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date: 05 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the idea of problem in literature with special reference to John Donne. The generic history of the ‘problem’ began with ancient Greek problemata literature, including various collections descending from the school of Aristotle, to who traditionally are attributed books of problems: questions cum answers about health, physiognomy, and numerous other puzzlements, including moral and legal issues, possibly used as schoolbooks for medical and other kinds of education. Along with many Peripatetic traditions, including the related genre of the dialogue, this form of questions and answers was preserved through late antiquity and into the Christian era, mainly for education. Donne's nineteen Problems, written during the first Jacobean decade, are a satirical, subversive version of the genre, using irony and dissimulation, providing both entertainment and opportunities to collaborate. To conclude, Donne reinvented the genre of the Problem, crafting a double voiced message: superficially innocuous recreations of curious import.

Keywords: literature, problem in literature, Jacobean, Jacobean decade, generic history, Peripatetic traditions

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