Books

New in June

The Voluble Soul

Thomas Traherne’s Poetic Style and Thought

by Richard Willmott

Out on 24/06/2021

“The world’s fair beauty set my soul on fire.”

In this first study of the full range of Traherne’s poetry Richard Willmott explains his ‘metaphysical’ poetry to all who are attracted by the beauty of his language, but puzzled by his meaning. He offers guidance both for the student of English, uncertain about Traherne’s theological ideas, and the student of theology, put off by seventeenth-century poetic conventions and diction. Using a wealth of quotation, he examines Traherne’s verse alongside that of a variety of his contemporaries, including Andrew Marvell, Lucy Hutchinson, Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor.

Central to Traherne’s poetry and generous theology is his delight in the capacity of his soul to approach God through an appreciation of His infinite creation. This soul is ‘voluble’, not only because it can express its thoughts with fluency, but also because it can enfold within itself the infinity of God’s creation, taking in everything that it perceives, considering the latest scientific speculations about the atom and astronomy, but also looking clear-sightedly at Restoration society’s materialism and – in one startlingly savage satire – the corruption of the royal court.

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Greening the Children of God

Thomas Traherne and Nature’s Role in the Moral Formation of Children

By Chad Michael Rimmer

Out on 24/06/2021

Greening the Children of God uncovers the theological roots of the growing ethical imperative to reconnect children to their natural environment. In their different traditions, theologians, environmental educators and psychologists all affirm that knowing their place in the natural environment helps a child develop an intersubjective ‘ecological’ identity that nurtures virtues of mutuality and care. During the Scientific Revolution this ethical harmony was threatened as science and moral theology began to adopt different epistemological methods, something the Anglican priest and poet Thomas Traherne was all too aware of.

Traherne insisted that education should promote a child’s attention to the moral dimensions woven into ‘the tapestry of creation’, and professed that play, wonder, and a sensory relationship to diverse creatures play a pedagogical role in a child’s moral formation. Greening the Children of God establishes the contemporary significance of Traherne’s moral theory in conversation with child psychologists, educators, philosophers, and theologians who know that cultivating a place-based relationship to the local ecology helps children perceive creation’s deep mutuality and develop a moral identity in the image of a caring Creator.

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Christianity and ‘the World’

Secularization Narratives through the Lens of English Poetry A.D. 800 to the Present

By David Martin

Out on 24/06/2021

David Martin was one of the world’s leading commentators on secularization theory. He was also a committed and lifelong reader of English poetry. Christianity and ‘The World’ develops Martin’s argument against simplistic secularization narratives with reference to the history of poetry, a topic with which few social theorists have been concerned. Martin shows the enduring but ever-changing centrality of Christian thought and practice, in its many different forms, to English poetry.

Always mindful that the most important aspects of poetry’s history can be captured only by attending to the minutest particulars of individual poems and poets, Martin’s study sheds unexpected light on a wide range of English poets, from Spenser and Shakespeare to T.S. Eliot and Geoffrey Hill. The result is a study at once informed by an authoritative sociological perspective on secularization and richly coloured by the singular intensity of Martin’s own reading life.

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Women on the Land

Their Story During Two World Wars

By Carol Twinch

On by 24/06/2021

Women on the Land tells the remarkable story of women’s contribution to agriculture and forestry during the two World Wars. It traces the formation and history of the Women’s Land Army, and shows how women, mostly untrained and from non-farming backgrounds, helped maintain food production for a beleaguered nation, by filling the places of men away at the war. At the height of the First World War the Land Army had a full-time membership of 23,000 members, a number that was to exceed 80,000 during the Second World War. The book pays tribute to women like Lady Denman, who administered the Land Army during the Second World War and who was its chief inspiration and driving force, and also outlines the part played by other women’s groups in wartime. Containing many first-hand reminiscences by the women who served, and a number of evocative illustrations, Women on the Land highlights the years when women were effectively to challenge long-established preconceptions as to what properly constituted ‘women’s work’.

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