Journal Article

The Enfranchisement of the ‘In-Mate Soule’: Self-Knowledge and Death in Donne’s <i>Anniversaries</i>

Suzanne Smith

in Literature and Theology

Volume 24, issue 4, pages 313-330
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online October 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frq040
The Enfranchisement of the ‘In-Mate Soule’: Self-Knowledge and Death in Donne’s Anniversaries

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The paradoxical nature of John Donne’s treatment of self-knowledge is nowhere more apparent than in two of his most important long poems, which are known as the Anniversaries. Why does Donne variously present self-knowledge as a near impossibility, a defining attribute, a valuable (if, in some cases, unattractive) good, and a virtue? Here, I suggest that a consideration of Donne’s treatment of self-knowledge is essential for an understanding of his reflections on the relationship between body and soul in the Anniversaries. I argue that The Second Anniversarie may be read as both a portrait of resistance to the parting of body and soul in death, as well as an account of the soul’s enfranchisement and growth in self-knowledge through the same event.

Journal Article.  8665 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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