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Walter Isaacson’s biography portrays a man obsessed with knowledge and almost impossible to know.
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As the Republic disintegrated, Milton wrote several proposals to retain a non-monarchical government against the wishes of parliament, soldiers, and the people. Upon the Restoration in May , Milton went into hiding for his life, while a warrant was issued for his arrest and his writings were burnt. He re-emerged after a general pardon was issued, but was nevertheless arrested and briefly imprisoned before influential friends intervened, such as Marvell, now an MP.

Milton married for a third and final time on 24 February , marrying Elizabeth Betty Minshull, aged 24, a native of Wistaston , Cheshire. He spent the remaining decade of his life living quietly in London, only retiring to a cottage during the Great Plague of London — Milton's Cottage in Chalfont St. Giles , his only extant home.

During this period, Milton published several minor prose works, such as the grammar textbook Art of Logic and a History of Britain. His only explicitly political tracts were the Of True Religion , arguing for toleration except for Catholics , and a translation of a Polish tract advocating an elective monarchy. Both these works were referred to in the Exclusion debate, the attempt to exclude the heir presumptive from the throne of England— James, Duke of York —because he was Roman Catholic. That debate preoccupied politics in the s and s and precipitated the formation of the Whig party and the Glorious Revolution.

Mary Powell died on 5 May from complications following Deborah's birth. Milton's daughters survived to adulthood, but he always had a strained relationship with them. Milton married for a third time on 24 February to Elizabeth Mynshull or Minshull — , the niece of Thomas Mynshull, a wealthy apothecary and philanthropist in Manchester. Despite a year age gap, the marriage seemed happy, according to John Aubrey , and lasted more than 12 years until Milton's death. Samuel Johnson, however, claims that Mynshull was "a domestic companion and attendant" and that Milton's nephew Edward Phillips relates that Mynshull "oppressed his children in his lifetime, and cheated them at his death".

His nephews, Edward and John Phillips sons of Milton's sister Anne , were educated by Milton and became writers themselves. John acted as a secretary, and Edward was Milton's first biographer. Milton's poetry was slow to see the light of day, at least under his name. His first published poem was "On Shakespeare" , anonymously included in the Second Folio edition of William Shakespeare 's plays in Milton collected his work in Poems in the midst of the excitement attending the possibility of establishing a new English government.

The anonymous edition of Comus was published in , and the publication of Lycidas in in Justa Edouardo King Naufrago was signed J. The collection was the only poetry of his to see print until Paradise Lost appeared in Milton's magnum opus , the blank-verse epic poem Paradise Lost , was composed by the blind and impoverished Milton from to first edition , with small but significant revisions published in second edition.

As a blind poet, Milton dictated his verse to a series of aides in his employ. It has been argued that the poem reflects his personal despair at the failure of the Revolution yet affirms an ultimate optimism in human potential. Some literary critics have argued that Milton encoded many references to his unyielding support for the " Good Old Cause ". Milton followed up the publication Paradise Lost with its sequel Paradise Regained , which was published alongside the tragedy Samson Agonistes in Both of these works also resonate with Milton's post-Restoration political situation.

Just before his death in , Milton supervised a second edition of Paradise Lost , accompanied by an explanation of "why the poem rhymes not", and prefatory verses by Andrew Marvell. In , Milton republished his Poems , as well as a collection of his letters and the Latin prolusions from his Cambridge days. An unfinished religious manifesto, De doctrina christiana , probably written by Milton, lays out many of his heterodox theological views, and was not discovered and published until Milton's key beliefs were idiosyncratic, not those of an identifiable group or faction, and often they go well beyond the orthodoxy of the time.

Their tone, however, stemmed from the Puritan emphasis on the centrality and inviolability of conscience. By the late s, Milton was a proponent of monism or animist materialism, the notion that a single material substance which is "animate, self-active, and free" composes everything in the universe: from stones and trees and bodies to minds, souls, angels, and God.

Milton's monism is most notably reflected in Paradise Lost when he has angels eat 5. Milton was a "passionately individual Christian Humanist poet. Thus, Milton's political thought, driven by competing convictions, a Reformed faith and a Humanist spirit, led to enigmatic outcomes. In both the cases, he seems in control, taking stock of the situation arising from the polarization of the English society on religious and political lines.

He fought with the Puritans against the Cavaliers i. But the very same constitutional and republican polity, when tried to curtail freedom of speech, Milton, given his humanistic zeal, wrote Areopagitica. Milton's political thought may be best categorized according to respective periods in his life and times.

