By M. Winkleman, Michael A. Winkelman
Investigations into how the mind truly works have ended in notable discoveries and those findings hold profound implications for analyzing literature. This learn applies contemporary breakthroughs from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology in an effort to deepen our knowing of John Donne's Songs and Sonnets.
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Additional resources for A Cognitive Approach to John Donne’s Songs and Sonnets
It is certainly far too big a field to do justice to here, but a couple of basic points may be made. First, a defining feature of Donne’s love poetry is its seductiveness, what he called “my words masculine perswasive force” (ElFatal, 4). Many of the Songs and Sonnets looked at in the rest of my book seek to entice some actual or implied mistress. Donne surely would have appreciated the conceptual metaphor generated by his contemporary Shakespeare to describe verbal manipulation: PERSUASION IS POISON.
Are mystick books, which only wee / (Whom their imputed grace will dignifie) / Must see reveal’d” (40–43). And INT RODUCT ION 15 in “The Perfume,” about a secret affair, the suspicious mother of the lady “notes thy palenesse, blushing, sighs, and sweats” (22). In “A Valediction forbidding mourning,” conversely, Donne inverts the typical meaning of these features. The soulmates “care lesse, eyes, lips, and hands to misse,” which establishes that their “refin’d” love is superior to sensual “dull sublunary lovers love” (13, 20; my italics).
But to all but the biggest spoilsports, Dyer’s line rings true today, four centuries after he penned it and over two centuries since the American Colonies dispensed with British rule. Anybody with an ounce of introspection will identify with Dyer. Our memories, feelings, dilemmas, and worries; our fondest hopes and dreams; our Alexandrian libraries filled with snippets of favorite songs, movie scenes, and cartoons; our virtual photo albums and soundtracks archiving our exes; our psychosomatic sensations and phenomenological perceptions; our innermost apprehensions and lusts; our nagging doubts and cold-blooded terrors— all these make for a vast landscape to wander around in where the “I” reigns (though not absolutely).