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Lecherous Goates

Tobias Gregory: John Donne

19 October 2016
John​ Donne 
edited by Janel Mueller.
Oxford, 606 pp., £95, July 2015, 978 0 19 959656 0
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... He affects​ the Metaphysics,’ Dryden wrote of JohnDonne, ‘not only in his satires, but in his Amorous Verses, where Nature alone should reign; and perplexes the Minds of the Fair Sex with nice Speculations of Philosophy, when he shou’d ingage their ...

Things the King Liked to Hear

Blair Worden: Donne​ and Milton’s Prose

18 June 2014
Sermons of John Donne​ Vol. III: Sermons Preached at the Court of Charles I 
edited by David Colclough.
Oxford, 521 pp., £125, November 2013, 978 0 19 956548 1
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Complete Works of John​ Milton Vol. VI: Vernacular Regicide and Republican Writings 
edited by N.H. Keeble and Nicholas McDowell.
Oxford, 811 pp., £125, December 2013, 978 0 19 921805 9
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... JohnDonne​ is a modern rediscovery. His reputation, high among his contemporaries, fell after their time, along with those of other 17th-century metaphysical poets who would wait equally long for ...
20 November 1980
English Renaissance Studies 
edited by John​ Carey.
Oxford, 320 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 19 812093 1
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... In his preface to this celebratory volume of essays presented to Dame Helen Gardner on her 70th birthday, John Carey apologises for the fact that the topics discussed are restricted to 16th and 17th-century English literature. Dame Helen’s latest book, after all, was The Composition of ‘The Four Quartets ...

For the duration

John​ McManners

16 June 1983
The Oxford Book of Death 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 351 pp., £9.50, April 1983, 0 19 214129 5
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Idéologies et Mentalités 
by Michel Vovelle.
Maspéro, 264 pp., £7.15, May 1982, 2 7071 1289 5
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... Herrick has three mentions, but his poetic genius is too lofty to arouse envy: one can but read with haunted admiration the deceptively innocent lyrical outpourings from his Devonshire vicarage. JohnDonne, the greatest of the deans of St Paul’s, inevitably ranks first in the list of Anglican clergy (he has seven mentions), but he was dedicated to the theme of death and slept in his coffin – ...
8 November 2012
... Aphrodite accompanied by parching madnesses, black, unastonishable, powerfully, right up from the bottom of my feet [it] shakes my whole breathing being. [fr. 286 as ‘Woman’s Constancy’ by JohnDonne] In woman, on the one hand, those contracts being purposed by change and falsehood, where lovers’ images [forswear the persons that we were], and true deaths sleeping beneath true marriages ...

Donne’s Will to Power

Christopher Ricks

18 June 1981
John DonneLife, Mind and Art 
by John​ Carey.
Faber, 303 pp., £9.50, May 1981, 0 571 11636 1
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... Donne’s powers are, for John Carey, a matter of power, the poems being ‘the most enduring exhibition of the will to power the English Renaissance produced’. The praises of Donne in this critical work of amazing flair and obduracy are single-minded: Donne is here valued, supremely, for the power and tenacity of his ego, for his imaginative energy, for his desire to dominate ...

Zigzags

John​ Bossy

4 April 1996
The New Oxford History of England. Vol. II: The Later Tudors 
by Penry Williams.
Oxford, 628 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 19 822820 1
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... Taylor’s extra volume on 1914-45, does not much ring in the mind, except for its first two volumes (Collingwood and Myres, and Stenton) and Taylor’s. I doubt if the new one will fare any better. John Roberts, the general editor, does not show his hand in detail, and we must keep our fingers crossed about the whole being greater than the parts by giving ‘an account of the development of our ...

Recribrations

Colin Burrow: John Donne​ in Performance

5 October 2006
DonneThe Reformed Soul 
by John​ Stubbs.
Viking, 565 pp., £25, August 2006, 0 670 91510 6
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... what it’s like to read most poems. Reading poems is usually, if things go well, a process of losing and finding one’s balance, and then wondering if one has really grasped the thing after all. JohnDonne’s poems in particular are extremely unstable. Critics have often got into a sweat about the way that they argue implausible cases, and very often, too, things happen in the course of them ...

After-Lives

John​ Sutherland

5 November 1992
Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... memoir, In Search of J.D. Salinger. Keepers of the Flame is a further cogitation on the woes of biography, this time in a more objectively historical context. Hamilton offers 22 case studies, from JohnDonne – the first properly biographed English author – to Philip Larkin of last month’s Observer fame. Hamilton could not, if he tried, write an unreadable book. Keepers of the Flame is that ...

Never Knowingly Naked

David Wootton: 17th-century bodies

15 April 2004
Common Bodies: Women, Touch and Power in 17th-Century England 
by Laura Gowing.
Yale, 260 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 300 10096 5
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... they did take off their hats (if they were men) and coifs (if they were women); thus a brother and sister were suspected of incest when they were discovered in bed together, ‘both bareheaded’. JohnDonne was exploring a metaphysical extreme of sensuality when he wrote a poem in praise of ‘full nakedness’: a poem which describes his lover’s clothes, but not her body, and in which his hands ...

Hew their bones in sunder

Eamon Duffy: Lancelot Andrewes

3 August 2006
Lancelot Andrewes: Selected Sermons and Lectures 
edited by Peter McCullough.
Oxford, 491 pp., £90, November 2005, 0 19 818774 2
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... worked phrases from other passages cited in his essay into other poems, notably Ash Wednesday. There was more to all this than shared churchmanship. In a celebrated comparison between Andrewes and JohnDonne, Eliot maintained that Andrewes was a ‘medieval’ rather than a ‘modern’ writer. He valued Andrewes because his magnificently dense prose subordinated personality to the demands of text ...

Lord Have Mercy

James Shapiro: Plague Writing

31 March 2011
Plague Writing in Early Modern England 
by Ernest Gilman.
Chicago, 295 pp., £24, June 2009, 978 0 226 29409 4
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... fearing infection. But the premise is merely a feint; while we are told at the outset that ‘the sickness [is] hot’ in London, we never see any evidence of plague or its victims. Shortly after, John Fletcher wrote The Tamer Tamed, in which a wife plays a trick on her domineering husband, having him quarantined after claiming to see the marks of plague on him: ‘The sickness … is i’ th ...

I am a Cretan

Patrick Parrinder

21 April 1988
On Modern Authority: The Theory and Condition of Writing, 1500 to the Present Day 
by Thomas Docherty.
Harvester, 310 pp., £25, May 1987, 0 7108 1017 2
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The Order of Mimesis: Balzac, Stendhal, Nerval, Flaubert 
by Christopher Prendergast.
Cambridge, 288 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 521 23789 0
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... Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ Docherty misreads as the age of the printing press rather than of photography and sound recording) adds further terminological lubrication. In his earlier book JohnDonne, Undone (1986) Docherty poured scorn on Eliot’s theory of ‘dissociation of sensibility’ in 17th-century poetry, a theory which – so far as Donne was concerned – Eliot in any case ...

Ye must all be alike

Catherine Gallagher

27 January 1994
Writing Women in Jacobean England 
by Barbara Kiefer Lewalski.
Harvard, 431 pp., £35.95, February 1993, 0 674 96242 7
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... Countess of Bedford’s husband, for example, was reclusive, but the Countess became one of the most important courtiers and patrons of the period, using her paternal family connections to promote JohnDonne, among others, and participating in literary exchanges with her clients. The cultural prestige of these ladies in turn inspired Aemelia Lanyer, a commoner, to seek their patronage for her own ...

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