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Donne, Castiglione and the Poetry of Courtliness

Donne, Castiglione and the Poetry of Courtliness by Peter DeSa Wiggins
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Donne, Castiglione, and the Poetry of CourtlinessPeter DeSa Wiggins

The influence of The Book of the Courtier on the work of John Donne.

John Donne has been described as a "poet of ambition," who used his poems as agents in his quest for preferment among the elites of Elizabethan and early Stuart London. Until now the extent of the influence on Donne's work of that era's most influential court text -- Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier -- has never been fully explored. Courtier was Elizabethan England's approved repository of the complex social codes that governed the behavior of those desiring advancement at Court. In these revelatory readings of some of Donne's best-known poems, Peter DeSa Wiggins demonstrates that this book fired Donne's imagination and that, in his secular poetry, Donne applies, adapts, and unfolds to its fullest potential the persona of the courtier. In poems such as "The Canonization," "A Nocturnall upon S. Lucies Day," "Aire and Angels," "The Flea," and "The Exstasie," Donne confronts his elite readers with the most exacting standard of aristocratic conduct while presenting his qualifications for sensitive government posts. By substituting social codes for poetic convention as the formative principle of his art, Donne assumed the voice of a powerful aristocracy, turned it to his advantage, built one political career out of it (which he lost), then built another, and in the process revolutionized his art form.

Peter DeSa Wiggins is Professor of English at The College of William and Mary and author of Figures in Ariosto's Tapestry: Character and Design in the Orlando Furioso.

ContentsIntroductionThe Satirical Art of the Disabused The Art of Impasse The English Secretary Poets and Lawyers The Future of an Illusion The Looking GlassAesthetic Play Courtly Art "On his Mistris" Modern Instances Courtly ComedySprezzatura or Transcendence: From Travesty to Palinode Travesty A Lesson in Deportment PalinodeDiscerning Insincerity The Good Courtier The Bad Courtier Sincerity Then and NowConclusion

Indiana University Press; January 2001
186 pages; ISBN 9780253109484
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Title: Donne, Castiglione and the Poetry of Courtliness
Author: Peter DeSa Wiggins
 
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