The years —42 were dedicated to church politics and the struggle against episcopacy. After his divorce writings, Areopagitica , and a gap, he wrote in —54 in the aftermath of the execution of Charles I , and in polemic justification of the regicide and the existing Parliamentarian regime.

Then in —60 he foresaw the Restoration, and wrote to head it off. Milton's own beliefs were in some cases both unpopular and dangerous, and this was true particularly to his commitment to republicanism.


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In coming centuries, Milton would be claimed as an early apostle of liberalism. A friend and ally in the pamphlet wars was Marchamont Nedham. Austin Woolrych considers that although they were quite close, there is "little real affinity, beyond a broad republicanism", between their approaches. He praised Oliver Cromwell as the Protectorate was set up; though subsequently he had major reservations.

When Cromwell seemed to be backsliding as a revolutionary, after a couple of years in power, Milton moved closer to the position of Sir Henry Vane , to whom he wrote a sonnet in John Streater, and the form of republicanism he stood for, was a fulfilment of Milton's most optimistic ideas of free speech and of public heroism [ As Richard Cromwell fell from power, he envisaged a step towards a freer republic or "free commonwealth", writing in the hope of this outcome in early Milton had argued for an awkward position, in the Ready and Easy Way , because he wanted to invoke the Good Old Cause and gain the support of the republicans, but without offering a democratic solution of any kind.

This attitude cut right across the grain of popular opinion of the time, which swung decisively behind the restoration of the Stuart monarchy that took place later in the year. Milton was not a clergyman. He was not a theologian. However, theology, particularly English Calvinism, formed the great palette on which John Milton created his greatest thoughts.

John Milton wrestled with the great doctrines of the Church amidst the theological crosswinds of his age. Like many Renaissance artists before him, Milton attempted to integrate Christian theology with classical modes.

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In his early poems, the poet narrator expresses a tension between vice and virtue, the latter invariably related to Protestantism. In Comus , Milton may make ironic use of the Caroline court masque by elevating notions of purity and virtue over the conventions of court revelry and superstition. In his later poems, Milton's theological concerns become more explicit. His use of biblical citation was wide-ranging; Harris Fletcher, standing at the beginning of the intensification of the study of the use of scripture in Milton's work poetry and prose, in all languages Milton mastered , notes that typically Milton clipped and adapted biblical quotations to suit the purpose, giving precise chapter and verse only in texts for a more specialized readership.

As for the plenitude of Milton's quotations from scripture, Fletcher comments, "For this work, I have in all actually collated about twenty-five hundred of the five to ten thousand direct Biblical quotations which appear therein". Milton embraced many heterodox Christian theological views. He has been accused of rejecting the Trinity , believing instead that the Son was subordinate to the Father, a position known as Arianism ; and his sympathy or curiosity was probably engaged by Socinianism : in August he licensed for publication by William Dugard the Racovian Catechism , based on a non-trinitarian creed.

Rufus Wilmot Griswold argued that "In none of his great works is there a passage from which it can be inferred that he was an Arian; and in the very last of his writings he declares that "the doctrine of the Trinity is a plain doctrine in Scripture. In his treatise, Of Reformation , Milton expressed his dislike for Catholicism and episcopacy, presenting Rome as a modern Babylon , and bishops as Egyptian taskmasters. These analogies conform to Milton's puritanical preference for Old Testament imagery. Through the Interregnum , Milton often presents England, rescued from the trappings of a worldly monarchy, as an elect nation akin to the Old Testament Israel , and shows its leader, Oliver Cromwell , as a latter-day Moses.

These views were bound up in Protestant views of the Millennium , which some sects, such as the Fifth Monarchists predicted would arrive in England. Milton, however, would later criticise the "worldly" millenarian views of these and others, and expressed orthodox ideas on the prophecy of the Four Empires. The Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in began a new phase in Milton's work.

The Garden of Eden may allegorically reflect Milton's view of England's recent Fall from Grace , while Samson 's blindness and captivity—mirroring Milton's own lost sight—may be a metaphor for England's blind acceptance of Charles II as king. Illustrated by Paradise Lost is mortalism , the belief that the soul lies dormant after the body dies. Despite the Restoration of the monarchy, Milton did not lose his personal faith; Samson shows how the loss of national salvation did not necessarily preclude the salvation of the individual, while Paradise Regained expresses Milton's continuing belief in the promise of Christian salvation through Jesus Christ.

Though he maintained his personal faith in spite of the defeats suffered by his cause, the Dictionary of National Biography recounted how he had been alienated from the Church of England by Archbishop William Laud, and then moved similarly from the Dissenters by their denunciation of religious tolerance in England. Milton had come to stand apart from all sects, though apparently finding the Quakers most congenial. He never went to any religious services in his later years. When a servant brought back accounts of sermons from nonconformist meetings, Milton became so sarcastic that the man at last gave up his place.

