Catalan Review

ADDRESSING FEAR AND GRIEF: LLULLIAN MNEMOTECHNICS AND ALCHEMICO-LLULLIAN SIGNS IN DONNE’S SERMON(S) FOR THE CHURCHING OF THE COUNTESS OF BRIDGEWATER

Catalan Review (2006), 20, (1), 9–38.

Abstract

This study recontextualizes two of Donne’s churching sermons according to the Llullian mnemotechnics that were so fashionable in his age. It investigates how Donne’s public audience (composed of radical Calvinists, Arminians, and Roman sympathizers) and his private audience (composed of members and friends of the Bridgewater family) were predisposed to respond to his text. It employs Llull’s triadic and correlative principles and Llullian concepts of grammar in order to show how many understood the signs diffused throughout the sermons. Donne provided the alchemico-Llullian signs, knowing that his congregation would match the nouns (which Llull defined as “the nature of things”) with the verbs (which Llull defined as “how things exist or operate”) in order to construct their own sentences. In this manner, each member of Donne’s congregation was able to compose a statement of his or her own values. Three recurring signs—the ark, the rainbow, and rest—illustrate how Donne’s pseudo-Llullian mnemotechnics work. All three translate into some version of “the title promis’d them the Land.” As an olive branch, these sermons offer peace to religious and political antagonists and consolation to those who, for various reasons, seem to have lost all hope of their “Rest.“

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Author details

Albrecht, Roberta