This book distinguishes Milton's academic importance from his real status, and addresses readers with broad literary interests, who may be ready to think again about a poet whom Dryden saw as superior to both Homer and Virgil. The work is therefore a contribution to the ongoing histories of Milton's reputation in particular, and literary taste in general. This book is about one of England's greatest but most controversial poets. The first two sections cover the early editing, influence and criticism of Milton's minor poems, and some later responses: critical debate on the pastoral poems, imitation of the sonnets, and editorial confusion over "At a Solemn Musick". The third section concerns "Paradise Lost" and its ready recognition as a great poem by the Poet Laureate Dryden and his contemporaries. Milton came to be considered almost equal to Shakespeare; his comparative loss of status was due to criticisms of both his theology and his style. In the fourth and fifth sections, the former are studied in the polemics of Bishop Burgess, J.W. Morris and some modern scholars; the latter in the critiques of Professor Walter Raleigh and Dr. F.R. Leavis.
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"James Ogden offers a meticulously researched, intellectually satisfying, and thoroughly engaging study of how Milton's reputation was shaped by early writers and editors, and how it has waxed and waned during the three and one-half centuries since his death." - Prof. James C. Bulman Alleghany College "... conspicuous for solidity, integrity, force and sense, and I cannot recommend it too highly." - Prof. T.W. Craik University of Durham"
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