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Milton's Leveller God

David Williams
Format
Book
Published
Montreal ; Kingston ; London ; Chicago : McGill-Queen's University Press, [2017]
Language
English
ISBN
0773550348, 9780773550346, 077355033X, 9780773550339
Summary
"John Milton's epic poems are beginning to lose their relevance in a post-Christian world. Critics regularly ask: Isn't Paradise Lost a monument to dead ideas? The aim of this book is to restore Milton's cultural centrality by showing how his God remains the unacknowledged ground of popular democracy, a political form invented by social levellers in the 1640s. While the vast range of Milton's sources in classical republican thought, Christian humanism, and Machiavellian discourse have been well-documented by scholars, we are just beginning to understand how much his republican prose is inflected by his association with Marchamont Nedham's Mercurius Politicus, the weekly newsbook that Milton licensed in 1651-52. And Nedham himself was closely associated with Leveller thought, which he routinely dressed in Roman republican ideas. From thousands of pages of the newsbook and Leveller writings, I identify a deep repertoire of phrasings and ideas that reveal Milton's sympathy for Leveller ideas in his prose from 1644-49, his ambivalent support for both a classical republic and a Leveller democracy in the 1650s, and his active expression of Leveller ideas in his epic poems after the Restoration. Oliver Cromwell, whom the Levellers identified as the Apostate, serves as a distinctive model for Satan in Paradise Lost, while Milton's Heaven evolves from a feudal monarchy to a human world of liberty and equality, even after the Fall. As with his social heresies, Milton's religious heresies remain a carefully couched force for liberalism and sexual equality, since the figure of a material deity unsettles all the old hierarchies of soul/body, man/woman, reason/will, and ruler/ruled."--
Description
xviii, 494 pages ; 24 cm
Notes
Includes bibliographical references (pages 391-472) and index.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic
  • Staff View

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