Destabilizing Milton: Paradise Lost and the Poetics of Incertitude

Paperback | April 15, 2008

byPeter C. Herman

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Destabilizing Milton challenges the widely accepted view of Milton as a poet of absolute, unquestioning certainty. In "Paradise Lost," Milton confronts the failure of the Revolution by creating a poem that refuses to grant the reader any interpretive stability or certainty. While "Paradise Regained" and "Samson Agonistes" reflect Milton's deep ambivalences after the collapse of the Republic. Far from confirming his earlier ideals, in his later poetry, Milton subjects his culture's most cherished beliefs, such as the goodness of God, to withering scrutiny, while refusing the comfort of orthodox answers.

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Destabilizing Milton challenges the widely accepted view of Milton as a poet of absolute, unquestioning certainty. In "Paradise Lost," Milton confronts the failure of the Revolution by creating a poem that refuses to grant the reader any interpretive stability or certainty. While "Paradise Regained" and "Samson Agonistes" reflect Milto...

Peter C. Herman is Professor of English and Comparative Literature, San Diego State University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.55 inPublished:April 15, 2008Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230602428

ISBN - 13:9780230602427

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Normal" Interpretation and the Protocols of Milton Criticism: Or, How the Interpretation of Milton Really Works * "Warring Chains of Signifiers": Metaphoric Ambivalence and the Politics of Paradise Lost * Paradise Lost, the Miltonic "Or," and the Poetics of Incertitude * "England a Free Nation": Milton's Prose and the Ancient Constitution * "New Laws, New Counsels": Satan, Charles I, and the Ancient Constitution * Incertitude, Authority, and Milton's God * God, Gender, the Fall, and the Problem of Responsibility * Postscript: Samson Agonistes, Paradise Regained, and the Romance Conclusion of Milton's Career

Editorial Reviews

"All Miltonists in training need to read Peter C. Herman’s Destabilizing Milton: Paradise Lost and the Poetics of Incertitude, which traces the shift in recent Milton scholarship away from a deeply entrenched, multi-guised critical orthodoxy which maintains that Milton is a poet of utter certainty and "Paradise Lost" a poem of perfect unity. (They should read the rest of the book too.) --Year's Work in English Studies "A welcome addition to Milton studies."--Notes and Queries "Destabilizing Milton is a brilliant study. Its title has an aptly dangling participle which both refers to the destabilizing elements the poet introduces in his epic and to Herman’s attempt to destabilize the iconic Milton of a critical tradition that ignores the ambiguity and only emphasizes the poet’s certitude...Herman’s book cannot fail to change the way we read "Paradise Lost" in future."--Heythrop Journal Reviews