Menippean Donne

Anne Lake Prescott

in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199218608
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Menippean Donne

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This article explores some satirical texts by John Donne that seem to have little in common: Meter, The Courtier's Library, Ignatius his Conclave, Verse Letters mocking Thomas Coryate, and a number of ‘characters’ or essays, some of them of disputed authorship but that are probably or possibly by Donne. Each text has its own character, agenda, and context. Menippean satire, named for the ancient writer Menippos, of whose writings nothing remains but who figured in dialogues by the second-century satirist Lucian. It came to the Renaissance through what remained of works by the Roman Varro, the somewhat better-preserved Satyricon of Petronius, Apuleius' Golden Ass, Seneca's Apocolocyntosis, and Lucian himself. Renaissance opinion, however, was tolerably clear and broad; the humanist scholars whom Donne knew would have agreed with the laxer definitions, and would also have agreed that this often very erudite genre is particularly given to laughter at pretentious erudition.

Keywords: satitirical texts; Menippean satire; Menippos; Lucian; Renaissance; Roman Vaaro

Article.  11208 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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