Humanities Forum


Humanities Forum


The 799th "Humanitarian Philanthropist: John Dunn"

4 Jul 2023
Views 18

                                                          Humanitarian Philanthropist: John Dunn

                                                 By Choe. Jae-hon (Professor of English Language and Literature, 

                                                                                                        Kyungpook National University)

The Life of John Donne


John Dunn was born into a Catholic family in London in 1572, the father of a wealthy ironmonger who was one of the most influential Catholics to avoid government interference in any way, but died when Dunn was four. His mother was the youngest daughter of the poet and playwright John Heywood and niece of Sir Thomas More. He studied at Oxford and Cambridge, went to Lincoln School of Law, but did not take the degree because he did not pledge allegiance to the Church of England, and after quietly abandoning Catholicism sometime in the 1590s, he did not want to become an Englishman. As some of his early poems attest, Dunn temporarily renounced the Catholic faith as if he had been in a religious meeting, took a position of enjoying free thought, and read a great deal of books on theology, medicine, law and classical literature out of intellectual curiosity.And he wrote to show off his learning and wit.


Dunn, who entered the law school and decided to enter politics and law, went to Raleigh and Essex to pursue the Cadiz Expedition in 1596 and the Azores Expedition the following year. His colleague Thomas Egerton Jr., who joined the expedition, later introduced Dunn to his father, who was in the highest office, Lord Egerton, then the Keeper of the Great Seal and Lord High Chancellor. When Dunn was appointed personal secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton in 1598, his prospects for advancement seemed promising. In 1601, however, he secretly married Anne More, a niece of Lord Egerton's wife, and dashed his earthly hopes, when Anne was 17 and Dunn was 29. Although the marriage was happy, Dunn's indiscretions were never forgiven. Their marriage was a marriage without the consent of Sir George More, the father of the bride, and thus broke both common law and canon law, and Dunn was eventually imprisoned until 1602. Almost every year after marriage, the growing number of children burdened Dunn with financial difficulties, his wife Anne with health, and the sadness of losing their children due to illness and stillbirth.


Dunn, who was born in a Catholic family and was also a descendant of Sir Thomas More, who was martyred while protesting against the domination of religion, would have been a pain to betray his beliefs. Having traveled to the continent, he overcame his hesitation by accepting the advice of James I and stepped into the priesthood by being appointed an Anglican priest in 1615. In 1617, his wife, Anne, died at the age of 33 when she died. He lived with his seven surviving children and was in office until he died in 1621 as chief priest of St. Paul's Cathedral. Dunn, who had been bedridden for a long time, died shortly after preaching his famous "Death's Duel" in 1631. This last sermon is a sermon with his funeral in mind a few weeks before his death, obsessed with the idea of death.


John Dunn's "Prayer"


Although Dunn is primarily remembered as a poet, in practice the work he left behind is more in prose than in poetry; Dunn was known primarily as a preacher and as a religious writer outside the relatively limited group who had access to his collections of manuscript poems. He wrote Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624), which contained eerie meditations and prayers, shortly after suffering a severe fever, presumed to be typhus, in the winter of 1623. Among Dunn's many works, this prayer, which contains personal meditations and prayers about death and death, and is famous for the phrase "No one is a complete island in itself," is the theme of this lecture, The poet as a philanthropist who emphasizes humanity is best revealed, so the lecture will focus on this work.


Dunn writes in the Book of Job as if he were ill and recording what happened then. The 23-day bout of illness that nearly drove him to his death provided Dawn with an opportunity to reflect and write deeply on the themes of death and dying that she had experienced and felt so desperately.


The title of the book, devotion or prayer, is related to the meditative practices that Protestants often practice in everyday life. Each stage includes ⁇ Meditation on our human condition, "Controversy with God" which he talks about unilaterally, and prayer to God. In other words, it divides the 23 days of illness into each stage and contains personal meditation and prayer about the spiritual state of the self and the world felt at this time. But even if the changes in his body provide the framework in which the book is constructed, Dunn pays little attention to the disease itself and focuses on tracing the meaning it represents for himself and for the spiritual state of humanity.


Dunn, who has shown a constant interest in the issue of death since her youthful romance, seems to have become more intensely reflective on the subject of death and death as she has been suffering from illness for more than three weeks to the threshold of death. However, we need to pay attention to the fact that Dunn not only shows a deep interest in death itself through this prayer, but also explores the moral and theological truths that come up with this motif. In other words, it deals with profound meditation on important issues in human life, such as life, disease, and death, through passionate seriousness, Dunn's paradox, witty style, and eloquent tone. The small tract, which had a strong appeal to readers in the 17th century as personal thoughts and feelings were mixed with public sermons and lessons, was so popular that it was published in 1624 and reprinted twice that year, and again in 1626 and 1627. Until this time, Dunn's published works were either about patrons or of public interest, and it is very surprising that he published personal works.


