to come from God the great Law-maker” (153). When Anthony Collins, gadfly to the orthodox, writes against the civil establishment of religion, he lashes “Magistrates” as often as “Ecclesiasticks” (Concerning Ridicule and Irony 4). Collins promotes his “Law of Ridicule” (2) as a better test of truth in matters of religion than anything Parliament might legislate. The renowned biblical commentator Matthew Henry could not attend Oxford or Cambridge to prepare for the ministry because he was a dissenter, that is, not a member of the Church of England, so he trained instead as a lawyer at Gray’s Inn, for “better understanding the Nature of the Divine Law and Government, and the forensick Terms so much used in the Holy Scriptures, and in other Divinity Books both Ancient and Modern” (Tong 34). Thus, across the spectrum of religious belief in the period – from mediating intellectuals such as Locke, to skeptics such as Collins, to traditionalists such as Henry – debates about the law and scripture are mixed together. Attending to the legal forces shaping English biblical criticism is worthwhile for a number of reasons. First, legal discourse tends to be overlooked in the standard histories of biblical interpretation, which focus on eighteenth-century preoccupation with the historicity of the Bible (Frei, Eclipse; Reventlow). Second, it provides an opportunity to examine connections between political and moral forms of secularism: that is, between state toleration of religion and individual experience of moral obligation, connections that tend to be obscured by assumptions that modern nation94

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states have become increasingly neutral in matters of religion. Third, in the prose fiction that I discuss in other chapters, the Bible often appears as a physical object in situations that are legally charged: in the jail vision that opens John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, the convicted man is reading a Bible (Chapter 6); Robinson Crusoe appoints Will Atkins as governor of his island with a gift of the Bible (Chapter 1); and Clarissa copies verses from a Bible while she is under house arrest (Chapter 5). We can read those scenes more insightfully if – and this is the fourth reason for attending to various aspects of legal power – we are not carrying a tacit antinomianism into our analysis, if we are not treating “the law” as a monolithic, always oppressive force. Thus, this chapter will examine the forensic authority of the Bible manifest in a variety of social phenomena around the turn of the eighteenth century: criminal trials, public executions, the Toleration Act of 1689, and printed sermons. Next, it traces the different responses to this legal force in writing about the Bible by Locke, Collins, and Henry. Finally, I discuss Sarah Scott’s provocative appropriation of forensic biblical authority in her novel Millenium Hall (1762). My argument in this chapter is that the expanding rule of English law at the turn of the eighteenth century changes, with a tectonic force, the landscape of biblical criticism for the rest of the century and beyond. Mountains of debate – about the historicity of scripture, its authority over the conscience, the doctrine of the Trinity, its force as a moral guide – are pushed to the surface by the emerging rule of state law. At the same time that the Bible was used to justify the secular ordering of government, it was losing its capacity to speak to or address that government; and something like a political deism set in, by which, according to the scriptures, God gave to the people ultimate responsibility for ordering their society but then left them to run it on their own. In other words, the scriptures get invoked to justify the origins and foundations of government, but no longer its ongoing operations. What we have to learn from biblical critics at the turn of the eighteenth century, before that change, is how the Bible speaks to the state as well as to the soul. Locke, and later Thomas Jefferson, discovers in the Bible the great law of morality, a morality conceived in intensely forensic terms: the scriptures speak a law that every rational soul will understand and feel compelled to obey. In this way, the Bible keeps its legal address, but it does so inwardly, turned to the ordering of the individual life. Collins firmly rejected the authority of the Bible as a moral guide. He ridiculed the strict historical literalism with which it was defended, and he argued that the Bible was little more than a prop of state legislative power. Henry, on the other hand, saw in the

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scripture a rule of law that, rightly understood, held both magistrates and subjects accountable. In each case, we can see how their understanding of the Bible as a book of statecraft influences their depiction of it as a book of soulcraft.

Biblical Criticism as an Outgrowth of Legal History In The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, Hans Frei discovers the origin of modern theology in early eighteenth-century debates between orthodox clergy and deists over the nature of biblical revelation, after which the “factuality of biblical reports” become so central and divisive to theological inquiry that the ability to pay attention to the narrative shape of the Bible was lost. As I suggested in Chapter 2, Frei’s work is best read as a sharply focused intervention within the disciplines of theology and biblical studies – the theologian’s attempt to bridge that disciplinary divide with literary realism. Instead of trying to return to a precritical Eden, where the fact issue did not matter, Frei points readers to what he describes in one place as the “curious, unmarked frontier between history and realistic fiction” (150). He invokes the novel as a way of opening up interpretive movement between narrative and meaning that need not overcome any great barrier of factuality. What Frei does not discuss, however, are the sources of early eighteenth-century English preoccupation with historicity that subsequently blinded modern critics to the narrative dimensions of the Bible. This is where the work of intellectual historian J. G. A. Pocock has something to add to the conversation about scripture – specifically Pocock’s study of English historical thought in the seventeenth century, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law, where he shows that English preoccupation with history had a strongly legal cast. “One of the most important modes of studying the past,” says Pocock, “was the study of the law” (viii). In fact, it was so important that the historical outlook of the English nation “was in part the product of its law” (viii). A major burden of Pocock’s work is to recover the common-law tradition of legal inquiry that assumed the wisdom of generations was embodied in existing laws and legal institutions, accumulated there “to such a degree that no reflecting individual can in his lifetime come to the end of it, no matter how he calls philosophy and theoretical reason to his aid” (36). Pocock shows how an understanding of the law derived from custom (exemplified by Edward Coke, John Selden, Matthew Hale, and Edmund Burke) differs from an understanding of the law based on the decree of a sovereign (exemplified by

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Thomas Hobbes and Robert Filmer), and how both of these views slowly gave way during the eighteenth century to a rationalization of the law (exemplified by Locke and Jeremy Bentham). Modes of legal inquiry overlapped with modes of biblical criticism,1 so that scripture is alternately treated as an ancient constitution between God and his people, as the original decree of a sovereign, and as a revelation of the moral law conformable to reason. All of these modes of scriptural inquiry are at play in writing about the Bible through at least the middle of the eighteenth century, which means that while we read the empiricist language of “facts” from the vantage point of a dominating scientific discourse today, to speak of facts in the eighteenth century was to invoke the law (Shapiro). In ways not yet appreciated by biblical scholars or historians of biblical reception, preoccupation with history in biblical criticism began as part of a larger concern with the law, specifically with the legal institutions of the state and their legitimation; and I mention Pocock’s legal historiography of the period at the outset to emphasize that the debate about biblical history was empirical in a forensic rather than merely scientific sense.

Criminal Trials and Tyburn Fair Criminal prosecution in the courts of England around the turn of the eighteenth century differed from modern legal systems in many ways, but two deserve particular emphasis. First, the administration of justice rested squarely on the shoulders of the magistrate. There were no lawyers in court presenting evidence on behalf of their clients. The accused spoke to the judge on his or her own behalf (Langbein, Origins). There was a jury, but its members usually served so frequently and knew the judge and each other so well that they deliberated quickly and rarely made decisions that disagreed with the directions of the judge (Beattie, Policing 264–77). Second, after the ascension of William and Mary to the throne in 1689, legislators in parliament expanded the list of crimes punishable by death, particularly property crimes (Hay, Albion’s Fatal Tree; E. P. Thompson, Whigs and Hunters; Beattie, Policing 313–38). Stealing goods valued at more than one shilling was considered grand larceny (Beattie, Policing 23), so that lifting a bolt of fabric from a shop, even picking a few coins and a handkerchief from a pocket, ran the risk of the gallows. Depending on their crimes, felons could also be fined, put in the stocks, flogged through the streets, sent to a workhouse, or exiled to the colonies in the Americas, but the options for punishment were becoming increasingly few. Judges

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and juries therefore grew accustomed to working around statutes that required hanging. The “benefit of clergy” was one of several ways that a judge could make sure that felons he thought capable of mending their ways could escape the punishment of death. Benefit of clergy was an old legal fiction by which the accused received a lighter sentence for certain crimes if he (or she, by 1624) could read a passage from the Bible in court, usually a verse from the Psalms (Beattie, Crime 141–46; Langbein, “Shaping” 37–41). It seems that the literacy of the accused was simply affirmed in court by a presiding minister who stood with the person on trial as he or she recited a verse or two by rote. Rarely was the test strictly applied, as it was in this exceptional instance from the 1670s: Then he had the benefit of his clergy [he was allowed to prove his literacy]. The Bench asked: Does he read? and the minister answered: He does. Then the Lord Mayor called for the book, and pricked a pin in another place in it, for him to read again. Then he, not reading in that place, is to be transported. (Calendar of State Papers Domestic 1673–75, p. 388, qtd. in Beattie, Policing 304)

The literacy test was abrogated by statute law in 1706 (6 Anne, ch. 9 s. 4), though the distinction between clergyable and nonclergyable offenses remained. Nevertheless, the strong trend in Parliament during this period was to expand the list of nonclergyable property crimes. After 1718, transportation to the colonies in the Americas became an increasingly viable alternative to hanging (Beattie, Policing 472). In other cases, the judge would sentence a felon to death and then write to the king to recommend that he graciously pardon the condemned before the execution (Beattie, Policing 347). Under the shadow of the gallows, the administration of mercy by magistrate and king was all the more powerful in maintaining social order (Hay, “Property”). Still, many men, and in the 1690s an increasing percentage of women, did hang from the gallows at Tyburn Fair, where four times a year London crowds gathered to witness the public executions. According to J. M. Beattie’s study of cases tried at the Old Bailey between 1663 and 1713, 324 people were convicted of nonclergyable property crimes: 177 were women and 147 men. Of these property offenders, 107 were hanged: 27 women and 80 men (Beattie, Policing 296, 299, 357). These numbers do not include Middlesex cases or nonproperty crimes that were punished by hanging at Tyburn. Including those additional cases, Beattie estimates that “twenty-five executions a year on average for all offences would

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seem to be a reasonable minimum” (300). While the threat of transportation became, after 1718, perhaps the foremost deterrent of property crimes, death by hanging remained a central instrument of legal coercion well into the nineteenth century. There was perhaps no other place in English society at the turn of the eighteenth century where state power was more frequently and powerfully displayed than the public executions at Tyburn. On the way to the spectacle, one could buy a copy of the ordinary’s report, written by the chaplain of Newgate prison; it gave a brief account of the chaplain’s conversations in prison with the condemned, whom he accompanied to the gallows that day. The Bible figures prominently in these accounts,2 and it was likely a Bible bound with a Book of Common Prayer that the chaplain read from at the last. As one chaplain, Paul Lorrain, describes it, in his ordinary account of March 1717, he pray’d for them; sung some Pentitential Psalms with them; and made them rehearse the Apostles Creed; and after I had finally implor’d GOD’s mercy and the Assistance of his Holy spirit to them, for their full Conversion and Eternal Salvation, I withdrew, leaving them to their private Devotions, for which they had some Time alotted them. Then the Cart drew away, and they were turn’d off. (6)3

Toleration The history of religious toleration in England is generally thought to be one of steady political progress from state control and persecution to individual freedom of conscience, but under the shadow of Tyburn, we can begin to see how toleration marks less a decline than an intensification of state involvement in matters of religion. The first Toleration Act passed in May 1689 with this unpromising title: “An Act for Exempting Their Majesties Protestant Subjects Dissenting from the Church of England, from the Penalties of Certain Laws.”4 The history leading up to this important piece of legislation and its consequences has been told elsewhere.5 Briefly, the Toleration Act prevented the laws aimed at enforcing church uniformity from applying to dissenters, if they took two oaths of loyalty (discussed below): one to the monarch and one to the Protestant faith. It thereby granted freedom of worship to those who dissented from the forms and ceremonies of the Church of England, giving them the legal right to meet together in public, so long as they kept the doors unlocked and registered their congregation with a local parish official. It did not

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nullify previous laws like the 1593 statute that was pressed against John Bunyan, for example, or the 1683 “Act to Prevent and Suppress Seditious Conventicles” (Toleration 307). Those laws remained on the books. It simply said that dissenters would no longer be “liable to any pains, penalties, or forfeitures” mentioned in those acts (Toleration 307). Other laws also remained on the books, such as the Test Act and Corporation Acts, thereby excluding Catholics from the terms of religious freedom and restricting public office to those who took communion in the Church of England. It was not until the 1830s that Catholics were granted religious freedom, and not until 1871 that the religious test acts were abolished at Oxford and Cambridge (E. Payne). One can see how toleration works to extend the power of the state by looking at the oaths required by the Toleration Act. There were two oaths, and individual dissenters could be asked to take them at any time by a local justice of the peace: “Declaration of Fidelity” (Toleration 313) and “Profession of their Christian Belief” (314). The first oath, to be “True and Faithful to King William and Queen Mary,” required a declaration that “no Foreign Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate hath, or ought to have any Power, Jurisdiction, Superiority, Preeminence or Authority Ecclesiastical or Spiritual within this Realm” (313–14). The effect of this oath was to invest the king and queen with ultimate civil and spiritual authority above all rivals. The second oath upheld the supreme authority of the king and queen by professing belief in the doctrine of the Trinity and the “divine inspiration” of the Bible: “I A.B. Profess Faith in God the Father, And in Jesus Christ his Eternal Son, the true God, And in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore; And I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration” (314). The oath makes Christian belief a condition of full citizenship. In so doing, the second oath puts the authority of the Bible, about which one need only affirm its “divine inspiration,” beneath the authority of king and queen, who were to be the highest spiritual powers in the realm. Together the oaths complicate any notion that state persecution simply gave way to religious freedom with the passage of the Toleration Act. Toleration does not limit the reach of the state in matters of religion; rather, it joins the boundaries of religious authority to national boundaries and extends the reach of state-established religion into the realm of private conscience. Christian profession becomes a legal obligation. Recognizing this helps us to see why there was so much debate after toleration about occasional conformity, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the authority of

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scripture. These issues were contentious not merely on theological or rational grounds, but because they had been made the representatives of state legal authority, the conditions under which citizens received the toleration of the state. In this way, the Toleration Act formed, to no small degree, the ethical obligations of individual conscience. As we will see in Chapter 6 on Pilgrim’s Progress, searching the Bible for evidence of justification before God became implicated with justification before the state. In asking how the Toleration Act extends the power of the law by establishing what counts as religion, I am taking up a point of criticism that Talal Asad makes about Charles Taylor’s writing on secularism. Briefly summarizing the point of disagreement between the two will help clarify what is at stake in this discussion. Taylor describes two modes of secularism that have achieved political order in the past but are no longer viable today. The first he calls “common-ground” secularism, which looks for authority in a core set of beliefs shared by people of different religious and metaphysical commitments. Where the range of those commitments is relatively small, as it was between various Christian sects in England at the turn of the eighteenth century, “the political injunctions that flowed from the common core trumped the demands of a particular confessional allegiance” (Taylor, “Modes” 33). As the range of foundational commitments widens over time, however, and varieties of religious belief and nonbelief proliferate, agreement about the common core becomes increasingly untenable. A second mode of secularism presents itself as an alternative, an “independent-ethic” secularism, which looks for grounds of political authority abstracted from religious commitments, discovering them instead in a universal human condition or human nature independent of religious belief. Nevertheless, says Taylor, this independent ethic comes to seem not merely separate from but hostile toward religious belief, not merely neutral but partisan; and to the extent that this secularist ethic loses the assent of religious citizens, it ceases to be a source of legitimate political authority. “If even some Christians find the ‘post-Christian’ independent ethic partisan,” Taylor points out, “how much harder will Muslims find it to swallow?” (37). Taylor advocates instead for a third mode of secularism that he calls “overlapping consensus,” borrowing the phrase from John Rawls. It has the advantage over the other two modes in that “it lifts the requirement of a commonly held foundation” (38). As Taylor says, “it aims only at universal acceptance of certain political principles (this is hard enough to attain). But it recognizes from the outset that there cannot be a universally

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agreed basis for these, independent or religious” (38). A secularism of overlapping consensus would recognize that core political principles are rooted in deep background justifications, but it would not demand that those background justifications be the same. Asad pushes Taylor’s critique further by asking who or what decides where to draw the line between “core principles” and “background justifications.” People with differing deep background justifications may come to agreement in public on “core principles,” but the state has already decided by its laws of religious toleration what counts as background and core (Asad, Formations 6). To what extent does this compromise the authority of core principles? Will their legitimation always be hindered by relegating religious reasoning to background justification? Taylor’s theory tries to make the best of what he seems to consider an irreversibly secular mode of citizenship in the modern nation-state: we can affirm a shared set of core political principles while acknowledging differences in background justifications for those principles. Asad’s critique draws attention to the power of secularism in all three of its modes – common ground, independent ethic, and overlapping consensus – to make the delineation between core and background before debate begins. So what does all this have to do with early biblical criticism in England? In late seventeenth-century England, the border between background and core was still open, the wall between them not yet built, the terrain more accessible and more consciously contested. The boundary between core and background was drawn one way by the establishment of uniformity after 1660; another way by the effort at “comprehension” between certain Church of England and Nonconformist clergy, which failed in the 1680s (Thomas; Keeble, Literary Culture); and redrawn again with the passage of the Toleration Act of 1689. One thing that makes the writers of this period worth reading is that they recognize the contingency and artificiality of a boundary that we, living on this side of toleration, tend to regard as natural, permanent, or universal.

John Locke and the Domestic Governor Locke is justly celebrated for turning intellectual inquiry toward what can be known with confidence, focusing on the objects that our understandings are fit to deal with, explaining how it is we come to know such objects, and finally letting go without remorse of those things that elude the refined apparatus of our knowing. Criticism of Locke’s work, in his day and our own, often focuses on what he leaves out of his discussion. His rejection of

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innate ideas raised suspicions that he did not believe in a world of spirits. His critique of the divine right of kings raised doubts about whether he believed in any divinely sanctioned social order. His defense of the reasonableness of Christianity carefully avoided discussion of the atonement and the incarnation. However, with regard to the Bible, what Locke does say proves far more interesting than what he does not. Locke’s intense focus on the things of this world and on the human apparatus for knowing them makes him an avatar of our secular age, and so he is regularly allied with the skeptics and secularists; but, as Isabel Rivers notes, it is Locke’s careful use of the Bible that set him apart from the radical skeptics with which he was associated (Rivers 2: 26; Locke, Reasonableness xix). Locke offers no testimonials about any miraculous encounter with the words of scripture, no elaborate defenses of its divine inspiration, no indication that anything more than the text and properly functioning reason are needed to understand the revelation that the Bible offers. Without the typical affirmations of faith in the Bible as the word of God, Locke’s use of scripture may seem suspect – a rhetorical ploy to placate his religious critics or opponents.6 Yet he writes about the Bible so extensively and refers to it so often that it would be foolish to dismiss his grappling with scripture as superficial to the rest of his thought. The first of his Two Treatises of Government, for example, is a thorough critique of the justification of the divine right of kings on biblical grounds. The last thing that Locke prepared for publication before his death was his Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul, a meticulous, scholarly commentary that helped make authorial intention a proper aim of biblical criticism, and perhaps of literary criticism more generally.7 Why is the Bible so important to Locke? It affirms, on the one hand, the secular independence of civil authority; and it reveals, on the other hand, the moral law and makes that law binding on its readers. Locke’s writings offer a clear view of the Bible that was once a book of statecraft becoming a book of soulcraft. Locke argues famously in Two Treatises of Government that civil authority originates in the people, not in the king. How does the Bible function in his argument? In the first treatise, Locke effectively demolishes the biblical arguments of Filmer, who tried in Patriarcha to make the Bible the historical foundation of his political doctrine that all men are by nature subject to royal power. Against Filmer’s doctrine of royal power, which follows from the familial power of fatherhood, Locke wields a strictly logical and chronological scripture. Can Adam be king from the moment of creation if he has no subjects to govern (Locke, Two Treatises 154)? Who

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has the “Fatherly Authority” when seventy-two distinct nations are formed by the dispersion from Babel, especially if Shem, Noah’s eldest son, is still alive (249–50)? Locke complains, “tis not to argue from the Authority of Scripture, to tell us positively, Fathers were their Rulers, when the Scripture says no such thing, but to set up Fancies of ones own Brain, when we confidently aver Matter of Fact, where Records are utterly silent” (247). Filmer’s use of the Bible, according to Locke, marks him as a romance writer, given to fantasy, rather than a true legal historian. Still, Locke uses the Bible to batter Filmer’s politics far more effectively than he does to bulwark his own. Against Filmer, Locke contends that governments are “made by contrivance, and the consent of Men (’Aνθρωπίνη κτίσις) making use of their Reason to unite together into Society” (144; treatise 1, sec. 6). In affirming that the contrivance of men is the proper basis of government, Locke quotes the phrase ἀνθρωπινῃ κτίσει, literally “human creation,” from 1 Peter 2.13, where it is translated in the Authorized Version as “ordinance of man”: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Pet. 2.13–14). To recognize government as a human creation rather than as a purely divine institution is to open government up to critique and change. Like defenders of the common law, Locke resists the idea that legal foundations are established by the word of a king rather than by the contrivance of a people. But unlike the common-law tradition of legal inquiry, Locke feels no need to argue about historical precedents for consent because they are already given in the Bible, which serves to give Locke’s “consent of Men” an aura not merely of historicity, but also of sacredness. The Bible provides Locke a way out of the legal debates between those who placed ultimate authority in the decrees of the king and those who held to the tradition of common law. The Bible gives Locke just the history he needs to deduce the natural laws of government – or, rather, to be free to deduce the laws of government. The Bible approves of the rational formation of government by consent of the people, but it does not say anything about the specific ordering of that government. If, in debate with Filmer, Locke sought to limit the authority of the Bible in the ordering of public life, he amplified the power of the Bible to speak to the ordering of the private, moral life. In the preface to the Reasonableness of Christianity, Locke explains that he was so dissatisfied with the “systems of divinity” he had read that he decided to take to “the sole reading of the Scripture (to which they all appeal) for the

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understanding of the Christian religion” (Locke, Reasonableness 3). Let’s look briefly at how Locke frames his discussion of the Bible as the great law of morality. Having affirmed the accessibility of God’s law to us through the “light of reason,” what he and his contemporaries often referred to as “the candle of the Lord” (140n1), quoting Proverbs 20.27, Locke anticipates the reply of opponents who ask why, if we can understand the law of God through reason, do we have any need of Jesus Christ (141)? Locke answers that Christ came to show us our duty to God, and he frames his discussion of Christ as a moral philosopher by pleading for two theological mysteries: the atonement between God and humanity and the work of the Spirit in humanity. Locke affirms that some kind of reconciliation occurred between God and humanity in the death and resurrection of Christ, but why it had to happen the way it did and what, precisely, happened at the cross remains beyond the scope of our knowledge. God deemed it necessary to send his Son to defeat the spiritual powers of the world the way he did. An atonement happened at the cross, Locke says, but we “know not what Transactions there were between God and our Saviour” (142). Locke ends his discussion in chapter 14, saying that Christ promises assistance in the virtuous life by his Spirit. “If we do what we can, he will give us his Spirit to help us to do what, and how we should. ’Twill be idle for us, who know not how our own Spirits move and act us, to ask in what manner the Spirit of God shall work upon us” (163). So Locke turns his readers’ attention away from questions about how the Spirit works – whether the Spirit of God or spirits of human beings – to what the Spirit does: the Spirit is what enables us to perform our moral duty. Locke describes the world before Christ as a philosophical chaos, where priests in the business of religion neglected to teach virtue. They taught a God pleased with ceremonies and feasts, with ritual “Lustrations and Processions” rather than “a steady course of Virtue” (147). And the “civil laws of government” taught only enough virtue to “hold societies together, and to contribute to the quiet of government.” These laws were “forced upon Men that lived under Magistrates” and “made by such who had no other aims but their own Power” (147–48). Under such circumstances, it was too hard a task for “unassisted Reason” to “establish Morality, in all its parts, upon its true foundations; with a clear and convincing light” (148). Better to send the “King and Law-maker” himself to tell people “their Duties” and “require their Obedience” than to “leave it to the long, and sometimes intricate deductions of Reason, to be made out to them. Such trains of reasonings the greatest part of Mankind have neither leisure to

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weigh; nor, for want of Education and Use, skill to judge of. We see how unsuccessful in this, the attempts of Philosophers were, before Our Saviour’s time” (148–49). Even if one were to compile a collection of the best sayings of the ancient philosophers, in order to “give the World a compleat morality, that may be to Mankind, the unquestionable Rule of Life and Manners” (150), one would find that no sage or philosopher has the authority that would lead us to regard every one of his sayings as law. Because no single philosopher (and Locke names many) merits such absolute authority, no composite collection of philosophers’ sayings will get us any closer to “a steady Rule; A certain transcript of a Law that we are under” (150). Locke says the “incoherent apothegms of Philosophers, and wise Men; however excellent in themselves, and well intended by them; could never make a Morality, whereof the World could be convinced, could never rise up to the force of a Law that Mankind could with certainty depend on” (152). Where was the “code” of “unerring rule”? Locke says, Such a Law of Morality, Jesus Christ hath given us in the New Testament; But by the latter of these ways, by Revelation. We have from him a full and sufficient Rule for our direction; and conformable to that of Reason. But the truth and obligation of its Precepts have their force, and are put past doubt to us, by the evidence of his Mission. He was sent by God: His Miracles shew it; And the Authority of God in his Precepts cannot be questioned. (153)

For Locke, the sayings of Jesus do not reveal or correspond to the meaning of his miraculous actions; rather, his miracles legitimate his authority as a moral philosopher. In order to focus on the Bible as the consummate, individual moral law, Locke has to narrow the beam angle of biblical revelation, leaving in shadow the possibility of thinking with scripture about the government. Does the Bible contain a superlative law above civil authority? A law separate from that civil authority? Locke does not say. He does say that the “legislative virtue” enforced by the magistrate is not enough; nor is the ancient amoral religion of the priests. Locke spotlights instead an intensely private virtue, where for a man to worship God is “to look after his own Heart, And to know that it was that alone which God had regard to, and accepted” (160). The force of Locke’s rhetoric here, in that dangerous word alone, leaves the state free of God’s regard, concentrates our attention on the heart and conscience, and casts God as concerned with nothing else.

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The form of God’s rule in the conscience appears much like the rule of the governor in the state. In “A Letter Concerning Toleration,” Locke argues for the independence of civil and religious spheres of government. The civil, led by the magistrate, is concerned “to secure every man’s possession of the things of this life” (41). In matters of religion, there is no magistrate besides a man’s conscience – what Locke calls “the domestic governor” (41). In his writing about ethics and religion, Locke uses forensic metaphors like this so often that in the intellectual act of conceiving religious belief absolutely free from civil authority, he inadvertently makes it subject to that authority, by taking its institutional language and procedures and incorporating them in the realm of the conscience.

Anthony Collins and the Law of Ridicule Writing in the early decades of the eighteenth century, long after the imprisonment of dissenters in the 1660s and 1670s, and more than twenty years after the 1689 Toleration Act, Collins was still making the legal establishment of religion a primary target of critique. Why? No one was being imprisoned, exiled, or executed for religious dissent in England in the early 1700s, yet the force of the legal establishment of religion was still strongly felt, and freethinkers such as Collins excelled at articulating and criticizing that force. So what force of law did Collins and other freethinkers feel themselves writing beneath and against? I want to trace Collins’s description of that force in three of his works that together span the course of his career: A Discourse of Free-Thinking (1713), A Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion (1724), and A Discourse Concerning Ridicule and Irony in Writing (1729).8 Collins offers the following definition of freethinking at the beginning of his discourse by that name: “By Free-Thinking then I mean, The Use of the Understanding, in endeavouring to find out the Meaning of any Proposition whatsoever, in considering the nature of the Evidence for or against it, and in judging of it according to the seeming Force or Weakness of the Evidence” (5). This is plain enough. The freethinker uses his understanding to figure out what a proposition means and to consider the evidence for or against the truth of that proposition. Where the evidence for the proposition is strong, the proposition is judged true. Where evidence cannot be found or is found weak, the proposition should be judged false. What Collins does not say in his definition, but assumes throughout his pamphlet, is that this mode of reaching understanding by weighing the evidence is always at odds with receiving understanding from traditional guides, such

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as parents or priests or the church or other writers. None of these sources of truth can be taken for granted by the freethinker, for previous opinion bears no evidential weight in his scales of deliberation. The freethinker judges himself the truth of all things, simply accepts the truth of nothing. Yet Collins’s heroic trumpet of intellectual virtue quickly begins to sound more like a trombone, and the clowns and elephants start to appear and entertain as soon as he applies his principles of freethinking to scripture. “The Bible contains a Collection of Tracts given us at divers times by God himself” (10), and because they are given by God, they must be superior to any book given to us by mortal men. The whole variety of human learning is contained within the Bible: it is a “natural History of the Creation of the whole Universe,” “a Civil and Ecclesiastical History of all Mankind from the Beginning of the World” (10), a book of “References to Husbandry, Sailing, Physick, Pharmacy, Mathematicks, and every thing else that can be named. And indeed the Compass of such a History shews that no Art or Science can be untouch’d in it” (10–11). This seeming praise is a trick Collins could have taken from Jonathan Swift’s Tale of the Tub, in which the narrator laments that “no famous modern hath ever yet attempted an universal system, in a small portable volume, of all things that are to be known, or believed, or imagined, or practiced” (Swift 60). It is the Bible as just such a universal system of knowledge that Collins is making stand on its hind legs like an elephant: “To understand the Matter therefore of this Book, requires the most Thinking of all other books; since to be master of the whole, a Man must be able to think justly in every Science and Art” (Collins, Discourse of Free-Thinking 11). Who could hope to “understand” so much with the intellectual integrity of a freethinker? This is just the question Collins wants to raise: “Who can understand . . . ? Who can frame an Idea . . . ? Who can have a just Notion . . . ? How is it possible . . . ?” (11). Collins plays the universal scope of the Bible like a puppeteer, staging a comic version of Job in a rhetorical whirlwind, with the Bible as God and the poor reader forced to repent in dust and ashes before the vast scope of biblical truth. The initial call to freethinking about scripture thus gives way, in this example of Collins’s arguing, to a scripture beyond understanding, which cannot be seriously thought about at all and thus cannot serve as a rational foundation for the good life. Collins ends his exemplary rhetorical paragraph on a more serious note: “no moral Duty whatsoever contain’d in Scripture can be precisely and with certainty understood, without a Knowledge of the Law of Nature” (12). For Collins, “knowledge in Ethics” must be learned independently of scripture and only then applied to scripture. The moral teaching of

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scripture can only be safely understood within the context of an already learned, independently discovered “knowledge of the law of nature.” Locke made scripture the revelator of that law; Collins writes as if that law is the only way we can hope to make sense of scripture in the first place. It is of course hard to tell how seriously Collins took his own claim that complete knowledge in ethics was attainable by independent reason or whether he was just using that criteria to poke holes in the moral and religious systems of his day and their rationalist pretensions. Swift made such seeming rationality laughable in his pamphlet Mr. C – n’s Discourse (1713), where he compares freethinking to freeseeing, as if weakness in either does not matter so long as we are thinking and seeing on our own. Whether “you be near sighted, or have weak or soar Eyes, or blind, you may be a Free-seer; you ought to see for your self, and trust not to a Guide to chuse the Colour of your Stockings, or save you from falling into a Ditch” (6). In Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion (1724), Collins writes an extended critique of William Whiston’s An Essay towards Restoring the True Text of the Old Testament (1722). Whiston had tried to tackle the problem of why the citations of Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament do not everywhere exactly match the text of Hebrew scriptures or its literal meaning. As long as the Old Testament was read allegorically, discrepancies of text and literal meaning posed no trouble when showing that Jesus was the messiah. Whiston, however, was dissatisfied with such allegorical proofs. He thought that the divinity of Christ needed to be established on a more rational foundation. Whiston argued that the Jews had purposefully tampered with the Hebrew scriptures to obscure their literal predictions of Jesus as messiah.9 What Collins does so brilliantly in Grounds and Reasons is both refute and appropriate Whiston’s argument. Among the “arts of concealment” (lvii) that Collins practiced so well was a rhetorical irony. Like the irony that M. M. Bakhtin describes so incisively in his essay “Discourse in the Novel,” with examples from Dickens’s fiction (301–14) – where one passage of a character’s speech is made to sound with the dissonant voice of the author – Collins quotes from the arguments of others with scrupulous accuracy but in such a way that his own voice is added in counterpoint, complicating and redirecting the force of the original argument. Let me give one example, from the end of Grounds and Reasons. Collins has already argued that positing the corruption of the Hebrew text, as Whiston does, will not establish the grounds of Christian religion but only shake them further by undermining the authority of the text. In addition,

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Collins argues, the overwhelming practice of Jewish teachers, New Testament writers, and early church fathers was to read the scriptures allegorically, not in the strictly literal way that Whiston advocates. Collins’s concluding quotation of one Dr. Allix, taken by itself, sounds like a defense of the traditional way of reading scripture, but in the context of Collin’s argument it crackles like a fuse ready to blow up ancient and modern versions of Christianity together: “Any that call themselves christians, says (h) Dr. Allix, should take heed how they deny the force and authority of that way of traditional interpretation, which has been anciently received in the jewish church” (Collins, Grounds and Reasons 270). The (h) points the reader to the footnote at the bottom of the page, where a polite scholarly reference is given to page 51 of Pierre Allix’s Judgment of the Ancient Jewish Church, against the Unitarians (1699).10 For Allix, to call oneself a Christian is to accept the force and authority of traditional practices of interpretation. For Collins, however, to accept any truth on the basis of authority is to compromise our responsibility as rational creatures. The footnote works to undermine Allix’s traditionbased thinking and make it rationally impossible to call oneself a Christian. Thus, in Grounds and Reasons Collins commends Whiston for his bold independence of thought, willingness to stand against received opinion, and standards of rationality; but Whiston’s defense of scripture fails nonetheless, says Collins, and so without tradition or reason on its side, scripture loses its force – or would lose its force, if it were not also imbued with the force of the state. And if it also lost that forensic force? Collins would have nothing to contend with; he needs the Bible and all the debate about what constitutes its authority, if only as rubble to build his defense of freethinking. And the easy lightness and occasional humor with which Collins advances his opinion suggests that he realizes his predicament quite well, even relishes and enjoys it. He wants at the end to be considered not an enemy or a morally degraded atheist but a “merry, good humor’d adversary.” Collins is no doubt practiced in the rhetoric of irony, with all its arts of concealment, praise-by-blame, and blame-by-praise; but there also comes through Collins’s writing, with its abundance of quotations and careful footnotes, a delight in the irony of rhetoric. He takes pleasure in bending the whole apparatus of scholarship – its emphasis on reasons, evidence, and the careful presentation of previous scholarly views – to amuse as well as persuade. Collins gives quotations a doubled voice: the original author’s and his dissonant own. Collins wrote Concerning Ridicule and Irony (1729) in response to a letter by the Rev. Dr. Nathanael Marshall that was appended to John Rogers’s

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Vindication of the Civil Establishment of Religion (1729). In that letter, Marshall warns that if the tide of banter and railing about religion does not abate, the government will have no choice but to pass a law against such things in print. Collins answers with an exemplary blend of argument and irony. As evidence in defense of “Insult, Buffoonery, Banter, Ridicule and Irony, Mockery and bitter Railing” (5), Collins cites numerous examples from “our most famous Writers” (5), showing how much these orthodox defenders of the Church of England depend on those rhetorical weapons in their battles against Papists, Puritans, Dissenters, and Hereticks generally (5–20). Collins considers men of gravity and seriousness to be the most likely to be moral imposters. Against such men of sour temper we should apply “the Test of Ridicule” (21) – subjecting them to a “Trial of Ridicule” (22) in order to expose their hypocrisy. He gives biblical examples of such a practice: Elijah taunting the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18); the Lord God laughing at kings who plot against him (Ps. 2.4); and the “whole account” of the book of Jonah. Collins says he would forego his ridicule and “come into any Law that shall be made to rectify this suppos’d Fault of Irony” (23) if liberty to examine the truth of things, especially in matters of religion, is widely granted. Such liberty would prevent the need for any law against irony. “If Men are forbid to speak their Minds seriously on certain Subjects, they will do it ironically,” says Collins quoting Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury; “’Tis the persecuting Spirit has rais’d the bantering one” (24). Collins is not quite setting skeptical, secular irony against believing, religious seriousness. The relationship between the two sides is more intimate. Like his earlier turning of rationalism against hyperrationalist defenses of faith, Collins reminds his antagonists that he only conjures bantering spirits they themselves have raised. Reason against reason, irony against irony, Collins fights with rhetorical weapons his enemies have forged. Insofar as he tries to seize reason and irony for a secularity opposed to all forms of religious belief, he could be considered a stage-one secularization theorist (religion and secularism always enemies vying for dominance), but insofar as Collins recognizes the ways his bantering style was first raised by his religious anatgonists, he is a stage-two theorist (religion and secularism always intriguingly entangled). Perhaps he writes to make believers consider how much they need the threat of his disbelief to sharpen their faith. When Locke invoked the Bible as the governor of his conscience, he did so with relative ease, not worrying about what passes the border between state-sanctioned core principles and his individual background beliefs. But Collins, more perceptive than Locke in this regard, felt everywhere in the

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background of his life the persecuting spirit of the 1660s Clarendon Code loosed rather than exorcised by the Toleration Act of 1689. Collins felt that spirit inhabiting the modes of writing he relied on to understand his age, and he let that spirit hone his sense of moral obligation to disbelieve any religion enforced by the state.

Matthew Henry and the Public Spirit Henry’s six-volume Exposition of All the Books of the Old and New Testament presents the Bible not as a single book but as a collection of books. Each volume of commentary corresponds to a particular kind or genre of biblical writing.11 Thus, volume 1 is An Exposition of the Five Books of Moses (1707) – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. “These are the Law . . . for ought we know the First [books] that ever were written . . . best able to give us a satisfactory Account of the most ancient things” (1). Volume 2 is An Exposition of the Historical Books of the Old Testament (1707) – Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah. All these books are “very plain and easy, Narratives of Matter of Fact” (iii). Volume 3 is An Exposition of the Five Poetical Books of the Old Testament (1710) – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s Song. These books are “doctrinal and devotional,” containing the “divine philosophy” that follows from the “sacred history” recorded in the previous books (iv). Volume 4 is An Exposition of the Prophetical Books of the Old Testament (1712) – Isaiah through Malachi. Henry describes prophecy as “the Foretelling of things to come” or, “more largely” in scripture, “a Declaration of such things to the children of Men as God has revealed to them” (ii). The fifth volume is An Exposition of the Historical Books of the New Testament (1715) – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. Henry completed this volume of the commentary shortly before he died in 1714 (Wykes). The sixth volume, An Exposition of the Several Epistles Contained in the New Testament, was compiled by a group of Nonconformist ministers, who incorporated notes taken by people who had heard Henry expound various sections of the epistles during his life (3). It was printed with the first complete edition of Henry’s commentary in 1721. The reputation of Henry’s Expositions grew during the century, and subsequent editions of the entire six-volume work were published in 1725, 1737, 1757, 1772, 1786, 1790, 1792, 1793, and 1797. Selections from Henry’s commentary were published late in the century under the title The Beauties of Henry: A Selection of the Most Striking Passages in the Exposition of That Celebrated Commentator (1797–1803). By 1855, twenty-five editions of

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Henry’s commentary had been published (Wykes). After that, it gets difficult to count. Many editions of Henry’s commentary are still in print today – remarkably readable and surprisingly free of the footnotes typical of Bible commentaries. In the preface to his Exposition of the Five Books of Moses, Henry distinguishes his “plain and practical” exposition from the commentaries of “learned critics.” They focus their efforts on resolving difficulties in understanding the text and on “pleading the Cause of the Sacred Writings against the spiteful cavils of the Atheists, Deists, and the prophane Scoffers of these later Days” (1: A3 v). Henry acknowledges the importance of those learned debates, but his exposition aims to do something else: we are concerned not only to understand what we read, but to improve it to some good Purpose, and in Order thereunto to be affected with it, and to receive the Impressions of it. The Word of God is designed to be not only a Light to our Eyes, the entertaining Subject of our Contemplation, but a Light to our Feet, and a Lamp to our Path, to direct us in the Way or our Duty, and to prevent our turning aside into any By-way: we must therefore in searching the Scriptures enquire, not only What is this? but What is this to us? What Use may we make of it? How may we accommodate it to some of the Purposes of that Divine and heavenly Life, which by the Grace of God we are resolved to live? Enquiries of this Kind I have here aimed to answer. (1: A3 v)

Strikingly, Henry praises not a self-explaining, self-sufficient, or allencompassing text but a scripture meant to be improved on, put “to some good Purpose,” as if one’s determination to do so with the scripture comes prior to one’s being affected by it, as if acting on what one reads precedes any valuable rereading. If the biblical critic asks of the text “What is this?,” practical expositors such as Henry ask “What is this to us?” and expect an answer that goes beyond mere seeing or understanding to what Henry calls “the genuine Sense” of scripture, something he tries to make “plain” to readers of “ordinary capacities” (1: A3 v). For Henry, this genuine sense is not merely the literal sense – it is not equivalent to the plain meaning of the words on the page, not discovered in the historical events to which scripture refers – but a pragmatic moral sense, where the meaning of the text is found in the way it shapes the reader’s affections and guides the reader’s actions. This is the sense that Henry’s work aims at making accessible to the common reader. The separation of the Bible’s books into six major groups – legal, historical, poetic, prophetic, historical, epistolary – is not original to Henry. These correspond to the traditional canonical organization of

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scripture by the Latin church and, later, with slight differences, by the Orthodox and Protestant churches. Nor was Henry’s emphasis on the practical exposition of scripture innovative: Puritan writers before Henry emphasized the importance of practical theology; latitudinarian writers in the eighteenth century did the same, emphasizing the benefits of living according to biblical principles. There is little, if any, hermeneutical innovation in Henry’s commentaries. He builds his ark with timbers of insight from previous generations of biblical commentators, keeping text and readers alive through the flood of contemporary polemical debate about the nature of the Bible.12 What I want to focus on is the way that Henry associates the form and purpose of the Bible. Like many of his contemporaries, he consistently uses forensic metaphors to describe the unifying force of scripture. Likewise, he considers the poetical or wisdom books as more representative of the Bible as a whole than the other kinds of books. In this too Henry is less original than exemplary, articulating the assumptions of dissenters and nondissenters alike. The poetical books are central because in them the legal force of scripture joins with the aesthetic response of the reader to legitimate biblical authority. The law of the Lord becomes sweet to the soul (and so a legitimate authority) as it is appropriated through the wisdom discourse of the Bible. Legal language is everywhere in Henry’s preface to volume 1, which serves as a preface to the entire six-volume project. The scriptures are not “an antiquated Statute, but a standing Declaration of the Will of God” (1: A2 v). The “subject” of Holy Scripture is to “revive the universal and perpetual Law of Nature” and “to reveal the universal and perpetual Law of Grace” (1: A2 v). Scripture is the Rule of our Faith and Practise, by which we must be governed now, and judged shortly; ’Tis not only a Book of general use, so the Writings of Wise and Good Men may be, but it is of Sovereign and commanding Authority; the Statute-Book of God’s Kingdom, which our Oath of Allegiance to him as our Supreme Lord binds us to the Observance of. (1: A3 r)

The binding power of the scripture surpasses even the power of the critic: Henry warns that making “the light within our Rule” – whether it be the Quaker’s light of spiritual illumination, as Henry suggests, or the philosopher’s light of reason – is as foolish as “setting the Judge above the Law” (1: A3 r). At the very end of the preface to volume 1, Henry says that “It is the declared Purpose of the Eternal Mind in all the Operations, both of Providence and Grace, to magnify the Law” (1: A4 r). Henry suggests in

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this preface that the suffering and death of Christ happened in order to magnify the scriptures, to prove their truth and authority. Scripture is not merely an account of the life of Jesus; rather, Henry considers the miracles, death, and resurrection of Christ as testimony to the truth of scripture, meant to confirm the truth of biblical law and uphold its authority. Immediately after this high praise of scripture as law, Henry changes tone and says that he hopes his work “may help to make the reading of the Scripture more Easy, Pleasant, and Profitable” (1: A4 r). In his intertwining of law and pleasure, Henry is repeating a connection made throughout the wisdom literature of the Bible. The first half of Psalm 19 (vv. 1–6), to take one of many possible examples, begins “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” The psalmist’s delight in the beautiful ordering of creation is set in purposeful apposition to the psalmist’s experience of the “law of the Lord,” described in the second half of the psalm (vv. 7–11). “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (v. 8). They are more to be desired than gold, “sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (v. 10). Henry’s forensic imagination, galvanized by his reading of the Psalms, allows him to move easily between the languages of law and desire, and it helps explain why he understands the poetical or wisdom books of the Bible to be representative of the whole. In his preface to volume 3, Exposition of the Five Poetical Books, Henry explains that Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon are “of the same divine original Design and Authority” as the legal and historical books, elaborated in the previous two volumes of his commentary, “yet upon some Accounts are of a very different nature from them” (3: iii). Thus far the books of scripture have been “narratives of matter of fact, which they that run can read,” he says: “Milk for babes,” waters “a Lamb might wade in” (3: iii). The waters get deeper in these poetical books, “here to the Loins,” but not so deep as the prophetical books that follow, where the waters cannot be crossed. They are “Depths in which an Elephant will not find Footing” (3: iii).13 A similar pattern of rising interpretive difficulty occurs in the New Testament, Henry says, from the gospels to the epistles to the apocalyptic vision of Revelation at the end. The poetical wisdom of the Old Testament mediates between history and prophecy, just as the epistles in the New Testament mediate between gospel history and apocalyptic vision. Emphasizing the centrality of the poetical books, Henry says, in them the very Sum and Substance of Religion, and what they contain is more fitted to our Hand, and made ready for use, than any part of the Old

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Henry’s celebration of the poetical books makes perfect sense in light of his previously stated goals of exposition: eschewing learned quarreling about history and prophecy, Henry wants his readers to be shaped by their use of the scriptures – not merely to understand them, but to have their affections and actions changed by them – and this is what the wisdom books do, why they are “stars of the first magnitude” in the firmament of scripture. Henry says the matter of the poetical books is “Doctrinal and Devotional,” telling us not simply what the people did, but “what their Notions and Sentiments were, what their Thoughts and Affections were; that we may, with the Help of them, form our Minds aright” (3: iv). That is the work of these books, though it is a work inseparable from their artistic, poetic form. Henry finds biblical authority legitimate not because he has decided that the Bible does indeed correspond to the historical record – he takes the historicity of the Bible for granted, deliberately steering his work and his readers away from the “labyrinths” of such debate (2: A2 r) – but rather because the legal power of scripture combines with the aesthetic response of the reader to forge a legitimate moral authority. Notice the way he praises the artistic form of the poetical books: The Books here put together are Poetical; Job is an heroick Poem, the Book of Psalms a Collection of divine Odes, or Lyricks; Solomon’s Songs a Pastoral and an Epithalamium: They are Poetical, and yet sacred and serious, grave and full of Majesty. They have a Poetick Force and Flame without Poetick Fury and Fiction; and strangely command and move the Affections, without corrupting the Imagination, or putting a Cheat upon that. (3: vi)

In these books of wisdom, the legal force of scripture is experienced as a “poetic force” that can “strangely command” and move the affections. Henry describes it as an affective exchange between poetry and law: poetry is not merely the vehicle for understanding law; rather, divine law is manifest in the poetry itself, lending the poetry a force that it did not have on its own. The poetry becomes more than “Fury and fiction” and the law of God more like a poetic than coercive, legal force. Henry’s care in handling legal language shows itself in other ways in his commentary. Take this passage from Ecclesiastes 9, from the King James or Authorized Version: This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: there was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king

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against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. (Eccl. 9.13–16)

This section of text is given first in Henry’s commentary, followed by his much longer explanation of its sense and the inferences that can be usefully drawn from the passage. Henry treats it as a straightforward political parable. He says, This Wisdom, i.e. this which he here describes, Wisdom which enables a Man to serve his Country, out of pure Affection to its Interests, when he himself gains no Advantage by it, no not so much as thanks for his pains, or the Reputation of it, this is the Wisdom which Solomon saith seem’d great unto him, v. 13. A publick Spirit in a private Sphere is Wisdom, which those who understand things that differ, cannot but look upon as very magnificent. (3: 603)

The “publick Spirit in a private Sphere” is Henry’s pithy formulation of the sense of this passage, and it shows Henry aware, like Locke, of the analogical connections between public and private virtue and of how they are forged by the discourse of wisdom. Biblical wisdom, according to Henry, maintains a sense of public responsibility; it carries with it a public force that differs from and can defeat the military force of an oppressive ruler. The passage commends, says Henry, “the great Usefulness and Excellency of Wisdom and what a Blessing it makes Men to their Country. Wisdom is better than strength” (3: 603). In Locke’s hands, the phrase a “publick Spirit in a private Sphere” might work to extend the rule of toleration into the realm of the conscience. In Henry’s hands, however, the private virtues of a man’s affection for his place move out into public action. The “poor wise man” holds no public office; he is not bound by civil responsibility. He is constrained by his poverty to be a man of the private sphere only, yet he embodies a public spirit nonetheless. Henry praises not the rule of public order over private conscience or their strict separation, as Locke advocates, but the generosity of a private wisdom that already contains within it a sense of public responsibility. Henry also shows his skill at drawing out the political implications of other passages in Ecclesiastes. For example, where it says, “keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard to the oath of God . . . Where the word of a king is, there is power” (Eccl. 8.2, 3), Henry comments on how the

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“duty of subjects is here described” and “they are much the same with those St. Paul useth, Rom. 13.1, &c” (3: 597). Elsewhere, the author of Ecclesiastes explains what happens “If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee” by deploying several cryptic proverbs, one of which is “whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him” (Eccl. 10.4, 8). Henry explains the analogy brilliantly, in the language of a common-law reasoner, treating it as warnings to both princes and subjects, who would “ride furiously over the ancient Land-Marks of the Constitution, and threaten the Subverting of it . . . Let neither Prince nor People violently attempt any Changes, nor make a forcible Entry upon a National Settlement, for they will both find it of dangerous Consequence” (3: 604). In other words, if either party, ruler or subjects, breaks the hedge that distinguishes and protects their prerogatives and rights, that party should expect to be bitten and come to harm. Part of what makes Henry’s commentary so remarkable is that he does not render everything in Ecclesiastes a political allegory; but when the sense of the passage calls for it, he points to the responsibilities of both prince and people. The Bible may seem now, in the light of secularism, a book addressed primarily to political subjects. But in Henry’s hands, drawing as he does on a long international tradition of biblical scholarship, it still has the capacity to speak to rulers and magistrates, to remind them of their duty, of a governor greater than they, and of ordinances that they have not made and dare not break. Henry’s attentiveness to “publick Spirit” lets the scriptures serve as an ongoing source for replanting hedges and mending walls between religious and civil authorities.

