Andrew Marvell: Elusiveness and Self-Reflexivity

Robert Ellrodt

in Seven Metaphysical Poets

Published in print May 2000 | ISBN: 9780198117384
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670923 | DOI:
Andrew Marvell: Elusiveness and Self-Reflexivity

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This chapter is concerned with the nature of Andrew Marvell's self-awareness, his elusiveness, and his self-reflexivity. Marvell's elusiveness is acknowledged. What the poems disclose or suggest about his opinions and experiences is not only controversial: they leave out some essential aspects of the man's personality and inner life. The very portrait we have of the man is mute. Any attempt to define the nature of his self-awareness seems bound to be defeated. The first step in this inquiry must be the recognition of his unique ability to be dispassionate in his views on contemporary events. Several poems are tinged with irony, and irony requires a capacity for critical detachment. Serious expression of passionate love only occurs in two poems which, on close examination, confirm rather than contradict this impression of dispassionateness. There is, however, in Marvell a capacity for self-reflexivity, but his introspectiveness is of a different nature. Marvell's awareness of his thinking mind may prove a key to the mystery of his personality and account for the seeming contradictions and the elusiveness of his poetry.

Keywords: Andrew Marvell; poetry; elusiveness; self-reflexivity; self-awareness; dispassionateness; irony; art; introspectiveness

Chapter.  4656 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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