John Milton (1608-1674) was an English poet, prose polemicist and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England. Most famed for his epic poem Paradise Lost, Milton is celebrated as well for his treatise condemning censorship, Areopagitica. John Milton matriculated at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1625 and, in preparation for becoming an Anglican priest, stayed on to obtain his Master of Arts degree in 1632. While at Cambridge he wrote a number of his well-known shorter English poems, among them Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity, his Epitaph on the Admirable Dramatick Poet, W. Shakespeare, his first poem to appear in print, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. Upon receiving his MA in 1632, Milton retired to his father's country homes at Hammersmith and Horton and undertook six years of self-directed private study by reading both ancient and modern works of theology, philosophy, history, politics, literature and science, in preparation for his prospective poetical career. Milton continued to write poetry during this period of study: his masques Arcades and Comus were composed for noble patrons, and he contributed his pastoral elegy Lycidas to a memorial collection for one of his Cambridge classmates in 1638. Defensio pro Populo Anglicano is a Latin polemic by John Milton, published in 1651. The full title in English is John Milton an Englishman: His Defence of the People of England. It can be considered a piece of propaganda in a non-pejorative sense, since it makes a political argument in support of what was at the time the government of England. This work was commissioned by Parliament during Oliver Cromwell's protectorship of England, as a response to a work by Claudius Salmasius entitled Defensio Regia pro Carolo I ("Royal Defence on behalf of Charles I"). Salmasius argued that the rebels led by Cromwell were guilty of regicide for executing King Charles. Milton responded with a detailed justification of the parliamentary party.
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John Milton was a seventeenth-century English poet, polemicist, and civil servant in the government of Oliver Cromwell. Among Milton s best-known works are the classic epic Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, considered one of the greatest accomplishments in English blank verse, and Samson Agonistes.
Writing during a period of tremendous religious and political change, Milton s theology and politics were considered radical under King Charles I, found acceptance during the Commonwealth period, and were again out of fashion after the Restoration, when his literary reputation became a subject for debate due to his unrepentant republicanism. T.S. Eliot remarked that Milton s poetry was the hardest to reflect upon without one s own political and theological beliefs intruding.
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