For centuries readers have struggled to fuse the seemingly scattered pieces of Donne’s works into a complete image of the poet and priest. In John Donne, Body and Soul, Ramie Targoff offers a way to read Donne as a writer who returned again and again to a single great subject, one that connected to his deepest intellectual and emotional concerns.
Reappraising Donne’s oeuvre in pursuit of the struggles and commitments that connect his most disparate works, Targoff convincingly shows that Donne believed throughout his life in the mutual necessity of body and soul. In chapters that range from his earliest letters to his final sermon, Targoff reveals that Donne’s obsessive imagining of both the natural union and the inevitable division between body and soul is the most continuous and abiding subject of his writing.
“Ramie Targoff achieves the rare feat of taking early modern theology seriously, and of explaining why it matters. Her book transforms how we think about Donne.”—Helen Cooper, University of Cambridge