*** In the Chapter 3 on the Bible trade around the Atlantic, we looked at various ways the Bible functioned as a book of status. A handsome, quarto Bible purchased alongside other luxury goods and read at home could mark one as the member of a family of some distinction, while possessing a cheap, pocket Bible could mark one as an object of charity. To own a quarto Bible and use a pocket Bible might be to feel oneself middle classed – both a person of status and object of charity. In this chapter on eighteenth-century biblical criticism, we have looked at various ways the Bible functioned as a book of state. Collins makes the authorities of scripture and state a target of ridicule everywhere the two are combined. For Locke, the Bible is a book properly used to adjudicate an interior, individual realm of moral beliefs free from the force of state law, so long as the practical applications of such beliefs stay within the boundaries

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of toleration set by the state. For Henry, the Bible is a book that sometimes speaks to interior, private concerns, sometimes to broader, public ones. Whether taken up case by case, passage by passage, as by Henry, moved indoors by Locke, or ridiculed by Collins, the forensic authority of scripture gets carried into fiction where the Bible appears as a physical object. We looked at one example in Chapter 1, the scene from The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, which begins with Crusoe and the priest spying on Atkins’s attempt to convert his nameless native wife to Christianity. When Crusoe later makes his old Bible of private devotion serve as a prop for Atkins’s inauguration as governor of the island, Daniel Defoe is tapping the same source of ironic critique that fuels Collins’s writing, letting his readers see how strange it is to bolster state authority with that Bible. Instead of confining biblical authority to an interior realm of belief, as Locke advocates, Defoe imagines that “domestic governor” ruling the whole island. We will look at a different example in Chapter 9 on Tristram Shandy, where Laurence Sterne uses a Bible opened to the story of Jericho, and its troubling religious justifications of state violence, to displace the private love between Toby Shandy and the Widow Wadman. In these examples from Defoe and Sterne, the same two forms of biblical authority – call them individualistic and nationalistic – are combined to very different comic effect: Farther Adventures to help us laugh at the state, Tristram Shandy to help us laugh at love. To conclude this chapter and look ahead to the next on devotional reading, I want to discuss the Bible scene in Sarah Scott’s novel Millenium Hall (1762) because it draws so purposefully on the threads of legal authority we have been tracing in this chapter. It pulls on some of the irony of Collins, resists the interiorization exemplified by Locke, and amplifies the “publick Spirit” noticed by Henry. The fictional frame of the novel is a long letter by an unnamed, middleaged man writing to one of his fellow plantation owners in Jamaica. This unnamed narrator has recently returned to England to restore his health by traveling the countryside. He gives no account of his time in Jamaica. Sententious and morally self-satisfied, the narrator is accompanied by a skeptical, rakish young man named Lamont, whom he hopes to reform. When their carriage breaks down, the two men wander down a wide, treelined lane to a remarkable house and grounds occupied by a small community of single women, one of whom happens to be the narrator’s cousin, Mrs. Maynard. The men are shown some of the house, which the narrator names Millenium Hall, to emphasize its heavenly, otherworldly associations and to keep its actual location unknown, he says, out of deference to

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the modesty of the women. Mrs. Maynard shows them the gardens, the woods, a nearby tract of recently built low-income housing, a more secluded neighborhood for dwarves and the disabled, a separate house for impoverished gentlewomen, a school, various job-training programs, and a thriving rug and carpet factory. Along the way, Maynard narrates the interrelated histories of the founding women: Miss Mancel, Mrs. Morgan, Lady Mary Jones, Mrs. Selvyn, and Mrs. Trentham. As the novel nears its end, readers are left with the impression that Maynard could relate the histories of many other women, narrating almost forever the surprising connections of counsel, care, and help among them. The frame narrator is so moved by these stories, so impressed by the ongoing work of the women of Millenium Hall, and so surprised by their positive influence on young Lamont – who near the last page of the novel wakes up early one morning to start “reading the New Testament” (249) – that he finishes his account determined to follow their example on his own estate: “my thoughts are all engaged in a scheme to imitate them on a smaller scale” (249). Thus, the novel ends with Lamont set on a new course of reading, to discover for himself the “precepts” that guided these women to lead such exemplary lives (248), and the narrator determined on a new course of action. Lamont comes into the story already adept at a lighter version of Collins’s law of ridicule, which he uses not to break up any serious collusion between state and church, but only to tease and show himself witty – for example, when he alludes to the story of King Nebuchadnezzar, the king who ignored the warning given by the prophet Daniel, lost his sanity, and spent seven years eating grass with his cattle (Dan. 4.18–33). When Lamont sees the pastures near Millenium Hall, he quips that if Nebuchadnezzar had been condemned to friendship with cattle that happy and grass that good, his “expulsion from human society might not be the least agreeable part of his life” (57). A few pages later, Lamont sarcastically complains about the women of Millenium Hall not knowing the art of treating weighty subjects with lightness (64). Later in the novel, Lamont, more serious, tells Louisa Mancel that she talks about her obligations to others in too legal a fashion. Lamont’s objection and Mancel’s response are both difficult to explicate, but the exchange shows that Scott is thinking about the Bible as a law that binds not so much at a national level (what Collins worries about) or at an individual level (what Locke worries about), but at a level somewhere in between – at what we might call the level of civil society (Said, Orientalism, 11; Hardt). For men such as Lamont, moral obligation is a matter of opinion, derived from what most other men do, and not a legal matter at

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all. Lamont suggests that a moral choice or good action can only be moral or good to the degree that it is made or done apart from any binding legal obligation. Mancel will call this line of moral deliberation a misguided attempt to “escape the iron hand of the legislative power.” For Mancel, the Bible is not where we escape the law but where we engage in a better form of legal reasoning. Four things to notice going into this long, important passage on the Bible in Millenium Hall: First, the law that Mancel says Christians should find in the Bible is “independent” of all other religious and secular laws, even English common law exemplified by “Coke on Littlelton,” a reference to Sir Edward Coke’s lastingly influential Institutes of the Laws of England (1628). Second, that law is not yet completely known; it does not exist statically fixed in the past, but rather is “to be found” in the future. Third, those who obey scripture’s independent, not yet fully known law “never offend essentially against the private ordinances of any community.” So this law, independent of all other legal traditions and of the communities that instantiate them, nevertheless equips its followers to live peacefully within those other communities. Fourth, this law is binding regardless of our consent to its particulars. Here is the passage in full about the source from which Christians are to take their rule of life: From whence, answered Miss Mancel, should a Christian take them, from the Alcoran, think you, or from the wiser Confucius, or would you seek in Coke on Littleton, that you may escape the iron hand of the legislative power? No, surely, the Christian’s law is written in the Bible, there, independent of the political regulations of particular communities, is to be found the law of the supreme Legislator. There, indeed, is contained the true and invariable law of nations; and according to our performance of it, we shall be tried by a Judge whose wisdom and impartiality secure him from error, and whose power is able to execute his own decrees. This is the law I meant, and whoever obeys it can never offend essentially against the private ordinances of any community. This all to whom it has been declared are bound to obey, my consent to receive it for the rule of my actions is not material; for as whoever lives in England must submit to the laws of the country, though he may be ignorant of many of the particulars of them, so whoever lives in a Christian land is obliged to obey the laws of the Gospel, or to suffer for infringing them; in both cases, therefore, it is prudent for every man to acquaint himself thoroughly with these ordinances, which he cannot break with impunity. (166–67)

Mancel’s invocation of the forensic authority of scripture does not depend on a description of the Bible itself or of any plain, obvious sense found by simply opening the book. As we shall see in Chapter 5 on devotional

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reading, finding such a law in the Bible proves no easy task. Rather, this passage is better understood as describing a multifaceted way of reading, one that keeps in mind the laws of nations, the ordinances of smaller communities, and the legal relationships to which we have given our consent, and then – and this is the difficult part – that thinks beyond all of them to obligations not represented by any national, social, or individual law. The Bible is not a primitive version of such laws, not their root or foundation, but a book we read to think through existing laws, to gain a sense of responsibility toward one another that exceeds those laws. Mancel’s line of thinking does not try to break the link between legal reasoning and moral reasoning, the way Lamont’s does, following Collins; nor does Mancel simply internalize legal metaphors the way Locke does, as if shifting moral reasoning indoors, into proper forms of inward intellection, could thereby set us free from external, legal force. Instead, Mancel, more like Henry, extensifies the law, setting it apart from the legal traditions of any state and above the rational choice or consent of individuals. Christian readers today accustomed by secularism, as I have been, to thinking of “grace” as law’s opposite will find Scott’s reflections on the legal force of scripture puzzling, to say the least. My own ability to imagine a life-affirming law connected to but not reducible to existing national, social, or individual laws has been greatly helped by scriptural reasoning – a practice where Jews, Muslims, and Christians meet together to read one another’s scriptures. Jews and Muslims have taught me to pay closer, better attention to legal discourse in the New Testament, in passages such as Matthew 5.17 or Romans 8.2. More recently, I have been helped by Sandra Macpherson’s brilliant book Harm’s Way, which connects eighteenthcentury fiction and tort law, that is, the law regarding accidental, unintended damage done by things that belong to us. When, say, a wheel from the carriage I own breaks loose and injures a child passing by in the street, or when a cow escapes the fence I built for it and tramples my neighbor’s garden, tort law determines the extent to which I am to blame for things that I did not intend, how responsible I am for damages that I am not guilty of causing. Macpherson shows how writers such as Daniel Defoe, Frances Sheridan, and Samuel Richardson were concerned about our obligations to those we meet by accident and about how we might be responsible for harms done to others that we did not intend; so instead of reading fiction from the period as a kind of prehistory of the liberal subject, anxiously justifying its motives and defending its interior freedoms, Macpherson shows a contrary, arguably stronger concern in eighteenthcentury fiction with accidents that cause harm regardless of intent and with

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relationships formed by chance encounter. Macpherson’s showing an alternative legal tradition at work in fiction that prioritizes relationships beyond those of kin and consent can help us catch the similarly extralegal way of reading scripture that Scott advocates in Millenium Hall. Asking whether such a not-yet-fully-discovered transnational, social, or individual law exists in the Bible is like asking whether such a place as Millenium Hall exists. The word utopia is from the Greek topos or place and prefixed by an ou or not that sounds like eu or good, thus a good place that is like no place. Millenium Hall is typically and rightly considered a Christian, feminist, utopian novel, a fictional representation of the social ideals of Scott, her sister Elizabeth Montague, and their circle of late eighteenth-century “bluestocking” feminists (Bannet, “Bluestocking”). Scott’s novel is remarkably free of the ironic, difficult-to-pin-down tone of older utopias such as Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) or Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1627). Millenium Hall may start with a similar air of detached narrative description and bemused condescension, directed toward the women’s seemingly otherworldly activities (63), but the novel conjures that kind of utopian air mainly to dispel it, to turn the seemingly impossible to the practical, to give readers a glimpse of what might actually be done in the world. Mancel invokes the Bible as the unomia of Scott’s utopia – the good nomos or law like no law of Scott’s good place like no place – but its ordinances are not self-evident or already written on the page. They are “to be found” through a form of reading that Scott’s novel primes us to participate in. One remarkable, formal feature of Scott’s novel is the way it invites reflection on the relationship between the women’s histories, narrated by Mrs. Maynard, and the various activities of Millenium Hall. Each narrative break or interruption – whether for a meal, prayer service, or further description of what is happening around the hall – answers to the previous story and anticipates the next, as if each feature of the grounds, each activity supported by the women, were a practical outworking of their stories. Mrs. Morgan might not have been forced by family circumstances into a bad marriage if there had been a house for an “indigenous gentlewoman,” a “sisterhood” that she could have joined (127). Lady Mary Jones might not have suffered the way she did when coming out into society had there been a school like the kind shown at the end of the narrative about her woefully superficial education (198). Neither the frame narrator nor Mrs. Maynard makes these connections between the inset narratives about the women and the descriptions of what is happening around the hall. They are connections that the structure of Scott’s novel invites readers to

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make. Actions answer story, story is shaped by the activity of the hall, and we as readers are left to figure out how one informs the other. Scott’s novel teaches, by its inset narratives and intervening descriptions of Millenium Hall, a kind of double attentiveness to lives told and lives lived. When we get to the end of Millenium Hall, Scott performs a different sleight of hand with the Bible than Defoe did when he had Crusoe give his Bible to incoming governor Atkins. That Bible, I suggested in Chapter 1, showed the almost comic tenuousness of Crusoe’s and Atkins’s rule over the island; but the Bible that Scott has Lamont reading near the end of the book works to show the strength of the society formed by the women of Millenium Hall. Lamont was so “convinced by the conduct of the ladies of this house, that their religion must be the true one” that “he had risen at day break to get a Bible out of the parlour, that he might study precepts, which could thus exalt human nature almost to divine” (248). It is easy to miss the audacity of this appearance of the Bible. Lamont is searching the New Testament for the same “precepts” of wise action that we as readers are searching for in Millenium Hall – doing with the book in his hand what we are likely doing with the book in ours. The resonant context of Lamont’s reading of the New Testament is the conduct of the women of Millenium Hall, which suggests that if we as readers want to understand the precepts of the Bible, we might be better off looking not to the history of ancient Israel, the early church, or the history of England, but to the imagined lives of these women, to what they do together in this novel. Here, Henry might say, is a “publick Spirit” that excels the prevailing one.

chapter 5

Object of Intimacy: Devotional Uses of the Eighteenth-Century Bible

Set on the table in front of you is a thick, closed quarto Bible, its brown calfskin cover worn smooth by time and use. When you open the book, it does not creak or crack. The strength and flexibility of the binding surprise you. It opens easily to the first pages, where you see a printed engraving of King George I facing a title page that is not, you notice, the title page of the Bible. It is THE | BOOK | OF | COMMON PRAYER, | And Administration of the | SACRAMENTS, | AND OTHER | Rites and Ceremonies | OF THE | CHURCH, | According to the Use of the | Church of England: | Together with the | PSALTER or PSALMS | OF | DAVID, | Pointed as they are to be Sung or Said in churches. | OXFORD: | Printed by john baskett, Printer to the university. | M DCC XX VIII.

The words BOOK, CHURCH, and DAVID stand out in the largest capitals. You rub the corner of the title page gently between your thumb and forefinger, feeling the weight and texture of the paper. Slowly, more confident about the book’s durability, you begin turning the pages. While the text of scripture in the King James translation remained basically the same through the long eighteenth-century, Bibles themselves varied. Enormous, coffee-table-sized folios adorned the lecterns at the front of massive collegiate and cathedral churches. Midsize quartos, similar in size to modern-day reference books, were often used for family worship or prominently displayed in the house. Smaller, handheld octavo and duodecimo Bibles could fit into a pocket and be carried to church or used for private devotions. And because Bibles, like other books in the eighteenth century, were sometimes sold unbound in sheets, they also varied in contents: the text of scripture could be bound together with the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the Apocrypha, illustrations, interleaved blank pages for study notes, blank pages for family events, chronological indexes, concordances, tables of weights and measures, maps, and metrical Psalters. 125

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Among the eighteenth-century Bibles extant on library shelves today, larger format Bibles (folios and quartos) tend to include more of this apparatus for Bible reading, but many smaller Bibles do as well. So while no two Bibles were exactly alike, the quarto Bible on the table in front of us – prefaced by the BCP, full of printed cross-references in the margins of its Old and New Testaments, and concluded by various appendixes – may be considered a fair representative of Bibles from the period, a kind of median.1 It was printed and probably first bound together close to 1730, about halfway through the period 1660–1800. And its middling size made it fit for use in family worship, that midsize congregation larger than oneself but smaller than the parish. Attending to what is between the covers of this book, we can learn a great deal about how the Bible was read and used in the eighteenth century. Turning past the title page of the BCP, for a quick tour through this whole Bible, we notice that the BCP begins with “The Act of Uniformity of Common Prayer, and Service in the Church, and Administration of the Sacraments” passed by parliament during “PRIMO ELIZABETHÆ,” the first regnal year of Queen Elizabeth, or 1559. The title of the law and name of the queen are clearly legible in a large typeface at the top of the page, but the text of the law is so small and printed in two columns so wide that it actively discourages reading. Similarly, the next page: “An Act for the Uniformity of Publick Prayers, and Administration of Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies: And for establishing the Form of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in the Church of England,” passed in “XIV CAROLI II,” the fourteenth regnal year of Charles II, or 1662. Next is the more legible “Preface” to the 1662 edition of the BCP that briefly discusses the long history of using prayer books in the church and gives reasons for prayer-book reform in the late sixteenth century. The following pages contain a series of tables identifying which scriptures are to be read on Sundays and holidays throughout the church year, another table to calculate the date of “moveable feasts” such as Easter and Advent from 1701 to 1740, and then the “The Kalendar” – a set of tables organized by month that list the scripture readings for morning and evening prayer, every day throughout the year. Keep turning the pages of the BCP, and you’ll notice its orders for morning and evening prayer; collects for prayer on specific occasions; its orders for communion, baptism, catechism, matrimony, visitation of the sick, burial of the dead, and the “churching” or purification of women after childbirth; and then a page titled “Commination, or Denouncing of God’s

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Anger and Judgments against Sinners.” Next are the “Psalms of David,” all 150, divided into morning and evening prayer for 30 days so the entire Psalter can be read through every month. The psalms are followed by several pages of “Forms of prayer to be used at Sea,” and then forms of prayer to be used for thanksgiving every November 5 for the “happy deliverance of James I” from the Gunpowder Plot; every January 30 for “the day of Martyrdom of the Blessed King Charles the 1st”; and every May 29 for “the Restauration of the government” of Charles II “after many Years interruption.” It concludes with the Church of England’s 39 articles of religion. It is only after the pages of the BCP that you get to the title page of the Authorized or King James Version of the Bible: THE HOLY | BIBLE, |Containing the OLD and NEW | TESTAMENTS: | Newly Translated out of the | Original Tongues: | And with the former | TRANSLATIONS | Diligently Compared and Revised. | By his Majesties Special Command. |Appointed to Read in CHURCHES. | OXFORD: | Printed by JOHN BASKETT, Printer to the | UNIVERSITY. M DCC XX VIII.

Turn the page and the book of Genesis appears in two columns and in a slightly larger typeface than the BCP. At the top of the outside margin on the first page of Genesis, you notice that it says “Before Christ 4004.” Keep turning and “Before Christ 2449” catches your eye, as does “Before Christ 2348” a bit later. Scattered in the margins below, to the left and right of the columns of text, there are Hebrew glosses and abbreviated references to other biblical verses. Let the pages roll slowly beneath your thumb, and the years indicated at the top of the margin slowly descend toward zero as you approach the book of Matthew, where you find “Anno Dom. 26.” You notice the books of the Apocrypha are included. As you flip back to some blank leaves bound between the Old and New Testaments, you notice several handwritten lists commemorating the births, marriages, and deaths of various family members – the earliest in 1750, the latest in 1810. Keep thumbing through the pages and the years slowly ascend. “Anno Dom. 60,” it says in the margin of the epistle to the Galatians. “Anno Dom. 96,” it says in the Apocalypse of Saint John, but that book is not quite the end of this Bible. After the book of Revelation, there is “An Index to the Holy Bible, or an Account of the most remarkable Passages in the Books of the Old and New Testament: Pointing to the Time wherein they happened; and to the Places of Scripture wherein they are recorded.” What follows are thirty-one

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double-column pages, where, within each column, three sub-columns list in chronological order the year, the corresponding passage from the Bible, and a brief summary of that passage. The numbered ages of the world are noted at the top of the summary column, so, for example, Noah’s flood marks the transition between “The First Age of the World” and “The Second Age of the World.” The birth of Jesus marks the transition from “The Sixth Age of the World” to the “The Seventh Age of the World” – the age that readers presumably still live in today. After the index come the “Tables of Scripture-Measures, Weights, and Coins,” with lengthy discussions connecting biblical and English systems of measurement. Then “A Table of Kindred and Affinity, wherein whosoever are related, are forbidden in Scripture, and our Laws, to marry together.” One column lists thirty relations that “A man may not marry,” the other thirty relations that “A woman may not marry.” Next is “A Table of Time” that explains biblical months, days, and periods of the day. Then, “A Table of the Offices and Conditions of Men,” which lists and briefly describes various governmental and ecclesial offices mentioned in scripture. After that table, you keep turning to the title page of “The Whole Book of Psalms Collected into English Metre by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopkins, and others,” printed in 1726 by A. Wilde for the Company of Stationers. Turn through this triple-columned collection of psalms, which are translated into a rhyming hymn-meter – the third version of the psalms in this Bible, you note – and you arrive at an index for them arranged by first lines. At the bottom of this page, it says – and finally is – “THE END.” What can this representative Bible tell us about the devotional uses of scripture in the eighteenth century? To begin to explore that question in this chapter, I look briefly at the role of the BCP and how it works with the Bible to make the state sacred. This section looks back to Chapter 4, on the forensic authority of scripture, where I discussed ways that the Bible influenced biblical criticism as a book of state. Next, I look briefly at how the BCP, sermons, and scripture work together to make certain social occasions sacred. That section looks back to Chapter 3, on the printing and distribution of scripture, where I discussed ways that the Bible functioned as a book of social status. The short sections on political and social authority anticipate the main topic of this chapter: the reading practices called for by the printed features of a typical page of biblical text. I will use a page from the book of Job as my main illustration. The layout of a typical page of biblical text and its printed marginalia mediate for readers what Paul Ricoeur in Time and Narrative calls the time of the world and the time of the soul; but the

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printed page does so in a way that pulls readers out of the flow of biblical narrative and out of the flow of the narrative of their own lives, effectively reducing the time of the soul to momentary reflection on a set of single, isolated verses – a meditative practice confirmed by devotional books of the period such as The Whole Duty of Man. In other words, the printed page of the Bible, its apparatus of reading, slows readers down to a kind of contemplative standstill and stops them in an internal act of selfcriticism and correction, a posture of reading that bears a surprising resemblance to forms of suspicious reading discussed by Rita Felski in The Limits of Critique. I aim to show that the resistance to narrative called for by a printed page of biblical text creates counterpressures for reentering the flow of time, as I discuss briefly at the end of the chapter, counterpressures that get taken up in different ways by novel reading.

The Bible and State Authority No book mattered more to the eighteenth-century Bible in England than the Book of Common Prayer. First published in 1549 – just ten years after Henry VIII’s “Great Bible,” the first complete Bible published in English – the BCP was modified intermittently until its most extensive revision in 1662, where it took the form that it would maintain, with few changes, until 1928.2 The BCP was regularly bound with the Old and New Testaments in the eighteenth century. In the largest library collection of English Bibles – at Cambridge University – a little more than one in four of the extant Bibles printed between 1700 and 1759 begin with the BCP. As we saw in Chapter 3 on the Bible trade, these are the decades when the ambition to make Bible printing an exclusively governmental operation reached its peak. The numbers are lower between 1660 and 1700, when about one in seven Bibles included a BCP, and fall off precipitously in the 1760s and 1770s (about one in twenty-five). There are no extant Bibles with BCPs in the Cambridge collection for the last two decades of the century. Prefaced by the BCP, the Bible seems less the law of God than the law of the state. The two laws that begin the BCP, the laws that we could see but not read in the front of our representative Bible, mark two crucial junctures in the long history of the Reformation in England. In 1559, Elizabeth’s reinstating the Prayer Book effectively excluded Catholics from statesanctioned common worship in England, while the 1662 revision of the Prayer Book under Charles II effectively excluded Protestant Nonconformists. The first Act of Toleration in 1689 did not overturn these Acts of Uniformity; rather, as I suggested in Chapter 4, toleration

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narrowed the focus of what the state recognized as religious. The illegibility of the laws printed at the front of the BCP makes sense if we remember that their main purpose was to call for the careful revision and publication of the BCP itself. As Brian Cummings points out, the BCP is a “statutory artefact” (744); if we can read the main content of the BCP, we are in effect reading that act of Parliament: “the Act is the Book, and the Book is the Act” (Cummings 746). The Bible then, insofar as it is prefaced by the BCP, might be said to originate for readers as an act of parliament, a legal gift of state.3

The Bible and Social Authority Bound with the Bible or not, the liturgies of the BCP established many of the most important contexts where the Bible was heard in public. When the Bible was read aloud in church, for example, it was usually for a service scripted by the BCP: Morning Prayer, Communion, or Evening Prayer. Many of its most memorable phrases – to love and to cherish; ashes to ashes, dust to dust; and world without end, amen – are mistakenly thought to be quotations from scripture. When the Bible was heard outside of the church, at a baptism, wedding, funeral, or service at sea, it was, again, heard as an adornment to the ceremonial words of the BCP. “In the breadth of this practical influence,” says Cummings in his excellent introduction to the Oxford World’s Classics edition of the BCP, “Prayer Book prose has seeped into the collective consciousness more profoundly than that of any other book written in English, even the Bible. Millions of English-speaking people, godly, wicked, or indifferent, have been baptized, married, or buried to its words” (ix). Whatever role the King James Bible has played in the formation of English national identity and social life, its part was largely given to it by the BCP, that enduring liturgical script by which the scripture was so often performed. In fact, one could argue that the BCP is not the preface to our representative Bible so much as the Bible is the appendix to the BCP, included within its covers to give readers everything they needed for worship according to the rites of the Church of England. However we rank the relative influence of the BCP and KJB, finding them bound together in eighteenth-century Bibles serves as a material reminder that they depended on each other to stay as unaltered as they did. They kept each other constant, unchanged for more than 200 years. The social force of scripture can also be felt in printed sermons from the period. We saw in Chapter 3 how sermons frequently marked affairs of

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state, like gatherings of the assize court or public executions, but sermons were also delivered at numerous social occasions, of which the Sunday morning gathering was only one.4 A modern-day equivalent to the eighteenth-century sermon might be the university lecture, if professors were called on to speak regularly at gatherings outside the university. If at public events today – not just civil events such as the installing of a government official or beginning of a legislative session, but public events such as the opening of a new hospital or beginning of an annual board meeting for a corporation – the custom were to have a professor in a tweed coat or smart blouse give a lecture, then we would have some sense of the public role of clergy in the eighteenth century.5 Leaning on the bibliographic work of John Gordon Spaulding, Appendix 3 lists the frequency by decade of the four most popular printed sermon texts between 1660 and 1782.6 No passage of scripture was preached more frequently than Romans 13.1–7, which begins, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” (KJB) or, as it is translated today, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” (NRSV), a commonplace for Christian theological reflection on civil authority. It is a passage that in many ways seems to block challenges to the prevailing political system, turning readers’ attention elsewhere, to things outside the purview of the government, whether social or private.7 And yet the sermon data is perhaps most remarkable for showing that no single passage of scripture can be said to dominate preaching from the period. Sermons were marked by a bewildering diversity of public occasions that defy categorization.8 For example, one of the main sources for Spaulding’s work, Sampson Letsome’s Preacher’s Assistant of 1753, gives an introductory list of almost 300 different “subject” or occasion abbreviations for the sermons that follow. In “The Preacher’s Helper,” Françoise DeconinckBrossard explains how in putting together a computer database of Letsome’s work she discovered that he had listed “4,865 distinct subjects” – more than a third of the 13,734 entries. What these sprawling subject lists suggest is that clergy preached at a wide variety of public occasions and chose whatever text they felt to be suitable, whether or not it was listed as the lectionary reading for the day. It may be that the regular reading of scripture in church freed clergy from the obligation to preach through books of the Bible in order. Instead, they chose texts to suit the occasion.9 The Bible worked metonymically so that a small part, the single verse that provides the “text” for the sermon, carried with it the authority of the Bible as a whole. A tincture of biblical text provided enough divine authority to diffuse the whole event and make it a legitimate social occasion.

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The Implied Reader of the Eighteenth-Century Bible Throughout this chapter, when I refer to the reader or to readers, I have in mind not actual, flesh-and-blood readers who might find themselves confused, moved to tears, or bored by the pages of the Bible, but rather what Wolfgang Iser calls an “implied reader,” a kind of ego-ideal reader called forth by particular features of the printed book – an ideal, it should be said, frequently neglected by actual Bible readers, and thankfully so. Too often the Bible is thought by religious and secular critics alike to aspire to absolute power over its readers, to command their total effacement by some blinding injunction delivered in the text. Were there space enough in this chapter to make the case, I would argue that, on the contrary, scripture (and any literature worth spending time with) has a way of generating readings not implied by its own text, readings that belong to actual readers more than the scripture (or literature) itself. The Bible scenes in the fiction that I write about in this book are examples of such actual readings, where the Bible is put to uses that the biblical texts do not themselves mandate. I mention this to keep open for those of us reading today the possible relationships we might imagine between ideal and actual readers in the eighteenth century. Also, while it seems fair to presume that the everywhere-dimly-felt-but -impossible-to-live-up-to-ideal of eighteenth-century Bible reading that I disclose in this chapter was not always followed by actual eighteenthcentury Bible readers, this does not mean that Bible reading was on the decline, that people were not actually reading the Bible, or that if they were, such reading was not legitimate, not really religious. It would be a mistake to identify the implied reader as “religious” and actual readers as “secular,” or vice versa. The implied reader of the eighteenth-century Bible was freighted with a combination of secular and religious obligations; both forces flow through the experience of actual Bible readers. Reading that does not conform to the implied ideal is not necessarily “secular.” Many people who read the Bible religiously in the eighteenth century, who used the language of scripture to work through their grief at the loss of a child or to enthusiastically praise God or to criticize a social injustice, often did so against or outside the protocols of the implied reader. In this way, their religious use of scripture might be felt by themselves or perceived by others to be irreligious. All this is to say that delineating the implied devotional reader of an eighteenth-century Bible will make it easier in subsequent chapters to notice the activity of actual readers.

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The Sunday, Holiday, and Everyday Bibles of the BCP The BCP lectionary tables recommend to their ideal readers three different ways of reading the Bible, or three different ways of thinking about the scriptures as a whole: the Sunday Bible, the holiday Bible, and the everyday Bible. First, the table of “Lessons proper for Sundays” selects mainly Old Testament passages that correspond to or prefigure events in the Christian liturgical calendar. This Sunday Bible begins with the book of Isaiah at the beginning of the church year, which was read to commemorate Advent and Christmas; it then goes back to Genesis, moving roughly in order through the law, history, and prophets of the Old Testament, ending with the wisdom literature of Proverbs for the last six “Sundays after Trinity,” thus concluding the months-long, last season of the church year after Easter, sometimes called “ordinary time.” Passages from the New Testament specified for Sundays are relatively few. This first Bible, then, the one heard on Sundays, is effectively a selection of Old Testament passages chosen to prefigure not the New Testament so much as the events of the church, making present-day Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter the culmination of Jewish history and prophecy. More pointedly, because the end-of-the-year readings focus on the book of Proverbs, individual parishioners may have felt in that book’s moral injunctions the accumulated weight of Jewish history and church tradition. This Sunday Bible carried biblical history through the gatherings of the church to individual lives. The wisdom literature of the Bible features even more prominently in the table of “Lessons proper for Holidays,” which we might say is the second Bible given to lectionary readers of the BCP. These holidays celebrate the lives of the saints, beginning with Saint Andrew on November 30, from which the first Sunday of Advent is determined, and ending with All Saints’ Day on November 1. The Bible lessons for these saints’ days concentrate on the wisdom books of the Old Testament (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job) as well as the Apocrypha (Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus [also called Sirach]). The book of Ecclesiasticus is read almost in its entirety during the Christian year, beginning with Saint Matthias Day on February 24 (Ecclus. 1), then the Annunciation of Mary on March 25 (Ecclus. 2 and 3) and continuing, with some chapters omitted, to Saint Luke’s day on October 18 (Ecclus. 51). Like the first Bible – the Sunday Bible, which begins with scriptures that resonate with events in the life of the church and ends with the book of Proverbs and its emphasis on practical wisdom in the life of ordinary believers – this second

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Bible, the holiday Bible, also connects the past lives of the saints to the present lives of the parishioners through the wisdom literature of scripture. The holiday Bible gathers its listeners into the transgenerational community remembered in the Apostles Creed: “the communion of Saints.” The third Bible is the everyday or calendar Bible, which has its ideal readers start on January 1, reading Genesis 1 for the first lesson of morning prayer and Matthew 1 for the second lesson. During evening prayer, they read Genesis 2 for the first lesson and Romans 1 for the second. On that first day, they would also be reading Psalms 1 through 5 in the morning and Psalms 6 through 8 in the evening. These psalms are not listed in the calendar, but they are marked for daily reading elsewhere, in the BCP Psalter. Thus, if readers kept to this schedule, they would read the whole book of Psalms once a month, the New Testament three times a year, and the Old Testament once a year. It is important to note that this calendar, or everyday Bible, is not read straight through from beginning to end. It gives the Bible whole but not in continuous prose; it presents the Bible more like a string quartet, with the book of Psalms providing the complex, recurring pattern of bass notes for the cello, above which one can hear the Old Testament, the gospels, and the epistles as they rise, fade, and play their variations through the year. These three Bibles combine a number of temporalities, each with its own way of marking time – weekly, intermittently through the year, and daily. The Sunday Bible, first of the three, connects readers to what we might call cultural or civilizational time: it links the history of ancient Israel to the recurring year of the Church of England. Meanwhile, the second, the holiday Bible, connects readers to biographical time: the time of a single life exemplified by the saints. And the third, or everyday Bible, connects in turn to the Sunday and holiday Bible through the BCP calendar, which pulls together additional times. For example, listed in the same column with the saints’ days are key events in the history of the British monarchy: the Gunpowder Plot was foiled on November 5, Charles I was martyred on January 30, Charles II was restored to the throne on May 29, and George I (who reigned when the BCP in our representative Bible was published) began his rule on August 1. These dates enroll monarchs among the heroes of the church, effectively joining royal time to the biographical time of the saints and connecting both to the everyday time of the reader. The BCP calendar, keeping roughly to the movement of the sun and moon as it is organized by day and month, also connects civilizational time and biographical time to cosmological time. Easter Sunday, for example, is a “moveable” feast; it is not fixed to a certain day on the calendar but occurs

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on the Sunday after the first full moon after March 21. The rest of the “moveable feasts” in the church year are arranged around this Sunday. All together, these three tables of lectionary readings – Sunday, holiday, calendrical – suggest that the authority of the Bible had less to do with its projecting a single master narrative that encompasses or supersedes all times, all history, and much more to do with its assembling many different times – civilizational, biographical, and cosmological – and connecting them to the time of reading.

Narrating the Time of the World and the Time of the Soul In his three-volume Time and Narrative, Ricoeur takes up a long tradition of writing about time that can help us think about how time is organized for the ideal eighteenth-century Bible reader. Ricoeur begins in the first volume and returns in the last volume to Augustine’s Confessions and Aristotle’s Poetics: Augustine to raise questions about our subjective experience of time, the time of the soul, and Aristotle to raise questions about the objective movement of physical time, outside our experience, the time of the world. Ricoeur’s aim is to show the “irreducibility of one to another” (3: 4): that is, physical time cannot be fully explained in terms of phenomenological time; nor can phenomenological time, our internal sense of time, be fully explained in terms of physical time. Ricoeur writes insightfully throughout Time and Narrative about the way scholars chafe against, avoid, and try to overcome conventional, human experience of time. They try to describe time as it is in itself, free from all human, subjective conception. For example, historians resist conventions of narrative history that presume human action to be the sole, driving force of historical change; literary critics try to reduce numerous individual instances of fictional narrative to simple sets of governing rules. And yet, as Ricoeur points out, in each case the time that scholars try to avoid reappears in the time that they are chasing. Ricoeur points to those traces of not-so-forgotten time to highlight the weaknesses of these various scholarly projects and also to make something of those weaknesses, to use them reparatively. Ricoeur’s aim with Time and Narrative is not to give an all-encompassing “poetics of narrative” that matches completely our various senses of time, but rather to show more clearly how all poetics respond to the “aporetics of temporality” that he describes in volume 3. Ricoeur’s work is a careful gathering up of the productive, irresolvable difficulties of our theories and experiences of time that keep us writing history and fiction.

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To illustrate some of these difficulties and to set the stage for my discussion of the printed page of the Bible that follows, it will help to look briefly at how Ricoeur reads Aristotle and Augustine. Ricoeur notices that Augustine’s abstruse reflections on God’s eternity in book 11 of the Confessions make almost no mention of his experience of God as narrated in the previous ten books of his autobiography, as if Augustine’s temporal experiences of God were an impediment, something to be forgotten or overcome, in thinking about God’s eternity. Ricoeur makes the connection for Augustine by noting, first, the way that Augustine relies on the language of the psalms so frequently in his spiritual autobiography (books 1–10) and, second, the way that Augustine gives, at a key moment in book 11, an example of reciting a psalm by heart – what Ricoeur calls the “crown jewel” of Augustine’s speculations about time and eternity (Ricoeur 1: 19). The great insight of Augustine’s contemplation of God’s eternity, according to Ricoeur, happens in his description of the temporal movement that occurs during the reading of a psalm. In the act of reading, Augustine anticipates verses of the psalm to come that he then remembers; expectation and memory combine during the reading; future, present, and past are experienced as one and the same time. Ricoeur shows that Augustine’s best thinking about cosmological time turns out to be an extrapolation of his psychological experience of time while reading. With Aristotle’s Poetics, Ricoeur notices that when Aristotle writes about the way Greek tragedy imitates human action on stage – the way it grasps and assembles the events it performs – Aristotle presupposes narrative qualities of the world offstage. Ricoeur says, “Whatever the mind contributes to the grasping of before and after – and we might add, whatever the mind constructs on this basis through narrative activity – it finds succession in things before taking it up again in itself. The mind begins by submitting to succession and even suffering it, before constructing it” (3: 16). In other words, the mental work of plotting tragic stories in the theater works because human action in the world is already plotted. However, when Aristotle writes about time in Physics, he does not touch on the preunderstandings of narrative in the world that he discloses in Poetics. Ricoeur points to this oversight to show that while Aristotle’s thinking about physical time owes something to his thinking about plot and representation in tragedy, the two temporalities – psychological and cosmological – are never explicitly compared. With Augustine alone, we might be led to think that time is purely psychological and so an illusion that we project out onto the world; or, with Aristotle, that time is purely physical and therefore best represented

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by tragedy, whereby we see ourselves suffering time’s ultimately overpowering force. But Ricoeur juxtaposes Augustine and Aristotle to show that psychological time and cosmological time are related but not reducible to one another. Ricoeur leaves open the aporias between our internal time consciousness and the physical time of the world. His aporias are not Godshaped vacuums or empty places to fill in with theology, but openings in immanent experience that call for various forms of narrative crossing, whether those be scientific, historical, theological, fictional, or some other form of narrative. At the very end of Time and Narrative, where he discusses the Bible and its combination of narrative and nonnarrative elements, Ricoeur briefly acknowledges that narrative is not the only or the ultimate way to speak of time. Thinking perhaps about the way some books of the Bible are mainly narrative and others poetry, or perhaps about the way that lyric poems are set within the narratives of books such as Genesis or Deuteronomy, Ricoeur says, “This conjunction, in the Bible, between the narrative and the nonnarrative, invites us to inquire whether in other forms of literature as well, narrative does not join its meaning effects to those of other genres, to speak of what in time is most rebellious when it comes to representation” (3: 272). In contrast to the scripture that Ricoeur recognizes as combining narrative and nonnarrative forms – as joining narrative and poetry to represent our most difficult experiences of time – the eighteenth-century Bible, as we shall see in the next section, takes a lower, critical view of narrative; it breaks up the narratives of scripture, tears them into small pieces for verse-at-a-time exposition and meditation.

The Implied Self-Critical, Narrative-Resistant Bible Reader Consider the final leaf of the book of Job as representing all the pages in our representative Bible (Figures 4–5).10 Why the book of Job? Any two pages would suffice for the discussion that follows, but the book of Job was especially important in the eighteenth century. As Jonathan Lamb has shown in The Rhetoric of Suffering, when eighteenth-century writers could not reconcile the facts of particular cases to general theoretical systems – whether philosophical, legal, political, or moral systems – the figure of Job would appear, sometimes to smooth over discrepancies, to make facts conform to theory, or sometimes, more rarely, to amplify discrepancies and hold contradictions open.11 Samuel Richardson’s Meditations includes passages allegedly composed by Clarissa during

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her captivity, several of which are included in the novel. Copying out verses of scripture to suit her spiritual and emotional condition,12 Clarissa draws most often from the book of Job, a book that combines poetry and narrative: the prose fable accounts of Job’s loss of prosperity at the beginning of the book (1.1–2.13) and his return to prosperity at the end (42.7–17) frame the longer, poetic, philosophical debates between Job and his friends, and between Job and God. Speculating about why this particular book of the Bible combines prose and poetry the way it does provides a point of comparison for the ways that eighteenth-century fiction writers appropriated a Bible whose power was understood at the time in mainly poetic terms. The recto page (Figure 4) begins with Job 39.11. The verso (Figure 5) ends with Job 42.17. Chapter numbers are given at the top center of the page between brief thematic summaries, also at the top, so from left to right, “God’s power in his creatures,” “Of the behemoth,” “God’s power in the leviathan,” and “Job’s prosperity, age and death.” These columnheader summaries are not original to the scriptures, but they are included in Bibles from at least 1611 through the eighteenth century. Also typical of eighteenth-century Bibles are the extrascriptural plot summaries given at the beginning of every chapter, keyed to particular verses. Alternative textual readings are indicated by a pair of parallel vertical lines in the text and given in the margins: “Behold now, || behemoth” it says in 40.15 with the note in the margin: “|| Or, the elephant; as some think.” Job 41.1 asks “Canst thou draw out || leviathan with an hook?” and the margin says, “|| That is, a whale, or, a whirlpool.” Daggers in the text (†) point to the Hebrew glosses in the margin, and superscript letters in the text indicate a biblical reference in the margin. The paragraph symbol (¶), or pilcrow, indicates a section break, as determined by translators and tradition, but it keeps those breaks inconspicuous. For example, the pilcrow at the beginning of Job 42.7 marks a major transition in the book from the long, poetic monologues of complaint and argument, which take up the bulk of the book (2.14–42.6), to the prose fable narrative that begins and ends the book, and so frames the poetry. The breaks between the poetry and prose of scripture are clearly visible in modern Jewish and Christian Bibles, but the break here is easy to miss, and the transition back to prose looks, on the page, more like a continuation of the poetry. Or something more like poetry than prose: A line break and indentation set every numbered verse of scripture apart from preceding and subsequent verses. They are divided this way throughout the Bible, not only in the

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Figure 4 Printed page of Job 39.11–40.11 from The Holy Bible, London: J. Baskett, 1728 (Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia)

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Figure 5 Printed page of Job 40.12–42.17 from The Holy Bible, London: J. Baskett, 1728 (Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia)

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prose history books (for example, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles), but also in obviously poetic books such as Psalms and Isaiah, which gives the text a uniform appearance – not of continuous prose, nor exactly of poetry, but closer perhaps to proverbs or aphorisms. The format really has nothing to do with the genre or content of the scriptural passage. It is as if a kind of search engine has been interpolated into the text. Broken down by numbers like this, single verses are easier to find, easier to put to use in sermons, prayer services, and private devotions. In fact, most of the typographic features of the page seem designed to facilitate verse-at-a-time reflection. The themes given at the top of the page and plot summaries at the beginning of chapters, for example, obviate the need to remember or discern any larger narrative context. The work of discerning themes, the remembrance of what happened, the anticipation of what is to come – all this is largely done for us as readers. Similarly, the glosses in the margin, by establishing the boundaries of uncertainty about the translation of particular words, keep readers’ attention focused on the text in the main column. Altogether, the layout of the text and printed marginalia form a scaffold of scholarly, interpretive support that helps suspend readers’ attention and hold it to a single verse. What about the chronology of years printed at the top of the margins? The practice of printing years in the margins of English Bibles began with Oxford Bibles in 1679, where all the years were given in relation to the date of the creation of the world, according to the chronology worked out by James Ussher (1581–1656). Ussher was Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland before and during the interregnum.13 It was not until 1701 that his chronology became a regular feature of printed Bibles. The slightly revised years, given in relation to the birth of Christ, the cross-references in the margins, and the historical index included at the end of that 1701 Bible were the work of William Lloyd (1627–1717), bishop of Worcester (DMH 233–34). The chronological years printed in the margin became a standard feature of Bibles into the early twentieth century (Hughes 262). For all its flattening of the diverse ways we experience time, the chronology does put human history and cosmic history on the same temporal plane. Remarkably, it makes the time of the cosmos measurable, like the time of civilization. It encourages extrapolation from written human history out to nonhuman history. Our analytical procedures for dividing history into periods or ages – as we see in the “historical index” of our representative Bible, or as scripture itself does in some places, notably in the book of Daniel and Revelation – that

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habit of historical analysis has been carried out to realms of creation once thought not to have any history at all, like the planets and stars. Instead of assuming the cosmos was created in an instant according to fixed unchanging laws, we now ask how living species evolve, how those species interact with a planet that has its own geologic history, how stars and their elements form over time, even how the laws by which the universe began might have changed from what they were in the beginning. This line of questioning about the history of the cosmos may have been usefully provoked by printing years, however mistaken, at the top of Bible pages. Whatever the speculative, positive effects of biblical chronology for later science, it also made all things outside the bounds of its 4004 BC – cosmological, geological, zoological – seem unholy, profane, outside the ongoing care of God and concern of God’s people, a nature excluded, wholly separate from culture. Those printed years make visible one of the main reading practices that Hans Frei criticizes in The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: reading biblical narrative for its ostensive referents to history. Every printed year reminds readers that there exists a larger, more extensive history of which the biblical narrative was only an earlier part, measurably distant from the present. However, those printed years may have also kept readers from worrying about historical context, in much the same way that the Hebrew glosses kept readers from worrying about translation. Perhaps the printed years worked to obviate the typical readers’ thinking about time and flatten the various temporalities connected to the Bible through the BCP and its calendar, so that cosmological, biographical, royal, and liturgical time gave way to homogenous chronological time. Mindful of that chronology, a reader might move back and forth from verse to verse through the empty time of the book the same way a body could move in any direction through empty space. What I am suggesting is that for most readers in the eighteenth century, the years printed in the margin did not lead to readers’ exploring connections between biblical narrative and other forms of narrative contemporary to the Bible or to other views of time, such as the time of biological species or the geologic time of the planet. Rather, traffic moved more powerfully in the other direction: the printed years created space to read for relatively fixed, unchanging moral laws. Reading the Bible this way – as the arena where we gradually learn to discern, explore, and respond to a divinely set, established moral code – creates an interpretive burden made heavier by the cross-references in the margin.

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Cross-References as Moral Code Like the line breaks after every numbered verse, cross-references in the margin also promoted verse-at-a-time reading, although how exactly is not clear. Unlike the textual history of the King James version, which has received careful, insightful scholarly attention from David Norton, the history of the cross-references printed in the margin has not. But we can learn something about the rationale of cross-referencing from Benjamin Blayney’s report to the delegates of the Clarendon Press regarding his 1769 scholarly edition of the KJB. This edition, with its “modernized” spelling, became the standard or “copy-text” for most KJBs printed today (Norton, Textual History 106). Blayney says he followed the cross-referencing system of previous scholars, pointing out such passages chiefly, where the same history or same name was introduced, the same matter treated of, or sentiment expressed, or at least where parallels might fairly be drawn; and sometimes where a similar use of a particular word or expression tended to illustrate the application of it, on another occasion. The number of References being thus augmented considerably, the Collection upon the whole will, it is hoped, be regarded as useful in the light of a Concordance, material as well as verbal, always at hand. (Blayney 519)

Blayney seems to be describing two kinds of cross-reference chains. The first links similarities of “matter,” where the names of people or places are the same or where a phrase is repeated. The second kind of chain links similarities of “sentiment” and their “application.” What can Blayney’s 1769 description tell us about the references in our 1728 Bible? There are no links to names of people or places on our representative pages from Job, as there are, for example, in 1 Chronicles 1 and Genesis 10, where the cross-references serve to corroborate genealogical lists. However, the superscript a at Job 40.7 is probably a cross-reference of “matter.” It refers to “Chap 38.3,” where the words “gird up thy loyns now” are repeated, helping readers notice a nearby phrasal repetition, an echo longer than one word. The second kind of cross-reference chain, which links sentiments and applications, is not joined by people, places, or phrases so much as by a practice of meditation, an internal question and answer between the soul and itself or the soul and God. For example, Job 40.8 says, “b Wilt thou also disanul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me that thou mayest be righteous?” The superscript b links this verse to Psalm 51.4 in the margin, but that verse is cited not because it repeats key words or phrases from Job 40.7;

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it is there because it seems to answer the question that God asks Job in the text. Psalm 51.4 responds, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” The next marginal reference, to Romans 3.4, gives a variation on that answer: “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Together, the two references give ideal readers a way of applying Job 40.7, using scripture to answer the question put to them by scripture and, in this case, to acknowledge the superiority of God’s judgment over their own – shifting their internal posture from judging God (implied by Job 40.7) to letting themselves be judged by God (Rom. 3.4). Again, the verse in the text and its marginal references are not joined by a likeness of words or even phrases; they are joined through a practice of meditation on God’s judgment. Here is one more example of a “sentiment” and “application” chain: In Job 41.11, God says, “whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.” Ideal readers pause at this section of the text, convicted perhaps of their tendency to believe that God needs their service, worship, or sacrifice, as if God somehow lacked something. Then readers turn to Psalm 24.2: “For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” God is the creator and therefore the rightful owner of all things, readers might say to themselves. God voices a similar charge but without the question in Psalm 50.12: “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.”14 And then, to cinch the truth that the world is God’s, not ours, readers turn to where Psalm 50.12 is confirmed in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 10.26: “for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.” In this collection of references for Job 41.11, God and scripture conspire together against readers’ acquisitiveness. In the collection for Job 40.7, discussed earlier, the questions and answers work together to displace readers’ presumptions to judgment. In both cases, the linked set of verses might be said to create the readers they confront; they make sacred the readerly positions they go on to correct. The inner judge is called to the bench, the inner merchant called to account. Is this posture of confrontation peculiar to these cross-references in the book of Job, or is it found everywhere in the eighteenth-century Bible? Based on a spot checking of cross-references in Genesis, Isaiah, Matthew, and Romans, I would say that most sets of application references put readers in a critical relationship to themselves, to scripture, and to God – a relationship of judging and being judged, of having to put themselves right. The two specific examples from Job above align neatly with aspects

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of biblical authority that were widespread – namely, those aspects that I discussed in Chapter 3 and 4, on the Bible as an instrument of judgment and as a commodity, respectively. Questions of righteousness and prosperity are clearly crucial to the book of Job. This is the book that, especially in the middle poetic sections, hammers away at the links between one’s status in society and one’s standing before God. But eighteenth-century readers saw those questions recurring everywhere in scripture and looked there for answers. The man known as Job was not thought to be exceptional compared to most readers, but like most readers. His book did not stand alone or apart from the rest of the books of the Bible, but stood for them. Stood how exactly? Devotional books such as The Whole Duty of Man confirmed, as the book of Job seemed to, that discovering and following the moral rules contained in scripture was the surest way to secure happiness in this world. Both the pressure to withdraw from ordinary life and the counterpressure to return are evident in the book of Job, particularly in its last chapter’s transition: from Job’s justifiable, accusatory, world-hating poetry to the world-affirming prose with which the book ends, a transition that our representative Bible leaves barely visible in the pilcrow between verses 42.6 and 42.7. How did Job cross from the poetry of his grief to the prose of his new life? The scripture does not say; it leaves the gap open, unscripted, unnarrated, perhaps for us to cross with our own imaginations, traverse in our own ways. But the protocols of eighteenth-century Bible reading, I suggest, never ask that question. They leave out any return to the world and keep ideal readers critical, contemplative, joining maxim to maxim, standing as much as possible outside of time. But actual Bible readers such as Olaudah Equiano, as well as fictional Bible readers such as Crusoe, Clarissa, and Toby Shandy, find ways to cross back into their ordinary lives changed by their reading. I pointed out in the previous section that the chronological years printed at the top of eighteenth-century Bible pages make visible one of the reading practices that Frei criticizes: reading for ostensive referents – that is, digging for the history beneath or outside the biblical text. The cross-references make visible the second, main target of Frei’s criticism: reading for moral schemes – that is, projecting onto biblical narrative an ideational matrix, of sorts, that individual verses are made to support. I hope to show in the next section that this second way of reading, searching for already known moral codes, was amplified by devotional reading practices to a degree that the first reading practice, for ostensive referents, was not.

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The Whole Duty of Man First published in 1658, and commonly thought to be the work of Richard Allestree, The Whole Duty of Man was probably the most popular devotional book in the English language during the eighteenth century, written for “the use of all, but especially the meanest reader” as it says on the title page.15 It was divided into 17 chapters, so by reading one chapter every Sunday, a family could go through the book three times in a year. The chapters take up three basic subjects: duty to God, duty to ourselves, and duty to our neighbor. Duties to God require the cultivation of inward virtues, duties to the self a combination of inward virtues (such as contentedness) and outward virtues (chastity and temperance, for example), and duties to neighbor are mostly outward virtues (for instance, justice, and right relationships between friends, husbands, wives, parents, and children). Private prayer, in the form of meditation on scripture, is the fulcrum for the inward cultivation and outward practice of these virtues. Like so much writing about the Bible in the eighteenth century, The Whole Duty approaches the scripture in forensic terms – as a book of moral laws with corresponding rewards for keeping and punishments for breaking those laws. But straightforward presentations of law in the Bible, such as those found in the second half of the book of Exodus, much of Leviticus, or the book of James, are rare. Most of the Bible is composed of histories, fables, psalms, prophecies, proverbs, biographies, letters, and apocalyptic visions – a literary diversity The Whole Duty overlooks when it says the scriptures are where one finds “set down those several Commands of God, which he hath given to be the Rule of our Duty” (3); or the Bible is “where [God] speaks to us to shew us his Will and our Duty” (52). In The Whole Duty, Allestree acknowledges that the commands of God in scripture are not easy to hear or to follow; they require work in reading and work to obey. Allestree says that we, must not only read, but we must mark what we read, we must diligently observe what Duties there are which God commands us to perform, what Faults they are which God here charges us not to commit, together with the Rewards promised to the one, and the Punishments threatned [sic] to the other. When we have thus marked, we must lay them up in our Memory; not so loosely and carelessly, that they shall presently drop out again: but we must so fasten them there, by often thinking and meditating on them, that we may have them ready for our Use. Now that Use, is the directing of our Lives. (53)

To “only read” – that is, to simply stay with the progression of words as they occur on the page – is not enough. To “mark what we read,” if we

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consider the previous discussion of cross-references, entails connecting a moral duty discerned in one verse to an aspect of that same duty in another verse. The printed set of cross-references facilitates an unprinted movement of the mind from verse to verse to verse, ideally from duty to reward to punishment. Strikingly then, “to mark what we read” means to stop reading the text immediately before us, to turn to another verse elsewhere – to gather verses for trial at an internal session of court where the reader might have appeared before but unprepared, clutching his scriptural brief too “loosely and carelessly,” needing to be reminded not to let certain papers “drop out again.”16 Not only does The Whole Duty worry about how one reads the Bible, it also worries about the time of reading, extending its obligations to read attentively from public services at church, to private services at home, to unspecified times of “leisure.” Sundays, feast days, fast days, and saints’ days are all occasions for the “hallowing of Times set apart for his Service,” because “He who hath given all our Time requires some part of it to [be] paid back again as a Rent or Tribute of the Whole” (48). Such service should be done not only in church but “privately at Home in praying with, and instructing our families; or else in the yet more private Duties of the Closet, a man’s own private Prayer, Reading, Meditation, and the like” (49). Everyone should pray at least twice a day, in the evening and morning. “How much oftener this Duty is to be performed, must be judged according to the Business or Leisure Men have” (120). Those with “more Leisure” should spend more time in prayer. “And let no Man that can find Time to cast away upon his Vanities, nay, perhaps his Sins, say, he wants Leisure for Prayer, but let him now endeavour to redeem what he hath mis-spent” (120). A current of anxiety about the proper use of leisure time runs so strongly through The Whole Duty that it keeps its readers from any possibility of real rest, putting pressure on every moment not occupied in the ordinary work of one’s calling to be spent in the moral work of reading that it recommends (49, 51). Advocating for its form of scriptural meditation, The Whole Duty inadvertently makes profane its readers’ everyday labors as well as their unproductive rest from those labors. Work and entertainment become pejoratively secular, set against the religious work of reading. Even if The Whole Duty was more widely known about than actually read, more widely owned than followed (one can only hope), it still contributed to making its version of Bible reading seem the only legitimate version of Bible reading. Admonished to redeem their time through prayer and meditation, its readers felt the hours growing heavy with eternal

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obligations. Even in one of the rare moments where this devotional classic seems to afford its readers rest, at its very end, it makes leisure strenuous, an uphill climb. The way to heaven, it says on the last page, is “a long and leisurely Ascent, which requires Time to walk” (400).

