John Milton’s Literary Reputation. A Study in Editing, Criticism, and Taste

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Distinguishes Milton’s academic importance from his real status, and addresses readers with broad literary interests, who may be ready to think again about a poet whom Dryden saw as superior to both Homer and Virgil. The work is therefore a contribution to the ongoing histories of Milton’s reputation in particular, and literary taste in general.


“Ogden confronts the central issue of Milton’s alleged poetic limitations. This centers on the Latinate style, the supposed lack of sensuous immediacy, the ‘Chinese Wall’ of the verse paragraphs, the creation of a linguistic medium which works against the native grain of the English language. Moreover, the influence of the Miltonic style had been harmful to the development of English poetry. His influence led to his real or apparent ‘dislodgment’ from the English literary canon. Ogden explores this issue very ably, balancing arguments for and against, obviously on Milton’s side but fair to his detractors. His case is convincing and well supported by relevant samples of Milton’s verse.” – Dr. Raymond Stephens, Aberystwyth University

“James Ogden offers a meticulously researched, intellectually satisfying, and thoroughly engaging study of how Milton’s reputation was shaped by early writers and editors, and how it has waxed and waned during the three and one-half centuries since his death. The chapters on the so-called minor poems are richly illuminating. Reviewing the history of the poems’ publication and assessing early critical responses to them, Ogden unearths material from sometimes obscure or relatively inaccessible sources to explain and contextualize Milton’s reputation among seventeenth- and eighteenth-century readers.”– Prof. James C. Bulman, Alleghany College

“. . .conspicuous for solidity, integrity, force and sense, and I cannot recommend it too highly.” – Prof. T.W. Craik, University of Durham

Table of Contents

Foreword by R.C.Stephens
I From Script to Print to Fame: The Minor Poems, 1630-1785
(i) Publication
(ii) Early Reputation
(iii) “The School of Milton”
(iv) Early Criticism
II Minor Masterpieces
(i) Versions of Pastoral
(ii) The Sonnets
(iii) Editing “At A Solemn Musick”
III Milton, Dryden, and Paradise Lost
(i) Milton’s Ideal of Innocence
(ii) Dryden’s Satirical Tendency
IV Milton “A Flat Arian”?
(i) Bishop Burgess
(ii) Joseph William Morris
(iii) Academic Miltonists
V Two Modern Critics
(i) Raleigh’s “Splendid Handbook”
(ii) Leavis and “Milton’s Dislodgment”
(i) Burgess’s Milton Collection
(ii) Secondary Sources
(iii) Milton’s Poems: Early Publications

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