John Donne: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2

By A. J. Smith; Catherine Phillips | Go to book overview

46.

Anon.,Academy

1900

An anonymous article, characteristic of attitudes at the time, was published in the Academy in 1900. Donne's poetry was summarized in a literary context and biographically in the usual three periods: early manhood, marriage 1601 to taking orders 1615, and 'the Dean of St Paul's' ('The Poetry of John Donne', Academy, 15 December 1900, pp. 608-9.)

Broadly speaking, Jacobean lyric, and still more Caroline lyric, is less of temperament than of convention. Felicities of expression, of music, of courtesy, it has in good measure; it charms and delights. But it lacks the intimate interest of personality. It is built upon common forms, and is everything rather than immediate and human. From this condemnation, if you think it a condemnation, you will exempt John Donne. It would be almost true to say that John Donne's temperament became the Jacobean convention. Nothing can be more misleading than to remember that his poems were first printed in 1633. For half a century they had been potent in MS. There is Walton's word for it, and Ben Jonson's, that they were written, so far as secular, by his twentieth or twenty-fifth year. This must not be pressed too literally, but it is clear that his style was already formed in the great 'nineties, the spacious days between the coming of the Armada and the coming of the Stuarts. And then it was unique. Among the contemporaries of his early manhood, Donne's sole affinities are with Marlowe. Metaphysical, rugged, and obscure, dowered with a macabre imagination and a white-heat of passion, he was an entirely new note in a literature dominated, outside the drama, by the distant influence of Spenser. The pretty fancies of sonnetteers, song-writers, and pastoralists he passed on one side, and witched les jeunes with a new and poignant lyric, imperfect in technique and full of extravagant conceits, lending itself as all strongly marked styles lend themselves, to formal imitation, but in his hands, at least, the fascinating reflex of an undeniable personality. He did not print, for his ambitions were in the world of state, not that of letters; but his precious verses filled innumerable common-place books, and that they set the poetic

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John Donne: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor's Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Note on the Text xiv
  • Introduction xv
  • 1. - Henry Morley 1
  • 3. - William Minto 3
  • 5. - Alice King 15
  • 9. - Edmund Gosse 24
  • 11. - George Edward Bateman Saintsbury 26
  • 13. - Margaret Woods 31
  • 15. - W.F. Collier 50
  • 17. - Gamaliel Bradford 52
  • 21. - Sir Edmund Kerchever Chambers 70
  • 25. - George Edward Bateman Saintsbury 89
  • 29. - Thomas Bird Mosher 102
  • 31. - Augustus Jessopp 105
  • 32. - Anon., Academy 108
  • 35. - Henry Augustin Beers 115
  • 44. - Francis Thompson 180
  • 46. - Anon., Academy 184
  • 48. - Anon., Nation 187
  • 52. - Anon., Quarterly Review 206
  • 59. - Rudolf Richter 221
  • 69. - Charles Eliot Norton 249
  • 73. - Martin Grove Brumbaugh 254
  • 74. - Charles Crawford 255
  • 76. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 259
  • 79. - Alfred Horatio Upham 272
  • 83. - Janet Spens 295
  • 84. - Phoebe Anne Beale Sheavyn 302
  • 85. - William Macdonald Sinclair 303
  • 89. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 317
  • 93. - Evelyn Mary Simpson (Née Spearing) 352
  • 94. - Anon., Nation 353
  • 95. - Felix E. Schelling 356
  • 97. - Rupert Brooke 359
  • 100. - Ernest Percival Rhys 370
  • 102. - Sir Sidney Colvin 390
  • 106. - David Macleane 395
  • 107. - Ezra Pound 396
  • 118. - Logan Pearsall Smith 410
  • 126. - Louise Imogen Guiney 432
  • 128. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 437
  • 132. - Stuart Petre Brodie Mais 451
  • 134. - Elbert Nevius Sebring Thompson 453
  • 137. - William Butler Yeats 457
  • 138. - Robert Seymour Bridges 458
  • Appendix A. 463
  • Appendix B. 467
  • Appendix C: 474
  • Index 475
  • The Critical Heritage Series 502
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