Ovidian Exile in the Hesperides: Herrick’s Politics of Intertextuality

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Though Herrick's engagement with the partisan politics of the 1640s is now fully acknowledged, nevertheless the classical allusiveness long recognised as one of his most distinctive traits is never read for its political significance, but still treated in terms of an aesthetic retreat from history Yet what critics have tended to see as a dilettantish cherry-picking approach to a range of classical poetry is contained and given shape, unity and meaning by an overarching Ovidianism which is systematic, complex and strategic, and fundamental to the political programme of the collection. Perhaps, the most interesting aspect of this Ovidianism is Herrick's appreciation and use of the concept developed in Ovid's exile elegies of poetry as virtual space, affording freedom from the limitations imposed in actual space and time by separation, exile and death. Modelled on the double space of Ovid's exile poetry, the Hesperides on one hand represents Herrick's Devonshire living as a lamented 'banishment into the loathed west, his exilic discontent reflecting his bitter opposition to the parliamentary regime that has 'banished' and marginalised the King and royalist support, and on the other poetry itself, as a virtual space in which the defeated royalist party may survive fragmentation and defeat and continue to commune. Central to this construction of a space for an oppositional poetics is an Ovidian understanding of intertextuality itself, as a diachronic extension and symbol of the sustenance of a network of synchronic relationships through manuscript exchange, and as evidence and means of the immortality of the poet, which renders him immune to political persecution and forms the basis of his authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-765
Number of pages32
JournalReview of English Studies
Issue number232
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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