Achievements of the Left Hand: Essays on the Prose of John Milton

Achievements of the Left Hand: Essays on the Prose of John Milton

Achievements of the Left Hand: Essays on the Prose of John Milton

Achievements of the Left Hand: Essays on the Prose of John Milton

Excerpt

A collection of original essays, this volume brings together the work of outstanding scholars invited to write at some length about Milton's prose. Our editorial policy has been to achieve within the limited space available both breadth and depth. To do that, we proceeded with an awareness of what general areas we wanted covered, but we were careful to be as flexible as possible in communicating that awareness to our contributors. We wanted them to respond to their own interests as well as to the interests of the volume as a whole. The results, we think, are admirable.

In breadth, the volume spans practically Milton's entire career as a writer of prose. The essays range in their concerns from Milton's antiprelatical tracts to his tracts about the affairs of state, with individual attention to his treatises on logic and on Christian doctrine. Of necessity, some areas have not received exclusive treatment, not because those areas are in themselves unimportant but because we felt it wiser to devote extended coverage to certain areas rather than superficial coverage to the complete body of Milton's prose. We were more interested in a work of scholarship than in a work of stamina.

As a work of scholarship, Achievements of the Left Hand explores in depth a number of topics that bear upon Milton's prose. In doing so, it provides new perspectives through which we can better understand Milton's unique achievements as a prose writer. The way in which Milton viewed his role as orator, a role inherited from classical and biblical precedents, is the main concern of Joseph A. Wittreich, Jr. Likewise interested in Milton's response to a particular vocation, Florence Sandler considers Milton's commitment to the role of iconoclast as an implicit comment upon his behavior as a polemicist. In practice, that be-

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