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John Donne in the Nineteenth Century$
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Dayton Haskin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212422.001.0001

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A Subject Not Merely Academic

A Subject Not Merely Academic

Chapter:
(p.234) 8 A Subject Not Merely Academic
Source:
John Donne in the Nineteenth Century
Author(s):

Dayton Haskin (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212422.003.0008

In the decade before T. S. Eliot matriculated at Harvard University, several graduates who had studied with Dean Briggs brought John Donne into the curriculum of other US colleges. By the time that Eliot heard Briggs's lecture in 1907, however, the study of Donne at Harvard was on the decline. These developments — the spread of Donne studies beyond Harvard and the waning of Donne's reputation in the University where he had been made a substantial academic subject — created apt conditions for Eliot to display his individual talent a decade later as he began engaging in a neglected literary tradition in which Donne had played a central part. As Anne Ferry has shrewdly observed, even before Eliot began writing about Donne, he had imagined a future anthology, in which readers would discover in a poem such as ‘Whispers of Immortality’ a long delayed coupling between the dead writers of the 17th century and the living modern verse in which they assert their immortality.

Keywords:   John Donne, poetry, literary history, Harvard University, Dean Briggs, Whispers of Immortality, Anne Ferry

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