Wounds of the Soul

  • Sarah Covington


Varieties of religious experience are at once universal, particularly as they continually reenact biblical models, and historically contingent, or dependent upon the particular culture and time in which they are embedded. Put another way, if religious images and metaphors have remained stable through the ages—light and darkness, sheep and shepherds, the pilgrimage—the expression and emphasis of those images in language reflect the preoccupations of an age and its own approach to the relationship between the self and the divine.1 In the seventeenth century, biblical ideas of sin, conversion, and faith were inseparable from the notion of a soul, a heart, and even a physical body whose debilitation served as the precondition to a higher state of being; while the connection between the wounded body and spiritual transformation had roots in scripture, most obviously the psalms or book of Job, this did not diminish the intensely personal nature and formal literary power of an image that continued to be utilized as both an abstract symbol and a concrete, material description of abjectness.2


Seventeenth Century Religious Experience Spiritual Exercise Religious Narrative Spiritual Awakening 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 4.
    For a treatment of Donne’s wounding (or “masochistic”) imagery, see John Stachniewski, “John Donne: The Despair of the ‘Holy Sonnets,’” English Literary History 48 (1981), 688–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 5.
    John Donne, The Sermons of John Donne, ed. E. Simpson and G. Potter (Berkeley, 1955), 2: 63–64Google Scholar
  3. Dennis Quinn, “Donne’s Christian Eloquence,” ELH 27 (1960), 276–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 11.
    See J. Sears McGee, “Conversion and the Imitation of Christ in Anglican and Puritan Writing,” Journal of British Studies 15 (1976), 21–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 14.
    See Michael MacDonald, “The Fearfull Estate of Francis Spira: Narrative, Identity, and Emotion in Early Modern England,” Journal of British Studies 31 (1992), 56.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill (Westminster, 1960), 1: 297.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Peter Wilcox, “Conversion in the Thought and Experience of John Calvin,” Anvil 14 (1997), 113–128Google Scholar
  8. David C. Steinmetz, “Reformation and Conversion,” Theology Today 35 (1978), 25–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 29.
    See Charles Lloyd Cohen, God’s Caress: The Psychology of Puritan Religious Experience (Oxford, 1986), esp. chap. seven; see also Tom Webster, “Writing to Redundancy: Approaches to Spiritual Journals and Early Modern Spirituality,” The Historical Journal 39 (1996), 33–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 30.
    See John Stachniewski, The Persecutory Imagination: English Puritanism and the Literature of Despair (Oxford, 1991), 104; L. D. Lerner, “Puritanism and the Spiritual Autobiography,” in The Hibbert Journal 55 (1956–1957), 373–386, 377.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    John Bunyan, “The New Jerusalem,” in The Whole Works of John Bunyan, ed. George Offor (London, 1862), 3: 431.Google Scholar
  12. 50.
    Richard Sibbes, Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander B. Grosart (London, 1862–1864), 5: 69–70.Google Scholar
  13. 55.
    Richard Kilby, Hallelu-iah: Praise Yee the Lord, for the Unburthening of a London Conscience (Cambridge, 1618), 1, 37.Google Scholar
  14. 68.
    See the case of Samuel Ward in Margo Todd, “Puritan Self-Fashioning: The Diary of Samuel Ward,” in The Journal of British Studies 31 (1992), esp. 247–248.Google Scholar
  15. 71.
    See for example Susan Stewart, Poetry and the Fate of the Senses (Chicago, 2002), 178-195; Roy Daniells, “English Baroque and Deliberate Obscurity,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 5 (1946), 115–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mario Praz, “Baroque in England,” Modern Philology 61 (1964), 169–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 73.
    See Cuthbert, The Capucins: A Contribution to the History of the Counter-Reformation, 2 vols. (London, 1928); Francis Borgia Steck, Franciscans and the Protestant Revolution in England (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1920).Google Scholar
