The Miltonic Setting, Past & Present

The Miltonic Setting, Past & Present

The Miltonic Setting, Past & Present

The Miltonic Setting, Past & Present

Excerpt

In my previous book on Milton, published in 1930, I had little space for his seventeenth-century setting and not much more for his present poetic status. These are now my two main themes; and they are as important to-day as in 1930. It is still necessary to fight the old heresy that Milton was utterly isolated and to insist that he belonged to his age and cannot be understood outside it. Since 1930 a good deal has been written against Milton; but a good deal too in his defence. For instance, Miss Helen Darbishire introduction to the Early Lives of Milton makes out a strong case for the decency of Milton's character (though it did not prevent Mr Belloc from calling Milton a cad and a coward). Miss Rose Macaulay Milton, because it is a fresh study of the poet's life issuing in a sincere appreciation of his poetry, amounts to a serious defence of his high position. Professor Grierson Milton and Wordsworth explicitly defends Milton against recent attack. Mr Desmond MacCarthy has given his testimony; and Mr Charles Williams, in a recent article on the New Milton, would relieve him of a number of crimes which even Milton's admirers had hitherto been content to put up with. But there is room for more defences yet. So long as Milton's detractors are vocal, those who value him highly should speak out in his favour, even at the risk of tautology.

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