So this is a biography of John Donne who as well as being one of the greatest poets the English Language has produced, lived, survived, faltered and prospered through the English Reformation.
It’s there anything this man did not do? He was the young Catholic student, attending both Oxford and Cambridge under the radar of the Elizabethan persecution. He was a law student, putting himself about town (in every possible way). He was the careerist administrator in Government, the gentleman soldier heading off with the Earl of Essex to the sack of Cadiz, the lovelorn youth with insufficient prospects eloping with his employer’s niece, the exile from influence forced to earn a living by accompanying rich young men on their Grand Tour, and finally the respected clergyman and Dean of St. Paul’s.
This is a fascinating book. I don’t pretend to know much about metaphysical poetry, so can’t really comment on how much insight is given to Donne’s creative life. But as a gallop through the life and times of someone who lived through such a tumultuous period of our history, is definitely a recommend.
(My one gripe is that I wish they had modernised the spelling where Donne’s writing is directly quoted. I found it distracting and annoying)
I have recently inherited an eldery aunt’s L.M.Montgomery collection (hence the rather bizarre 1930’s book sleeve) and so have been re-reading what I recollect as my favorite of the “Anne” books.
Still quite like it, possibly not quite as much as I did at fifteen.
Well, I really enjoyed the first two thirds of this novel, which established and developed the narrative and characters, but found the final section tying up the many loose ends less engaging.
The Essex setting was great and all the characters were quite interesting (the only genuinely nasty person died conveniently on page 2). However the relentless serpent theme grated. Also tbh, some of the characters were so interesting, I would have liked a longer novel, so I could have known then better.
Other plus points:
– The rector actually seemed to be a Christian
-Interesting autistic character
-Beautiful cover design
This one’s a fail, I’m afraid, I only made it to the end of Chapter 2.
Things I didn’t like:
- The adult world described through a juvenile narrator (just not my taste),
- I don’t think the dialogue, particularly the idiomatic phrases, came across very well in translation,
- The servant (who I think is a key character throughout the novel was REALLY annoying).
Strictly one for fans and scholars, the essay itself only takes up 80 out of 300 pages. The rest consists of footnotes, an editor’s glossary, correspondence and the originated manuscripts.
I haven’t really digested what Tolkein is saying yet. One thing I’m sure of; he would have hated living in the present time.
I found this companion novel to Gilead quite hard to read, very emotionally demanding. It’s beautifully written, and almost unbearably sad. But I found the central characters frustratingly reserved with one another and I don’t have much patience for people who seem to generate great offense from one slightly misplaced word.
I think I need to read this book a few times and make copious notes to do it justice. Keller states in his introduction that he isn’t setting out to say anything new about prayer (in fact he draws heavily on the writings of the sixteenth and seventeenth Reformers in particular) but aims to bring existing material to modern readers in a book that covers the theological, the devotional and the experiential aspects of prayer.
The main point of course is; just pray and trust that God will lead you to Him.