[Milton-L] Marvell's Milton

Brendan Prawdzik brendanprawdzik at gmail.com
Fri Feb 21 14:25:27 EST 2014

 Dear all,

I'm wondering how some of you might venture to answer at least one the
following questions:  What do you think was the relationship between
Marvell's political and theological beliefs during the late 1660s and early
1670s?  How might we characterize the social relationship between these two
men at this time?

It seems clear to me that Marvell's Restoration prose continually targets
theological controversy itself, based on a) the acrimony and hostility that
drives and had driven, with tragic consequences, Christians apart; that
among his projects is the disentangling of polemic, with its thorns and
erring, gadding vines, from a purer, more straightforward (and more
pre-Nicene) form of Christianity; and based on b) that these controversies
cause sustained eruptions over metaphysical questions beyond the reach of a
fallen human understanding alienated from truths behind divine mysteries.

These views would have had consequences for Marvell's relation to Milton;
they raise the question of whether this brilliant younger man to some
degree *tutored* the older master, thus reversing a dynamic of influence
that we might see in the 1640s and 50s.

After all, in the *Rehearsall Transpros'd* (1672) Marvell undeniably looks
to Milton's polemics, especially the *Animadversions* and *Apology*, and
reconstitutes them according to the ideology expressed in my second

I think that we also see constructive admonishment/criticism in "On *Parad**ise

I wonder if this (putatively) evolved relationship with Marvell influenced
what I see as the corrective function of *Samson Agonistes*, which I read
as marking a distinct shift from the Milton of the 1640s and early 50s,
when his rhetoric was at its hottest and when his gradually dying
Millenarianism was yet at its strongest, and when we confront Milton's
efforts to legitimate violence (esp. the regicide) that we know to stem
from a type of arbitrary government disregarding law.

These are all aspects that the maturer Marvell would have
criticized; indeed, that he implicitly rejects while borrowing from the
controversial Milton, such borrowings appearing in each of his Restoration
prose tracts.

Your thoughts?


 Brendan Prawdzik
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