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Interior Description and Perspective in Deloney and Bunyan

Suzanne Keen
Vol. 48, No. 4, Interior Spaces and Narrative Perspective Before 1850 (Winter 2014), pp. 496-512
DOI: 10.5325/style.48.4.496
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Page Count: 17
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Interior Description and Perspective in Deloney and Bunyan
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In the early modern prose fiction of Thomas Deloney, 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 Newbury, a sixteenth-century prose fiction, the interior descriptions emphasize cloth workers' activities at looms and ekphrasis of a series of paintings, “which Jack of Newbury had in his house, whereby he encouraged his servants to seek for fame and dignity.” In Deloney's work, interior descriptions take the form of authorial disembodied perspectives, communal perspectives (intermental thought), all the way to figural perspectives attributed to the King. Thomas of Reading's 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. The contrast between the ekphrastic intentions in Deloney's work and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a generation later, suggests a move towards directing inward thought. The essay explores the prehistory of narrative techniques for thought report traditionally associated with inwardness and spirituality, suggesting their roots in status-motivated description of interiors.

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