"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.