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BIATHANATOS. A Declaration of that Paradoxe, or Thesis, that Self-Homicide is not so Naturally Sinne, that it may never be otherwise. Wherein the nature, and extent of all those Lawes, which seeme to be violated by this Act, are diligently surveyed.
John Dawson, [1647]., London: - 4to, pp. [xviii], 218. Bound in contemporary full calf with the initial blank, rebacked and rubbed along the hinges, front hinge tender, some staining to the title-page, a very good copy of the first issue. Keynes 48; Wing D1859. The earliest of Donne's controversial writings. Donne was famously of a neurotic temperament and frankly admits his fascination for the act of suicide in his Preface '.whensoever any affliction assailes me, mee thinks I have the keyes of my prison in mine owne hand, and no remedy presentes it selfe so soone to my heart, as mine own sword.' He was nonetheless reluctant to publish his doubts about the absolute sinfulness of suicide and only circulated the Biathanatos among friends in manuscript. He sent a copy to Sir Edward Herbert, and, in 1619, another to Sir Robert Karre, writing: 'It was written by me many years since; and because it is upon a misinterpretable subject, I have always gone so near suppressing it, nor many eyes to read it: onely to some particular friends in both Universities, then when I writ it, I did communicate it: And I remember, I had this answer, That certainly, there was a false thread in it, but not easily found: Keep it, I pray, with the same jealousie; let any that your discretion admits to the sight of it, know the date of it; and that it is a Book written by Jack Donne, and not by D. Donne: Reserve it for me, if I live, and if I die, I only forbid it the Presse, and the Fire: publish it not, but burn it not; and between those, do what you will with it' (cited by Keynes). It was published posthumously by John Donne the younger, and dedicated to Lord Herbert's son Phillip. [Attributes: First Edition]
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