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)