Sectarianism in The Ceremonial Law

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Book Chapter

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Thomas Traherne and Seventeenth-Century Thought


Little thus far has been written about The Ceremonial Law, Traherne's curtailed epic poem in heroic couplets. The discovery of the poem was reported in the TLS on 7 November 1997; Laetitia Yeandle of the Folger Shakespeare library found the manuscript listed as an anonymous poem from the 1680s (Yeandle and Julia Smith subsequently redated the poem to the 1660s). The Ceremonial Law had been in the library since the summer of 1958, bought from H. A. Hammelmann of Suffolk. This recent find, however, has left scholars with little time to reflect upon its contents in comparison to the manuscripts discovered in the late nineteenth century. Besides its late discovery, the reasons for the lack of attention to The Ceremonial Law are several: the bulk of the Traherne manuscripts reside at the Bodleian and the British Libraries. The Ceremonial Law and Select Meditations are the outliers, in the United States. Furthermore the manuscript of the poem was only published for the first time in 2014, in the sixth volume of Jan Ross's The Words of Thomas Traherne. In addition to these logistical reasons, The Ceremonial Law maintains in some ways a different focus from other more familiar works by Traherne, and readers are still considering its place in his canon.


For more information on the published version, visit Boydell & Brewer's Website.

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