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Shakespeare and DonneGeneric Hybrids and the Cultural Imaginary$
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Judith H. Anderson and Jennifer C. Vaught

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251254

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251254.001.0001

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Sites of Death as Sites of Interaction in Donne and Shakespeare

Sites of Death as Sites of Interaction in Donne and Shakespeare

(p.16) (p.17) 1. Sites of Death as Sites of Interaction in Donne and Shakespeare
Shakespeare and Donne

Matthias Bauer

Angelika Zirker

Fordham University Press

If there is a motif that runs like a thread through all of John Donne’s writings, it is the awareness of death and its impact on life. Donne’s portrait in a shroud, the frontispiece to his most famous sermon, “Deaths Duell,” is the visible sign of this constant awareness. Its implications are manifold but it primarily involves, on the one hand, an emphasis on the need to die daily as a way of learning how to live and to “conforme […] to Christ,” and, on the other, an emphasis on the identity of love and death, i.e. the experience of the uttermost union of bodies and souls as an “interinanimation,” as put forward in his poem “The Extasie.” This chapter argues that Donne’s very own way of combining the notion of death as the prerequisite of life with the notion of love and death being one and the same is understood much better when we see him in dialogue with Shakespeare, who similarly joins these notions in his plays and poems. This can be seen perhaps most clearly when considering locations of death: the epitaph, the grave, the monument, which are sites of recognition and metamorphosis in both poets.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, William, Donne, John, death, grave, monument, epitaph, Deaths Duell, The Extasie, love poetry, sites

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