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John Donne in the Nineteenth Century$
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Dayton Haskin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212422.001.0001

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Introduction: The Variorum as a Window onto Cultural History

Introduction: The Variorum as a Window onto Cultural History

(p.1) 1 Introduction: The Variorum as a Window onto Cultural History
John Donne in the Nineteenth Century

Dayton Haskin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This introduction looks at the Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne in relation to other features of literary and cultural history. The Donne Variorum serves as a window onto literary and cultural history, enabling us to take an intelligent interest in criticism from earlier eras, which otherwise we might dismiss as ‘wrong’ or uninteresting. The discussion ends with a hypothesis: as the aims of a secular interpretative community collided with the interests of readers who were looking into the writings because they valued the Dr Donne of Izaak Walton, a larger, more fluid interpretative community emerged. Its members found in Donne an intriguing site at which to explore their own cultural contradictions. The various interpretations of the poems being reported in the Variorum attest to a struggle over the identity and significance of John Donne that took on an unprecedented urgency at the end of the 19th century.

Keywords:   John Donne, literary criticism, poetry, cultural history, Izaak Walton, Victorian era

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