Religious triangulation of desire in Donne and Herbert
AbstractThe paper means to investigate the poetic rewritings of the traditional Imitatio Christi written by metaphysical poets John Donne (1572-1631) and George Herbert (1593-1633) during the religious crisis and the eucharistic debates still affecting English culture and society in the seventeenth century. To this aim, textual analyses are developed exploiting the hermeneutic possibilities offered by two ideas from René Girard’s theory of mimetic desire: the triangularity of desire and the Scapegoat mechanism as origin of sacrifice. This approach provides new insights into Donne’s Songs and Sonnets and George Herbert's The Temple, and namely the recurrence of religious triangulations in which Christ plays the role of "internal" mediator, arousing desires of replacement and rivalry. These triangulations ground on and allude to the lowering of Christ's divine figure caused by the religious crisis, and contextually reveal the desire to compensate, at least in the space of the poetical language, the threatened loss of his Real Presence.
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