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Marvell Marvelled: Katie Kadue on Andrew Marvell’s 400th Birthday

March 31, 2021
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Marvell Marvelled: Katie Kadue on Andrew Marvell’s 400th Birthday

The poet Andrew Marvell was born on this day in 1621 near Hull, England. Marvell’s poetry has inspired readings by some of our finest literary critics, from T. S. Eliot and Cleanth Brooks to Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Christopher Ricks, and Leah S. Marcus. Indeed, it was 300 years ago today that Eliot published his now-classic essay “Andrew Marvell” in the Times Literary Supplement. For Marvell’s quadricentenary, we asked our author Katie Kadue for a brief essay on the poet, touching on the themes of her forthcoming Domestic Georgic: Labors of Preservation from Rabelais to Milton. Kadue illuminates what Marvell’s poetry still preserves for us, and the best literary criticism, too.  Andrew Marvell’s poetry is best known for images of time’s hurtling, inexorable movement toward a spectacular end: the winged chariot hurrying near, warning us of death’s encroachment, in “To His Coy Mistress,” or, less hurtlingly, the annihilation of all that’s made in “The Garden.” Marvell wrote his poems and was active in politics during the English Civil War and its aftermath, when the nation was captivated by providential time; his “Horatian Ode” to Oliver Cromwell is emphatic that the time to act is “now.” But Marvell also took his sweet time . . .

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Anahid Nersessian on Wordsworth: An Excerpt from “The Calamity Form”

April 7, 2020
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Today, on William Wordsworth’s 250th birthday, the poet will come in for his share of adoration. We offer a dissent from a critic who is nevertheless a passionate reader of Romantic poetry. In this excerpt from her forthcoming book The Calamity Form: On Poetry and Social Life, Anahid Nersessian asks why Wordsworth’s poetry leaves her cold. It’s not his politics or his narcissism, she writes, or anything else she cares to critique, but an “estrangement that cuts both ways. Why should Wordsworth fail me, and I him?” Read on, and look for The Calamity Form in June. Let me put it bluntly: I don’t like Wordsworth. I almost said I don’t care for him, but that’s not quite true. A day spent writing about Wordsworth is a good day; when he comes into the classroom with me, things inevitably go well. And yet the eye I cast on his section of my bookshelf is doubtful, disgruntled. Never could I imagine reading Wordsworth for pleasure, though it is with pleasure that I recall someone’s startled love for that cataract in the seventy-seventh line of “Tintern Abbey.” It is with pleasure, too, that I’ve been taught about Wordsworth by professors and colleagues, by lectures and book . . .

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