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John Donne, Body and Soul Hardcover – April 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0226789637 ISBN-10: 0226789632 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226789632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226789637
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,590,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Targoff argues that recent scholarship on Donne has overstressed social and political concerns ('apostasy and ambition') at the expense of the 'great subject' that interested him: 'the parting between body and soul.' Arguing that Donne engaged in protracted 'brooding' on this subject throughout his literary career, the author pursues this theme through Donne's works, beginning with a helpful look at his epistles (in prose and verse).... Successful are the treatments of Donne's extended prose, including the Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, in which Targoff smartly traces 'Donne's idea of proleptic putrefaction--that through physical deterioration now, he might reduce his time as a corpse later.' Particular praise is due the last chapter on the frequently taught final sermon Deaths Duell, where Donne remains, writes Targoff, 'fraught with anxiety about the logistics of his material reassemblage.' She offers a strong new interpretation of the frontispiece to the Duell. Teachers of Donne's prose will find much of value here; students of the verse will also be assisted, though likely not persuaded, by the new reading of the Second Anniversarie proffered."


"An original, persuasive, useful, and thoroughly readable contribution to Donne studies."
(Gayle Gaskill Renaissance Quarterly)

"Clearly this is a book of basic significance for a study of Donne. . . . There is much to learn from it."
(John T. Shawcross John Donne Journal)

"Targoff's argument is lucid, sharply focused, and immediately convincing: this is the Donne whom I was taught and who continues to engage and move my students."
(Stephen B. Dobranski Studies in English Literature)

About the Author

Ramie Targoff is professor of English at Brandeis University. She is the author of Common Prayer: The Language of Public Devotion in Early Modern England, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ricardo Mena Cuevas on December 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you love philosophy and poetry you
will love this piece of Art.

Written in a direct and powerful style, thoroughly researched,
this book is vital to any lover of Donne's mind--and body.

The Anatomy of Donne's mind
is here revealed and practiced as I have not seen before.

Great purchase. Thank you.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gustavo A. Mellander, Ph.D., D.H.L. on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Every school child is familiar with John Dunne poetry and imagery drenched sermons and other writings. At least I hope so. There is a certain charm and elegance to be absorbed.

Born into a prominent Catholic family, Dunne converted for what most report was political gain. Ultimately, he held the prestigious position of dean of St. Paul in London. His lectures, poems and other pronouncements led to notoriety and celebrity status during his lifetime.

But fame can be fleeting. Popular as his sermons and writings were, there would be periods in history when they all but disappeared. He just wasn't in vogue in the 18th century. In fact, such heavy weights as Samuel Johnson criticized his writings as "violent and unnatural."

Donne devoted much of his life to exploring and discussing the relationship between ones body and ones soul. Not only on this earthly plane but in the hereafter. That has been the touchstone for author Ramie Targoff intriguing book.

She has analyzed Dunne's literary and philosophical preoccupations and has written an unvarnished account of a literary man of the cloth drenched with earthy passions, an intense curiosity and a felicitous way with words. She struggles valiantly with all of Dunne's theories about the soul: when it enters the human body or fetus, whether is it separated at death and then later reconnected at the resurrection and on and on. All quite intriguing if a bit tedious.

Although the topic is dreary and painfully repetitive at times, this is a carefully researched book, thoughtfully written. Just don't read it on a stormy night.

Dr. Mellander was a university administrator for 15 years and a college president for 20.
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