Plain Directions for Reading Holy Scripture Another view of the devotional habits associated with Bible reading – similar to The Whole Duty, if slightly easier on the reader – is given by “Plain Directions for Reading the Holy Scripture,” first published in 1698 but republished for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge during the 1720s by Joseph Downing. The author, Anton Wilhelm Böhm, begins by cataloging common but insufficient ways of reading the Bible, which fall into two basic groups – academic and entertaining. For example, some Bible readers, like scholars angling to make an important contribution in their field, are satisfied “searching the scripture” for “worldly honour and interest.” Some others “busie themselves with various Opinions and Notions” of church divines, ancient and modern, another peculiarly academic vice that “is generally attended with Self-Love, Ambition, Ostentation, and other Pharisaical Vices that lurk under the plausible Pretence of Searching the Scriptures” (14). Those looking for entertainment “read the Bible with no other Intent, than to pick out something to entertain their Fancy, and to pass away the Time, for Want of other Employment” (9). Some are too easily satisfied with being emotionally moved by their reading, something that any “romantick Story” could do just as easily (23). While criticizing these two groups – the academics and the indolent – Böhm also seems to criticize the Whole Duty reader. He says that some read the Bible as a “meer outward Duty or Task,” overlooking the “gracious Invitation and Encouragment” of the gospel; as a result, all their actions in life “are soured by legal Views and Compulsions” (10). Similarly, some turn “the Scripture into a Book of Moralities” (18) and try to square their life to the morals they find in it. Böhm goes on to describe in aesthetic rather than legal terms a better way to read scripture, but while the affect he aims for is different the practice is largely the same as The Whole Duty. Böhm criticizes what he calls the “too general Way of Reading. Many can read whole Chapters, and delight too in one thing or other which offers itself to their View: But then they never come to a close and particular Application of the divine Truth they read” (16). The better way, according to Böhm, is to have both one’s understanding and one’s will changed by

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reading the Bible, what the author calls “the affectionate and savoury Method of Reading the Scriptures” (27) or an “experiment and savoury knowledge” (38), whereby our tastes are changed. The author of “Plain Directions” gives an example using the opening phrase of Genesis 1, “In the Beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.” Starting with that verse, readers can make the following self-examination: Did I ever duly consider, from whence Heaven and Earth have their first and Original Being; or have I passed over in a careless manner so great a Work of God’s own Hands? Did I ever admire the omnipotent Power of the Creator, who hath called those Things which are not, as though they were, (Rom 4.17.) and hath framed the Worlds by his Word? Have I perhaps admired the Heavens more than my Father who is in them? Have I loved the Creature more than God, who made it? Hath the Viewing of the Heavens raised my Mind to Heavenly thoughts and Contemplations; and have I even now my Conversation in Heaven, where I for ever desire to be?” (48–49)17

This self-examination continues for several paragraphs, teaching the reader to abnegate the love of “the Heavens” for the “Heavenly.” Here again, applying scripture through meditation is to take a single verse or phrase and speak it to oneself or to God, amplify it with similar biblical phrases and sentiments, and thereby inwardly digest the original piece of text. Such practice requires both a thorough familiarity with the Bible (aided once more by marginal cross-references) and a great deal of time. Böhm acknowledges the impossibility of always reading the Bible according to the method he recommends. It would simply take too long: Though it may seem tedious, to read in such an exact and slow Method, as hath been proposed, so that one’s whole Life time would suffice to read but a few of the sacred Books at that rate: Yet that Objection will fall to the Ground, when we resolve to use Prudence in this important and necessary Work. For although such particular Meditation and Application, with Prayer, cannot be allotted to all that is read, it may to such Passages or Sentences, as are most suitable and applicable to the Condition and Circumstances of each Reader; while the rest is only read attentively, in Order as it stands in the several Books. (57)

Reading the Bible attentively and “in Order” – that is, reading for narrative – is acknowledged as important but rudimentary, a precondition of or background to the more important end of reading by “Meditation and Application, with Prayer.” The Bible is put to use as readers apply its texts to themselves, measure their own affections or sentiments against the sentiments and affections of the verse, and then stir themselves up through

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further prayer and meditation to align themselves with the affective disposition thought to be called for by the scriptures; in this way, readers prepare themselves for right action in the world. Slightly more aesthetic in his approach to meditative reading than Allestree was, Böhm nevertheless ends his pamphlet by quoting a section from “that celebrated System of Practical Divinity, The Whole Duty of Man” (59).

Critical Devotions Thus far I have shown that the two main targets of Frei’s criticism in Eclipse – reading the Bible for the history buried beneath the text, and reading for the moral or ideational schemes projected onto it – correspond to the chronological years printed at the top of the page and the crossreferences printed in the margin, respectively. Allestree’s The Whole Duty and Böhm’s “Plain Directions” stress the meditation practices made visible by those cross-references. The devotional manuals facilitate a kind of reading that is “slow and exact” but not close, not the “literal” or “surface” reading called for by some biblical and literary scholars today, which I discussed in Chapter 2. Instead, those manuals teach readers to gather from scripture the evidence for an internal act of criticism and selfjudgment, to step back from the text and into an imaginary courtroom. Doing so, they bear a surprising resemblance to present-day practitioners of critique – devotional reading now like devotional reading then: intensely self-reflexive and self-scrutinizing. Together, the lectionaries of the BCP, the printed page of the Bible, The Whole Duty, and “Plain Directions” place a strong emphasis on reading for wisdom or “application,” which is what one might expect, given the strength of latitudinarian discourse about religion and morality in the eighteenth century. That strength was achieved not by latitudinarian language alone, not merely by its choice of words or clear and rational prose, as scholars sometimes suggest, but by practices of meditation that focused on the pursuit of right words, feelings, and moral dispositions. Scripture was used not for external action so much as for an internal act of criticism and selfjudgment, forming the self in such a way as to be prepared for right action.

Exit and Reentry Problems How might we connect features of such devotional reading to the novel? On one level, Bible reading makes sacred the times to which it is connected, whether the cosmological time that the BCP calendar points to

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with its recurring moveable feasts; the civic time of events in the life of the monarchy, sessions of the court, and public executions; or the social time of various sermon occasions, baptisms, marriages, and funerals. Bible reading helps make those occasions worth representing, priming them to be narrated in fiction. Bible reading also opens up connections between these times and readers’ sense of God, letting imaginative current flow together in multiple ways. By hearing the Bible read aloud in a court of law, for example, one’s sense of the justice of God becomes bound up with the justice of the courts, and that complex forensic authority of scripture and state law also flows into one’s time of private devotions. However, the Bible is not simply a conduit by which the power of state courts flow into individual readers; it can also be, as we will see in Chapter 6 on Bunyan, the means by which readers hold that court and its laws accountable. On another level, there is in the printed page of the Bible a kind of flattening of the various times of the world into chronological time, a forgetting or blocking off of various temporalities – cosmological, civic, social – as readers approach the columns of numbered biblical text on the page. The chronology works less to carry readers’ imaginations out to various senses of worldly time than it does to keep those times at bay for a moment of meditation on a single verse. Reading becomes a way of withdrawing from the crowd of temporalities. To land on a particular verse on the page, we step aside from the current of chronological time flowing in the margins. Our eyes flit down and across, our hands turn the pages of the Bible not as visible manifestations of the mind’s travel through biblical narrative – remembering what just happened, anticipating what is to come, imaginatively filling in the gaps that scripture leaves open – but rather as a short-lived, momentary process of locating a single, numbered verse. Reading the Bible becomes a braking movement, slowing time down to stop on that one verse, that next verse, that one moral theme. The slowness of what Böhm calls the “slow and exact method” of Bible reading, which breaks up narrative succession into timeless, stand-alone verses and pressures readers to withdraw from time altogether, likely provoked powerful counterpressures to reengage in time and immerse oneself again in temporal life. Both the pressure to withdraw and the counterpressure to return are evident in the book of Job, particularly in the final chapter’s transition from critical, world-questioning contemplative poetry to world-affirming prose, a transition it leaves artfully unexplained by the gap between its poetry and prose, which readers may cross on their own, or not. The protocols of eighteenth-century Bible reading, I suggest, minimize that

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gap, turn us away from the world, and keep readers critical, contemplative, standing as much as possible outside of time. To put this another way, the protocols of eighteenth-century Bible reading generate what we might call exit problems and reentry problems for readers, and novels resolve these problems in different ways. For example, consider the tremendous pressures that Bible reading generates for “application” – that is, for reading that reorders a person’s thoughts and feelings so as to be ready for life in the world. We saw this in Matthew Henry’s emphasis on the centrality of the wisdom books in his verse-byverse commentaries; in the devotional literature that emphasizes duty to God, oneself, and one’s neighbor; and in the biblical cross-references for application. What if such reading generates more wisdom than readers can contain or apply in their own lives? What if this supply of possible moral applications exceeds the demands of any one individual life? Readers overburdened by the slow and exact method of Bible reading would have trouble reentering their lives, like ships in harbor weighed too far down by the moral demands of scripture, sunk beneath their individual load lines, at risk of sinking when they go out to sea. A novel might put that surplus to use, unload some of that cargo, as, I think, Daniel Defoe does with his fictional stories of failed merchants, thieves, and prostitutes. His fiction provides an outlet for readers overburdened by moral obligations, it conjures more lives for readers to think and feel with, and it increases readers’ carrying capacity for moral application. Or consider an exit problem: when Bible reading fails to pull readers out of their own lives, when the words of scripture – no matter how devoutly, how exactingly read – don’t provide any vantage point for moral reflection. What then? A novel might draw readers more forcefully into its pages, amplifying rather than circumventing the slow and exact method, which is what Richardson does in Clarissa: each letter in that epistolary novel turns slowly around the single, all-absorbing issue of Clarissa’s rape by Lovelace and then her recovery from that rape. If the moral concerns generated by Bible reading in one age become too few, too narrow, or too diffuse, or if they lose contact with the lives of most readers or lose their gravitational pull, then fiction in that same age may provide a different, stronger center of gravity, or give readers the exit velocity they need to escape, for a time, the orbit of their lives. And when new fiction becomes conventional and fails to draw us out of our lived experience, when it returns us unchanged to our ordinary lives, when the ways authors plot their stories and fashion their characters become rote and predictable – what then? Laurence Sterne flaunting

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those conventions in Tristram Shandy, with its rows of asterisks and dashes, its marbled, blank, and blackened pages, its misplaced chapters and captivating digressions – all of which could be considered instances of Sterne’s addressing exit problems generated by both Bible reading and prior novel reading. At the same time, his portrayal of Uncle Toby and Widow Wadman provides new reentry solutions for readers grappling with the consequences of England’s wars. Attending to the exit and reentry problems of Bible reading promises to help us take better notice of similar problems with novel reading. Novels offer readers a retreat from various times of the world, even as they reexperience those times in fictional narratives; when the book is closed or put aside and readers return to the world, they do so with their sense of the world and its times, their sense of the secular, changed by the experience of reading.

*** The biblical books of wisdom were a touchstone for many prolix writers of the age who thought and prayed with quill and ink, but few seem to have devoted much time to meditating on one of the last vanities of the world described in Ecclesiastes: the bookish pursuit of wisdom. John Bunyan stands out in this regard, and a few words here at the conclusion will help us appreciate the way that he uses the last chapter of Ecclesiastes in the last section of Pilgrim’s Progress, part 2, where he distinguishes the wisdom that he offers through his fiction (the topic of Chapter 6) from the various forms of wisdom offered by standard devotional guides (described in this chapter). Ecclesiastes is traditionally regarded as having been written by King Solomon as he faced the end of a long life spent on love and politics, made wiser by penitence. “Vanity of vanities,” is Solomon’s refrain. “All is vanity.” Leaving aside the debate about the actual authorship of this biblical book, we can read the last chapter as the reflections of a man made old not only by loving and by ruling but also by learning. He describes a series of things that once brought him pleasure but no longer do so: “the golden bowl [is] broken . . . the pitcher [is] broken at the fountain, [and] the wheel broken at the cistern” (12.7). All these once useful things seem to be emblems of a life broken by the pursuit of wisdom, worn down by studying and reading for useful knowledge. This would explain why the frame narrator of Ecclesiastes says near the end, “be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the

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flesh” (12.12). Ecclesiastes is addressed primarily to those who labor in such work, to wisdom writers, who know what it is to grow weary of reading commentary after commentary, book after book. Only at the end of such work, perhaps, can one hear the “conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (12.13). So when we come to the end of our wisdom, to the last pages of our last books, we will still not have realized everything we are responsible for. There remains a learning to fear God – not a learning of the civil law and fear of its prohibitions, or of theology and its systematic doctrines, or of natural law and its rational orders, but a learning to fear God above all these things and keep God’s commands: not commands already institutionalized by those other powers, but commands about which those powers are silent, even commands that go against those powers. This is the fear and obedience that Bunyan wrestles with in his fiction.

part iii

Uses of Scripture for Fiction

chapter 6

Traveling Papers: Pilgrim’s Progress and the Book

It begins with a man in tears reading an unnamed book. Right from the start, John Bunyan’s allegorical fiction raises questions about what constitutes “the Book”: *Isa. 64.6 Lu. 14.33. Psal. 38.4. Hab. 2.2. Act. 16.31. *His Out-cry

. . . and behold I saw a Man *cloathed with Raggs, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own House, a Book in his hand, and a great burden upon his Back. I looked, and saw him open the Book, and Read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled: and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry; saying, *what shall I do? 1

Readers may suspect that the book is a Bible as soon as the words book, burden, and back jangle their alliteration like keys from the middle of the passage. Hearing that sound, readers look sideways to the stack of biblical references in the margin, and in that moment, whether they are familiar with those biblical texts or not, their situation as readers closely resembles that of the man in the vision: they have the Bible in mind as he has it in hand. Those familiar with the conventions of Puritan spiritual autobiography, exemplified by Bunyan’s own, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, will also recognize that the weeping man is in the early throes of conversion, experiencing conviction of sin. What book besides the Bible could judge with such force the thoughts and ways of those who open it? Yet readers who arrive at this opening scene after reading Bunyan’s verse preface, “The Author’s Apology for His Book,” are also likely to have in mind the book that they are holding in their hand – Pilgrim’s Progress itself. In his “Apology,” Bunyan refers repeatedly to his work as “my book,” “my little book,” and “this book.” Only once in the preface does he refer to the Bible as a book; he appeals instead to “holy writ” to justify his imaginative fiction. Anticipating the complaints of his religious critics, whether those 157

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who take offense at all “feigning words” or those who complain that metaphors compromise the “solidness” or reasoned clarity proper to theological writing (4), Bunyan reminds his readers that numerous similitudes, difficult sayings, dreams, allegories, and parables can be found in the Bible. Moreover, the prophets, Christ, and the apostles all “used much by Metaphors / To set forth Truth” (4). Thus, in the preface Bunyan appeals to God’s book to justify the similitude-laden style of his “little book,” so in the opening scene Bunyan cues the affective conventions of Bible reading to direct his readers’ response to Pilgrim’s Progress. Like the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress is at first reading a book of judgment. The close association that Bunyan creates between the scriptures and his own writing prevents “the Book” in the opening scene from being equated with either Pilgrim’s Progress or the Bible. The book alludes to both but is identical to neither. This is in keeping with the way of Bunyan’s allegory generally, which is not to lead us from images in his text toward thinking about things in the world. It works the other direction, usually by gathering a variety of things from the world and imagining them as single things in the narrative.2 In other words, it does not invoke “the Book” simply to gratify readers with whatever preconceived notions of the Bible they may have carried with them into the scene. What Bunyan represents is not merely the Bible of a waning, persecuted opposition group – whether Puritan, Nonconformist, or Dissenter – but a purposefully abstract “Book,” all the more powerful for its lack of particularity, for the way it alludes to any book that one opens for moral guidance. I contend in this chapter that Bunyan casts his net wide with Pilgrim’s Progress, recognizing in his own terrible experience of being judged by the Bible the predicament of readers generally, of any who turn to books for instruction in the good life, struggle to live among the lettered, and falter beneath the moral demands of “the Book.” It is to this common reader – anyone who at the outset considered herself or himself “Christian” (and in late seventeenth-century Europe that was almost everyone) – that Pilgrim’s Progress offers itself as a guide.3 To those weary of trying to find their way in the world with books, Bunyan’s fiction promises rest.4 Two major approaches to Bunyan studies make it difficult to see the book in the opening scene as anything more than a Bible. One is the biographical approach. Call this the moon of Bunyan studies: by it one traces in Pilgrim’s Progress the lineaments of Bunyan’s own life – his experience of conversion, his years spent in jail for preaching, his prolific work as a writer. The strong tendency of this approach is to read out from the allegory toward Bunyan’s autobiography, Grace

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Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.5 And those who read under this light will take “the Book” in the opening passage to be Bunyan’s own Bible, the one that terrified him during his conversion and the one that he preached to his Bedford congregation of Open Baptists. Bunyan’s fiction, on this view, will seem an artistic outgrowth of his autobiography, a heroic overcoming of his religious agonies. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was inspired by this moonlit vision of Pilgrim’s Progress when he wrote that Bunyan’s “piety was baffled by his genius, and the Bunyan of Parnassus had the better of the Bunyan of the Conventicle.”6 The second way of interpreting Pilgrim’s Progress is to read out from the allegory toward the topography of Bunyan’s culture. This is the sun of Bunyan studies, and by its light we can see in Pilgrim’s Progress the radical Puritanism that Bunyan participated in while fighting in the Civil War (Hill); the vibrant literary culture of Nonconformity that emerged soon after the Restoration (Keeble, Literary Culture); the ethics of grace struggling to distinguish itself from the ethics of reason and sentiment (Rivers 1: 89–163); the religious Dissent on the horizon in England, institutionalized by various Acts of Toleration (Greaves); the progress of Puritanism into a secular moralism (Swaim, Pilgrim’s Progress); or, more profoundly, a Protestant religion always tragically imbedded in the legal-economic modes of belief from which it claims to offer salvation (Branch, “As Blood Is Forced”). Beneath the sun of these cultural approaches to Pilgrim’s Progress, “the Book” that appears in the opening scene is the Bible of whatever defeated, embattled, wounded group that Bunyan is thought to embody. Q. D. Leavis was writing under this sun in 1932 when she said, “it was the Puritan culture as much as Bunyan that produced Pilgrim’s Progress” (97). It seems the author Bunyan can reflect nothing greater than his culture. I mention these two recurring forces of Bunyan criticism at the outset less to dispute what they have to show us about Pilgrim’s Progress – indeed, without them, we would understand very little about the world of Bunyan’s fiction – but because they too often leave readers blinkered by “the Book” and the “man” in the opening scene, convinced at the outset that they are nothing but the Bible and a Christian of Bunyan’s own particular sect. What these two approaches leave in shadow is the enormous appeal of Bunyan’s work to people who live in times and places very different from seventeenth-century England, who neither share Bunyan’s particular experience of conversion nor belong to his late-Puritan form of Christianity.

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A pathbreaking exception to these two approaches is Isabel Hofmeyr’s book The Portable Bunyan, a wide-ranging account of the missionary translation and literary appropriation of Pilgrim’s Progress in Africa during the late nineteenth century and of Bunyan’s resulting rise in status in England during the twentieth century. Hofmeyr contends that Bunyan became a celebrated English author only after his work was widely appropriated by African writers, a reception history largely forgotten in the process of making Pilgrim’s Progress a precursor to the novel in the annals of twentieth-century English literary history. In this chapter, I reexamine the literary-historical situation of Pilgrim’s Progress, part 1 and part 2, in light of Hofmeyr’s work, particularly her insight about the way many African writers use Pilgrim’s Progress to dramatize the circulation of their own writing. Those writers refer to and represent Pilgrim’s Progress, Hofmeyr says, in order to insert their writing into various intellectual circuits already occupied by Bunyan’s book (for example, Scottish mission, African Christian, and African American), thereby situating their work within a broader transnational public sphere.7 What African writers have done with Pilgrim’s Progress turns out to be deeply analogous to what Bunyan does with the Bible. In what follows I show how Bunyan imagines his fiction moving in channels already carved out by the circulation of the scriptures in late seventeenth-century England: a literary or moral channel in which the Bible was held to be the supreme book of wisdom; a legal channel in which the Bible was used to justify state authority; and a domestic channel in which the Bible was used to speak the language of intimacy. Instead of identifying such channels with preexisting social groups, as Hofmeyr does, I identify them with three sets of reading practices that Bunyan’s work helps to disclose. The three circuits of morality, law, and intimacy correspond to the book, legal scroll, and letter of invitation, respectively, that appear in Pilgrim’s Progress.

The Moral Circuit Part 1 of Pilgrim’s Progress was published in 1678.8 The troubled hero of the story, Christian, is overwhelmed at the outset by a sense of imminent judgment. He leaves his family and neighbors in the City of Destruction and sets out for the Celestial City, admonished by Evangelist to look first for the wicket gate, near “yonder shining light.” The gate is glossed in the margin as “Christ” and the “shining light” as “the Word” (10). It is on the way toward the gate that Christian crosses paths with Worldly Wiseman,

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who politely inquires where Christian is going so burdened.9 “How camest thou by thy burden at first?” he asks; and Christian replies, “By reading this Book in my hand.” Worl. *I thought so; and it is happened unto thee as to other weak men, who meddling with things too high for them, do suddenly fall into thy distractions; which distractions do not only unman men, (as thine I perceive has done thee) but they run them upon desperate ventures, to obtain they know not what. (18)

The marginal gloss says “*Worldly Wiseman does not like that Men should be Serious in reading the Bible” (16); and so the gloss identifies “the Book” in the opening scene as a Bible, as the cause of Christian’s burden.10 Wiseman promises Christian that he can find relief from his burden and the rest he is looking for in the nearby town of Morality, where Christian will meet “with much safety, friendship, and content” (19). Even more, there is room for his whole family, the housing market is good, and the cost of living low. Settling in Morality seems to be the answer to the aching question asked at the outset: “What shall I do?” The long scene with Wiseman was added to the second edition of part 1; the marginal gloss of Christian’s book as a Bible was added to the third edition.11 Does Bunyan’s editorial hindsight narrow the scope of meaning that I argued was present in “the Book” in the opening scene? Admittedly, yes, but one can respect the author’s intentions without letting them constrain the meaning of his work. In conversation with Wiseman, the book does become a Bible, but one distinguished by the particular sort of reading it demands, a reading for social status. Christian’s conversation with Wiseman anticipates with remarkable foresight the way that the Bible would be taken up by elite debate in the century to come. That debate, as it is recounted by intellectual historians of the period, turned incessantly on the relationship between morality and religion, so that the scriptures were thought authoritative to the extent that they could make one wise, show one how to live, effectively answer the question “What shall I do?”12 To get a sense of how strained this mode of interpreting the Bible can be, try reading even the first book for its morals, the book of Genesis, where one is hard pressed to find models of virtue. The marriage of Adam and Eve? The brotherhood of Cain and Abel? The hospitality of Lot? The sacrificial love of Abraham for Isaac? The persistence of Tamar? The honesty of Jacob? The humility of Joseph? Little wonder that John Locke, in his strong defense of the inseparability of morality and religion, praises only the New Testament as the

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consummation of all previous moral philosophy, what he calls the great “Law of Morality” (Reasonableness of Christianity 153). Thomas Jefferson prunes the Bible even further in his Life and Morals of Jesus, keeping only parts of the four gospels to show how they contain “the purest system of morals ever before preached to man” (345, qtd. in Sugirtharajah 43). From Locke, to Jefferson, to scholarly advocates of Q today, one can trace a current of thought whereby the moral authority of the Bible is preserved by a process of reduction, a boiling down of diverse biblical texts – written in different times, for different purposes, in different genres – to a few choice aphorisms.13 This shrinking of the text parallels a shrinking of its address. A once expansive source for philosophical, legal, and political reasoning, the Bible contracts into a source for individual ethics.14 And it gathers a moral density in the process that readers struggle to bear. This is the burden that Bunyan dramatizes in the encounter with Wiseman. When Christian takes the gentleman’s advice and sets out for Morality, the marginal gloss reads “Christian Snared by Mr. Worldly Wisemans Word” (19). Identifying Wiseman’s advice as another “Word,” Bunyan sets it in opposition to the Word that Christian heard through Evangelist earlier. Evangelist had told Christian to keep in his eye “yonder shining light” while on his way to the wicket gate, a light glossed in the margin as “the Word” (10). Wiseman, in contrast, directs Christian to find his way to Morality by “yonder high hill” (20). Thus the journey to Morality precipitates a difference between the Word of Wiseman and the Word of Evangelist, a difference that was dissolved in “the Book” of the opening scene. The encounter with Wiseman points to a contrast between reading the Bible for spiritual illumination and reading for worldly status, between reading to live “happy” next to “honest neighbors, in credit and good fashion” (19), as Wiseman promises, and reading the Bible to discover a happier and more lasting dwelling in the Celestial City. If Bunyan had left the scene with Wiseman out, as he did in the first edition, then Christian’s burden might perhaps be sufficiently explained by recourse to the spiritual and literary trials of members of Bunyan’s particular Baptist sect, or the judgment of its preachers, but by adding the scene he shows that the distress Christian feels at his own private reading is exacerbated by the polite demands of Worldly Wiseman. Thus, “the Book” becomes a portfolio of ways to read the Bible: one under the guidance of the evangelist, by which the place one lives is seen to be a city of destruction and desire is aroused to live elsewhere; another under the guidance of Wiseman, by which one hopes to settle safely and finally in this world. What the opening passage of Pilgrim’s Progress shows, then, is how the text

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of the evangelist, read to discern one’s status before God, comes interleaved with the text of Wiseman, read to discern one’s social status in relation to others. With historical hindsight, we might distinguish between puritans anxious about their divine election and latitudinarians confident about their pursuit of earthly happiness, but Bunyan’s allegory combines the two to show that their ways of reading are interrelated, that individuals often carry both in their baggage of reading obligations. The exhortations of the evangelist are meant to drive us away from the moralist who in turn makes promises formed in reaction to the evangelist. Which way of reading is more difficult to bear? It is on the way to Morality that Christian’s burden becomes even “heavier to him” (20). The “high hill” that Wiseman directs him toward turns out to be Mt. Sinai, which quakes and thunders and threatens to fall on top of him. By locating the urbane town of Morality in the foothills of Mt. Sinai, Bunyan portrays English morals the way Martin Luther portrays the law in his interpretation of Galatians: at once the opposite to grace and also its necessary preparative.15 The “law of morality” held supreme by English critics of the New Testament turns out to be little more than an amplification of the law of the Old Testament, powerful in its revelation of the good but not powerful enough to save. In Bunyan’s account, the course of life offered by the moralists, like that offered by advocates of Luther’s biblical law, loads the conscience instead of relieving it. Nevertheless, the moralists have their place in Christian’s journey, and the terrors of English Sinai, once explained by Evangelist, drive Christian with more eagerness toward the wicket gate. So reading for social status turns out to be harder to bear than reading for religious status, but the obligations are analogous. They form a common burden.

The Legal Circuit One reason why moral and religious reading seem so similar, why Bunyan takes such pains to distinguish them in his revision of the opening scene, is that both are deeply invested with the language of the law. Before Christian heeds Evangelist or follows Wiseman’s advice, he reads under a sense of legal fear: “I perceive by the Book in my hand, that I am Condemned to die, and after that to come to Judgment” (9). Many elite writers took it for granted that legal metaphors could best describe morality and religion; hence, as mentioned above and discussed in Chapter 4, Locke’s rapt descriptions of the Bible as the “Law of Morality” and God as the “great Law-maker” and individual conscience as “the domestic governor,”

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responsible for ruling in one’s inner life as the magistrate is responsible for ruling civil life.16 Turning to such legal metaphors must have seemed natural to those whose high standing in society was tacitly confirmed by the law, but Bunyan experienced the law differently, and it made him keenly aware of the way books and other documents could function as vehicles of legal force. As Bunyan tells it in his “Relation of My Imprisonment,” the constable came to catch them plotting “the destruction of the country” but instead “found us only with our Bibles in our hands” (105). Bunyan was arrested in 1660 for preaching to a small gathering of people in a private home. His arrest was among the first of what would become a national trend during the Restoration, varying in its intensity and enforcement, of making religious meetings outside the Church of England illegal. For refusing to promise that he would take communion in the Church of England and stop preaching, Bunyan remained a prisoner until 1672. He probably wrote Pilgrim’s Progress in 1668 while in jail.17 Recollecting the moment of his arrest, Bunyan registers the disappointment of the constable, the local representative of English law, who finds the people with Bibles in their hands instead of guns and powder. Bunyan also registers with some irony the confusion of the constable, who seems to consider their possessing Bibles as evidence for plotting treason. Bunyan’s “Relation” carefully attends to the complex forensic charge that the Bible contains. In February 1661, Bunyan made his first appearance before the London judges who traveled twice a year to Bedford on their circuit of county assizes.18 Justice Keelin indicted Bunyan, saying, if you do not submit to go to church to hear divine service, and leave your preaching, you must be banished the realm: And if, after such a day as shall be appointed you to be gone, you shall be found in this realm, &c. or be found to come over again without special licence from the King, &c. you must stretch by the neck for it, I tell you plainly. (118)

In April 1661, Paul Cobb, local clerk of the peace, visits Bunyan in his cell. He admonishes Bunyan to submit to the “laws of the land” and to the judges’ orders before the next county assize (“Relation” 119). The two men debate whether Bunyan has indeed violated the terms of the Elizabethan statute still on the books.19 Bunyan thinks not, and the argument between Bunyan and Cobb about the proper interpretation of the statute law turns into an argument about the proper interpretation of the Bible, specifically what

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scripture says about submitting to civil authority. Their debate culminates in an argument about the first verses of Romans 13, a commonplace for Christian theological reflection on civil authority. It so happens that the first seven verses of Romans 13 served as the text of more printed sermons in England between 1660 and 1782 than any other biblical passage.20 1

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.21

“You know,” says Cobb, “that the Scripture saith, the powers that are, are ordained of God.” Bunyan agrees that he is “to submit to the King as supreme, also to the governors, as to them that are sent by him.” Cobb retorts, “Well then, the King then commands you, that you should not have any private meetings; because it is against his law, and he is ordained of God, therefore you should not have any.” Bunyan escapes Cobb’s argument brilliantly: I told him, that Paul did own the powers that were in his day, as to be of God; and yet he was often in prison under them for all that. And also, though Jesus Christ told Pilate, that he had no power against him, but of God, yet he died under the same Pilate; and yet, said I, I hope you will not say, that either Paul, or Christ, was such as did deny magistracy, and so sinned against God in slighting the ordinance. (“Relation” 124)

Bunyan and Cobb witness different ways that the Bible functioned as a vehicle of judicial power. They themselves do not judge for or against the text, like modern biblical critics, so much as direct the legal force of scripture against two different objects. For Cobb, the text of Romans 13

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passes judgment against the individual prisoner – Bunyan. For Bunyan, the examples of Paul and Jesus pass judgment against the legal system that Cobb represents, limiting its jurisdiction in matters of obedience. In the hands of Cobb, the Bible upholds the authority of the king and “his law” but does not speak to that authority. It has nothing to say about that law except that it is to be obeyed. Bunyan, in contrast, uses “law” to refer to a more comprehensive rule of scripture. For Bunyan, the “law” is constituted not merely by the negative prohibitions of civil authority, but also by the positive obligation to preach and gather with the saints. The call to preach that came to Bunyan through his reading of the Bible is a law more binding than the civil law that forbids it. Yet the prevalence of the Romans 13 text in printed sermons from the period suggests that Cobb’s Bible, the one that upholds as sacred the authority of king and magistrate, the one that tends to equate biblical morality with civil prohibitions, eventually eclipsed Bunyan’s Bible of positive obligations. Bunyan’s awareness of the complex forensic charges contained in scripture shows in Pilgrim’s Progress in his depiction of Christian’s encounter with the crucified Jesus, which occurs after Christian’s reception at the wicket gate, and after his stay at the House of the Interpreter. In this encounter, Christian’s burden falls from his shoulders and tumbles into the nearby sepulcher, and with it falls the twofold obligation of reading under the fear of God’s judgment and the disapproval of one’s neighbor. Immediately, three “shining ones” meet Christian at the Cross, and in that meeting Bunyan imagines Christian’s saving encounter with the Triune God, figured by the angels’ one salutation of “Peace,” spoken in unison, and their three simultaneous, accompanying actions, the last of which transforms Christian’s relationship to “the Book”: *Mark 2.5. *Zech 3.4. *Eph 1.13.

Now as he stood looking [at the cross] and weeping, behold three shining ones came to him and saluted him, with Peace be to thee: so the first said to him, *Thy sins be forgiven. The second stript him of his Rags, and *cloathed him with change of Raiment. The third also set a *mark in his fore-head, and give him a Roll with a Seal upon it, which he bid him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Coelestial Gate. (38)

The tears, change of clothes, and roll show Bunyan purposefully reworking the tears, rags, and reading from the opening scene of the story, here leaving behind the burden of “the Book.”

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The best reason to believe that the sealed roll represents a transformation in Christian’s understanding of scripture is that the book from the opening scene never appears again after this scene at the cross. In effect, it represents the death of the Bible as a book of moral condemnation and its resurrection as a legal document certifying Christian’s acquittal. He keeps the roll close to his “bosom” (Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress 42, 43, 44, 49) and often pulls it out to “read therein to his comfort” (42), but the comfort is a peculiarly forensic one, a proof of pardon. Elsewhere he calls it “my Evidence” (46), and when, after conversation with Mistrust, he reaches into his coat and finds the roll missing, he is greatly distressed: “he wanted that which used to relieve him, and that which should have been his Pass into the Cœlestial City” (43). Christian retraces his steps back to the Lord’s Arbour, where the roll had fallen out of his hand while he was resting (42), finds it, and does not let it go until his “Certificate” (161) is finally delivered to the King at the gate of the City. By calling the roll a “Pass” and, at the very end of the journey, a “Certificate,” Bunyan emphasizes its status as a kind of passport for travel across the border of the Celestial City.22 In associating Christian’s changed understanding of the Bible with such a legal document – pass, roll, certificate – Bunyan was drawing from his own experience. In his “Relation of My Imprisonment,” Bunyan mentions the “mittimus” written up by his first judge and given to the jailer in charge of keeping Bunyan until the time of trial (107); the “Statute Book” of laws that the judges on another occasion bring out to debate his case (127, 129); and the “kalendar” that lists the prisoners to appear before the judge at the next assizes, along with the legal standing of each prisoner – a document that Bunyan thought had been tampered with by the clerk of the peace, who apparently blotted Bunyan’s name from the list so that his case could not be heard and the accusation against him could not be clearly read (130). For Bunyan, the power of such documents was real indeed, and the intense physicality with which he describes his encounters with texts may have less to do with the superstitious veneration of books, so commonly ascribed to the pious and newly literate, and far more to do with Bunyan’s long struggle against such legal documents.23 Arrested because his preaching broke the law of the land, threatened with banishment from England as a consequence, Bunyan rightly describes Christian’s innocence before God in forensic terms. He is doing more than rehearsing a doctrine of legal substitutionary atonement. He is representing in these documentary manifestations of the Bible a word of God charged with forensic power: a book of God’s law, a roll of divine pardon, a document proving his heavenly citizenship.

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Pilgrim’s Progress part 1 ends infamously with the character Ignorance rejected at the city gate because he fails to produce the proper Certificate. “He fumbled in his bosom for one, and found none.” Ignorance is given a chance to explain why he has none, “But the man answered never a word.” His final chance lost, he is bound hand and foot and carried through the air to the doorway of hell at the bottom of the Hill Difficulty. “Then I saw that there was a way to Hell, even from the Gates of Heaven” (163). This scene is so harrowing because of the way it holds to the fire so much of what readers have learned along the way in part 1: the importance of religious experience that touches the heart and not just the tongue; the importance of prayer; the need for companionship and conversation. None of these matter in the end without a certain individual experience of reading scripture, objectified as a certificate. Ignorance, without papers and unable to “answer a word,” is damned for that particular form of illiteracy. Christian, weeping in the opening vision of Pilgrim’s Progress, had suffered beneath the moral demands of “the Book,” but that was the necessary start of his journey. Ignorance has never felt the condemnation of books and so cannot know their release. The byways to hell open up in part 1 for the self-confident and selfsatisfied, those easy in their religion or those who confuse spiritual progress with social progress. There is rest from biblical criticism for Christian along the way, rest from the divine judgment delivered in the book; but for readers of part 1 that rest is never complete or final this side of death, and it carries with it a new obligation to beware of spiritual accomplishments, spiritual pride. Thus, the damning of Ignorance. What would it mean to properly enjoy one’s spiritual progress? This is something neither Bunyan’s narrator nor his characters can do in part 1. How to achieve such enjoyment is the animating question of part 2.

The Domestic Circuit Part 2 of Pilgrim’s Progress was published in 1684, and more of this sequel happens at home, in domestic settings, than on the road. The hero this time is Christiana, left behind by her husband in part 1. After she receives a dinner invitation from the King of the Celestial City, Christiana sets out on the same path traveled by her husband, taking their four boys – Matthew, Samuel, Joseph, and James – and a servant, a young woman named Mercy. They are escorted along the way by a man named Greatheart, and though they encounter a handful of new perils and a number of new characters, the main difference between part 1 and part

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2 is the pace of their journey. They stay longer at houses and inns along the way. In part 1, there were only three places where pilgrims could safely rest before arriving in the Land of Beulah: the House of the Interpreter, the Palace Beautiful, and the Delectable Mountains. In part 2, the stay at each of these places is extended, both in terms of the length of the narrative in each place and in the time that the pilgrims stay in the story. Bunyan also introduces three additional lodgings in part 2, where the pilgrims are entertained with meals and rest: a summer parlor has been built at the gate where they enter the way; Gaius’s Inn provides room and board just beyond the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Mr. Mnason’s House makes the pilgrims’ stay in Vanity Fair surprising pleasant.24 Such a multiplication of resting places, and the conversation that happens at them, works to make part 2 a site for reflecting on the entertainment proper to fiction, particularly Bunyan’s own. And because those places are domestic ones, they carry a strong current of associations with how the Bible was used at home. Bunyan draws on those associations to make his fiction an entertainment, in this world, of the world to come. One can discover something of the Bible’s domestic significance in the period from the numerous probate records that use the phrase “a Bible and other books” to describe all the books in a household.25 Thus recorded, the Bible appears to be not only commonly owned but also emblematic for books in general. Moreover, the Bible is an intergenerational book, passed down from one generation to the next with the other moveable goods that belonged to a family. Inscriptions in extant Bibles also connect one generation to the next: family deaths, marriages, and births were often written on blank leaves inserted into the family Bible, usually just before the genealogies of Matthew, bound thus between the Old and New Testaments. From such inscriptions and the probate records, one can begin to imagine how the Bible became associated with the death and remembrance of previous generations and with hope for generations to come. Such remembering and hope were never far from suffering, at least for one woman, Mary Rowlandson, whose Bible plays such a prominent role in her autobiographical A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, first published in 1682, two years before Pilgrim’s Progress part 2, in both New England and London. Rowlandson’s account of her captivity is relevant because the Bible that shows up so often as a physical object in the narrative usually does so with a strong domestic valence. For example, at one point in the story, when Rowlandson is near starving, physically exhausted, and overwhelmed with “heart-aching

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thoughts” about whether her children were still alive, she writes “I cannot express to man the affliction that lay upon my spirit, but the Lord helped me at that time express it to Himself. I opened my Bible to read, and the Lord brought that precious Scripture to me” (8). This is one of many instances where for Rowlandson the Bible is a “sweet Cordial” and comfort in affliction because with it she can express her grief, otherwise unutterable. The Bible she carries gives voice to a family devotion tested by sickness and death. Those associations travel with the Bible that Rowlandson carries in her captivity. They stay tangible in the book she describes so often, even when she is removed from home. In the beginning of Pilgrim’s Progress part 2, Christiana struggles with a similarly complicated domestic intimacy, a struggle provoked and resolved less by her reading of the Bible, as in Rowlandson’s case, than by her reading of Pilgrim’s Progress part 1. Narrating Christiana’s first stirrings to pilgrimage, Mr. Sagasity says, “all our Countrey rings” with what Christiana’s husband did, and “there are but few Houses that have heard of him and his doings, but have sought after and got the Records of his Pilgrimage” (175). How exactly those houses responded to the records, Mr. Sagasity does not say, but he reports that the image of Christian with the burden on his back “returned upon [Christiana] like a flash of lightning,” rending her heart in two. His bitter outcry “What shall I do to be saved?” did especially “ring in her ears most dolefully” (178). Christiana says later to her children that her “carriages” toward their father when he was in the throes of repentance are “a great load to my Conscience” (180–81). Like her husband, Christiana is first provoked to travel by a keen sense of judgment, though it comes to her not from reading “the Book” but by recollecting scenes from part 1 of Pilgrim’s Progress. As Christiana’s repentance is strongly mediated by her reading of part 1, so too is the consolation she receives. Christiana’s burden, her combined sense of religious and familial obligation, is lightened when she is visited by an angelic messenger named Secret who gives her a perfumed letter written in gold script (180). “The Contents of the Letter” are given only indirectly as follows: “That the King would have her do as did Christian her Husband; For that was the way to come to his City, and to dwell in his Presence with Joy, forever” (180). The last phrase may allude to the final lines of Psalm 16.11: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”26 But such feint allusions do not by themselves prove the letter to be a diminutive form of scripture. Rather, the description of the letter’s contents – “do as did Christian . . . For that was the way” – strongly suggests

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that the letter is directing Christiana not to her Bible but to part 1 of Pilgrim’s Progress. If Christiana’s initial “reading” of Pilgrim’s Progress troubled her conscience, the angel named Secret delivers a second reading, transforming part 1 from a book of judgment, written by her husband, into a formal invitation, extended by the King of the city – God. As she tells the gatekeeper later, upon showing him the letter, “I was sent to, by my Husbands King, to come” (189). While her husband traveled with a changed sense of scripture, Christina travels with a changed sense of her husband’s story. At first a book that excluded her from the arduous way of her husband, part 1 becomes for Christiana a letter of invitation to follow. Why is Christiana’s progress so thickly mediated by part 1? Is it because she is a woman, and Bunyan thought, like John Milton, that a man travels for God only, a woman for God in him (Paradise Lost 4.299)? Or is it because Christiana is meant to represent the ideal reader of part 1? Bunyan’s portrayal of Christiana oscillates between her role as feminine hero of part 2 and ideal reader of part 1. And her story suffers in so far as it serves as the interpretive “key” (Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress 171) to her husband’s story, which is perhaps the main reason why part 2 does not stand as a work of imaginative fiction on its own. Most recent critics of part 2, well aware of its compromised status as sequel, have prioritized Christiana’s role as feminine hero nonetheless, reading the differences between parts one and two as corresponding to what Bunyan believed were differences between men and women.27 I want to emphasize instead Christiana’s role as an ideal reader of part 1, not its feminine counterpart, and I do so because part 2 depicts a company of readers that consists not only of women such as Christiana and Mercy but also men such as Greatheart, Standfast, Readyto-Halt, and Feeblemind. In this way, the differences between parts one and two can emerge as differences between the experience of the main character (Christian) and that of his envisioned readers. The letter that Christiana receives from Secret unquestionably locates her desire for God within the channels of a wife’s longing for her husband’s approval, but it also functions as an open invitation that others, besides Christiana, can use. Mercy says to the gatekeeper, “I am come, for that, unto which I was never invited, as my Friend Christiana was. Hers was from the King, and mine was but from her: Wherefore I fear I presume” (190), but the gatekeeper welcomes her nonetheless. Mercy does not presume, and the gatekeeper tells her, “I pray for all them that believe on me, by what means soever they come unto me” (190). Bunyan seems to have learned that not everyone need begin the Christian life under the judgment of books. Often, simple desire for intimacy with those already on the way is enough.

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Mercy and Christiana are presented in part 2 as types of Ruth and Naomi, daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. In the biblical story, Ruth chooses, after her husband’s death and without social obligation, to live with and support Naomi as her mother. In part 1 of Pilgrim’s Progress, acceptance at the gate of heaven depended on a particular experience of reading scripture as the legal acceptance of God given by the Holy Spirit; it depended on hearing for oneself the divine voice saying, in the words of the biblical refrain, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.”28 But what happens when God is silent, when the scriptures do not address themselves to you at all? The book of Ruth answers that predicament. It opens the possibility of belonging to the people of God not by any special invitation, but by simple choice and human affection. Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, counts as devotion to the God of Naomi, and the biblical narrative can be seen as an affirmation of Ruth’s saying to her mother-in-law, “thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1.16). One might say that part 2 of Pilgrim’s Progress appropriates the story of Ruth and Naomi, then, to figure as feminine the indirect encounter with God, through his people, in ties of human affection. Yet Bunyan does not always figure as masculine the encounter with God through scripture. After being entertained with a meal in the house of the shepherds on the Delectable Mountains, Mercy tells Christiana, “There is a Looking-glass hangs up in the Dining-room, off of which I cannot take my mind” (287). The glass is glossed in the margin as “the Word of God” (287) and described as follows: “Now the Glass was one of a thousand. It would present a man, one way, with his own Feature exactly, and turn it but an other way, and it would shew one the very Face and Similtude of the Prince of Pilgrims himself” (287). The mirror is a gift of biblical knowledge, an ability to see the truth about oneself, with the scriptures turned one way, and, turned another way, the truth about God revealed through Christ. Mercy says, “I am ashamed that these men should know that I longed,” but Christiana replies, “Nay my Daughter, said she, it is no Shame, but a Virtue, to long for such a thing as that” (287). The shepherds give Mercy the mirror “with a joyful consent,” and with this gift of biblical interpretation Mercy receives something like the gift Bunyan himself received, near the end of his tortuous ordeal with the scripture, when “God had counted [him] worthy to understand something of his Will in his holy and blessed word” (Bunyan, Grace Abounding 83). For Bunyan as for Mercy, telling the truth about God requires telling the truth about oneself. This is implicit in Bunyan’s autobiography, explicit in Mercy’s mirror. For Bunyan, the gift to preach comes with a requisite legal

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understanding of God’s will, but Mercy’s gift for biblical interpretation reflects more clearly a language of intimacy, one that we can now recognize as already associated with the scroll that Christian carried in part 1, which he kept close to his “bosom” and read “to his comfort” (Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress 42). Mercy’s mirror is one of many household things that double as a symbol for understanding both scripture and Pilgrim’s Progress. The gloss associates the mirror with “the Word of God”; the description of its capacity to reveal the “Prince of Pilgrims” associates the mirror with Bunyan’s allegory. Both scripture and Pilgrim’s Progress, rightly read, work as mirrors of introspection, reflecting a double knowledge of oneself as a pilgrim and of Christ as the “Prince of Pilgrims.” Similarly, the elaborate meal that Gaius dishes out to Christiana and her companions: “Heave-shoulder” and “Wave-breast” for the main course (from the ordinances of Leviticus) “To shew that they must begin their Meal with Prayer and Praise to God”; wine “red as Blood”; milk for the children (from 1 Pet. 2.2); butter and honey (Isa. 7.15); some apples; and finally some nuts (Song of Sol. 6.11) to finish the meal (262–63). Dressed with fewer biblical references, the meal might have made for more satisfying reading and eating: roasted joints of lamb as the main course, wine or milk to drink, dishes of butter and honey on the side, with apples and nuts for dessert. But what Bunyan, the biblical gourmand, wants his readers to relish more than food is Bible-laden conversation.29 The five courses of the meal suggest a pleasurable order for using the scriptures: prayer and praise is meat; discovering images of Christ is wine; developing judgment and understanding is milk and honey; kindling desire for God is a dish of apples; and the nuts “Hard Texts . . . to crack and eat” (262–63). At Gaius’s house, the Bible becomes more a treat to relish with others than a burden to carry on one’s own, and it becomes so in large measure through the reading of Pilgrim’s Progress. Listen to the way Gaius gives the allegorical import of preparing for a meal: “for all Preaching, Books, Ordinances, here are but as the laying of the Trenshers, and as setting of Salt upon the Board, when compared with the Feast that our Lord will make for us when we come to his House” (262). Bunyan is not saying through Gaius that preaching and writing books are mere appetizers for more substantial food, which is scripture. He is making a far bolder claim in this passage, namely that the best way to enjoy scripture, the closest analogy to what conversation is like at the heavenly banquet, is the way that it is enjoyed in his fiction, for which preaching, theological books, and debate about Christian conduct are merely the laying out of the plates and salt shakers. The conversation of the pilgrims

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in Bunyan’s fiction anticipates, more than any other religious discourse, the conversation of heaven. Bunyan’s pretensions to writing near-scripture stay everywhere tethered to his crude sense of humor. The pill that Matthew receives from the physician Mr. Skill is a good example. When Matthew eats some fruit from the devil’s orchard, it not only ruins his appetite but makes him so sick that he is pulled “as ’twere both ends together” (228). In other words, Matthew is on the brink of throwing up and shitting his pants, a pilgrim trying desperately not to “run and run” and run (1). His bowel trouble reminds us that Bunyan is not the learned rhetorician Augustine, delicately alluding to his adolescent sins by telling a story about stealing pears.30 Bunyan’s allegories are much less refined, more than willing to risk offense, and designed so to heal. Mr. Skill prepares a pill for Matthew, made “ex Carne & Sanguine Christ,” the narrator adding parenthetically, “You know Physicians give strange Medicines to their Patients” and Bunyan, teasing from the margin, says “The Lattine I borrow” (229). Far from insecure, Bunyan is poking fun at the doctors of sacrament in this passage, choosing company with his less learned readers instead. What is the pill or “Universal Remedy” (230) that Bunyan describes in this passage? On the one hand, it alludes to the common practice of preparing for the sacrament of communion, usually by meditating on the scriptures in an attitude of repentance.31 On the other hand, the pill also works as a symbol of Bunyan’s own fiction, its usefulness as a preparative to taking communion. Mr. Skill catches Bunyan’s ambition in writing Pilgrim’s Progress almost perfectly when he says, “It is an universal Pill, ’tis good against all the Diseases that Pilgrims are incident to, and when it is well prepared it will keep good, time out of mind ” (230). And it is hard not to hear Bunyan’s hope for how his medicine will sell when Christiana responds immediately, “Pray Sir, make me up twelve Boxes of them: For if I can get these, I will never take other Physick” (230). As an image of Bunyan’s artistry, the pill strikes just the right chord of ambition and self-ridicule. There is something comic about presenting oneself as a potential quack, which is what Bunyan does in this scene, while at the same time raising the possibility that his pill might, in fact, work. It is this kind of low, slightly comic wisdom, its combining of hope and wry suspicion – can fiction ever be more than a placebo for the ills of real life? – that Bunyan recommends in Skill’s treatment of Matthew. The salutary effect of these significant things – the mirror, the meal, and the pill – is to break up the exclusive association of “the Word” with “the Book.” Just as the book in the opening scene is not simply a Bible,

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so too the word of God is not everywhere and always a book in Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan is keenly aware that the word of God is found immersed in a world of stationery goods – books, letters, and documents – and in a world of things, each with peculiar effects on what happens when someone takes up a book and reads. The legal documents of part 1 teach readers how to distinguish between divine and human judgment. The things of part 2, such as Mercy’s mirror, teach readers to see the truth about themselves – not primarily, as in part 1, what deserves condemnation but what, in the company of others, delights and deserves praise. Part 2 is crucial because it effectively represents what Bunyan imagines to be the ideal situation of reading part 1. Christian may travel hungry, restless, and often alone, but his readers pick up his story at meals and talk about it with company. Christian’s travail is their entertainment. His struggle against religious self-deception is their invitation to accept grace at their leisure. Yet such rest in reading is never final for Bunyan’s pilgrims, at least never without thoughts of their final rest, in death. In part 1, against the law of this world and the wisdom that legitimates it, Christian clings to a higher rule of law in the scriptures. In part 2, against the entertainments of this world, so loved by Mrs. Timorous and her friends and made glamorous by Madame Bubble, the conversation of Christiana and her company kindles desire for the entertainment of a world to come (181–85). When Christiana and her company arrive at the end of their journey in part 2, the Land of Beulah is no longer a place through which the way goes, as it was in part 1 (154), but the expansion of the way itself into a habitable place. There are streets and houses crowded with other pilgrims; orchards and vineyards owned by the king, where the pilgrims are “licensed to make bold with any of his things” (303); and even a postal service that carries messages across the river of death. That river still separates Beulah from the heavenly city, but death is no longer the border it was in part 1. The boundaries of the Celestial Country reach beyond the river now, making Beulah an earthly suburb of the heavenly city. Whereas the antagonism between this world and the world to come is represented spatially in Pilgrim’s Progress by the distance between the City of Destruction and the Celestial City, the possible harmony between the two worlds is represented by the proximity of Beulah to the Celestial City. Here, the book that Bunyan’s narrator envisioned in the wilderness in the opening scene of part 1 – the book that set Christian against his city, his neighbors, and his family – is transformed into a series of intimate letters from heaven.

