So to read it is to credit it, whether erroneously or not, with an underlying intellectual seriousness. The key to that seriousness involves taking the voices of the speakers to represent divergent aspects of the author herself in the process of competing for her allegiance. Comic dialogue becomes comically dialogized monologue, as in Donne, to the point where one might be tempted to praise the author's wit.
To do so, however, again as in Donne, would be to undervalue the open-ended and inclusive nature of the dialogue, together with a corollary that is more apparent in La Ruelle because of the difference in genre. For despite her power to command the body of her lover and the absence of the usual cultural obstacles to seduction encountered by men dealing with women, the lady has a considerable stake in undertaking the attempted intellectual seduction of her lover, and his obstinacy in some measure renders her -- as Viennot indignantly registers -- ridiculous.
And when it comes to the judge before whom all are naked, the last sin "of fear" bespeaks an empty wardrobe: " As her sexual excitement builds, the lady exclaims, "Mais il en faut mourir", and finally declares, "Eh bien! It was precisely in order to try to get him to transcend the flesh that she had urged the claims of higher love She was, she might seem to be conceding, looking for ecstasy in the wrong place.
The High, the Low, and the Comic in Donne
More particularly, they constitute a generic marker that helps to define Donne's dialogism -- again, more clearly in the sultry light of La Ruelle. A case might be made, and arguably for the religious as well as the erotic poems, that Donne's recurrent tropings of soul-body relations reflect, at the remove imposed by witty monologue, a similar impulse, however truncated, to recast that form subversively.
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Certainly, subverted in his texts, as in La Ruelle , are the traditional Medieval premises of the absolute value of the soul, as opposed to the body, and the irreconcilable nature of their differences, whose consequence is divorce by death. And yet death, of course, however doomed itself to die, remains for Donne omnipresent. The poem, though narrated by the soul, gives direct speech at several points to the body. More importantly, its premise, treated comically, is the former's perennially futile efforts to chastise and keep control of the latter.
That comedy plays out in the street, where the wayward but temporarily chastened body has persuaded the soul, which would rather remain solitary, confined, and eventually "coffined" "Satire 1", 4 in its room with improving religious books, to let it take a stroll, as it cannot do without the soul's consent and, needless to say, company:.
ANTHOLOGIE DE LA POESIE DE LANGUE FRANCAISE
But since thou like a contrite penitent, Charitably warned of thy sins, dost repent These vanities, and giddinesses , lo I shut my chamber door, and come, let's go. The laughter in both texts is different from that inspired, say, by the identity-politics dialogized between Launce and his unhousebreakable dog in The Two Gentlemen of Verona: "I am the dog -- no, the dog is himself, and I am the dog -- O!
Laughter in Donne must be poignantly, if not tragically, rueful, precisely at the fact that the ruelle in which the universal human scene is inexorably staged -- it might as well be the bedroom space shared with a mistress or the spiritual space shared with God, and it is quintessentially dusty -- is so mal assortie. That laughter echoes, as the trace of impossible consummations more or less devoutly wished, behind those scenes where Donne, with wit's decorum, relentlessly shows high and low in infinite postures of fraught negotiation but finally incapable of "mingling" -- to adapt another non-dramatist's condemnation of dramatic indecorum -- like "kings [or queens] and clowns" Sidney, , Bakhtin, Mikhail, Michael Holquist.
Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist.
La poésie métaphysique de John Donne
Austin: University of Texas Press. Rabelais and His World. Helene Iswolsky.
Cambridge, MA: M. Colie, Rosalie L.. Donne, John.
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The Complete English Poems. London: Penguin Books. Fish, Stanley E. Hillman, Richard. Shakespearean Subversions: The Trickster and the Play-text. London and New York: Routledge.
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Paracelsus Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim , Selected Writings. Jolande Jacobi. Norbert Guterman.
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