Interior description and perspective in Deloney and Bunyan.
The essays in this special issue investigate the question of how interior spaces were rendered before the widespread use of narrative techniques such as free indirect discourse, which permit internal focalization on a fictional world and its contents (among other effects). The strong metaphorical relation between the inside of a room (and its contents) and the inside of a mind (and its thoughts and perceptions) has been reinforced in literary criticism both by the terminology of insides and inwardness and by literary history. Indeed, the sense of "interiority" that indicates the beginning of a modern subjectivity has been associated with the Renaissance lyric poetry of Thomas Wyatt, Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, and John Donne (Ferry) and with the soliloquys of the Elizabethan stage. (1) This project began with a search through early modern prose fiction for descriptions of interiors so that they might in turn be examined for traces of perspectivism.
A cognitivist approach would suggest that an association of interiors of physical spaces and perceptions is a nearly inevitable consequence of human embodied consciousness and natural language. (2) George Lakoff writes, "the CONTAINER schema is inherently meaningful to people by virtue of their bodily experience" (Lakoff 273). Building on the work of Mark Johnson, Lakoff explains that the body-based experience of our human selves as containers that exist inside containers such as buildings (272) predisposes us to treat the boundaries of our visual field as the walls of a container (e.g., "out of sight, out of mind") and to extrapolate spatial metaphors for consciousness such as knowing is seeing and the mind is a body moving in space (Lakoff and Turner 158). The metaphorical relation can also be directed inward, as when an individual's mind, like a room, is represented as open, closed, cluttered, or even furnished with books.
A culturally and historically sensitive cognitivism should be open to different expressions of container schemas in earlier literary periods, and literary history does indeed note their presence, with variations. A Cartesian image of body as container for the soul--lodged in flesh like the pilot of a ship--locates the perceptive soul looking outwards and steering the self (the mind moves the body in space)? Other early modern images employ the container schema to pry into its metaphorical contents. A locus classicus for the representation of a mind as a container for books occurs in Book 2 of Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene (1590). Spenser represents the memory as a library filled with books and decaying scrolls inside the skull of the House of Alma, which itself takes the form of a body containing Alma, the soul. (4) In part because of the religious allegories that associate consciousness, memory, visuality, and the soul, as in this Spenserian example, inwardness has been tethered to a Protestant poetics of emblems, meditations, and progresses of the soul. (5) Inwardness is an Anglo-Saxon word of ancient vintage, while according to the OED the first usage of "interiority" to indicate inner character or nature dates to 1701, the beginning of the century of the novel. English literary history associates the closeted self-examination of the Protestant conscience with the development of the early novel's themes of containment and emergent consciousness, as in Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740), where Pamela retreats to a private room to pour out her heart in letters.
In the historical period between the Renaissance meditative lyric of the inward eye and the interiority of the early eighteenth-century novel falls the period of the emergent early novel, represented here by the fiction of Thomas Deloney (c. 1543-1600) and John Bunyan (1628-1688). Writing about sixteenth-century romances, Elizabeth Hart asks when writers' techniques developed the intermental and intramental subframes discussed by Alan Palmer (2004). Hart points to direct references to minds within the story world and thought simulation as evidence that such techniques were beginning to appear in sixteenth-century prose fiction (Hart 118). Here I broach the possibility that representations of interiors from a character's vantage point may also reveal nascent perspectivism and implicit embodied consciousness. My focal texts were selected because, unlike most early modern prose fictions, they contain both descriptions of interior spaces and at least traces of perspectivism.
This essay participates in the project of testing Franz Stanzel's theory that perspectivism in narrative is less common in the early novel, developing for a variety of reasons in later nineteenth-century texts (Stanzel 122-23). By examining short passages from works by two early modern authors of prose fiction, I consider the possibilities for rendering interiors descriptively before the novel. Asking whether or not perspective emerges from depiction of interiors in these early modern texts opens up further questions about the range of techniques for representing thought, including some newly identified (but long in use) strategies such as intermental thought, and some tactics that have fallen into disrepute because of their overt didacticism. Stanzel writes that "telling, the report of a narrator, has as a rule a certain affinity with aperspectivism, while showing, scenic and figural presentation though a reflector-character, has an affinity with perspectivism" (Stanzel 120). Questions about perspective open up the possibility that early prose fictional narrative techniques borrow from popular dramatic form and balladry, forms early prose fictions freely interpolate. The modes of precursor romances in prose and verse and the interpretive practices in reading emblem-books also leave their mark on the form of prose narrative before the novel.