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In this last scene, Christiana and six men are given messages by post from the celestial city telling them of their imminent death. Each message is unique, and each is accompanied by a different token. Christiana is the first to cross the river and pass into the city, and she does so without having to show her original invitation. She does not go in as she embarked, on the precedent of her husband’s journey, but receives a new invitation of her own: a letter that says, “Hail, Good Woman, I bring thee Tidings that the Master calleth for thee, and expecteth that thou shouldest stand in his Presence, in Cloaths of Immortality, within this ten Days” (304). As a token of the truth of her summons, she receives “An Arrow with a Point sharpened with Love, let easily into her Heart, which by degrees wrought so effectually with her, that at the time appointed she must be gone” (305). In giving this arrow to Christiana first in the narrative procession, Bunyan casts the tokens that follow, all taken from Ecclesiastes 12, into emblems of human desire in need of divine curing. The “point sharpened with Love,” which “wrought so effectually” with Christiana, recalls the language of Skill’s treatment of Matthew. It is Bunyan’s final attempt to imagine his work as both a romance writer and moral doctor – what we might now call a novelist. Bunyan no longer tries to imagine at the end of part 2, as he did in part 1, the technical details of admission to heaven. Less the theological bureaucrat, he trusts now in the initiation and activity of the King of the heavenly city. He has seen his own fiction appropriated by God to lead others along the way. Bunyan imagines himself less a doctor of the spiritual life than an anesthesiologist, sharpening the arrow of romance into the “point” of a needle, preparing his patients to go under the knife of death, the scalpel of God, delivering in carefully measured doses the anesthetic of his fiction. The post comes next to Ready-to-Halt with the message that God “expects thee at his Table to Sup with him in his Kingdom the next Day after Easter. Wherefore prepare thy self for this Journey” (307). The messenger gives Ready-to-Halt “a Token that he was a true Messenger,” saying “I have broken thy golden Bowl, and loosed thy silver Cord” (307), an inexact quotation of Ecclesiastes 12.6, with the bowl mentioned before the cord, and the action expressed in the indicative mood, perfect-past tense, rather than the subjunctive mood of scripture. Mr. Feeblemind goes next, and his message is accompanied by the words “Those that look out the windows shall be darkened” (307; see Eccles. 12.3). Dispondencie is given “The Grasshopper to be a Burthen unto him” (308; see Eccles. 12.5). Honest hears with his message, “All thy Daughters of Musick shall be brought low” (309; see Eccles. 12.4). Valiant-for-Truth is told “That his Pitcher was broken at the Fountain” (309; see Eccles. 12.6). Finally, Standfast hears as

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a token of the truth of the message, “Thy Wheel is Broken at the Cistern” (310; see Eccles. 12.6). Significantly, the substance of each message is not from the Bible, nor are the tokens exact citations of biblical verses, an open acknowledgment on Bunyan’s part that divine communication is not restricted to the literal words of the Bible. As proof of the authenticity of the message, the biblical tokens have an obvious legal valence, but here the burden of proof is carried by the messenger, not the receiver. The tokens have a much stronger domestic valence, as evidence for the men who receive them that they belong to the household of God, that the things with which they once drew pleasure from life – the ordinary pleasures of home, field and table – are dimming, breaking, fading, and yet as such become signs of greater pleasures to come. In the end, it is a mix of table pleasure and funeral solemnity that Bunyan hopes to achieve with readers of Pilgrim’s Progress part 1, and we can know this is Bunyan’s hoped for response, I have argued, because he portrays that response in part 2. To achieve such a mix of household pleasure and solemnity, Bunyan draws more on what I have called the domestic circuit than either the moral circuit or the legal circuit. The company one keeps at dinner does say a great deal about one’s moral standing in a community, and the final scene of part 2, proving the validity of so many last wills and testaments as it does, functions like a probate court, but those moral and legal valences lose in the end the agonistic force present in the earlier scenes with Worldly Wiseman and in the jail conversation with Cobb. In his fiction, Bunyan trusts the domestic associations of Bible reading to a degree that he does not trust its moral and legal associations. Moreover, Bunyan uses the Bible throughout Pilgrim’s Progress to disclose the circuits of power operating in “the Book.” If the book, scroll, and letters were figures for the Bible alone, then Bunyan’s work could be safely relegated to the religious past that Bunyan himself is so often taken to represent, but if the documents figure different aspects of literacy, each shaped by different uses of the Bible, then “the Book” changes from the sign of an exclusively religious past to the sign of a mixed, uncertain future. Bunyan’s work then points ahead in time, addressing a broader audience, religious and secular, living between this world and the world to come – which is, in fact, where we find Pilgrim’s Progress, as Hofmeyr’s work demonstrates. Analyzing the interconnected religious and secular uses of the Bible, as I have begun to do here with Pilgrim’s Progress, proves crucial to what Hofmeyr calls “lifting the tollgates” between Bunyan’s national reputation and international reception (Portable Bunyan 228).

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Pilgrim’s Progress is not a novel, but it is prose fiction that does for Bible readers what novels will do in the eighteenth century.32 The legal, moral, and domestic circuits of reading that I have tracked in this chapter correspond to the forensic, commodity, and devotional Bibles, respectively, that I wrote about in the three previous chapters of this book. Those three Bibles and their associated reading practices, which I separate for analytical purposes, Pilgrim’s Progress joins and does so in a way that lets us feel their rough edges. Part 1 of Bunyan’s book shows how reading for status before God requires, for example, learning to read critically our legal status before the state and social status among neighbors. Pilgrim’s Progress part 2 suggests that reading for pleasure is not what we do instead of or prior to more advanced, critical forms of reading, but what we do afterward. Where the printed page of the Bible and standard devotional guides gave readers a capacity to stand back from both the narrative of scripture and the narrative of their own life for a moment of moral accounting or self-criticism, Bunyan’s book makes reading for pleasure in the company of friends a more advanced form of devotional reading. At the end of part 2, Pilgrim’s Progress also emphasizes the power of single verses, but the connotations of those verses are more personal, intimate, idiosyncratic. The connections help readers return to the narratives of their own lives, use their reading to navigate spiritual progress and regress, keep asking where they have been and where the are going, even when it is to their deaths.

chapter 7

Surprised by Providence: Robinson Crusoe as Defoe’s Theory of Fiction

Nine months alone on his island and terrified that the sickness he was recovering from might return, Robinson Crusoe remembers that the “Brasilians take no Physick but their Tobacco” (126). He searches for some in a chest salvaged from the wreck, accidentally discovers a few Bibles, and so brings both a Bible and bundle of tobacco leaves to his rough-hewn table to experiment for a cure. First, Crusoe tries chewing on the raw, green tobacco leaves, which he says, “almost stupify’d my Brain” (126). Second, he puts his face over a smoking fire of tobacco until he nearly suffocates from the heat and fumes. Then he takes up the Bible and tries to read, but his head is so “much disturb’d with the Tobacco” (126) that he can only open the Bible at random and read a single line. Yet the verse from Psalm 50 – “Call on me in the Day of Trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me” – somehow speaks to Crusoe through his stupor and causes him to ask God to fulfill the Bible’s promise of deliverance. Finally, after his “broken and imperfect prayer” (127), Crusoe completes his last experiment: he drinks some rum so “strong and rank” with the tobacco leaves he had left soaking in it that, he says, “I could scarce get it down. . . . [I]t flew up in my Head violently, but I fell into a sound sleep” (127). Exhausted by sickness, consoled by the promise of Scripture, passed out from a powerful tea of tobacco leaves and rum, Crusoe finds what he was looking for – rest. In writing the Christian conversion of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe leaves little trace of irony. We are given just the facts, with a realism that seems to work as an antidote to the moral ambiguity of Crusoe’s actions. The more fact-laden the report, the less wicked Crusoe’s actions seem to be or, here at least, the less bumbling. Yet it is remarkable how many good readers have overlooked the fact that Crusoe’s conversion begins in the interval of his tobacco doping.1 Perhaps reading from the vantage point of our secular age, we notice no significant difference between primitive cures of the body and religious cures of the soul. Perhaps we take realism too 179

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much for granted, take as transparent narrative of the real world what was for Defoe and his first readers still opaque, wonderfully visible, a billowing of smoke shot through with light. Could it be that Defoe intended his readers to smirk at Crusoe’s scientific language of certainty and experimentation in this passage? Smile at his confusion between the power of tobacco and the power of the Bible? Perhaps listen with delight to the dissonance of the line “I took up the Bible and began to read” (126), that easy appropriation of the voice that told Augustine at his conversion, “Take and read”? The working hypothesis of this chapter is that yes, Defoe did write Robinson Crusoe with a purposeful, sustained irony that combines elements of his earlier writings, both the watertight religious satires such as The Shortest Way with the Dissenters and his didactically more serious, religious works such as The Family Instructor. Defoe wrote his Crusoe novel in three separate books. The first, and by far the best known, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, was published in April 1719. It recounts the story of Crusoe’s rebellious setting out to sea against the advice of his father, shipwreck on the island, encounter with Friday, eventual deliverance by pirates, and return to England. Less well known is The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, published in August 1719, which relates Crusoe’s return to his island colony, disappointment at its failure, consequent abandonment of the island, and mercantile exploits around the Pacific Rim before returning to London fabulously wealthy. Rarely read is The Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe, published in August 1720. Offered as the wisdom acquired from a life of “unexampled misfortunes,” Crusoe’s essays ramble between topics including solitude, honesty, debt, and the state of religion in the world. The last section is Crusoe’s “Vision of the Angelick World,” which contains an account of his journey into “infinite space” and ends with a long parable about two young men in an atheists’ club who are brought to the edge of conversion by the voice of an unseen man speaking through the crack of an open door, by a bolt of lightning, and by a few lines from Defoe’s poetry read aloud. To get at Defoe’s theory of fiction, this chapter does two things. First, it sets out to rediscover irony in Robinson Crusoe itself, particularly the irony that gathers in its most religiously charged scenes, rather than looking for it, as most critics do, in the historical gap between our secular age and the late-Puritan age of Defoe. Second, it finds the fullest expression of Defoe’s procedures as a novelist in the parable of the atheists at the end of Serious Reflections, rather than in the prefaces that begin the three Crusoe books. In

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that concluding parable, Defoe finally reveals his ambitions as a novelist, plotting the exposure of his characters’ fear and gullibility in regard to the supernatural in order to open them up to a greater sense of divine providence. By purposeful, sustained irony, I mean that Defoe’s fictional narratives mean more than what the narrators say. The narrators are not unreliable in the sense that they lie about, leave out, or confuse the facts, although this does sometimes happen. Rather, the narrators recognize only intermittently how the moral of their story exceeds the facts of their narrative. They practice a kind of moral meiosis in their recollections, a habitual understatement that leaves the readers with a surplus of moral significance, and Defoe’s ability to sustain and shape that surplus for his readers over the length of the novel distinguishes the irony of his fiction from the rhetorical irony that permeated the intensely polemical, intensely religious print world of the first decades of the eighteenth century (Rivers 2: 31–50). Rhetorical irony is to say one thing and mean the opposite in an argument, and Defoe practiced it so effectively in his poetry, pamphlets, and newspapers that he ended up in jail, endured public humiliation in the stocks, and earned a lasting reputation as a lying Devil and literary Proteus (Knox 8; Novak “Defoe’s Use of Irony”). But Defoe does not lash his fictional heroes and heroines the way he does his rhetorical opponents. The protagonists of his fiction are subjects of a gentler, more sympathetic irony. With their penchant for fact gathering, recurring spiritual fevers, and thirst for material acquisition, they often seem like extensions of Defoe himself. Many of his contemporaries thought so, and we shall see that Defoe put down his narrator’s mask often enough to suggest the same. Instead of everywhere anxiously distinguishing himself from his characters, Defoe seemed content to stand with them, unwitting victims all of their own narrating. To say that irony structures Defoe’s fiction is to swim against the tide of much previous criticism, which considers the religious elements of Defoe’s fiction incompatible with any purposeful, sustained irony on the part of the author. For some critics, Defoe’s religious loyalties as a dissenter make him complicit in and largely blind to the complexities of his cultural moment, when rational economic individualism was becoming the vehicle for Protestant spiritual crisis. “The moral imperceptiveness which is so laughably clear to us,” says Ian Watt, “is in fact a reflection of one of the psychological characteristics of Puritanism. . . . We, not Defoe, are ironically aware of the juxtaposition of the powers of God and Mammon” (124, 126). Michael McKeon elaborates the same point when he describes the

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“inescapable aura of irony” in Defoe’s fiction as a fluke of the historical distance between naive author and knowing critic, the accidental byproduct of Defoe’s empirical narratives artlessly applied to the inherent contradictions of emergent capitalism (Origins 332). For other critics, the religious elements of Defoe’s fiction mark his characters as surrogates of Dissent; so, for example, Robinson Crusoe becomes “an epic account of the experience of the English Dissenters under the Restoration” (Paulin 15). Moreover, Defoe’s religious commitments obligate him to an always serious and straightforward appropriation of Protestant narrative traditions, such as spiritual autobiography, casuistry, and pilgrim allegories (Starr 43; Hunter, Reluctant 200). Here one might invoke the dialectic of religion and secularism to resolve the apparent contradiction between the more secular approach that emphasizes Defoe as the man immersed in the political and economic affairs of his day and the more religious approach that emphasizes Defoe loyal to his religious tradition. This is something Watt did years ago and others have since repeated.2 This underanalyzed binary still generates a great deal of criticism on Defoe: the more religious Defoe turns out to be, the more delicious the historical ironies. The greater the historical gap between our secular age and Defoe’s, the more pressing the need to recover for readers the waning religious “tradition” of which Defoe was a part. The more embedded in that past religious age, the less capable of speaking to this secular one – and so it goes, the tide of scholarship under secularism. Its ebb and flow leaves only a trace of religion, washing away the complex, multivalent debates about authority, pleasure, penitence, fear, superstition, and belief that Defoe gave voice to in his fiction. So against that secular approach, I look to see how the religious scenes work in Defoe’s fiction to open a gap between representation and reality. Against the religious approach, I look to see how Defoe’s characters grapple with the concerns of a reading audience broader than Dissent.

Early Reception of Crusoe To rediscover the sources of the irony in Crusoe, we can begin with its earliest reception, where Crusoe is consistently considered a laughable character and his story blatantly fictitious.3 The irony with which the novel was first received strongly suggests that it was written with a detectable irony. In a July 12, 1719, “Letter to Mr. Read,” the editor of The Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, the author mockingly insinuates that Defoe is responsible for the faults of a rival paper by saying, “Certainly

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the infallible Robinson Crusoe, that great Traveller and Geographer, could not be guilty of so monstrous a Blunder.” In late September 1719, one month after the publication of Farther Adventures, Charles Gildon wrote a 48-page tract against Defoe’s book that was shrewdly if unoriginally titled The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Mr. D – – De F – – . The first section of Gildon’s pamphlet is a play script dramatizing a late-night encounter between Defoe and his characters Crusoe and Friday: they accost him in a field near Newington, complain about the way Father Dan has made them, and force him to eat all the pages of his book as a bolus to cure him of his authorial diseases. In the prologue to Charles Shadwell’s play Rotherick O’Connor, King of Connaught, printed in his Five New Plays (1720), one of the characters, Colonel Allen, recounts teasing the playwright for borrowing his model of heroic tragedy from the ancients instead of from Robinson Crusoe. What need you, for a Tale, so high to go, Said I, have you not Robinson Crusoe? There Incidents in full Perfection flow. (Such a Dramatick, is the fam’d De Foe.)

Across the Atlantic in Boston, three pamphlets were published in 1720 that invoked Crusoe in order to lampoon Governor Samuel Schute of Massachusetts, although the layers of irony are so thick that it is impossible to tell for sure the target of satire (Cooke, Reflections upon Reflections; News from Robinson Cruso’s Island; New News from Robinson Cruso’s Island). One pamphlet ends, tongue-in-cheek, “recommending you and yours to the Care of the Divine Providence,” signed by your humble servant, “From the Metropolis of Robinson Cruso’s Island. Decemb. 19. 1720.” The pamphlet by Cooke, supposedly writing from “Cruso’s Island,” pokes fun at the castaway’s Bible-reading habits by asking, “Has [Crusoe] ever read Psal. 50.16, and onward?” (8–9). The sixteenth verse immediately follows the one that spoke to Crusoe in his stupor: “But to the wicked, God says: ‘What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction’” (Ps. 50.16). The pamphlet’s author implies that the second half of the psalm corresponds to Crusoe’s case better than the first. The September 1725 issue of The London Journal printed a letter, commonly attributed to Bishop Benjamin Hoadley, about how the scarcity of news at that time of year has been the occasion for an outpouring of stories about “extraordinary Occurrences and marvelous Events,” in which “we cannot help discovering a sensible Pleasure, though at the same Time we

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are positively sure . . . they are entirely groundless, false, and fictitious.” Hoadley singles out “The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe” as an example of such stories, saying that it “seems to have had that uncommon Run upon the Town for some Years past, for no other Reason but that it is a most palpable Lye from Beginning to End.” For Hoadley, the pleasures of reading Crusoe are directly proportional to knowing the whole thing to be “groundless, false, and fictitious.” And Crusoe is widely read in London not because people thought it was true but because it was known to be a “palpable lye” from beginning to end and as such was “received with abundance of pleasure.” This initial response to Robinson Crusoe cannot be easily reconciled with Defoe’s much later reputation as the father of a more serious and sacrosanct realism. What has happened? Perhaps irony is easier to recognize when it is brandished against public professions of faith – say, by John Dryden or Jonathan Swift or Defoe in their poetry. It is much harder to recognize that irony when it moves indoors, when individual choice and personal belief (or unbelief) – so often the domain of the sacred for us today – become the object of teasing. This is why the Bible-and-tobacco scene is so important. It shows that Defoe can take the languages of empirical observation and personal religious experience – two modes of discourse that he treats very seriously elsewhere in his writing, two modes dear to his own dissenting tradition – and use them in his fiction to paint in shades of irony that we now have trouble seeing. If Crusoe can “speak in Colours,” as the Portuguese pilot observes in Farther Adventures, if he can “speak what looks white this Way, and black that Way; gay one Way, and dull another Way,” then presumably so can his author (183).

History Dispatched Before trying to describe the peculiar, religiously inflected irony of Robinson Crusoe, I need to take up the beguiling claims to historicity that preface Defoe’s novels. “The Editor believes the thing to be a just History of Fact; neither is there any Appearance of Fiction in it” (55) – this is what we are told in the preface to Robinson Crusoe. Even after Crusoe was exposed to public ridicule by Gildon and others as utter fiction, and in the face of Defoe’s reputation as an inveterate liar, he persists in the prefaces to his subsequent novels to make what McKeon calls the “false claim to historicity” (120). McKeon speaks for many critics (Bender; Davis 156–67) when he says that for Defoe, even after Gildon’s attacks, “the standard of historical truth, and the conviction of its rhetorical efficacy, are

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so powerful in Defoe’s mind that he continues thereafter to make and to justify the false claim to historicity, although with ambivalence and accompanied by a variety of uneasy extenuations” (120, cf. 135). How strong a hold does historical truth really have in Defoe’s mind? Usually, Defoe’s narrating editors mention historical truth claims in the preface only to dismiss them quickly as inconsequential to the moral efficacy of the work, which the narrators spend the bulk of the preface defending. This anxiety about moral effect is something that McKeon and many other critics have overlooked, even though a mix of moral claims and claims to historicity are exactly what one should expect to find if McKeon is right about the novel’s originating from the recognition that questions of virtue are deeply analogous to questions of truth.4 Let us look together at what is claimed in the preface to Robinson Crusoe: “The Editor believes the thing to be a just History of Fact; neither is there any Appearance of Fiction in it: And however thinks, because all such things are dispatch’d, that the Improvement of it, as well to the Diversion, as to the Instruction of the Reader, will be the same” (55). The oftenquoted claim to historicity in the first line is immediately qualified by the “[editor] however thinks” in the second line.5 The prefatory claim is simply that the historicity of the story is not essential for its moral success. The improvement of the story – its ability to divert and instruct – “will be the same” whether it is history of fact or a story with fiction in it. A fact claim quickly and easily dispatched by the moral claim – this is the pattern for all of Defoe’s prefaces. In the preface to Farther Adventures, the narrator says that charges against the “Errors in Geography” in Robinson Crusoe have failed to discredit the moral efficacy of the book, its “just Application” and its “religious and useful Inferences,” which legitimate “all the part that may be call’d invention, or parable in the story” (3). In the preface to Moll Flanders, the narrator describes the work as a genuine history that is also a purposefully designed fable, noting “a few of the serious Inferences which we are led by the Hand to in this Book, and these are fully sufficient to Justifie any Man in recommending it to the World, and much more to Justifie the Publication of it” (4). Similarly in the preface to The History and Remarkable Life of the Truly Honourable Col. Jacque: whether Jack has “made it a History or a Parable, it will be equally useful, and capable of doing Good; and in that it recommends itself without any other Introduction” (2). About Roxana, the editor says that “the Foundation of This is laid in Truth of Fact; and so the Work is not a Story, but a History”; but then the editor candidly admits that he has “adapted” the story “to the Instruction and Improvement of the Reader.”

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He draws special attention to Roxana’s reflections about the reproaches of her conscience, saying, “The Noble Inferences that are drawn from this one Part, are worth all the rest of the Story; and abundantly justifie (as they are the profess’d Design of) the Publication” (Roxana 36). In each preface the editor or narrator is asking the reader to believe three things about these true histories: (1) that they contain empirical facts; (2) that these facts have been creatively adapted according to the moral design of the author; and (3) that this blend of fact and invention contributes to the moral improvement of the reader. If we gather from the prefaces some of the key terms used in each of these three categories, we see that the editor appeals to fact consistently but infrequently, usually only once. He refers more often to the second category with words like invention, design, parable, and fable. He talks most often about the third category, and with the greatest diversity of terms: recommend, lead, improvement, instruction, application, inference, and use. A true or just history is a narrative that contains all three elements, especially the third – the promise to make the reader better. The preface narrators in Defoe’s fiction are not at all anxious, nor do they expect the readers to be anxious, about the relationship between the narrative and some strict standard of historical truth. These prefaces make the more difficult claim that historicity does not matter when the stories promise to do the reader good; and it is this claim, rather than the supposed false claim to historicity, that betrays the editor’s anxiety and deserves serious scrutiny. What text can possibly ensure its own moral efficacy, or safely guide its own interpretation, or advise its own application? Yet this is precisely what the prefaces promise the stories will do, and if recent critics have overlooked this fact about Defoe’s apparent moral ambition, Gildon did not.

Biblical Truth of a Piece with Fictitious Story Gildon’s Life and Strange Surprising Adventure of Mr. D – – De F – divides easily into three sections. The first section, the dramatized late-night encounter between Defoe and his characters, is like all the other first responses to Robinson Crusoe: they mock the moral pretensions of the work by ridiculing the author. The second part of Gildon’s pamphlet, however, sets it apart from the rest of those initial responses; it is a more serious “epistle” about the errors of “probability and religion” in Robinson Crusoe, respectfully though severely addressed to Mr. Foe. The last section

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is a postscript in which Gildon grumbles his charges again, this time directing them against Farther Adventures. Of Gildon’s two main accusations against the novel – errors of probability and errors of religion – his critique of probability takes second place to his more strident critique of the novel’s religion. Gildon tells us what has provoked him to write at the very beginning of his epistle. If Crusoe were merely filled with impossibilities and improbabilities, Gildon would not have bothered writing his epistle at all. He says, I have perus’d your pleasant Story of Robinson Crusoe; and if the Faults of it had extended no farther than the frequent Solecisms, Looseness and Incorrectness of Stile, Improbabilities, and sometimes Impossibilities, I had not given you the Trouble of this Epistle. But when I found that you were not content with the many Absurdities of your Tale, but seemed to discover a Design, which proves you as bad an Englishman as a Christian, I could not but take Notice in this publick Manner of what you had written; especially when I perceiv’d that you threaten’d us with more of the same Nature. . . . If by this I can prevent a new Accession of Impieties and Superstition to those which the Work under our Consideration has furnished us with, I shall not think my Labour lost. (1, 2)

Gildon obviously relishes pointing out the internal improbabilities in the novel. He says, for example, “I shall not take Notice of [Crusoe’s] stripping himself to swim on Board, and the filling his Pockets with Bisket, because that is already taken Notice of in Publick” (15). Most of the contradictions that Gildon points out begin as such: “I shall not take Notice” (15); “But this is not worth stopping at” (23); “this a Peccadillo and not worth dwelling upon” (13); “nor shall I stop long upon” (38). Of course he does stop, take notice, and dwell on these contradictions, but he does so only for a moment, on the way toward demonstrating Defoe’s errors of religion. For example, Gildon attacks the way that Defoe, early in the novel, makes Crusoe a type of Jonah, thereby implying that a grown man’s disobedience to his father is equivalent to Jonah’s disobedience to the command of God. “But you, indeed,” Gildon complains, “every where are pleas’d to make very free with the Holy Scriptures, which you quote as fluently, as the Devil once did, and much to the same End; that is, to make a Lie go down for Truth. But more of this hereafter” (8). Later in the epistle, Gildon wonders why a supposedly prayerless wanderer like Crusoe would take the trouble to pack three Bibles for his trip to Guinea. Gildon says, “it was necessary that he should have a Bible, to furnish you with the Means of Burlesquing the Sacred Writ, in the tedious Reflections you design’d to put into his Mouth; of which by and by” (15). In contrast to the

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errors of probability that Gildon pokes fun of in passing, the impieties of Defoe, specifically his use of the Bible – “more of this hereafter” and “of which by and by” – are Gildon’s ultimate object of criticism. Nor is Gildon bothered by invention in story. He praises fables earlier in his epistle as “a sort of Writing which has always been esteem’d by the wisest and best of Men,” acknowledging that even “inspir’d writers” of Scripture have used them to good effect” (35). Gildon writes from a vantage point shared by many other critics in his day who considered invention crucial to the moral success of a work.6 They thought it would be an artistic failure to portray human characters and actions as they are rather than as they should be. What troubles Gildon about Crusoe is not the invention of facts so much as invention without a clear moral. Why bring in the Bible if not to establish the moral of the story? This is the question Gildon seems to be asking when he says that Crusoe’s religious reflections are so often false, yet so frequent and repetitive, that he cannot help wondering whether they are brought in only to encrease the Bulk of your Book; they are seldom Just or truly Religious; but they have this terrible Circumstance, that they demonstrate that the Author has not the Fear of God before his Eyes. Ludere cum Sacris is what he has not at all scrupl’d; as if he esteem’d it no Crime to set off his Fable with the Words of the Holy Scripture; nay, he makes a kind of Sortes Virgilianae of the Bible, by making Crusoe dip in to it for Sentences to his purpose. To me the Impiety of this Part of the Book, in making the Truths of the Bible of a Piece with the fictitious Story of Robinson Crusoe, is so horribly shocking that I dare not dwell upon it. (24–25)

Here Crusoe’s superstitious dipping into the Bible (the tobacco scene examined earlier) helps Gildon think about Defoe’s fictional designs. Gildon catches the how of Robinson Crusoe: its random, unpredictable mingling of scripture with the less-than exemplary life of Robinson Crusoe. But what Gildon cannot describe is the why of such mixing, the “purpose.” He considers whether Defoe is like a greedy clergyman using religion to make a profit by increasing the “bulk” of his book, or an atheist making fun of sacred things, or a pagan treating the Bible as a magic book for divination. But none of these explanations suffice for Gildon, who suspects something worse, and when he says “I dare not dwell,” he means that he cannot say. Gildon uses “fictitious” as a term of derision not, again, because of the mere fact of invention but because of Defoe’s uncertain “purpose” in appropriating the truths of the Bible. When Gildon’s attack against the novel culminates near the end of his postscript, the accusation that Robinson Crusoe is a fiction and a lie needs to

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be read with the moral anxiety that Gildon gives to those terms throughout his essay. In an amazingly prescient passage about Crusoe and the coming novel as a force of secularization, Gildon says, The Christian Religion and the Doctrines of Providence are too Sacred to be deliver’d in Fictions and Lies, nor was this Method ever propos’d or follow’d by any true Sons of the Gospel; it is what has been, indeed, made use of by the Papists in the Legends of their Saints, the Lying Wonders of which are by length of Time grown into such Authority with that wretched People, that they are at last substituted in the Place of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For the Evil Consequences of allowing Lies to mingle with the Holy Truths of Religion is the certain Seed of Atheism and utter Irreligion. (47–48)

Gildon’s criticism is not just predictive but constitutive of the secularism that he decries and calls “atheism and utter irreligion.” He may have been right that the novel would compete with the Bible for authority in the moral imagination of the people, like stories of the saints’ lives did in the middle ages. He may have seen too that “religion and doctrine” would not only be expressed in rhymed couplets by the clerical and literary elite, but also “delivered in fictions.” Yet the shadow of his insight is an imaginary time when the “holy truths of religion” were not mingled with any other truths, when the Bible was the only story and therefore the authoritative one. There was no such time, and Gildon’s formation of “religion” or the “scriptures” as utterly separate from the world or other kinds of writing – the wall of separation that he builds between the religious and the secular – is precisely what Robinson Crusoe is taking down.

Beyond Private Mere Reading Crusoe learns to be a better student of the Bible after his initial hazy encounter with the text. A week later he says, “In the Morning I took the Bible, and beginning at the New Testament, I began seriously to read it, and impos’d upon my self to read a while every Morning and every Night, not tying my self to the Number of chapters, but as long as my Thoughts shou’d engage me” (128). Later in the book, Crusoe mentions Bible reading as an important part of his three-times-a-day devotions (141), but it is not until Crusoe reads the Bible with Friday that he recognizes the insufficiency of his previous experiments with Bible reading. Struggling to answer Friday’s questions about God and the devil, Crusoe admits that though an old man, he is still a young doctor of divinity. He says,

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Crusoe’s progress in Bible reading makes it clear that his earlier nicotineinspired reading was not meant to be exemplary. Even his subsequent, serious and pious reading of the Scripture is described here as “my own private meer reading,” which suggests that reading the Bible alone was a poor substitute for learning about the Bible in conversation with Friday. Crusoe’s account of reading in dialogue with Friday is a good deal more compelling – religiously and morally – than the theory of reading espoused in the prefaces to his novels. In the preface, the claim is that the text itself will lead us by the hand to its own appropriate uses, as if readers could apply and use the stories without any conversation partner besides the text. Yet the private reading that promises to suffice in the prefaces proves insufficient for Crusoe in the novel. One way to explain this discrepancy between the moral of the preface and the moral of Crusoe’s reading with Friday is that Defoe’s novels do not begin after the preface; they begin with the preface, and I think Defoe expected his readers to know that the preface was to be read as part of the fiction. Critics have too quickly taken the prefaces as coming straight from Defoe’s mouth, as Defoe’s own primitive, early modern theory of fiction, stumbling over the simplistic and awkward claim that there are no good stories besides empirically true ones. Thus far I have tried to show that, read more carefully as the rhetoric of a disguised editor, these prefaces grapple with a claim that historicity does not matter when the stories promise to do the reader good. The scenes of Bible reading, however, throw this self-sufficient moral claim into question and caution us against identifying any preface claim as the author’s last word about how his fiction works. From Crusoe’s first salvific though superstitious encounter with the Bible, to his better Bible reading with Friday, one could chart Crusoe’s steady progress in faith, according to certain patterns of contemporary spiritual autobiography. However, Crusoe depicts his own religious journey as a kind of regress, as his having less religious certainty as the threebook novel proceeds, and it is this diminishing religiosity that I described in Chapter 1 as the secular vantage point of Crusoe’s narrating. We caught a glimpse of that vantage point in Crusoe’s account of the conversion of Will Atkins, but it is at the end of Serious Reflections that Defoe gets closest to revealing his procedures as a novelist.

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Vision Worth Traveling For At the end of Serious Reflections, the so far subtle qualities of Crusoe’s secular perspective and corresponding religious letdown are made the explicit themes of his “Vision of the Angelick World,” Crusoe’s farthest adventure yet, his imaginary journey to the outer edge of the solar system. The “Vision” dramatizes the shortsightedness of Crusoe’s moral imagination, and in it we can hear the self-teasing voice of the author, Defoe, wryly defending his decision to focalize the story through such a narrator. In other words, the “Vision” shows us the narrative perspective of Crusoe – how Crusoe sees. To better understand why Crusoe was made to see that way, what possible good it could do for us as readers to travel with such a narrator, we have to wait until the concluding parable of the atheists club, where Defoe finally discloses his role as the author. Crusoe’s “Vision” occurred, he tells us, soon after he began wondering about the company of invisible beings – whether angels or devils seems not to matter much to Crusoe. He reasons with biblical examples first, concluding that when the Bible reports that people “see” a spirit or “hear” voices, the description must be figurative (222). Next he considers his own experience on the island, attributing his fears about the devil to his own “Vapours,” “Imagination rais’d up to Disease,” and “brain-sick Fancy” (227). Yet Scripture and his own experience concur that there are “Spirits unembodied conversing with, and taking Care of the Spirits embodied” (223). How does such “converse” happen between bodied and unembodied souls? A reasoned examination of scripture and experience will only take Crusoe so far, and when he leaves off to recount a conversation with an astronomer friend, his discourse fills with a different air, buoyed by Defoe’s carefully controlled self-irony. The astronomer – a deeply scientific and spiritual man – asks Crusoe why he is so inquisitive about dreams yet doubtful “of the Reality of the World of Spirits.” “What think you of waking Dreams, Trances, Visions, Noises, Voices, Hints, Impulses,” the astronomer asks, “and all these waking Testimonies of an invisible World?” (235). Crusoe tells his readers the effect rather than the substance of their conversation in a passage that is surprisingly candid about Crusoe’s habit of fiction making: I had one Day been conversing so long with him upon the common received Notions of the Planets being habitable, and of a Diversity of Worlds, that I think verily, I was for some Days like a Man transported into these Regions myself; whether my Imagination is more addicted to realizing the Things I talk of, as if they were in View, I know not; or whether by the Power of the

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In the last line, Crusoe lets the word “certainly” play over “made a journey” until the very end of the sentence, where he finally admits travelling only “in his imagination.” Candid if syntactically teasing about not having traveled in fact, Crusoe is diffident about what inspires such an imaginative journey: it may be his fictional travels are self-generated by an imagination “addicted to realizing” or communicated to him by an invisible being. Whatever the case, Crusoe is elated by conversation with the astronomer and rises to the heights of the created universe, setting his “Foot upon the Verge of [the] Infinite” (237). There his sight is unconfined, and he sees “the whole solar System at one View” (237). He also sees other solar systems, other suns and their attendant planets, and from this great height mundane Crusoe – the man who waxed poetic at the sight of money and swooned at the news of his great wealth – remarks “how little the World and every Thing about it seemed to me” (237). He cannot keep up this stoic strain of “sedate Inquiry” (238) for long, however, and his thoughts turn quickly back to the question that first fired his imagination during conversation with his astronomical friend – the question of habitable worlds. As he travels the solar system, Crusoe brings his usual preoccupations when visiting any new place: its prospects for settlement, commerce, usefulness. Just as typical is his disappointment. He finds no planets habitable except the moon, and that “a poor little watery damp Thing, not above as big as Yorkshire, neither worth being called a World, nor capable of rendring Life comfortable” (238). Few places live up to Crusoe’s mercantile expectations, not even those he can see from the heights of the created universe. What Crusoe does see at the peak of his “sublime Journey” (239) is not Almighty God in lofty conversation with the Son but only “Sathan [sic] keeping his Court” and the “innumerable Legions that attended his immediate Service” (240). This vision of invisible bureaucracy, with Satan’s ministers of state all “continually employed,” carrying “his Orders” and executing “his Commissions in all Parts of the World” (241), proves to Crusoe that “the Devil is not capable of doing half the Mischief in the World that we lay to his Charge.” What he accomplishes is less by supernatural power than by “Dexterity and Application” (240).7 In fact, Crusoe praises the devil in the same equivocating terms that critics often bestow on Crusoe and his author as exemplars of the Protestant work

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ethic. The devil’s accomplishments owe a “great deal . . . to his Vigilance and Application, for he is a very diligent Fellow in his Calling” (240). Thus, Crusoe, instead of lifting the reader to a vision of eternity, offers only a more complete view of Satan and his ways, which are disappointingly bureaucratic – a vision of evil that has less to do with the superstitions of the poor than the banal work of the powerful. Crusoe may have even caught a glimpse of his author, Defoe, secret agent, busily scribbling missives to Secretary of State Robert Harley.8 Crusoe’s final reflections on his space travels blend admiration, envy, and criticism of John Milton’s achievement in Paradise Lost. Unlike Milton, Crusoe never catches a glimpse of heaven itself, the “Country infinitely beyond” (239). Although, “If I should have any superior Elevations,” Crusoe says, “and should be able to see the Oeconomy of Heaven in his Disposition of Things on Earth, I shall be as careful to convey them to Posterity as they come in” (245). Elsewhere, Crusoe suggests that the sublime heights achieved by Milton in his poetry were only useful for giving us a better glimpse of the workings of the devil, the prince of the power of the air: “Mr. Milton, whose Imagination was carried up to a greater Height than I am now, went farther into the Abyss of Satan’s Empire a great Way” (245). Behind Crusoe’s humility one can hear the teasing envy of Defoe, who treats with irony what Blake and Shelley would take very seriously years later – that Milton is at his best when he is talking about the devil. In the preface to Serious Reflections, Crusoe claims Don Quixote and the teachings of Jesus as his literary predecessors (51, 53), but it is in the “Vision” at the end of Serious Reflections that Defoe comes closest to naming his models for writing: from biblical rationalist, to curious astronomer, to detached stoic, to disappointed colonialist, to busy civil servant, Crusoe combines and moves easily between all these modes of seeing other worlds. Crusoe’s standing on the verge of the created world also tells us something about the moral vantage point of his fiction. Though it may be higher than the biblical moralist, astronomer, stoic, or colonialist, it affords no view of heaven, no vista of time from the perspective of eternity. He writes his fiction less from the view of the converted than the stubborn worldling. To read Defoe’s novels is to read with the damned, those who travel without making any moral progress, who never acquire a vision of eternity, who worry about religion without ever experiencing God. No matter how far Crusoe travels, he carries his world with him. He never makes it beyond himself. Moreover, in grappling with Milton’s example,

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Crusoe reminds his author that no matter how high or far he may travel in his imagination, he cannot transcend the bureaucratic evils of politics. Fiction offers no escape from the affairs of this world. Yet there is something playful still about the “Vision of the Angelick World,” something cheerful and optimistic lurking beneath this portrayal of the devil residing at the heights of human imagination. Notice the way Crusoe juxtaposes spatial and moral metaphors as he cautions novelists to come, those who will build on the “foundation” of his imaginative work: Let me therefore hint here, that supposing my self, as before, in the Orbit of the Sun, take it in its immense Distance as our Astronomers conceive of it, or on the Edge only of the Atmosphere with a clear View of the whole Solar System, the Region of Satan’s Empire all in View, and the World of Spirits laid open to me: Yet let me give you this for a Check to your Imagination, that even here the Space between Finite and Infinite is as impenetrable as on Earth, and will for ever be so, till our Spirits being uncased, shall take their Flight to the Center of Glory, where every Thing shall be seen as it is; and therefore you must not be surprized, if I am come down again from the Verge of the World of Spirits, the same short sighted Wretch, as to Futurity and Things belonging to Heaven and Hell as I went up; for Elevations of this Kind are meant only to give us a clearer view of what we are, not of what we shall be; and ’tis an Advantage worth Travelling for too. All this I thought necessary to prevent the whimsical Building of erroneous Structures on my Foundation, and fancying themselves carried farther than they are able to go. I come therefore back to talk of Things familiar. (248)

Crusoe cannot build for himself any moral, scientific, or political ladder to climb from temporal things to eternal ones. After ascending for a “clear view of the whole solar system,” Crusoe comes down “the same short sighted wretch” with only “a clearer view of what we are.” Having left to improve himself at the outer limits of creation, he returns no better. Nevertheless, Crusoe insists – and here the reader can catch the voice of Defoe defending his fiction – this kind of “elevation” is worth traveling for. When the novel is finished and the imaginative journey ends, there is something of value in the turn “back to talk of things familiar.”

There May Be Such Things Having described the moral benefits of his imaginative journeys, Crusoe, at the very end of the “Vision,” lets the reader further into his author’s mode

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of truth-telling with a short history of the members of an atheistical club. It begins with the claim that prefaces so much of Defoe’s later fiction, namely, that we can overlook truths of fact for moral usefulness: “But I have a Mind to conclude this Work with a short History of some Atheists, which I met with many Years ago, and whether the Facts are testified or not, may be equally useful in the Application, if you not think them a little too Religious for you” (260). There are four main characters in this parable of novelistic truth-telling: a young Gentleman, a pious Friend, an Atheist, and a Student. A young Gentleman was on his way to a meeting of an atheists’ club that had formed among some of the divinity students at the university. Unaware of the dark clouds gathering overhead, the Gentleman was caught in a storm and took shelter in the gateway of an inn. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning cracked so terrifyingly close to the Gentleman that he became confused about where he was going. He began to ask himself why there were storms like this at all and where they came from, and then, “warm and swift as the Lighting,” came the thought, “What if there should be a God! what will become of me then!” (262). Terrified by such thoughts, the young Gentleman ran back home to give vent to his reflections. A near relation of his, “a pious, good Man, who had often used to speak very plainly to him of the horrid Sin he was guilty of, happened to come to visit him” (262). Conversation with the pious Friend fills the young Gentleman with such emotions that he is forced to retreat into his closet where he can express himself more freely; “His Friend, taking a Book in his Hand, staid in the outer Room” (262). At that moment, another young man came to the door of the young Gentleman and knocked. The pious Friend looked through the grate of the door and recognized the Atheist as one of the members of the notorious club, but instead of inviting him inside, the Friend opened the door only a little, so as not to be seen, and said in the disguised voice of the distraught young Gentleman, “O Sir, Beseech them all to repent; for depend upon it, There is a God; tell them, I say so; and with that he shut the Door upon him violently” (262). The young Atheist is so stunned by the slammed door and the voice of his supposed friend that he leaves in confusion, nearly forgetting where he was going. He cannot shake off the words “There is a God.” The storm continues, and the young Atheist, still troubled by the words, stops by a bookseller’s shop to “stand up a little out of the wet” (264). He happens to meet there a “very sober, studious, religious young Man, a Student in Divinity of the same College” (264). This Student is reading an “old Book” to help him compose a short dialogue. He says “four Lines

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written on the Back of the Title Page” had brought the Atheist to mind just moments before he entered the bookshop. The Atheist is eager to know the lines, but the Student will only show them if he agrees to a rather bizarre physiological test of conscience. The Student asks to hold the Atheist’s hand while he reads in order to feel how his body responds to the lines of poetry. The two young men retire into a backroom of the bookshop for the experiment. When the Student asks the Atheist to report how he felt while reading, particularly the words God, heaven, and hell, tears stand in the Atheist’s eyes as he answers, “I don’t know but there may” (266) be such things. The Student responds, “Well, I see it begins to touch you, if you are uncertain, that is a Step to Conviction” (266). The Student explains why he thought the lines so apt to the Atheist’s case: “I thought, that such a Reflection in the Case of Atheism, so natural, so plain, especially blessed from him whose secret Voice can effectually reach the mind, might be some Means to open your Eyes” (266). Who is the author of these lines “especially blessed” whose “secret voice” reaches the mind? Is it God who blesses? The author? Although not cited in Serious Reflections, the lines happen to be from Defoe’s poem “The Storm. An Essay.”9 It seems the Student was reading a book by Defoe, the author who here seems to delight in the possibility of his words taken up by God as divine speech to others. The Atheist remains stubbornly agnostic: “I tell you, I don’t know, but there may be a God.” And the Student – sometime friend, sometime interrogator, a curious blend of psychiatrist and social scientist – scolds him for qualifying his belief: “Don’t you know but there may! O SIR, I beseech you repent; for certainly THERE IS A GOD, depend upon it; I SAY SO” (266). The young Atheist is undone by these last words, the very ones that he heard through the partially opened door at his friend the young Gentleman’s house earlier. And it is this coincidence of words more than the lines of poetry that convinces the Atheist, looking “wildly” now, that “there must be A GOD or A DEVIL in Being” (267). The book of providence seems to be working against the Atheist, terrifying him as the Bible did John Bunyan at first, and as the Bible does to many of its firsttime readers in Defoe’s conduct manuals (Family Instructor 212–17). The Atheist and Student go to the young Gentleman’s house to hear about his case of repentance. The pious and mysterious Friend is gone. The Atheist tells the young Gentleman about his earlier visit and thanks him for what he said through the cracked door. He says, “I hope I may have Reason to be thankful for what you said to me, and look upon it as spoken from Heaven; for I assure you, it has been an Introduction to that Light in my

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Thoughts which I hope shall never be extinguish’d” (271). Now it is the Gentleman’s turn to marvel. He explains that he never went to the door, said no such thing, and that the voice must have been, quite literally, “some Voice from Heaven, it was nothing of mine” (271). The Atheist turns pale, overwhelmed at the thought that he has heard a supernatural voice, and falls into a swoon to end the parable. As the parable readers, we know that the “voice from heaven” was no more a miracle than, again, the grain that grew up on Crusoe’s island, which he later discovers to be kernels spilled from a sack of chicken feed. What will happen to the Atheist when he learns that the “voice from heaven” is no such thing? Will the “light in his thoughts” so recently introduced get snuffed out by shame and embarrassment? Will it be fanned into flame by a laughter-filled repentance? Crusoe does not say, and the parable ends where it does because what interests Defoe most as a fiction writer is not the outcome of the Atheist’s repentance but the moment of his uncertainty. What Defoe is trying to cultivate in his fiction is not a secularized version of his dissenting Christian faith so much as an ordinary, tentative admission that “there may be such things.” Crusoe’s final meditations in Serious Reflections are on the usefulness of doubt, gullibility, and fear – it was fearful uncertainty that inspired so many of Crusoe’s projects on the island – and in them, in Crusoe’s asking what to make of the human tendency to believe more than we know, one can hear Defoe constructing his theory of the novel. Serious mistakes of seeing ghosts and hearing voices “should not at all hinder us from making a very good Use of such Things,” Crusoe says, “for many a Voice may be directed from Heaven, that is not immediately spoken from thence” (272). The fiction of Defoe is like the voice of the Friend. This is the point that Crusoe finally makes when extracting the lesson from his short history of the atheistical club. He says that the concluding scene shows “how the Power of Imagination may be work’d up, by the secret Agency of an unknown Hand, how many Things concurr’d to make this Man believe he had seen an Apparition, and heard a Voice, and yet there was nothing in it but the Voice of a Man unseen and mistaken” (272). The young Atheist “concluded it had been all a Vision or Apparition that opened the Door . . . and yet here was neither Vision or Voice, but that of an ordinary Person, and one who meant well and said well” (272). If there is something worthwhile in the imaginative let down to “things familiar,” so too is there value in the discovery that the disguised voice of Robinson Crusoe is that of an “ordinary person,” Daniel Defoe, speaking through the narrowly opened doors of his novel, an author who means well and says well.

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The Crowing Cock The Crusoe who styled himself a type of prodigal son or Jonah at the beginning of Robinson Crusoe matures by taking himself less seriously at the end of Serious Reflections. No longer the basically good middle-class boy trying to puff up his modest rebellion into biblical proportions, he compares himself in the end to the rooster who signaled Peter’s betrayal. On the very last page of Serious Reflections, Crusoe says that that the concurring circumstances leading to the Atheist’s stopping first at the door of the Gentleman and then at the bookshop where the Student was, and to his hearing the same surprising words in both places, were all “order’d in the same Manner as the Cock crowing when Peter denied Christ, which though wonderfully concurrent with what his blessed Master had foretold, yet was no extraordinary Thing in a Cock, who naturally Crows at such a Time of the Morning” (273, cf. Luke 22.54–60). Letting this line reflect back on its author, as I think Defoe intended here, one can say that Defoe makes up stories as naturally and easily as a rooster crows at dawn. And if God can use a rooster to bring Peter to repentance, then he can use Defoe’s fiction to do the same for his readers. The beastly analogy is a fitting conclusion to Defoe’s fable of novel writing because it keeps its religious and satiric edge without completely eschewing claims to moral efficacy and divine inspiration. By writing as an ordinary man about ordinary persons and things, Defoe opens up the possibility of extraordinary concurrences between the lives of his fugitive characters and his wayward readers. The playful self-effacement that one finds in this concluding fable, along with the refusal in Defoe’s novels to subject the picaresque everywhere to the spiritual autobiography, shows his striving to leave the connections between reader and text open to providence, to trust them to be variously perceived by the reader, and to avoid making all such concurrences the result of his own literary artistry. Instead of writing novels that appropriate the role of providence to readers, Defoe writes novels that providence can appropriate on the readers’ behalf. Defoe’s narratives are not like providence in the sense of guiding readers inexorably down paths of interpretive bliss or perdition, as if that were possible anyway – to write a story or put anything to words so powerful they could force readers to interpret it one way or another. Defoe does not try to imitate that kind of power or contain it in his fiction, not even to some small degree. Instead, Defoe trusts providence to operate between his fiction and its readers, trusts God to take up his fictional scenes, laden as they are with dates, descriptive details, and bits of dialogue – all these the

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facts of his fiction – and use them to create striking, surprising concurrences with the lives of his readers. The artistic challenge for Defoe is to maintain a gap between the ordinary lives of his audience and the narrated lives of his characters. He keeps those characters at some distance by the strange, surprisingness of their adventures, as well as by the moral shortcomings of their actions and reflections. The irony that I describe in this chapter is crucial to maintaining that distance. But Defoe also keeps those fictional lives within reach of his audience; he writes stories to be like his readers’ stories in ways that he may guess at and providence determine.