Writing of the enigmatic and often conflicting views of Milton in the Puritan age, David Daiches wrote convincingly,. A fair theological summary may be: that John Milton was a Puritan, though his tendency to press further for liberty of conscience, sometimes out of conviction and often out of mere intellectual curiosity, made the great man, at least, a vital if not uncomfortable ally in the broader Puritan movement.

Milton called in the Areopagitica for "the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties" applied, however, only to the conflicting Protestant denominations, and not to atheists, Jews, Muslims or Catholics. Rather than force a man's conscience, government should recognise the persuasive force of the gospel. In August of that year, he presented his thoughts to the Westminster Assembly of Divines , which had been created by the Long Parliament to bring greater reform to the Church of England.

Milton's thinking on divorce caused him considerable trouble with the authorities. An orthodox Presbyterian view of the time was that Milton's views on divorce constituted a one-man heresy :. The fervently Presbyterian Edwards had included Milton's divorce tracts in his list in Gangraena of heretical publications that threatened the religious and moral fabric of the nation; Milton responded by mocking him as "shallow Edwards" in the satirical sonnet "On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament", usually dated to the latter half of Even here, though, his originality is qualified: Thomas Gataker had already identified "mutual solace" as a principal goal in marriage.

Milton wrote during a period when thoughts about divorce were anything but simplistic; rather, there was active debate among thinkers and intellectuals at the time. However, Milton's basic approval of divorce within strict parameters set by the biblical witness was typical of many influential Christian intellectuals, particularly the Westminster divines. Milton addressed the Assembly on the matter of divorce in August , [89] at a moment when the Assembly was beginning to form its opinion on the matter.

Neither the Assembly nor Parliament condemned Milton or his ideas. In fact, when the Westminster Assembly wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith they allowed for divorce 'Of Marriage and Divorce,' Chapter 24, Section 5 in cases of infidelity or abandonment. Thus, the Christian community, at least a majority within the 'Puritan' sub-set, approved of Milton's views. Nevertheless, reaction among Puritans to Milton's views on divorce was mixed.

Herbert Palmer , a member of the Westminster Assembly , condemned Milton in the strongest possible language:.


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If any plead Conscience Palmer expressed his disapproval in a sermon addressed to the Westminster Assembly. The Scottish commissioner Robert Baillie described Palmer's sermon as one "of the most Scottish and free sermons that ever I heard any where.

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History was particularly important for the political class of the period, and Lewalski considers that Milton "more than most illustrates" a remark of Thomas Hobbes on the weight placed at the time on the classical Latin historical writers Tacitus , Livy , Sallust and Cicero , and their republican attitudes. A sense of history mattered greatly to him: [93]. The course of human history, the immediate impact of the civil disorders, and his own traumatic personal life, are all regarded by Milton as typical of the predicament he describes as "the misery that has bin since Adam".

Once Paradise Lost was published, Milton's stature as epic poet was immediately recognised. He cast a formidable shadow over English poetry in the 18th and 19th centuries; he was often judged equal or superior to all other English poets, including Shakespeare. John Dryden , an early enthusiast, in began the trend of describing Milton as the poet of the sublime. In , Patrick Hume became the first editor of Paradise Lost , providing an extensive apparatus of annotation and commentary, particularly chasing down allusions.

In , the classical scholar Richard Bentley offered a corrected version of Paradise Lost. Christopher Ricks judges that, as critic, Bentley was both acute and wrong-headed, and "incorrigibly eccentric"; William Empson also finds Pearce to be more sympathetic to Bentley's underlying line of thought than is warranted. There was an early, partial translation of Paradise Lost into German by Theodore Haak , and based on that a standard verse translation by Ernest Gottlieb von Berge. Many enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century revered and commented on Milton's poetry and non-poetical works.

For example, in The Spectator , [] Joseph Addison wrote extensive notes, annotations, and interpretations of certain passages of Paradise Lost. Jonathan Richardson, senior , and Jonathan Richardson, the younger, co-wrote a book of criticism. Newton's edition of Milton was a culmination of the honour bestowed upon Milton by early Enlightenment thinkers; it may also have been prompted by Richard Bentley's infamous edition, described above.

