By Elizabeth Story Donno
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Extra info for Andrew Marvell : the critical heritage
Thus at the end of that anthologizing decade the time was opportune for the appearance of the first judicious survey of the man and his work—that of John Ormsby in an unsigned essay in the Cornhill Magazine (No. 71). In the remaining years before ‘poetic reassessment,’ it was the writers, as opposed to the critics, who kept the poetic Marvell in public view. In 1870 James Russell Lowell incorporated admiring comments on the Cromwell poems in his essay on Dryden (No. 72). In the next year or so, an enormously popular anthology—A Library of Poetry and Song, Being Choice Selections from the British Poets—appeared under the name of William Cullen Bryant and included three of the lyrics under appropriate rubrics; though Bryant was not himself responsible for the classification and arrangement, they had all passed his ‘cultured criticism,’ including, one presumes, the textual alterations.
Finally, during the last decade of that century and the first two of the twentieth, a reassessment comes. Though not invariably favourable, in its concentration on the lyric poetry it notably anticipates the kinds of literary concern so markedly characterizing Marvell criticism after 1921, the tercentenary of his birth and the terminal date for this survey. ’ In view of the evaluation of his writings after his death, it represents a radical shift in political and literary values. From either aspect it is significant in pointing the way to the current esteem for Marvell as poet.
In contrast, the anonymous appearance in 1672 of the first part of the Rehearsal Transpros'd was immediately to elicit a half-dozen replies (along with a number of later comments) demonstrating that the author's identity was well known. The inevitable pun on his surname, by supporters and opponents alike, and the syncopation of his given name to Merryandrew—a mountebank's assistant—by opponents alone, support his authorship, and Marvell himself confirmed it late in 1673 when he appended his name to the second part and took cognizance of these half-dozen replies in his text.