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Milton, Hobbes, and the Liturgical Subject

It is difficult to imagine two more diametrically opposed figures than John Milton and Thomas Hobbes. In this essay, though, I argue that they share some surprising commonalities. Setting these two figures in the contentious liturgical, religious, and political aftermath of the Reformation, I examine each author's treatment of representation, reading, and the relation of private and public, and argue that some startling overlaps and ambivalences emerge: Milton is in some ways very cautious about the prospect of reading, while Hobbes is at once dismissive and deeply protective of a Reformed sort of interior authority.