Were interiors presented perspectivally before narrated monologue and quoted monologue became dominant modes for the representation of a character's attention? If so, how did writers convey directional cues and the objects of the characters' and readers' Active gaze? Perspectival depiction of space makes it possible for readers to visualize furnishings, objects, and shapes in relation to one another, as well as inviting readers to share the perspective of characters' movement in and through imagined spaces. This form of mental visualizing is strongly associated with the reading habit of immersion. Elizabeth Hart argues that in the sixteenth century "narrative immersion simply became a more widespread, commonly shared, and familiar experience whose effect, overall, was to focus cultural attention on the mind and on the specialized worlds that minds create" (Hart 105). Yet the techniques of world-making and world-navigating associated with the novel are by no means the only representational tactics available to writers of precursors to the novel. Analogies with dramatic form could be exploited, and description could operate outside plot and character, as it does in non-narrative forms. This essay begins with the premise that there is nothing inevitable about the association of described interiors and perspectival representations in early modern prose fiction, though subsequent developments in novelistic technique may suggest it.
Thus, to return to our guiding questions, I ask whether--or not--early modern representations of interiors imply a perspectival vantage point on those interiors, and whether the insides of described interiors such as rooms intimate interiority or something else, such as economic advocacy in self-promotional advertisement. In the course of exploring the prehistory of narrative techniques for cognitive reports traditionally associated with inwardness and spirituality, I suggest instead that for some authors their roots lie in status-motivated description of interiors. This interpretive direction moderates a progressive narrative about formal developments that associates perspectivism with the individual and reminds us that narrative fiction's directional prompting of a readership's attention can also serve communal needs of a group.
II. Description of Interiors in Deloney
To pursue this project I turn first to prose fiction by Thomas Deloney, a less well-known writer than the later and more celebrated allegorist Bunyan, with whom I conclude. Deloney's work has often been included in collections of Elizabethan fiction, alongside works by romancers George Gascoigne, Robert Greene, Thomas Lodge, John Lyly, Thomas Nashe, and Philip Sidney, but it has attracted more attention for its content than for its formal strategies. (6) Intersecting with romance, with tales of success and misfortune, and with popular narrative forms such as merry tales and jests, Deloney's fiction does not fit neatly into one of the rough generic categories into which critics divide early modern prose fiction before the novel. Deloney's status as the odd man out among an already diverse group of writers derives in part from his social position and in part from his presumed audience. Neither an aristocrat nor a university man, but a silk-weaver by trade (Wright 13-19), Deloney wrote many pamphlets and broadside ballads on topical subjects, ephemeral publications dismissed by Robert Greene as "triviall trinkets and threedbare trash" (Wright 18). Deloney's more enduring works center on artisans, apprentices, and early capitalists, groups whose emergent literacy ostensibly created a market for prose fiction (Watt 39, 42), especially for encouraging narratives of rising status and prosperity. In Jack of Newbery (c. 1596-1597), for instance, Deloney celebrates the hard work, good fortune, and advancement of a broadcloth weaver. Critic Eugene Wright labeled Deloney's work "middle-class" fictions (58), for reflecting both the ways of life and the literary appetites of sixteenth and early-seventeenth century upwardly mobile men. Although the category of an Elizabethan middle class has since been contested, (7) critics have continued to examine Deloney's fiction for information about the social life, customs, aspirations, and labor of artisans in Tudor England, and he has been recognized as articulating the communal ideology of groups of weavers and other craftsmen (Morrow 397-98). (8)
Among Deloney's four short prose fictions, one guaranteed the author a place in literary history by influencing a play: The Gentle Craft (c. 1598) suggested characters and incidents for Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday (1599). The close relation between popular dramatic form and prose fiction shows in the dialogues, set pieces, and descriptions of Deloney. He combines summary and scene in brief chapters, including both analeptic and proleptic descriptions. Most of the description focuses on clothing and uniforms, and most of the discourse takes the form of dialogue. When descriptions of interiors occur, they direct the gaze on the wealth and aspirations of the homeowner. In Deloney's Jack of Newbery, the interior descriptions emphasize cloth workers' activities at looms and at other stations in the cloth-making process. The text includes an ekphrastic chapter describing a series of inspirational paintings. In a subsequent work focused on clothiers, Thomas of Reading (c. 1597-1600), the relatively rare indoor descriptive scenes underscore the pattern, whereby a narrator directs a reader's attention to the core values inhering in furnishings, decorations, and tools of the cloth trade, source of England's wealth. (9) In Deloney's fiction, interior descriptions take the form of authorial disembodied perspectives, communal perspectives representing the interests of the clothing industry, all the way to figural perspectives attributed to the King (though only fleetingly).