*** In Chapter 1, I tried to rethink the connection between secularity and realistic fiction by suggesting that realistic fiction is not driven primarily by enmity toward the spiritual, religious, or transcendent; nor is it primarily concerned with representing the world as we already know it. Rather, realistic fiction tries to catch what is in and just beyond our experience of the world, a beyond that is not another world but a different or added take on this one. When Defoe writes chapter 5 of his Serious Reflections, “Of listning [sic] to the Voice of Providence,” he likens it to listening to communications from an invisible world of spirits. In one list, he mentions “notices, Omens, Dreams, Voices, Hints, Forebodings, Impulses, &c” (187). In another list, Crusoe says that providence directs from the invisible world “silent Messengers on many Occasions, whether sleeping or waking whether directly or indirectly, whether by Hints, Impulses, Allegories, Mysteries, or otherwise, we know not” (185). Crusoe’s &c, otherwise, and we know not show him tentative and cautious, hedging between superstition and skepticism. More striking, I think, is the way these listing sentences refuse to finish, resist landing on any final term for how providence might communicate. They express in their form the open-ended providence Crusoe sets out to describe; and through Crusoe’s writing about the many ways we hear the “silent voice” of that providence (187), Defoe is enlisting fiction as one of those ways. There is no way to prove, of course, that Defoe was thinking about fiction as a potential “silent messenger” of providence when, pretending to be Crusoe, he added otherwise and &c to his lists, but these are the kind of unintended concurrences that Defoe’s fiction teaches us to listen for. Writing about what we might see beyond the threshold of the visible world and hear beyond the audible, Crusoe is not merely filling up pages with religious reflections, but trying to think through his author’s fiction

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making, where words printed on paper do in fact make invisible worlds we can see and silent voices we can hear – as we read.10 Consider his description of the “dangerous Helps” we rely on to listen to the voice of providence and how it resonates with Defoe’s fiction as I have described it thus far: We are short-sighted Creatures at best, and can see but little Way before us, I mean as to the Events of Things; we ought therefore to make use of all the Lights and Helps we can get; these if nicely regarded, would be some of the most considerable to guide us in many difficult Cases. Would we carefully listen to the Concurrence of Providence in the several Parts of our Lives, we should stand in less need of the more dangerous Helps of Visions, Dreams, and Voices, from less certain Intelligences. (188)

Fiction is a light that helps us see “but little Way before us,” a light among other lights – visions, dreams, hints, impulses, allegories, voices, etc. None should be venerated or trusted blindly, Crusoe might say. All of them should be “nicely regarded” or scrutinized and so help us practice listening to providence in our lives together. But this is not a practice that makes perfect. Listening to fiction is never quite safe. It is only one among our “more dangerous helps” – less dangerous than others perhaps, but dangerous still. Defoe’s fiction offers a mundane transcendence that differs in this regard from John Bunyan’s and Sarah Scott’s. At the end of Pilgrim’s Progress part 2, Bunyan imagines a better world across the river from the world he already knows. The holy, heavenly city of that better world sustains and supports the suburban life of this one. Crusoe, in contrast, at the threshold of his visible world, the height of his imagination, can only see a disappointingly bureaucratic devil busy meddling in human affairs. At the end of Millennium Hall, Scott imagines young Lamont reading scripture for positive laws of community formation that transcend all laws of state and social custom, yet Crusoe can hear very little beyond the discourses of his age – vague, negative hints of what not to do, what to avoid (Serious Reflections 185, 195, 200). Crusoe also gets to the edge of his imagined world differently than other characters do. In Chapter 8, we will see Clarissa on the edge of escape from Lovelace after a sustained, intentional course of devotional reading. Copying out discontinuous verses from the wisdom books of the Bible, fitting them to her occasion, helps her to resist the plots of men around her and prepare for a new life, however brief, single and at large in London. In contrast to Clarissa’s purposeful, confident poise at the edge of that

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transition, Crusoe arrives at the edges of his world by accident, whether by storm, shipwreck, seeing a single footprint in the sand, happening to meet an astronomer friend, or a chance opening of the Bible.11 Only then does Crusoe catch sight of his imaginative limits, and then almost nothing beyond them. That farther seeing and listening is left to us as readers. After Crusoe, we don’t know but there might be a providence at work among us that delights in “infinite Variation” acts with “spontanous power” and can generously “determine anew” the course of our lives (Serious Reflections 195, 196).

chapter 8

Resilient to Narrative: Clarissa after Reading

In a letter dated Monday, July 17, from John Belford to Richard Lovelace, the only letter in Samuel Richardson’s massive epistolary novel where the Bible appears as a physical object, we are given a rare description of what Clarissa looks like at the end of her devotions. Under house arrest in a London jail, kneeling on an old couch cushion, half dressed, head down, her face turned away and only half visible, her forefinger between the pages of a Bible, Clarissa is through reading, done copying out verses of scripture applicable to her condition. She takes no notice of Belford when he enters the room. Thus far in the novel, Clarissa has heroically resisted two powerful plots. One is the marriage plot, pushed on her early by her parents and the oafish Robert Solmes. The other is the seduction plot, pushed on her later by the handsome, rakish Lovelace, who, failing to find a way to force or fool her into consent, eventually drugs Clarissa unconscious, then rapes her. After that, Lovelace and his friends, Belford especially, resort to pushing the marriage plot on Clarissa, convinced that a wedding will make right, in retrospect, Lovelace’s act of violation, redeem it as an original intent to marry, an all-too-common solution to rape in legal history.1 As Belford tells Lovelace near the end of the Bible-scene letter, “I wanted to clear your intention of this brutal, this sordid-looking, villainy” (1068). Not in fact brutal or sordid, according to Belford; only “sordid-looking.” He is arranging for Clarissa’s release from the Rowlands’ jail not to help her escape Lovelace but to reopen the way for her to finally marry him. He never says this to Clarissa, but she understands his intentions perfectly and refuses: “No – No,” she tells him; “Leave me, leave me! . . . Let me never, never more believe in man!” (1066). Clarissa’s adamant refusal, her resistance to the plots and persuasions of well-meaning men such as Belford, her resistance to institutions such as marriage, has been strengthened by her Bible reading. 202

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When Belford describes the wrecked room at the Rowlands’ where Clarissa is under house arrest, unjustly accused of not paying what was owed to her previous landlord, the brothel owner Mrs. Sinclair, the details seem to pile up according to their physical proximity to Clarissa. The closer things are to her in the room, the more Belford strains to make them represent her. He describes the walls, floor, and ceiling as “smoked with variety of figures, and initials of names, that had been the woeful employment of wretches, who had no other way to amuse themselves” (1064). Next he describes the bed, the “windows dark and double-barred,” chairs, table, mantelpiece, and candlesticks, as well as a looking-glass “cracked through the middle, breaking out into a thousand points; the crack given it, perhaps, in a rage, by some poor creature, to whom it gave the representation of his heart’s woes in his face” (1065). Closer still in Belford’s description is an “old, broken-bottomed cane couch” – a prefiguration, perhaps, of all therapists’ couches to come – “sunk at one corner, and unmortised, by the failing of one of its worm-eaten legs, which lay in two pieces under the wretched piece of furniture it could no longer support” (1065). Whatever Richardson intended, this couch anticipates Clarissa broken beneath its long reading history, its own heavy reputation as the first great probing psychological novel. In a corner of the room, Clarissa kneels on a “bolster” from this old couch, next to a table where she has been reading and writing. Her head is down, resting on her arms, which lie crossed on the table, “the fore-finger of her right-hand in her bible. She had perhaps been reading in it, and could read no longer. Paper, pens, ink, lay by her book, on the table” (1065). Clarissa is no longer writing letters; she is no longer copying extracts from scripture to compose her private meditations; she is no longer even reading the Bible. Typically, romance heroines only stop reading to make love to their boyfriends, like Francesca in canto 5 of the Inferno, who ends her story with that bookish euphemism for sex with Paolo, “and we read no more that day.” But when Clarissa “could read no longer,” she kneels alone in silence. Her finger in the book, she is a living manicule, a printer’s convention made flesh. Not knowing what she is pointing to, caught up in her seemingly objectless desire, Belford is strangely aroused. He struggles to contain his desires by explaining her state of undress. “Her stays seemed not tightlaced,” he says, before reasoning that it was because her “laces had been cut.” Her white robes flow and spread sensually over the floor, “for she had not hoops.” And when Belford realizes that she “had not been undressed ever since she had been there,” well, the idea of Clarissa taking off her

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clothes – or of her not taking off her clothes for so long – chokes Belford with what he calls, in wonderful understatement, “concern.” This, at least, is what he calls it before saying, “Something rose in my throat, I know not what, which made me for a moment guggle, as it were, for speech.” What reduces him to such a babbling preliterate infancy? An accomplished rake such as Belford ought to be better at articulating his desires, giving them easy expression in speech and writing and, when opportunities arise, in action. He speaks of her “charming hair” and “loveliest neck” but without the anatomizing similes we’d expect, as if literary conventions of blazon and rakish love are disintegrating under the pressure of his seeing Clarissa this way. She is somewhere between or outside the only two plots by which he has ever recognized any woman, closed to him like the Bible on the table, past reading, through resisting marriage and seduction, in touch with something that he cannot see. Belford catches sight of Clarissa leaning against a crucial imaginative boundary of Richardson’s novel – what we might call the narrative rim of his fictional world. In Chapter 1 of this book, I briefly criticized two commonsense notions of literary realism: One is a world-generated realism, which presumes that what makes a good novel is its capacity to represent already-existing psychological or social reality (the more of that extant reality it captures in its pages, the more “realistic” the novel). The second is a worldgenerating realism, which presumes that what makes a good novel is its capacity to create a plausible psychological or social world that readers can imaginatively inhabit (the more powerfully absorbing that imagined world, the more readers find themselves immersed in it, the more realistic). But what both these notions miss is the way that fiction teaches us to recognize various thresholds of experience. For example, when the narrator gives readers more information than a character in the story has, readers feel the edges or limits of that character’s experience of the world; or when readers catch the limits of what the narrator perceives and feels, then, in both cases, readers become aware of the character’s or narrator’s experience, the limits of that experience, and what lies beyond those limits. Whenever good fiction writers draw the circle of focalization, when they reflect narration through the lens of a single consciousness, whether it be a character or a narrator, readers see whatever is focused on, of course, but also something of the lens, and, more dimly, something of what is left out of focus, in the shadows, or just offstage. To rethink the secular, I have suggested we consider that what is left offstage or outside the spotlight of narration is not always “the religious” or a free-floating, transcendent supernatural realm, but, rather, more of this world, some aspect of our

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psychological or social experience that we might not have thought possible, looked for, or ever noticed in the periphery without the novel. Richardson’s use of epistolary form in Clarissa has led many readers and critics to speculate about his characters’ ulterior motives and ultimate ends – that is, to explore the periphery of his fiction in terms of psychological depth and preparation for dying. Clarissa does provoke readers to dip beneath what characters say in their letters to what they leave unsaid, to step back from ethical questions about how characters are living and consider how they are dying. Thus, without focalizing character through a third-person narrator, without making readers attentive to the border between character and narrator, Clarissa teaches us to cross other lines – between surface and depth, between life and death. However, in this chapter, I set out to explore a different edge of Richardson’s work, specifically the delineation of time in Clarissa through its dating of letters – by day of the week, day of the month, and sometimes by a specific hour (“11 o’clock”) or window of time (“morning” or “evening”). The chronological year is never specified, but the action of the novel occurs during almost one full calendar year from early January to early December. The Bible scene, occurring as it does on the brink of Clarissa’s final escape from Lovelace and return to Mrs. Smith’s on July 17 (1072), points to a crucial, under-realized part of Clarissa’s life when she is living as a single woman in London, compiling her letters, and arranging her story for publication. In other words, what Clarissa’s copying of verses from the wisdom literature of the Bible points to is a writing life at large in London, however fleetingly achieved. The lost potential of that writing life contributes to the novel’s tragic power. By situating the Bible scene above in Clarissa’s year, then comparing that year to the church year given in the Book of Common Prayer, I hope to show how the novel helps readers cross two thresholds of temporality. One is the threshold between the religious year of the church and what I will call the secular year of Clarissa, in which the significant events of the heroine’s life fall slightly aslant the important events of the church year. The other temporal threshold is between Clarissa’s secular year and a kind of timelessness achieved by reading, evident in the Bible scene above. With Clarissa as a model, readers gain experience in (1) moving across the temporal threshold of the church year into more secular time and (2) moving out of that secular time into a seemingly atemporal space of reading. Out of a whirlwind of domestic concerns, the Bible scene in Clarissa shows the wisdom that can be gained by reading fiction.

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To get at the un- or under-realized secular life that the Bible scene points to in Clarissa, a life that tends to get forgotten in roughly the last third of the novel, with its long anticipation of Clarissa’s death and recounting of characters’ reactions to her death, I discuss first in this chapter some important recent criticism of Clarissa that challenges developmental and depth approaches to literary character. Second, I pick up the discussion of culture and postcritical reading from Chapter 2 of this book to suggest how Clarissa’s escaped life in London might serve as a model for literary critics looking for a way out of the liberative-repressive bind that dominates so much of our thinking about culture. Third, by way of contrast to Clarissa’s use of the Bible to withdraw from social life, I look at how the appearance of the Book of Common Prayer in Richardson’s first novel, Pamela, works as a source of social authority, establishing Pamela’s public reputation as a virtuous writer. Fourth, I compare the calendar of holy days given in the BCP to the dates given at the top of the letters in Clarissa, in order to show how the significant events of Clarissa’s year fall slightly askew those of the church year. Fifth, I examine how the Bible, particularly in the form of Clarissa’s scriptural “Meditations,” works, on the one hand, to legitimate Richardson’s psychological probing of his heroine and, on the other, to constrain introspective descent – that is, how the Bible works to help pull readers up from depths back to surfaces. Finally, returning to my discussion of the book of Job in Chapter 5, I discuss how the resilience to narrative that we learn through Clarissa, a resilience that takes up and amplifies the resilience acquired through Bible reading, generates readerly problems that get addressed in different ways by Robinson Crusoe and Tristram Shandy.

Out of the Depths Clarissa was first published in three installments, in December 1747, April 1748, and December 1748; and from the beginning, even before its publication, Richardson carried on an extensive correspondence with friends and readers about the motivations and fates of his characters, especially Clarissa, whose ulterior motives almost immediately became the object of passionate, probing speculation. Even her closest fictional friend in the novel, Anna Howe, reads in Clarissa’s early letters critical of Lovelace an unacknowledged love for him. As she tells Clarissa, “It is my humble opinion, I tell you frankly, that on enquiry it will come out to be LOVE” (1.62 [71]). Anna sounds like many of the real readers who wrote to Richardson to tell him how things should “come out to be,” what Clarissa

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really felt and what should happen to her. And while critics since Anna have differed about Clarissa’s motives, or her author’s motives in writing her the way he does, the posture of “enquiry” has remained largely the same – ascertaining what the text means by going against what the text says. The novel’s epistolary form invites this kind of reading: each letter gives to readers an intimate, inside view of the writer while at the same time leaving readers to wonder about what is left unsaid, enticing them to look and listen for more between the lines.2 And yet so much good, recent criticism on eighteenth-century fiction has resisted this depth approach to psychology by showing how the character of a person was not always or only thought to be disclosed by exploring its secret recesses or charting its development, but by emphasizing what remains the same about a person as he or she circulates through society (Lynch), or describing the way human psychology is organized by its relationship to nonhuman things (Wall; Kramnick; Park), or valorizing what is stubbornly asocial, even impersonal, about persons (W. Lee). These surface approaches to reading character explore the extent to which we become individuals not in relationship to a hidden, interior region of ourselves so much as in relationship to a multiplicity of human and nonhuman others outside ourselves. In recent debates about the postcritical turn in literary studies, metaphors of depth and surface are sometimes taken up as weapons in a war over method. Critics typically feel obligated to choose sides, but as I pointed out in Chapter 2, connecting Frei’s defense of the literal sense of scripture to Best and Marcus’s defense of literary surfaces, choosing for or against surfaces is less important than tracking the relationships between surfaces and depths. Not every depth need be a hidden, distorting symptom of what we read on the surface.3 In Clarissa, the vital tension between what characters say and what they might mean would be lost if critics could somehow forbid our paying attention to depths, and that tension would also be lost if we habitually overlooked the text to explore whatever meaning we think must lie beneath it. Clarissa has a way of keeping taut the lines between letter surfaces and psychological depths. Moreover, the lines run in other directions, not just in toward psychological interiors, to stay with our spatial metaphors, but up or out toward the afterlife. For example, when Clarissa writes in anticipation of her death, of entering what she calls “my father’s house,” a phrase purposely designed to throw Lovelace off her track, he takes literally what she means figuratively, and so he rides to the Harlowes’ to find her. Clarissa eventually explains the trick to Belford. When she wrote “my father’s house,” she had

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“A religious meaning . . . couched under it,” Belford says. Lovelace might have figured out Clarissa’s ploy if he had “Read but for my father’s house, Heaven” (1274). The last third of the novel is dominated by Clarissa’s slow dying of consumption – finally, on September 7 – followed by about three months and 150 pages of characters reacting to her death. So, as readers, our attention is constantly pulled into thinking about both ulterior motives and afterlives, but to let go of the surface of what characters say in their letters would be to relax the tension that makes Clarissa pleasurable reading. These lines of tension that I am tracing can seem stretched to the point of breaking by scholarly assumptions about the religious and the secular. Most theologically inflected readings emphasize the novel’s pull to transcendence, the power Clarissa achieves after death, her seemingly Christlike, saintly, and otherworldly qualities, while more secular readings pull in the opposite direction, emphasizing the centrality of Clarissa’s body or the materiality of her writing. On the one hand, secular-symptomatic readings go below the text to show it subject to psychoanalytic or social powers beyond the characters’ control. On the other hand, religious-transcendent readings go above the text to show it under the control of some divine plan or theological system. Richardson himself plays the role of religiously concerned critic when he writes in the postscript to Clarissa that his novel is meant to “inculcate upon the human mind, under the guise of an amusement, the great lessons of Christianity, in an age like the present” (1495). Richardson clearly experienced his present to be what we now call a secular age, but it is important to remember that Richardson’s polemics, like Charles Gildon’s criticism of Robinson Crusoe, do not simply reflect an emergent secularity. They help make it, in part by managing the way we think about “religion” in the course of criticizing “an age like the present.” It is not exactly clear what Richardson means by the “great lessons” of Christianity, whether he thinks all lessons of Christianity “great” or whether there are some less-than-great lessons that he prefers not to emphasize. In the postscript, he advocates for the “Christian system” of “poetical justice” (1498) by which wicked characters are punished, the virtuous rewarded, and the most virtuous rewarded only in death. This seems to be the “great lesson” that Richardson aims to teach: expect no reward for virtue in this life. Contrary to those who preached Christian virtue as a means to worldly happiness, Richardson aims to form readers “earnest in their profession of Christianity,” who “will rather envy than regret the triumphant death of Clarissa . . . whose steady virtue . . . HEAVEN only could reward” (1498). After Richardson’s “heaven only”

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polemical postscript, one might be tempted to read Clarissa as a slowmoving plot to carry us from turbulent secular depths to a tranquil religious death, where ulterior desires for bodily pleasure – “it will come out to be LOVE” – give way to aspiration for a disembodied afterlife – “HEAVEN only.” This would be Clarissa way beyond the pleasure principle, the secular couch broken by religious devotion. But the best recent criticism has a way of acknowledging these ulterior motives and ultimate ends without giving them the final word, without overlooking the earthly ambitions and effects of Richardson’s work.4 In “A Case for Hardheartedness: Clarissa, Indifferency, Impersonality,” Wendy Ann Lee emphasizes the importance of the life that Clarissa achieves after the rape and before her death, when Clarissa is living in London, unafraid of being known as a rape survivor, preparing her story for publication. No longer “an interiorized, psychologically volatile subject” and not yet the “religious symbol” she will be after her death, Clarissa is for a time “static, transparent, open but not violable, impersonal and yet alive” (65), what Lee calls “an urban model of sociality” (65). Resisting conventional religious readings of the novel’s end, including Richardson’s own, Lee says “Clarissa’s corpse may be driven back to the country and reinstated as the eternally virtuous daughter, but her summer in London stands out as her most memorable and radical incarnation” (60). I will follow Lee’s lead in this chapter by focusing on that summer in London, but my emphasis will be different. Lee is careful to show that summer to be a secular achievement, sourced by Locke’s idea of “indifferency” (not any theologian’s) and relatively free of Christian ideas about the afterlife. I agree, but I will argue that summer is more than a non- or irreligious secular achievement. It is, after all, the appearance of the Bible as a physical object on July 17, with Clarissa poised unmoving close by, that inaugurates her summer in London.

The Culture of Clarissa At the risk of oversimplifying this massive book, but also to provide a way forward in analyzing Richardson’s achievements as a fiction writer, I want to consider each stage of Clarissa’s confinement as representing a different aspect of Richardson’s culture. Anthropologists and sociologists remind us that a culture or civilization organizes not only a system of moral demands, but also a system of releases from those demands.5 Call the first a controlling symbolic, the second a releasing symbolic, and you’ve named the major powers of a moral order. One could think through Clarissa this way with

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James Harlowe, Clarissa’s brother, and Robert Lovelace, her seducer, not as representatives of independent cultures but manifestations of the same. The Harlowe family keeping Clarissa under lock and key at the beginning of the story, trying to force her consent to marry Mr. Solmes, manifests the controlling symbolic; Lovelace exemplifies the releasing symbolic when he abducts Clarissa and, for the middle of the story, keeps her under surveillance in a polite London brothel. The interdependence of these two symbolic orders, controlling and releasing, is generally recognized by critics of Clarissa, but the tendency of these same critics is to place Richardson on the controlling side of the moral order and to show how the releasing forces, exemplified by Lovelace, undermine the author’s strong efforts at moral control (Warner) or how Richardson’s efforts at moral suasion resemble the very thing that leads to Clarissa’s rape (Castle). But what if we brought Richardson into the company of such critics and deemed him aware of the collusion between the forces of control and release? What if like Foucault he thought a care of the soul possible that was not wholly determined by the social order? What if like Sedgwick he thought an intimate touch possible beyond those already scripted by society?6 Clarissa’s imprisonment at home would be the occasion for the novel’s critique of the controlling symbolic. Next, after the abduction by Lovelace comes a critique of the releasing symbolic. The Bible scene occurs at the beginning of a third movement, when Clarissa escapes the Rowlands’ and changes her relationship to both forces of culture. Clarissa alone, kneeling on a couch cushion with her finger in the Bible, is pointing to another possibility, a way of living outside the repressiveexpressive dictates of her culture, but what is that possibility? How does this Bible scene point to it? In Chapter 2, I argued against a new historicist tendency to assume that culture operates as a kind of all-encompassing sacred text, where disparate cultural phenomena are thought to be manifestations of a single social power. No matter the chronological order of their occurrence, no matter their institutional setting, no matter whether they involved reading and writing or some other cultural practice like appearing before a judge, going to a coffeehouse, or participating in public worship – any phenomenon can, for the astute critic, represent the homologous cultural force that he or she is tracking. Rigorous scholarship in this mode of cultural studies involves naming a previously unnoticed cultural logic and then gathering examples from multiple literary genres and nonliterary practices to show that cultural logic everywhere at work. This approach suffers from a secularist blindspot that disavows the way its assumptions about culture

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appropriate older assumptions about scripture, to the detriment of both, reinforcing a view of the Bible as an absolutist, sovereign text in the process of relegating the scripture to whatever is culturally past, peripheral, or primitive. At the same time, culture becomes the ultimate object of study and works of literature are valued to the extent they serve as intermediaries of this or that cultural formation. Is there some other way to follow the connections, I asked in Chapter 2, between literature and its cultural contexts or, in my case, between fiction and Bible reading? I pointed to actor–network theory as a better alternative because it attributes agency to each node in the network. In other words, novels are not just passive sites where preexisting social energies associated with Bible reading express themselves or clash. Good novels can remake those energies, put them to use in surprising ways, and so alter readers’ experience of them, shifting readers’ expectations and experiences of Bible reading in the process. If “every consequence adds slightly to a cause” (Latour, “Compositionist” 482) – that is, if works of fiction add slightly to the social causes or forces they mediate – then the critics’ job shifts from merely identifying those causes to describing what exceeds them. One thing that makes this task of criticism difficult, in the case of Clarissa, is that what gets added to the devotional reading of the Bible, as that reading is represented in the novel, seems less something new than something more. The novel does not mock, revere, or alter but rather amplifies the withdrawal from narrative that I said in Chapter 5 was built into the verse-by-verse devotional reading practices of the period and imprinted on a typical page of biblical text. The atemporal space that Clarissa inhabits after reading is obviously related to devotional practices of her day, to what we might call eighteenth-century religious culture, but my goal is not to show how the novel works as a mere conduit or intermediary of that culture. Rather, I am setting out to describe what Clarissa adds to it.

The Book and the Page In Chapter 5, I described the potentially productive tension between the Bible as a book and as a printed page of text. As a book, the eighteenthcentury Bible, often bound with the BCP at the beginning and the metrical psalms at the end, reminds its readers that something precedes the world’s beginning in Genesis and will persist through its ending in Revelation. The liturgy and songs of the church thus provided the context for understanding the story of the whole world. Moreover, as a book the Bible gathers together an extraordinary array of temporalities: the cosmological time

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associated with the calendar, the royal time of important national events, the ecclesial time of the church year, and the biographical time of saints’ lives. To find the chapter and verse reading for one’s own ordinary day was to join it with more lasting days. To write one’s own family marriages, births, and deaths into the blank pages of this book was to join them to those more enduring patterns of time. As a book, the Bible immersed its readers in a plurality of times; it made it easier for readers to notice and navigate the various temporalities in which they lived. However, as a page of printed text, the Bible also flattened the roughly related, uneven temporalities of experience and taught readers to stand back from those times, hold them at a distance. As a book, the Bible taught readers to recognize themselves moving through the various times of a single human life, a family, a church, a nation-state, or an age of history, but as a printed page of text, the Bible taught readers to stay free of those times, to maintain for the moment of reading a kind of timelessness, an approximation of eternity. I argued that the book’s pull toward those various times (cosmological, historical, ecclesial, biographical) was weaker than the page’s pull away from those times. The years printed at the top of the page, along with the printed column and chapter summaries, obviated the need to pay attention to the plot of scripture, thereby focusing readers’ attention on single verses, each one printed as its own paragraph, each one potentially capable of becoming a wise, stand-alone sentiment to be joined to a related sentiment elsewhere in the Bible, so the cross-reference system in the margin implied. In the moment of reading, I argued, the extensive, multitemporal apparatus of the book served mainly to remind readers of what they were leaving, what they were putting into the background in order to read. Thus, during their devotions, readers practiced a simultaneous distancing from biblical narrative and self-distancing from the narrative flow of their lives, but they did so in preparation for reentry. They did so to return girded with wisdom. In Clarissa, Richardson attempts to make that moment of self-distancing a timeless, eternal state of being.

Clarissa and the Time of the Book of Common Prayer Two aspects of time in Clarissa have received a great deal of attention from critics. First is Richardson’s meticulous care in dating the letters and making sure there are no anachronistic historical references within the novel. Taking the imagined time setting of Clarissa to be “15 or 20 years prior to publication,” as Richardson writes to Lady Braidshaigh,7 Arthur

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Sherbo has shown that the days of the week and month given in the novel correspond to the year 1732, and no other year between 1728 and 1733. However, Sherbo is also careful to note that the year is purposefully not given in the novel, withheld in order to create the effect of chronological realism, letting readers equate the year to the one in which they happen to be reading (Sherbo 145). The first letter in Clarissa is dated January 10. After the tenth letter, on February 27, the day of the week is regularly given along with the day of the month. The last letter is dated December 18. Thus, the events of the story occur in just under a year, close to the time elapsed between the publication of the first and last installment of the novel (Keymer, Richardson’s Clarissa 201). A second way Richardson is often thought to achieve a sense of chronological realism is by having his characters “write to the moment” – that is, record events in writing as close as possible to their actual occurrence. Richardson leans on this technique less often in Clarissa than he did in Pamela, and what he does in Clarissa is slightly different: he often heightens the significance of a particular event in the story by including several letters about it, from several characters, written at different chronological distances from the event. For example, there are seven letters (nos. 247–54) from Lovelace to John Belford written at different moments on June 10, the day that Lovelace is preparing to drug and rape Clarissa, and several letters after the fact, but the rape itself is never described, nor is it described in Clarissa’s account of the evening it occurred (she was unconscious). Readers have to wait until letter no. 295, dated June 28 to find out what happened that night. Lovelace’s letters work to slow down narrative time around the rape, which Clarissa’s letters cannot remember at all. Together their letters work to make conspicuous the absence of any to-the-moment account of the rape itself. Lying outside the narration of events as it does, Lovelace’s rape of Clarissa reminds us that no simple, narrated correspondence to calendar time or writing to the moment accounts for the reality effect of Clarissa. As readers, we are constantly asked to remember (and allowed to forget) the unnarrated story of the rape as we move through the narrative assembly of letters. An additional way the novel asks its readers to connect narrated and unnarrated events is through its carefully aslant correspondence to the pattern of the Christian year, as given by the lectionary and the calendars of festivals and fasts in the Book of Common Prayer. The year of Clarissa is effectively a year without Christmas, a year without the Annunciation to Mary and the birth of Christ. It begins on January 10, just after the Epiphany, and ends on December 18, near the end of Advent. To imbue

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his heroine’s life with this sense of sacred time, Richardson evokes the rhythms of the Christian year without sending his readers to their BCPs looking for explanations. His realism in this regard has to work much the same way it does when he evokes the specificity of a calendar year without sending his readers to historical accounts of any year in particular. Clarissa is not a cryptic allegory of English history circa 1732; nor is Clarissa an allegorical embodiment of the church dutifully conforming to its traditions of worship despite a corrupting modern society. What emerges from a comparison of the events of Clarissa’s life to the events of the church calendar is the way that she falls just outside its pattern, as if Richardson purposefully imagines her tragically excluded from its sacred time. The church calendar in any given year is organized around Easter, which determines the day around which the rest of the moveable feasts are set. If one takes 1732 as the hypothetical year of Clarissa,8 then Easter occurs on April 9, the day before Clarissa’s abduction on Monday, April 10. The Harlowe family had foregone church that Sunday, Clarissa thinks, because they were secretly ashamed of compelling her to consent to marry Mr. Solmes, as they were planning to do that Wednesday: “No blessing to be expected perhaps upon views so worldly, and in some so cruel” (362). None of the letters leading up to or following the events of that fatal day, when Clarissa opens the garden gate to Lovelace, contain any explicit Easter allusions, nor do they allude to the Monday and Tuesday of Easter week, when the church reflected on the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body, respectively (Nelson 187–220).9 There is, perhaps, a dim allusion, in the action of the novel, to the collect for Easter morning and Monday and Tuesday of Easter week, which begins, “Almighty God, who through thy only begotten Son Jesus Christ, has overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life” (BCP), but it would be a stretch, to say the least, to connect this figurative gate of eternal life to the garden door in the story that Clarissa unbolts to meet Lovelace. The lack of Easter allusions is conspicuous in the letters related to Clarissa’s abduction. Much later in the story, Clarissa has “April 10” inscribed on her coffin as the day of her death. “The date April 10 she accounted for, as not being able to tell what her closing-day would be; and as that was the fatal day of her leaving her father’s house” (1306). The day is further emphasized when Miss Howe comes across a memorandum in the margins of Clarissa’s account book, which she used to keep track of how she spent her time: “April 10. The account concluded! – And with it, all my worldly hopes and prospects!!!” (1472). What Easter day in the church year and April 10 in

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Clarissa’s year have in common is their power in organizing subsequent events. The crucial difference is that Clarissa’s day commemorates her death rather than her resurrection. Examining the dates of other significant events in Clarissa’s year supports the idea that Richardson used the church calendar to lend a sense of tragic irony to his heroine’s suffering. From roughly December through June, the festivals of the church are organized around the life of Christ, culminating in Pentecost, which commemorates the beginnings of the Christian church, when God filled the first believers with the Holy Spirit so that everyone heard them speak “the wonderful works of God” in their own tongue (Acts 2.8). Pentecost is also called Whitsunday, for the white garments worn by those who were customarily baptized on that day. After Pentecost or Whitsunday, the festivals of the church focus on the lives of Christ’s apostles, thereby continuing the story of the church. It is during these days commemorating the lives of the apostles and the saints that the significant events in Clarissa’s year occur. For example, the festival day of St. Barnabas is an immoveable feast celebrated every year on June 11. It is late on Monday evening, June 12, that Lovelace drugs Clarissa and rapes her. Does Richardson intend some cruel irony in Lovelace’s plotting Clarissa’s ruin on the day of “St. Barnabas,” whose name means “the son of consolation,” a day that was also used to encourage Christians “never to prosecute any Civil Difference” in court, when “there is no Prospect of compensating our own Loss” (Nelson 324)? The festival of St. James the Apostle was celebrated on July 25 every year. James was the first of the apostles to suffer martyrdom, beheaded by Herod (Acts 12.2; Nelson 359). Clarissa’s birthday is on Monday, July 24. Did she grow up praying for “the grace of martyrdom” (Nelson 366) on the saint’s day closest to her birthday? Again, there are no explicit textual references to these saints, no verbal allusions, that I have found, to the biblical texts or prayers recommended for those days. The omission is surprising because we know that Clarissa’s Bible included a BCP – as I will discuss in the section “Clarissa and Clarissa’s ‘Meditations’” – and therefore a calendar that she could have easily used to mark the sacred events in her year, but she never connects the events in her life to the BCP. Maybe Richardson hoped his devout readers would make the connections for her, noting the way her life falls aslant, outside the life of the church. The significant days of her year are numbered among those of the saints, but they don’t quite correspond to any particular one.

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Clarissa as Secular Book of Common Prayer If we think back to the discussion of the BCP in Chapter 5, where I noted how often it was bound with the Bible, and I suggested that the BCP was not merely the preface or introductory guide to the Bible but the Bible was also a kind of appendix to the BCP, included to make it easier to perform its divine services, and if we think here about the curious proximity of Clarissa’s calendar to the yearly calendar of the BCP, then Clarissa might be thought of as a kind of alternative, secular prayerbook, a better version of the BCP. Clarissa dies on September 7, a Thursday before what would have been the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity in 1732, in the middle of the long stretch of Sundays between Pentecost and Advent – a time when relatively little is happening in the church calendar. The Thursday of Clarissa’s death would have been an “ordinary day,” the name given to days that were not Sundays and not specially marked as holy days. In the days before her death, Clarissa is visited by an unnamed clergyman who administers the Sacrament to her and prays for her (1311, 1316, 1346). The mysterious minister sanctifies the secular day of Clarissa’s death. In Richardson’s previous novel, Pamela, the BCP bolsters and elevates the heroine’s public reputation, but in Clarissa the BCP exerts a strong, downward pressure against the heroine, leaving her outside the pattern and events of its sacred time. It may be that Richardson means for Clarissa to be considered among the company of saints celebrated in the church year between Pentecost and All Saints’ Day, roughly June to November, and one could collect all the language of martyrdom and allusions to saints and angels that gather around Clarissa to make that point. But Richardson’s silence, his refusal to explicitly identify Clarissa with the saints, seems to me more striking. In the next section, I discuss Clarissa’s copying of the Bible in her meditations, which are all the more poignant because she does so outside of ecclesial time, askew the pattern of Christ’s life with which the church organizes its year. She endures a figurative death on the church’s day of resurrection, desolation on its days of consolation. Clarissa’s meditations and her turning to scripture in the midst of her suffering set a new pattern for ordinary-day readers, secular lay readers. Clarissa brings the formative power of the liturgy of the church to those who read outside it.

Pamela and the Book of Common Prayer We can better appreciate how the Bible and BCP help Clarissa’s retreat into private London anonymity by way of contrast with Richardson’s

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previous novel, Pamela, where the BCP works to establish the heroine as a public figure. As discussed in Chapter 5, the Psalms were central to the practice of prayer prescribed by the BCP. Some editions of the BCP were bound separately from the Bible and included not only Cranmer’s translation of the Psalms but also the Sternhold and Hopkins translation into metrical verse. On a Sunday evening, the week before their wedding, Mr. B. and Pamela are dining with Mrs. Jones, the two Misses Danford, the parson Mr. Williams, and Pamela’s father, who had distinguished himself that morning at church by leading them all in psalm singing. At dinner, Mr. B. decides to entertain his company with an example of Pamela’s own use of the psalms, and to her great though momentary embarrassment, he takes from his pocket Pamela’s verse translation of Psalm 137, written during her captivity at Mr. B.’s Lincolnshire estate. Pamela’s version of the Psalm had already appeared once in the story (140–42).10 It appears here again as dining-room entertainment, alongside the metrical version of Sternhold and Hopkins, likely appended to the family BCP. Pamela’s careful rewriting of the infamously violent last lines of the psalm – shaming her enemies instead of dashing their children against the walls of the city – secures Pamela’s reputation as a virtuous writer among the dinner company (321).11 Pamela becomes the object of more public devotion when she and her formerly rakish husband Mr. B. make their first visit to his parish church in Lincolnshire after their marriage. Their story has gone ahead of them, and the resplendently dressed couple enters a Sunday gathering that is full of people “gazing” and “whispering” about them. The eyes of the congregation, Pamela says, “were all turn’d to our Seat” (488). After the service, Mr. B. and Pamela are caught near their coach by a crowd of well-wishers, one of whom is Squire Martin, a man who most Sunday mornings devotes himself to finding a beautiful woman to look at during the service; however, something about Pamela, the sight of her engaged in public prayers, charmed him, as he tells Pamela on the street outside the church, after the service, and “charm’d the whole Congregation. Not a Soul but is full of your praises. My Neighbour knew, better than any body could tell him, how to chuse for himself. Why, said he, the Dean himself look’d more upon you than his Book” (488–89). At this church of Richardson’s imagination, Pamela decenters the leader of the service and becomes a better BCP, a more attractive object of praise, a more powerful focal point for public worship. This scene of a public gathered around the person of Pamela, inspired by her virtue, a public of mixed religious and secular

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affiliations, in the church and outside on the surrounding streets, reflects the moral ambition of Richardson’s first novel. His book envisions an audience that includes not only the already pious, but also the likes of Squire Martin, all gathered around Pamela, as the church is gathered by the BCP. However, in the process of using the BCP to solve one kind of artistic problem – establishing a public for Pamela and securing her reputation in it – Richardson generated other problems. He had trouble establishing the private integrity of his heroine, who was widely mocked as conniving (in Henry Fielding’s Shamela, for example), as plotting to marry Mr. B. from the start and only appearing to resist his seductions and defend her virtue so she could secure through marriage an increase in wealth and social status. In Clarissa, Richardson takes up this artistic problem of representing interiority by using the Bible to establish his fictional heroine’s psychological integrity. But just as the BCP fix for Pamela’s social integrity generated new problems of psychological interiority, so the Bible fix for Clarissa generates new problems of sociality. I discuss the fix in the next section on Clarissa’s “Meditations,” and the new problems of sociality in the final section of the chapter on Clarissa’s life between her escape from Lovelace and her death.

Clarissa and Clarissa’s “Meditations” Neither religion nor the Bible is a simple, absolute good in Clarissa, and the first section of the novel shows how easily they collude with the forces of control. For example, when Mr. Solmes asks Clarissa to relent and marry him, for God’s sake, she responds pointedly, “How came God’s sake and your sake, I pray you, to be the same?” (310). Religion and the Bible can also be used to amplify the forces of release. At the polite brothel of Mrs. Sinclair, for example, Clarissa is held captive by a kind of lapsed latitudinarianism, a debased version of the moral religion in which holiness is thought to be merely the handmaid to happiness. Sally Martin and Polly Horton, the prostitutes who work for Mrs. Sinclair, attend church regularly (1063), and Sally, proud of her knowledge of the Bible,12 twice admonishes the captive Clarissa to “eat and drink as a good Christian should” (1058, cf. 1054). Even Lovelace’s ambition to delve into the recesses of human nature has a religious cast. In Reason, Grace, and Sentiment, Isabel Rivers describes how under the banner of “true religion” Shaftesbury, Hume, and others tried “to divorce ethics from religion, and to find the springs of human

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action not in the co-operation of human nature and divine grace but in the constitution of human nature alone” (Rivers 1: 1). Lovelace, whom we are told is no atheist, no mere mocker of religion, can be seen as participating in this quest to discover “true religion” in the depths of human nature. As he says to Belford, “I love, thou knowest, to trace human nature, and more particularly female nature, through its most secret recesses” (843). In an unusually erotic passage, written while Lovelace is conspiring to seduce Clarissa’s friend Miss Howe, he tells Belford, I long to know what Miss Howe wrote to her friend, in order to induce her to marry [me] . . . Thou hadst the two letters in thy hand. Had they been in mine, the seal would have yielded to the touch of my warm finger . . . and the folds, as other plications have done, opened of themselves to oblige my curiosity. (1085)

For Lovelace, sex is like opening a letter meant for someone else. Or perhaps opening a letter meant for someone else is like sex. Either way, Lovelace seems to enjoy intercepting letters a little too much and sex too little in the novel. He desires Miss Howe’s letters more than Miss Howe – not even the letters so much as the feel of the wax seal melting under his warm touch. It is as if his object-desire carries him down the chain of being from people to words to wax. He wants women and letters less than their opening, the opening itself more than anything such opening might reveal. And yet, as many critics have pointed out, Lovelace’s desire to open the secrets of human nature, the way a man opens a letter, seems disturbingly close to Richardson’s own ambition in his epistolary fiction (Keymer, Richardson’s Clarissa 152–57; Castle 192–96). Richardson sanctions his opening of Clarissa’s innermost self with the wisdom language of scripture. During Clarissa’s confinement at the Rowlands’, she begins to copy out select verses from the Bible as a habit of meditation. Six of those meditations are included in the novel, appended by Belford to various letters. In 1750, Richardson privately published Meditations Collected from the Sacred Books; and Adapted to the Different Stages of a Deep Distress; Gloriously Surmounted by Patience, Piety, and Resignation. Being Those Mentioned in the History of Clarissa . . . To Each of Which Is Prefixed, a Short Historical Account, which contained not just the meditations in the novel but a whole set of thirty-six meditations supposedly written by Clarissa after her rape and during her escape from Lovelace into London. Clarissa herself writes a preface to the collection. Each one is a compilation of verses from the Bible, taken almost exclusively from the book of Psalms, Job, and the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon

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and Ecclesiasticus. For each meditation, Richardson adds an editorial gloss that connects it to the plot of the novel.13 Taking the editorial comments and meditations in order, one notices that Clarissa struggles at first to distinguish her death from ultimate rest and her being persecuted by enemies such as Lovelace from the indignation of God. Meditation 22 marks the beginning of a new stage: as the introductory gloss tells us, “All her pious doubts and fears” are “dispelled by the sun-shine of Divine Grace” (Richardson, Meditations 50). This second stage of spiritual consolation culminates in the receiving of communion, for which she prepares by writing Meditation 24. A third stage begins with Meditation 25, when “her principal concern seems now to be for the good and safety of others” (54), and later, “She now, as by her history, appears to have calmness of mind enough to allow her to look out of herself” (57). Consoled by the grace of God, restored by the sacrament of communion, Clarissa writes her way out of violent despair into wisdom. The general trajectory of Clarissa’s spiritual progress moves from complaint, in her early meditations, with verses taken out of the book of Job, to natural theology, with sayings from the wisdom books of the Apocrypha (Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus) that describe “The Might, The Glory, The Majesty, the Omnipotence of GOD” (72). In her last meditation, “An Early Death not to be lamented,” taken from chapter 4 of the Wisdom of Solomon, Clarissa represents herself as the embodiment of wisdom, as the “righteous man” that shall be vindicated after death when she stands before those who afflicted her. The very last line of her meditations is from the BCP version of Psalm 116: “Turn again unto thy rest, O my Soul! for the Lord hath rewarded thee!” In that psalm, the psalmist grapples with the prospect of dying, praising God for past deliverance from death (v. 3) and calling to mind that “right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (v. 13). In other words, the psalmist is consoled by a God who is powerful enough to save people from death and merciful enough to be with them in dying; and that combined power and mercy of God gives the psalmist, and those such as Clarissa steeped in the psalmist’s words, courage to “turn again” and face their own death. Unlike Pamela, Clarissa expects no reward in this life for her virtue, nor does she expect any reward in death alone, as she did earlier in her meditations; rather, she “turns again” to death with a sense of confidence that God has already released her from it and delivered her from fear, and so a greater “rest” waits for her, like the one she has already experienced in meditating on scripture in the presence of God.

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More could be said about the meditations themselves, how the editor charts Clarissa’s moral and spiritual progress, and how that progress is manifest in the letters she writes during her escape from Lovelace, but it is important to remember that this fuller account of Clarissa’s recovery in the Meditations is almost completely hidden from the mere novel reader. Only five of the thirty-six meditations are included in the novel, and they are all from the first stage of Clarissa’s grief, giving the impression that her religion is little more than a private obsession with death. Furthermore, the date of the first meditation – June 18, six days after the rape, three days after the fragmented letter that she wrote in her madness – shows that the copying of scripture was essential to Clarissa’s recovery, though again the mere novel reader could not know this: the first meditation that the novel reader gets is number 8 in the collection, dated July 15 (1125). What are we to make of these two views of Clarissa’s religion: the one given in the novel, of Clarissa caught in spiritually suicidal and self-aggrandizing comparisons to Job, and the other given in the Meditations, of a full recovery from the terrors of death to a wise, outward-looking acceptance of things to come? First, it may be that for Richardson, at least in retrospect, the letter form was not the ultimate horizon of Clarissa’s interiority. With the more than 500 letters in the novel, Richardson uses the five “Meditations” to lure his reader with the prospect of a further interior view, a possibly deeper, beyond-the-letter, untouched region of Clarissa’s soul. The meditations in the novel show Richardson trying to create an effect of receding interiority within his heroine, a real but inaccessibly distant privacy limned with scripture. Second, Richardson is careful to keep the novel reader outside that innermost region. Anyone who longs to open the “secret recesses” of Clarissa’s inner life is made to read with the damned, with Lovelace, for whom every letter seems another seal to be broken, every disclosure another piece of clothing to rend and strip away – all an endless, unachievable attempt to satiate his insatiable curiosity. Clarissa’s copying of scripture works to hallow and delimit her interior life and to keep readers such as Lovelace and Belford out. The appearance of scriptural verses in the form of Clarissa’s meditations creates the effect of an interiority deeper than the familiar letter but not fathomless, a profundity that does not sink into inarticulacy but keeps us close to the surface of written words. Put another way, when Richardson’s ideal readers cross the threshold of Clarissa’s letters, what they find is not endless psychological depth but a more mundane transcendence. One kind of writing – the selective copying of scripture – works to uphold another kind of writing – the intimate letter.

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Between Exit and Reentry Thus far I have talked about three different thresholds important to Clarissa that get marked in the scene where the Bible appears as a physical object: the threshold between Clarissa’s final captivity at the Rowlands’ and her life at large in London before her death;14 the threshold between the ecclesial time of the church year and biographical time of Clarissa’s year; and the threshold between letter writing and the copying out of select, rearranged verses of scripture. In Chapter 5, I showed how Bible readers learned to use sets of individual verses to order their interior lives – that is, to maintain certain moral dispositions toward themselves, others, the world, and God. Moreover, such reading required a basic resistance to biblical narrative – a capacity to stand back from the flow of biblical passages, to extract and arrange a set of single verses according to a particular moral occasion. The before-and-after narrative movement of scripture gets broken up and remade as a beforeand-after moment of readerly moral insight. Clarissa has arrived at such a moment when we see her kneeling at her devotions, which have helped her find language to express her inner turmoil and outwardly resist both the seductive plots of men such as Lovelace and redeeming plots of men such as Belford. In Chapter 5, I also suggested that devotional reading like Clarissa’s could falter due to various exit and reentry problems. Exit problems occur when slow, verse-by-verse, self-critical meditation on the Bible fails to pull readers out of their ordinary lives, when readers’ fears and desires remain inchoate, unacknowledged or unaddressed by scripture, when readers cannot position themselves to judge or be judged by the sentences of scripture. This, for example, was John Bunyan’s situation when he says the scripture was “drie as a stick” to him (Grace Abounding 102). Reentry problems occur when the weight of self-judgment becomes too great, when readers are caught in a self-reflexivity so critical that they cannot reenter the flow of their ordinary lives. This is Christian’s situation at the beginning of Pilgrim’s Progress, weeping with the open book in his hand and walking away from the city. I pointed out in Chapter 5 that the Bible sometimes dramatizes these problems of exit and reentry, notably in the book of Job, at the juncture between Job 42.6 and Job 42.7, where the long chapters of wisdom poetry return to prose fable. I suggested that Job’s hearing God in the whirlwind, the vision of the natural order that he receives, and his consequent repentance in dust and ashes show Job at the limit of what wisdom poetry can achieve (and, by analogy, what eighteenth-century

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devotional practices could achieve): Job’s poetic meditations gain a crucial distance and immunity from his friends’ symptomatic readings of his sufferings. They help him achieve the judgment before God that he wanted above any judgment of his friends, but we are not told in the book of Job how he makes the transition from that trans-social, divine court back into ordinary social life. Richardson faces a similar problem with Clarissa, but he sanctifies the problem rather than solves it. Clarissa achieves a resilience against the social scripts of her friends but never quite resumes a life in the city. She remains the way Belford finds her in the Bible scene, on the brink of a new life in London, and the Bible scene hallows that moment after reading, forever poised between exit and reentry, as if the pilcrow printed between verses 6 and 7 in Job 42 were made fictional flesh in Clarissa, as if we as readers could stay fixed like her always between verses – finally now untouched by the influence of our most intimate friends, not yet immersed in anonymous city life.

*** For a less triumphal, less heroic take on Clarissa’s postreading poise, and to bring this chapter to an end, I want to say a few things about Frances Sheridan’s novel The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1761), which includes a Bible scene similar to the one in Clarissa, with a character under arrest and under scrutiny, but this time it is a minor character, Mr. Price, an aging, injured clergyman in debtors’ prison, examined by the heroine Sidney to determine whether he and his daughter might be “fit objects” of her charity. The Bible appears in Sidney Bidulph, as it does in Clarissa, to mark a crucial edge of the novel’s imagined world. In Richardson’s novel, it marks the edge of an interior life in Clarissa that mere novel readers cannot access and the edge of an exterior life at large in London that Clarissa barely begins to pursue before her death. In Sheridan’s novel, the appearance of the Bible marks a different edge: the edge between Sidney’s passive submission to suffering in her own life, for the sake of her family, and her active care for others outside her family. This care is something we read about only once, in the Bible scene, then never again. Nowhere else in the novel or its sequel are we given a report of Sidney’s active, inquisitive, outside-the-family charity besides this remarkably long and carefully narrated Bible scene. Why? What is this scene doing in the novel? Sidney Bidulph is mainly about the eponymous heroine’s long-suffering relationship with Orlando Faulkland, to whom she breaks off an engagement early in the novel, after she finds out that he has gotten another

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woman pregnant. Faulkland admits as much, protests that he was not to blame for the seduction, promises to provide for the other woman and their child regardless, and insists that he loves only Sidney. However, Mrs. Bidulph, Sidney’s mother, remembering her own at-the-altar discovery of her fiancée’s previous engagement to another woman, forbids Sidney’s marrying him. Meanwhile, George Bidulph, Sidney’s brother, intercedes on behalf of his friend Faulkland, telling Sidney she will never meet a better, nobler man who loves her more. Sidney’s deference to her mother, her own sense of moral propriety, and her genuine concern for Faulkland’s long term well-being convince her to break off the engagement in the hope that Faulkland marries the other woman. He refuses and keeps his promise of providing for her and their child, but the broken engagement between Sidney and Faulkland haunts them both for the rest of their lives, increasingly so as they marry other partners, have children, and surprisingly cross paths again. The beautiful, intelligent, self-sacrificing, religiously virtuous Sidney seems fated to never forget and never be with the handsome, intelligent, generous, classically virtuous Faulkland. Sidney submits with Job-like patience, again and again, to the lost possibility of life with Faulkland. Several times, Sidney recommends patience to herself, and on one occasion her servant Patty Main explicitly compares Sidney to Job (363), but Sidney waits and suffers differently than Job, and Sheridan likely expected her readers to reflect on those differences. Where Job questions what happens to him, speaks out against God and his friends, and wants to know why things have fallen out for him the way they have, Sidney willingly and passively accepts what happens to her, does not question her mother, brother, Faulkland, Mr. Arnold, or her children at key junctures in the story, and she nowhere questions God. “No murmurings, no, no my sister,” she admonishes herself, in a letter to her closest friend Cecilia (345, cf. 45, 457). Later, when Sidney tells her teenage daughters her story, she does so, she says, “not as a murmurer at my fate, not to move your pity at my misfortunes, but to teach you by my example, that there is no situation in life exempt from trouble” (466). And later, near the end of her life, Sidney tells Cecilia, “Yet I will not ask of Providence why, in the evening of an unhappy life, not, I think, stained with any peculiar guilt, I am thus overwhelmed with such tempestuous sorrows!” (Conclusion 272). Sorrows eventually subside for the biblical Job, but for the fictional Sidney they continue to the end. And if Sidney will not ask why, Sheridan, the author, designs the novel so that her readers will.

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Perhaps no other eighteenth-century novel puts readers so forcefully into the position of Job’s friends or, in this case, Sidney’s friends, to speculate about how she might be at fault for the suffering that happens to her. We know that Sidney adhered “invariably” to a seemingly admirable “rule of conduct,” which she describes as follows: “that of preferring to my own the happiness of those who are most dear to me” (124). But over the course of the novel, her following this rule increases the unhappiness of those dearest to her, raising questions of whether Sidney is somehow to blame for their troubles and her own. If she had more actively pursued her own happiness, would they all have suffered less? What makes Sidney Bidulph such a good, difficult-to-interpret novel is that the author never breaks in to commend or criticize her heroine’s conduct. Instead, Sheridan creates with Sidney Bidulph and its sequel an experimental space for readers to consider for themselves the consequences of such a life, played out over three generations, of always putting the happiness of others ahead of one’s own, of rigorous submission to the social codes that promise women happiness eventually. One way that Sheridan creates this space for reflection is with the editorial frame of the novel. She begins with a fictional “editor’s introduction” (43), written by a young, unnamed man who describes getting pleasantly caught up in conversation with his friend’s aging mother and another older woman about reading and virtue. His friend’s mother makes a strong case against poetic justice, against the idea that good literature should always show bad characters punished and good characters rewarded. Such an idea, his friend’s mother says, is not justified by everyday life (44). It ignores the Christian promise of reward in the afterlife and too often coddles notions of justice that readers carry with them into the story: “We are indeed so much used to what they call poetical justice, that we are disappointed in the catastrophe of a fable, if every body concerned in it be not disposed of according to the sentence of that judge which we have set up in our own breasts” (45). Defending instead stories about people who suffer undeservedly, acknowledging the comfort such stories can bring to readers in their own suffering, the friend’s mother, whose name is Cecilia, mentions “the unhappy fate of a lady, who was my particular friend” (45). This close friend turns out to be Ms. Sidney Bidulph. She and Cecilia had since childhood kept “little journals of what daily happened to us” and read them to each other when they were together, or sent them by post when apart, “having made each a solemn promise, not to conceal an incident or even a thought of the least moment, from the other,” a promise that they kept over a lifetime of correspondence

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(46). Cecilia explains that she has selected and arranged the letters from Sidney to “make one continued narrative.” She gives that selection of letters to the young man to borrow, but then she dies a few weeks later. Her son gives the young man permission to publish the letters, which he does, changing only the names, he says: “I give it to the world, just as I received it, without any alteration” (47). This is the editor who dedicates the assembled collection of letters to Samuel Richardson, “The Author of Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison” (43). This fictional frame is sometimes mistakenly thought to be a non-fictional homage from Sheridan to Richardson, making Sidney Bidulph seem just another version of Clarissa Harlowe, but the invented editorial preface, like those in Defoe’s fiction, should give us pause at the outset to reconsider the judgments of the “judge we have set up in our own breasts,” to think again about whether Clarissa, for example, and its message of virtue rewarded after death, is really the last word on poetic justice. For a novel that is mostly about Ms. Sidney Bidulph’s unhappy, ill-fated relationship with Mr. Faulkland, each racked by their broken engagement, the editorial frame reinforces the importance of Sidney’s relationship to her friend Cecilia. Sidney’s “memoirs” are not culled from an introspective autobiography or a set of journal entries meant for herself alone, but taken from what she always addressed and sent to a particular friend: letters written in the long intervals of their separation, a separation that Sidney calls her “first occasion of sorrow” (49). Sidney’s expressions of love and affection for Cecilia, in the rare moments that they come through in the letters, are clear, candid, easily expressed, sometimes comical, and as such a refreshing change to Sidney’s usual, austere professions of moral duty and strained refusals of love to Faulkland. She says to Cecilia what she never says to him: “How many tedious months will it be before I again embrace you?” (49). And, near the end of the novel, “I shall not be sorry if I am detained from Mr. Faulkland, till I have the happiness of first embracing you, as our separation may be afterwards of a long continuance” (457, cf. 137, 150). These displays of affection remind readers that Sidney is capable of an easier love than the dutiful loves she wrestles with in relationship to her mother, Faulkland, her husband Mr. Arnold, and her children. Framing the novel with Cecilia and the nameless male editor works to give readers some critical distance from the main line of the plot. It provides a kind of balcony from which we can see how the street-level narrative is arranged. Several long narratives break up the usual pattern of short letters in the collection, and these too provide a kind of space for reflection, an outside

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from which we can consider the inside line of Sidney’s relationship to Faulkland, and it is in the last of those inset stories that the Bible appears as a physical object. In a letter dated March 14, the longest in the collection from Sidney to Cecilia,15 Sidney tells the story of Miss Price, whom she met by accident on the street outside her house in London. The young woman was poor, visibly distraught, but also, Sidney notices, carefully dressed, well spoken, and industrious; she is trying to earn money by selling artificial flowers that she has made. So Sidney invites her into the house and asks to hear her story. Miss Price explains that she is the daughter of a retired clergyman, known in his day to be a good preacher, an excellent scholar, and, rare among clergy, an even better man (401). But for the past eighteen months Mr. Price has been in a debtors’ prison with no hope of getting out, falsely called to account by a young man he had tutored as a child: Mr. Ware. Young Mr. Ware’s father was for many years Mr. Price’s benefactor, providing him a retirement income of 200 pounds a year for the rest of his life, in gratitude for all the years of service Mr. Price had given to old Mr. Ware’s family and to the parish. When Mr. Ware senior died, his son, the younger Ware, cheerfully continued to pay his old tutor’s retirement income. It soon becomes clear that Ware has designs on Mr. Price’s daughter. After inviting them to visit him in London, Ware tells Mr. Price that he will only keep paying his pension if he goes along with Ware’s plan to seduce his daughter and keep her as a mistress. Outraged, Mr. Price refuses and tries to bring his former pupil to reason. Meanwhile, Miss Price is forced to refuse Ware’s increasingly violent advances. Eventually, Ware locks the father and daughter in an upstairs room overlooking the street, determined to force their consent, but Miss Price and her father plot an escape. She writes a note asking for help, wraps it around a guinea coin and ties it to a string; then she ties to the end of that same string a weight and scrap of paper, lights the scrap on fire, and throws it out of the window into the night and onto the street below. A stranger passing by sees the small fire, finds the note and coin, looks up, and agrees to help (412). Mr. Price carefully lowers his daughter down to the stranger using a rope of twisted bedsheets and a harness of ribbons. Without ceremony or fanfare, the nameless man helps Miss Price escape to safety. When Mr. Ware finds out, he has Mr. Price arrested for not paying back the pension that he claims to have only loaned to the retired clergyman. Mr. Ware soon loses interest in Miss Price and decides to pursue other prey but leaves Mr. Price in prison, where Miss Price has been living with him ever since, providing for her father as best she can by selling her artificial flowers.

