‘But Iconoclastes drawn in little’
Making and unmaking a Whig Marvell
in Aesthetics of contingency
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This chapter explores the cracks in Marvell and Milton’s presumed political alliance. Digging out the roots of this tradition, it argues that the notion of Marvell and Milton’s ‘exceptionless’ friendship first emerges as a tactic of the high churchmen writing against Marvell’s witty pamphlet in support of religious toleration, The Rehearsal Transpros’d (1672). But if the ‘Miltonizing’ of Marvell was originally sponsored by Anglican absolutism, the ideology that has maintained it from the nineteenth century to our own turns out to be modern liberalism itself. As a result, it has often been difficult to apprehend Marvell’s politics on their own terms. By untethering Marvell from Milton, as this chapter shows through detailed reconsiderations of Marvell’s poetry and prose, we stand to gain not only a fresh bearing on the historical Marvell, but also, and what is of perhaps wider import, a resolutely Marvellian bearing on the divisions and tumults of his age.

Aesthetics of contingency

Writing, politics, and culture in England, 1639– 89


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