Collected in this volume are Achsah Guibbory’s most important and frequently cited essays on Donne, which, taken together, present her distinctive and evolving vision of the poet. The book includes an original, substantive introduction as well as new essays on the Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, the Songs and Sonnets, and the subject of Donne and toleration. Over the course of her career, Guibbory has asked different questions about Donne but has always been concerned with recovering multiple historical and cultural contexts and locating Donne’s writing in relation to them. In the essays here, she reads Donne within various contexts: the early modern thinking about time and history; religious attitudes towards sexuality; the politics of early modern England; religious conflicts within the church. While her approach has always been historicist, she has also foregrounded Donne’s distinctiveness, showing how (and why) he continues to speak powerfully to us now. Presented together here, with reflections on the trajectory of her engagement with Donne, Achsah Guibbory illuminates Donne’s understanding that erotic, spiritual, and political issues are often intertwined, and reveals how this understanding resonates in our own times.
Part 1 Time and History: John Donne: the idea of decay. A sense of the future: projected audiences of Donne and Jonson. Part 2 Love: John Donne. 'Oh, Let Mee Not Serve So': the politics of love in Donne's Elegies. Donne, Milton, and holy sex. 'The Relique', The Song of Songs, and Donne's Songs and Sonets. Fear of 'loving more': death and the loss of sacramental love. Depersonalization, disappointment, and disillusion. Part 3 Religion: Donne's religion: Montagu, Arminianism, and Donne's sermons, 1624-1630. Donne's religious poetry and the trauma of grace. Donne and apostasy. Donne, Milton, Spinoza and toleration: a cross-confessional perspective.