Ian Mulvany

June 24, 2023

In our time - John Donne

In the house that I grew up in we had a book of poetry of Donne, but I payed little account to it, and I had only the vaguest knowledge of who he was. I’d rate this episode B-.

This episode did a great job of going over his life and works. I’d not realised when exactly he was working, and it turns out he was writing a good bit earlier than I had thought.

He was writing between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. He did just a little before the end of the reign of Charles the first. He fought the Spanish alongside SIr Walter Raleigh.

His extended family had catholic sympathies, at a time when it was dangerous.

His career in court stalled when he married someone that was not approved of. This stalled his diplomatic career at court.

Later he became a priest and his sermon writing become a core part of his literary output.

He seems to have been a great fan of whorehouses.

His poetry is visceral, bawdy.

In later life he because a royal Chaplin and dean of St Paul’s cathedral.

After listening to the episode I bought a copy of Donne’s works. There is a lot more than I was expecting. I neither loved nor loathed it, could see the great force of writing in it, but also saw that the style is too far removed from me to touch me.

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If you want to dig into in our time episodes more there is a fantastic site that allows you to explore the archive in all sorts of ways: https://genmon.github.io/braggoscope/ 

About Ian Mulvany

Hi, I'm Ian - I work on academic publishing systems. You can find out more about me at mulvany.net. I'm always interested in engaging with folk on these topics, if you have made your way here don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything you want to share, discuss, or ask for help with!