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Milton   By: (1861-1922)

Book cover

First Page:

MILTON

by

SIR WALTER RALEIGH

Author of 'Style,' 'Wordsworth,' &c.

Tenth Impression

London Edward Arnold 41 & 43 Maddox Street, Bond Street, W. 1915

TO R. A. M. STEVENSON WHOSE RADIANT AND SOARING INTELLIGENCE ENLIGHTENED AND GUIDED ME DURING THE YEARS OF OUR LOST COMPANIONSHIP THIS UNAVAILING TRIBUTE OF MEMORY AND LOVE

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

PAGE

"Sciences of conceit"; the difficulties and imperfections of literary criticism; illustrated in the case of Shakespeare; and of Milton; the character and temper of Milton; intensity, simplicity, egotism; his estimate of himself 1

CHAPTER I John Milton

His birth, and death; his education; early life in London; ships and shipping; adventurers and players; Milton and the Elizabethan drama; the poetic masters of his youth; state of the Church of England; Baxter's testimony; growing unrest; Milton's early poems; the intrusion of politics; the farewell to mirth; the Restoration, and Milton's attitude; the lost paradise of the early poems; Milton's Puritanism; his melancholy; the political and public preoccupations of the later poems; the drama of Milton's life; his egotism explained; an illustration from Lycidas ; the lost cause; the ultimate triumph 12

CHAPTER II The Prose Works

Poets and politics; practical aim of Milton's prose writings; the reforms advocated by him, with one exception, unachieved; critical mourners over Milton's political writings; the mourners comforted; Milton's classification of his prose tracts; the occasional nature of these tracts; allusions in the early prose works to the story of Samson, and to the theme of Paradise Lost ; Milton's personal and public motives; his persuasive vein; his political idealism; Johnson's account of his political opinions; the citizen of an antique city; Milton's attitude towards mediƦval romance, and towards the mediƦval Church; his worship of liberty; and of greatness; his belief in human capacity and virtue; Milton and Cromwell; Milton's clear logic; his tenacity; his scurrility, and its excuse; his fierce and fantastic wit; reappearance of these qualities in Paradise Lost ; the style of his prose works analysed and illustrated; his rich vocabulary; his use of Saxon; the making of an epic poet 39

CHAPTER III Paradise Lost: The Scheme

Vastness of the theme; scenical opportunities; the poetry independent of the creed; Milton's choice of subject; King Arthur; Paradise Lost ; attractions of the theme: primitive religion, natural beauty, dramatic interest; difficulties of the theme, and forbidden topics; how Milton overcomes these difficulties by his episodes, his similes, and the tradition that he adopts concerning the fallen angels; the cosmography of Paradise Lost ; its chronology; some difficulties and inconsistencies; Milton's spiritual beings, their physical embodiment; the poem no treasury of wisdom, but a world drama; its inhumanity, and artificial elevation; the effect of Milton's simpler figures drawn from rural life; De Quincey's explanation of this effect; another explanation; the homelessness of Eden; the enchanted palace and its engineer; the tyranny of Milton's imagination; its effect on his diction 81

CHAPTER IV Paradise Lost: The Actors. The Later Poems

Milton's argumentative end; its bearing on the scenes in Heaven; his political bias, and materialism; Milton's Deity; his Satan; the minor devils; Adam; Eve; personal memories; Adam's eulogy of Eve, criticised by Raphael; Milton's philosophy of love and beauty; the opinions of Raphael, of Satan, and of Mrs. Millamant; the comparative merits of Adam and Eve; Milton's great epic effects; his unity and large decorum; morning and evening; architectural effects; the close of Paradise Lost ; Addison and Bentley; Paradise Regained; the choice of subject; Milton's favourite theme temptation; other possible subjects; the Harrying of Hell; Samson Agonistes; the riddle of life... Continue reading book >>




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