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Newly rich and independent at this juncture of the story, Sidney is both moved to help and made suspicious by Miss Price’s story. “I had seen such cheating faces before” (417), she says,16 and so she asks to visit Mr. Price right away, to make sure that she is not being cheated, to see whether the man actually exists and whether his story matches his daughter’s. On the way to the prison, Sidney stays cloaked and in the shadows a few steps behind Miss Price, so she can judge Mr. Price’s countenance for herself and watch the way he greets his daughter. When they get to Mr. Price’s room, Sidney stands “without-side the door, where (as the lobby was dark) I could not readily be perceived” (417). This is the moment that the Bible appears in the narrative, when Sidney first sees Mr. Price: “He wore his own grisled hair, and had on a cassock girded about him with a silk sash. One of his hands was slung in a black crape; he sat pensively, leaning on a table, with a book open before him, which seemed to be the Bible” (417). Mr. Price’s devotional reading is a sign of his integrity in distress, but not the only sign. Sidney reads his countenance, notices details about his appearance that confirm his daughter’s story – his black cloth garments, his arm in a sling after it was paralyzed by a stroke – and when he tells Sidney his story, he repeats to her “every particular, as I had before heard from his daughter, enlarging on certain passages, which she had but slightly touched upon” (418). It is a kind of courtroom that Sidney makes in her retelling, a scene of cross examination, where she presides as judge and declares the father and daughter innocent, effectively overruling the legal system that had allowed Mr. Ware to have Mr. Price locked up for debt in the first place. After Mr. Price confirms his daughter’s story, Sidney reports to her wealthy benefactor and uncle, Mr. Warner, who arranges for the Prices’ release, for Mr. Price to tutor Sidney’s children, and for Miss Price to marry a brother of Sidney’s servant, Patty Main. Thus, Mr. Price and his daughter become members of Sidney’s extended household. Nowhere else in the novel is Sidney so active in virtue or so happy. She tells Cecilia, “What true delight springs from benevolent actions, my dear! I never experienced such heart-felt satisfaction as I have received from restoring comfort to these truly deserving people” (421). We might balk at Sidney’s limiting her generosity to “proper objects,” to the “truly deserving,” as she puts it, but her actions are remarkable nonetheless. In other novels – for example, Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote, and Richardson’s Clarissa – it is the clergyman who comes to visit and give sage advice to the heroine in distress, but here it’s Sidney who comes to help the clergyman. We are told that when Mr. Price saw his daughter safely down from the window and making her escape, he

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“recommended [her] to the care of providence” (414). He did not know that Sidney would be the agent of God’s care for both himself and his daughter. The editor breaks in a few pages after these events to explain that Sidney performed many such charitable actions on behalf of those in need, but they are not “material” to what the editor considers the main “thread” of Sidney’s story: “Here follows an interval of thirteen months, in which nothing material to the thread of the story occurs. The journal contains only a continued series of such actions, as shewed the noble and pious use which Mrs. Arnold [Sidney] made of the great fortune which providence had blessed her with” (425). It is impossible to tell from this passage whether this is Cecilia intervening as editor (remember, she was the initial collector of the letters) or the nameless male editor, who told us at the outset that he changed nothing but the names of the people involved. Either way, the passage is important because it distinguishes between the main “thread” of Sidney’s story and the story of Miss Price. The editor includes the inset narrative as an example of Sidney’s gratitude for and careful stewardship of the money that “providence” had given to her through her uncle Mr. Warner, but the story itself shows Sidney acting on behalf of providence, for Miss Price and her father. The material thread of Miss Price’s story is one of asking for and receiving help from strangers – in her case, a literal thread that she attaches to a “lighted paper” and throws out into the street – whereas the thread of Sidney’s story, according to the editor, is one of silent, passive acceptance of what happens to her. The inset narrative helps us see the thread of the rest of the collection by giving us, for a few pages, a different thread, showing us that Sidney was not always so resigned in everything. It’s as if for a few pages we were reading an account from Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall, the novel discussed at the end of Chapter 4, a story that Mrs. Maynard might have told about a Mrs. Arnold and Miss Price joining their house of single women, adding Sidney’s money to theirs, but instead Sidney’s story returns to its thread of quiet self-sacrifice on behalf of her family circle. The Bible appears in Sidney Bidulph to remind us as readers that another world of active virtue exists outside the passive one we inhabit while reading the letters in hand. It lets us feel for a few pages the outer edge of its narrative focus by crossing over that edge. The appearance of the Bible plays a similar boundary-marking role in Clarissa, I argue, but to different effect. In Clarissa, the Bible works to fix our attention on a particular moment, to turn our attention away from any deeper, psychological interiority in Clarissa or any wider future for her in London. In Sidney

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Bidulph, the Bible works to remind us that beside the main line of Sidney’s story there is another line of active virtue; it gives us as readers a critical distance from which we can judge Sidney’s passive submission to events and wonder what she might have done instead. The Bible is brought in to show Clarissa incomparable at a crucial juncture in her story, most beautiful in that particular moment of distress, but it shows Sidney at large in the city, finding objects of compassion, not just being one, capable of acting alongside divine providence, not just surviving beneath it. In comparison, the appearance of the Bible adds to Clarissa’s triumph but to Sidney’s tragedy, increasing our sense throughout the novel that Sidney was capable of acting otherwise. Sidney is a woman who obeys the moral dictates of her day perfectly and suffers anyway, who in the course of always doing what is right inadvertently harms those dearest to her, and in this sense her lifelong experiment in virtue fails miserably. Yet, the novel succeeds by putting us in the company of Sidney’s friends, not to probe like Job’s friends for hidden sin or confront Sidney with metaphysical, misanthropic arguments about the frailty of humankind, the necessary weakness of our natures – those are the main lines of critique against Job in the Bible. Instead, Sheridan’s novel helps us question the stance of passive nonresistance that Sidney takes toward her life. The novel helps us feel the force of responsibility toward those we harm accidentally, despite our best intentions and motives.17 If the book of Job works to break the link between happiness and virtue, if it prevents us deducing from any person’s life circumstances their moral status, Sidney Bidulph breaks a different link: the link between individual sacrifice and the happiness of those dearest to us. Sheridan’s novel keeps us from thinking that focused self-sacrifice on behalf of a few, cherished others can protect them from harm.

chapter 9

Breaking Down Shame: Narrating Trauma and Repair in Tristram Shandy

Many people have asked Toby Shandy about the wound he suffered in the war but no one like Mrs. Wadman, and never the way she is asking about it now – her kindness, her compassion – he must ask his servant Trim to write up a report about this – her humanity! Maybe it’s because her husband was killed in 1694, just a year before Toby himself was wounded at the siege of Namur. Maybe it’s because she has followed for so long the latest wars in Europe with Toby, always taken such keen interest in the replica cities that he and Trim built to scale on the green behind his house, always stood by as they fortified and demolished one city after another, according to the reports in the newspapers. His backyard green shares a thicket hedge with her garden. A small gate makes it easy for her to pass through and ask about his latest siege. They have been meeting this way for how long? Almost eleven years. Why didn’t he notice sooner that she loved him, that he loved her? Toby knows nothing about the formalities of declaring love. Dressed in his friend Le Fever’s old military uniform, Toby has come to Mrs. Wadman with the only formalities that he does know, and she has received him. She must have seen him as he marched anxiously around her house in single file with Trim, gathering courage to knock on her door. Now he is sitting next to her on the sofa in the front parlor. He has told her that he is in love. She moves closer. They talk about the pains and pleasures of marriage. “Fiddlestick,” she says, to its pleasures. Toby blushes, but he is not sure why. Then he asks Mrs. Wadman to marry him. Waiting for her answer, Toby notices a Bible lying open to Joshua chapter 6 on the table beside them, the siege of Jericho – his favorite passage. Did she know it was his favorite? Was she reading it before he knocked? Did it just happen to open to that passage a moment ago? He begins to read. He cannot help himself. A miracle, the fall of that city, but by what secondary causes? Was it the sound of the trumpets, the shouts of 231

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the people, the age and instability of the walls? He lifts his eyes from the page. Mrs. Wadman is asking about his injury.

*** This is a fair summary of chapters 18 and 19 in the last volume of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, retold from Toby Shandy’s perspective rather than the narrator’s, Toby’s nephew Tristram. Readers may remember that these are the two chapters that go missing in the book. After chapter 17, we get a single leaf of paper with a header at the top of each page, “CHAP. XVIII” on the recto, “CHAP. XIX” on the verso, a page number and catchword at the bottom of each page, and nothing in between. The blocks of text are gone. The narrative picks up again on the next leaf with chapter 20, but it is not until the end of chapter 25 that Tristram tells us he had to write the twenty-fifth chapter before he could write the “18th, &c” (9.25.531).1 Tristram explains that putting the chapters in the order he wrote them (25, 18, 19), rather than the order given by his narrative, which almost never progresses in a straight chronological line anyway, should serve as “a lesson to the world, ‘to let people tell their stories their own way’” (9.25.531). Only after Tristram playfully breaks from the normal way of ordering things in print do we get these crucial chapters of the love affair between Toby and Wadman, their out-of-placeness marked with header numbers spelled out in antiquated black-letter type – “The Eighteenth Chapter” and “Chapter the Nineteenth.” Displacing chapters 18 and 19 is the last in a series of Sterne’s tricks in the novel to defamiliarize our interactions with print,2 to make us aware of the book as a medium: the rows of asterisks, blank spaces, and dashes; the black page to mourn Yorick’s death (1.12.29); the “Author’s Preface” placed in volume 3 (3.20.157); the marbled page, “that motly emblem of my work,” unique to each copy of the novel (3.36.185); and the blank page where readers are invited to draw their own picture of Mrs. Wadman, as beautiful as their own conscience (or wife) will allow (6.37.389). Of all this playing with the conventions of printing,3 the relocated chapters (9.18 and 9.19) stand out by their proximity to the end of Tristram Shandy and by their being so carefully anticipated by the narrator. Tristram begins to look forward to telling “the amours” of his Uncle Toby and Widow Wadman sometime during the fourth volume of the novel. The first two volumes of Tristram Shandy were published together in 1759; 3 and 4 in 1761; 5 and 6 in 1761; 7 and 8 in 1765; the ninth and last in 1767. The affair is mentioned in passing in volume 2 when Toby refers to

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the “shock” he received from his “affair with the widow Wadman,” which he says was caused by his “total ignorance of the sex” (2.7.82). Later, Tristram mentions his uncle’s “amours with Widow Wadman” (3.23.168) and the same “shock” that “fixed [Toby] in a resolution, never more to think of the sex” (3.24.169). The event seems to gather significance near the end of volume 4 when Tristram regrets that he has “not been able to get into that part of my work, towards which I have all the way, looked forwards, with so much earnest desire; and this is the campaigns, but especially the amours of my Uncle Toby” (4.32.277). Later, Tristram promises that his “uncle Toby’s courtship of widow Wadman,” when he finally gets around to writing it, will “turn out one of the most compleat systems, both of the elementary and practical part of love and love-making, that ever was addressed to the world” (6.36.386). Near the end of volume 7, Tristram promises, “I am hastening to the story of my uncle Toby’s amours” (7.43.443). Tristram titles the ninth and last volume in the dedication “The Amours of my Uncle Toby” (9.499). When the first readers of Tristram Shandy opened that final volume in 1767, they may have forgotten from the second volume of 1759 that Toby Shandy and Mrs. Wadman do not end up together, that Toby dies single, as does Wadman. The awkward if tender conversation between them, displaced in chapters 18 and 19, marked the end of a possible love between them, and not, as it might have seemed, to them and to us as readers, a new beginning. Tristram’s complete system of love is an unwinding of the coil of the conventional marriage plot, running it in reverse. Instead of beginning with characters who fall in love, overcome adversity, and finally marry, Tristram begins with Toby’s singleness and works back to the moment when love with Mrs. Wadman might have begun but did not. What is the Bible doing here, and nowhere else in the novel, and why does Sterne take such extraordinary measures to circumvent the ways we plot our stories in print, to prolong our anticipation of a scene that, once read, seems so ordinary? Why use the Bible to confuse the “shock” of war and Toby’s awkward, unrequited declaration of love? In Chapter 7, I used Crusoe’s tobacco-stupefied experiment in Bible reading to argue that there is a teasing, playful irony at work in Defoe’s fiction that religious and secular critics miss, that the supposedly always serious and realistic progenitor of the novel Robinson Crusoe might in fact be funnier than we thought. In this chapter, I use the Bible scene in Tristram Shandy to argue that Sterne’s masterpiece of comic fiction is also heartbreakingly sad. To give this Bible scene’s content, emotional pitch, and narrative displacement their full artistic due, I draw first on

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recent accounts of Tristram Shandy as war literature to argue that the novel is not about war itself but the trauma of war, a trauma made communicable through Uncle Toby to those who have never fought in battle. Second, I draw on Sterne’s second novel, A Sentimental Journey, to show how Tristram Shandy compounds and puts to positive use the shame we feel at loss in war and the shame we feel at loss in love. Altogether, I aim to show that the consolation Sterne’s fiction offers us as readers is very close to the consolation that the Bible offers Toby in the scene above. Sterne’s fiction helps readers feel the losses of war in the smaller, more specific losses of love and so repair both – but incompletely, only in part.

From War Abroad to War’s Trauma at Home: Reconsidering Uncle Toby’s Wound Namur is an old, fortified city located at the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre rivers in present-day Belgium, an area known in the late seventeenth century as the Spanish Netherlands, a border region between France and Holland administered by the Holy Roman Empire. In 1692, Namur was captured by the French forces of Louis XIV, under the direction of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the most famous military engineer of the age. Vauban redesigned the walls of Namur and refortified the imposing citadel already built into its overarching cliffs. The city was thought to be impregnable.4 But in 1695, Namur was recaptured by a coalition of European forces led by William III of England. The siege proved to be a turning point in what would be called the Nine Years’ War or the War of the Grand Alliance (1688–1697), but the history of that siege might have been forgotten entirely, as critics have pointed out, were it not memorialized in Sterne’s fiction as the place where Toby Shandy was wounded in the groin. Toby returns to England in 1697 to recover and stays at his older brother Walter’s house in London,5 where doctors treat his wound. Toby’s servant and fellow solider, Trim, cheerfully takes care of him. Walter, meanwhile, no doubt proud of his resident injured-veteran brother, is “continually dragging up fresh friends and inquirers” to ask Toby about the war (2.1.68). Such conversation should be an aid to healing because “the history of a soldier’s wound beguiles the pain of it; – my uncle’s visiters at least thought so” (1.24.63). But to beguile is not to heal, only distract, and Tristram’s mentioning what the visitors “at least thought” casts some doubt on whether Toby thought the same. Regardless, Toby’s progress is agonizingly slow, especially during the first few months.

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When conversation turns to the delicate topic of where exactly Toby was injured – there were no visible signs of injury on his face or on his body – Toby patiently explains the layout of Namur, the angles of its walls and of the trenches they dug against it, where the cannon were, and how various lines of troops moved in formation. The novel is riddled in these passages with the jargon of military fortifications and maneuvers.6 But no matter how precisely Toby chooses his words and leads his listeners to the location of his injury, no matter how detailed his description of the city, he cannot give his audience the clear, intelligible account that the event seems to demand. He sees something like laughter or embarrassment on the faces of his visitors. He finds himself exhausted by the effort of telling the story, which, instead of beguiling the pain, “retarded his cure greatly” and made him feel more acutely the “sharp paroxisms and exacerbations of his wound” (2.1.68). It is only after Trim procures a detailed map of the city of Namur and tacks it up in his master’s room that Toby finds some relief. Thereafter, when Toby describes the battle, he can refer to the map and point to the “identical spot of ground where he was standing in when the stone struck him” (2.1.69). He can tell his visitors, here, right here is where I was wounded. And that confusion between where on the map and where on his body Toby was injured, his patient responses to all the polite if prurient inquiries about the location of his injury, becomes a recurring joke throughout Tristram Shandy. The map does make reciting the story a source of relief for Toby, and the novel funnier for us as readers, but Toby’s pain lingers. The map of Namur provokes in Toby an insatiable desire to know the histories of other fortified cities, other battles, so that within a year “there was scarce a fortified town in Italy or Flanders” (2.3.73) that he did not have a map of, and with these maps he could collate all “the histories of their sieges, their demolitions, their improvements and new works, all which he would read with that intense application and delight, that he would forget himself, his wound, his confinement, his dinner” (73). Toby gathers around him a vast library of “books of military architecture” – a book by Vauban is mentioned – as many books “as Don Quixote was found to have of chivalry” (73). But like his first attempts to tell his story, this quest for comprehensive knowledge of fortifications only beguiles the pain, makes him “forget” (73) his wound for a while but does not heal it. In 1701, after four years lying in at his brother’s house in London, Toby’s obsessive study reaches a crisis when all the books and maps crowded onto his bedroom table come crashing down around him – a small-scale version

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of the fall of Jericho perhaps. He calls in Trim to measure the table and to buy another one, but Trim suggests a different plan. They should move to Toby’s house in the country, in Yorkshire, where instead of a table they could use a quarter-acre or so of land to build miniature replicas of fortified cities, “with all their batteries, saps, ditches, and pallisadoes, that it should be worth all the world’s riding twenty miles to go and see it” (2.5.79). Toby thinks immediately of the “bowling green” next to his house and garden, and he “blushe[s] as red as scarlet” at the idea; “not a blush of guilt, – of modesty, – or of anger; – it was a blush of joy; – he was fired with Corporal Trim’s project and description” (2.5.79). Tristram’s careful attention to varieties of blushing, to the way shame can accompany guilt, modesty, anger, or joy, puts him in the company of affect theorists today, as I discuss below. But for now, as we track the course of Toby’s healing, it is important to note that Toby’s interest in this backyard project is what finally lures him out of his London bed, what makes him well enough to leave his brother’s house and move to Yorkshire. But Toby’s wound is still not healed, only more deeply immersed in his new projects, which start gradually on the green behind his house, gather momentum during the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1714), and then, after his fallout with Widow Wadman, intensify into obsession. Toby begins to ransack his brother Walter’s house for parts. For example, in the year of Tristram’s birth, Toby takes a pair of jackboots out of Walter’s closet that once belonged to their great-grandfather, Sir Roger Shandy, who wore them in the battle of Marston Moor during the English Civil War (3.22.167). Against Walter’s wishes, Toby turns them into a pair of mortar pieces for his backyard War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720). Years later, when Tristram is five years old, Toby takes the lead weights out of the window pulleys in his nephew’s room, causing the sash to fall on the boy’s delicate procreative parts while he is trying to pee out the window. Thus, Toby’s obsessive construction of an ongoing war memorial works as a conduit for the experience of war for multiple generations: it extends back to the 1640s, appropriating the experience of past wars; it includes the European wars of Toby’s present; and, by the collateral damage it causes to his nephew Tristram, it extends the unpredictable effects of war into the future.7 Far from an account of Toby’s steady, gradual recovery, then, Tristram Shandy tells the story of war’s enduring effects. Some scholars have tried to fix Toby’s healing to the moment his blister breaks while riding horseback during his brief courtship of Widow Wadman (8.26.484),8 but the “wound” is “not a skin-deep-wound,” as Tristram says in that scene. It is a passion of love “gone to [Toby’s] heart”

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(8.26.484). The wound is spreading, not healing. If Tristram is right about Toby’s “recovery depending, as you have read, upon the passions and affections of his mind” (2.3.72), then it would be more accurate to say that Toby never quite heals: every time he is stirred by memories or news of war, every time he builds or takes down his model cities on the green behind his house, every time he feels a passion for Mrs. Wadman, he relieves and reopens his wound. Perhaps even more than the “where” of his wound, the “when” of Toby’s recovery seems purposefully buried in the novel, sunk beyond certain knowing. Searching for clear answers to these questions, critics often miss the way Toby’s pain is diffused elsewhere, passed on to subsequent generations, to Tristram in the window incident, perhaps to us as readers. Toby’s hobby of recreating the war in his own backyard may be endearing, but it is entertainment that does not so much cure as carry the pain of war, make it bearable.

Trauma Theory and the Representation of War Trauma theory can help sharpen our focus on what Tristram Shandy is about when it comes to war.9 Scholars today use the phrase “cultural trauma” to describe how traumatic events – wars, genocides, epidemics, natural disasters – afterward circulate through society by means of various social practices and media representations, whether in civil holidays, sporting events, film, video games, fiction, news media, or scholarly writing. “Cultural trauma” is carefully distinguished from “historical trauma” – that is, from the first-hand experience of the event itself. This keeps us from collapsing the difference between what a solider experiences in a particular battle, for example, and what an audience experiences while watching a film about that battle. No matter how realistic the special effects, the intensity of the audience’s experience is different from what the soldier experiences. Moreover, there are feelings subtracted from the soldier’s experience and others added to the audience’s that are difficult to name, difficult to capture with words, which is precisely what cultural trauma theorists try to do. Both historical trauma and cultural trauma are distinguished from “structural trauma” – that is, from the built-in traumas that come with being human, such as, for example, the psychological pain of individuation, when infants recognize themselves as separate beings, beheld by their mothers, and feel at the same time their lost maternal union; or the pain of language acquisition, when the capacity to use language to name the things

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around us simultaneously connects us to those things and reminds us of our separation from them; or the pain of taking on various social roles – child, student, lover, citizen – that never fully represent our sense of who we are. Attending to these various forms of “structural trauma” can keep us from conflating them with the trauma associated with historical events, on the one hand, and the representation of those events as they circulate through and gather a society, form a culture, on the other. And yet our tendency as scholars, as people, prone to conflate one kind of trauma with another, points to something vital about us as human beings, something good about our human nature, Sterne might say, that keeps us connecting with one another through pain. Rather than judge us for making categorical mistakes, Sterne teases and prods us to notice the ways we enlist catastrophic events for our philosophic causes, the ways we pretend that the pain of a soldier’s failed attempt to find respectable work after war is like the pain of any civilian’s job search and also like the futility of all human labor under the sun. Categorical distinctions between these kinds of pain are important and ethically bracing,10 but they can also block paths of vital connection and prevent us from asking why we are so quick to recognize the similarities of our losses. In his pathbreaking criticism of Tristram Shandy as war literature, Thomas Keymer writes that the novel is “neither a novel against war nor a novel for war, but a novel that is inescapably about war” (“Paper” 135).11 Insofar as Toby is damaged by the Nine Years’ War – physically wounded, intellectually incapable of fully explaining what happened, passionately compelled to reenact later wars to salve the pain of his own, emotionally unable to begin a love relationship with Widow Wadman – Tristram Shandy can be thought to be against war. But insofar as the novel cultivates sympathy for Toby – honors him for refusing to harm even a fly (2.12.91), makes room for Toby to give a hawkish speech in defense of England’s militaristic foreign policy (6.32.380) – the novel seems to be for war. Ambivalence toward war seems to have been a hallmark of Enlightenment thought more generally – an admiration, on the one hand, for war’s grandeur, global sweep, and geographic reach mixed, on the other hand, with concern for the suffering of individuals involved (Dobie). Sterne, however, in his extant personal letters and his published sermons, seems less ambivalent about war than conspicuously silent, critical of it only twice and then only in passing, even though he was writing his fiction during wartime and knew something of the costs of war from childhood.12 As the son of a poorly paid ensign in the army, Sterne spent most of his childhood on the

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move, his family life “harsh and unsettled, a long series of decampments from one barracks, one country, to another; whose notable points of reference were the births – and usually – the early deaths of brothers and sisters” (Ross 21). There were intermittent periods of stability, such as when they stayed with wealthier Irish relatives. In 1723, when Laurence was 10 years old, his father took him to boarding school in England, and his life became more settled, but only away from his parents and siblings. “Laurence would never see Ireland or his father again” (Ross 29; cf. 436n5). Many years later, writing to his 10-yearold daughter, Sterne described his father in terms that anticipate Tristram’s account of Uncle Toby: a man “of a kindly sweet Disposition – void of all Designe; & so innocent in his own Intentions, That he suspected no one, So that you might have cheated him ten times in a Day – if nine had not been sufficient.”13 The endearing way that Sterne praises then slights his father in this sentence should tempt us as critics to read backward from the novel’s portrayal of Uncle Toby toward Sterne’s childhood experience of war and memory of his father – that is, we could read from Tristram Shandy toward the interplay of structural and historical trauma in Sterne’s past. Alternatively, considering the fact that Sterne is writing Tristram Shandy during the Seven Years’ War with France, a global conflict fought mainly in the Americas, considering the Enlightenment’s ambiguous attitude toward war in general, we might read out from the novel to the interplay of cultural and historical trauma in Sterne’s day. Gillian Russell hints at this approach when she says the miniature battles that Toby stages on his backyard green, his frequent lapses into silence, all the asterisks, dashes, and blank pages that gather around him in the novel – these all point to “the difficulty of writing and speaking about the personal suffering of war and its aftermath” (118). In other words, the novel is not only about the suffering caused by war, but about the difficulty of representing that suffering. While leaning on the insights of Keymer and Russell, I want to shift the focus of critical attention by reading Tristram Shandy as less about the difficulties of representing war, less about the ambiguities of Sterne’s own attitudes toward war, less even about war’s traumatic effects on an individual, and more about the circulation of war’s trauma among the Shandys and their neighbors. To do that, I need to change the direction of our reading, so that instead of reading out from the novel to historical, cultural, or structural realities that we already have a fairly firm grasp of, we travel the other way and let ourselves be swayed by the novel’s centripetal force, carrying those realities with us into our reading of Tristram Shandy. This will seem strange or difficult because the tradition of reading out from the novel to the realities of war has a long history. One early reader of

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Tristram Shandy in 1760 considered Uncle Toby’s experience in the Nine Years’ War an allegory of England’s present Seven Years’ War with France. The author of this early “bantering attack” on the novel writes, “What is the Siege of Namur, which [Toby] often mentions, but the Siege of Fort St. Philip’s in Minorca? – or, the wound his uncle Toby received there but the distress the nation was thrown into thereupon.”14 Fort St. Philip’s was on the island of Minorca in the Mediterranean, and when it came under French attack in 1756, Admiral John Byng was ordered to send reinforcements to protect the fort. After determining that he could not protect it, he sailed away and left St. Philip’s to be captured by the French. Byng was later court martialed for his failure to act, sentenced to death, and shot. The “distress” of the nation had less to do with losing the fort to the French than the severity of the British laws that led to Byng’s execution. In some ways, this is precisely the kind of connection that Sterne would have wanted his readers to make. Just as no good conversation partner would presume to “talk all,” says the narrator of Tristram Shandy, so no good writer would presume to “think all.” Rather, “The truest respect which you can pay to the reader’s understanding, is to halve this matter amicably, and leave him something to imagine, in his turn, as well as yourself” (2.11.88). Toby’s past war experience is the half that leaves one early reader thinking about England’s present wars. The author might respond in turn by asking that reader to think again about Uncle Toby, to make that connection but travel along it in the opposite direction.

Reading into the Novel Sterne hints at this toward-the-novel direction of reading when he dedicates the first volume of Tristram Shandy to the Secretary of State William Pitt in 1759. At the time, Pitt was at the height of his popularity for turning the tide in the Seven Years’ War against France, mainly by shifting the focus of English military efforts from Europe to North America.15 Sterne presents himself as a fellow “minister of state” who, like Pitt, knows how to protect the interests of the people but does so with laughter rather than carefully laid battle plans. Sterne says he writes from a bye corner of the kingdom, and in a retired thatch’d house, where I live in a constant endeavour to fence against the infirmities of ill health, and other evils of life, by mirth; being firmly persuaded that every time a man smile, – but much more so, when he laughs, that it adds something to this Fragment of Life. (3)

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Sterne does not pretend his fiction can eradicate the evils of life, only fence against them; nor does he try to represent life so much as add something to it, another fragment, perhaps, to the larger “Fragment.”16 Moreover, Sterne does not ask Pitt to honor the book by taking it under the protection of his office, but rather by taking it with him “into the country” (3). In his second dedication to Pitt at the beginning of book 9 (9.0.499), published in 1767, four years into an imperfect peace with France, instead of courting the great statesman in his office, Sterne again invites Pitt to enjoy the book “out of place,” away from his office, where he can be refreshed with “a total change of ideas.” Rather than asking Pitt and his other readers to extrapolate from Sterne’s “bye corner” out to the whole empire, as we might expect from a proto-realistic novelist, Sterne works the other way around. He invites a readership preoccupied with affairs of the nation out to the country, to amuse themselves with “an entire new set of objects.” Sterne’s strategy is additive rather than representative. The walls of Sterne’s fiction, if that is what we call these framing dedications, are more like conduits, letting his experience and his readers’ experience of war and its aftermath flow through the novel, where they may be added to and so changed. Noticing this ingathering, centripetal force of Tristram Shandy helps account for its humor. In mock epics such as Alexander Pope’s Dunciad or his “Rape of the Lock,” laughter is generated by a kind of comic inflation or ascent: ordinary events and people, lifted up by epic conventions of storytelling, are made to seem ridiculous to us as readers, vulnerable to a cutting, sharp-edged humor. Sterne’s Political Romance, his first venture in fiction, does just this, making small things seem as ridiculous as great: in Sterne’s “key” to the interpretation of his Romance, the petty squabbles of local parish officials in York are made risible as allegorical stand-ins for European national conflicts.17 In Tristram Shandy, Sterne’s comedy takes a different trajectory. Outsized events such as the wars in Europe are replayed in Toby’s backyard, national figures such as William Pitt are invited out into a small spot in the country, and the wide world is encompassed in the 4-mile diameter of Sterne’s fiction (1.7.12), so that instead of small things made ridiculously large, we get great things rendered small and laughable, where the accompanying laughter feels less mocking, more conducive to sympathetic judgment and connection. This is how the novel becomes a pleasurable addition to the lives of readers who feel their own passions subject to forces larger than themselves.

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More than a century of England’s wars are represented in Sterne’s fiction, from the Shandy jackboots worn during the English Civil War to Parson Yorick’s Sentimental Journey through France at the end of Seven Years’ War.18 Thomas Keymer writes insightfully about Sterne’s fiction as a palimpsest of England’s wars, one after the other, written and erased on the pages of Tristram Shandy (Keymer, Sterne 204). But Tristram Shandy is not a palimpsest of the wars themselves. Sterne’s fiction is crucially not like Uncle Toby’s re-creations in this sense: it is not about besieged cities but about how soldiers fare after war, how a soldier’s friends are implicated in war’s trauma, and how that trauma carries on generation after generation. Toby may be fixated on recreating the sieges of fortified cities in Europe, but we, as readers of Tristram Shandy, get caught up in Toby’s comic attempts at healing, whether through telling stories about where he was injured, building models, or falling in love with Widow Wadman. Perhaps the laughter that lessens the pain of war’s trauma eventually helps us feel it more acutely.

What Trauma Feels Like Chapter 17 ends with Trim knocking on Mrs. Wadman’s front door, Toby hesitating on the porch behind him, and the narrator saying “ – Let us go into the house.” But when we look up and across to the next page, we see “CHAP. XVIII” printed at the top above a missing block of text and a page number at the bottom. We turn over the page and see “CHAP. XIX” printed above another missing block, as if Wadman’s house was empty or the memory of his time there erased. For a moment, holding that leaf of paper between our thumb and forefinger, we feel the “shock” that Toby felt in remembering the conversation – the thin rough texture of an empty page in our memory, a header visible above, page number below, and nothing in between, a page we feel we should be able to read but cannot. This is how the book carries the shock of war into its pages, how we feel the blank in Toby’s memory as we turn the pages of his amours with Widow Wadman. Two empty leaves between our thumb and forefinger are as close as we get in the novel to the “shock” Toby felt in war, wounded and carried from the trench.

*** Mrs. Wadman double-checks the lectionary reading for the day in the front of her Bible – Joshua, chapter 6, the siege of Jericho. Of all the books

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to be reading with that good man, Toby Shandy, marching past her window, it had to be this one. Toby is wearing a military uniform she has never seen. His friend Trim is in single file behind him. They are circling the house again, taking their entertainment abroad today, or at least next door, making her land the land of Canaan, her house the city of Jericho. Toby is walking strangely, almost limping. His old wound, perhaps, or those red-plush breeches, too small and bursting at the seams. She wonders how he can walk at all. Maybe, she laughs to herself, glancing down at Joshua 5, maybe if he follows the scriptures as scrupulously as he follows the newspapers’ accounts of war in Europe, then he and his fellow Israelite Trim are still recovering from circumcision under Joshua’s flint knife. Maybe she should tie a scarlet cord in her window like the prostitute Rahab. Or maybe – her eyes brim with tears as she laughs – this Jericho passage is a sign for her to surrender, to finally give up fighting against her love for Toby. She has prayed for years to be content with him as a friend and neighbor, to not intrude on his happiness with anything like love, certainly not marriage. Why ruin their backyard meetings? But that spark between them just the other day when her calf pressed gently against his as they leaned together over his latest siege map. The way he held her hand and drew it gently to the spot on the map where he would build his next miniature fortified city. Why ruin that with marriage? And what if the rumors are true that he was in fact emasculated by the war? Surely, those rumors are false. The neighborhood doctor has assured her. She should ask Toby herself. But how? And how without embarrassing him? How say that she wants to be with him regardless? They would both be happier together. His family is certain that Toby is in love with her, though he may not know it himself and may never say so. No? Then let Toby Shandy stay happy as he is, and let the Widow Wadman be content. Toby and Trim stop circling her house and start toward the front porch. Toby’s voice is in the parlor. Bridget must have opened the door before he knocked. Mrs. Wadman steps out from behind the curtain where she was at her devotions, sets the Bible down on the table, and greets Toby, happy to see him here in her house again. They walk toward the sofa. As he sits down, he exhales and says gruffly, “I am in love,” or so it sounds, but she can’t be sure. She looks down at her lap, notices the slit in her apron that she meant to mend the other day. She feels him looking at her, but she cannot look at him, cannot ask him about his wound, not yet.

***

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This is another description of our displaced chapters 18 and 19, this time from Widow Wadman’s perspective. Emboldened by her Bible reading, encouraged by Toby’s declaration of love and proposal of marriage, Wadman decides to ask Toby directly about his wound to the groin. “CHAP. XX” begins haltingly on the next page not with words but with a long dash, seven lines of asterisks, and another long dash – the conventional signs in Tristram Shandy that its characters have been talking about sex in some explicit, not-quite-safe-to-print way, or maybe even having sex. Sterne likes to keep his readers guessing. Then, halfway down the page we read the following: “ – You shall see the very place, madam; said my uncle Toby. Mrs. Wadman blush’d – look’d towards the door – turn’d pale – blush’d slightly again – recovered her natural colour – blush’d worse than ever” (9.20.523). In the midst of all her blushing, Wadman bravely steels herself to look at whatever Toby wants to show her. “There can be no sin in looking at it,” she thinks to herself; “ – I will look at it” (9.20.523). Then Toby gets up from the sofa, goes to the parlor door, and calls out to Trim to fetch the old map of Namur. “I believe it is in the garret, said my Uncle Toby.” Trim replies, “I saw it there, an’ please your honour, this morning” (9.20.523). There is no break in the text between the “it” that Wadman wants so much to see and the “it” that Toby and Trim remember seeing lying in the garret, making Toby’s wound strangely portable to our readerly imagination, as if “it” could be detached from his body and accidentally lost to dust and clutter somewhere upstairs in his house. We have been here before, of course, the place on Toby’s body confused for the place on a map. It is easy enough to explain the joke, laugh at the misconception between Wadman and Toby, and yet the joke does not explain why the two do not end up together. Our initial laughter, as we let go of the blank pages of the missing chapters, marks not just a repetition of the gag but a combination of feelings that are difficult to take in. For Toby and Wadman, the whole scene, as Tristram fills it in later, is diffused with shame. After Toby declares his love, the two of them discuss marriage, until Toby, after his marriage proposal, falls silent reading the Bible. Mrs. Wadman bravely breaks the silence by asking him about Namur, a roundabout way, says Tristram, to “get at . . . Toby’s groin” (9.26.535). As soon as he hears her asking about the battle, and no doubt primed by his reading about Jericho, Toby happily launches into his story. Wadman interrupts to ask “a little categorically” where exactly he received the blow, but does so with an “accent of humanity” that, Tristram says, “covers the part with a garment, and gives the enquirer a right to be as

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particular with it, as your body-surgeon” (9.26.535). As she asks, Wadman also glances “toward the waistband of my Uncle Toby’s red plush breeches” (9.26.535), expecting him to “lay his fore-finger upon the place” (9.26.535). But instead, he sends Trim to fetch the map, uses a pair of Wadman’s scissors to measure out some distances, and then takes Wadman’s hand gently in his own and “with such a virgin modesty laid her finger upon the place” – that is, upon the map. As soon as Wadman realizes how far she and Toby have misunderstood one another – her first blush a sign that she did indeed expect him to show him the spot on his body – Tristram tells us that the “goddess of Decency” appears in Wadman’s imagination, “shook her head, and with a finger wavering across her eyes – forbid her to explain the mistake. Unhappy Mrs. Wadman!” (535). Wadman could overcome the shame of asking, but she could not bear putting Toby to shame for his mistake. A few pages later, back at Toby’s house, Trim explains what Wadman wanted to know: the reason she expressed such concern for Toby’s wound is that “the groin, your honor knows, is upon the very curtin of the place” (540). In other words, asking about Toby’s groin is as close as she can get to asking about his penis and capacity for sex. Toby “gave a long whistle – but in a note which could scarce be heard across the table” (540), a musical exhalation of embarrassment that carries the comic tone of the scene, could we hear it. Crucially, Toby is far less embarrassed by Wadman’s asking than he is by his own inability to catch what she was asking about. As Trim explains Wadman’s interest, Toby and his world seem to dissolve. When he lays his pipe down on the fender of the fireplace, a short screen that surrounds the hearth, everything seems on the verge of disintegrating, as if it (the pipe, the fireplace – the syntax is ambiguous) “had been spun from the unravellings of a spider’s web” (9.31.540). Earlier, when he picked up Wadman’s Bible, Toby had “set himself to read,” gathered himself against the vulnerability of asking her to marry him. But now, Toby and the things around him feel suddenly and impossibly unsettled, delicate and fragile.

Putting Shame to Use This is how the “amours” of Widow Wadman and Uncle Toby end, with each of them apart, ashamed but for different reasons: Toby is humiliated for not knowing what Wadman was asking about, for misinterpreting her “accent of humanity,” and for regressing so quickly to his old habit of calling for the map. Wadman is ashamed not, I think, for asking about

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Toby’s groin, but for asking so decorously that Toby failed to recognize what she wanted, and then for not clearing up his misunderstanding. Unhappy as the scene may be, Tristram considers it instructive, a “compleat system” of love and lovemaking. Why? In the previous section on war, I suggested that in reading Tristram Shandy for its representation of historical trauma, we miss the novel’s emphasis on cultural trauma, on the way that outsized events of England’s wars get broken down and assimilated in the small circle of the Shandy family. This is not to minimize the social or historical connections between the novel and the events of the 1760s – far from it – but to follow those connections in the opposite direction, toward rather than away from the novel. Doing so, we can take better notice of how Toby bears the pain of war to the society that gathers around him. In this section, I rely on affect theory to make a similar move in exploring the psychological or interior dimensions of Tristram Shandy. Many critics find in the novel validation for their strong theories about the human condition, whether it be a psychological theory about our sexual drives, the fallibility of our use of language, or the way discourse determines our subjectivity. But Tristram Shandy has a way of poking fun at whatever strong and serious theory we look for in the novel by associating all such looking with Walter Shandy, Tristram’s father, whose habits of mind his son always describes with less than flattering imitation and irony. Walter is described as an “excellent natural philosopher, and much given to close reasoning upon the smallest matters” (1.3.7). He is “serious” about every idea – and “systematical, and, like all systematick reasoners, he would move both heaven and earth, and twist and torture every thing in nature to support his hypothesis” (1.19.45). Walter’s areas of specialization are numerous: geniture, cesarean births, noses, names, education – and, that worst of passions, love. Like many theory-driven humanities professors today (myself included), Walter is frustrated that his best ideas, no matter how forcefully expressed, don’t have the effect on the world that he hoped for (5.16.307). Some Sterne scholars, betrayed perhaps by an unacknowledged sympathy for Walter, try not to defend Walter’s theories so much as construct better, more serious ones of their own. Part of the humor of the novel is watching strong theories about the human condition proliferate around Walter as he tries to guard against various forms of human weakness, our susceptibility to love foremost among them. And part of the humor of the novel is watching Walter’s theories fail. If Toby is made the bearer of trauma in Sterne’s novel, Walter is the bearer of a Theory that cannot heal that trauma, the exemplar of the way our personalities can

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harden, grow brittle, and crack under the pressure of describing the human condition. Walter can goad us in a good direction if, instead of riding out to defend some cherished theory, we give up our pursuit of what lies behind the curtain of human nature, of whatever “secret spring” would explain all thought and action, give it up at least for the time that we’re reading the novel. Or, not give up such pursuits so much as ride them into the circle of Sterne’s fiction, carry them lightly between our legs as one of many possible “hobby-horses” that no reader can quite do without. Take affect theory – and here I follow the work of literary critic Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick as she describes the work of psychologist Silvan Tomkins – which explores the ways that we are moved by a basic set of interrelated affects: anger, contempt, disgust, distress, fear, joy, excitement, surprise, and shame.19 Tomkins began his work on affect when he noticed expressions of shame in infants around seven months old, well before they could have any concept of social prohibition (6). Shame proved important, in Sedgwick’s words, as “the affect that most defines the space wherein a sense of self will develop” (6). Shame also proved important to understanding the way various affects combine with one another: I may feel shame when I notice myself afraid, for example, and that shame is compounded when I notice that someone else sees me ashamed and afraid. But shame also attaches to positive affects: when something I am enjoying ends or is taken away, I may feel shame, or when I look up with interest and excitement to the face of another and they return my look with indifference.20 Sedgwick uses Tomkins’s affect theory to explore how criticism might do more than “critique,” more than expose, for example, the repressive force of powers at work in a given text (and in previous criticism of that text), and how criticism might have less faith in thinking that by exposing the repressive powers our criticism hypostatizes as omnipresent we can, for the flickering moment of writing or reading, escape them.21 Sedgwick comments on this bad faith when she writes, “It’s strange that a hermeneutics of suspicion would appear so trusting about the effects of exposure” (Touching Feeling 138–39). Affect theory tries to step out of the repressive-expressive bind that collars so much literary criticism, the seeming necessity of showing every literary work to be “kinda subversive, kinda hegemonic” (Shame 5). Sedgwick’s goal is not to champion affect as a proto-rational realm inside us immune from human cognition or social construction, as some critics of affect theory have charged (Leys; Gross). Rather, Sedgwick’s affect theory is additive, an effort to notice the multiple lines of connection we make to texts, to notice, for example, how shame accompanies joy, excitement, and surprise.

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Tomkins distinguishes our system of affect from both our system of cognition and our system of drives. Whereas drives such as hunger and thirst are satisfied by single objects – food for hunger, water for thirst – affects may be attached to various objects. And while our systems of cognition or rational thought may aspire to mastery over our drives and feelings, what we think is always influenced by both. Affect theory tends to offend reductionists, on the one hand, who believe every thought and feeling can be wholly explained as a biological drive or neurological necessity; and, on the other hand, rationalists, who believe that reason only counts as such when it is wholly free of all feelings and drives. But Tomkins looks to see how these three systems – cognition, affect, and drive – interact. Just as there is variation in the way that particular affects combine within an individual, so there is variation in the way an individual’s cognitive, affective, and drive systems interact. Tomkins calls them “incompletely overlapping central assemblies” (43). Rather than positing one system as always more central than another, or the drives like gears fully meshed with feelings and thoughts – think of Walter Shandy’s monthly winding of his clocks – Tomkins looks for and notices the imperfect fit between the “central assemblies,” which makes room for surprise in their interactions. Tomkins says it is “the relative independence of sub-systems within the personality which makes it a perpetually open system whereby by the past may be attenuated through the initiation of new perceptual experiences, new affective experiences, new ideas, new decisions, and new actions” (175). Novelty can come through any of the three subsystems. In a rare, extended, military metaphor, Tomkins compares such new experiences to “the beachhead, hard won by the landing of the first wave of troops invading a continent in a major war.” That beachhead “may be repulsed entirely” by the personality “when reserves are brought up, it may be contained, or it may overrun and overwhelm the entrenched forces” (175). Shame can participate on either side of this battle – in the invasion of the new experience or in the defense of the old continent of the personality – but in the case of Toby and Wadman, shame works not only to contain love, but also to repulse it entirely.

Shame and Sentiment What interests Sterne in the encounter between Toby and Wadman, in his depiction of the failed love between them, what he wants his readers to take an interest in, is not the inward condition of his characters. Sterne does not isolate any explanatory inner cause or insatiable drive in Toby or in

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Wadman. Rather, we observe a circulation of shame between them: Toby’s first declaration of love, then his eyes cast down to the pages of the Bible, then her blush at asking about the wound, then his near total dissolution at realizing how far he missed what she wanted to know, culminating in Toby’s whistling self-exhalation, when he, his tobacco pipe, and the fender of the fireplace become the “unravellings” of a spider’s web. Thus shame spreads across chapter breaks, through narrative digressions, and reaches us as readers, although we feel it differently than Toby and Wadman. We take a pleasure in the seeing that they do not. In the Archeology of Sympathy, James Chandler tracks the “sentimental mode” as it runs from Sterne and Dickens in literature to Sergei Eisenstein and Frank Capra in film. One of Chandler’s key insights is the triangular formation of sympathy on the page and on the screen, the way that sympathy is felt as it travels between two characters and a distant, third spectator. When, for example, the camera focuses (shot one) on the face of one character, looking with sympathetic distress at the plight of another character off screen and then cuts to a close-up (shot two) of the face of that other character in tears, the sympathetic connection is not yet complete. It requires a third shot of both characters viewed from a distance, standing together on the sidewalk across the street, perhaps, or sitting together at a table in a crowded restaurant. Emotion is formed, Chandler contends, not simply in the back-and-forth exchange between two characters, but in the circulation of emotion between those characters and a distant spectator. The sentimental mode includes not only horizontal movement of feeling between characters, but also vertical movement through a neutral observer. A good example is the scene that I discussed earlier in Chapter 1: the proto-sentimental, proto-cinematic moment where Robinson Crusoe and the Catholic priest hide out in the bushes so that they can see Will Atkins talk to his native wife about Christianity (Farther Adventures 99). Crusoe’s narrating from the bushes gives us the “vertical” angle on the scene that Chandler says is crucial to the movement of feeling in the sentimental mode, and Crusoe’s repetition of “we saw” suggests that he took as much pleasure in his hidden vantage point as he did in the exchange of feeling between Will and his wife. Similarly, in Tristram Shandy we as readers see the exchange of blushes between Toby and Wadman, but only as those blushes circulate through Tristram’s teasing, affectionate, slightly mocking vantage point as narrator. Chandler’s insight about the spectator’s role in the formation of emotion connects to Tomkins’s insights about shame, although not in the way

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we might expect. We tend to think of shame as the feeling of being under surveillance, the result of being noticed by the keepers of social norms, so that if we could make those social norms match what we want, or train ourselves not to care about those norms, we would no longer feel shame. However, Tomkins – who, again, observed shame responses in children too young to be aware of such norms – wondered whether shame might be something more than a response to internalized social strictures, and what he discovered was how closely shame attends our pursuits of pleasure and experiences of joy. Like John Keats in the “Ode on Melancholy,” who notices how every experience of beauty is a “Beauty that must die,” and joy always a joy “whose hand is ever at his lips bidding adieu,” Tomkins in his work shows how shame appears whenever pleasures are interrupted, or interests incompletely realized. In this way shame plays a crucial, positive role in keeping us mindful of our interests, making our pursuit of those interests something more than automatic. In other words, shame is what keeps Toby marching around Wadman’s house and Wadman asking about Toby’s wound. If Tomkins is right, then spectation is not the cause of shame so much as its effect; shame accompanies seeing when we are faced with what we love. A healthy shame helps us take the measure of our interests, and so builds in us a capacity for self-observation, for noticing when our interests are frustrated – a capacity to see ourselves from a distance. Together, Tomkins’s insights about shame and self-reflexivity and Chandler’s insights about the way feeling circulates through a distant observer help us understand how Tristram builds his system of love using the complicated shame of Wadman and Toby – a system that Tristram holds, and helps us to hold, at an ironic, playful distance. As readers, we see what Wadman feels, what Toby feels, but we don’t feel it the same way because we see it once removed with Tristram, whose distanced, impartial spectator view is taken up, triangulated into our experience.

Parson Yorick as Sterne’s Ideal Reader We can find confirmation of the way we are expected to travel as readers through Tristram Shandy – caught up in the shame of Wadman and Toby but feeling it differently – from the way Yorick travels through France in Sterne’s second novel, A Sentimental Journey. Parson Yorick – the clergyman who dies early in Tristram Shandy and the pseudonym by which Sterne published his sermons – visits France during wartime.22 Early in the

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account of his journey, Yorick shows us how to negotiate the connection between our drives and our affects. He meets a woman from Brussels, Madame de L***, travelling through Calais (20), then sees her again in Amiens, where she catches his eye and sends him a polite letter (36). He sends a letter in return, supplied by the young former French soldier serving as Yorick’s guide, a letter that Yorick copies and discreetly edits to not be a proposal for sex. Yorick guesses from her looks that she has suffered in love. He fantasizes about spending the night with her, but he does not seem particularly curious about her past. What he wants is the “exquisite sensation” of sitting with a beautiful women in her grief, not the woman herself or even her story, only “to see her weep!” (36). Yorick could be considered an early affect theorist if we substitute Tomkins’s systems of drive, affect, and reason with Yorick’s reflections on sexual desire, sentiment, and deference to social convention. Yorick seems especially bold in his investigations of affect or sentiment with women he feels socially beneath him – for example, when he steps into a shop to ask a “beautiful Grisset” directions to the comic opera (42), and she puts down her work to tell him the way. Yorick is only ten steps from the shop when he forgets, goes back, and asks again. She wonders aloud, “half laughing,” how he could forget so quickly. Yorick explains that forgetting is easy “when a man is thinking more of a woman, than of her good advice” (43). She takes the compliment with “a slight courtesy” (43), lays her hand on his arm, and tells him to wait while she finishes a pair of gloves that she is just about to send with an errand boy to be delivered near the opera. Her “half” laugh, “slight” curtsy, and hand on his arm are all the invitation Yorick needs to continue his flirtation: “You must have one of the best pulses of any woman in the world,” he says, a terrible pick-up line in any age, any country, but she holds out her arm to him and says, “Feel it” (44). Yorick puts two fingers on her wrist and starts counting. His investigations are interrupted by the shopkeeper’s husband but only for a moment, and in a way to heighten the excitement of Yorick’s experiment. When he asks to try on a pair of the gloves that she has just made, the scene swells, in Sterne’s telling, with the kind of euphemistic pornographic imagery that one might find in John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, although to very different ends. As in the encounter with Madame de L***, no actual sex occurs – the shop is open to the street, after all, as Yorick reminds us – but he invests the scene with all the erotic energy he can muster by trying on her glove as if it were her body: “She held it open – my hand slipp’d into it at once” (46). Here, for Yorick, is sex at its safest – or shopping at its sexiest.

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The amours of Parson Yorick, so far diffused through his letter writing and shopping, spread to his charity when he spots a young servant girl – a “fille de chambre” – who is buying a book of amorous adventures while he is buying the works of Shakespeare. After striking up a conversation with her, wanting both to flirt with her and contribute to her pursuit of virtue, Yorick gives her one of the coins that he was counting out to pay for Shakespeare. He does so by reaching out and taking hold of the “bottom” of the small purse that she is carrying, as if the purse were an extension of the girl and Yorick’s coin an extension of himself. He tells us that she “let go the purse intirely,” and “I put a single one in” (55). When the two meet again later in Yorick’s journey, their interactions become more oddly and erotically charged in her holding first his inkpot, then his pen, then her purse, specially made – she tells him – for his coin. “It was pretty,” Yorick says, “and I held it ten minutes with the back of my hand resting upon her lap – looking sometimes at the purse, sometimes on one side of it” (78). As Yorick’s eyes move between her lap and her purse, his desire to make love and to make a charitable donation become confused. She mends a loose thread on his clerical collar, brushing her hand against his neck. He – alone with her this whole time on the bed in his hotel room – notices the buckle loose on her shoe. He lifts and cradles her foot to fasten it. She loses her balance and falls back onto the bed, making it easy for the old parson, who then politely helps her up, walks her out of his room, locks the door behind them, and only “then – the victory being quite decisive – and not til then, I press’d my lips to her cheek, and, taking her by the hand again, led her safe to the gate of the hotel” (79). What Yorick wants, the “victory” he seems to be after, is an exchange of erotic possibility without consummation, with only the slightest possible touch. What did the girl want from Yorick? It is hard to say because nowhere do we get a sense of what any women felt or thought during their sentimental encounters with Yorick. One doubts the woman from Calais felt the same pleasure receiving Yorick’s letter that he felt sending it. One doubts the shopkeeper’s wife felt from Yorick’s hand in her glove the same sentimental thrill that he felt putting it in. And the girl at the gate likely felt something other than self-satisfaction at Yorick’s leaving. Women appear along the way mainly to fan in Yorick the flame of desire, and not desire so much as a kind of beneficial shame that accompanies his pursuit of virtue: “There is a sort of pleasing half guilty blush, where the blood is more in fault than the man – ’tis sent impetuous from the heart, and virtue flies after it – not to call it back, but to make the sensation of it more delicious to the nerves – ’tis associated –” (77). What Yorick wants is a virtue led by embarrassed

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desire, but not too embarrassed, a “pleasing half guilty blush” made “more delicious” by the virtue that catches it. Shifting registers from Sterne’s sentimentalism to affect theory, we might say with Tomkins that in considering our central assemblies of drive, affect, and reason, Yorick is happiest letting affect lead and virtuous reason follow. Our affect system belongs out in front of our thought system, not to be called back or brought to heel. Thoughtful, ethical deliberation is made better by its association with affects such as enjoyment and shame. Yorick considers this association of virtue and desire, of sentiment and love, natural. It is not something he invents but claims to discover and show in his writing, that “nature has so wove her web of kindness, that some threads of love and desire are entangled with the piece” (78). Perhaps this is the web of kindness that Sterne weaves in fiction to throw over our weaknesses. Perhaps this is the web that breaks, unravels, and cannot be woven back together for Toby and Wadman.

Empathy or Egoism? Yorick’s tender, self-teasing embrace of his own desires is not the same thing as embracing another person. It is easy to mistake the generous relationship between eros and virtue within Yorick for a generous relationship between Yorick and the women he meets. His inward sociability creates an illusion of outward sociability. Like the absence of any representations of war among the soldiers he meets – La Fleur (27), the old French Officer (47), the Chevalier of St. Louis (67): their battlefield experiences are never told – women’s inner lives are left unexpressed, inarticulate in Yorick’s account because he is not fundamentally interested in their experience, only in the affections that he can appropriate from them. Maria’s story is inexpressible to Yorick who only has ears for her flute. Sterne’s fiction is antirealistic in this way: it does not give us the interior lives of several characters, or of characters mutually constituted by relationship with one another, only the interior of one character, the narrator.23 Sterne’s narrators are more acquisitive than inquisitive. Yorick gathers and gathers the affections of characters who never finish grieving. He is always at their side, his narrative handkerchief never saturated. Yorick’s way of cultivating sympathy for all people is to love a particular set, to connect with beautiful women disappointed in love and with military men “whose manners are softened by a profession which makes bad men worse” (Sentimental Journey 47). The ordinary looking, the ugly,

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Uses of Scripture for Fiction

angry, disabled, happy are nowhere partners in Yorick’s scenes of sentimental exchange, which makes his set of persons too small, too exclusive, the array of emotions he can connect with too few. Nevertheless, Yorick’s erotically charged sentimental encounters, however emotionally limited, however one-sided in perception and telling, do make Yorick more aware of the people around him. After he lets go of the hand of the fille de chambre, for example, Yorick says “I remain’d at the gate of the hotel for some time, looking at every one who pass’d by, and forming conjectures upon them” (79). Through his sentimental encounters, Yorick finds himself caught up in a “generous attachment” to others, or at least on the verge of such an attachment. In A Sentimental Journey, the channeling of sentiment through erotic desire is made easier by differences in nationality, age, and vocation, but Toby and Wadman meet on more equal footing, and so love proves more difficult, requires more extreme measures, and is ultimately blocked by shame. The garment of Sterne’s fiction, politely thrown over the Bible scene, makes Toby’s and Wadman’s shame accessible to us as readers, something that can circulate among us, and so alters that shame in the process. Toby is ashamed of his missing the import of Wadman’s question, but we are not ashamed of him for doing so. We may even take pleasure in his missing her point. In Sterne’s imagining, shame about the act of sex is relatively inconsequential compared to the shame of not knowing when the talk is about sex, or shame at not being able to talk about such things with the “accent” of humanity, the empathy that does not lead to touching. Still, Sterne’s fiction feels different than Wadman’s accent of humanity, more direct, probing, teasing about sex. Wadman talks around Toby’s penis as a way of moving toward him in love. In his fiction, Sterne talks about more and less: more in the sense of letting encounters between characters shimmer with erotic possibilities, less in the sense that he’s not interested in exploring love as actual, intimate touch between two people. The Yorick of A Sentimental Journey may be admirable for his tenderness toward veterans and women, toward those who have suffered loss in war and love, but Yorick is also emotionally parasitic, even predatory, hungry for the losses of others, which he needs to fashion and feel himself. There is little sense of what is strong about the women he meets when they are subject to his sentimental love, to his measured doses of erotic attraction, which he injects so easily – too easily – into his role as buyer, clergyman, or father. If Yorick is better than the stoics, better than the rationalists, better than the pious and priggish, he is only laughably better, in his condescending one-sided encounters, and maybe that is the greater charm of Yorick,

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and also of Tristram: not their exemplarity, their role as models, but their nakedly obvious self-protection, self-concern. Seeing the world with them as we read, we sometimes see them looking, see them like we saw Crusoe and the priest hiding in the bushes to watch Will Atkins and his native wife. If so, we can read not to submit to Tristram’s or Yorick’s doctrines of sentimentality but to be made mindful of them, perhaps pushed uncomfortably out of our own moral doctrines, to be reminded of how difficult it is to connect to others in their suffering, how we stumble, when we try. Perhaps Tristram Shandy is best read not as a defense or illustration of male egoism so much as a book that tries to draw attention to male weakness. It shows its male characters aspiring toward isolation and selfprotection but, in Toby’s case, with an ego that remains permeable, diffused with loss, with what could have been or might have been or should have been. What Sterne purports to cover with his fiction, I suggest, is not just our sexual parts or sexual acts, but also a blushing, diffuse desire for intimacy that Sterne nowhere represents as achieved but rather, in the scene of Toby and Wadman, as a desire attempted and failed. The on-the-page flirting, wit, flattery, translation of “looks and limbs” (Sentimental Journey 48) – all of it a garment to clothe our weakness, to span the unbridgeable gap in all our intimacies, cover it with fiction, mark its location while keeping it indescribable. What Sterne covers, then, has less to do with our nakedness, less with sexuality conceived primarily to be about drives, than a sexuality motivated by affect, by excitement and shame; or what he covers is at least the sexual act and the parts of the body that engage in those acts – he is not shy about alluding to such things – but Sterne’s fiction does more to make those parts players in the larger game of affect. Shame plays a key role, connects us, circulates among us, and keeps us at a distance from one another.

Circulating National Shame Now that we have explored how Sterne vindicates through Uncle Toby a certain kind of war-induced cultural trauma, and vindicates through Widow Wadman a certain kind of shame in love, how together weakness in war and in love prove central to his sentimental sociability, we are in a better position to ask again, why the Bible, here? And why the Bible open to that scene of miraculous victory, the siege of Jericho? One might easily imagine that scene used as an allegory of national greatness: England’s Seven Years’ War with France is ancient Israel’s Seven-Day March around Jericho; or, the empire of Great Britain is fulfilling the

256

Uses of Scripture for Fiction

task of God-ordained rule over the world dimly prefigured by Israel’s incomplete conquest of Canaan. But the mood of this scene in Tristram Shandy is so far from triumphant, so diffused with shame and laughter, that one would be hard pressed to feel it as a vindication of empire. One wonders whether it has any political significance at all. I argued in Chapter 3 that from the 1680s through the eighteenth century, the English Bible steadily lost its capacity to speak to the existing political order, as it could for Bunyan. The Bible was still used in political controversy, to be sure, but mainly as a wax nose, bent to fit the occasion of argument. The Bible was more of a prop for contending political factions than a book to interpret apart from those factions, less a book capable of criticizing and reorganizing those factions. The book of Joshua has a long history of being used to justify empire, colonialism, and genocide.24 Sunday school retellings of the miraculous collapse of Jericho’s walls – that inspiringly liturgical, nonmilitary victory – leave out the fact that Joshua oversaw the mass slaughter of every living thing in the city immediately afterward, as an act of religious devotion: “the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, and donkeys” (Josh 6.20–21). Few eighteenth-century Bible commentators wrote openly about the violence in Joshua. But the deist Matthew Tindal did in his controversial Christianity as Old as Creation (1730), the book against which so much Anglican theology arrayed itself in the eighteenth century.25 Tindal reads Joshua from the perspective of the Canaanites and mocks the theological and political implications of the story, which everywhere show the Canaanites obliged to “offer up their Throats” to the people of God, a God who works miracles, like making the sun stand still in the middle of the day, only “to give Light enough for Joshua to destroy his enemies” (1.248). Whether such miracles happened or not – Tindal would say probably not – the story of the conquest of Canaan set a dangerous political precedent: it encouraged nations “to think what the Israelites did, to the Canaanites, a good Precedent; and that they might invade a neighbouring, idolatrous Nation, that never did them the least Harm; and extirpate not only Men and Women, but even their innocent Infants; in Order to get Possession of their Country?” (1.264). Tindal goes on to say that the slaughtering of the Canaanites has in fact been used to justify colonial violence: “And I question whether the Spaniards wou’d have murder’d so many Millions in the Indies, had they not thought they might have us’d them like Canaanites” (1.264). In his critique of Joshua

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257

and the rest of the Old Testament, Tindal ultimately seems less interested in defending the cause of victims of religious violence than scoring points against the authority of scripture, but he deserves credit for asking hard questions about the Bible, questions that few others asked openly and in public. Most eighteenth-century biblical scholars tried to explain away the violence, to exonerate God. Daniel Waterland, for example, a biblical scholar whose work Sterne seems to have known, wrote a book called Scripture Vindicated (1731) to refute Tindal – one of many such responses published during the 1730s.26 Waterland writes certain that all the Canaanites must have been “criminals,” “obstinate,” and “perverse.” The only verse in Joshua that makes Waterland hesitate in his judgment is the one that says God hardened the heart of the Canaanites. Waterland says, It must indeed be owned, there is some difficulty in the Thing; and a sober sensible Man might modestly ask for some Account of it. But for any one hereupon to fall to scoffing drolling, in one of the gravest Subjects, and upon the most serious Book in the World, and in a case that concerns the most tremendous Being, betrays such a profane levity of Spirit, as there is no excuse for. (63)

Waterland’s brief acknowledgment that a “sensible” man “might” sometimes question God’s justice gives way to his voluble, extended critique of Tindal’s “drolling” attitude toward scripture. This is the way of much eighteenth-century biblical criticism: questioning of supposed moral exemplars in scripture, or in this case, outrage at the mass slaughter of the Canaanites in the name of God, gets eclipsed by outrage at not treating scripture with proper seriousness. Controversy over what is in scripture gets redirected into controversy about the scripture itself, as if the Bible might be harmed more than the Canaanites were.27 For Waterland, the main issue is not one of historicity, or even of interpretation – he does not question Tindal’s reading of the story. It is an issue of attitude toward the Bible, a book that one should never laugh at or laugh with or approach with any “levity of Spirit,” a book one must always treat as “the most serious Book in the World.” Sterne politely disagrees and takes something from this controversy for his fiction, turns the levity that Waterland feared to good account, not by defending God’s justice or trumpeting national military might but by representing the costs of war, the loss of what might have been for Toby and Wadman.

Conclusion

I set out in this book to step away from two paths of thinking about the relationship between the religious and the secular. The first envisions the religious and the secular as perpetual rivals: always in competition, each claiming against the other a total comprehension of reality. Contenders for theology or science often argue with one another this way. C. S. Lewis did, for example, in an Oxford Socratic Club address entitled “Is Theology Poetry?” when he said, “Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else” (Weight 141).1 The second path stands somewhat apart from the quarrel of the first to recognize how much the two sides resemble each other. Secularism depends on certain forms of religion, and vice versa. Michael Warner, surveying the field of studies in secularism, makes this point when he says, “Progress is secularized providence, utopia is secularized heaven, and sovereignty is secularized omnipotence” (“Secularism” 222). Such thought-impairing collusions between the religious and the secular have become the focus of sustained scholarly critique today, and rightly so, but the religious and secular could be affirmingly, perhaps naively, combined in in the eighteenth century, when, for example, borrowing the language of Proverbs 20.27, the mind of a human being was said to be “the candle of the Lord.” A stage-two theorist, on the lookout for intriguingly entangled versions of the religious and the secular, would pick at this analogy because while the verse might be used to honor human reason as a divine gift or to make reason equal to divine revelation, it could also be used to depict rationality as the only sacred part of our otherwise dark selves, denigrating the body for the sake of the mind. Secular reason – like religious revelation – cuts the life of the body away from the mind. 258

Conclusion

259

It seems true to me still, at the end of this writing project, that differences between the religious and the secular need to be more fully acknowledged and sometimes honored, but this is easier said than done. Novels are not the same as the Bible. Writing literary criticism is not the same as writing theology. Ignoring the disciplinary differences between these two fields decreases the chances that one side will learn something from the other. Moreover, writers who self-identify as religious see things differently than writers who self-identify as secular. Again, leaving these differences unacknowledged closes down possibilities of friendship. And yet the tendency of stage-two thinking is to overlook these differences, to see one side as the mere inversion of the other (Literature is a secularized Bible), while the tendency of stage-one thinking is to see the differences as unbridgeable (Literature has nothing to do with the Bible), to see the two sides capable of meeting only in conflict, never otherwise. But what if the relationship between religious and secular ways of thinking were not necessarily mutually exclusive nor mutually reinforcing, but sometimes mutually fulfilling, sometimes capable of generating or gathering new ideas beyond those that either side had going into the relationship? That is the third-stage question I posed at the outset of this book, the question I held onto as I read the Bible scenes in eighteenthcentury fiction, looking for ways that specific aspects of biblical authority were combined with specific narrative techniques to produce a new sense of lived experience, a new knowledge of the world that we as readers could not have gained other than by reading those novels. To better recognize the artistic contributions of each novel, I distinguished roughly three eighteenth-century Bibles or versions of biblical authority – political, social, and intimate – in the chapters on biblical criticism, commodification, and devotional reading, respectively. Then, I paid attention to how those various Bibles appeared in the fiction: Christian begins his journey in grief caused by the political Bible, but Christiana begins her journey, in Pilgrim’s Progress part 2, moved by desires sparked by reading the intimate Bible. Significantly, that intimate Bible seems to matter less in Daniel Defoe’s fiction. His characters are more often moved by accidental encounters with the social Bible (the Bible as commodity or tobacco substitute or missionary educational tool). In the extended scene in The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Defoe seems most interested in the way the political Bible displaces or pretends to stand in for the social and intimate Bibles. Meanwhile, Samuel Richardson taps the powers of both intimate and political Bibles to make his own fiction a stronger, amplified version of the social Bible. In Laurence Sterne’s

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Tristram Shandy, the Bible scene makes the intimate Bible a comic version of the political Bible, showing Toby and the Widow Wadman vulnerable to larger political and psychological forces. Both kinds of writing – the Bible and the novel – I have argued, generate related problems of exit and reentry. They pull us out of the flow of our ordinary lives but do so differently. Eighteenth-century protocols of Bible reading tended to separate readers from biblical narrative for the sake of self-criticism, to make readers self-conscious of a variety of temporalities so that extended immersion in any single one proved difficult. Diligent Bible readers were left with a surplus of moral obligations that could not all be applied to their own lives. Meanwhile, novels capitalized on readers’ capacity to disengage from narrative for self-evaluation (whether from the narrative of scripture or the narrative of their own lives) and immersed them in the flow of other realistic but fictional lives. Novels provided a way for readers to work through the moral surplus acquired via Bible reading while, at the same time, circumventing their ordinary day-to-day lives. Fiction is realistic, I have suggested in Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel, not simply because it reinforces the sense of reality that I, as a reader, carry into my reading, nor because it creates its own highly plausible alternative reality that I enter while I read. Rather, novels are realistic because they help me transcend the world I know – again, not by carrying me to another world so much as by giving me more of this one to think with, grapple with, receive. And this mundane transcendence occurs not only as I become immersed in the content of a novel, but also as I come to sense the imagined edge of its narrative world and feel, as a result, what might be beyond that edge – the foibles that Robinson Crusoe does not recognize about himself, for example, or the life in London that Clarissa does not lead, or the active life that Sidney Bidulph does not pursue, or the love that Wadman and Toby do not share. In each of these eighteenthcentury novels, the Bible appears as a physical object at the threshold between the worlds narrated and the readers’ sense of what might be just beyond those worlds. The light that fiction offers is not an all-encompassing natural light like the sun; nor is it the candlelight of human reason, radiating out from our brightest concepts and categories. Fiction is more like a lantern we lift from the door and carry out into the dark, a lamp to our feet (Ps 119.105), light for the next few steps in the path ahead.

appendix 1

The appearance of the Bible as a physical object in Early English Prose Fiction (EEPF) and Eighteenth-Century Fiction (ECF), 1500–1780*

Author

Title

Year

Hind, John Anon Anon Keach, Benjamin

Lysimachus and Varrona Dobsons Drie Bobbes Morindos The Progress of Sin

1604 1607 1609 1684

% of works in EEPF database (=4/211) Defoe, Daniel Defoe, Daniel Defoe, Daniel Defoe, Daniel Defoe, Daniel Richardson, Samuel Fielding, Henry Paltock, Robert Richardson, Samuel Richardson, Samuel Amory, Thomas Johnstone, Charles Sterne, Laurence Sheridan, Frances Scott, Sarah Brooke, Henry Goldsmith, Oliver Sheridan, Frances Graves, Richard

The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe Robinson Crusoe Caption Singleton A Journal of the Plague Year Colonel Jack Clarissa (1st ed.) Tom Jones Peter Wilkins Clarissa (3rd ed.) Sir Charles Grandison John Buncle Chrysal Tristram Shandy Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph Millenium Hall The Fool of Quality The Vicar of Wakefield Conclusion of the Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph The Spiritual Quixote % of works in ECF database (=19/96)

1.9% 1719 1719 1720 1722 1723 1748 1749 1751 1751 1754 1756 1760 1760 1761 1762 1765 1766 1770 1773 19.8%

Source: Chadwyck-Healey, Early English Prose Fiction (EEPF); Chadwyck-Healey, Eighteenth-Century Fiction (ECF) The EEPF database contains 211 works that are a “balanced and representative survey” of the total from the period 1500–1700 (Chadwyck-Healey, “About Early English Prose Fiction”). The ECF database includes 96 works published between 1700 and 1780, “a

*

262

Appendixes

263

representative and cross-sectional view of the prose fiction of the period” (ChadwyckHealey, “About Eighteenth-Century Fiction”). Data for this table was collected in July 2015 using a keyword search for “Bible” and variants such as “Byble.” EEPF returned 50 hits in 20 discrete works. ECF returned 165 hits in 34 works. The narrative context of each hit was checked to see whether the Bible appeared as a physical object. Some of the hits were easy to rule out. For example, title pages sometimes use the phrase “at the Bible” to indicate the location of a publisher’s shop. Other hits not counted speak of the Bible without its appearing on the scene. For example, William Averell’s A Dyall for Dainty Darlings (1584) criticizes “you that had rather spend two houres at ye glasse, then a minute at the bible,” and in Charlotte Lennox’s Female Quixote (1752) a servant named Lucy says, “for all that, I think it’s better to save life than to kill, as the Bible book says.” In the hits that were counted, and so included in the table above, the Bible is not merely spoken about but visible – tangible to the characters in at least one scene. For example, in Robinson Crusoe (1719), “I found three very good Bibles, which came to me in my cargo from England,” or in Henry Brooke’s Fool of Quality (1766), “One Day as my Landlady’s Bible lay shut, before me, a sudden Thought occurred” (vol. 1, p. 236).

appendix 2

The appearance of the Bible as a physical object, prose fiction in English, Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO), 1701–1799

Decade 1700s 1710s 1720s 1730s 1740s 1750s 1760s 1770s 1780s 1790s

Total works of fiction*

w/ physical Bible†

% w/ Bible

47 60 137 92 209 299 362 315 405 701

5 6 2 1 6 13 17 7 28 65

11% 10% 1% 1% 3% 4% 5% 2% 7% 9%

2,627

150

6%

Source: Gale, Eighteenth-Century Collections Online, part 1 (ECCO); Orr, “Genre.” Counting fiction is difficult, painstaking bibliographic work never perfectly accurate or perfectly consistent from one scholar to the next, but those imperfections do not negate the usefulness of the work. The standard bibliographies for eighteenth-century fiction are McBurney (1700–1739); Beasley (1740–1749); Raven (1750–1770); and most recently Garside, Raven, and Schöwerling (1770–1829). Drawing on these bibliographies, Leah Orr has compiled the numbers for each decade that I use above. I also rely on her definition of what counts as new works of fiction: “first editions of original texts, first editions of new translations, and new parts or sequels to older texts if published in separate years” (Orr, “Genre,” 69). † Data was collected in August 2015 from ECCO part 1 using an advanced search for “fiction” as the subject and “bible” as an entire-document keyword, which returned 1,353 hits. Each hit was checked, using the procedure described in the note for Appendix 1, to see whether the Bible appeared as a physical object. The totals for each decade count multiple volumes as a single book and do not include reprints of works published in multiple editions. ECCO, part 1, published in 2003, contains 135,000 works printed between 1701 and 1800, most of them in English. Built by scanning the older eighteenth-century microfilm series and then using OCR software to read the page images, ECCO enables full-text searching of *

264

Appendixes

265

a vast body of published materials from the period. ECCO part 2, published in 2014, so far includes almost 50,000 additional titles. For a description of ECCO and its history, see Berland, esp. 406–407. On ECCO and the limitations of keyword searching OCR-scanned text, see Spedding. As of December 2018, the Text Creation Partnership (University of Michigan Library) has keyed in 2,231 SGML/XML-encoded texts in cooperation with Gale Cengage and made them available to the public (https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/ecco/).

appendix 3

The four most popular biblical passages in printed sermons, 1660–1782, listed by percentage of total sermons in each decade

Rom 13.1–7

ESTC entries Total

“Sermon” in title

Sermons (%)

1660s 1670s 1680s 1690s 1700s 1710s 1720s 1730s 1740s 1750s 1760s 1770s 1780s 1790s

12,369 13,190 20,853 19,612 22,241 24,844 21,472 21,404 23,124 27,000 32,136 39,124 46,574 74,520

564 576 1,021 1,134 2,101 2,613 1,505 1,360 1,701 1,572 1,317 1,546 1,459 2,801

398,463

21,270

Ps 122.6–9

Matt 11.28–30

#

% of total sermons

#

% of total sermons

#

% of total sermons

#

% of total sermons

4.56 4.37 4.90 5.78 9.45 10.52 7.01 6.35 7.36 5.82 4.10 3.95 3.13 3.76

5 12 23 5 9 25 16 14 20 11 6 12

0.89 2.08 2.25 0.44 0.43 0.96 1.06 1.03 1.18 0.70 0.46 0.78

2 14 2 5 9 17 20 12 19 6 11 20

0.35 2.43 0.20 0.44 0.43 0.65 1.33 0.88 1.12 0.38 0.84 1.29

3 2 3 9 1 20 9 4 11 9 4 5

0.53 0.35 0.29 0.79 0.05 0.77 0.60 0.29 0.65 0.57 0.30 0.32

1 5 5 4 5 4 9 6 13 9 13 5

0.18 0.87 0.49 0.35 0.24 0.15 0.60 0.44 0.76 0.57 0.99 0.32

5.34

158

137

Source: English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC); J. G. Spaulding, Pulpit Publications, 1660–1782, vol. 3.

80

79

Appendix 3

Decade

Matt 6.9–13

Rom 13.1–7 1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Matt 6.9–13 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Ps 122.6–9 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. 7Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. 8For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. 9Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good. Matt 11.28–30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

28

267

appendix 4

Extant editions of complete Bibles, Authorized Version, listed in the English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC), 1660–1799*

Total ESTC entries (in thousands) 2°





12°

>12°

Total







12°

>12°

Total







12°

>12°

Total

13 13 21 20 23 25 22 22 23 28 33 41 48 77

2 6 13 2 9 7 3 2 2 4 8 15 15 16

5 15 14 5 10 10 10 14 8 13 19 10 15 31

11 10 15 9 5 6 13 9 12 16 14 16 16 19

19 15 28 22 17 13 10 10 15 15 20 9 20 31

0 4 6 5 0 1 2 0 0 1 2 5 1 3

37 50 76 43 41 37 38 35 37 49 63 55 67 100

0 1 0 1 6 0 1 1 0 3 0 1 0 0

2 5 0 3 4 2 1 0 0 1 6 2 0 0

6 9 8 6 5 5 1 5 5 5 4 2 1 0

12 15 15 16 11 6 2 5 6 2 3 1 0 0

0 3 6 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

20 33 29 30 26 13 5 11 11 11 13 6 1 0

2 5 13 1 3 7 2 1 2 1 8 14 15 16

3 10 14 2 6 8 9 14 8 12 13 8 15 31

5 1 7 3 0 1 12 4 7 11 10 14 15 19

7 0 13 6 6 7 8 5 9 13 17 8 20 31

0 1 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 1 2 5 1 3

17 17 47 13 15 24 33 24 26 38 50 49 66 100

409

104

179

171

244

30

728

14

26

62

94

13

209

90

153

109

150

17

519

Decade 1660s 1670s 1680s 1690s 1700s 1710s 1720s 1730s 1740s 1750s 1760s 1770s 1780s 1790s

Bible not printed with royal privilege in London

Bibles printed with royal privilege in London

Total Bible entries

Source: English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC).

According to the English Short-Title Catalog website (http://estc.bl.uk), the ESTC “lists over 480,000 items published between 1473 and 1800.” The items are “mainly, but not exclusively, in English” and “published mainly in the British Isles and North America from the collections of the British Library and over 2,000 other libraries.” On the legacy of the ESTC, see Vander Meulen, “Foundational and Always Developing.” See also the collection of essays on the ESTC edited by Snyder and Smith. The data in Appendix 4 is based on an accession of the ESTC on September 5, 2019, using a modified Endnote connection file. Checking and cleaning the search results produced 728 entries for complete Bibles, OT and NT, of the Authorized Version printed between 1660 and 1799. 2° = folios, 4° = quarto, 8° = octavo, 12° = duodecimo, and >12° = eighteens and twenty-fours. These formats refer to the number of finished-book pages printed on one side of the original sheet of paper before the reverse side is printed, the sheet folded, gathered with other sheets, cut, and bound. The overall size of the book is inversely related to the format: folios or 2s are much larger than 12s or duodecimos. Because outside-London privilege was sometimes legally contested, as in the 1718 case of James Watson in Edinburgh, Bibles printed with royal privilege in London were taken as the best (most expedient) indicator of state-sponsored Bible printing. Thus, the columns for Bibles not printed with royal privilege in London include (1) Bibles printed outside of London with royal privilege at Cambridge, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Oxford; (2) Bibles printed outside of London without royal privilege; and (3) Bibles printed in London without royal privilege. *

appendix 5

Extant editions of complete Bibles, Authorized Version, listed in the ESTC not printed in London with royal privilege, by city of publication and format, 1660–1799

Amsterdam

Cambridge

Dublin

Edinburgh

Decade







12°

>12°

Total







12°

>12°

Total







12°

>12°

Total







12°

>12°

Total

1660s 1670s 1680s 1690s 1700s 1710s 1720s 1730s 1740s 1750s 1760s 1770s 1780s 1790s

0 4 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

6 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

6 4 2 0 2 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0

2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 1 0

3 4 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1 1 2

5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 2 4 7

1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 5 3 5 6

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

11 5 9 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 17 6 11 15

0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 2

0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 3 1 0 1 0

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 2 0 1 0

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

0 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 7 6 3 0 3 4

0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 1

0 1 0 1 3 5 2 3 1 3 3 1 2 4

0 1 0 3 0 1 5 1 0 3 0 2 4 1

0 0 0 1 1 5 2 2 4 5 7 2 6 11

0 1 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 1 1 5 1 0

0 3 0 6 4 12 12 6 5 12 11 13 13 17

7

4

0

8

0

19

8

23

23

26

0

80

4

6

9

6

2

27

5

29

21

46

13

114

London

Oxford

Other*

Decade







12°

>12°

Total







12°

>12°

Total







12°

>12°

Total

1660s 1670s 1680s 1690s 1700s 1710s 1720s 1730s 1740s 1750s 1760s 1770s 1780s 1790s

0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 6 3

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 10

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 1

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 8 7 17

0 0 12 0 2 4 1 1 0 0 1 2 2 2

0 5 6 1 2 3 7 7 6 7 6 3 5 2

0 0 7 0 0 0 6 3 2 4 4 8 6 7

0 0 11 5 5 2 6 2 2 2 3 2 6 4

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 5 36 6 9 9 20 13 10 13 14 15 19 15

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 6 10

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 5 11

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 7

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 7 13 32

17

11

5

4

0

37

27

60

47

50

0

184

22

20

4

10

2

58

Source: English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC). See note for Appendix 4. * Other cities include Bath, Belfast, Berwick, Birmingham, Carlisle, Carmarthen, Glasgow, Leipzig, New York, Newcastle upon Tyne, Philadelphia, Trenton, Worcester (Mass.). As noted in Appendix 4, Bibles not printed with royal privilege in London include (1) Bibles printed outside of London with royal privilege at Cambridge, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Oxford; (2) Bibles printed outside of London without royal privilege; and (3) Bibles printed in London without royal privilege.

Notes

Introduction 1. In political theory, see Taylor, Secular Age; Connolly, Why I Am Not a Secularist; Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe; and Bilgrami, Beyond the Secular West. In theology, see Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, and Cavanaugh, Myth of Religious Violence. In sociology, see Calhoun et al., Rethinking Secularism; Casanova, Public Religions; and Martin, On Secularization. In anthropology, see Asad, Formations of the Secular, and Mahmood, Politics of Piety. In history, see B. Gregory, Unintended Reformation, and C. Brown, Death of Christian Britain. In literary studies, see Pecora, Secularization and Cultural Criticism, and Jager, Book of God. For clear, concise introductions to the field more generally, see M. Warner, “Secularism,” and to literary studies in particular, see Branch, “Postsecular Studies.” 2. The full sentence, often repeated by critics, is from Lukács: “the novel is the epic of a world that has been abandoned by God” (88). For strong, insightful readings of fiction that reinforce a felt absence of God in the world, see Wood. 3. On the international invention of the novel and the importance of translations to the English fiction market, see Cohen and Dever; McMurran. 4. For early examples of scholarship that makes women writers central to the rise of the novel, see Spender; Spencer. For an especially wise, insightful example of scholarship that moves women’s writing more generally, not just fiction, to the center of eighteenth-century English literary history, see Staves. 5. For a good example of the call for criticism outside the confines of “realism,” see Spacks, Novel Beginnings, ch. 1. 6. On Watt’s Rise coinciding with the turn away from New Criticism, see Carnochan 180. Carnochan’s essay is reprinted as the afterword in The Rise of the Novel, Updated Edition, University of California Press, 2001. On the main points of criticism against Watt and his lasting contribution, see Keymer, “Introduction” xix–xx. See also Siskin, “Rise.” 7. I discuss Frei’s work in more detail in Ch. 2. 8. For my argument that histories of the novel have always included some kind of religious turn, see Seidel, “Beyond.” 272

Notes to Pages 8–16

273

9. Estimates are from Suarez, “Towards a Bibliometric” 48. See also Hume, who says “At no time between 1660 and 1750 did ‘literary’ books of any kind loom large in print culture” (39). 10. On the publication of Robinson Crusoe, see Hutchins; Maslen. On Baskett, see Ch. 3. 11. See Moretti’s essay “The Slaughterhouse of Literature,” Distant Reading, ch. 3. 12. This is a key insight of W. Warner, Licensing Entertainment, which I discuss in Ch. 2.

1 A Secular for Literary Studies 1. José Casanova helpfully distinguishes between “the secular” as a modern epistemic category, “secularization” as a historical process, and “secularism” as a moral outlook or political doctrine in “Secular, Secularizations, and Secularisms.” On the concept of “the secular,” see Asad, Formations 16, 62–66. 2. On secularism as a recipe for the good life today, see Levine. For essays on both moral and political forms of secularism, see Jakobsen and Pellegrini; Warner et al. On political secularism, start with the introduction to Saba Mahmood’s Religious Difference, where she argues that the increasingly precarious position of Coptic Christians in Egypt has far less to do with any inherent features of Islam than it does with secular modes of government: “modern secular governance has contributed to the exacerbation of religious tensions in postcolonial Egypt, hardening interfaith boundaries and polarizing religious differences” (1). See also Bhargava; Mahmood, Politics of Piety; Calhoun et al. 3. On secularization, see Casanova’s argument in Public Religions and “Public Religions Revisited” that religion changes with modernity not by fading away or becoming private but by separating itself from political and economic spheres and becoming a power in its own right. For a critique of this view of secularization, see Asad, “Secularism, Nation-State, Religion,” ch. 6 in Formations, and Casanova’s reply, “Secularization Revisited,” in Scott and Hirschkind. In “After Secularization?” Philip Gorski provides an excellent overview of the literature on secularization and usefully tilts the debate away from arguing about historical processes to investigating forms of secular political settlement, specifically those that govern “the proper boundaries and roles of religious and nonreligious institutions and actors across a variety of domains – education, social provision, marriage law, etc.” (76). 4. On the history of the concept of religion, see Asad, “Thinking about Religion” 37; “Reading a Modern Classic”; and ch. 1, “The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category,” in Genealogies 27–54. See also Masuzawa; Nongbri; and Ward.

274

Notes to Pages 16–21

5. For an excellent example of how concepts can be used to name dispositions, see Eric Hayot, especially ch. 8, where Hayot takes conventional concepts used to describe discrete literary periods and combines them to describe various responses to the modern world: eighteenth-century realism is about the “affirmation and conceptualization” of the world; nineteenth-century romanticism is about the “creation and destruction” of the world; and twentieth-century modernism is about the “negation and refusal” of the world. 6. On secularization as a method of grappling with one’s religious and secular inheritance, see Matthew Mutter’s incisive discussion of Wallace Stevens’s saying “The major poetic idea in the world is and always has been the idea of God” (qtd. in Restless Secularism 8). 7. In eighteenth-century studies, a classic example of stage-one secularization theory is Leslie Stephen’s English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, with its emphasis on the way Anglican theology towered over the intellectual landscape of the period by arraying itself against a tiny group of atheists. Carl Becker’s The Heavenly City, with its emphasis on the way philosophers unwittingly replicated the theological categories they were trying to avoid, is closer to stagetwo secularization theory. 8. On this point, see Asad, Formations 10–11, and Mahmood’s analysis in “Secularism, Hermeneutics, and Empire” of the cooperation between secular Muslim reformers and the US State Department, working together to promote liberal practices of Quranic interpretation in an effort to curb Islamic terrorism. 9. In drawing out the reparative elements of Talal Asad’s work, I am performing my own kind of reparative critique: Asad says that he became increasingly skeptical, while writing Formations, about secularism as a political project (Scott and Asad, “The Trouble of Thinking: An Interview with Talal Asad” 302). But the reparative elements can still be traced throughout his work: in Genealogies, Asad asks, “Must our critical ethnographies of other traditions in modern nation-states adopt the categories offered by liberal theory? Or can they contribute to the formulation of very different political futures in which other traditions can thrive?” (306). In Formations, Asad takes Walter Benjamin’s notion of the secular as a guide over and against Paul de Man’s notion because, for Benjamin, what we say about the world also participates in the world; it does not just point to the world: “The two approaches seem to me to have different implications for research as well as for politics” (65; cf. Scott and Asad, “Trouble of Thinking” 284). In his interview with Scott, Asad says that polite academic condescension toward traditional Islamic beliefs and practices is not enough: “This still seemed to me to foreclose the question of what one might learn about possible political futures from traditions other than the ones modernists and secularists recognized and revered as their own” (279).

Notes to Pages 22–23

275

10. For another good example of critique that is poised at the edge of stage two and anticipates some of the music of stage three by “opening the questions of whether critique itself is or must be secular,” see W. Brown’s introduction to Is Critique Secular?, edited by Asad et al. 11. Judaism does not fit easily in or out of the story that the West tells itself about its own secularization, and potentially instructive Jewish differences for thinking about the secular tend to get erased rather than remembered in discussions of so-called Judeo-Christian values or ideas. For an early attempt to widen secularization theory to include Judaism, see Sharot. For a Jewish rethinking of Charles Taylor’s distinction between immanence and transcendence, see Kavka. For a recent, wide-ranging collection of essays on Judaism and secularism, see Joskowicz and Katz. 12. On the Protestant shape of modern secularity, see Jakobsen and Pellegrini’s introduction (1–38); see also Levitt. 13. Here I have in mind Taylor’s account in Secular Age of the immanent counter-Enlightenment (371–74), where Friedrich Nietzsche would be a powerful forerunner of what I am calling the movement from stage two back to stage one: Nietzsche first exposes the way that the morality of his day roots itself in Judaism and Christianity; but then, instead of trying to discover a better theological tradition, he seeks to extirpate theology altogether and tap instead a pre-Christian, martial, aristocratic virtue. For examples of modernist attraction to pre-Christian paganism or, more specifically, to a non-post-Christian secular, see Mutter 16–22, 204–15. 14. John Milbank is wrongly accused of advocating a theological return to the Middle Ages, but he is deeply invested in rereading the premodern, medieval theological tradition in order to find a way through the gridlock of secular sociopolitical theory and what he calls “modern Christianity.” In the preface to the second edition of Theology and Social Theory, Milbank says the book was written in the middle of the Thatcherite era “out of the conviction that a theological vision alone could challenge the emerging hegemony of neoliberalism” (xi, emphasis mine). It’s the word alone that marks Milbank as a stage-two-to-stage-one secularization theorist. A stage-two-to-stage-three theorist, anticipating more reciprocity between religious and secular thought, would say that a theological vision could not by itself challenge the emerging hegemony of neoliberalism. Such a theorist would go on to show how theology and the other disciplines need one another to challenge that hegemony. 15. At the beginning of Secular Age, Taylor distinguishes his work from previous studies that focus on what he calls secularity 1, or “public spaces . . . allegedly emptied of God, or any reference to ultimate reality,” and from studies that focus on secularity 2, or “the falling off of religious belief and practice.” What

276

16. 17.

18.

19. 20.

21.

Notes to Pages 23–24 interests Taylor is secularity 3, or “the conditions of belief,” which he describes as the prior-to-thinking moral-intellectual frameworks or social imaginaries that condition our pursuits of fullness, whether we believe in God or believe in something else (2, 3, 5, cf. 19). The word conditions is carefully chosen because it suggests, positively, the moral and intellectual forces that make belief possible – like “the rolling level underneath . . . steady air” (to borrow Gerard Manley Hopkins’s phrase from “The Windhover”) that makes flight possible; the word conditions also suggests, negatively, the obstacles through which one must navigate in order to discover what Taylor calls different “itineraries” to fullness or to God (745). While throughout this book I describe ways that eighteenth-century fiction registers what Taylor calls secularity 3, what interests me more than the specifics of those conditions is how we relate to them as such. In other words, I am more interested in describing the kinds of attachment to the world that fiction forms or breaks than in using fiction to give a fuller account of the world or of secularity 3 per se. For a critique of Taylor’s notion of “fullness” as too religious, see Warner et al. 12n19. For Taylor’s defense of the term as a neutral, purposefully fuzzy concept applicable to secularists and religious believers, see Warner et al. 315–19. On the invention of “religion” in the West through colonial encounters with the non-West, see Masuzawa. For essays that criticize and partially remediate Taylor’s neglect of colonial history in the development of secularism, see Bhargava; Calhoun et al.; Warner et al. Taylor credits William Connolly’s engagement with his book explicitly in Warner et al. 319–20. Connolly worked out his response first as a 2008 blog post, “Belief, Spirituality, and Time”; this later appeared, with this same title, as ch. 5 of Warner et al. (126–44) and was then included with slight modifications as ch. 3 of Connolly, World of Becoming (68–92). See Connolly, Why I Am Not a Secularist, and his comments on the shortcomings of that book in World of Becoming 88. The distinction I am making between stage-two and stage-three secularization theory is very close to the distinction being made between the critical and postcritical. On the postcritical in literary studies, start with Rita Felski, “After Suspicion,” and then Sedgwick’s introduction to Touching Feeling; Felski, Uses of Literature; Felski, Limits of Critique; and Anker and Felski’s introduction to Critique and Postcritique. Nowhere does Felski suggest that literary scholars should stop being critical and learn to be postcritical instead, as if one could choose to be always suspicious or always affirming. Felski’s project is additive, calling critics to do more – to recognize the limits of critique and risk writing beyond those limits. Notable exceptions are Jager, Unquiet Things; Neuman; and Mutter.

Notes to Pages 25–39 22. 23. 24. 25.

26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

277

From a 1996 interview on the e-zine Word, reprinted in Max 139. From a 1997 Boston Phoenix interview, collected in Burn 72. On this point, see Seidel, “Beyond.” For additional examples of the better secularity I see happening on the third stage – where scholars are collaborating fruitfully across religious-secular identity differences in order to discover more about the world – see Hauerwas and Coles, especially their reading of the parable of the good Samaritan, 357–58; Asad’s discussion of “democratic sensibility” at the end of “Thinking about Religion” 56; Mahmood’s discussion of feminist politics in her introduction to Politics of Piety; and Calhoun’s discussion of “secular transcendence,” where he says, “I want to evoke the possibility of a transcendent experience of the beauty of the world that does not depend on fusion with something beyond the world but, rather, relies on the extent to which the world itself is beyond us” (357). The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was established in 1701 to coordinate the missionary work of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. See H. Thompson; Allen, Bird, and McClure. On the importance of the visual arts, see Morgan. Also fruitfully read alongside this scene is L. Schmidt. On mobilization as a joint venture between religious and secular authorities, see Taylor, Secular Age part I and especially ch. 2, “The Rise of the Disciplinary Society” 99–145. See Pecora’s introduction to Secularization and Cultural Criticism. Compare to Michael Warner’s criticism of a “common sense” view that “continues to hold as self-evident that secularism means governmental neutrality, that religion is a universal category of subjective belief, and that the two are locked in combat. These convictions distort any attempt in American studies, cultural studies, or elsewhere to confront such ultimate questions as finitude, mortality, nature, fate, and commonality” (“Secularism” 224).

2 The Bible, the Novel, and the Veneration of Culture 1. In their introduction to Critique and Postcritique, Elizabeth Anker and Rita Felski helpfully describe three generic elements of critique: its posture of “diagnosis,” by which critics take a “stance . . . of judicious and knowledgeable detachment” toward texts (4); its reliance on “allegory” to connect text and world (6); and its “strong investment in modes of self-reflexivity,” which critics habitually find in the texts that they study and return to in thinking through their own methods (8). 2. On the importance of discontinuous reading in the eighteenth century, see Bannet, Eighteenth-Century Manners.

278

Notes to Pages 39–48

3. On the history of severe, self-scrutinizing reading, see esp. J. Simpson, Burning. 4. Frei, Theology and Narrative 117–52. For an excellent, brief overview of Hans Frei’s life, work, and influence, see Placher’s introduction to Theology and Narrative 3–25. Frei’s essay “The ‘Literal Reading’ of Biblical Narrative in the Christian Tradition: Does It Stretch or Will It Break?” was first presented in 1983 at a conference called “The Bible and the Narrative Tradition,” where Harold Bloom and Frank Kermode were also presenters. An abridged version of the essay is included and discussed in The Return to Scripture in Judaism and Christianity: Essays in Postcritical Scriptural Interpretation, edited by Peter Ochs, first published by Paulist Press in 1993. For an insightful account of Frei’s work that draws out the theological implications of his persistent emphasis on theological method, see Springs, especially chs. 7 and 8, which work through Frei’s “Literal Reading” essay. 5. In a surprising, salutary move at the end of the essay, Frei says that Christians’ use of the “literal sense” in the future may depend on their learning to read with Jews: “The convergence of distinctness and commensurability between [the two religions] has yet to be discovered, and attention to Midrash and to the literal sense may play a significant part in the discovery” (Theology and Narrative 149). 6. For more on the importance of description, see Love’s insightful “Close but Not Deep.” 7. Williams takes up these questions in “The Literal Sense.” 8. For more information about the exhibit, cosponsored by the Bodleian Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library, see www.manifoldgreatness.org and the collection of essays edited by Moore and Reid. 9. Short-Title Catalog (STC) no. 2070. 10. For an uncritical celebration of the KJB as a sign of the greatness of the English language, see Daniell; of seventeenth-century English culture, see Nicolson. 11. On Lowth and the shift in the literary fortunes of the Bible during the 1760s, see Norton, History of the Bible as Literature (1993), vol. 2, chs. 2 and 3; or see Norton’s one-volume abridged but still richly exampled History of the English Bible as Literature (2000), chs. 10 and 11, 218–71, esp. 242ff; or Norton’s even shorter The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today 167. 12. See Blackwall, The Sacred Classics Defended and Illustrated (1725, 1731), a book that Belford credits in Richardson’s Clarissa (1747) as helping him to see the Bible as an “all-excelling collection of beauties” (1126). Norton briefly discusses both Blackwall and Belford in History of the English Bible, 209–10.

Notes to Pages 48–51

279

13. Unless noted otherwise, all quotations from the Bible in this book are from the modernized KJV, conveniently searchable and available online at www .biblegateway.com. 14. Were there room to do so in this chapter, one might explore connections between the advent of the English Bible as literature and the origins of professional, institutionalized study of English literature. See Court’s Institutionalizing English Literature: The Culture and Politics of Literary Study, 1750–1900. After providing a helpful summary of recent work on histories of the profession, Court situates the beginning of English literary studies in eighteenth-century debates between Adam Smith and Hugh Blair, the former advocating literary study as ethical preparation for the marketplace and the latter as an aesthetic formation of taste (17–38). 15. I borrow the museum image from the end of C. S. Lewis’s The Literary Impact of the Authorized Version, where he contends that if the Bible does not “return as a sacred book,” it will “follow the classics, if not quite into oblivion yet into the ghost-life of the museum and the specialist’s study” (60). 16. David Norton’s History of the Bible as Literature is less helpful in this regard because he takes old secularization theory for granted: he assumes “the decline of Christianity to effective non-existence for the majority of English-speaking people” (455). He is not attentive to the way secular categories of literature change over time, just to how notions of the Bible change. Yet Norton is so carefully and consistently nonpolemical, tracks so thoroughly the importance of the KJB in English literary discourse through the twentieth century, that his work could be read against the grain to see how influence runs in the other direction: for instance how the Bible lends to a changing notion of imaginative literature its associated religious practices, debates, modes of representation, and anticipated effects on readers. This would be the standard move of stage-two secularization theory: focusing on the “literature” of the “Bible as literature” as it changes, not just on the “Bible” side of the phrase. 17. Like Norton, Jonathan Sheehan assumes the truth of old secularization theory – namely, that history is moving in a progressively secular direction – but he does not write about the Bible in a polemical way. Sheehan’s main goal is to show how the Bible became newly authoritative insofar as it was thought to contain the beginnings of Western culture, but he does not often consider how the Bible and writing about the Bible constituted what we mean by “culture” in the first place. Sheehan starts to play those notes in sections near the end of Enlightenment Bible: “From the Cultural Bible to the Religion of Culture” (227–40), found at the end of ch. 8 on the cultural Bible in Germany, and in his discussion of “culture” in England found in ch. 9 (esp. 252–58).

280

Notes to Pages 52–62

18. In “New Historicisms,” Louis Montrose does not make this particular connection between culture and scripture, but he does helpfully describe a number of self-aware, paradoxical approaches to culture. 19. Ian Watt’s six attributes of “formal realism” in Rise (11–33) are as follows: (a) innovative, nontraditional plots that break from conventions of tragedy and comedy; (b) an emphasis on particulars over universals; (c) use of common names rather than allegorical or conventional ones; (d) delineation of time: more detailed chronological specificity, sharper awareness of difference between past and present; (e) description of space: more detailed description of physical environment; and (f) use of authentic language: more consistently referential rather than stylized. 20. For useful, nonsuperstitious accounts of Watt’s Rise and subsequent responses by critics, see Carnochan; Siskin. 21. One particularly excellent, recent example of this approach is Steven Moore’s two-volume The Novel: An Alternative History. 22. Recent works on the novel and religion in the twentieth century include McClure; P. Lewis; Hungerford; Pecora, Secularization without End; and Neuman. On the novel and the Bible in the nineteenth century, see Vance; Burstein. 23. See W. Warner, “Realist Literary History”; McKeon, “Defense”; W. Warner, “Taking Dialectic”; Rader, “Emergence”; McKeon, “Reply”; Rader, “Novel and History.” Michael McKeon also responds to his critics in the preface to the fifteenth-anniversary edition of Origins. For a balanced assessment of McKeon’s accomplishment and a survey of work that remains to be done on the novel, see J. P. Hunter, “McKeon and After.” 24. For Ricoeur’s description of this “threefold mimesis,” see Time and Narrative, vol. 1, ch. 3, 52–87, esp. 71–76. 25. See Felski’s “After Suspicion”; her introduction to Uses of Literature; and Limits of Critique, especially ch. 5, “Context Stinks.” On Latour, start with Felski, “Latour and Literary Studies”; then, for an introduction to actornetwork theory, see Latour, Reassembling. 26. For an example of scriptural beginnings used to justify racist thinking, see Samuel Stanhope Smith’s An Essay on the Causes of the Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species (1787), discussed in Kendi 113–15. See also Kidd ch. 4, 79–120; and J. K. Carter ch. 6, 255–84. 27. For Equiano’s ambiguous, sometimes complicit relationship to a Christian theological tradition that justifies slavery and white supremacy, see Jennings. 28. On the place of Equiano’s birth, see Carretta xiv–xv. 29. On this point, see my discussion in the introduction; J. P. Hunter, Before Novels; and Lynch and Warner, Cultural Institutions of the Novel.

Notes to Pages 63–70

281

30. As evidence for my suggestion that the realistic narrative Frei considered lost in the past is better understood as still to come in the novel, consider Frei’s deferential citation of Auerbach’s Mimesis (Eclipse vii) and his brief discussion of Henry Fielding, whose fiction points us, Frei says, to “the curious, unmarked frontier between history and realistic fiction” (Eclipse 150). Fielding’s way of drawing readers’ attention to the conventions of storytelling becomes a resource for Frei’s attending to the world-generating aspects of biblical narrative. Frei is sometimes mistakenly read as suggesting that we read the Bible as if it were a novel, but he is not trying to equate the Bible and fiction. The metaphor matters. He is interested in the frontier between fiction and scripture, and that is what I have set out to explore in Rethinking the Secular Origins of the Novel.

3 Sanctifying Commodity: The English Bible Trade around the Atlantic, 1660–1799 1. Robinson Crusoe page references in this section are to the Pickering and Chatto edition, edited by Owens. 2. I discuss Crusoe’s presentation of a Bible to Will Atkins in Chapter 1. 3. See the Pickering and Chatto edition of Farther Adventures, ed. Owens, 113–14. 4. For the chronology of Robinson Crusoe, see app. 2 (269–71) in the Oxford World’s Classics edition, ed. Keymer, which is based on Ganzel. The “prayer-book” mentioned in this passage in Farther Adventures, not mentioned in Crusoe’s previous descriptions of the Bibles, is almost certainly a Book of Common Prayer – an intriguing addition because the printing and use of the BCP was prohibited from 1645 to 1660 (D. Griffiths 106). Defoe likely includes it to purposefully, if anachronistically, allude to and conflate the activities of both the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), founded in 1698, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), founded in 1701. 5. Karl Marx uses the Bible as a primary example in “Metamorphosis of the Commodity,” in Capital, vol. 1, ch. 3, sec. 2A. 6. On “it-narratives” told from the perspective of coins in the eighteenth century and the perspective of Bibles and prayer books in the nineteenth century, see Price, “History of a Book” and Price, How to Do Things with Books, ch. 4, “ItNarrative and the Book as Agent.” 7. See, e.g., Gamble; Shuve. 8. Scott Mandelbrote says the Oxford Bible press “differed markedly from its learned counterpart,” and adds, “for all its apparent singularity and autonomy, though, it cannot be considered a wholly separate institution” (“Bible Press” 481). 9. On the ESTC, see note in App. 3.

