Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. xi-xv

This book was originally conceived as a study of the artistic relationship between theme and expressive form in Paradise Lost. The perplexing character of so many episodes, scenes, metaphors and other figures in the poem rapidly rendered it impossible to proceed without considering first...

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Acknowledgements

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pp. xvii-xviii

I am indebted for financial and academic support during the writing of this book to the following institutions: the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which provided a two-year fellowship which I held at Lucy Cavendish College; the Leverhulme Trust, which provided a two-year research...

Part I. Theory of Allegory in Poetry and Epic from Antiquity to the Renaissance

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1. Antiquity to the Middle Ages

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pp. 3-17

Certain tensions or oppositions may be perceived to recur throughout the history of allegory. Even though in allegorism no more than in other literary modes can the distinction between "content" and "form" sustain itself for long, one broad opposition which we shall find recurring...

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2. Renaissance Theoretical Developments

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pp. 18-27

The development of theory of allegory from the early to the later Renaissance shows interestingly divergent or often apparently self-contradictory directions; nonetheless, strong continuities with traditional theory and modes of allegory may also be found.1 One may observe a sustained...

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3. The English Mythographers and Their Tradition

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pp. 28-41

One of the most confusing initial impressions of Renaissance critical allegoresis is that the older three- or fourfold framework, as seen in scriptural exegesis or in the older way of interpreting secular fables, often seems to persist, yet the levels of meaning extrapolated do not quite fit the older...

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4. "Idea"

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pp. 42-50

Other apprehensions of allegory in the Renaissance developed in directions better suited than those of the mythographers to the consideration of allegorical poetry as a specialized art of communication, as well as a purveyor of hidden truths. Such views had already been theoretically...

Part II. Theory of the Allegorical Epic from Tasso, Spenser and the Neoclassicals to Milton

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5. Tasso: The Practical Problems of the Allegorical Epic

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pp. 53-68

It is apparent that Tasso--the most significant theorist and practitioner of allegorical epic in the Italian Renaissance, whose criticism will be considered in greater detail from this point1--passed through a difficult evolution of thought, partly reflecting some of the divided conceptions of...

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6. Tasso, the Discorsi: Aesthetics of the Allegorical Epic

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pp. 69-79

We may now begin to address that third and more elusive conception of Tasso, suggested in the last section of the preceding chapter, in which the entire poem seems to become one comprehensive allegorical metaphor for all that the poet has to say. Tasso's position here must be...

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7. Tasso, the Major Tracts: The Poetics of the Allegorical Epic

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pp. 80-94

In this chapter we shall explore the final stages of Tasso's increasingly confident formulation of an allegorical epic poetic based upon his own preferred concept of the "verisimilar". There are three practical contexts. The first has to do with plot and the old question of narrative unity...

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8. Spenser as Allegorical Theorist

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pp. 95-105

Before turning to neoclassical developments, we may look at Spenser's statements on epic allegory. Spenser's theories on allegory are included at this point, rather than earlier in the general section on Renaissance allegory, because the direct line of influence, Tasso-Spenser-Milton, is such...

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9. Neoclassical Epic Theory: The Debate over Allegory

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pp. 106-118

Much of late cinquecento criticism on the epic had turned on Aristotle and the debates between stricter and more generous interpretations of "unity" in plot, history versus romance, and other issues. One of the main defences of romance episode, multiple plot, or fantasy was that these could...

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10. Le Bossu on the Epic

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pp. 119-125

In this chapter we shall consider in rather more detail that vein of late seventeenth-century criticism on the epic which most clearly seems to perpetuate the valuable and imaginative compromise in epic art effected by Tasso. The more liberal side of the continental neoclassical critical tradition...

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11. Debts to Renaissance Allegory in Paradise Lost

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pp. 126-137

The moment has come to gather together the threads of the preceding historical discussions of theories of allegory, and to try to determine, beyond the brief indications already given, how far such Renaissance or earlier conceptions of allegory in critical exegesis, in poetry, and especially...

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12. Allegorical Poetics in Paradise Lost

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pp. 138-149

There should be little need to demonstrate Milton's familiarity with the Renaissance theorists and practitioners of allegory in poetry and epic whose views and applied practices have been outlined in the foregoing pages. Such familiarity, especially with the Italians and notably...

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13. Allegory and "Idea" in Paradise Lost

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pp. 150-168

The shared fundamental conception of a hidden Idea underlying the epic narrative is that which links Milton most surely with the humanist tradition of allegorical epic. From Boccaccio to Sidney and Tasso to Milton, through the Italian, French and into the English neoclassical traditions...

Part III. "real or Allegoric": Representation in Paradise Lost

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14. Historical Problems in Reading Paradise Lost

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pp. 171-180

In the preceding two Parts of this study, Milton's allegorical "Idea" and allegorical artistry in Paradise Lost have been set and measured against earlier traditions of critical commentary on allegory and of allegory in written epic stretching from medieval or earlier commentators to...

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15. Scripture and the Figurative Reading of Paradise Lost

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pp. 181-190

Milton not only did not repudiate allegory, he not infrequently mentions the term in a positive way and makes use of it in his prose writings, including his theological treatise. In Milton's poems the word "allegory" (apart from its sole use in Paradise Regained IV.389-90) is not found as such...

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16. Theory of Metaphor in Paradise Lost

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pp. 191-203

The questions which arise over the principle of "accommodation" in Of Christian Doctrine necessarily carry over into Paradise Lost. Two observations are to be made at the outset. First, I believe that the too close identification of the "accommodation" question, as it is raised...

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17. Typology and the Figurative Dimension in Paradise Lost

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pp. 204-221

Many readers of Milton have not found it easy to interpret Paradise Lost along the lines of any such widely embracing theories of metaphor and allegorical poetics as those suggested in the foregoing chapters. One may surmise that readers have been inhibited by historical preconceptions...

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18. Protestant Homiletics and Allegory in Paradise Lost

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pp. 222-230

In this chapter we will consider the relationship of recognised contemporaneous Protestant modes of reading the Bible, in non-doctrinal contexts, to Milton's allegorical enterprise in Paradise Lost. There are in certain Protestant or earlier traditions of scriptural interpretation continuing...

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19. "Accommodation" in Paradise Lost: The Internal View

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pp. 231-238

In the foregoing chapters the questions raised concerning poetic representation and "truth" in poetry and the nature of mimesis in Paradise Lost have been considered against a background of theoretical considerations relating to Protestant modes of scriptural interpretation, to Milton's own...

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20. Toward an Allegorical Poesis in Paradise Lost

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pp. 239-250

In Paradise Lost plot and description as well as character can present contradictory swings between extreme realism and unrealism, the latter carried sometimes to acute implausibility. Incongruous details appear in the most "realistic" passages. For example, there are Milton's seeming...

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21. The "Language of Allegory" and Milton's Allegorical Epic

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pp. 251-256

We may conclude with the question with which the final Part of this study began: the problem of "realism" and "literal" representation in Paradise Lost, versus the fictive, figurative and allegorical. We have now to ask whether the two modes need necessarily be regarded as incompatible...

Appendix A. Bibliographical Essay on Tasso

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pp. 257-262

Appendix B. "Idea"

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pp. 263-266

Appendix C. Tasso and Spenser

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pp. 267-274

Appendix D. The Literal Level and the "Literal Commentators"

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pp. 275-277

Appendix E. "Accommodation" and Figuration in Paradise Lost

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pp. 278-281

Appendix F. Typological Criticism

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pp. 282-286

Notes

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pp. 287-334

List of Works Cited

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pp. 335-349

Index

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pp. 350-368