9780521771986

Milton and Religious Controversy: Satire and Polemic in Paradise Lost

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780521771986

  • ISBN10:

    0521771986

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2000-07-31
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Summary

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 sheds new light on Milton's epic and its literary and religious contexts.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
x
Preface xiii
List of abbreviations
xvii
Note on texts xx
Controversial merriment
1(22)
Milton reads Spenser's May Eclogue
23(21)
Satan and the demonic conclave
44(25)
Milton's Den of Error
69(20)
The Paradise of Fools
89(20)
Laughter in heaven
109(24)
Miltonic transubstantiation
133(20)
Idolatry in Eden
153(14)
The image of both churches
167(29)
Conclusion
189(7)
Appendix: transcriptions from satirical broadsheets 196(10)
Select Bibliography 206(16)
Index 222

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