'The Major Works'
By John Milton (Author), Stephen Orgel (Editor), Jonathan Goldberg (Editor)
This authoritative edition was originally published in the acclaimed Oxford Authors series under the general editorship of Frank Kermode. It brings together a unique combination of Milton's poetry and prose - all the English verse together with a generous selection from the major prose writings - to give the essence of his work and thinking. Milton's influence on English poetry and criticism has been incalculable, and this edition covers the full range of his poetic and political output. It includes Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes as well as major prose works such as Areopagitica and The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. As well as all the English and Italian verse, the volume includes most of the Latin and Greek verse in parallel translation. Spelling has been modernized, and the poems are arranged in order of publication, essential to an understanding of the progress of Milton's career in relation to the political and religious upheavals of his time. The extensive notes cover syntax, vocabulary, historical context, and biblical and classical allusions. The introduction traces both Milton's changing conception of his own vocation, and the critical reception his work has received over the past four centuries.
'A good edition with comprehensive notes and an introduction that is both informative and engaging.'
(Dr. Ema Vyroubalova, Trinity College Dublin)
John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), written in blank verse.
Milton's poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day. Writing in English, Latin, Greek, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica (1644)—written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship—is among history's most influential and impassioned defenses of free speech and freedom of the press.
William Hayley's 1796 biography called him the "greatest English author," and he remains generally regarded "as one of the preeminent writers in the English language," though critical reception has oscillated in the centuries since his death (often on account of his republicanism). Samuel Johnson praised Paradise Lost as "a poem which...with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind," though he (a Tory and recipient of royal patronage) described Milton's politics as those of an "acrimonious and surly republican".
Because of his republicanism, Milton has been the subject of centuries of British partisanship.
Note: 'Great Books of the Western World' recommends his general works including the minor poems, 'Areopagitica', 'Paradise Lost' and 'Samson Agonistes'.