John Milton

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John Milton (1608-74) was an English poet and writer; he was the chief literary spokesman for the Puritan revolution. An intensely religious Protestant, Milton's most famous work is the epic poem Paradise Lost. Many experts consider it the greatest epic poem in the English language. The poem was written in blank verse in 1658-63, when Milton was totally blind.

He was a graduate of Christ's College, Cambridge.

He was an opponent of King Charles I and a leading spokesman for Oliver Cromwell. In politics he advocated republicanism and a form of Libertarianism. Kings were not needed to make a nation, he argued, because it was the virtue of the people that mattered:

The happiness of a nation consists in true religion, piety, justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude and the contempt of avarice and ambition. They in whomsoever these virtues dwell eminently, need not kings to make them happy, but are the architects of their own happiness, and whether to themselves or others are not less kings.

Milton's Areopagitica (1644) strongly condemned the censorship of ideas and has become a canonical work regarding Freedom of Speech. In 1651 he became the chief of censorship for the new government, but used a light hand, suppressing only hose publications which directly incited the overthrow of the government. The Cromwellian system collapsed in 1660 with the Restoration of King Charles II, and Milton went into retirement to write his poem.

Further reading

  • Bradford, Richard. The Complete Critical Guide to John Milton (2001) online edition
  • Richmond, H. The Christian Revolutionary: John Milton (1974)
  • Wedgwood, C.V. Milton and his world‎ (1969) good introduction
  • online books and articles on Milton

Primary sources

External links

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