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Wit, Conversation, and Literary Transmission in Mid-Seventeenth-Century France and England: How Andrew Marvell Heard His Rabelais

  • Nicholas McDowell (a1)

References to Rabelais in Andrew Marvell’s prose satires against religious intolerance, The Rehearsal Transpros’d (1672–73), offer insights into the Restoration reception of Rabelaisian satire in the universities and the coffeehouses as a specifically anticlerical form of wit. But these references are either misattributed or incorrect, suggesting that Marvell may never actually have read Gargantua and Pantagruel, but rather picked up Rabelaisian anecdotes when conversing in intellectual circles in France in the mid-1650s. Critical focus on the history of reading tends to neglect the inevitable role of such conversation in literary transmission, both within a national culture and across national borders.

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Renaissance Quarterly
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