Meaning of MILTON, JOHN in English

born Dec. 9, 1608, London, Eng. died Nov. 8, 1674, Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire one of the greatest poets of the English language, best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667). He was also a noted historian, scholar, pamphleteer, and civil servant for the Parliamentarians and the Puritan Commonwealth. Milton exhibited scholarly achievement and a devotion to Latin verse at an early age. He was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge (162532), where he wrote poetry in Latin, Italian, and English. From 1632 to 1638 Milton retired to his father's home and engaged in private studyproducing the masque Comus, his first dramatization of the conflict of good and evil, and the poem Lycidasand then toured Italy for a year. Concerned with the Puritan cause in England, Milton spent much of the years 164160 pamphleteering for civil and religious liberty and serving as the secretary for foreign languages in Oliver Cromwell's government, producing Of Education and Areopagitica in 1644. He lost his sight (165152) but continued in his work, completing The Second Defence of the People of England in 1654. After the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, Milton was arrested as a noted defender of the Commonwealth but was soon released. The epics Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes were published in 1671. His late, long poems were dictated to his daughter, two nephews, friends, disciples, and paid amanuenses, who also corrected copy and read aloud when requested. He died of gout and was buried in his village churchyard. born Dec. 9, 1608, London, Eng. died Nov. 8, 1674, Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire one of the greatest poets of the English language. He also was a noted historian, scholar, pamphleteer, and civil servant for the Parliamentarians and the Puritan Commonwealth. Milton ranks second only to Shakespeare among English poets; his writings and his influence are an important part of the history of English literature, culture, and libertarian thought. He is best known for Paradise Lost, which is generally regarded as the greatest epic poem in the English language. Milton's prose works, however, are also important as a valuable interpretation of the Puritan revolution, and they have their place in modern histories of political and religious thought. Milton's grandfather, an Oxfordshire yeoman, had been a staunch Roman Catholic who had disinherited his son, the poet's father, for turning Protestant. John Milton, Sr., went to London, where he made his way to prominence and a comfortable fortune as a scrivener, or notary, and through the collateral business of private banking or moneylending. Milton was to pay repeated tributes to his father's generous concern with his education. Of his mother (d. 1637) Milton said only that she was well esteemed and known for her charities. He had an older sister, Anne, and a younger brother, Christopher, who became a lawyer. Additional reading General works Reference works include Edward S. Le Comte (compiler), A Milton Dictionary (1961); James Holly Hanford and James G. Taaffe, A Milton Handbook, 5th ed. (1970); William B. Hunter, Jr. (ed.), A Milton Encyclopedia, 9 vol. (197883), which includes articles treating people, places, and institutions associated with Milton; and Dennis Danielson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Milton (1989), essays on aspects of Milton's life and works. C.A. Patrides and Raymond B. Waddington (eds.), The Age of Milton: Backgrounds to Seventeenth-Century Literature (1980), is a collection of 11 essays. Biographies Milton's utterances on himself and his work are collected in John S. Diekhoff (ed.), Milton on Himself, new ed. (1965). Helen Darbishire (ed.), The Early Lives of Milton (1932, reissued 1972), contains six of the earliest biographical studies. David Masson, The Life of John Milton, 7 vol. (185994), and a partly rev. ed. (187796, reprinted 1965), is an all-inclusive work that still has its uses. J. Milton French (ed.), The Life Records of John Milton, 5 vol. (194958, reissued 1966), is an exhaustive compilation of documents and references. The standard modern biography is William Riley Parker, Milton, 2 