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Title: The Rhetoric of Religion
Subtitle: Three Late Middle English Works of Spiritual Guidance
Author(s): MOURON, Anne
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 15    Date: 2005   
Pages: 143-167
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.15.0.2003473

Abstract :
The article examines three late Middle English works of spiritual guidance, with particular references to the techniques they use to transmit their didactic message to the reader, i.e. to facilitate the reader’s task in learning and remembering the lessons of the text. The Absey of St. Bonaventure, the shortest of the three (115 lines), chooses an alphabetical scheme to frame its lessons in twenty-three sections. The Desert of Religion, a somewhat longer text (943 lines), is more subtle in its approach: it has an allegorical setting – its sections take the form of ‘trees’ accompanied by tree diagrams and illustrations of hermits. The Manere of Good Lyvyng, the longest of the three (175 folios divided into seventy-three chapters), takes a more rhetorical approach, in that it uses repetitions of various kinds and images drawn almost exclusively from the Scriptures. All three texts brillantly achieve what they set out to do, which is to ‘teach, please, and move’.

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