The Oxford Handbook of Milton

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Four hundred years after his birth, John Milton remains one of the greatest and most controversial figures in English literature. The Oxford Handbook of Milton is a comprehensive guide to the state of Milton studies in the early twenty-first century, bringing together an international team of thirty-five leading scholars in one volume. The rise of critical interest in Milton's political and religious ideas is the most striking aspect of Milton studies in recent times, a consequence in great part of the increasingly fluid relations between literary and historical study. The Oxford Handbook both embodies the interest in Milton's political and religious contexts in the last generation and seeks to inaugurate a new phase in Milton studies through closer integration of the poetry and prose. There are eight essays on various aspects of Paradise Lost, ranging from its classical background and poetic form to its heretical theology and representation of God. There are sections devoted both to the shorter poems, including 'Lycidas' and Comus, and the final poems, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. There are also three sections on Milton's prose: the early controversial works on church government, divorce, and toleration, including Areopagitica; the regicide and republican prose of 1649-1660, the period during which he served as the chief propagandist for the English Commonwealth and Cromwell's Protectorate, and the various writings on education, history, and theology. The opening essays explore what we know about Milton's biography and what it might tell us; the final essays offer interpretations of aspects of Milton's massive influence on later writers, including the Romantic poets.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A very impressive and useful collection of essays that deserves all of the praise it has gotten so far in reviews and the award it received from the Milton Society of America...[It] has new things to say about both the political and the aesthetic dimensions of Milton's achievement." Milton Quarterly

"Belong[s] on the desk of every student of Milton..a body of scholarship that brings textual criticism and the history of the book to Milton studies in vital and interesting ways....This is a significant and extremely useful handbook." --Renaissance Quarterly

"This book will be required reading for Miltonists for a long time to come...[The] first-rate volume presents much of the best thinking round about Milton, informed by new insight and research." --Journal of British Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199210886
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/15/2010
  • Series: Oxford Handbooks Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 656
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas McDowell is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Exeter. Previously he was a Research Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He is the author of The English Radical Imagination: Culture, Religion, and Revolution, 1630-1660 (Oxford University Press, 2003), Poetry and Allegiance in the English Civil Wars: Marvell and the Cause of Wit (Oxford University Press, 2008), and essays on Milton in Journal of the History of Ideas, Milton Quarterly, and Review of English Studies. He is editing Milton's 1649 prose for the Oxford Complete Works of John Milton. In 2007 his research was recognized by the award of a Philip Leverhulme Prize by the Leverhulme Trust.
Nigel Smith is Professor of English and Co-director of the Center for the Study of Books and Media at Princeton University. He was previously Reader in English at Oxford University and Fellow and Tutor in English at Keble College. He is the author of Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion, 1640-1660 (Oxford University Press, 1989); Literature and Revolution in England, 1640-1660 (Yale University Press, 1994), Is Milton better than Shakespeare? (Harvard University Press, 2008), and Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon (Yale University Press, forthcoming, 2010). He has edited the Ranter pamphlets, the Journal of George Fox and the Longman Annotated English Poets edition of the poems of Andrew Marvell (a TLS 'Book of the Year' 2003, Guardian Paperback of the Week, 2006). He is a recipient of British Academy awards, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships.

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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors
Note on the Text and List of Abbreviations
Miltons' Life: Some Significant Dates
Part I: Lives
1. 'Ere Half My Days': Milton's Life, 1608-1640, Edward Jones
2. John Milton: The Later Life, 1641-1675, Nicholas von Maltzahn
Part II: Shorter Poems
3. 'The Adorning of My Native Tongue': Milton's Latin Poetry and Linguistic Metamorphosis, Estelle Haan
4. Milton's Early English Poems: The Nativity Ode, 'L'Allegro', 'Il Penseroso', Gordon Teskey
5. 'A thousand fantasies': The Lady and the Maske, Ann Baynes Coiro
6. 'Lycidas' and the Influence of Anxiety, Nicholas McDowell
7. The Troubled, Quiet Endings of Milton's English Sonnets, John Leonard
Part III: Civil War Prose, 1641-45
8. The Anti-Episcopal Tracts: Republicanism Puritanism and the Truth in Poetry, Nigel Smith
9. 'A Law in this matter to himself': Contextualising Milton's Divorce Tracts, Sharon Achinstein
10. Whose Liberty? The Rhetoric of Milton's Divorce Tracts, Diane Purkiss
11. Milton Areopagitica, and the Parliamentary Cause, Ann Hughes
12. Areopagitica and Liberty, Blair Hoxby
Part IV: Regicide, Republican, and Restoration Prose
13. 'The Strangest Piece of Reason': Milton's Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, Stephen M. Fallon
14. Milton's Regicide Tracts and the Uses of Shakespeare, Nicholas McDowell
15. John Milton, European: the Rhetoric of Milton's Defences, Joad Raymond
16. Defensio Prima and the Latin Poets, Estelle Haan
17. 'Nothing nobler then a free Commonwealth': Milton's Later Vernacular Republican Tracts, N. H. Keeble
18. Disestablishment, Toleration, the New Testament Nation: Milton's Late Religious Tracts, Elizabeth Sauer
19. Milton and National Identity, Paul Stevens
Part V: Writings on Education, History, Theology
20. The Genres of Milton's Commonplace Book, William Poole
21. Milton, the Hartlib Circle, and the Education of the Aristocracy, Timothy Raylor
22. Conquest and Slavery in Milton's History of Britain, Martin Dzelzainis
23. De Doctrina Christiana: An England That Might Have Been, Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns
Part VI: Paradise Lost
24. Writing Epic: Paradise Lost, Charles Martindale
25. 'A mind of most exceptional energy': Verse Rhythm in Paradise Lost, John Creaser
26. Editing Milton: the Case against Modernization, Stephen B. Dobranski
27. The 'World' of Paradise Lost, Karen L. Edwards
28. Paradise Lost and Heresy, Nigel Smith
29. God, Stuart Curran
30. Eve, Paradise Lost, and Female Interpretation, Susan Wiseman
31. The Politics of Paradise Lost, Martin Dzelzainis
Part VII: 1671 Poems: Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes
32. 'Englands Case': Context of the 1671 Poems, Laura Lunger Knoppers
33. Paradise Regained and the Memory of Paradise Lost, John Rogers
34. Samson Agonistes and 'Single Rebellion', R. W. Serjeantson
35. Samson Agonistes: the Force of Justice and the Violence of Idolatry, Regina M. Schwartz
36. Samson Agonistes and Milton's Sensible Ethics, Elizabeth D. Harvey
Part VII: Aspects of Influence
37. Milton Epic and Bucolic: Empire and Readings of Paradise Lost, 1667-1837, Anne-Julia Zwierlein
38. Miltonic Romanticism, Joseph Wittreich

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