MILTON: MAN AND THINKER

CHAPTER I
THE ELEMENTS OF MILTON'S CHARACTER IN YOUTH

I. CHARACTER AND FAMILY

TWO essential traits of character can be discerned in Milton from his youth onwards. The first is a varied, lively, and deep sensitiveness, such as is expected in a poet. The second is a sort of moral intractableness, which led Milton to sacrifice every practical or sentimental consideration to a high ideal of purity and truth, in private or public life.

This latter trait, generally referred to as Milton's puritanism of character, is the one which has most impressed the public and the majority of the biographers. It is at the basis of the ordinary conception of Milton as a rigid Puritan, upright no doubt, but on the whole unlovable, lacking in that good warm human feeling which creates sympathy in men -- and in readers.

There is no doubt an element of truth in this popular conception of the poet; but there is also an element of exaggeration, and above all a large element of injustice in ignoring the human side of his character. Some critics, however -- and those most in sympathy with Milton -- have protested against the prejudices that mar the personal reputation of the poet. Richard Garnett, in his admirable preface to his extracts from Milton's prose,

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Milton, Man and Thinker
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - The Man xix
  • Chapter I - The Elements of Milton's Character In Youth 1
  • Chapter II - The Man of Action and of Passion 21
  • Part II - The System 109
  • Chapter I - Ontology 113
  • Chapter II - Cosmology 134
  • Chapter III - Psychology and Ethics 149
  • Chapter IV - Religion 172
  • Chapter V - Politics 181
  • Chapter VI - Conclusion: a General View Of Milton's Philosophy 198
  • Part III - The Great Poems 201
  • Chapter I - Faith, Philosophy, and Poetry In Milton's Work 203
  • Chapter II - Paradise Lost 213
  • Chapter III - Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes 233
  • Part Iv The Sources 245
  • Chapter I - Hebraic Sources 251
  • Chapter II - The Christian Era 259
  • Chapter III - The Fathers 264
  • Chapter I - The Zohar and the Kabbalah 281
  • Chapter II - Robert Fludd (1574-1637) 301
  • Chapter III - The Mortalists, 1643-1655 310
  • Conclusion 323
  • Appendices 327
  • Index 353
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