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The 17th century: LITERARY OUTPUT

After the great Shakespeare there’s a kind of artistic death because no one is able to produce nothing special. Concerning the theatres they were closed down in 1642 and when they reopened, plays were reserved to the upper classes.


    1 - Metaphysical poetry : Marvell and Donne
    2 - The Puritan Age : John Milton
    3 – The Restoration comedy: Congreve


John Donne: a poet of wit

Poetry, the mistress of my youth and the wife of my maturity
No man is an island…..if you ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls also for you
(momento delle grandi scelte che non sono individuali ma collegate al resto del mondo)

Donne’s life

He was born in 1572 in London. Both his parents were Catholics, so he received a Roman Catholic education before going to Oxford. In 1592 he joined the Inns of Court to study law. It’s just in this period that he wrote his songs and sonnets and satires. In 1596 he took part in an expedition against Spain and in 1598 a chance of a successful career indicated to him. But in 1601 he married secretly Ann More who was 16 and who gave him 12 children. She was the niece of Donne’s employer who dismissed him. They became poor and in order to be accepted by the society, and to earn more money, he joined the Church of England in 1615. In fact he wrote two anti – Catholic pamphlets and he was obliged to betray his own ideas. His wife died in 1617 when he wrote Holy Sonnets. He became the Dean of the St. Paul’s Cathedral and also the most famous preacher of all times. People from everywhere came to assist to his sermons. He died in 1631 and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. His life can be divided in two parts and the watershed is his marriage. In the first part of his life Donne enjoyed pleasures and attended to very important social meetings. The second part is dedicated to the spiritual behaviour. In fact in his poetry, which is very complex, we can find a mixture of physical and spiritual elements.

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