Dunn's "Prayer" maintains three different voices or attitudes on 23 different themes, and maintaining the conceptual composition of the entire work requires the artist's special ability. Based on his understanding of the Bible, he had an excellent ability to connect his physical state with a wide range of subjects and ideas to infer and capture relevance. He was also an excellent imaginative person who did not lose his way in making intentional arguments and continued his analogy based on each part of the subject. The characteristic of his intellectual and imaginative works is that he can be found in his poetry in the past, and his prayer is a metaphysical prose that takes advantage of this literary style.In this way, even though there is a thirty-year gap between the young poet and the chief priest of St. Paul's, the essential part of his mind remains unchanged even though much of his previous vigor has disappeared.

Dunn's "Prayer" is a spiritual autobiography of a believer, a monologue based on pious faith, and at the same time has elements of the Bible's prayer. As the title suggests, this article contains meditations and prayers about an important event or occasion, and the added urgency of going to and from the threshold of death is different from other writings. While each collection of meditations on a particular day or event contains independent meditations, Dunn's writings are a series of interconnected prayers that take on a structure that develops and moves toward greater events. These prayers are preceded by a short poem in Latin that tells the condition of the disease at the beginning of each stage of the 23rd episode. It is generally seen that meditation and prayer are developed like a drama around this keyword. Dunn could not help but care about his status as a believer, as a high priest and preacher, and the impact of his writing, anticipating the situation in which his writing would be read to the public. In other words, he would have thought that his prayers should provide a model for how believers should read God's hand and providence in their lives, along with an example of edifying the masses. Therefore, his illness requires interpreting work, and the reader must read where and how to find the truth.The genre of prayer is an article that encourages readers to ponder spiritual truths by evoking a godly response by reading them.


Dunn's awareness of his sins and illnesses was influenced by the patristic and theological thesis of theologians, but the fact that he chose the genre of prayer when writing about his illness is significant. Unlike other people's prayers, Dunn's formal division of each chapter of the Book of Job into meditation, debate, and prayer reflects the process of moving from the deep contemplation and meditation he feels at each stage of his illness to the emotional response of prayer.


When Dunn meditates and delivers what he realizes through his experience, he evokes the emotions of readers by talking in a voice like a preacher, unlike the tone seen in existing published meditation books. Furthermore, he is not only preaching in a didactic way, but also giving a strong impression by hearing a very personal voice from the passion that he has come to realize as he goes through the emergency situation. This impression stems in part from the way in which Dunn quotes biblical passages, which Dunn weaves together prayers as if they were his own. However, he uses an enormous number of metaphors in his original language and makes a dramatic innovation that is completely different from the authors of other prayers. Dunn argues that his use of metaphors is interesting because he follows the example of the Bible, the Word of God. Dunn has a very unique style in this way that is effective in evoking emotions as well as lessons in the Prayer Book, and this particular voice comes from the urgency of the experience that has brought him to the brink of death.


"Prayer in an Emergency" is a religious work that contains deep meditation on human conditions and God in the wake of Dunn's own deeply ill experience. Dawn's prayer not only contains a special experience of suffering from fever, but also takes the form of a spiritual autobiography, such as Augustine's Confessions, by seeking the truth, interpreting this illness as a good suffering and grace for him. He explores various metaphorical and religious meanings of his illness or discomfort in his illness. Dunn's Prayer Prayer uses many metaphors prominently to give enormous energy to his work and has a poetic effect. In addition, through the composition that starts from meditation and ends with prayer through controversy, it starts from deep contemplation and meditation, reaches a doctrinal and theological solution in the process of arguing with God, and then the prayer tells the voice of relief and gratitude after the problem is solved. In this process, intense emotions are evoked through the voice of a passionate preacher rather than the voice of a calm meditator. His work has many characteristics that appear in contemplation and prayer of the time, such as structural dynamism, the easy movement of voice from singular to plural, biblical centrism, presenting himself as an example and showing spiritual truth with emotional expression. However, this book, which is a spiritual practice and a medical journal by adding enthusiastic styles and various elements, such as the tone of asking questions, admiration, and arguing with God, by innovating here rather than simply inheriting the characteristics and traditions of previous prayers, It is considered to have pioneered a new area that is intensely intellectually and emotionally unattainable.



(42601) 대구광역시 달서구 달구벌대로 1095

계명대학교 성서캠퍼스 영암관 446호 계명-목요철학원

Tel. (053) 580-5550, 5650, 5651

Fax. (053) 580-5897


Copyright ⓒ 2021 Academia Philosophia. All Rights Reserved.

(42601) 1095, Dalgubeol-daero, Dalseo-gu, Daegu, Republic of Korea 

Keimyung University SUNG-SEO Campus Young-Am Hall Room 446 Academia Philosophia, Keimyung University

Tel. +82-53-580-5550, 5651┃ Fax. +82-53-580-5897┃Mail.

Copyright ⓒ 2021 Academia Philosophia. All Rights Reserved.