In the first of the three sustained interior descriptions in Jack of Newbery, Deloney breaks from prose to describe in verse how Jack impresses the father of a woman he seeks to marry. A servant in his house, she seems to Jack "an excellent good huswife" (20), but the consent of her father must be won. To this relatively poor man, Jack shows off "all his servants at worke, and every office in his house" in sixty lines of tetrameter rhymed couplets enumerating Jack's employees and their productive labor:
Within one roome being large and long, There stood two hundred Loomes full strong : Two hundred men the truth is so, Wrought in these Loomes all in a row. .... And in another place hard by An hundred women merily Were carding hard with ioyfull cheere, Who singing sate with voices cleere. (20, original italics)
The poem moves the reader from room to room, indicating "a chamber close beside," "another roome" (20) and separate worksheds where shearmen and dyers work (21). Jack's "houshold great" contains a butcher, a brewer, abaker, five cooks, and "six scullion boyes," the last two groups located "within his kitchin great" (21). Enumeration links the spaces to the workers within and the products of their labor, down to "poore children that did stay, / To turne the broaches euery day," rotating the roasting meat on its spits (21). The closing four lines of the verse catalog remind the reader of the audience for this spectacle of prosperity:
The old man that did see this sight, Was much amaz'd, as well he might: This was a gallant Cloathier sure, Whose fame for ever shall endure. (21)
Nonetheless, the sense of perspective is not strong in this descriptive passage. Despite the context, which dictates a tour of Jack's property with the bedazzled old man in tow, the reader looks at the scene explicitly through his gaze only once, and his consciousness is very lightly represented. Though the last two lines of the verse description arguably break into narrated monologue to relate the future father-in-law's thoughts, the contrast with his rustic accent and diction in a speech in the following paragraph marks the dominant mode of the narrative situation of the verse as thought report. The old man's speech, "I wis che zee you bee bombinable rich and cham content you shall have my daughter" (21), contrasts with the verse narrator's metrical account of the old man's gaze: "Within another place likewise, / Full fifty proper men he spies" (20). This is the traditional voice of an authorial narrator telling about a character's perceptions. The verse interior description has a generalized perspective, focused on enumerating the contents of rooms and outbuildings and impressing the readers over the shoulder of the prospective father-in-law.
Rather than providing a synecdoche for any one character's perspective, the description acts as a set of containers holding employees representing Jack's wealth and the future capacity to create more goods. The interior description provides tableaux of labor, encompassing the whole process of cloth-making, from shearing the sheep to storing the bolts of finished woolen cloth in large warehouses, and it includes the support services involved in feeding such a large number of dependents. Rather than answering a tacit question about perspective or interiority, the passage invites tourism of a form that remains familiar in both factory tours and country house tours in the twenty-first century. It reflects a communal perspective if not a technical attribution of intermental perspective. The description makes wealth visible, but it has a strange quality of over-determination, in that the poor man who is overawed by the tour scarcely needs such convincing to permit his daughter's marriage to Jack of Newbery. The interest of the whole episode, scanty in individual perspectivism though rich in data about the interiors of Jack's establishment, lies in its anticipation of an even more important visitor later in the text. Here perspective enters through association with different poetic and theatrical sources, and its manipulation expresses the prose writer's ambition to direct the attention of the monarch and nation to the contributions of woolen manufacturers such as Jack.
