Liturgy translated : languages of nature, man and God in Smart’s Jubilate agno
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This thesis explores Christopher Smart’s search for an ideal language of religious expression and its presentation in Jubilate Agno. The concept of translation is utilised as an interpretative tool to explore the poet’s understanding and manipulation of languages. My investigation of Smart’s translation in Jubilate Agno is divided into three categories: the language used to describe nature, the language of man and the language used to describe God. Chapter One explores Smart’s poetic emphasis on reading the world correctly. The analysis concentrates on four themes: the inability to express the divine and the risk of vanity in science in the early poems, anti-Newtonianism, Smart’s rejection of scientific language, and the poet’s catalogic and categorical impulses in Jubilate Agno. Chapter Two is concerned with human communication through reading, writing and speaking. I investigate how the religious poet aims to create a new kind of universal language as he attempts to dissolve the dichotomy between divine and human expression. Chapter 3 explores the poem’s “extra-lingual” modes of communication and Smart’s interest in other ways of reading, interpreting and communicating to achieve sublime, divine language through depictions of artistic beauty. The thesis concludes by comparing Smart’s poem to other liturgical forms.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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