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Notes to Pages 71–80

10. The Bible privilege of the royal printer in Scotland was of little consequence until sustained Bible printing operations began there in the 1670s (Mann 114–22). Similarly, in Ireland the 1609 patent was of little concern until George Grierson’s Bible printing in the 1730s (Pollard 2–10). 11. DMH refers to A. S. Herbert’s revision of Darlow and Moule’s Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture. See note 25 below on DMH. 12. For this claim by Joseph Athias, Alastair Mann refers to a “preface to a German-language Jewish Bible cited by Isaac le Long in Boek-zaal der Nederduytsche bybels (Amsterdam, 1732), 858 cited in Hoftijzer, Engelse boekverkopers, III” (92n86). Compare Black 460. 13. Gutch 270, qtd. in Carter and Buday 72n4; McMullin, “Bible Trade” 468. 14. W. Ford’s citations of the Usher records given throughout this chapter have been checked against the corrections in R. Thompson. 15. A similar role was played by Michael Sparke a generation earlier. He imported English Bibles printed in Holland during the 1630s (DMH 182). He was courted for a time by the Stationers’ Company to help tip the balance of the Bible trade away from the king’s printer (Blagden 30–40, 105). Sparke also exposed the monopolistic pricing practices of both sides in his pamphlet Scintilla. 16. For a recent, archive-rich, insightful account of John Fell and the Oxford Press, see Mandelbrote “Bible Press.” 17. See Defoe, Letters no. 164, 69, and 76. 18. On SPCK correspondents’ criticism of Baskett’s Bibles, see Mandelbrote, “Bible Press” 501. 19. Minion duodecimo Bibles are available for 3s., with the Common Prayer and Psalms at 3s. 9d. Nonpareil duodecimos are sold for 2s., and the Common Prayer and Psalms for 2s. 8d. 20. The last section of the proclamation points to the subject of controversy about who was responsible for the high prices of the Bible – the royal printer or the booksellers – and orders the royal printer or “patentees” to “print in the Title Page of each Book, the exact Price at which such Book is by them to be sold to the Booksellers” (“His Majesty’s Special Directions to the Bible Patentees”). 21. PRO B 11/718/463. This record is available at the National Archives (UK). 22. On the “remarkable possibilities and the limitations afforded by the ESTC,” see Suarez, “Towards a Bibliometric Analysis” 39–45. 23. For an excellent explanation of the different cataloging procedures of Wing, the STC, and DMH, see “Problems in Counting Editions of the Bible,” app. 2 of I. Green’s Print and Protestantism 673–77. See also B. J. McMullin’s study of the mixed sheets contained in several 1628 octavos with the same title page, where the title page does not signify two editions (as cataloged by the STC) or

Notes to Pages 80–91

24.

25.

26. 27.

28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35.

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five editions (DMH) but three “basic collections of sheets” (“The Bible and Continuous Reprinting” 261). In Print and Protestantism, Ian Green tabulates Bible catalog entries for the period 1530–1730 but leaves out Bibles printed in Scotland. Jim Mitchell tabulates ESTC Bible entries for 1700–1800, along with versions of the Psalms, but 100 Bible entries have been added to the ESTC since Mitchell published his 1985 article in Factotum (16). Both authors assume a direct correlation between extant editions and historical levels of production that sometimes dulls their analysis of the data. The extensive Bible Society collection provided the basis of Darlow and Moule’s Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture, published in two volumes in 1903 and 1911, respectively; the first volume lists Bibles in English, and the second lists polyglots and Bibles in languages other than English. The first volume was revised by A. S. Herbert and published in 1968 as the Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible (known as DMH), and is still widely respected for its near comprehension of Bibles in English and its descriptive details. See Amory’s “A Note on Statistics” (Amory and Hall 514–15). See also Tanselle 315–63. Richard J. Goulden generously shared his knowledge about chancery lawsuits related to the eighteenth-century book trade and pointed me to this particular Baskett lawsuit in the National Archive (PRO C 11/2011/9). Haig’s 1956 article “New Light on the King’s Printing Office” was one of the first to explore the labyrinth of chancery records for facts about printing history. The account begins with books gathered between Dec. 24, 1717, and Dec. 24, 1718. It ends with books gathered between Aug. 1, 1723, and Dec. 24, 1723. On “the number and range of surviving business records” for eighteenthcentury printing, “many of them rich in ore yet to be mined,” see Suarez, “Present and Future” 852. This is not to say that they should be. For a discussion of the ESTC, see Suarez, “Towards a Bibliometric” 39–40. Qtd. in W. Baxter, House 7, source not given. Boston News Letter, no. 1680, Thursday, Apr. 29, to Thursday, May 6, qtd. in W. Baxter, House 39–40n1. The bill is transcribed in Silver 32. For a good assessment of the possibility of printing the English Bible in colonial America, see J. Green, “The British Book in North America” 548. Summing up the trade in religious books between Kincaid and Hall, McDougall says, “In all, between 1764 and 1771, Kincaid sent 7500

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36. 37. 38.

39.

Notes to Pages 91–99 duodecimo Bibles, upwards of 1200 pocket Bibles and 11,000 Testaments, along with quarto Bibles and prayer books” – roughly twice the number of books of the same kind received by Hall from Watkins the previous decade (29). The only 18mo. Bibles listed in DMH from this period are 1764 and 1770, both by “A. Kincaid: Edinburgh.” American Philosophical Society, Hall papers, Hall to Strahan, Feb. 6, 1770, qtd. in McDougall 29. “Its uses were more than religious,” Amory says about the Bible, “necessarily so, as the bulk of the household’s printed possessions. It served as a primer, from which the mother taught her children to read, and as entertainment; Christian allegorizing could not abolish the literary value of Job, Jonah, Esther, or the Song of Songs” (“A Bible and Other Books” 63). On the Bible in America, see Gutjahr; Noll; Goff et al.

4 Prop of the State: Biblical Criticism and the Forensic Authority of the Bible 1. Luminaries of the common-law tradition such as John Selden (1584–1654) and Matthew Hale (1609–76) were known for their biblical learning as much as for their legal wisdom. Selden was renowned as a linguist whose massive study of judicial institutions among the ancient Hebrews, De synedriis et praefecturis juridicis veterum Ebraeorum (1650–55), was a scholarly search for models of government that would help resolve the contemporary impasse between sacred and secular authority in England. Selden’s mix of civic and religious wisdom was made widely available in his Table-Talk, published first in 1689 and then steadily through the twentieth century. Similarly, Hale’s History and Analysis of the Common Law of England provided the basic structure of William Blackstone’s famous Commentaries on the law for the nineteenth century (Cromartie). Hale also wrote a popular book of religious reflections, Contemplations Moral and Divine, and was made the subject of a flattering biography by Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury. 2. For example, Paul Lorrain, the ordinary of Newgate from 1700 until his death in 1719, describes how he preached sermons to the prisoners at Newgate chapel twice a day after prayers and Bible reading. He also describes talking with prisoners individually and exhorting each to confess the “facts” of his or her crime and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation: see, for example, Lorrain, Ordinary of Newgate, 1714, 1715, and 1719. 3. For studies of the ordinary accounts, see Linebaugh, “Ordinary”; Harris; Beattie, Policing 3n7.

Notes to Pages 99–126

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4. A facsimile of the Toleration Act printed in 1689 is included as an appendix in Grell et al. and hereafter cited in text as “Toleration.” 5. See M. Watts 221–62. On theories of toleration leading up to 1689, see Coffey, Persecution; Grell et al. For the consequences of toleration, see essays in J. Walsh et al. For essays on toleration from antiquity to the present, see Shiels. For an insightful history of the justifications for intolerance, see Goldie. 6. For judicious treatments of John Locke’s religious beliefs, see Marshall, Locke, Toleration; Wolterstorff; Marshall, Locke: Resistance. 7. On the scholarly context of Locke’s biblical scholarship, see Arthur William Wainwright’s excellent introduction to Locke, Paraphrase. On the influence of Locke specifically and biblical criticism generally in making authorial intention a primary subject of literary criticism, see M. Walsh. 8. In addition to Anthony Collins (1676–1729), the three other principal freethinking writers often discussed together are John Toland (1670–1722), Matthew Tindal (1657–1733), and Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713). See Leland; Rivers 2: 31–50. 9. For the exchange between Collins and William Whiston, see Frei, Eclipse 67–75. Frei discusses Collins’s A Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion and The Scheme of Literal Prophecy Considered as instrumental in moving the struggle between deists and orthodox “to the arena of fact claims” (67), making the literal meaning of the biblical text its ostensive reference (81–82). This begins the meaning-as-reference approach to scripture that Frei sees as obscuring an older assumption that meaning was found in the text itself, not outside it in the world or in the ideational scheme of the critic. 10. For debate between Pierre Allix and William Whiston, see Whiston’s A Collection of Small Tracts (1712). 11. All subsequent quotations, by volume and page number, are from Henry, Exposition. 12. On the diverse, international scope of learning “largely concealed” in Henry’s commentaries, see Scott Mandelbrote’s excellent archive-rich essay on the study and reading practices of the Henry family – Matthew, his father Philip, and his sister Sarah (“Family Bible” 49). 13. Like many of Henry’s metaphors of scripture, this one is borrowed. For other, older examples of the lamb and elephant metaphor, see I. Green, ch. 3.

5 Object of Intimacy: Devotional Uses of the Eighteenth-Century Bible 1. This representative Bible is a composite of two similar Bibles: one published by John Baskett at Oxford in 1728 and available through Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ESTC no. T222825), and the other published by John

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2.

3.

4.

5. 6.

7. 8.

Notes to Pages 129–31

Baskett at Oxford in 1726 and in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia (BS185 1726 .O8). Interleaved with this 1726 Bible are marriage and death records of the Russell, Newell, Honour, and Markley families of South Carolina, along with a list of enslaved persons given to Thomas B. Russell by his father on July 16, 1831. On the formation of the Book of Common Prayer, see Cummings’s introduction to The Book of Common Prayer: The Text of 1549, 1559, and 1662. For the bibliography of the BCP, see Griffiths. For an overview of its history, formation to influence, see Jacobs. On the BCP in the eighteenth century, see J. Gregory, “Prayer Book.” For eighteenth-century discussion of the church calendar, see Nelson, A Companion for the Festivals and Fasts, first published in 1703 and then regularly through the middle of the nineteenth century. On the literary influence of the BCP, see Targoff and especially the introduction to Rosendale. On England as a “confessional state” in the eighteenth century, see English Society by J. C. D. Clark, who contends that a civil society absolutely free of religion and free of government influence was nearly unimaginable at this point in history, when state-sanctioned religion was thought by most to be a precondition for, not an impediment, to civil society. Harry Stout uses unpublished sermon manuscripts to make a distinction between “regular” Sunday preaching in colonial America and “occasional” midweek preaching: the former focused on the salvation of souls but was less often published, the latter on the moral health of society and was more often published. On sermons in Parliament, see Caudle. On the role of sermons in the initial shaping of the English public sphere, see the especially insightful essay by Claydon. The data is taken in part from my own searches of the English Short Title Catalog but relies primarily on the statistical tables in the massive bibliography of printed sermons by John Gordon Spaulding. Spaulding’s work, as it says on the title page, is based on previous catalogs of “Records Compiled by John Cooke (1783), Sampson Letsome (1753), William Crowe (1668) and some Anonymous others (1734 and 1751) in consequence of an example set by earliest Keepers of Bodley’s Library at Oxford: Jean Vernevil (1637) and Thomas James (1635).” This is the passage that John Bunyan’s jailer uses to persuade him to submit to the magistrate and stop preaching, but Bunyan refutes him brilliantly, as I discuss in Ch. 6. The indexes in volume 1 of Spaulding’s Pulpit Publications are an admirable effort of categorization of sermon subjects.

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9. I have yet to find a study that tries to account for the factors that shape a minister’s choice of text for preaching. Most sermon studies focus on style and theme. See, e.g., Simon 1–148; Downey; Reedy 88–151. In Ecclesiastes: Or, a Discourse Concerning the Gift of Preaching, an influential guide to the preparation of sermons, John Wilkins recommends a methodical rather than exegetical approach to preaching; that is, instead of preaching through a particular book of the Bible, the pastor should organize his sermons topically, in order to introduce parishioners to the chief points of divinity (117). 10. I found no textual discrepancies between the marginalia on the microfilmed 1728 quarto pages and the same pages in the 1726 quarto cited above in n1. 11. Martin Battestin’s account of the eighteenth century emphasizes the importance of general ideas about providence, harmony, order, and design, whereas Jonathan Lamb’s account of the period, focused as it is on Job, valorizes “a vigilance in the face of particulars whose significance is not decided” (43). In Empiricist Devotions, Courtney Weiss Smith finds a practice of “occasional meditation” at work in religious, scientific, political, and literary discourse, whereby particular observations about the physical world could be connected by analogy to larger systems of meaning but in a way that was “often playful and plural, always provisional and unsystematic” (9). Smith’s contribution is to show eighteenth-century writers holding their general notions loosely, subject to revision in the light of new observations and new analogical connections. Similarly, Jonathan Sheehan says, “The Enlightenment Job was a book and a figure that neither dismissed God nor inflated man’s capacities. It did not put metaphysics above experience or try to philosophize a new religious life into existence. Rather, it made the very difference between the providential order of things, and our experience of the world’s injustices, evils, and disorders, into a generative principle of its own, out of which might come something new and unforeseen” (“Suffering Job” 18). 12. Samuel Richardson’s Meditations include Clarissa’s compositions of biblical extracts and his own editorial commentary, situating each meditation in the novel and summarizing Clarissa’s spiritual recovery and growth. Leah Price points out that Clarissa’s anthologizers follow the same pattern: extracting wise, pithy sentiments from the novel and embedding them in editorial commentary (Anthology 26). 13. For Ussher’s chronological work in its political and theological context, see A. Ford. On the surprising intellectual rigor and international scholarly interdependence involved in early studies of biblical chronology, see Mandelbrote, “Doors Shall Fly Open.”

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Notes to Pages 144–60

14. Robinson Crusoe turns to the same psalm in his tobacco-induced stupor. See the first few pages of Ch. 7. 15. All citations are to Allestree. There are 155 entries in the ESTC for Whole Duty published steadily between 1658 and 1800, and this does not include its modified versions printed with different titles or its various translations into other languages. An important predecessor to the Whole Duty is Bayly’s Practice of Piety, first published in 1612, with more than 120 catalog entries up until 1730 and a few more until the end of the century. 16. On the negative theological consequences of reading the Bible in an exclusively imperative mood, and for a sense of how to read the Bible and tradition in indicative, interrogative, subjunctive, and optative moods, see D. Ford, esp. 71–83. 17. The phrase framed the worlds by his word is from Heb. 11.3, a verse listed in the marginal cross-references for our representative 1728 Bible and Blayney’s 1769 Bible. Interestingly, Rom. 4.17 is not listed, so in making that connection, Anton Wilhelm Böhm is going past what is listed in the cross-references of a typical Bible.

6 Traveling Papers: Pilgrim’s Progress and the Book 1. All textual citations for Pilgrim’s Progress part 1 and part 2, including marginalia, are from John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to that Which Is to Come, edited by Wharey and Sharrock. For an exegesis of this opening passage attentive to the biblical references in the margins, see Hancock. 2. See C. S. Lewis, “The Vision of John Bunyan,” 197–98. 3. For a narrower imagined readership, confined to those distressed by Calvinist doctrines of predestination and anxious about their salvation, see Iser 1–28. 4. In my reading, Pilgrim’s Progress offers not only what Stanley Fish calls the “wisdom of self-distrust” (264) but rest from such distrust as well. 5. For a classic example of this approach, see Sharrock. 6. Coleridge 801. Coleridge’s comment serves as a gathering point for debate in Keeble, John Bunyan. 7. For the idea that the imagined and actual circulation of a text shapes a public, see M. Warner, Publics and Counterpublics 91–92, cited and briefly discussed in Hofmeyr, Portable Bunyan 25. For a further, extended example of how one African writer takes advantage of Bunyan’s circulation, see Hofmeyr, “The Pilgrim’s Progress as World Literature.” For recent work on reception history, see K. Simpson, as well as Greaves 610–34. 8. A second edition of part 1 was also published in 1678, and a third edition in 1679. For its early publication history, see Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress xxxvi– lxxi and Harrison.

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9. The Wiseman passage, added to the second edition, runs from “Now as Christian . . .” (Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress 16) to “. . . the way which he left to follow Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel” (25). 10. On this identification of the book and the burden, along with an insightful discussion of how Bunyan ultimately sought in Pilgrim’s Progress “to show that reading and interpreting the Bible can be a pleasant occupation,” see Haskin 277. My argument is that Bunyan’s ambition is to make reading and interpreting other books, his own book in particular, a pleasant occupation. 11. For J. B. Wharey’s case that Bunyan was responsible for changes made to the second and third editions, see Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress xcvii. 12. On the cooperation of religion and morality in eighteenth-century Anglican thought, see Rivers, vol. 1; on the separation of morality from religion, see Rivers, vol. 2. 13. Q is the hypothetical source of the sayings of Jesus common to the gospels of Matthew and Luke but not found in Mark. 14. For a thorough account of biblical criticism in the long eighteenth century and its influence on later philosophical ethics, see Reventlow. 15. See, e.g., commentary on Gal. 3 in Luther. This English version seems closest among extant versions to the one that Bunyan mentions with such affection: “I do prefer this book of Mr. Luther upon the Galathians, (excepting the Holy Bible) before all the books that ever I have seen, as most fit for a wounded Conscience” (Grace Abounding 41, sec. 130). 16. For the descriptions of God and the Bible, see Locke, Reasonableness 153; for his description of conscience, see his “Letter Concerning Toleration” in Locke, Two Treatises of Government, and; A Letter Concerning Toleration 241. 17. For a careful account of the date of composition of Pilgrim’s Progress, see Greaves 218–20. 18. On county assizes, see Beattie, Crime 314–99. 19. 35 Eliz. c. 1 sentenced “any person who attended any unlawful assembly, conventicle, or meeting to be imprisoned without bail until he conformed and submitted in the parish church” (Bunyan, Grace Abounding 157n319). This law was not overturned until the Act of Toleration in 1689. 20. For the data on printed sermons, see App. 3, which combines ESTC entry numbers with the data compiled in Spaulding. 21. Romans 13.1–7, King James Version. Subsequent passages from the Bible are quoted from this version. 22. For the passport motif in African literature inspired by Bunyan, see Hofmeyr, Portable Bunyan 137–72. 23. Compare Isabel Hofmeyr’s brief discussion in Portable Bunyan of how African writers operate in a “para-literate environment where documents were both a source of religious authority and form of colonial control” (40).

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Notes to Pages 169–85

24. For the summer parlor, see Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress 191; for Gaius’s Inn, 259; and for Mr. Mnason’s House, 273–77. 25. See Amory, “A Bible and Other Books.” 26. Looking at translations of Psalm 16.11 in the Geneva version of the Bible, the Sternhold and Hopkins metrical Psalter, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer Psalter, and the Bay Psalm Book fails to turn up anything closer than the phrasing in the Authorized Version of Psalm 16.11 above. 27. See Thickstun; Swaim, “Mercy”; Schellenberg; Breen. 28. See Ruth 1.16 and, e.g., Exod. 6.7, Lev. 26.12, Jer. 30.22, Ezek. 36.28, and Rev. 21.3. 29. Other foods that represent the experience of Bible reading include the “Pomegranate,” “Honey-comb,” and “little Bottle of Spirits” (Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress 216) that the Interpreter gives to Christiana when she leaves his house, and the “Lamb, with the accustomed Sauce,” that the Porter serves in his lodge at the Palace Beautiful (221). 30. This is the scene that so offended the literary and religious sensibilities of Alfred Noyes in 1928. See Noyes 13–17 and Hofmeyr’s discussion in Portable Bunyan 225–26. 31. See Comber and, reprinted throughout the eighteenth century, Vickers. 32. On Pilgrim’s Progress and the novel, see McKeon, Origins 295–314, and Wall, “Bunyan.”

7 Surprised by Providence: Robinson Crusoe as Defoe’s Theory of Fiction 1. Some examples include Backscheider 417; J. P. Hunter, Reluctant Pilgrim 158–60; McKeon, Origins 317–18; Starr 110–11; Watt 76. 2. See Watt 130; J. P. Hunter, Reluctant Pilgrim 210; Richetti, Popular Fiction 13–18; Richetti, Defoe’s Narratives 23; McKeon, Origins 319; Richetti “Secular Crusoe.” Compare Seidel, “Beyond.” 3. For Defoe’s reputation in print before he begins writing novels, see William Payne, which includes a descriptive bibliography of 165 early eighteenthcentury pamphlets (arranged alphabetically by title) that mention Defoe by name, initials, or the title of one of his works. See also Downie and Rogers. Although Payne lists pamphlets published as late as 1731, he says that Charles Gildon’s pamphlet is the only one that talks about Defoe’s novel. My discussion that follows includes Gildon’s pamphlet and all the other extant responses to Crusoe that I have been able to find. 4. Michael McKeon’s criticism of Defoe’s fiction too often reduces it to the cultural formation that Defoe represents in McKeon’s thesis (i.e., naive empiricism), but McKeon nowhere credits Defoe’s fiction for helping him

Notes to Pages 185–207

5.

6. 7.

8. 9.

10. 11.

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discern the naivety of empiricism in the first place. Insofar as my analysis of Defoe’s prefaces disproves McKeon’s particular reading, it confirms his general insight about the connections between the discourses of truth and virtue. Many modern editions print the line as whoever thinks, reproducing the error of the first edition, which makes the meaning of the line impossible to untangle. The error was corrected to however thinks in the second edition of 1719 and remained so in subsequent early editions. It is also worth noting that the phrase all such things are dispatched was changed in the third edition to all such things are disputed. Perhaps the editor had changed his mind in regard to debates about historicity: such things are not easily dispatched or resolved but remain disputed and controversial. See Wesley a2. Crusoe garners a little sympathy for the great adversary when he describes the devil’s work around the world: “It would take up a long Tract by itself, to form a System of the Devil’s Politicks, and to lay down a Body of his Philosophy” (Defoe, Serious Reflections 243). This is something that Defoe does some years later in Political History of the Devil. On Defoe’s relationship to Harley, see Backscheider, esp. 343–45; and Novak, Daniel Defoe, esp. 242–46. “The Storm” was first published in Defoe, Elegy (1704); it was also included in Defoe, Second Volume (1705) and in the first volume of an anthology titled A Collection of the Best English Poetry (1717). On the appearance of these lines in works by Defoe, see George Starr’s editorial note in Defoe, Serious Reflections 330n253. Starr makes almost this same connection at the very end of his introduction to Defoe, Serious Reflections 47. On Defoe’s “ethics of uncertainty,” see Codr; on the importance of chance, unintended encounters, see Macpherson and Defoe, Serious Reflections 191–92.

8 Resilient to Narrative: Clarissa after Reading 1. On the relation between the act of rape and its intention, and the contradictory attempts in legal history to foreclose or fix that relation, regardless of consent, see Ferguson. 2. On the reception history of Clarissa, see Flynn and Copeland; Bueler. In Clarissa’s Ciphers, Terry Castle reads for Clarissa against the author; in Reading Clarissa, William Warner reads for Lovelace against both Clarissa and the author; and in Richardson’s Clarissa, Tom Keymer reads for Richardson. It is worth noting that Keymer’s description of the demands that Richardson places on his readers could serve equally well as a description of the typical demands placed on

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3. 4. 5.

6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

12.

13. 14.

Notes to Pages 207–22 devotional readers of the Bible: Keymer says the book enhances the reader’s “competence to understand, judge and negotiate the actual experience of living in the world. . . by first requiring him to make sense, from his own resources, of a correspondingly exacting text” (Keymer, Richardson’s Clarissa xviii). On this point, see Moi, “Nothing Is Hidden,” 35. For a good example that also discusses Clarissa’s use of the Bible see Jost, Prose Immortality, ch. 4. This is the bind that Foucault criticizes and grapples with in The History of Sexuality. I have found Philip Rieff’s definition of culture provocatively clear: “Every culture has two main functions: (1) to organize the moral demands men make upon themselves into a system of symbols that make men intelligible and trustworthy to each other . . . [and] (2) to organize the expressive remissions by which men release themselves, in some degree, from the strain of conforming to the controlling symbolic” (Rieff 232–33). One can find an analogous definition of culture, in terms of a system of mobility and constraint, in Stephen Greenblatt’s essay “Culture,” in Lentricchia and McLaughlin. See Sedgwick, Touching Feeling and Foucault, History of Sexuality, vol. 3. The quotation is given in Sherbo 139, citing McKillop 27. See Sherbo. Robert Nelson’s Companion for the Festivals and Fasts of the Church of England was first published in 1704. A “twenty-eighth edition” was published in 1800 (ESTC no. N32141). References are to Richardson, Pamela, edited by Keymer and Wakely. Pamela was writing within a well-established tradition of accommodating the Hebrew psalms to modern English morals, a practice that Isaac Watts commends in the preface to his collection of psalms and hymns, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, first published in 1719 and then in numerous editions during the rest of the century. Sally to Clarissa upon picking up her Bible: “Mrs. Rowland tells me she has got you a Bible book. . . I make no doubt but you have doubled down the useful places, as honest Matt Prior says. . . . Ay, so you have – The Book of Job! One opens naturally here, I see – My mamma made me a fine Bible scholar. – Ecclesiasticus too! – That’s Apocrypha, as they call it – You see, Miss Horton, I know something of the book” (1061). See Leah Price’s discussion of the Meditations in Anthology, 24–27. One could link my spatial metaphor of thresholds to Cynthia Wall’s insight about apperception in Clarissa – that is, how often Clarissa strains to describe what is happening beyond the rooms where she is confined: “The occupied space often visually disappears in the strain to apperceive surrounding space” (Prose of Things, 145). The descriptively detailed Bible scene I focus on in this

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chapter obviously does not disappear, but it is the exception that proves the rule. Clarissa’s habit of apperception arguably stays with her after she escapes, but it finds a larger compass in her rounds through the churches of London. Perhaps this circuit of prayer services becomes the grid through which she apperceives the city as a whole. 15. Sidney sends her letters to Cecilia in batches, which she sometimes worries are too large: “already of an unconscionable size for the post” (Sheridan, Conclusion 186). At twenty-one pages, dated Mar. 12, Sidney’s account of the clergyman Mr. Price and his daughter Miss Price is the longest single letter from Sidney to Cecilia. Most letters range from less than half a page to two pages. The only longer letter is Faulkland’s written account of Mrs. Gerrarde’s history, which Sidney includes in her Dec. 16 letter to Cecilia (Memoirs 215–52). 16. Sidney is likely referring to Miss Burchell. 17. My reflections in this last paragraph on Bidulph owe a great deal to Macpherson’s in Harm’s Way.

9 Breaking Down Shame: Narrating Trauma and Repair in Tristram Shandy 1. All citations are by volume, chapter, and page number from Sterne, Tristram Shandy, Penguin, 2003. 2. See Gary Saul Morson’s helpful discussion of defamiliarization or “bestrangement” (x) in his introduction to Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays, edited by Lemon et al., a collection that includes translations of Victor Shklovsky’s essays “Art as Technique” as well as “Sterne’s Tristram Shandy,” where Shklovsky reads Tristram Shandy as supremely self-conscious about its form, a novel about novels. 3. See Fanning, “On Sterne’s Page,” for ways that the idiosyncratic features of the printed pages of Tristram Shandy reinforce silence between the book and the reader. See Fanning, “Sterne and Print Culture,” for ways that they reinforce the gap between the book and the author. For features of the printed pages of eighteenth-century fiction more generally, see Barchas. 4. On Vauban and the science of fortification at the beginning of the eighteenth century, its reliance on maps and scale models, see Anders Engberg-Pedersen, who argues that “Sterne deploys contingency as a satirical device against the theory of fortification, as a prism that twists military theory out of shape in a wild refraction,” but “after 1800 contingency becomes a centerpiece of military thought” (45). 5. See Baird and especially Patrick for detailed, useful chronologies of Tristram Shandy. 6. Many editions of Tristram Shandy include a glossary for terms of fortification.

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Notes to Pages 236–47

7. In “The Literature of Whiggism and the Politics of War,” chapter 6 of his book Sterne, the Moderns, and the Novel, Thomas Keymer notices the many wars invoked by Tristram Shandy, from the reading-time war of 1756–63, to the “bowling-green war of 1702–1713” to “Toby’s original trauma when fighting in Ireland and Flanders in 1689–97” to England’s civil war of the 1640s (191). 8. See Keymer, who argues that Toby’s physical wound heals but the “mental damage” he suffers in war does not (Sterne 210). 9. On trauma theory, see Caruth; LaCapra; Alexander; and Hirsch. 10. For a good example, see Kansteiner. 11. See also Keymer, Sterne, ch. 6. 12. See Sterne, Letters 127 and Sermons 32.309; Keymer, Sterne 185, 213. 13. Qtd. in Ross 31. The last phrase is used almost verbatim in Tristram Shandy 6.26.365–66 to describe Toby. 14. Qtd. in Howes 66–67; cf. C. Watts 71. 15. Ross 9; Anderson 212ff. 16. For an especially insightful essay on this passage, see Harries, who follows the allusion to John 6.13 and the feeding of the five thousand (“Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost” [KJV]). Elizabeth Harries describes the formal implications of this biblical allusion for Sterne’s generous, comedic vision of life. 17. On Sterne’s Political Romance, see Ross 189–96. 18. The advent of British Empire and the origins of American empire both circle around the year 1759, the year that secretary of state William Pitt orchestrated a series of surprising victories over the French that turned the tide of the Seven Years’ War, the same year that saw the publication of the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy. See McLynn; C. Watts; and, for the advent of American empire, Fred Anderson, who argues that two massive pillars of American identity – appetite for a more geographically expansive empire and enmity toward Native Americans – were established well before the Revolutionary War, not after it. 19. On affect more generally, see “Shame and the Cybernetic Fold: Reading Silvan Tomkins,” Sedgwick’s intro to the selection of Tomkins’s writings, Shame and Its Sisters; that intro is reprinted as ch. 3 of Sedgwick’s Touching Feeling. On affect theory as a way out of the “repressive-expressive” bind that dominates so much critique, a way of trying to make good on the promise of Foucault, see the introduction to Touching Feeling (esp. p. 11) and ch. 4, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading.” For the quarrel over affect, start with Brian Massumi’s “The Autonomy of Affect” in his Parables for the Virtual (23–45) and Leys. For an overview of affect theory, see Gregg and Seigworth; Felski and Fraiman; and Figlerowicz.

Notes to Pages 247–58

295

20. On the connections between positive affect, shame, and self-consciousness, see Tomkins, Shame and Its Sisters 137–39. 21. I discuss the postcritical turn in literary studies more fully in Chapters 2 and 5. Affect theory has been important to that turn because it challenges the assumption that human beings are motivated exclusively by drives seeking gratification (expression) and systems of thought seeking to control those drives and put them to use (repression). 22. Sedgwick’s reading of A Sentimental Journey in ch. 4 of her book Between Men is a strong example of what she would later call “paranoid reading”: a focused, steady exposure of the patriarchal assumptions at work in Sterne’s second novel. I wonder how she might have read A Sentimental Journey after her turn to affect. 23. On Sterne’s seeming sociality, see Virginia Woolf’s preface to the 1928 Oxford edition of Sentimental Journey. One could make a case that Tristram’s narrative voice is a composite of his father Walter and his uncle Toby, so minimally relational in that sense and not entirely egoistic. 24. For an excellent, recent biblical commentary that does not avoid or explain away these difficulties, see Matties. For the history of the book of Exodus as a manual for revolutionary politics, see Walzer; Said, “Michael Walzer’s ‘Exodus and Revolution’”; Boyarin; Hart; and Coffey, Exodus. For criticism of such politics from a Native American perspective, see Warrior. 25. For an account of eighteenth-century thought as arrayed against the deists, see Leslie Stephen. 26. On Waterland specifically, and Sterne’s theology and theological sources more generally, see New 1–55. 27. The book of Joshua has been used for contending visions of the modern Israeli state: a secular Zionism that emphasizes Joshua’s role as conqueror of Canaan and a secular anti-Zionism that emphasizes coexistence with the people of Canaan, as shown by the archeological record and hinted at by verses in Joshua that say the conquest was never complete.

Conclusion 1. The Oxford Socratic Club speech was given in 1944. C. S. Lewis stepped back from this particular argument for Christianity later in his fiction. See Puddleglum’s speech in defense of the reality of the sun in ch. 12, “The Queen of the Underland,” in Lewis’s The Silver Chair (1953), one of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

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Index

actor-network theory, 37, 59, 62, 211 affect theory, 236, 247–248, 251, 253, 294n19 allegory, 158; in biblical interpretation, 41; in Bunyan’s fiction, 158–159, 163, 173; in critical theory, 38, 277n1; in Richardson’s fiction, 214; in Sterne’s fiction, 240, 255; of novelistic fiction in Defoe’s Farther Adventures, 29; of political obligations under common law in Matthew Henry’s commentary, 118; of political secularism in Defoe’s Farther Adventures, 28 Allestree, Richard. See Whole Duty of Man American Bible Society, xi Amory, Hugh, 92 Aristotle, 135, 137; Physics, 136; Poetics, 136 Arnold, Matthew, 19 Asad, Talal, 274n9; Formations of the Secular, 21–22, 49, 101, 102; Genealogies of Religion, 20 atheism, 189, 195 Athias, Joseph, 72, 79 Auerbach, Erich: Mimesis, 19–20, 62 Augustine, Saint, 47, 135, 136, 174, 180 AV (Authorized Version). See Bible, King James Bacon, Francis: The New Atlantis, 123 Barker, Christopher, 70 Barker, Robert, 46, 71 Baskett, John, 46, 70, 75–79, 87, 125; print runs of the Bible, 8, 81–82 Baskett, Mark, 90 Baskett, Thomas, 79, 91 BCP. See Book of Common Prayer (BCP) behemoth, 140 benefit of clergy, 98 Best, Stephen. See reading: surface Bible: and New Historicism, 49–53; as literature, 49; Enlightenment, 49; everyday, 134; Geneva, 71; holiday, 133; King James. See Bible, King James; religious, 45; Renaissance, 51; secular, 45; Sunday, 133; vinegar, 46; wicked, 71

Bible as physical object, 125–126; bound with Book of Common Prayer, 129–130; in Cambridge University library, 80, 129; cross-references in margin, 143–145; duodecimo or common, 92, 118; folios, 92; line breaks, 140; printed page of text, 140–142, 211; quarto, 80, 92, 118, 125–126; whole book v. printed page of text, 211 Bible as physical object in fiction, 4, 262–264; Clarissa, 202; Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 30; Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph, 223, 228; Millenium Hall, 120; Pilgrim’s Progress, 4, 157, 161; Robinson Crusoe, 67, 179; Tom Jones, 10; Tristram Shandy, 231–232, 242–243 Bible passages: Gen, 104, 161; Gen 10, 143; Ex, 20.14, 46; Josh 2, 36; Josh 5, 243; Josh 6, 119, 231, 242; Josh 6.20–21, 256; Sam, 141; 1 Sam 25, 36; Kings, 141; 1 Kings, 18, 111; Chron, 141; 1 Chron 1, 143; Job, 108, 224, 287n11; Job 1.1–7, 140; Job 38.3, 143; Job 39.11–42.17, 140; Job 40. 7–8, 143; Job 41.11, 144; Job 42, 137; Job 42.6–7, 222, 223; Ps, 98; Ps 2.4, 111; Ps 24.2, 144; Ps 38.4, 154; Ps 50.12, 144; Ps 50.15, 179; Ps 50.16, 183; Ps 51.4, 143; Ps 116, 220; Ps 119.105, 266–267; Ps 122.6–9, 266–267; Prov 20.27, 258; Ecc 8.2–3, 117; Ecc 9.13–16, 117; Ecc 10.4–8, 118; Ecc 12. 7–13, 153; Isa, 141; Isa 64.6, 157; Jonah, 111, 187, 198; Hab 2.2, 157; Zech 3.4, 166; Wis 133, 220; Ecclus\Sir, 133; Matt 5.17, 122; Matt 6.9–13, 266–267; Matt 11.28–30, 266–267; Mark 2.5, 166; Luke 10, 36; Luke 14.33–, 157; Luke 15. 11–32, 198; Luke 22.54–60, 19, 198; Acts, 2.8, 215; Acts 16.31, 157; Rom 3.4, 144; Rom 4.17, 149; Rom 8.2, 122; Rom 13.1, 118; Rom 13.1–7, 165, 266–267; Cor 10.26, 144; Eph 1.13, 166; 1 Tim 2, 45; 1 Pet 2.13, 104; Rev, 141 Bible prices, 73, 74, 77, 78, 79, 90, 282n20 Bible reading: for application, 150, 152; for connection to others, 61, 189; exit problems, 150–153; ideal v. actual, 132; for individual

320

Index morality, 142, 160–163, 189; for legal facts, 163–168; according to “Plain Directions,” 148–150; for proofs of origins, 60; reentry problems, 145, 150–153; to stop time, 151; temporalities and times, 134, 150; and theology, 151; verse at a time, 222; according to The Whole Duty of Man, 146–148 Bible trade, 70, 118, 268–271; to America, 92; Amsterdam, 71–73, 76, 79, 87; and book trade, 82; Boston, 89; Cambridge, 75, 76, 87; colonial, 87; Dublin, 77, 87; Edinburgh, 75, 87; London, 75, 85, 87; monopoly of, 75, 77, 87; other cities, 87; Oxford, 70, 75, 84, 87; popularity, estimated from extant editions, 79–80; production levels, actual print runs, 72, 79, 82; production levels, estimated from extant editions, 79–80; provincial, 87–90; with royal privilege, 71, 75–79, 84; without royal privilege, 84 Bible, intimate, 259; Clarissa’s, 202, 219–221; Mary Rowlandson’s, 169; in Pilgrim’s Progress, part 2, 168–175, 178; Uncle Toby’s in Tristram Shandy, 231–232; Widow Wadman’s in Tristram Shandy, 242–243; Will Atkins’s in Farther Adventures, 32. See also Bible, political; Bible, social Bible, King James (KJB), 71; anniversary commemoration of, 400th, 44–47; as literature, 49; myths of, 47, 48; scholarly editions, 48 Bible, political, 118, 259; civil, 33; independent law of, 121; to Iroquois leaders, presented by Queen Anne, 93; and legal history, 96–97; as prop of state, 31, 107–112, 256; as wax nose, 256. See also Bible, intimate; Bible, social Bible, social, 259; in advertisements, 89; as charity, 77, 118; as commodity, 68, 87–90; as cultural Bible, 49–51; devotional, 32; as individual law of morality, 102–107; as luxury good, 89, 118; translated by missionaries, 93. See also Bible, political; Bible, intimate Bill, John, 71 Blackmore, Richard: Paraphrase on the Book of Job, 48 Blake, William, 193 Blayney, Benjamin, 48, 143 bluestockings, 123 Böhm, Anton Wilhelm, 148 Boileau-Despréaux, Nicolas, 48 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), 32, 70, 75, 93, 99, 126, 213, 281n4, 286n2; bound with Bible, 129–130; Clarissa as better version of, 216–218; Pamela as better version of, 216–218 Branch, Lori, xi, 159 British and Foreign Bible Society library, 80

321

Bunyan, John, 196, 200; Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, 157, 159; Pilgrim’s Progress, 53, 95, 101; part 1, 160–168, 177; part 2, 168–175; “Relation of My Imprisonment,” 164 Burke, Edmund, 96 Byng, Admiral John, 240 Cambridge History of the English Novel, 55 Canne, John, 71 Capra, Frank, 249 Casanova, José, 15 Chandler, James, 249 Chiswell, Richard, 73 Christianity, 21, 36, 43, 51, 122, 140 Clarissa. See under Richardson, Samuel Cleland, John, 251 clergy, portrayal of, 228 Cohen, Ralph, xi Coke, Sir Edward, 96; Institutes of the Laws of England, 121 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 159 Coles, Romand, 36 Collins, Anthony, 94, 118, 120, 122; Concerning Ridicule and Irony, 110–112; Discourse of FreeThinking, 107–109; Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion, 109–110 Colonel Jack. See under Defoe, Daniel Conclusion of the Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph, 224 Connolly, William, 23–24, 25, 26. See also mundane transcendence Cooper, Anthony Ashley. See Shaftesbury, 3rd Earl of Cranmer, Thomas, 217 cross-references in Bible, 143–145 culture, 37, 58, 61, 211, 292n5; as the arts, 53; and Bunyan studies, 159; as controlling and releasing order in Clarissa, 209; as largely unconscious values of a civilization, 53; as minority cultures, 53; as sacred text, 52, 210; as ultimate context in novel studies, 58–59 Cummings, Brian, 130 Daniel, Roger, 72 Dante, Alighieri, 19, 203 Darnton, Robert, 68, 69 Defoe, Daniel, 152; Family Instructor, 180, 196; Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 26, 35, 119, 183, 184, 187, 249, 255; History of Colonel Jack, 185; Journal of the Plague Year, 32; letters to Harley about Bible monopoly, 75; Moll Flanders, 32, 185, 228; prefaces to his fiction, 226; Robinson Crusoe, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of, 53, 67, 95, 179, 198, 233, 260; print runs compared to the Bible, 8;

322

Index

Roxana, 32, 185; Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe, 34, 191–199; Shortest Way with the Dissenters, 180; “The Storm,” 196 Dickens, Charles, 249 Discourse Concerning Ridicule and Irony in Writing, A. See under Collins, Anthony Discourse of Free-Thinking, A. See under Collins, Anthony Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion, A. See under Collins, Anthony DMH, Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible, eds. Darlow, Moule, and Herbert, 79, 80, 283n25 domestic circuit, 168 Don Quixote, 193 Dryden, John, 184 Dunton, John, 73 Eagleton, Terry, 53 Early English Prose Fiction (EEPF), 4, 10, 262 Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO), 8, 9, 264–265 Eighteenth-Century Fiction (ECF), 4, 9, 10, 262 Eisenstein, Sergei, 249 endings, 25 English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC), 8, 70, 82–87, 268–269; production levels of Bible estimated from extant editions, 79–80 Equiano, Olaudah, 37, 60–61, 145 ESTC. See English Short-Title Catalog everyday Bible, 134 exit problems, 150–153, 222, 260 Eyre, Charles, 78, 90 Eyre, John, 78 Family Instructor, The. See under Defoe, Daniel Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, The, 180, See also under Defoe, Daniel Feather, John, 87 Fell, John, 72, 73 Felski, Rita, 39, 40, 59, 129 Female Quixote, The, 228 Fielding, Henry: Shamela, 218; Tom Jones, 10 Filmer, Robert, 97; Patriarcha, 103 Fletcher, Miles, 71 focalization, 25, 29, 204 Folger Shakespeare Library, 45 formal realism, 2 Formalism, 7, 43, 59 Fort St. Philip’s in Minorca, siege of, 240 Foucault, Michel, 41, 210 Franklin, Benjamin, 91 Freebairn, Robert, 76

freethinkers, 109. See also Collins, Anthony Frei, Hans, 44, 145, 207; Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, 2, 3, 40, 63, 69, 96, 142, 150; “Literal Reading,” 41, 43 Fry, Francis, 80 Gallagher, Catherine, 52 Geddes, Jennifer, xi Gildon, Charles, 183, 186–189, 208 Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. See under Bunyan, John Great Bible, 45 Greenblatt, Stephen, 51–53 Gregory, Brad, 18 Grierson, George, 87 Guy, Thomas, 72, 73, 74, 76 Hale, Matthew, 96 Hall, David, 91 Hancock, Thomas, 92 Harley, Robert, 75, 193 Hauerwas, Stanley, 36 Henchman, Daniel, 88, 92 Henry VIII, 45 Henry, Matthew, 94, 112–118, 119, 152 Heschel, Susannah, 50 Higginson, John, 92 Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible. See DMH historicity, 3, 40, 63, 95, 184–186, 257 History and Remarkable Life of the Truly Honourable Col. Jacque, The. See under Defoe, Daniel: Colonel Jack Hoadley, Benjamin, 183 Hobbes, Thomas, 97 hobby-horses, 247 Hofmeyr, Isabel, 160 holiday Bible, 133 humor: in debates about the Bible, 108, 109, 110, 111, 257; in Pilgrim’s Progress, 174; in Robinson Crusoe, 119, 180, 233; in Tristram Shandy, 233, 240, 241, 244, 246 Hunter, J. Paul, xi, 182, 280n29 implied reader, 132 Infinite Jest, 25 Institutes of the Laws of England. See under Coke, Sir Edward irony, 31, 107–112, 181–182, 184, 199, 215, 233, 246 Iser, Wolfgang, 132 Islam, 11, 21, 22, 101, 122, 273n2, 274n8 Ive, John, 73 James I. 46. See also Bible, King James Jefferson Bible (The Life and Morals of Jesus), 162

Index Jefferson, Thomas, 95, 162 Jekyll, Thomas, 76 Jericho, 236, 242, 244, 255 Journal of the Plague Year, A. See under Defoe, Daniel Judaism, 21, 36, 43, 50, 51, 109, 122, 133, 140, 275n11, 278n5 Keats, John, “Ode on Melancholy,” 250 Kermode, Frank, 47 Keymer, Thomas, 238, 242 Kilburne, William, 71 King’s Printing House, 71 Kinkaid, Alexander, 87, 91 KJB (King James Bible). See Bible, King James KJV (King James Vesion). See Bible, King James Lamb, Jonathan, 137 latitudinarians, 114, 150, 163, 218 Latour, Bruno. See actor-network theory Lee, John, 76 Lee, Wendy Ann, 209 Lennox, Charlotte: The Female Quixote, 228 Letter Concerning Toleration, A. See under Locke, John Lewis, C. S., x, 258 Life and Morals of Jesus, The (Jefferson Bible), 162 Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Mr. D—— De F——, The, 186 Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, The, 180. See also under Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe literal sense, 37, 41–43, 44, 207 Lloyd, William, 141 Locke, John, 94, 97, 102–107, 117, 118, 120, 122, 209; law of morality, 163; “Letter Concerning Toleration,” 107; Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul, 161; Reasonableness of Christianity, 94, 104–106; Two Treatises of Government, 103–104 Longman, Thomas, 90 Lowth, Robert, 48 Luther, Martin, 163 Macpherson, Sandra, 122, 201 manicule, 203 Mann, Alastair, 72 Marcus, Sharon. See reading: surface marriage plot, 202, 222, 233 Marxist criticism, 41, 43 master narrative, 135 McKeon, Michael, 4, 56–58, 181, 184 Meditations Collected from the Sacred Books. See under Richardson, Samuel Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, The, 251

323

Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph, 223–230. See under Sheridan, Frances metrical psalms, 211. See also Sternhold and Hopkins Milbank, John, 18, 275n14 Millenium Hall, 200. See under Scott, Sarah Milton, John, 171, 193 Moll Flanders. See under Defoe, Daniel Montague, Elizabeth, 123 More, Thomas: Utopia, 123 Morrison, Toni: Playing in the Dark, 21 mundane transcendence, 24, 25, 200, 221, 260 Namur, siege of, 231, 234, 240 narrative rim, 204, 229 Nelson, Robert, A Companion for the Festivals and Fasts of the Church of England, 215 New Criticism, 2, 42, 43 New Historicism, 7, 58–59, 210 Newgate prison, 99 Norris, Thomas, 76 Norton, David: History of the Bible as Literature, 47–49, 279n16 novel prices, 9 novel studies: avoiding origins, 54; comprehensive, 54; encyclopedic, 55; of origins, 56–58 palimpsest, 242 Pamela. See under Richardson, Samuel parable, 36, 117, 180, 181, 186; Defoe’s, of novelistic truth telling, 194–197 Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul. See under Locke, John Parker, Peter, 72, 74 Parris, Frances, 48 Paulin, Tom, 182 Pecora, Vincent, 19 Perry, Michael, 92 pilcrow, 140, 223 Pilgrim’s Progress. See under Bunyan, John Pitt, William (the elder), 240, 241, Plain Directions for Reading the Holy Scripture, 148–150 Pocock, J. G. A., 96 poetic justice, 225, 226 Pope, Alexander: Dunciad, 241; “Rape of the Lock,” 241 postcritical, 36, 38, 39, 207, 247 postsecular, 15, 24 probability, 187 providence, 27, 183, 201, 224, 229, 287n11 psychological criticism, 41, 43, 203, 207, 246, See also affect theory

324

Index

Rader, Ralph, 56–58 Rahab, 243 rape, 202, 213, 221 reading: atemporal, 205; close, 37; critique as devotional, 44; devotional, 44, 211, 212, 222; legal, 163–168; literal sense, 41–43; moral, 160–163; paranoid, 38; religious-transcendent, 208; reparative, 38, 274n9; secularsymptomatic, 208; surface, 37, 43–44, 207; uncritical, 38. See also Bible reading; exit problems; reentry problems realism, 25–26, 37, 199, 241; chronological, 213; formal, 2, 54; in biblical narrative, 40, 41; world-generated, 62–63, 204; worldgenerating, 62–63, 204 Reasonableness of Christianity, The. See under Locke, John reentry problems, 150–153, 222, 260 religion, 6, 10, 31, 51, 92, 94, 101, 187; and toleration, 99–102; in the eighteenth-century, 16; what it looks like to the state, 29. See also Christianity; Islam; Judaism; secularization theory religious, the: concept of, 15–16 Richardson, Samuel: Clarissa, 53, 95, 140, 200, 202, 228; Meditations Collected from the Sacred Books, 137, 219–221; Pamela, 57, 216–218; Sir Charles Grandison, 226 Ricoeur, Paul, 42, 57, 128, 135–137 Rivers, Isabel, 103, 218 Robinson Crusoe, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of. See under Defoe, Daniel Rowlandson, Mary, 39, 169 Roxana. See under Defoe, Daniel royal privilege, 74 Russell, Gillian, 239 Said, Edward, x, 21 Sancroft, William, Archbishop, 72 Satan, 192 Schute, Samuel, 183 Scott, Joan Wallach, 11 Scott, Sarah: Millenium Hall, 200 scriptural reasoning, 122 Secular Age, A. See under Taylor, Charles secular, the, 6, 15, 16, 37, 60; concept of, 15–16 secularism, 15, 118, 189, 273n2; Christian forms of, 23; common-ground, 101; independent-ethic, 101; line between core principles and background justifications, 102; overlapping consensus, 101; political allegory of in Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 35 secularization theory, 1, 15; anticipated by Charles Gildon, 189; anticipated by Samuel Richardson, 208; stage one, 17–18, 22, 35, 62, 92, 258; stage two, 18–19, 22, 59, 258, 259; stage

three, 24, 25, 26, 35, 60, 199, 259; stage three, benefits of, 17, 35–36, 63 Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, 38, 210, 247 seduction plot, 202, 222 Selden, John, 96 sentiment, 16, 143, 149, 248, 251; and crossreferences in the Bible, 143–145, 212 sentimentalism, 218; in Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 249; in fiction and film, 249; of A Sentimental Journey, 250–255 Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe, The, 180. See also under Defoe, Daniel sermons, 130–131 Shadwell, Charles, 183 Shaftesbury, 3rd Earl of (Anthony Ahsley Cooper), 111, 218, 285n8 shame, 244, 249 Sheehan, Jonathan, 49–51, 279n17, 287n11 Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 193 Sherbo, Arthur, 213 Sheridan, Frances: Conclusion of the Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph, 224; The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph, 223, 230 Shortest Way with the Dissenters, The. See under Defoe, Daniel Shuger, Deborah, 51, 53 Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 77, 93, 148 Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), 93 Spender, Jane, 11 Spinoza, Baruch, 39 spiritual autobiography, 136, 157, 182, 198 Stam, J. F., 71 Starr, George, 182, 200 Stationers’ Company, 70, 74, 75 Sterne, Laurence: Political Romance, 241; Sentimental Journey, 242, 250–255; Tristram Shandy, 4, 5, 119, 206 Sternhold and Hopkins, 128, 217 Strahan, William, 90, 91 Sunday Bible, 133 surface reading. See reading: surface Swift, Jonathan, 184; Mr. C——n’s Discourse, 109; Tale of the Tub, 108 Taylor, Charles: “Modes of Secularism,” 101; A Secular Age, 23–24, 275n15 temporalities, 151, 211; biographical, 134; civilizational, 134; cosmological, 134; everyday, 134; in Clarissa, 205 Tindal, Matthew, 256 tobacco, 67, 88, 179 toleration: history of, 99–102 Toleration Act (1689), 95, 99, 107, 129 Tom Jones, 10

Index Tomkins, Silvan, 247, 253 Tonson, Jacob, 76 trauma, 237–238, 242 Tristram Shandy. See under Sterne, Laurence Two Treatises of Government. See under Locke, John Tyburn Fair, 97, 98 Tyndale, William, 45 Usher, John, 73 Ussher, James, 141, 287n13 Vander Meulen, David, xi, 269 Vauban, Sébastien Le Prestre de, 235 Wallace, David Foster, 25 war: English Civil (1642–1651), 236, 242; Nine Years’ (or War of Grand Alliance,

1688–1697), 234, 238, 240; of Spanish Succession (1701–1714), 236; of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720), 236; representation in literature, 237–238, 246, 253; Seven Years’ (1756–1763), 239, 240, 242, 255 Warner, Michael, 19, 38, 258 Warner, William, 57–58, 62 Waterland, Daniel, 257 Watkins, Adrian, 91 Watson, James, 75–77, 269 Watt, Ian, 2, 28, 54, 63, 181, 182, 280n19 Whiston, William, 109 Whole Duty of Man, The, 32, 129, 146–148, 150, 154, 288n15 Williams, Sarah, 81–82 Wycliff, John, 45

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