Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 09 December 2019

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

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.