William Blake considered Milton the major English poet. Blake placed Edmund Spenser as Milton's precursor, and saw himself as Milton's poetical son. Edmund Burke was a theorist of the sublime , and he regarded Milton's description of Hell as exemplary of sublimity as an aesthetic concept. For Burke, it was to set alongside mountain-tops, a storm at sea, and infinity. The Romantic poets valued his exploration of blank verse , but for the most part rejected his religiosity. William Wordsworth began his sonnet "London, " with "Milton! John Keats found the yoke of Milton's style uncongenial; [] he exclaimed that "Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful or rather artist's humour.

The Victorian age witnessed a continuation of Milton's influence, George Eliot [] and Thomas Hardy being particularly inspired by Milton's poetry and biography. Hostile 20th-century criticism by T. Eliot and Ezra Pound did not reduce Milton's stature. Leavis, in The Common Pursuit , responded to the points made by Eliot, in particular the claim that "the study of Milton could be of no help: it was only a hindrance", by arguing, "As if it were a matter of deciding not to study Milton!

The problem, rather, was to escape from an influence that was so difficult to escape from because it was unrecognized, belonging, as it did, to the climate of the habitual and 'natural'. Pullman was concerned to produce a version of Milton's poem accessible to teenagers, [] and has spoken of Milton as "our greatest public poet".

Titles of a number of other well-known literary works are also derived from Milton's writings. Eliot believed that "of no other poet is it so difficult to consider the poetry simply as poetry, without our theological and political dispositions Milton's use of blank verse , in addition to his stylistic innovations such as grandiloquence of voice and vision, peculiar diction and phraseology influenced later poets. At the time, poetic blank verse was considered distinct from its use in verse drama, and Paradise Lost was taken as a unique examplar. Milton is esteemed the parent and author of blank verse among us".

Lack of rhyme was sometimes taken as Milton's defining innovation. He himself considered the rhymeless quality of Paradise Lost to be an extension of his own personal liberty:. This neglect then of Rhime This pursuit of freedom was largely a reaction against conservative values entrenched within the rigid heroic couplet.

Reaction to Milton's poetic worldview included, grudgingly, acknowledgement that of poet's resemblance to classical writers Greek and Roman poetry being unrhymed. Blank verse came to be a recognised medium for religious works and for translations of the classics. Unrhymed lyrics like Collins ' Ode to Evening in the meter of Milton's translation of Horace 's Ode to Pyrrha were not uncommon after His blank-verse paragraph, and his audacious and victorious attempt to combine blank and rhymed verse with paragraphic effect in Lycidas, lay down indestructible models and patterns of English verse-rhythm, as distinguished from the narrower and more strait-laced forms of English metre.

Before Milton, "the sense of regular rhythm In order to support this symmetry, lines were most often octo- or deca-syllabic, with no enjambed endings.

To this schema Milton introduced modifications, which included hypermetrical syllables trisyllabic feet , inversion or slighting of stresses , and the shifting of pauses to all parts of the line. It included many Latinate neologisms , as well as obsolete words already dropped from popular usage so completely that their meanings were no longer understood.

In , Francis Peck identified some examples of Milton's "old" words now popular. The Seasons , Castle of Indolence was self-consciously modelled after the Miltonian dialect, with the same tone and sensibilities as Paradise Lost. Following to Milton, English poetry from Pope to John Keats exhibited a steadily increasing attention to the connotative, the imaginative and poetic, value of words. Milton also wrote the hymn Let us with a gladsome mind , a versification of Psalm From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For other people named John Milton, see John Milton disambiguation. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: Early life of John Milton. Further information: Early life of John Milton. It appears in all his writings that he had the usual concomitant of great abilities, a lofty and steady confidence in himself, perhaps not without some contempt of others; for scarcely any man ever wrote so much, and praised so few.

Of his praise he was very frugal; as he set its value high, and considered his mention of a name as a security against the waste of time, and a certain preservative from oblivion. In [Florence], which I have always admired above all others because of the elegance, not just of its tongue, but also of its wit, I lingered for about two months. There I at once became the friend of many gentlemen eminent in rank and learning, whose private academies I frequented—a Florentine institution which deserves great praise not only for promoting humane studies but also for encouraging friendly intercourse.

Main article: Milton's antiprelatical tracts. Main article: Paradise Lost. Main article: John Milton's politics. Main article: John Milton's religion. Main article: Milton's divorce tracts. The last three lines concluding with "They also serve who only stand and wait" are particularly well known, though rarely in context.

The poem may have been written as early as , although most scholars believe it was composed sometime between June and October , when Milton's blindness was essentially complete. In the Days of Milton. New York: A. John Milton A Biography 1st ed. The file, which contains documents that are redacted in parts, shows Lessing was under surveillance by British spies for around twenty years, from the early s onwards. Her associations with Communism and her anti-racist activism are reported [24] to be the reasons for the secret service interest in Lessing.

