The Dogmatic and Mystical Theology of John Donne

By Itrat Husain | Go to book overview

PREFACE

BY SIR HERBERT J. C. GRIERSON

MR. ITRAT HUSAIN came here some years ago with the intention of carrying further a study of the English poetry of the seventeenth century which he had begun in India, and of preparing for the Ph.D. a thesis on the mystical strain in the religious poetry of Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, Traherne, etc. I confess to having felt some trepidation at the thought of the subject as rather outside my ken, and at the further thought of its being undertaken by an Indian. But Mr. Husain's intelligence and genuine interest in both poetry and mysticism attracted me, and I was fortunate in securing for him and his work the interest of Professor A. E. Taylor, competent to deal with the subject from the theological side as I was not. The study which Mr. Husain produced greatly interested me, and gained the approval of such qualified judges as Professor Taylor and Miss Evelyn Underhill.

It was in the course of his methodical study of the poets in question that, for his own guidance, Mr. Husain prepared an anthology or index of Donne's pronouncements on various dogmas, theological and ecclesiastical and distinctively Anglican. Moved by some rather sweeping statements made recently regarding the sincerity of Donne's conversion, and his orthodoxy as preacher, divine and poet, Mr. Husain (having gained a Carnegie Scholarship for further research) resolved to undertake a detailed examination of Donne's theological position. The result is contained in the present volume. Mr. Husain has asked me to write a short preface. My own interest has been mainly in Donne's poetry, and I do not feel myself qualified to pass any judgment on a study in systematic theology. The more systematic theology becomes the more I feel unable to follow its definitions and distinctions. I shall therefore confine myself to recording some thoughts evoked by a reading of this volume in proof.

The first is my feeling of surprise and respect that a study of Anglican theology should have been carried out so fully, intelligently and lucidly by an Indian. It has increased the

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