n proper Victorian fashion this study of the art and literature of the period will begin with a tale of conversion. I was originally, before my second birth, quite skeptical about the importance of this mode of biblical symbolism to any Victorian writer but John Ruskin, whom I considered an anomaly. I have since realized that typology helps us to understand other major figures in both Victorian literature and art. Although students of English and American literature of the seventeenth century have demonstrated the importance of biblical typology in their fields for more than a decade, students of Victorian culture have paid little attention to it. Typology (or typological symbolism) is a Christian form of biblical interpretation that proceeds on the assumption that God placed anticipations of Christ in the laws, events, and people of the Old Testament. When I wrote The Aesthetic and Critical Theories of John Ruskin (1971), I was most concerned to explain the basic nature of the Evangelical Anglican form of this exegetical mode and then demonstrate how Ruskin moved from it to his own peculiar kind of allegory. While writing this book about Ruskin in 1968, I became aware that it was the critic's emphasis upon elaborate symbolism that so excited Hunt and his Pre-Raphaelite associates, and this recognition led to an essay on William Holman Hunt's The Shadow of Death in the 1974 Rylands Library Bulletin (and later to William Holman Hunt and Typological Symbolism, 1979). By the time I began to work on Pre-Raphaelite theories of realistic symbolism, I saw that Ruskin, Hunt, Rossetti, Millais, Collins, and other members of their circle drew heavily upon this supposedly arcane theological matter, and I concluded that it possessed more importance than I had earlier thought possible.

Earl Miner's gracious invitation to take part in the 1974 Princeton conference on literary typology, which took place while I was at work on William Holman Hunt and Typological Symbolism, encouraged me to look more widely than I had done for evidence of typology in Victorian literature. By the time I wrote my position paper, which later appeared in Professor Miner's Literary Uses of Typology from the Late Middle Ages to the Present (1977), I had become convinced that, with the obvious exception of Arnold, every major Victorian poet employs typology in some manner.

When I first began to investigate this subject some fifteen years ago, there was little available to the literary student other than essays by William Madsen and Northrop Frye on Milton. Such lack of studies of literary typology has proved an unexpected benefit -- albeit in a rather backhanded sort of way. Since I was unable to learn much about typological readings of the Bible during the Victorian period from histories of theology or from accounts of the Evangelical movement, I began a course of reading sermons, tracts, hymns, biblical commentaries, and devotional poetry. Although this manner of proceeding required a great deal of time, it had the obvious advantage of forcing me to confront Victorian materials directly before formulating any broad generalizations. Fortunately, Ruskin's favorite preacher (whom, as I later learned, Browning and Gladstone also admired) was Henry Melvill, Canon of St. Paul's, sometime chaplain to the Queen, and one of the most popular preachers of his time. My more recent investigations have required that I make myself acquainted with a far wider range of dissenting, Broad Church, and High Anglican applications of this exegetical mode. The advantage of going directly to major Victorian preachers and Bible commentators is not only that one makes some unexpected discoveries of unexpected talents -- Melvill, for instance, often writes finer sermons than Newman -- but that one does not risk basing assumptions about Victorian typology upon the theory and practice of other ages and other arts. One can learn much about typology in Gothic architecture from Emile Male's The Gothic Image: Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century and also much about its appearance in Northern Renaissance painting in Erwin Panofsky's Early Netherlandish Painting, Its Origins and Character, both brilliant works that mark new epochs in scholarship. One can also learn about literary applications of typology in many recent studies of seventeenth-century work, including those by my colleague Barbara Kiefer Lewalski. Such studies are especially useful if one already has a fairly clear idea of Victorian orthodox and extended applications of this exegetical mode. Otherwise, the student of Victorian literature will find himself looking at Browning, Ruskin, and Keble through preconceptions formed by mediaeval or seventeenth-century practice. Therefore, we must first discover how the Victorians defined and applied typology, and in this manner we can also understand how such apparently arcane theological matters influenced so much Victorian art, literature, and thought. After some basic questions about Victorian uses of this interpretive mode have been answered, one hopes that students of the period will begin to examine its nineteenth-century appearances in relation to earlier manifestations

Portions of this work have appeared in different form in Earl Miner's Literary Uses of Typology from the Late Middle Ages to the Present, Studies in Romanticism, and Victorian Newsletter, and I would like to thank Princeton University Press and the editors of these two periodicals for granting permission to reprint these materials. I would also like to thank the Scuola di San Rocco, Venice, the Tate Gallery, the Birmingham City Museums and Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery, Llandaff Cathedral, and Jesus College, Oxford, for granting permission to reproduce works of art in their possession.

I would like to thank the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and its president, Dr. Gordon N. Ray, for another Fellowship that allowed me to complete a study of Victorian typology. I would also like to thank, for their assistance and encouragement John L. Bradley, James Boulger, Stephen Brook, Jerome Bump, David J. DeLaura, William E. Fredeman, Ernest Frerichs, E. D. H . Johnson, U. C . Knoepflmacher, Earl Miner, Linda H. Peterson, Andrew Saint, Frank Taylor, G. B. Tennyson, and Hugh Witemeyer. l would also like to thank Terry Hackford, Kenneth Johnson, Shoshana M. Landow, Stephen Murray, and Sarah Webster for helping me read proof.

My greatest debt is to my wife Ruth whose presence encouraged this study to take form more quickly than it otherwise would have done Her continued support, good humor, and enthusiasm for the project made it much easier to carry out, and her generosity in lavishing her skills as a professional copy editor upon the manuscript is responsible for much that seems clear and much that does not seem awkward.

Providence, Rhode Island

To the Introduction, the next section or chapter in print version

Victorian Web main screen Contents Biblical Typology

Print version published 1980; web version 1998