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John Milton was born in 1608 and in the late 1630s he travelled to the Continent where he met, among others, Galileo and Grotius. A staunch republican, he served as Latin secretary to Oliver Cromwell during the Commonwealth. After the restoration of Charles II his life was probably saved by his fame as a poet. He was thrice married, his first two wives dying after childbirth. This serious yet accessible biography by a renowed Milton scholar tells the story of Milton's fascinating and troubled life on both the personal and political level.
On July 14th, 1790, a key figure in the French Revolution honoured Milton as a founding father of the French republic. In the light of this connection, it was appropriate that the 8th International Milton Symposium (7-11 June 2005) was held in Grenoble, cradle of the French Revolution. But the connection of Milton and Rights takes us well beyond the specific link with France, and the fascinating selection of essays assembled in this volume, many by leading Milton scholars, addresses the question in the poetry as well as the prose. Milton's fervent but changing attitude to liberties is debated from various points of view, so that the volume contains essays on topics ranging from the musical adaptations of Samson Agonistes to its angrily argued parallel with contemporary terrorism, from air pollution in Paradise Lost to Milton's supposed Puritanism and putative parallels with a French pornographer.
The Satan of Paradise Lost has fascinated generations of readers. This book attempts to explain how and why Milton's Satan is so seductive. It reasserts the importance of Satan against those who would minimize the poem's sympathy for the devil and thereby make Milton orthodox. Neil Forsyth argues that William Blake got it right when he called Milton a true poet because he was "of the Devils party" even though he set out "to justify the ways of God to men." In seeking to learn why Satan is so alluring, Forsyth ranges over diverse topics--from the origins of evil and the relevance of witchcraft to the status of the poetic narrator, the epic tradition, the nature of love between the sexes, and seventeenth-century astronomy. He considers each of these as Milton introduces them: as Satanic subjects. Satan emerges as the main challenge to Christian belief. It is Satan who questions and wonders and denounces. He is the great doubter who gives voice to many of the arguments that Christianity has provoked from within and without. And by rooting his Satanic reading of Paradise Lost in Biblical and other sources, Forsyth retrieves not only an attractive and heroic Satan but a Milton whose heretical energies are embodied in a Satanic character with a life of his own.