There is renewed interest in Milton, particularly his political life, this year, the 400th anniversary of his birth. This substantial biography, seamlessly written by the editors of the Oxford Milton, draws chiefly on documentary evidence and an easy familiarity with the 17th-century English scene. As a prodigy scholar, pamphleteer, government translator on the international stage and the blind (probably from glaucoma) bard of the Bible, Milton found himself astride a world of hardening views, as it spiraled in political and spiritual transition. He wrote on divorce, freedom of expression and the tenure of kings; his De Doctrina Christiana, not unearthed until the 1820s, is an essential work of systematic theology. The authors set Milton's imaginative life against this backdrop, stretching from Shakespeare, to whom Milton's father may have been loosely connected, to Dryden's ingenious staging of Paradise Lost in couplets. With nearly 100 pages of notes and bibliography, this is a no-nonsense contribution to our understanding of a genius who, in many ways, is hardly remote from our times. 25 b&w illus., maps. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
John Milton: Life, Work, and Thoughtby Gordon Campbell
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This book re-examines scrupulously the writings and the life records of John Milton, in the context of a proper understanding of the recent developments in seventeenth-century historiography. Milton's thought has often been too simply described. The approach here is to interrogate more sceptically notions like puritanism, republicanism, radicalism, and dissent. A more complex story emerges, of Milton's culturally rich but ideologically conformist early decades, and of his radicalisation during the later years of Laudianism. We track the internal dynamics of English puritanism in the 1640s and the impact that has on his own convictions. In the 1650s Milton's thought and beliefs were reconciled to the role as public servant. In the 1660s a renewed confidence carried him towards the completion of his greatest project, Paradise Lost, and his final years were ones of creative fulfilment and renewed political engagement. Amid the discontinuities occasioned by shifting political circumstance, by the exigencies of polemical context, and the diversity of genres in which he wrote, Milton emerged as a major political thinker and significant systematic theologian, as well as the most eloquent prose writer and most accomplished poet of the age. A more human Milton appears in these pages, flawed, self-contractory, self-serving, arrogant, passionate, ruthless, ambitious, and cunning, as well as the literary genius who achieved so much.
The 400th anniversary of the birth of the great English poet John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, has brought a resurgence of popular interest, especially in his radical social and religious views. Leading Miltonists Campbell (Renaissance studies, Univ. of Leicester, U.K.) and Corns (English, Bangor Univ.; The Cambridge Companion to English Poetry) bring two lifetimes of scholarship to this new biography of the poet. Their work is informed by a careful reexamination of the vast archival sources coupled with a thorough knowledge of the changing historiographic understanding of 17th-century historical, social, political, and religious currents. Neither hagiography nor sensationalism, the book places Milton's life and work into the shifting contexts of his times, tracing the stages of his radicalization. Campbell and Corns's biography is more historical than literary in focus. An essential contribution for Miltonists and those interested in the period; it is also accessible to general readers.
"A magnificent achievement: anyone interested in the seventeenth century or its literature will enjoy it, eagerly read it through, and return to it again and again." Milton Quarterly
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Meet the Author
Gordon Campbell is Professor of Renaissance Studies at University of Leicester. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He is a former chairman of the English Association and of the Society for Renaissance Studies He has published widely on Milton and on art and architecture, mostly for OUP. Thomas N. Corns is Professor of English at Bangor University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the English Association. He has published six books on Milton and other books on seventeenth-century literature.
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