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Divine Rhetoric

Essays on the Sermons of Laurence Sterne

Edited by W. B. Gerard

Hardback
Laurence Sterne, the author of the innovative fictions The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and A Sentimental Journey, served most of his life as a rural Anglican clergyman in Yorkshire, England; for twenty years his sermons were his primary written labors. Sterne published the first two volumes of sermons as the Sermons of Mr. Yorick in 1760 after the initial, widely celebrated volumes of Tristram Shandy and the ensuing controversy revealed their complex paradoxes: they are both sacred and earthy, entertaining and instructional, products of art, duty, and the desire for profit and fame. The dozen essays in Divine Rhetoric, including an extensive critical history, examine the rhetorical and theological contexts of the sermons as well as their possible influences, discerning their intrinsic value to scholars of the fiction of Laurence Sterne and eighteenth-century Anglicanism. The book is accompanied by an audio CD of one of Sterne’s sermons « less more »
University Press Copublishing Division / University of Delaware Press
Pages: 284Size: 6 1/2 x 9 3/4
978-1-61149-121-0 • Hardback • March 2010 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
W. B. Gerard is associate professor of English at Auburn University.
W.B. Gerard's introduction offers a graceful history of the sermons' critical reception, establishing the well-known terrain to be covered in this collection.
Eighteenth-Century Fiction


The edition has inspired further scholarship on the sermons both by making well-edited versions of the texts accessible and by advancing a forthright argument with which critics can engage. Divine Rhetoric is a significant addition to the new stream of interest in Sterne's sermons…. The essay provides an interesting model of how the sermons might be productively read alongside Sterne's fiction - which is also, of course, larded with scenes, images and metaphors involving war - but not through the fiction…. The editor should be praised for putting together a rewarding collection - one which may suggest new avenues of exploration, particularly concerning Sterne's rhetoric, to those who may wonder, in the wake of the Florida edition, how and why we should read Sterne's sermons.
The Review of English Studies


More attention to Sterne’s sermons, and indeed sermons as a genre, is welcome, and it is unfortunate that some of those who subscribe to the ‘orthodox’ Sterne tend to dismiss or marginalize views which differ from theirs. W. B. Gerard’s reception history of the Sermons, forming the Introduction to this volume, gives a misleading account of Judith Hawley’s 1998 review of the Florida Edition. Fauske observes that ‘If we misunderstand Sterne today, that is our failure, not his’: a failure, that is, to see Sterne as Fauske does. The closing down of interpretation sits oddly in a work that offers to open up debate.
Oxford Journals


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