Thomas Traherne's view of language in Restoration England
The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that the seventeenth-century religious writer Thomas Traherne an individual who is almost never included in philological enquiries was aware of linguistic issues and added his own unique view to the debatesoftheage. Theprojectisdividedintofourmainchapters. ChapterI, "Traherne's Word Definitions," analyzes Traherne's word definitions and places him withinthecontextofphilosophicallanguagemovements. Ifocusuponhisunpublished CommentariesofHeaven,alargeencyclopediawhichpurportstoopen"TheMysteries ofFelicitie"anddefine"AllThings"asobjectsofhappiness. Despitetheidentification of this manuscript in 1982, much of Traherne scholarship ignores its existence. Chapter n, "Language and the Fall," investigates Traherne's view of prelapsarian speech. It discusses notions of Adam's language, the dumbness of infants, the Tower of Babel, and the way in which these are all sites of linguistic "falls." Chapter in, "Silence in Traherne's Writings," looks at the role of silence in religious practice, politics,andself-identity. AttimesTrahernecelebratessilenceasaspecialincubatory condition which nurtures the individual and blocks out the nefarious forces of language. Atothertimeshedescribesitasdormantandsterile. Thechapteroffersan explanationastowhyhefluctuatesbetweentheseextremes. ChapterIV,"Traherne and the Seventeenth-Century Debate Over Metaphor," analyzes the conformist and nonconformist debate over metaphor which was indicative of deep theological and political controversies of the time. My Epilogue offers a discussion of Traherne's manuscriptTheCeremonialLaw,aworkrecentlydiscoveredin1996. InmythesisI define Traherne's theological and linguistic views, while at the same time I call attention to the manuscripts Commentaries ofHeaven and The Ceremonial Law, and their crucial position in the Traherne canon.