A Hebraic Modernity: Poetry, Prayer, and Translation in the Long Eighteenth Century Open Access

Stein, Sarah Braden (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/kp78gg54d?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
A Hebraic Modernity:
Poetry, Prayer, and Translation in the Long Eighteenth Century
A Hebraic Modernity: Poetry, Prayer, and Translation in the Long Eighteenth Century explores
the central role played by translations of the Hebrew Psalms in British literature of the eighteenth
century. What may seem to be exercises in Christian piety or orientalizing erudition turn out to
be pivotal sites of encounter with the problem of origin (national, religious, linguistic) and the
relation of an origin, or of an original text, to a newly constituted literary modernity. As each
author translates the psalms, a myth of the Hebraic origins of England is created and embraced.
Thus, through translation, the heightened language of the psalms becomes the occasion of a
broader meditation on the movement between and within languages as an articulation of
modernity's contradictory relationship with its origin. Through close readings of eighteenth-
century poetry, fiction, and criticism A Hebraic Modernity investigates the attempt by multiple
authors simultaneously to return to and to transcend the original text of the psalms. The
appearance of psalm translations in the work of John Dennis, Samuel Richardson, Christopher
Smart, and William Blake reveals an implicit theory of translation in the work of each author.
The study is divided into four chapters which establish the important role played by psalmody in
the eighteenth century, clarify the theory of translation inherent in the work of Dennis,
Richardson, Smart, and Blake, and explore the myth of 'sublime Hebrew' in order to illustrate
the complex relationship between Hebrew and English in the eighteenth century.

Table of Contents



Table of Contents


I. Introduction……………………………………………………………………………..……………1


II. Translating the Bible to Raise the Fallen: The Psalmody of John Dennis…………………24


III. Turning the Text and Remembering Selectively: A Reading of Pamela's 137th Psalm.…..66


IV. Refiguring English Origins: A Reading of Christopher Smart………………………..…..103


V. "Till we have built Jerusalem…": William Blake's Psalm Illustrations and Laocoön……145


VI. The Struggle for Origins: Psalms as Interruptions in the Eighteenth Century………..…..187


Notes………………………………………………………………………………………….194


Images…………………………………………………………………………………..…….205


Works Cited………………………………………………………………………………..…210


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