At the age of 15, Lessing began to sell her stories to magazines. In , Lessing published two novels under the literary pseudonym Jane Somers to show the difficulty new authors face in trying to get their work printed. In , Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Lessing was out shopping for groceries when the Nobel Prize announcement came.

Arriving home to a gathering of reporters, she exclaimed, "Oh Christ! It's a royal flush. Lessing wrote that "it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us — for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. In a interview for the BBC 's Front Row , she stated that increased media interest after the award had left her without time or energy for writing.

During the late s, Lessing suffered a stroke [43] which stopped her from travelling during her later years. During her Communist phase —56 she wrote radically about social issues, a theme to which she returned in The Good Terrorist This was followed by a psychological phase from to , including the Golden Notebook and the "Children of Violence" quartet. Third came the Sufi phase, explored in the Canopus in Argos sequence of science fiction or as she preferred to put it "space fiction" novels and novellas.

Lessing's Canopus sequence was not popular with many mainstream literary critics. For example, in The New York Times in John Leonard wrote in reference to The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 that "[o]ne of the many sins for which the 20th century will be held accountable is that it has discouraged Mrs. She now propagandises on behalf of our insignificance in the cosmic razzmatazz," [47] to which Lessing replied: "What they didn't realise was that in science fiction is some of the best social fiction of our time.

I also admire the classic sort of science fiction, like Blood Music , by Greg Bear. He's a great writer. Here she made a speech in which she described her dystopian novel Memoirs of a Survivor as "an attempt at an autobiography. The Canopus in Argos novels present an advanced interstellar society's efforts to accelerate the evolution of other worlds, including Earth.

Using Sufi concepts, to which Lessing had been introduced in the mids by her "good friend and teacher" Idries Shah , [46] the series of novels also uses an approach similar to that employed by the early 20th century mystic G. Gurdjieff in his work All and Everything. Earlier works of "inner space" fiction like Briefing for a Descent into Hell and Memoirs of a Survivor also connect to this theme.

Lessing's interest had turned to Sufism after coming to the realisation that Marxism ignored spiritual matters, leaving her disillusioned. Lessing's novel The Golden Notebook is considered a feminist classic by some scholars, [51] but notably not by the author herself, who later wrote that its theme of mental breakdowns as a means of healing and freeing one's self from illusions had been overlooked by critics.

She also regretted that critics failed to appreciate the exceptional structure of the novel. She explained in Walking in the Shade that she modelled Molly partly on her good friend Joan Rodker , the daughter of the modernist poet and publisher John Rodker. What the feminists want of me is something they haven't examined because it comes from religion.

They want me to bear witness. What they would really like me to say is, 'Ha, sisters, I stand with you side by side in your struggle toward the golden dawn where all those beastly men are no more. In fact, they do. I've come with great regret to this conclusion. The Doris Lessing Society is dedicated to supporting the scholarly study of Lessing's work. The formal structure of the Society dates from January , when the first issue of the Doris Lessing Newsletter was published. In the Newsletter became the academic journal Doris Lessing Studies.

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The 45 archival boxes of Lessing's materials at the Ransom Center contain nearly all of her extant manuscripts and typescripts up to Original material for Lessing's early books is assumed not to exist because she kept none of her early manuscripts. The collection also includes forty years of personal diaries. Some of the archive remains embargoed during the writing of Lessing's official biography.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer, short story writer, and Nobel Laureate. CH OMG. Lessing at the Lit Cologne literary festival in Frank Charles Wisdom m. Gottfried Anton Nicolai Lessing m. John — Jean b. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 June Retrieved 11 October Retrieved 12 October Toronto Star , 12 October Retrieved 13 October Archived from the original on 25 April Retrieved 17 April CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown link.

The Times. Retrieved 25 April Archived from the original on 24 October The New York Times. Books and Writers kirjasto. Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 8 June BBC News. Doris Lessing Biography. London: Harper Collins. Broadview Press. Retrieved 29 December The Guardian.

Retrieved 9 May The Independent. Retrieved 17 November The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 November Doris Lessing. Retrieved 13 August The Huffington Post , 10 November Updated May 25, Retrieved 7 September Retrieved 15 October BBC Radio. Archived from the original Audio on 14 October Archived from the original on 7 July Davis received the Physics Prize at 88 years 57 days.

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Their birth dates are shown in their biographies at the Nobel Prize web site , which states that the awards are given annually on 10 December. Herald Sun. Retrieved 16 October The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 December Daily News New York.