The prose letter

Margaret Maurer

in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

The prose letter

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



John Donne's prose letter writing is the essence of this article. Most of John Donne's prose letters survived through the agency of others. Thirty-eight are preserved in his hand; the rest were transcribed in manuscripts or committed to print within decades of his death. Many of Donne's letters, however, illustrate all too clearly the hazard of assuming that any biographical information they might convey can be understood without attention to the nuances of language, style, and thought that are as characteristic of Donne's letters as of his poems and sermons. Most of the letters, in fact, probably owe their preservation to the elegant intricacy of their design. Donne's letters are finely constructed, and they intimate so much that is rich and interesting about his life and his times. It can be said that Donne's letters highlighted the act of disabling to a great extent.

Keywords: prose letter; letters; Donne's letters; manuscript

Article.  6764 words. 

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

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