The entrance of King Henry VIII into the story world in the third chapter of Jack of Newbery provides the occasion for a second lengthy interior description, marked by interpolated songs performed by both weavers and spinsters. Though this episode continues the message that Jack's rooms contain Jack's workers, the interior description also depicts the King and Queen dining in Jack's hall (where they eat a "sumptuous banquet" preceded by a "delicate dinner" ). The account of the meal emphasizes the location by rank and status of each social tier at the banquet, but no perspectivism directs the reader's gaze from within the scene. It is enough to show that the King and Queen eat and jest within the walls of Jack's establishment. When the King gets up to tour Jack's workshops, the narrator adopts, albeit briefly, the King's perspective: "Then came his Highnesse where hee saw an hundred Loomes, standing in one roome, and two men working in every one" (31). Deloney then stages a performance of a proud song about spinning and weaving from classical antiquity. Moving on to the spinsters and carders, the narrator adopts the plural perspective of the whole tour group: "The King and Queene, and all the nobility heedfully beheld these women" (33), a phrase that suggests how a well-organized walk through a manufactory can direct even royal and noble gazes.
In his book Triumphal Forms: Structural Patterns in Elizabethan Poetry (1970), Alastair Fowler describes the tradition that associates the image of sovereignty with centers and mid-points of poetic works (Fowler 23-24) and with the symmetrical designs in court masques (32). In the works Fowler describes, the monarch actually and symbolically occupies the center of the discourse. Here the maidens' performance for the king likewise appears in the dead center of the text (pages 33-36 of 68 pages) in the 1626 printing reproduced by Mann. Symbolically, though, he is displaced. The King stands off to the side "heedfully" watching (33) the maidens sing and rewarding them by "casting a great reward" (36). The sovereign midpoint is subtly coopted by the maidens' ballad.
A third stop on the tour finishes Jack's project, well-rehearsed on his old prospective father-in-law in the previous chapter. Like the old man, the King is suitably impressed: "His Majesty perceiving what a great number of people were by this one man set on worke, both admired and commended him" (36). Somewhere between the fulling mill (where cloth gets cleansed and thumped), the dyehouse, and the stables, a group of children waylay the royal couple and present a charming masque complimentary to the king. As Tribble notes, this deployment of civic pageantry articulates a "fantasy of unmediated discourse" between the monarch and his subjects (Tribble 150). Stephen Orgel's book Illusion of Power (1975) reveals how the monarch's seat for his view of masques (which after 1605 had elaborate sets relying on single-point perspective ) would be the only position from which the creation could be perceived perfectly: "In a theater employing perspective, there is only one focal point, one perfect place in the hall from which the illusion achieves its fullest effect. At court performances this is where the king sat" (10).
In this late sixteenth-century prose fiction, the King is mobile, arrested on the way to his horse by the troupe of performers, who stage a symbolic challenge to the King's position and authority. Attention falls on the allegorical pageant and the rewarding of Jack's surprisingly well-educated child workforce, all ninety-six of whom are subsequently taken to court, educated, and provided for by the Queen, King, and nobles: "each of them came to bee men of great account and authority in the land" (36). Deloney transforms the King into an instrument for the advancement of poor children, and when Jack turns down Henry's offer of a knighthood, the monarch acknowledges the sovereignty of the individual subject's perspective: "Seeing then (said the King) that a mans minde is a Kingdome to himself, I will leave thee to the riches of thy owne content" (38). The King recognizes that the interiors he has toured, full of Jack's laboring ants and bees, represent not only wealth but also Jack's independent mind and thoughts. Jack's intentions spring to life in Deloney's catalogs of workers.
