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Ever since their rediscovery in the 1920s, John Donne's writings have been praised for their energy, vigour and drama - yet so far, no attempt has been made to approach and define systematically these major characteristics of his work. Drawing on J.L. Austin's speech act theory, Margret Fetzer's comparative reading of Donne's poetry and prose eschews questions of personal or religious sincerity and instead recreates an image of John Donne as a man of many performances. No matter if engaged in the writing of a sermon or a piece of erotic poetry, Donne placed enormous trust in what words could.