Milton and the Poetics of Freedom
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Duquesne University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book had its origins so far back it is embarrassing to admit the length of its gestation, but, more sadly, that also makes it impossible to fairly represent all the very kind colleagues and friends who have cheered it on. The topic grew...
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This book presents John Milton as an important voice for defining freedom within the contestations of English-speaking culture, for making it central to individual and cultural self-definition, and for creating a poetics that invites his reader to...
1. Early Modern Liberty: Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, English Cultural Self-Definition, and Divine Right
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“There are, in all, three varieties of liberty without which civilized life is scarcely possible, namely ecclesiastical liberty, domestic or personal liberty, and civil liberty,” Milton famously asserts in his second Latin Defence of the English People.1 With these categories Milton in mid-career described...
2. The Poetics of Freedom: “The Poet Collingbourne” and Sidney on Politics and Poetics
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Milton was born during one of the richest eras of experimentation with the English language, producing among other things a greatly expanded vocabulary. According to Norman Blake, “although many words were being borrowed from 1400...
3. Milton’s Early Poetics of Choice: The 1645 Poems, Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, and Areopagitica
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Milton published his first book of Poems in 1645 at a time when his energy had been devoted to prose controversy. Most of the work included is from the 1630s and suggests some interest in patronage, the usual route to success as a poet. Even some of the Latin poems in this volume hint at a poet...
4. Knowledge, Choice, and Freedom in Paradise Lost
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It is now commonplace to see Paradise Lost as “pre-eminently about knowing and choosing.”1 Its stated purpose, to “assert Eternal Providence, / And justifie the wayes of God to men,” emerges from a complex portrayal of freedom as God’s essential gift to humankind, and, after the Fall, of Providence as...
5. Freedom and Vocation in Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes
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Milton chose Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes to be published together in 1671, and to give the more ambiguous Samson the last word.1 The works differ in genre (the first is a “poem” on the model of what he had earlier called a “brief epic,” the second “that sort of Dramatic Poem which...
6. Areopagitica’s Reception History and Modern Contestations of Freedom
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Over the course of the seventeenth century “freedom” went from meaning primarily a social condition (not under the control of another) and a set of privileged exemptions from certain jurisdictions (the “liberties” of the universities or the guilds) to describing a personal condition of self-determination...
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Page Count: 295
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies
Series Editor Byline: Rebecca Totaro