Typology and Iconography in Donne, Herbert, and Milton
Fashioning the Self after Jeremiah
|Publication Date||May 2014|
|Formats||Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF)|
Seventeenth-century authors so thoroughly imbued the language and imagery of the Bible in vernacular translation that their texts are to be read as attempts to inscribe themselves within the realm of the sacred. I analyze how three seventeenth-century English authors fashion themselves as a specific biblical figure, and how they fashion themselves in their works in order to bring their spiritual lives in line with the narrative arch of a biblical type. In this biblical guise Donne, Herbert, and Milton each hopes to move God to his circumstances as He responded in biblical times to the original type; each author also hopes to move the reader to act to reform himself and thereby avoid the fate of the biblical Israelites. By engaging the art of the period I isolate and describe Donne's, Herbert's, and Milton's self-fashioning as the melancholic Jeremiah. Through a consideration of certain paintings, sculptures, and emblems, I present literature in a broader cultural context, thereby employing an interdisciplinary approach. There are several different Renaissance images of Jeremiah I discuss to give the reader an idea of the iconographic tradition which develops around this biblical figure, but I focus on three images in particular: Claus Sluter's sculpture, the Well of Moses (1404), Rembrandt's painting, 'The Prophet Jeremiah Mourning over the Destruction of Jerusalem' (1630), and Michelangelo's fresco of Jeremiah on the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512). I present detailed analyses of these three works in order to show how and why each of the three English authors fashions himself after one of these three images, or types, of Jeremiah: Donne after Rembrandt's Jeremiah, Herbert after Sluter's Jeremiah, and Milton after Michelangelo's Jeremiah.