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John Milton (1608 – 1674)

Nationality: British Periods: British: 1500-1700

writer of Paradise Lost

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Criticism about John Milton

“And shall I die, and this unconquered?”: Marlowe’s Inverted Colonialism
“Critical attention has often been drawn to Christopher Marlowe’s choices of exotic, far-flung locations for the adventures of his heroes, and also to the ways in which Marlowe’s fictional world intersects with actual Renaissance geographical discoveries and attitudes. Tamburlaine, Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta and Dido, Queen of Carthage are not only set abroad; they all dramatise (or, in the case of Doctor Faustus, pointedly allude to) that typical Renaissance act, colonisation. In this essay, I want to focus on two linked, and richly suggestive, elements of Marlowe’s depiction of what it is like to travel ‘in another country’–the first is the plays’ emphasis on female as well as male experiences and values and, the second, their reversal of the processes normally inherent in the possessing colonialist gaze–to make it clear that the alien object at which we think we stare in fact reflects us back to ourselves, and illuminates the stranger within us.”
Contains: Criticism
Author: Lisa Hopkins
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 2.2 (1996): 1.1-23
England as Israel in Milton’s Writings
“By surveying Milton’s use and non-use of certain biblical images, this essay records his loss of political innocence, and also something of his pluralism. In doing so, it shows in action his view of the relation between church and state. It charts his implied view of Isaiah Berlin’s two concepts of liberty — negative and positive, the absence of external constraints as opposed to spiritual fulfilment or self-realization — to conclude that Milton favours the first for the sake of the second. He drew the corollary, that freedom mattered last as well as first. He was, in short, a more consistent thinker than is often acknowledged. I move toward these conclusions rather gradually, for two reasons. First, it is worth illustrating from the writings and speeches of Milton’s contemporaries how much more moderate Milton’s political imagery from the Bible was than that of many with whom he shared political and religious commitments. The imagery needs substantial quotation for the reader to recognise its dynamism, and to accept that it was used widely, not only by religious cranks and the weak-minded. Secondly, I survey Milton’s own writing quite widely, not only to show where he does share the fervour of the sectarians but also to illustrate the degree to which he does not share it even though the occasion and subject might have seemed to suit such fervour.”
Contains: Criticism
Author: John K. Hale
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 2.2 (1996): 3.1-54
John Milton: Poet, Priest and Prophet: A Study of Divine Vocation in Milton’s Poetry and Prose
“After an examination, in the Introduction, of Milton’s use and understanding of the term “vocation” (especially in De Doctrina Christiana), Dr Hill traces an evolving awareness of calling in the early poetry and the prose works. � The early years are devoted largely to vocational definition: � called to serve God from the pulpit and through poetry, Milton concentrates on the proper use of his divinely implanted talents and on defining his requirements as God’s poet-priest. � In the prose works of 1641 to 1660 the vocational emphasis shifts from his role as poet-priest to his role as poet-prophet. � All the signs, it seemed, declared that England was destined to be the new Israel, and Milton’s special vocation was to serve, both in prose and verse, as the prophet of national reformation. � It was in this mood — apocalyptic and buoyantly optimistic at first, but later despairing and pessimistic — that Paradise Lost was conceived and begun.”
Contains: Commentary, Criticism
Author: John Spencer Hill
From: London: � Macmillan Press,1979
This lengthy analysis of these author’s life and works includes sections on “Milton�s life at Cambridge and Horton”, “His later years”, “The growth of his reputation”, “Paradise Lost”, “Milton�s prose works”, and “His versification and style.”
Contains: Extensive Bio, Criticism, Bibliography
Author: George Saintsbury
From: The Cambridge History of English and American Literature Volume VII: English, Cavalier and Puritan
Milton and the Jacobean Church of England
“f you put a straight stick into water at an angle, it appears to be bent where it meets the surface. Perhaps there is a similar explanation for some apparent inconsistencies between the early and the later Milton. For example, why is it that the author of elegiac verses praising the Bishops of Winchester and Ely in 1626 could fifteen years later write three tracts roundly denouncing episcopacy? Something had changed, and I would suggest it was not just that the eighteen-year-old had matured; the church of his youth had been remarkably altered by 1641. . . But while all readers of Lycidas may know that Milton considered “our corrupted clergy” to be “in their height” in 1637, during the peak of archbishop William Laud’s ascendancy, they cannot be counted upon to be well informed about the Jacobean church in which Milton grew up to the age of seventeen.”
Contains: Criticism, Commentary
Author: Daniel W. Doerksen
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 1.1 (1995): 5.1-23
Milton and the Sexy Seals: A Peephole into the Horton Years
“The materials for this note are Milton’s copy of Lycophron’s Alexandra, containing his numerous marginalia. It is in the Library of the University of Illinois. I consulted also the notes of Leo Miller concerning it, in the Library of the University of Colorado at Boulder. I am grateful to the Librarians and staff of these institutions for help freely given me in 1993. Most of the material is published, over the name of Harris F. Fletcher, in Milton Quarterly 23. 4 (1989), 129-58: Fletcher’s notes were seen into print by John T. Shawcross. They are, however, more esoteric and cryptic than will suit all Milton specialists, not to mention general readers of Milton; and Leo Miller and I both found things to add to Fletcher. I offer the following note as a more narrative, and expository account of just one such marginal moment (Fletcher, 142-43) in the reading life of Milton in the 1630s; it is chosen as being quaint, and yet also extended enough to represent Milton’s mind and method at work on a Greek poet then.”
Contains: Criticism
Author: John K. Hale
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 1.3 (1995): 5.1-12
The Milton Review
The Milton Review is a “home for juried reviews of books about the life or work or John Milton, or books about anything Milton might have read or books about any author of interest to Milton scholars.
Contains: Criticism, Commentary, Works List
Author: Kevin J.T. Creamer
Keywords: Paradise Lost
Reflections on Milton and Ariosto
“We used to have a good piece of literary gossip about Milton and his supposed scribbles in a 1591 edition of Sir John Harington’s translation of Ariosto. William Riley Parker, the great biographer of Milton, transmitted and endorsed the rumor. According to Parker, sometime around the year 1642, awaiting the return of his errant wife Mary Powell, Milton ‘had reread Sir John Harington’s translation of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso’ (Parker 251).”
Contains: Criticism
Author: Roy Flannagan
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 2.3 (1996): 4.1-16

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Last Updated Apr 29, 2013