Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946), man of letters, was born in New Jersey and had degrees from Harvard and Oxford. His publications included Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton and Milton and His Modern Critics. He became an acknowledged authority on Donne, publishing a selection of highlights from Donne's sermons designed to introduce Donne's prose to an audience already interested in his poetry. This was the first convenient exhibition of the artistry and power of Donne's prose, and it made a considerable impact, running to many reprints over the following decades (Donne's Sermons: Selected Passages. With an Essay, 1919, pp. xiii-lii).
[Smith introduced his selection with an essay of some forty pages, opening with a not particularly sympathetic account of the revival of interest in Donne's poetry.]
The remarkable and somewhat enigmatic figure of John Donne is one that has attracted a good deal of attention in recent years; his life has been studied, his poems and letters carefully edited, his character analysed, and his position as a poet acutely debated. His harshness, his crabbed and often frigid way of writing, his forced conceits, his cynicism and sensuality, are extremely repellent to some readers; while to others his subtlety, his realism, and a certain modern and intimate quality in his poems, illuminated as they are with splendid flashes of imaginative fire, possess an extraordinary interest and fascination. There are people who hate Donne; there are others who love him, but there are very few who have read his poems and remain quite indifferent to him. His character is still a puzzle, his reputation as a poet, eclipsed for a long time and only revived in our own day, is by no means yet the subject of final agreement.
[Nonetheless, the 'immense body' of Donne's theological writing has been neglected, not just as a consequence of its sheer weight but because 'there is much in the writing itself which renders it difficult and distasteful to the modern mind'. The obsolete modes of thought