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More than skin deep: dissecting Donne’s imagery of humours

Bumke, Alison

Authors

ALISON BUMKE Alison.Bumke@nottingham.ac.uk
Assistant Professor in Seventeenthcentury Literature and Drama



Abstract

This article explores John Donne’s imagery of humoral complexions in verse letters to patrons and in sermons. In the early modern period, the term ‘complexion’ referred to a person’s unique mixture of humours, the four bodily fluids thought to determine appearance, behaviour, and health. Donne refers to complexions to raise questions of moral responsibility. Whether he seeks a patron’s support or a congregation’s repentance, he reworks humoral theories in elaborate, often playful ways, illustrating the necessity of whichever action he recommends. This article argues that his imagery of complexions warrants close attention, both for its rhetorical innovations and for what it reveals about Donne’s verse letters. By focusing on his complexions trope, we can look past letters’ flattery and recognize the literary trademarks - the imaginative thinking, wordplay, and themes - of Donne’s other texts, and of his sermons, in particular.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2015
Journal Review of English Studies
Print ISSN 0034-6551
Electronic ISSN 1471-6968
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 66
Issue 276
APA6 Citation Bumke, A. (2015). More than skin deep: dissecting Donne’s imagery of humours. Review of English Studies, 66(276), https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgv054
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgv054
Publisher URL https://academic.oup.com/res/article/66/276/655/1921902
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Review of English Studies following peer review. The version of record Alison Bumke; More Than Skin Deep: Dissecting Donne’s Imagery of Humours, The Review of English Studies, Volume 66, Issue 276, 1 September 2015, Pages 655–675, https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgv054.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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