JOHN DONNE REVISITED: ISLANDS IN A TIME OF GLOBALIZATION
While William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and John Donne (1572-1631) were contemporaries in Elizabethan England, today’s students—and teachers—are much more familiar with the former than the latter. Indeed, while we can enumerate the tragedies, comedies, and histories of Shakespeare, and perhaps recite bits of his sonnets, about the only words of Donne that come to mind are what has become a cliché—“No man is an island” (Beer, 1997). But the man and his work deserve more attention in schools and universities, including those where English is not a native language. As there are lessons to be learned from virtually all works of literature, there are lessons to be learned from that simple statement meant to emphasize the interconnectedness of all humanity. One such lesson is made increasingly poignant in a world in which global trade has become a feature of every nation’s economy and in which international relations offer attractive opportunities and pose existential threats. This study aims to mine the works of John Donne to gain a clear understanding both of what he intends and what may be drawn from this supposed “cliché.” The study tests Donne’s assertion and finds that, while some nations and some individuals believe they can be isolated, they find in the end that there is nowhere to hide in a world characterized by interdependency at every level.