  18. 74.
    For the chapels of Henrietta Maria, see Frances E. Dolan, “Gender and the ‘Lost Spaces’ of Catholicism,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 32 (2002), 648–649.Google Scholar
  19. 76.
    For the influence of Peterhouse on poets such as Crashaw, see Grant, 118. For the significance of the wound in Rubens’ portrait, see Vladimir Gurewich, “Rubens and the Wound in Christ’s Side, with Special Reference to its Position,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 20 (1957), 358–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 81.
    For the frescos, see Thomas Buser, “Jerome Nadal and Early Jesuit Art in Rome,” The Art Bulletin 58 (1976), 424–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. A. Hyatt Mayor, “The Art of the Counter Reformation,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (1945), 101–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Leif Holm Monssen, “Rex Gloriose Martyrum: A Contribution to Jesuit Iconography,” The Art Bulletin 63 (1981), 130–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 82.
    Huston Diehl, “Graven I mages: Protestant Emblem Books in England,” Renaissance Quarterly 39 (1986), 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 83.
    Henry Hawkins, Partheneia Sacra, ed. John Horden (Yorkshire: Scolar Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  25. Wolfgang Lottes, “Henry Hawkins and Partheneia Sacra,” The Review of English Studies 26 (1975), 144–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 92.
    G. B. Petti, “Richard Verstegan and Catholic Martyrologies,” Recusant History 5 (1959), 72Google Scholar
  27. 101.
    for Crashaw, see Thomas F. Healy, Richard Crashaw (Leiden, 1986); John R. Roberts, ed. New Perspectives on the Life and Work of Richard Crashaw (Columbia, MO, 1990); for older accounts, see Austin Warren, Richard Crashaw: A Study in Baroque Sensibility (University, LA, 1939); Mario Praz, The Flaming Heart (Gloucester, MA, 1966), chap. seven; William Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity (New York, 1947), esp. 217-224; see also Richard Rambuss, “Sacred Subjects and the Aversive Metaphysical Conceit: Crashaw, Serrano, Ofili,” ELH (2004), 497-530; David Punter, Writing the Passions (Harlow, 2001), chap. three; Maureen Sabone, “Crashaw and Abjection: Reading the Unthinkable in his Devotinal Verse,” American Imago 63 (2007), 423–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 105.
    Patrick Grant, Images and Ideas in Literature of the English Renaissance (Amherst, MA, 1979), 95, 114.Google Scholar
  29. 107.
    See Ryan Netzley, “Oral Devotion: Eucharistic Theology and Richard Crashaw’s Religious Lyrics,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 44 (2002), 247–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 119.
    For the role of the miraculous in the earlier counter-reformation mission, see Alexandra Walsham, “Miracles and the Counter-Reformation Mission to England,” The Historical Journal 46 (2003), 779–815.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 120.
    Patrick J. Nugent, “Bodily Effluvia and Liturgical Interpretation in Medieval Miracle Stories,” History of Religions 41 (2001), 49–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 138.
    See Susan Snyder, “The Left Hand of God: Despair in Medieval and Renaissance Tradition,” Studies in the Renaissance 12 (1965), esp. 35–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 140.
    Michael MacDonald, “The Fearefull Estate of Francis Spira: Narrative, Identity, and Emotion in Early Modern England,” Journal of British Studies 31 (1992), 32–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 145.
    See Frederic Ives Carpenter, “Spenser’s Cave of Despair,” Modern Language Notes 12 (1897), 129–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Harold Skulsky, “Spenser’s Despair and the Theology of Doubt,” Modern Philology 78 (1981), 227–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 147.
    Moshe Barasch, “Despair in the Medieval Imagination,” Social Research 66 (1999).Google Scholar
  37. 152.
    See for example Augustine, City of God, 14.8.; Siegfried Wenzel, “ ‘Acedia 700–1200,” Traditio 22 (1967), 73–102.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sarah Covington 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Covington

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations