Robert Pollok’s The Course of Time and Literary Theodicy in the Romantic Age: The Rise and Fall of a Christian Epic
From the publisher:
"This book explores the contexts and reception history of Robert Pollok’s religious epic The Course of Time (1827), one of the best- selling long poems of the nineteenth century, which has been almost entirely forgotten today. Widely read in the United States and across the British Empire, the poem’s combination of evangelical Calvinism, High Romanticism, and native Scottishness proved irresistible to many readers. This monograph traces the poem’s origins as a defense of Biblical authority, divine providence, and religious orthodoxy (against figures like Byron and Joseph Priestley) and explores the reasons for The Course of Time’s enormous, decades- long popularity and later precipitous decline. A close reading of the poem and an examination of its reception history offers readers important insights into the dynamic relationship between religion and wider culture in the nineteenth century, the uses of literature as a vehicle for theological argument and theodicy, and the important but often overlooked role that religion played in literary— and, particularly, Scottish— Romanticism. This work will appeal to scholars of religious history, literary history, Evangelicalism, Romanticism, Scottish literature, and nineteenth- century culture."