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John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester (1647–1680), the notorious and brilliant libertine poet of King Charles II's court, has long been considered an embodiment of the Restoration era. This interdisciplinary collection of essays by leading scholars focuses new attention on, and brings fresh perspectives to, the writings of Lord Rochester. Particular consideration is given to the political force and social identity of Rochester's work, to the worlds - courtly and theatrical, urban and suburban - from which Rochester's poetry emerged and which it discloses, and not least to the unsettling aesthetic power of Rochester's writing. The singularity of Rochester's voice - his 'matchless wit' - has been widely recognised; this book encourages the continued appreciation of all the ways in which Rochester reveals the layered and promiscuous character of literary projects throughout the whole of a brilliant, abrasive, and miscellaneous age.
Andrew Marvell is a writer deeply identified with particular locales and enclosures. Despite recent interest in his occasional and polemical writings, he is still first and foremost the poet of gardens, those lush, mysterious haunts we know so well from The Garden, from Upon Appleton House, To My Lord Fairfax, or from The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn. More generally we think of Marvell as a pastoral poet, ever attendant to the green business of the world, familiar of Daphnis and Chloe, Ametas and Thestylis, and not least Damon the Mower. His most famous poem, To His Coy Mistress, has as its backdrop the Yorkshire countryside and was likely written, as we believe the great part of his lyrics were, while Marvell was in residence at Nun Appleton. Later in the 1650s, we might think of Marvell in his employ at the Latin Secretary’s Office, perhaps writing there A Poem upon the Death of O. C.; and in the 1660s we might think of him in lobbies and committee rooms of Parliament, writing letters to the Hull Corporation or collecting gossip and slander for the ‘advice to a painter’ poems.