Monday, December 28, 2020

Altogether human …

… The Future Does Not Simplify the Past: On Nicholas McDowell’s “Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton.” (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

McDowell’s judicious weighing of the historical evidence relating to the young Milton’s religious and literary development serves as a welcome reminder of a common flaw in Milton scholarship, the tendency to paint a reductionist portrait of the mature Milton and then to fit the younger Milton into that same narrow interpretive frame. McDowell often makes this same point, albeit more diplomatically:


A common interpretation of ‘The Passion’ is that it “reveals Milton’s difficulties with the crucifixion as a subject.” This is to read backwards from the anti-trinitarianism of the mature Milton’s De Doctrina Christiana to find a naturally heterodox thinker already uncomfortable with orthodox protestant Christology.

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