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"A mastery in fooling": Marvell, the mock-book, and the surprising life of 'Mr Bayes'

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Since the publication of Marvell’s prose works a decade ago, our understanding of Marvell’s place within Restoration debates over political theology has been richly extended and deepened. This article focuses new attention on the literary significance of Marvell’s controversial prose for the early eighteenth century. Students of Swift have long known that Swift turned to Marvell’s satire The Rehearsal Transpros’d as a model for A Tale of a Tub. In this essay I suggest a much wider debt to Marvell among eighteenth-century satirists than has so far been acknowledged. Not only did Marvell’s character “Mr. Bayes” provide a template for images of the mad, Modern author in the works of Scriblerian “wits” and Grub Street “dunces,” but also, Marvell’s fooling with the nature of the book, I argue, hints at a vital link with the materialist poetics of The Dunciad. This essay thus discovers some novel points of contact between the murky world of Restoration controversy and the “golden age of satire” in England.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-378
Number of pages25
JournalStudies in Philology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • Andrew Marvell, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Satire

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