Despite Jack's humble professions, Deloney conveys the message that working for Jack--even as poor children picking wool and subsisting on one good meal a week--results in remarkable opportunities for self-improvement. The instructional images featured in the third and last sustained interior description in chapter 5 of Jack of Newbery show how Jack encourages "his servants to seeke for fame and dignitie" (40). Chapter 5 offers the most sustained interior description in the whole text, consisting of ekphrases of fifteen paintings: "In a faire large Parlour which was wainscoted round about, Iacke of Newbery had fifteen faire pictures hanging, which were covered with Curtaines of greene silke, fringed with gold, which he would often shew to his friends and servants" (40). The materialism at the heart of Jack's didactic activities has been noted (Mustazza 175), as well as their spirit of 'do as I say, not as I do' (176): Jack does not invite his workers to challenge his own authority in emulation of his manipulation of Henry VIII. Using precursors of today's motivational posters, Jack stimulates his servants' "wisdom, learning and diligence" (42) through unthreatening virtuous exemplars who have attained greatness despite lowly birth: "there is none of you so poorely born," Jack tells his servants, "but that men of baser birth have come to great honours" (42).
The fifteen men in the images include the following: a king of Portugal, son of a shepherd; a King of Sicily, son of a potter; a King of Persia, whose father was a cobbler; seven Roman emperors, sons of a bookbinder, a ropemaker, a gardener, a blacksmith, a shepherd, and two weavers; two Popes, offspring of a shoemaker and a mariner; a King of Lombardy, "who was no better than the son of a common strumpet" (42); a King of Bohemia, who was himself a ploughman; and the philosopher Theophrastus, son of a tailor. The final image slightly mitigates the emphasis on reaching the highest position, as Theophrastus becomes a "counsellor of Kings, and companion of Nobles" (42), not king, emperor, or pope himself. You, too, Jack tells his servants, can "attain like honours" (42). Less obvious to those reading their description is the managerial message that Jack promulgates when he takes his servants on tours of his gallery: "The idle hand shall ever goe in a ragged garment, and the sloathful hue in reproach" (42). Rich with Jack's implied perspective (both his pride in having risen from humble origins, and his desire to keep his servants performing vigorously), the interior description possesses no actual perspectivism or representation of inward consciousness. The companion modes of the tour-guide's patter and the cataloging of contents organize the chapter's rich description, which illustrates group pride and deftly conveys the owner's motivation without recording anybody's reaction to looking at the pictures. As Timothy Miller observes of medieval narratives, catalogs and inventories can organize content descriptively without calling upon mental visualizing.
The contrast between the intentions in Deloney's work and Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) two generations later suggests a move in early modern narrative precursors to the novel away from directing the attention of an idealized target audience (the King) on behalf of an interest group towards directing the inward thought of an individual Christian subject (and by extension, the reader). Both texts offer ekphrastic descriptions and interpretations, but while Deloney shows Jack indoctrinating his servants to eschew idleness and sloth for the long-shot of attaining a high position, Bunyan's house tour interpellates the subject as a Christian worthy to be saved. The narrative techniques, though, are more similar to Deloney's than one might anticipate when turning to a work that is sometimes regarded as the first novel (and last allegory) in the English tradition (Keeble xxi).
III. Bunyan's House of the Interpreter: How to Read an Interior
John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress employs as a narrator a first-person dreamer, who relates the adventures of Christian on his difficult way to the Celestial City. Though the dreamer lies asleep in a "Denn"--identified by Bunyan as the Gaol in which the author, an itinerant tinker and preacher, was imprisoned (8)--most of the locations depicted in Christian's journey indicate outdoor spaces. The chronotope of the road governs the episodic narrative of perilous adventures in an allegorized geography: Christian passes through the Slow of Dispond [Slough of Despond] (13), the Valley of the Shadow of Death (53-54), Vanity Fair (72-80), and so forth. Few scenes take place indoors, though the narrative opens in Christian's house, and he and his companion Hope are imprisoned for a time in the dungeon of the castle owned by Giant Despair. Though the episode in Doubting Castle features violent assaults on the pilgrims' bodies and spirits, the place of torture itself is scarcely sketched in descriptively: "The Giant ... put them into his Castle, into a very dark Dungeon, nasty and stinking to the spirit of these two men" (93). The relative dearth of extended interior descriptions in The Pilgrim's Progress poses the first challenge to reading them perspectivally.
