Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Passing Piecemeal to Glory: Mannerism in Puritan America as Exemplified by Edward Taylor's Poetry
Critics such as Louis Martz, Norman S. Grabo, and Karl Keller strongly position Edward Taylor within prominent traditions, with Martz placing him at the end of a canon of meditative poetry and Grabo and Keller within a pantheon of American literary forefathers. While these contextualizations work well on various levels of interpretation, Edward Taylor’s poetry may also be seen as an example of Mannerism, a movement late in arriving from across the Atlantic but nevertheless clearly operative in America. After critiquing these more conventional contextualizations of Taylor’s poetry, I define Mannerism, discuss it as a symptom of an apostasy that occurred in Europe and later in America, and explain why and how Edward Taylor’s meditative poetry manneristically exemplifies the growing malaise in New England.