Milton in the Long Restoration

2016
Author(s)
Ann Baynes Coiro
Publisher
Oxford University Press

Milton criticism often treats the poet as if he were the last of the Renaissance poets or a visionary prophet who remained misunderstood until he was read by the Romantics. At the same time, literary histories of the period often invoke a "long eighteenth century" that reaches its climax with the French Revolution or the Reform Bill of 1832. What gets overlooked in such accounts is the rich story of Milton's relationship to his contemporaries and early eighteenth-century heirs. The essays in this collection demonstrate that some of Milton's earliest readers were more perceptive than Romantic and twentieth-century interpreters. The translations, editions, and commentaries produced by early eighteenth century men of letters emerge as the seedbed of modern criticism and the term "neoclassical" is itself unmasked as an inadequate characterization of the literary criticism and poetry of the period--a period that could brilliantly define a Miltonic sublime, even as it supported and described all the varieties of parody and domestication found in the mock epic and the novel. These essays, which are written by a team of leading Miltonists and scholars of the Restoration and eighteenth century, cover a range of topics--from Milton's early editors and translators to his first theatrical producers; from Miltonic similes in Pope's Iliad to Miltonic echoes in Austen's Pride and Prejudice; from marriage, to slavery, to republicanism, to the heresy of Arianism. What they share in common is a conviction that the early eighteenth century understood Milton and that the Long Restoration cannot be understood without him.

About the Author

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 Canon (Oxford: OUP, 2015) and Mammon’s Music: Literature and Economics in the Age of Milton (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).  He is the editor of Milton in the Long Restoration (Oxford: OUP, May 2016), a collection of twenty-nine original essays that analyze the way authors writing from 1650 to 1750 interpreted, imitated, and parodied Milton.

Recent selected articles include:

■ “Technologies of Performance,” in A Cultural History of Theatre, ed. Chris and Tracy Davis.  Vol 3, The Renaissance, ed. Robert Henke.  London: Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming 2017.

■ Politics and Aesthetics in European Baroque and Classicist Tragedy, ed. Jan Bloemendal and Nigel Smith.  Leiden: Brill, forthcoming.

■ “The Richardsons, the Sublime, and the Invention of Aesthetic Theory,” in  Milton in the Long Restoration, ed. with Ann Baynes Coiro.  Oxford: OUP, forthcoming May 2016.

■ “Passions,” in 21st-Century Approaches: Early Modern Theatricality, ed. Henry Turner.  New York: OUP, 2013.

■ “What Was Tragedy?  The World We Have Lost, 1550-1795,” Comparative Literature 64 (2012):  1-32.

■ “Allegorical Drama,” in The Cambridge Companion to Allegory, ed. Rita Copeland and Peter Struck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

■ “The Function of Allegory in Baroque Tragic Drama: What Benjamin Got Wrong,” in Thinking Allegory Otherwise, ed. Brenda Machowsky.  Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009.

■ "Areopagitica and Liberty," in The Oxford Handbook of Milton, ed. Nicholas McDowell and Nigel Smith. Oxford: OUP, 2009.

■ "All Passion Spent: The Means and Ends of a Tragédie en Musique," Comparative Literature 59 (2007): 33-62.

■ "The Wisdom of Their Feet: Meaningful Dance in Milton and the Stuart Masque," English Literary Renaissance 37.1 (2007): 74-99.