Twice in the narrative, however, Christian spends time indoors, in houses that are described in detail. The lengthy episode in the House of the Interpreter trains both Christian and Bunyan's readers in the hermeneutic art of reading interiors. The second, briefer episode in the Palace Beautiful tests both Christian's and Bunyan's readers' skills by showing material to be interpreted (44-45) without the pedagogical dialogues of the House of the Interpreter. The narrator's description of the rarities, records, and weapons inside the Palace Beautiful occurs within a scene of showing and telling. The relation between seeing--as a potentially perspectival form of representation--and properly perceiving or understanding the contents to which the narrator draws attention poses a second challenge to the project of linking descriptions of interiors with interiority. Before moving on to answer three key questions--1. Are interior spaces presented perspectivally? 2. How does the narrator direct the gaze? and 3. What techniques does Bunyan use to represent Christian's gaze?--I acknowledge a signal critical difficulty, stemming from an influential reading of The Pilgrim's Progress made by Stanley Fish.
Fish long ago noted Bunyan's emphasis on "perceiving" as paradoxical. Perceiving can mean seeing, but more often it means recognizing the meaning of something that is in fact not immediately present. As Fish puts it, "the paradox is merely the familiar formula for spiritual seeing. Perceiving correctly in spiritual terms means ignoring what is plainly there, and responding instead to a reality that is not verifiable either by the senses or by the light of an unillumined reason" (277). This paradox leads to insights achieved in total darkness. As Fish writes, "Christian never more surely perceives than when he refuses to be paralyzed by his inability to perceive and affirms his faith in a presence for which there is, in his field of perception, no evidence" (277). Learning to see by an inward light helps Christian get beyond double misperceptions caused by darkness, "the literal darkness of the narrative situation and the metaphorical darkness of man's clouded intellect" (277). As Fish influentially has it, the import of Christian's experience registers on his right readers: "a correct reading of Christian's situation involves an inversion of the appearance it presents in the context of earthly assumptions and values; and to the extent that the experience of Bunyan's prose directs us to that inversion by directing us away from its literal meaning, we have learned in the act of reading what it means to see with the eyes of faith" (280). If Fish is correct, perspectival description of the visual field, whether of exterior landscapes or interior spaces, should be regarded with wariness by a reader hoping to learn to share the faithful mindset of a Christian on the way to redemption. As Scott Stevens observes, echoing Fish on Bunyan, the word "perceive" points to the heart's form of knowledge (Stevens 271); a historically sensitive reading of scenes of perceiving should approach cognitive, visual, and perspectival implications with caution.
Even though The Pilgrim's Progress generally and the episode in the House of the Interpreter specifically (Bunyan 23-31) consist largely of dramatic form, there is just enough narration to judge whether interior spaces are presented perspectivally. Early in Christian's visit to the house, the narrator relates:
Inter. Then said the Interpreter, come in, I will shew thee that which will be profitable to thee. So he commanded his man to light the Candle, and bid Christian follow him; so he had him into a private Room, and bid his man open a Door; the which when he had done, Christian saw a Picture of a very grave Person hang up against the wall, and this was the fashion of it, It had eyes lift up to Heaven, the best of Books in its hand, the Law of Truth was written upon its lips, the World was behind its back; it stood as if it pleaded with Men, and a Crown of Gold did hang over its head. (Bunyan 24, emphasis in original)
The passage opens with a palimpsest of form, with the speaker (the Interpreter) doubly identified, once for dramatic form ("Inter.") and once in speech tagging ("Then said the Interpreter"). Despite this formal ambiguity, the rest of the paragraph consists of a narrated scene of movement through spatially delineated interiors, with an implicit hallway and an explicit private room, door, and picture. All of this could be considered aperspectival, as the early date of the text would suggest, but when the description of the image begins, it becomes clear that Bunyan has located the perspective within a character: "Christian saw a Picture." The reader sees the picture simultaneously with Christian because the narrator directs the reader's gaze through Christian's eyes. The italicized description, though, can hardly belong to Christian's perspective because it shows too much understanding of the meaning of the image, as explained by the Interpreter in the subsequent long passage.
