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In The Value of Milton, leading critic John Leonard explores the writings of John Milton from his early poetry to his major prose. Milton's work includes one of the most difficult and challenging texts in the English literary canon, yet he remains impressively popular with general readers. Leonard demonstrates why Milton has enduring value for our own time, both as a defender of political liberty and as a poet of sublimity and terror who also exhibits moments of genuine humanity and compassion. A poet divided against himself, Milton offers different rewards to different readers. The Value of Milton examines not only the significance of his most celebrated verse but also the function of biblical allegory, classical culture, and the moods, voice and language that give Milton's writings their perennial appeal.Read more
- Offers a close reading of Milton's poetry and prose
- Does not confine Milton to any one set of beliefs or moral values, but allows him to appeal to a wide diversity of belief and non-belief
- Emphasizes both the sublimity and the terror of his great poems
- Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
Reviews & endorsements
"John Leonard's authority as a preeminent Miltonist is widely acknowledged. His new book is a compelling tour de force: accessible, lively, informative, and critically acute. Leonard displays an uncanny analytic flair that shows rather than tells how an effective reading of Milton might be conducted, and he writes with such verve that it is hard to imagine a scholarly book on Milton more attractive and accessible to the intelligent general reader. The Value of Milton is entertaining - without being shallow or trivializing - and frequently wry, witty, and plain funny. It emphasizes Milton's relevance to issues that remain urgent and alive - yet without any hint that Milton is valuable merely because he is relevant today. This book has the power, amid serious discussion, to move to both laughter and tears. Repeatedly it left me feeling I had grasped the much-vaunted sublimity of Milton for the first time."
Dennis Danielson, University of British ColumbiaSee more reviews
'… a fine example of an always-welcome genre of criticism: an introduction that condenses an excellent scholar's lifetime of reading and thought on a major author.' E. D. Hill, Choice
'In this slim, rewarding volume, aimed at both general readers and specialists, celebrated Miltonist John Leonard surveys Milton’s writings, emphasizing Milton’s relevance for the present time and successfully demonstrating his value to audiences of varying perspectives. … Leonard’s book is particularly suited for instructors seeking to show students the enduring value of Milton.' David V. Urban, Modern Philology
'This is an excellent and long-needed book. Its value is manifold: while acknowledging the significance of Milton’s prose, it returns us back to what truly matters - his poetry, particularly Paradise Lost; it summarizes the fundamental cruxes in the texts and critical disagreements, making them intelligible and exciting for the general reader … Leonard’s new book is very-well written, with ease and, above all, humour. It shows what his previous acclaimed monographs and editorial work have already confirmed that he is among the most knowledgeable contemporary scholars of Milton and certainly the best close reader of his poetry.' Šárka Tobrmanová, Notes and Queries
'Leonard is a Miltonist’s Miltonist: a reader of rare sensitivity, and a scholar whose command of Milton’s texts and their critical reception is probably unmatched. … Leonard applies his expository gifts and formidable learning to a smaller canvas, exploring, in seven short chapters, the most significant aspects of Milton’s major works for a wide, general audience, and in so doing making the case for Milton’s value today. It is a splendid contribution.' Timothy Raylor, Milton Quarterly
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- Date Published: June 2016
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107059856
- length: 174 pages
- dimensions: 227 x 143 x 15 mm
- weight: 0.32kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Areopagitica, toleration and free speech
2. The minor poems and 'the power / to save'
3. The political prose, 'in liberty's defence'
4. Paradise Lost, the sublime poem
5. Paradise Lost, 'solid good'
6. Paradise regained, 'To the utmost of mere man'
7. Samson Agonistes, tragedy and terror.
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