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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Situating Marvell usefully among the other wits of his age turns out to be difficult. This chapter attempts to answer a broad question: does the context of ‘the wits of the age’ offer any insight into the kind of satirist and polemicist Marvell was? He was a pre-Whig political ally of Buckingham and Rochester, but in terms of satiric aims and modes, he is much more akin to Butler (and Dryden), to whom he was ideologically opposed. In many ways Marvell fits awkwardly in the literary milieu of the Restoration. His serious, polemical satire is civic-minded and ideological (not purely partisan); his work is remote from the defamation, literary squabbles, and venomously personal political satire prominent in Charles II’s England. If we are looking for a helpful context for Marvell’s polemical satire, we should turn not to the great authors of the age, but to the likes of Butler and to the world of anonymous state poems.

Keywords: John Dryden, Marvell, poetry, Samuel Butler, satire

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