John Donne, Life, Mind, and Art
by John Carey
An examination of the life and work of John Donne. The book begins with an account of Donne's life and takes as its domain not only the whole range of poetry, but also the sermons, the letters, the spiritual and controversial works, and such highly personal documents as the treatise on suicide.
Paperback, 303 pages
Published March 20th 2007 by Faber & Faber
(first published April 23rd 1981)
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Carey's discussion of Donne's life and poetry is clear, intelligent and interesting. It's a shame that his low opinions of women often seep through into the text. For example, an exploration of the notion of love as ownership is followed by the baffling statement: "We are careful to talk, nowadays, as if we believed that the male ought to respect the female's individuality. Donne is above such hypocrisies..." This book was published in 1981! My word. (He also calls Donne's wife "dismayingly fert...more
This was a very enjoyable read. Carey was able to tease out the contradictions and knots in Donne, illustrating beautifully just how annoying he can be and just why that is a part of his enduring appeal. I felt the urge to go back and reread the poems with fresh eyes.