John Milton: 'Reasoning Words'

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The ten essays in this collection suggest the ongoing and varied readings of John Milton's life and works four hundred years after the poet's birth. In Book 9 of Paradise Lost, near the end of what is generally referred to as the separation scene, Eve speaks of Adam's 'reasoning words' as she prepares to leave her husband's side to garden alone. For a writer who focused on the importance of debate and the consequences of choice in his three major poems - Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes - and who depicted the awesome power of temptation in poetry and prose alike, Milton consistently argued that 'God ... trusts [his created being] with the gift of reason to be his own chooser' (Areopagitica), whether that chooser be Satan, Eve, Adam, the Son, the English people, the reader, or Milton himself.

As he states in Of Education, 'language is but the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known'. While the essays that make up this collection are intentionally diverse in subject matter, emphasis, and approach, what unifies them is a common interest in aspects of language, or, as the title suggests, 'reasoning words'.

The first three essays examine the concept of nationalism in the context of 17th-century England, Milton's nuanced language, and how the legal language of wills can help us fill in biographical gaps in our understanding of Milton's life. The fourth argues for the sustained influence of Ovid's love poems on Milton's mature works. In the next two essays, the authors focus on Satan's place in Paradise Lost, while the ecological study that follows examines Milton's description of Eden in the epic.

Also attentive to the language used to depict Eden as suggesting the Hebrew sanctuary, the eighth essay looks at the association of the prelapsarian angelic visitor Raphael with high priest imagery, while the ninth explores language used to reconstruct a life through different voices in Paradise Regained. The final essay addresses the difficulties for the modern reader of Of Education, with its moral purpose and grammatical emphasis.

These ten essays, originally presented at the 2005 Conference on John Milton, sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, were selected for inclusion in this collection on the basis of merit rather than theme, focus, or critical approach. Nonetheless, they all suggest, albeit from disparate perspectives, ways in which careful attention to Milton's language, to his 'reasoning words', can offer a colourful palette of choices for the contemporary reader.

Charles W. Durham is Professor Emeritus of English at Middle Tennessee State University. Kristin A. Pruitt is Professor Emerita of English at Christian Brothers University.
^ Literary Criticism ^

(9781575911236)

SKU 9781575911236
Barcode # 9781575911236
Brand AUP
Artist / Author Charles W. DURHAM & Kristin A. PRUITT (editors)

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