A new biography explores the desires of the metaphysical poet
The Reformed Soul: A Biography
by John Stubbs
$35.00 List Price
Most startling in the wealth of John Stubbs's new life of John Donne is that the subject of the biographer's attentions spent a very long time trying to escape his poetic fate. Even late in his life, according to Stubbs, Donne was fending off his literary inclinations like so many pesky acquaintances. He complained about having "this itch of writing" and told a friend that he wanted to follow "a graver course than of a Poet, into which (that I may also keep my dignity) I would not seem to relapse." When he did give in to his urges, his poems (which were often bawdy) were for friends only, and he objected to their being circulated beyond his small inner circle.
Considering that Donne was the author of what remains some of the greatest, not to mention the most enduring, verse in the history of the English language—much
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