Learning to read with Andrew Marvell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter reflects on Marvell’s reception over the last century, asking why reading Marvell has been and remains a task at the forefront of early modern scholarship. Marvell’s endurance and indeed expanding presence within 20th and 21st-century critical debates, this chapter argues, has to do with his instructive mastery, yes, of words – to recall the title of Elsie Duncan-Jones’s 1975 Warton Lecture – but moreover of ‘language games’, in the sense first described by Ludwig Wittgenstein and later incorporated into the methodology of the ‘Cambridge School’ of intellectual historians. Nowhere are such games played more brilliantly than in the Horatian Ode; no poem better illuminates the central contests of literary criticism in the century since Eliot; nor have we exhausted the potential of learning to read with Marvell.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImagining Andrew Marvell at 400
EditorsMatthew C. Augustine, Giulio J. Pertile, Steven N. Zwicker
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780191986765
ISBN (Print)9780197267073
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of the British Academy
ISSN (Print)0068-1202


  • Andrew Marvell
  • T.S. Eliot
  • Cambridge School
  • History of criticism
  • Language games


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