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Abstract

John Donne, poet laureate of the human body, was much troubled by its fate. Scorning Plato's picture of the body as the soul's prison, Donne imagined souls as leaving their bodies reluctantly and as yearning to return to the very one from which they had departed. In poems like “The Ecstasy,” he depicts the union of lovers’ souls, hints at a similar love of souls for bodies, and suggests that it is through the body—“his book”—that the lover comes to know love's spiritual mysteries. John Lantos also thinks bodies important, and that some among their possible fates, anyway, can be troubling.

A review of Controversial Bodies: Thoughts on the Public Display of Plastinated Corpses, edited by John D. Lantos.