“A Defence of Women for their Inconstancy & their Paintings made by Jack Donne & printed now with five decorations by Norman Lindsay” (Fanfrolico Press, London, 1925, #161/370)
7.5″ X 5.5″, unpaginated , brown cloth boards with gilt titles on spine, very good condition for age, slight bumping to corners.
Woman’s Constancy” is one of John Donne’s many metaphysical poems of the 16th century. He writes this poem to a woman who he is or was in a relationship with. Despite the title, he talks about how inconsistent the woman’s love is and presents it in a series of questions.
The poem describes a situation where a man has been loved by a woman for an entire day. However, he wonders if she will declare her love for another man the day after. He thinks that the woman’s logic is that the oath of love ends when one partner dies, and that since sleep resembles death, it is okay for the oath of love to be broken. For the woman to be true to herself, she must admit her false statements of love. The author thinks that he is more intelligent than her and states that he will not argue with her about her reasons for leaving him. However, Donne states that the following day he may feel the same way that she does.
John Donne (1572 – 1631) was an English poet, scholar, soldier and secretary born into a recusant family, who later became a cleric in the Church of England. Under royal patronage, he was made Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London (1621–1631). He is considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His poetical works are noted for their metaphorical and sensual style and include sonnets, love poems, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs and satires. He is also known for his sermons.
Donne’s style is characterized by abrupt openings and various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations. These features, along with his frequent dramatic or everyday speech rhythms, his tense syntax and his tough eloquence, were both a reaction against the smoothness of conventional Elizabethan poetry and an adaptation into English of European baroque and mannerist techniques. His early career was marked by poetry that bore immense knowledge of English society. Another important theme in Donne’s poetry is the idea of true religion, something that he spent much time considering and about which he often theorized. He wrote secular poems as well as erotic and love poems. He is particularly famous for his mastery of metaphysical conceits.
Despite his great education and poetic talents, Donne lived in poverty for several years, relying heavily on wealthy friends. He spent much of the money he inherited during and after his education on womanising, literature, pastimes and travel. In 1601, Donne secretly married Anne More, with whom he had twelve children. In 1615 he was ordained Anglican deacon and then priest, although he did not want to take holy orders and only did so because the king ordered it. He also served as a member of Parliament in 1601 and in 1614.
Fanfrolico Press, Australia’s first ‘private press’ in the arts-and-craft tradition, was founded by Jack Lindsay, P. R. Stephensen and John Kirtley, originally in North Sydney in 1923. The press specialized in printings artful, limited editions of classics and forgotten works that were suited to the extravagant style of artist like his father, artist, sculptor and author Norman Lindsay who illustrated many of their books. Fanfrolico was scornful of modernism and with its florid style determinedly backward-looking. They did surprisingly well, despite the lack of business expertise of their young, ambitious “bohemian” owners, eking out a living despite the risky move to London in 1926 and upheavals in ownership that saw the departure in 1927 of Kirtley, and then Stephenson in 1929. Sometime in 1930 they published their last book.
Norman Alfred William Lindsay (1879-1969) was an Australian artist, etcher, sculptor, writer, editorial cartoonist, scale modeller, and an accomplished amateur boxer. Lindsay is widely regarded as one of Australia’s greatest artists, producing a vast body of work in different media, including pen drawing, etching, watercolour, oil and sculptures in concrete and bronze. His frank and sumptuous nudes were highly controversial. In 1940, his wife took sixteen crates of paintings, drawings and etchings to the U.S. to protect them from the war. Unfortunately, they were discovered when the train they were on caught fire. The pieces were impounded and subsequently burned as pornography by American officials.