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Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell$
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Christopher D'Addario and Matthew Augustine

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113894

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113894.001.0001

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Marvell discovers the public sphere

Marvell discovers the public sphere

(p.56) 3 Marvell discovers the public sphere
Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell

Michael McKeon

Manchester University Press

As formulated by Jürgen Habermas, the public sphere is a realm of communication that mediates between the actual discourse of private individuals and, largely through print, virtual public communication. The idea of the public sphere has attracted an extraordinary amount of attention from scholars of early modern and eighteenth-century studies, many of whom silently endorse it by incorporating the term into their description of public commentary and debate. Others affirm or challenge the existence of a public sphere by reference to the conditions that are said to engender it, the degree of its inclusivity, or the timing of its emergence. If these might be called questions about the external constitution of the public sphere, the present chapter asks if we can discover ‘internal’ evidence of its existence: an emergent awareness that there is something about the virtuality of printed discourse that both sophisticates and complicates what it means to communicate with others. The chapter’s argument is that in adapting Buckingham’s farce (The Rehearsal, acted 1671) to his own polemic against Samuel Parker (The Rehearsal Transpros’d, 1672, 1673), Marvell finds in his self-conscious concern with the verbal techniques of figuration, accommodation, and parody a model for the hypothesis of a public sphere.

Keywords:   Public sphere, Virtuality, Andrew Marvell, George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham

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