Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiii

It has long been recognized that Renaissance humanists and Protestant reformers changed forever the way Westerners think about marriage and its societal role. The literature on the early modern marriage and family, especially in England, is extensive and growing. This literature makes much of reformation doctrine and...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

This book owes many debts. I can acknowledge here only those I can remember; I know there are others I have forgotten or of which I have yet to become aware. Barbara K. Lewalski introduced me to Milton studies quite a long time ago, and since then I have wanted to write a book on Milton. I am certain that she will not endorse...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-21

Protestant Christianity, especially the brand we now call puritanism, both absorbed and reacted against the new humanism of the Renaissance. The same humanist principle that resurrected Plato’s Symposium — return ad fontes — led Protestants to insist that according to Genesis the first human pair was a man and a...

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1. Classical Friendship and Humanist Marriage

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pp. 23-55

The doctrine of civil marriage that Justice Marshall articulates in the passage above has its intellectual roots in Renaissance and Reformation humanism. It has taken a long time to emerge and is still far from universally accepted. Justice Marshall spelled...

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2. The Sage and Serious Doctrine of Conversation

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pp. 57-93

“Conversation” is a term and concept central to Milton’s attacks on the canon laws regarding divorce and to his efforts to redefine marriage in the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. Despite its common use as a euphemism for sex, especially adulterous sex, Milton tries to use the word to redefine...

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3. “Single Imperfection” and Adam’s Manly Self

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pp. 95-121

Milton announced on several occasions that he learned most about true love from Plato and Xenophon, especially, as I will later consider, from Plato’s Symposium and its remarkable teaching on enlightened pederasty. Socrates wanted to bring mutuality and equality to the Athenian pederastic practices and so...

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4. Milton’s Wedded Love

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pp. 123-156

This chapter will try to correct a widely accepted misconception about what John Milton meant by “wedded Love.” Some of the best recent commentaries on this topic too easily equate “wedded Love” with what we today call sexuality.¹ James Grantham Turner, one of the most learned and otherwise careful authorities...

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5. Heroic Divorce and Heroic Solitude

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pp. 157-192

In the treatment of Samson Agonistes that follows, I want to focus on two things. Milton chose a Hebrew hero for this strictly neoclassical tragic poem, and, even though it required taking significant liberties with his biblical source, he made that hero a married man. Hebrew heroes were not unheard of in Renaissance...

Notes

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pp. 193-210

Index

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pp. 211-215