Christian's query (one he will repeat at least three times during the episode) prompts interpretation: "Chr. Then said Christian, What means this?" (24). If he has to ask, then at least half of what the image contains has not yet revealed its meaning to him. The description either belongs to a disembodied authorial narrator or to the first person dreamer who sees over Christian's shoulder. The narrative mode, mainly authorial and aperspectival, yields for long passages to dramatic form in what Bunyan called "dialogue-wise" representation (Bunyan "Author's Apology" 5) of speeches. Christian's role is reduced to querying prompts offered between long lectures from the Interpreter on the meanings of images and tableaux that appear within the parlour or the palace. Occasionally, a dab of figural perspective appears, as when the narrator remarks, "I saw also that the Interpreter took him again by the hand, and led him into a pleasant place, where was budded a stately Palace, beautiful to behold; at the sight of which, Christian was greatly delighted: he saw also upon the top thereof, certain Persons walked, who were cloathed all in gold" (27). Either they have gone back outside or the palace exists within the House of Interpreter (the spatial logic is not articulated). The direction of Christian's gaze, however, clearly shows nascent perspectivism. Whether this is a case of what Manfred Jahn calls the "ambient focalization" available within aperspectival representation (Jahn 95-97) or a case of an emergent form of inferiority in palimpsest with the dominant dialogue and aperspectivism is for readers to judge. (10) The episode shows Christian in the process of being educated in the meaning of the images and scenes that he sees within the House of the Interpreter, and that justifies the lengthy hermeneutical passages. The episode is a protracted exercise in overcoming bafflement about the meaning of what Christian sees.
Without the Interpreter's explanations, Christian would not be equipped to continue his journey: "Then let me think on them, and understand / Wherefore they shewed me was, and let me be / Thankful, O good Interpreter, to thee" (31, emphasis in original). In the House Beautiful, Christian apparently exercises the interpretive skills that he has acquired in the earlier interior episode but without sharing his insights with the reader. The narrative style of the central part of the episode differentiates it from the dramatic exegeses of scenes and images that train Christian and the reader, but it also has the effect of shutting the reader off from Christian's mind. A marginal notation emphasizes the demonstrative purpose that becomes the central action within the House Beautiful: "Christian / had into the / Study, and / what he / saw there" (44). An extended, two-page long interior description follows.
The denizens of the House Beautiful show Christian "records of the greatest Antiquity" (44), including genealogies, chronicles, and legal records. They read aloud histories and records of valiant deeds; the following day they show Christian the Armoury, machinery, religious relics, and, moving back out-doors, a view of the Delectable Mountains. Even though forms of the verb "shew" occur repeatedly in this episode, the showing action narrated within the scenes occurs in the narrative form of telling, confirming Stanzel's association of narratorial report with aperspectivism (Stanzel 120). The hermeneutics and dialogic glossing drop away, and the reader joins Christian in the generic position of a visitor touring a stately home. The evident intention of the guides to inform and impress strongly resembles the earlier house-tour interior description featured in Deloney's work. Though formally the description is scarcely perspectival at all, the direction of Christian through the house and towards the Delectable Mountains emphasizes the inward work of his spiritual journey. Arguably, the episode in the House Beautiful offers readers immersion in a scene full of elusive clues that could lead them, too, on a path to salvation, if only they were able to follow along. The lack of extended perspectival passages of description does not diminish the vividness of the fictional world or the sense of a personality grappling with fear and doubt as he traverses a landscape cluttered with spiritual hazards. It does make the point that Christian's path will be difficult to follow (as Christiana, his wife, learns in Part II of The Pilgrim's Progress).
