Moralizing Dilation in Religio Medici
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
Readers of Browne’s Religio Medici have tended to emphasize its elements of self-portrayal or spiritual autobiography; yet close stylistic analysis (especially of the ‘dilating’ method and the rapid variation of pronouns) suggests that—like much of Herbert’s Temple—its real focus is on moral and spiritual ‘universals’, with the ostensible self-presentation functioning really as a rhetorical point of departure-and-return rather than as the true subject itself. Browne is essentially a moralizing and (in more senses than one) ‘dilating’ essayist in this, as in most of his major works other than Pseudodoxia Epidemica.
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