Milton, Man and Thinker

Milton, Man and Thinker

Milton, Man and Thinker

Milton, Man and Thinker

Excerpt

The aim of this study is to determine the human and lasting element in Milton's thought.

Milton has been studied too much in connection with his century, or at least with the wrong side of his century. We have been taught to see in him the stiff Puritan figure; and that has taken much of our interest away from him. Only too often do we feel half inclined to forgive Milton both his character and his ideas for love of the irresistible beauty of his art. Only too often do we open and read his poems with half-smothered prejudice against him; and thus we lose much that is important and interesting in them. There is, however, in Milton's work a permanent interest, outside the religious and political squabbles of his time, outside even dogma and religion proper -- a philosophical interest susceptible of universal appeal, and fully as important for our own time as for Milton's.

Milton's thought is most attractive when studied in connection with its intimate sources in his character and emotional experience. His abstract ideas are mostly generalizations of conceptions acquired in his personal experience, in the conflict between his temperament and the circumstances, private and political, of his life. His ideas are an interpretation of life which has not been built in the abstract by speculation, but which has been the result of the passing through life of a highly sensitive man -- a man of high intelligence also -- to whom life brought revelations about himself, his ambitions, and his cause.

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