vol. (1968). Shorter critical biographies are Kenneth Muir, John Milton, 2nd ed. (1960); mile Saillens, John Milton (1964; originally published in French, 1959); Douglas Bush, John Milton (1964); and A.N. Wilson, The Life of John Milton (1983). Criticism General Early criticism is collected in John T. Shawcross (ed.), Milton: The Critical Heritage (1970), covering the years 16281731, and Milton, 17321801 (1972); and in Joseph A. Wittreich (ed.), The Romantics on Milton: Formal Essays and Critical Asides (1970). Milton's Victorian repute is the subject of James G. Nelson, The Sublime Puritan (1963, reprinted 1974). Since the early 20th century there has been an enormous proliferation of criticism and scholarship that is surveyed in Patrick Murray, Milton: The Modern Phase (1967); and in K.L. Sharma, Milton Criticism in the Twentieth Century (1971). Collected studies by three eminent Miltonists are Merritt Y. Hughes, Ten Perspectives on Milton (1965); James Holly Hanford, John Milton, Poet and Humanist (1966); and A.S.P. Woodhouse, The Heavenly Muse: A Preface to Milton, ed. by Hugh MacCallum (1972).Some general surveys of the poetry and prose are E.M.W. Tillyard, Milton, rev. ed. (1966); David Daiches, Milton (1957, reissued 1966); Douglas Bush, English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century, 16001660, 2nd ed. rev. (1962, reissued 1979), chapter 12; Joan Malory Webber, Milton and His Epic Tradition (1979), a Jungian interpretation; John M. Steadman, The Wall of Paradise: Essays on Milton's Poetics (1985); and R.A. Shoaf, Milton, Poet of Duality: A Study of Semiosis in the Poetry and the Prose (1985, reissued 1993). On the poems Merritt Y. Hughes (ed.), A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton (1970 ), is a multivolume work with introductions, notes, and interpretive criticism. Studies of major poems, early and late, include Marjorie Hope Nicolson, John Milton: A Reader's Guide to His Poetry (1963, reissued 1983); Joseph H. Summers (ed.), The Lyric and Dramatic Milton (1965), conference papers; John Reesing, Milton's Poetic Art (1968); Balachandra Rajan, The Lofty Rhyme (1970); and Don Cameron Allen, The Harmonious Vision, enlarged ed. (1970). The major early poems in particular are treated in Rosemond Tuve, Images & Themes in Five Poems by Milton (1957, reissued 1967). Studies of Comus are Alan Rudrum, A Critical Commentary on Milton's Comus and Shorter Poems (1967); Angus Fletcher, The Transcendental Masque (1971); and John S. Diekhoff (ed.), A Maske at Ludlow: Essays on Milton's Comus (1968). Cleanth Brooks and John Edward Hardy, Poems of Mr. John Milton (1951), discusses the poems of the 1645 volume. Useful anthologies of essays on three of the early poems are Elaine B. Safer and Thomas L. Erskine (eds.), L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (1970); and C.A. Patrides (ed.), Milton's Lycidas: The Tradition and the Poem, new and rev. ed. (1983). The sonnets have been collected in John S. Smart (ed.), The Sonnets of Milton (1921, reprinted 1966); and in E.A.J. Honigmann (ed.), Milton's Sonnets (1966), both of which also provide commentaries. On Paradise Lost General studies include C.S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost, rev. and enlarged ed. (1942, reissued 1974); Balachandra Rajan, Paradise Lost & the Seventeenth Century Reader (1947, reprinted 1967); A.J.A. Waldock, Paradise Lost and Its Critics (1947, reissued 1966), an attack that stimulated illuminating responses; Arnold Sidney Stein, Answerable Style (1953, reissued 1967); Isabel Gamble MacCaffrey, Paradise Lost as Myth (1959, reissued 1967); Joseph H. Summers, The Muse's Method: An Introduction to Paradise Lost (1962, reissued 1981); Anne Ferry, Milton's Epic Voice: The Narrator in Paradise Lost (1963, reprinted 1983); Louis L. Martz, The Paradise Within (1964); Northrop Frye, The Return of Eden: Five Essays on Milton's Epics (1965, reissued 1975); Helen Gardner, A Reading of Paradise Lost (1965, reprinted with corrections, 1971); Alan Rudrum, A Critical Commentary on Milton's Paradise Lost (1966); John M. Steadman, Milton and the Renaissance Hero (1967), and Milton's Epic Characters (1968); G.K. Hunter, Paradise Lost (1980); Murray Roston, Milton and the Baroque (1980); Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms (1985); and John Peter Rumrich, Matter of Glory: A New Preface to Paradise Lost (1987).Additional treatments of the work include Watson Kirkconnell, The Celestial Cycle: The Theme of Paradise Lost in World Literature, with Translations of the Major Analogues (1952, reissued 1967); James H. Sims, The Bible in Milton's Epics (1962); J.M. Evans, Paradise Lost and the Genesis Tradition (1968); Joseph E. Duncan, Milton's Earthly Paradise: A Historical Study of Eden (1972); and Keith W.F. Stavely, Puritan Legacies: Paradise Lost and the New England Tradition, 16301890 (1987).Books focused on the epic's theological and ethical argument are John S. Diekhoff, Milton's Paradise Lost (1946, reissued 1963); Dennis H. Burden, The Logical Epic (1967); and Stanley Eugene Fish, Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost (1967, reissued 1971). Epistemological arguments are given in Kathleen M. Swaim, Before and After the Fall: Contrasting Modes in Paradise Lost (1986). On Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes These two works are specifically discussed in Arnold Stein, Heroic Knowledge (1957, reissued 1965); Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Milton's Brief Epic: The Genre, Meaning, and Art of Paradise Regained (1966); Galbraith M. Crump (ed.), Twentieth Century Interpretations of Samson Agonistes (1968); Alan Rudrum, A Critical Commentary on Milton's Samson Agonistes (1969); Balachandra Rajan (ed.), The Prison and the Pinnacle (1973); Mary Ann Radzinowicz, Toward Samson Agonistes: The Growth of Milton's Mind (1978); and Joseph A. Wittreich (ed.), Calm of Mind (1971), and Interpreting Samson Agonistes (1986), the latter of which attempts to challenge traditional interpretations of the work. Other studies Studies of metrics and style include Robert Bridges, Milton's Prosody, rev. final ed. (1921, reissued 1967); S. Ernest Sprott, Milton's Art of Prosody (1953, reprinted 1970); F.T. Prince, The Italian Element in Milton's Verse (1954, reissued 1969); and Christopher Ricks, Milton's Grand Style (1963, reissued 1983). Also notable is Roland Mushat Frye, Milton's Imagery and the Visual Arts: Iconographic Tradition in the Epic Poems (1978).Milton's political and religious thought is examined in Arthur E. Barker, Milton and the Puritan Dilemma, 16411660 (1942, reprinted 1976); William Haller, The Rise of Puritanism (1938, reissued 1984), and Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution (1955, reissued 1963); Michael Fixler, Milton and the Kingdoms of God (1964); Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (1977); and Dayton Haskin, Milton's Burden of Interpretation (1994), on his use and understanding of biblical passages.The nature and degree of Milton's theological orthodoxy and heresy have caused controversy and are explored in Maurice Kelley, This Great Argument (1941, reissued 1962); C.A. Patrides, Milton and the Christian Tradition (1966, reprinted 1979); and William B. Hunter, Jr., C.A. Patrides, and J.H. Adamson, Bright Essence (1971). Hugh MacCallum, Milton and the Sons of God: The Divine Image in Milton's Epic Poetry (1986), looks at sonship and theological conceptions in Milton's works. Milton's Christian humanism and antinomianism are treated in Joan S. Bennett, Reviving Liberty: Radical Christian Humanism in Milton's Great Poems (1989).Stevie Davies, The Feminine Reclaimed: The Idea of Woman in Spencer, Shakespeare, and Milton (also published as The Idea of Woman in Renaissance Literature, 1986), counters the traditional charge of Milton as a misogynist; as does Joseph A. Wittreich, Feminist Milton (1987), a survey of women's reactions to Milton's works, 17001830.Books on special subjects include Kester Svendsen, Milton and Science (1956, reissued 1969); Irene Samuel, Plato and Milton (1947, reissued 1965), and Dante and Milton (1966); Thomas Kranidas, The Fierce Equation: A Study of Milton's Decorum (1965); and Marcia R. Pointon, Milton & English Art (1970). Bibliographies Helpful collections are John T. Shawcross (compiler), Milton: A Bibliography for the Years 16241700 (1984); David Harrison Stevens, Reference Guide to Milton, from 1800 to the Present Day (1930, reissued 1967); C.A. Patrides (ed.), Milton's Epic Poetry (1967), which contains a 46-page annotated