Any politic body

Kathleen Lynch

in Protestant Autobiography in the Seventeenth-Century Anglophone World

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199643936
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738876 | DOI:
Any politic body

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This chapter examines the contests between Protestants and Catholics over the filial claims to Saint Augustine’s religious authority, as they played out in the competing translations of the Confessions into English in the 1620s. This was a constituent part of the battle that raged near the end of James I’s reign to establish religious orthodoxy and to maintain state control over it. The Confessions was not a useful polemical tool, but the chapter details the responsive confessional statements of one of its expert readers, John Donne. The two publications that framed his public life were Pseudo‐Martyr (1610) and Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624). In them, Donne challenged Augustine’s resolution of a spiritual crisis with a change of church. Donne complied, but only in respect of the body politic. He became an improbable literary spokesperson for the Protestant nation.

Keywords: Saint Augustine; Confessions; conversion; John Donne; Pseudo-Martyr; Devotions upon Emergent Occasions; religious orthodoxy; body politic

Chapter.  17153 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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