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Mammon’s Music: Literature and Economics in the Age of Milton

About the Author

Blair Hoxby

Blair Hoxby writes on the literature and culture of England, France, Italy, and Spain from 1500 to 1800.  His recent research has focused on the theory and practice of tragedy during that period – which differed sharply from the idea of tragedy that most of us now take for granted.  He also writes on the poetry and prose of John Milton, John Dryden, and their Augustan heirs.  He teaches English poetry from the Renaissance to Romanticism, tragedy and tragic theory from Aristotle to the present, theater history, and performance theory.

He is the author of What Was Tragedy? Theory and the Early Modern...

Yale University Press
2002

The commercial revolution of the seventeenth century deeply changed English culture. In this ambitious book, Blair Hoxby explores what that economic transformation meant to the century’s greatest poet, John Milton, and to the broader literary tradition in which he worked. Hoxby places Milton’s work—as well as the writings of contemporary reformers like the Levellers, poets like John Dryden, and political economists like Sir William Petty—within the framework of England’s economic history between 1601 and 1724. Literary history swerved in this period, Hoxby demonstrates, as a burgeoning economic discourse pressed authors to reimagine ideas about self, community, and empire. Hoxby shows that, contrary to commonly held views, Milton was a sophisticated economic thinker. Close readings of Milton’s prose and verse reveal the importance of economic ideas in a wide range of his most famous writings, from Areopagitica to Samson Agonistes to Paradise Lost.