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Cures and Currency in John Donne’s Letters to Patrons

Bumke, Alison


Assistant Professor in Seventeenth Century Literature and Drama


Critics have discussed how John Donne’s writing responds to alchemy and to patronage, but none has examined how he draws parallels between the two frameworks. Donne sees both as convoluted, frustrating processes that rely on falseness. Comparing his praise to alchemical coins—the quality of which was considered dubious—he attempts to persuade patrons that his flattering epistles are nonetheless “currant” in possessing both social relevance and monetary value. Reading these letters alongside contemporary alchemical tracts, this article traces how Donne’s references to alchemy explore the complex relationships between verse and value in the Jacobean Court.


Bumke, A. (2017). Cures and Currency in John Donne’s Letters to Patrons. SEL Studies in English Literature, 57(1), 67-86.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 20, 2016
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2017
Publication Date Jan 31, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 5, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 5, 2017
Journal SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900
Print ISSN 0039-3657
Electronic ISSN 1522-9270
Publisher Johns Hopkins University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Issue 1
Pages 67-86
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copyright © 2017 William Marsh Rice University


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