reading list; Calvin Huckabay, John Milton: An Annotated Bibliography, 19291968, rev. ed. (1969); A.E. Dyson (ed.), English Poetry: Select Bibliographical Guides (1971), which includes a descriptive survey; and James Holly Hanford and William A. McQueen (compilers), Milton, 2nd ed. (1979). P.J. Klemp, The Essential Milton: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies (1989), provides informative summaries of works published between 1900 and 1987. Current writings are recorded in the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature; MLA International Bibliography of Books and Articles on the Modern Languages and Literatures (annual); Milton Studies (annual); and Milton Quarterly. Douglas Bush The Editors of the Encyclopdia Britannica Major Works: Poems A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634 , in an enlarged text, and Lycidas (1638) were both reprinted in Poems (1645), which included nearly all the other early pieces, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, etc. The second edition (1673) reprinted the 1645 Poems, adding two early pieces and later sonnets; four sonnets were excluded for political reasons, since they were addressed to Sir Thomas Fairfax, Cromwell, Sir Henry Vane, and Skinner (the one beginning Cyriack, this three years' day). Paradise Lost, in 10 books, appeared in 1667 (revised in 12 books, 1674); Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes were printed together in 1671. Prose Of Reformation Touching Church Discipline in England (1641); The Reason of Church-Government Urg'd Against Prelaty (1642); An Apology Against a Pamphlet Call'd A Modest Confutation of the Animadversions upon a Remonstrant Against Smectymnuus (1642); The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1643, enlarged 1644); Of Education (1644); Areopagitica (1644); The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649); Eikonoklastes (1649); A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes (1659); Considerations Touching the Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings out of the Church (1659); The Readie and Easie Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth (1660); The History of Britain (1670); Of True Religion, Haeresie, Schism, Toleration, and What Best Means May Be Us'd Against the Growth of Popery (1673); A Brief History of Moscovia (1682). Works in Latin, Greek, and Italian Poems: The volume entitled Poems (1645) contained three Greek pieces and five Italian sonnets and a canzone. Most of the notable Latin poems are mentioned above; one other, Elegy V (On the Coming of Spring), was a fervently pagan celebration of awakening life and sexuality. Prose The seven Latin speeches delivered at Cambridge and Latin letters to friends (published 1674); Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio (1651); Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio Secunda (1654); Pro Se Defensio (1655); De Doctrina Christiana (published 1825). Editions Milton's collected works are reproduced in two works by Frank Allen Patterson (ed.), The Student's Milton, rev. ed. (1933, reissued 1961), which has almost all the works in one volume, with some apparatus, and The Works of John Milton, 18 vol. in 21 (193138); the latter is complemented by a useful 2-vol. index with the same title prepared by Frank Allen Patterson and French Rowe Fogle (1940). A comprehensive 1-vol. annotated edition is Merritt Y. Hughes (ed.), Complete Poems and Major Prose (1957). Don M. Wolfe (ed.), Complete Prose Works, 8 vol. (195382), includes translations of the Latin works and elaborate commentaries. J. Max Patrick (ed.), The Prose of John Milton (1967), contains annotated selections. Harris Francis Fletcher (compiler and ed.), Complete Poetical Works, Reproduced in Photographic Facsimile, 4 vol. (194348), is a critical text edition. Annotated editions of the complete poems are Helen Darbishire (ed.), The Poetical Works of John Milton, 2 vol. (195255, reissued as Poetical Works, 1966), with mainly textual notes; Douglas Bush (ed.), Complete Poetical Works (1965); John Carey and Alastair Fowler (eds.), The Poems of John Milton (1968); and John T. Shawcross (compiler), The Complete Poetry of John Milton, rev. ed. (1971).

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