"This all-graved tome". A Reading of John Donne’s "A Valediction: of the Booke"

Benedetto Passaretti (Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Straniere, Università degli Studi di Udine)

Abstract

This article presents a close reading of John Donne’s poem A Valediction: of the Booke. Often neglected by scholarship, this complex composition centres around the ambiguous symbolism of the book which gives the title to the poem, cherished both as token of material presence and as a lasting written document of the lovers’ passion. The volume, a joint collaboration of male design and female ghost-writing, is put before the eyes of all future generations as a universal, sacred text, as a rule book aimed to govern every domain of human existence. This analysis of the seven stanzas emphasizes Donne’s subtle use of classical learning and the multiplicity of meanings evoked by the book metaphor, in particular the contradictory processes of memory and forgetting.

DOI: 10.4424/lam42015-3

Keywords

John Donne; A Valediction: of the Booke; English literature; Classical languages; Symbolism.

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