Studies in Milton

Studies in Milton

Studies in Milton

Studies in Milton

Excerpt

It is about twenty years since I wrote my Milton; and much has happened in Milton scholarship in the interval. It is therefore only to be expected that on some matters I should have modified my opinion. But it is no use trying to graft such modifications on a book that attempted some proportion of treatment; for that would be to spoil any value it had as a whole, including its possible interest as a period piece. There is no harm, however, in separate enlargement and correction; and these are the things that Studies in Milton aims largely at providing. The longest study, on the crisis of Paradise Lost, corrects a common assumption (to which I had yielded in my Milton) and in substitution advances a general interpretation of the ninth and tenth books which, if true, has important bearings on the success of the whole poem. The next longest study makes the difficult attempt to conjecture what portions of Milton's theology (about which so much has been found out in the last twenty years) passed most readily into his poetry. It supplements rather than corrects my section on Milton's beliefs in my earlier book. Many of the other studies have the same end of supplementing or correcting; and in the light, partly of recent scholarship, partly of my own maturer thought.

The bulk of recent Milton scholarship is formidable, and a proportion of it is good. It is also world-wide. For instance, between 1942 and 1947, there were published (apart from specialist studies) five books on Paradise Lost alone, all good in their ways and all by men born in different countries: C. S. Lewis (England), Douglas Bush (Canada), John S. Diekhoff (United States), B. Rajan (India), A. J. A. Waldock (Australia). It is typical, too, that these books (in the aggregate) treat preponderatingly of Milton's thought, and in so doing avoid the characteristic vice of the Romantic . . .

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