Milton, Marvell, and Anglo-Dutch Relations
van Raamsdonk, Esther Maria Jacoba
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Preserving the content of the thesis in order to publish it as a monograph.
This study argues for a more widely-conceived cultural sphere that allows the complex and multifarious interactions of both English and Dutch cultures in the early modern period to be explored more fully. My lenses are the works of John Milton and Andrew Marvell, and the relations that they and their work had with the United Provinces and its people. The thesis has a two-part structure. The first half introduces Dutch contexts, being a brief introduction to major areas of early modern Dutch culture, while the second shows how these contexts were influential on, and reflected by, Milton and Marvell. The first four chapters therefore consider areas that had an impact on England and its political and literary writers. These include, in Chapter I, stereotypes and first impressions of the Dutch Republic in English travelogues; representations of the Dutch in these works often surfaced in satirical work on the Dutch during the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Another concern is the literary milieu of the United Provinces, including print culture, literary circles, and ideas of educational reform. Other chapters in Part I discuss two highly influential aspects of Dutch religious life, Arminianism and toleration - both of which had repercussions for Protestantism in England - politics and trade, in particular works on Dutch republicanism and trade, in which England became the United Provinces’ greatest rival. Part II then explores Dutch culture, nation and stereotyping in Milton and Marvell. It demonstrates the far-reaching involvement of Dutch printing culture, especially visible in the publication history of Milton’s Defenses. It also interrogates literary similarities in the works of two Dutch authors, Constantijn Huygens and Joost van den Vondel, with Milton’s Paradise Lost and Marvell’s Upon Appleton House, respectively. The last two chapters identify traces of Dutch Arminianism and toleration in Milton’s Samson Agonistes, Marvell’s Remarks, and Rehearsal Transpros’d, part I and II; and compare versions of republicanism in Samson Agonistes and Vondel’s Samson, of Heilige Wraak, as well as discussing Anglo-Dutch rivalry in their works. This thesis demonstrates the deep and abiding importance of Anglo-Dutch relations to the works of two canonical English authors. Literary, intellectual and politico-religious exchange between England and the United Provinces was more entrenched than it has previously been portrayed.
College of Humanities
‘Did Milton Know Dutch?’, Notes and Queries, 63.1 (March, 2016): 53-56.
PhD in English