Chapter

Deaths Duell

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226789781.003.0007
Deaths Duell

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When Donne became a minister in the Church of England, he pursued his lifelong preoccupation with the resurrection of the flesh in a manner unprecedented in his earlier works. The final proof of how profound an obsession the resurrection was for Donne comes in the last sermon he ever wrote. In this sermon, Donne not only rehearses his fears about bodily corruption and his hopes for divine reconstitution, as he had on earlier occasions, but also attempts to stage his own death in the pulpit, to perform his valediction to the world. On the first Friday of Lent in February 1631, Donne preached before King Charles I and hundreds of listeners at Whitehall Palace a sermon that was published one year later with the posthumous title Deaths Duell, or A Consolation to the Soule against the Dying Life and Living Death of the Body. More than any of Donne's other sermons, Deaths Duell reminds us again and again that the text we have received is merely a script of what was originally a live performance.

Keywords: John Donne; sermons; minister; Church of England; resurrection; live performance

Chapter.  13426 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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