Ramie Targoff

in John Donne, Body and Soul

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780226789637
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226789781 | DOI:

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This chapter analyzes the Devotions, a prose narrative written after Donne's recovery from what was probably typhoid fever during the autumn of 1623. Throughout this work, Donne struggles both to accept his sickness as a message from God, and to effect a return to health in soul as well as in body. With the exception of his physicians, he seems to be entirely alone throughout the illness he recounts, and his only sustained dialogue is with God. The act of writing the Devotions was an attempt to possess or control what is otherwise outside of Donne's control. It was an effort to contain within his own script the otherwise terrifying uncertainty that surrounds the cycle of health, illness, and possible recovery.

Keywords: John Donne; prose narrative; illness; God; health; soul; body

Chapter.  11315 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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