Scott Stevens points out that the terms conscience and consciousness "were used interchangeably in the early modern period" (Stevens 271). It does not follow that a narrative centrally concerned with the prompting of conscience to guide a Christian towards salvation will inevitably reveal lengthy passages representing consciousness. The dramatic form of dialogue and aperspectival telling dominates in Bunyan. Even in the richest scenes of interior description, Bunyan's narrator only lightly touches in brief moments of Christian's perspective. As Stanley Fish suggested in 1971, this may indicate a deeper Puritan theological reluctance to endorse the evidence of the senses, especially seeing, as the root of perception.
Perceiving truth in the darkness of one's heart may run counter to both materialist narratives of prosperity (inviting readers to see the world as a successful clothier sees it) and to allegorical decodings of emblematic tableaux (training readers to understand the hidden meanings of images and scenes). As the new techniques of perspectival representation of interiors emerged as part of early modern fictional world-making, a variety of associations--with communal pride, worldly ambition, spiritual bafflement, and the teasing use of allegory simultaneously inviting and blocking religious salvation--cluster around these glimpses of Active minds. The rich catalogs of bric-a-brac ("Moses Rod, the hammer and nail with which Jael slew Sisera, the Pitchers, Trumpets, and lamps too, with which Gideon put to flight the Armies of Midian" ) contribute to interior descriptions that exhibit values without dipping into the consciousness of the "delighted" Christian. In confirmation of Franz Stanzel's literary-historical assertion, I find that the straightforward relation of consciousness and inferiority, or a figural narrative perspective and psychology, had yet to develop in the emergent proto-novels of the Renaissance.
Washington and Lee University
(1) Monika Fludernik has suggested that the late sixteenth-century dramatic soliloquys of Shakespeare and his contemporaries "imitated the earlier narrative soliloquies]" found in Malory. See Fludernik "Though a Glass Darkly" (2011) 79, 94. These may in turn have been influenced by the speeches in medieval morality plays in the psychomachia or "battle of the soul" tradition. On soliloquy as an index of subjectivity, see Belsey, The Subject of Tragedy (1985) 42-48.
(2) See for example, Mark Johnson, The Body in the Mind (1987) and Fauconnier, Mental Spaces (1985).
(3) Scott Stevens points to this image in Descartes' Sixth Meditation in "Sacred Heart and Secular Brain" (1997) 269.
(4) See Keen, Romances of the Archive (2001) 65-69; see also Hart, "Reading, Consciousness, and Romance in the Sixteenth Century" (2011), which discusses how Spenser shows characters reading those books, thus representing the construction of imaginative scenarios. 107.
(5) See, canonically, Lewalski, Protestant Poetics (1979) and Fish "Progress in The Pilgrim's Progress" (1971). Fish comments that Bunyan's dramatic tableaux resemble emblems (273), though he argues that Bunyan stages an anti-progress because "the idea of a progress which is measurable and irreversible is not answerable to the realities of spiritual trial" (292).
(6) The one extended article on Deloney's various narrative forms and techniques is John Carpenter's "Placing Thomas Deloney" (2006), a study of print culture and the nascent articulation of self-other relations. Carpenter details Deloney's peritextual self-placement in his own texts and his inclusive evocation of addressees and audiences. He does not discuss narrative perspective within the story worlds of Deloney's ballads, pamphlets, and prose fictions.
(7) See J. H. Hexter, "The Myth of the Middle Class in Tudor England" 71-116.
(8) Deloney is often cited by critics documenting the changing social status and economic power of the rising men he writes about. See LeMahieu (2003), Mesa-Pelly (1996), and Hentschell (2008).
(9) Dates of Deloney's first edition are derived from the estimates of F. O. Mann and rely on records in the Stationers' Register. The early editions did not survive and the critical texts are based on early seventeenth-century re-printings (495n). See also Lawliss (ed.) 345.
(10) For an account and critique of Jahn's reading of Stanzel, see Fludemik, An Introduction to Narratology 97.
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|Title Annotation:||Thomas Deloney and John Bunyan|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2014|
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