Refuting the view that Milton was an antimedievalist, the eight essays presented here approach him from the interdisciplinary perspectives of historical, theological, literary, philosophical, and pictorial concerns, and illuminate the many areas in which Milton's work grew out of medieval art and culture.
A Reading of Christian Liberty from the Prose to 'Paradise Lost'
Author: Filippo Falcone
Publisher: James Clarke & Co
Category: Literary Criticism
What is true liberty? Milton labors to provide an answer, and his answer becomes the ruling principle behind both prose works and poetry. The scholarly community has largely read liberty in Milton retrospectively through the spectacles of liberalism. In so doing, it has failed to emphasize that the Christian paradigm of liberty speaks of an inward microcosm, a place of freedom whose precincts are defined by man's fellowship with God. All other forms of freedom relate to the outer world, be they freedom to choose the good, absence of external constraint and oppression, or freedom of alternatives. None of these is true liberty, but they are pursued by Milton in concert with true liberty. Milton's Inward Liberty attempts to address the bearing of true liberty in Milton's work through the magnifying glass of seventeenth-century theology.
Epistemology of a Fundamental Human Behavior, its Meaning, and Consequences
Author: Albrecht Classen
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
Category: Literary Criticism
Despite popular opinions of the ‘dark Middle Ages’ and a ‘gloomy early modern age,’ many people laughed, smiled, giggled, chuckled, entertained and ridiculed each other. This volume demonstrates how important laughter had been at times and how diverse the situations proved to be in which people laughed, and this from late antiquity to the eighteenth century. The contributions examine a wide gamut of significant cases of laughter in literary texts, historical documents, and art works where laughter determined the relationship among people. In fact, laughter emerges as a kaleidoscopic phenomenon reflecting divine joy, bitter hatred and contempt, satirical perspectives and parodic intentions. In some examples protagonists laughed out of sheer happiness and delight, in others because they felt anxiety and insecurity. It is much more difficult to detect premodern sculptures of laughing figures, but they also existed. Laughter reflected a variety of concerns, interests, and intentions, and the collective approach in this volume to laughter in the past opens many new windows to the history of mentality, social and religious conditions, gender relationships, and power structures.
Milton and This Pendant World is an interpretation of the great English poet “in an age increasingly skeptical, in a culture dominated by the assumptions of the natural and historical sciences and by the illusions of progress and enlightenment.” Those are the words of the author of this book, George Wesley Whiting, an eminent and devoted Miltonian. Believing that Milton has a vital message for the modern world, Whiting has abandoned the usual pattern for examining a poet—study of versification, meter, and other poetic devices. Instead, he presents an exposition of the spiritual and moral meaning of Milton’s poetry, which can still have truth and beauty for this doubting age. The literary image of the pendant world was familiar in Milton’s seventeenth century, but is meaningless to most people of our day. The comforting picture of the world hanging from heaven on a golden chain signifies God’s close watchfulness over humanity and the inseparable bond which links us to the spiritual kingdom. The author declares that the search for God and the struggle to overcome the spiritual and material forces that impede the search represent the most vital of all human efforts; for unless this search is our primary motivation, life is without meaning, without final purpose. Whiting also observes that true Christianity stands not for the impoverishment of humanity and our enslavement to the Deity, but rather for human moral health, harmonious development, and spiritual welfare. In order to save civilization from destruction at the hands of its friends—secularists, specialists, militarists, and politicians—we must have a renaissance of the spirit, a cultural synthesis in which a revitalized religion, enriched by philosophy and science, renews the ideals of Christianity.
By piecing the lives of selected individuals into a grand mosaic, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel J. Boorstin explores the development of artistic innovation over 3,000 years. A hugely ambitious chronicle of the arts that Boorstin delivers with the scope that made his Discoverers a national bestseller. Even as he tells the stories of such individual creators as Homer, Joyce, Giotto, Picasso, Handel, Wagner, and Virginia Woolf, Boorstin assembles them into a grand mosaic of aesthetic and intellectual invention. In the process he tells us not only how great art (and great architecture and philosophy) is created, but where it comes from and how it has shaped and mirrored societies from Vedic India to the twentieth-century United States.
Medievalism, the later reception of the Middle Ages, has been used by many writers, not just during the Victorian period but from the Renaissance to the present, as a means of commenting on their own societies and systems of values. Until recently, this self-interest was used to distinguish between Medievalism, a selective, often romanticised, view of the past, and medieval studies, with its quest for an authentic Middle Ages. The essays in this collection suggest that the search for knowledge of a "real" Middle Ages has always been a problematic one, and that the vitality of the vision of Medievalism is demonstrated by its constant adaption to current concerns.
In Search of Sir John Mandeville, the World's Greatest Traveler
Author: Giles Milton
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Part travelogue/part historical mystery about the most famous traveler--and chronicler-- in medieval Europe. Giles Milton's first book, The Riddle and the Knight, is a fascinating account of the legend of Sir John Mandeville, a long-forgotten knight who was once the most famous writer in medieval Europe. Mandeville wrote a book about his voyage around the world that became a beacon that lit the way for the great expeditions of the Renaissance, and his exploits and adventures provided inspiration for writers such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Keats. By the nineteenth century however, his claims were largely discredited by academics. Giles Milton set off in the footsteps of Mandeville, in order to test his amazing claims, and to restore Mandeville to his rightful place in the literature of exploration. "Erudite, witty and adventurous" (The Mail on Sunday), The Riddle and the Knight is a brilliant piece of detective work.
This book visits the fact that, in the pre-modern world, saints and lords served structurally similar roles, acting as patrons to those beneath them on the spiritual or social ladder with the word "patron" used to designate both types of elite sponsor. Chapman argues that this elision of patron saints and patron lords remained a distinctive feature of the early modern English imagination and that it is central to some of the key works of literature in the period. Writers like Jonson, Shakespeare, Spenser, Drayton, Donne and, Milton all use medieval patron saints in order to represent and to challenge early modern ideas of patronage -- not just patronage in the narrow sense of the immediate economic relations obtaining between client and sponsor, but also patronage as a society-wide system of obligation and reward that itself crystallized a whole culture’s assumptions about order and degree. The works studied in this book -- ranging from Shakespeare’s 2 Henry VI, written early in the 1590s, to Milton’s Masque Performed at Ludlow Castle, written in 1634 -- are patronage works, either aimed at a specific patron or showing a keen awareness of the larger patronage system. This volume challenges the idea that the early modern world had shrugged off its own medieval past, instead arguing that Protestant writers in the period were actively using the medieval Catholic ideal of the saint as a means to represent contemporary systems of hierarchy and dependence. Saints had been the ideal -- and idealized -- patrons of the medieval world and remained so for early modern English recusants. As a result, their legends and iconographies provided early modern Protestant authors with the perfect tool for thinking about the urgent and complex question of who owed allegiance to whom in a rapidly changing world.