The Progress of Pilgrimage: Site, Route, and Spirit in Nineteenth-Century Britain
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White, Elizabeth Porterfield
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CitationWhite, Elizabeth Porterfield. 2019. The Progress of Pilgrimage: Site, Route, and Spirit in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractAlthough Britain became an increasingly secular society during the nineteenth century, some of its most popular literary texts engaged a practice with traditional roots in religion: pilgrimage. Three texts in particular—The Pilgrim’s Progress, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and Sartor Resartus—are the foci of this study, which examines their redefinitions of pilgrimage as well as nineteenth-century reader response. John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (ch. 1) detached traditional religious pilgrimage from site-specific routes in the real world through allegorical strategies and otherworldly spaces. After this detachment helped clear the map of set shrines, Byron’s blockbuster Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (ch. 2), crystallizing secular trends for travel, coalesced new categories of pilgrimage sites. In Sartor Resartus (ch. 3), Thomas Carlyle showed how Childe Harold’s form of pilgrimage could be incorporated into a life story as a distinct stage and plot component. Analyzing these texts together, this dissertation suggests that during the nineteenth century, pilgrimage in literature increasingly shifted towards the episodic as it shifted towards the secular, even while the religious metaphor equating life with pilgrimage remained available to readers. The project’s final chapter explores the tensions between the secular and the religious, the life-long and the episodic, through William Blake, whose revival in the 1860s demonstrated the ascendance of secular pilgrimage within the British nation.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42013146
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