Review by Choice Review
This intelligent study places Milton's English and Latin prose writings in full context. Corns (Univ. of Wales, UK), author of The Development of Milton's Prose Style (1982), among other volumes, writes with wit and without poststructuralist jargon. He defines basic terms (e.g., "predestination" and "Arminianism") and provides apt quotations from Milton's work. His chronological, analytic survey demonstrates how Milton's prose topics often became a major source of his poetic inspiration. Corns opens with a biographical introduction and discusses the Latin exercises that Milton preserved from his school days, followed by discussion of the implacable antiprelatical pamphlets, so revealing of Milton's thinking on both church and civil governance. Corns shows how the stirring exhortation for freedom of the press in Areopagitica grew out of the hostile reactions to Milton's controversial divorce pamphlets. He also traces Francis Bacon's influence on some of Milton's educational prescriptions in Of Education. Milton wrote English and Latin pamphlets in 1649 to justify the beheading of Charles I, and he produced courageous writings in the chaotic last months of the Commonwealth in order to preserve "the good old cause." Corns discusses these, then concludes with posthumous publications such as De Doctrina Christiana, a text he finds to be not wholly Miltonic. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. D. S. Gochberg; Michigan State University
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