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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Milton in America

I just finished reading Peter Ackroyd's Milton in America. It's entertaining, not great, but perfectly entertaining. The Milton in the book certainly bears little resemblance to the Milton of Paradise Lost as I read it--the heterodox, completely devout but always questioning Milton, the Milton who would rather risk his reader's loss of faith than prevent it by telling him what to believe, the Milton who therefore (in Areopagitica) chastises those who complain that it would be better if God had prevented the Fall in the first plcae. But I think that's part of the point: if Milton had left England for America instead of writing Paradise Lost (the wonderfully humanizing magic of poetry), the book implies, he'd have become increasingly doctrinaire, authoritarian, sexually repressed, and finally tyrannical. In the end, the problem for Ackroyd seems to be less Milton than America.

  • At 11/13/2006 08:51:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    So you're suggesting that an upcoming Ackroyd book might be Amerika: The Biography. Sounds charming.


  • At 11/13/2006 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    I should add that immediately after posting that comment, I went out and ordered Ackroyd's book. Though I have no idea when I'll have time to read it--unlike H-mo, I never make much of a dent in the books I own and want to read, much less finish them all and solicit recommendations from our esteemed readers. During the semester, I can barely make it through short stories, and I'm having absolutely zero success pushing ahead on a long biography that I actually enjoy.


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