This second Donne volume covers a key period of fifty years-from the remarks of Henry Morley in 1873 to Eliot's review of the Love Poems in 1923-a half-century which saw the full emergence of Donne as a widely-known poet and, moreover, a powerful influence upon the development of modern poetry.
What enabled this process was Grosart's great edition of 1872-3. This firmly established Donne's standing among the great English poets, a place in the canon consolidated by the editors and critics of the time, including the notable and revealing contributions by Gosse, Chambers, Saintsbury, Dowden, Symons, Grierson, Edward Thomas, Bridges, Yeats and Pound. Beyond their focus upon Donne are the wider implications of the way in which literary tastes and canons change. As the late Professor Smith commented in his Preface to the earlier Donne volume (1975), 'Donne has challenged his critics from the first, so that the successive revaluations of him tend to mirror changing critical assumptions' (p. xv). Of such challenge and change, this second volume provides the documentation we need to trace and analyse these literary and cultural processes.