Bachelor of Arts
Andrew Marvell, Upon Appleton House
The present study on Marvell's "Upon Appleton House" has its genesis in an earlier explication of the 'Horatian Ode,' I was then fascinated by Marvell's isolation of the individual within the larger picture of the historical process and planned, when the opportunity arose, to explore this concern within the context of seventeenth-century historiography and political theory. Although the topic was solid enough on a practical level, it proved difficult to treat both individual texts and subjects as only products of their times on a theoretical level. My reservations were due not so much to any growing allegiance to a formalist study of literature as to a clearer insight into Marvell's own complex vie\v of history and politics. Having lived through the civil Wars and most of the Restoration, it was only fitting that Marvell would manifest a dynamic and contradictory view of human affairs in his occasional poems. History, for Marvell, was a process, always in the making. Furthermore, the power to determine history rested alternately in God, in the human institutions of the social and public realms, and, finally, in the individual. A historicist methodology seemed especially inadequate with regard to the latter, for its underlying goal of objectively reconstructing a past culture can be achieved only at the expense of the individual subject. While I accepted the existence of the forces exerted by social, cultural and literary norms on the individual text or author, these could not constitute absolute standards in historical reconstruction. What was needed was a historical criticism which would do justice to both the individual and the normative in the study of a past literature and culture.
Chen, Theodore, "History, Action and Identity in "Upon Appleton House": Andrew Marvell and the New Historicism" (1985). Honors Papers. 619.