Achsah Guibbory’s return to John Donne

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

It is, Achsah Guibbory says, an exciting time in Donne Studies. In the last decade, a great number of publications focusing on the English poet have materialised, with much critical attention paid to the production of new scholarly editions of Donne for the twenty-first century.

Ashgate has contributed significantly to this influx of contemporary Donne scholarship, notably with the publication of Frances Cruickshank’s Verse and Poetics in George Herbert and John Donne (2010), and Bodies, Politics and Transformations: John Donne’s Metempsychosis by Siobhán Collins (2013).

Returning to John DonneThe newest addition to this list is Returning to John Donne (2015), by Achsah Guibbory.  The book includes an original, substantive introduction and new essays on the Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, the Songs and Sonnets, and the subject of Donne and toleration. It also showcases Guibbory’s most influential previously published work on Donne, with corrections, updates and scholarly reflections.

Guibbory’s work is and always has been historicist; she aims to locate Donne’s writings within various historical and cultural contexts. Nevertheless, the essays selected for this volume (those that she considers to be her most important) are united by an overarching concern to define what is distinctive and original about Donne. She writes:

‘Donne also feels very present, because his writing is so energetic, so alive, and he writes about what continues to matter: our yearning for love and intimacy, our desire to believe in – and feel connected with – something great and better than ourselves … his writing is intimate and direct, addressing the listening reader in a way that makes you feel he is speaking directly to you.’

Though his death was a full 384 years ago on the 31st March, Donne clearly continues to speak to and resonate with readers today.

Achsah Guibbory is a plenary speaker at the Reconsidering Donne conference in Oxford, 23-24th March 2015, with a paper entitled Not all Donne: The Significance of Donne’s Libertine Poetry. More information about her book Returning to John Donne, including contents and ordering information, is available on the Ashgate website.

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