Super-Infinite

The Transformations of John Donne

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Pub Date 06 Sep 2022 | Archive Date Not set

Description

From standout scholar Katherine Rundell, Super-Infinite presents a sparkling and very modern biography of John Donne: the poet of love, sex, and death.

Sometime religious outsider and social disaster, sometime celebrity preacher and establishment darling, John Donne was incapable of being just one thing.

In his myriad lives he was a scholar of law, a sea adventurer, a priest, an MP - and perhaps the greatest love poet in the history of the English language. Along the way he converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, was imprisoned for marrying a sixteen-year old girl without her father’s consent; struggled to feed a family of ten children; and was often ill and in pain. He was a man who suffered from black surges of misery, yet expressed in his verse many breathtaking impressions of electric joy and love.

From standout scholar Katherine Rundell, Super-Infinite presents a sparkling and very modern biography of John Donne: the poet of love, sex, and death.

Sometime religious outsider and social disaster...


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ISBN 9780374607401
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Featured Reviews

Sometime religious outsider and social disaster, sometime celebrity preacher and establishment darling, John Donne was incapable of being just one thing.
In his myriad lives he was a scholar of law, a sea adventurer, a priest, an MP - and perhaps the greatest love poet in the history of the English language. Along the way he converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, was imprisoned for marrying a sixteen-year old girl without her father’s consent; struggled to feed a family of ten children; and was often ill and in pain. He was a man who suffered from black surges of misery, yet expressed in his verse many breathtaking impressions of electric joy and love.

This book by Katherine Rundell oozes the great love and admiration she has for this enthralling book on the life of John Donne, As a graduate of English, I had only touched on this poet in my studies and I am sorry for this. Rundell writes with true passion on her subject and it is infectious. Her narrative flows along and her use of his poems are well placed throughout. I recommend this particularly to English students but interested lay people will also gain from this book. My thanks to Netgalley, the publishers and the Author for an ARC of Super-Infinite. Well worth the read.

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Super-Infinite by Katherine Rundell

I came to this on two paths: one, as a reader of Katherine Rundell’s brilliant children’s fiction, and then also as my much younger academic self, spellbound by Donne and anxious that I wasn’t caring about what mattered.

There are a lot of reasons I’m not still in academia, but the biggest one is that writing like this – the whole approach Rundell takes in this marvelous book – was actively frowned upon in the USian English departments of the early ‘90s. If I’d had role models like Rundell, who fearlessly takes on her subject with not just careful scholarship but clear delight and emotion, I’d have been grateful. Now, as a reader and as a writer, I’m still grateful: Super-Infinite is spellbinding.

We get John Donne clear as a star, made contemporary somehow. Charismatic, brilliant, sexy, funny, dark, insecure… utterly human and real. Rundell is an alchemist; she makes Donne as near and tangible as any living celebrity: we can see him as someone a reader a couple hundred years ago might have wanted to know about in the way one of us would Google a writer we admired today, curious to see the face and hear the voice behind the black squiggles on the white page.

I recommend this to anyone who reads – not just the scholars I know, or the poets, but anyone who finds language, wordplay, history, or poetry of immediate interest.

I received an advance copy of this fantastic book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Katherine Rundell's "Super-Infinite" tracks the life of that most metaphysical of English poets, John Donne. An academic text as much as one for lay readers, it tracks his life from childhood to death, with trips to prison, court, and St Pauls in between. I personally would have appreciated more intertwining of the text, but Rundell does admirably with the verses she does choose to reflect upon a time or place. Donne remains as vibrant, as divinely human today as he was then.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for review.

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