Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Professor Dympna Callaghan
Professor Rory Loughnane
Arts and Science
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles
The agenda of this paper is a re-examination of the de-facto formation of a literary character. John Donne is one of history’s most celebrated metaphysical poets. A quasi-contemporary of William Shakespeare, his biography has been similarly (if obviously to a lesser degree) plumbed. The turn of the 17th century offers, in terms of hard facts, only tantalizing details left by fortuitous accident, and it has been the realm of biographers and early modern scholars to piece together the fragments. In the case of John Donne, this has manifested as a genealogy of literary biography that frequently melds scant fact, poetic manuscripts, and agreed upon assumptions to give us an image of a man who is less person than personification of the tumultuous and revolutionary times in which he lived.
The image formed of John Donne is a chronologically distinct collection of personalities: the scholar, the rogue, the soldier and the theologian, culminating in a dichotomy between the youthful Jack Donne, and the revered Dr. Donne. This paper will seek to trouble that construction in two ways. In the first part, the paper will examine three major literary biographies which helped to construct this image—John Donne: A Life,by R.C. Bald, John Donne: Life, Mind, and Art by John Carey, and Donne: The Reformed Soul, by John Stubbs—and deconstruct their conclusions. In the second part of the paper, I will address the poetic canon of John Donne. In the collusion of both I will attempt to propose a unified John Donne, replete with biographical and literary continuity.
Fitzgerald, Bailey Susan, "Counter-Reformation: the Search for a Unified John Donne" (2012). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 132.
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