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HUMANITIES 409 entirely speculative, and thus the relationship between the literature of the time andtheeconomicpower orpowerlessness ofRenaissance women in the context of the rise of patriarchal capitalism must await a more thorough and detailed study whose primary aim is to elucidate such matters. Throughout this volume connections are made between Renaissance arguments concerning women and modern feminism, which the author conservatively defines as 'the beliefin the essentialintellectual, emotional, and moral equality of the sexes.' Thus Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa is seen as 'a thinker capable of laying philosophic foundations for modern feminism,' and Haec-Vir's 'We are as freeborne as men' as the battle cry of later generations of women for an end to oppression. Although some readers may find such comments distracting and irrelevant, to others this spirited emphasis on texts which foreshadow the major political movement of our own time will be entirely welcome. Women and the English Renaissance will provide a framework for many unexplored and unanswered questions concerning the images and status of women from 1540 to 1620. In both its breadth and its detail it is a wonderful achievement. (CLAUDETTE HOOVER) Terry G. Sherwood. Fulfilling the Circle: A Study ofJohn Donne's Thought University of Toronto Press. 231. $27.50 Stimulatedby T.S. Eliot's observation that Donne enjoyed a mechanism of sensibility which could devour anything, the New Criticism searched the Songs and Sonnets for examples of unified sensibility expressed through passionate, ironic tone and through structure as integrated as a wellwrought urn. But as scholars attempted to take into account the full range of the poet's work, including devotions and sermons, it became increasingly important to find a place for his ideas and his sense of vocation. Are the haunting similarities between the early and the late work evidence merely of the persistence of style and technique, or do they express an underlying continuity of thought and conviction? As the title of his book proclaimS, Terry G. Sherwood seeks a rounded understanding of Donne which stresses his consistent adherence thoughout his career to certain basic principles and intellectual paradigms. Behind Donne's restlessness and chafing, Sherwood detects a yearning for constancy, and thus concludes that the best approach to the poet's nature is to examine what he continues to say. One striking quality of this fine study is the juggling feat by which Sherwood keeps so many aspects of Donne's writing before us at once. Every section of his study progresses from the early love poems to the sermons, and in doing so finds repeated opportunities to discuss the 410 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 satires, elegies, verse letters, and funeral poems, and to give at least passing attention to the earlier prose. Circling through the canon in this way, the critic shows an easy mastery of his materials, drawing attention repeatedly to the unfolding of Donne's principles in his writing, and displaying through a maze ofcitationthe consistenttendencies ofthought and feeling. To approach Donne in this way is to find his end in his beginning, and Sherwood acknowledges that his aim is to take the long view ofDonne by exploring the principles which develop to fruition in the mature religious prose. Consequently the major concerns of the study are"best illustrated by the religious writing, and its most original contributions concern such issues as creation and recreation, the tripartite soul, service to the community by exemplary action, and the fulfilment of time in joy that arises out of suffering. Much original interpretation - such as the importance ofBernard ofClairvaux to Donne's conception ofmeditationappears in the course of elucidating these central notions. The conclusion , which emerges with a kind of inevitability from such wide-ranging illustration, is that Donne's yearning for constancy was fulfilled in the calling to express through preaching his search for conformity to the crucified Christ. The study is organized in two major sections. Part one deals with the principles of consciousness in what Sherwood callsDonne's epistemology and psychology. He challenges - rightly, I believe - recent tendencies to minimize the role of reason in Donne's thought, and demonstrates that throughout his life Donne endorses reason and finds the essentially rational nature of human consciousness to be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 409-411
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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