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Milton and Religious Controversy

Milton and Religious Controversy
Satire and Polemic in Paradise Lost


  • Date Published: June 2000
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521771986

£ 83.99

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About the Authors
  • Religious satire and polemic constitute an elusive presence in Paradise Lost. John N. King shows how Milton's poem takes on new meaning when understood as part of a strategy of protest against ecclesiastical formalism and clericalism. The experience of Adam and Eve before the Fall recalls many Puritan devotional habits. After the Fall, they are prone to 'idolatrous' ritual and ceremony that anticipate the religious 'error' of Milton's own age. Vituperative sermons, broadsides and pamphlets, notably Milton's own tracts, afford a valuable context for recovering the poem's engagement with the violent history of the Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Restoration, while contemporary visual satires help to clarify Miltonic practice. Eighteenth-century critics who attacked breaches of decorum and sublimity in Paradise Lost alternately deplored and ignored a literary and polemical tradition deployed by Milton's contemporaries. This important study, first published in 2000, sheds light on Milton's epic and its literary and religious contexts.

    • Innovative study of religious invective, satire and polemic in relation to Milton's Paradise Lost by a distinguished scholar
    • Considers Milton in relation to religious satire by Spenser in the sixteenth century, and the views of eighteenth-century critics
    • Examines Paradise Lost in the context of seventeenth-century visual satires, many of which are reproduced here for the first time
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'King has recovered for our time a style of reading and a religio-historical context that enrich our understanding of Paradise Lost. Essential reading for Milton scholars, this book will attract and hold the interest of historians of genre, of intellectual historians, and of historians of religion. It will be useful not only for its argument, but as a reference work on religious abuse, satire and polemic.' Stephen Fallon, University of Notre Dame

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2000
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521771986
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 25 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Controversial merriment
    2. Milton reads Spenser's May Eclogue
    3. Satan and the demonic conclave
    4. Milton's den of error
    5. The paradise of fools
    6. Laughter in heaven
    7. Miltonic transubstantiation
    8. Idolatry in Eden
    9. Images of both churches
    Appendix: Transcriptions from satirical broadsheets.

  • Author

    John N. King, Ohio State University

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