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The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – August 14, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library edition (August 14, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375757341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375757341
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"When Donne, whose muse on dromedary trots, Wreathe iron pokers into True-love knots."

From the Inside Flap


This Modern Library edition contains all of John Donne's great metaphysical love poetry. Here are such well-known songs and sonnets as "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," "The Extasie," and "A Nocturnall Upon S. Lucies Day," along with the love elegies "Jealosie," "His Parting From Her," and "To His Mistris Going to Bed." Presented as well are Donne's satires, epigrams, verse letters, and holy sonnets, along with his most ambitious and important poems, the Anniversaries. In addition, there is a generous sampling of Donne's prose, including many of his private letters; Ignatius His Conclave, a satiric onslaught on the Jesuits; excerpts from Biathanatos, his celebrated defense of suicide; and his most famous sermons, concluding with the final "Death's Duell." "We have only to read [Donne]," wrote Virginia Woolf, "to submit to the sound of that passionate and penetrating voice, and his figure rises again across the waste of the years more erect, more imperious, more inscrutable than any of his time."

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Customer Reviews

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While I love Donne's poetry, I have always thought he was at his very best in his prose.
Robert Moore
Like nearly everyone, I bought this book for the poetry; I had read little of the prose and really did not know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised.
Bill R. Moore
This book was a gift, so I only gave it a cursory look, but the recipient was overjoyed to have all his poetry in one place.
Nancy McJennett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on February 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
John Donne is the most controversial poet to ever write in English, the focus of controversy for four centuries. He put out almost no poems in life, but they were widely circulated in manuscript, and their publication a few years after his death immediately made him a major poet. His status remained high until Samuel Johnson dismissed him in the late eighteenth century. The Romantic Era saw a mini-revival, and he always had at least a cult following, but obscurity seemed poised to engulf him until T. S. Eliot extolled him in the early twentieth century. This initiated a renaissance possibly making Donne more popular than ever, and though the fever pitch has died down somewhat, he remains in the upper echelon of English poets - one of the handful to have truly entered world literature - and shows no sign of moving.

Debate has always centered on Donne's wildly inventive tropes, particularly what became known as metaphysical conceits. Johnson famously condemned them by saying, "the most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together," and many have agreed, finding Donne overly flashy and prosaic while lacking high seriousness and beauty. However, at least as many have thought the opposite, finding him brilliantly creative, ever-inventive, and resoundingly fresh. Donne is indeed one of the most original poets in modern times. His metaphors are certainly attention-grabbing, highly imaginative, and - against all odds - superbly executed, but they are hardly his only brilliant yet controversial feature. For instance, he is also notable for choppy rhythms closely approximating everyday speech. This truly made him stand out in an era when formal classical models were the norm and even prompted contemporary Ben Jonson to quip that he deserved hanging.
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34 of 44 people found the following review helpful By "thelessdeceived" on June 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Metaphysical poets were not all randy adolescents, but beneath the sensuous seduction of Donne's love poetry can be felt the endearing ingenuity of a cad. Combined with the powerful sincerity of his religious poems and divine meditations, the wit and intensity of a sensitive and naked poet become vivid. Donne wrote to be read by friends and this intimacy is apparent - there is a strong sense of being enclosed in the same room as the poet in a rare meditation. Donne is important both in igniting religous poetry and as a precursor to poets such as T S Eliot, but more importantly he is one of the greatest individual poets in the language. His 'unclassical' roughness which threatened him with obscurity now speaks clearly of his profound force of feeling blazing into thought.
This book would be enriching for anyone who loves poetry, religion, love or pretty much anything else.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If all you want is a single volume collection of Donne's poetry, my recommendation is the Everyman's edition of John Donne, but if you also want a significant selection of Donne's prose - and if you don't, why not? - you can't do better than this Modern Library edition. I recommend the Everyman's volume for the poetry simply because it is such a gorgeous edition. This Modern Library also contains nearly 300 pages of Donne's prose, which is easily some of the most breathtaking in the language.

I have only two complaints with this volume. One is that it contains only 40 pages of the DEVOTIONS UPON EMERGENT OCCASIONS. Luckily, Vintage publishes them in their entirety as a standalone volume, which I strongly recommend for lovers of Donne. The other complaint is that the spine of this particular edition is not strong. I had to return the first copy I got from Amazon because the glue was so thin that it split and creased immediately upon opening. This is a problem I've noted in a number of the Modern Library paperbacks.

Still, if you want only one book of Donne's work, this is the one I recommend. If you want even more, I would recommend the aforementioned Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death's Duel. I also like John Donne - The Major Works: including Songs and Sonnets and sermons (Oxford World's Classics), which includes some prose that the Modern Library edition omits.
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41 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I agree with all the positive things said about Donne on this page. Also, this book's great strength is its breadth, including poems, letters, sermons, and other writings of Donne. One gets all the poems and most of his available prose. The only difficulty I had is that all of the poems are presented without any effort to modernize the spelling of words. Often, this distracts from a more perfect enjoyment of Donne's wit, sentiment, conceits and emotions. For those who might find antiquated spelling a distraction, I recommend they find another edition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fr. Charles Erlandson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
John Donne wrote some of the most beautiful, intelligent, and passionate poetry in the English language! With some poets you get 1 or 2 of these qualities: with Donne you get all 3, and so I highly recommend his poetry to all lovers of poetry and English literature. The language is archaic and at times difficult, but that's also some of its beauty and charm. What's more noteworthy but less noticed than the oldness of the language is how fresh and alive it still seems and must have seemed in centuries past! While I love Donne's poetry especially because of his intelligent and beautiful passion for God, even those without religious faith will appreciate the brilliance and glory of Donne's poetry.

If you're able to keep up with Donne's poetry, you'll discover startling phrases and juxtapositions which were frowned upon in ages past but which I find helps invigorate the modern reader. Whether your primary way of apprehending poetry is religious, intellectual, or aesthetic, Donne will be a delight to you as it does me. Donne's poetry also has a very personal association with me: when I was courting my wife and in the early years of my marriage, I would read her the poetry of Donne and George Herbert. She not only loved the poetry but loved me more for having read it to her!

This Modern Library "Complete Poetry and Selected Prose" is an excellent edition because it contains not only all of Donne's poetry but also a large sample of his best prose written in diverse genres. Because of the stunning nature of his poetry we sometimes forget that "No man is an island" and "send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee" are from one of his prose meditations.

Highly recommended!
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