The Muse's Method: An Introduction to Paradise Lost

The Muse's Method: An Introduction to Paradise Lost

The Muse's Method: An Introduction to Paradise Lost

The Muse's Method: An Introduction to Paradise Lost

Excerpt

In reading Paradise Lost for a number of years, I have found that my admiration for the poem has increased along with my sense of the problems which the poem presents. Each of the following essays derives from a question about a passage, a book, a motif, or a device in the poem: why is it there? what does it do? how does it work? In attempting to answer those questions, I have discovered that each concerned major aspects of Milton's (or his Muse's) method, poetic and religious.

In writing about Milton, as in writing about Shakespeare, one's enormous debts to the living and the dead become inextricably entangled. For this reason, and because I have hoped for readers who might be interested in Milton's poetry while not interested in Milton scholarship, I have omitted footnote references from my text. I wish, however, to acknowledge the illumination and pleasure I have received from a number of scholars and critics who have recently written about Milton and his poetry: Frank Huntley, Isabel MacCaffery, William Madsen, M. M. Mahood, F. T. Prince, B. Rajan, Howard Schultz, Arnold Stein, Rosemond Tuve, W. B. C. Watkins, and Bernard Wright. I owe more personal debts to the criticism, conversation, and often, too, the writings of the following: Rufus and Jane Blanshard, J. B. Broadbent, William Coles, David Daiches, John Davenport, Jack Davis, Leonard Dean, Robert Durr, Helen Gardner, George Hemphill, John Huntley, C. S. Lewis, Charles McLaughlin, Edwin Muir, and E. M. W. Tillyard. I owe a great deal to Douglas Bush, who taught me to read Milton, and to Merritt Hughes, whose text in his finely annotated John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose (The Odyssey Press: New York, 1957) I quote throughout.

Chapters III and VII have previously appeared in slightly different form in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. Chapter IV has appeared in Studies in English Litera ture . . .

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