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Title: The politics of sacred history in Eikonklastes, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regain'd
Author: Cowser, Steven John
Awarding Body: Queen Mary, University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
This thesis examines the political dimension and underlying continuities of John Milton's use of biblical and reformation history in Eikonklastes, Paradise Lost, and Paradise Regain 'd. In Chapter I, the rhetorical tactics of Eikonoklastes-particularly the prefatory material-represent an attempt to outline a different notion of civic and spiritual security, independent of monarchical oversight, and are presented as crucial contexts for the political ambitions of Milton's later epic poetry. The discussion of Paradise Lost as a text deeply interested in the contemporaneous rhetoric of security is contained in the prolegomena and Chapters II and Ill. Chapter II is a consideration of Milton's redaction of Old Testament history in the epic catalogue of Book I, in which I argue that key elements of its interaction with epic convention have been overlooked; this reading offers a more appropriate understanding of Milton's own perception of societal decline and proposes an oppositional commentary on the shortcomings of Restoration England's polity. I argue that Milton's presentation of both Edenic security and prelapsarian prayer in Chapter III are not only distinct to him, in literary and social terms, but are also explicable as interventions on contemporary anxiety over the relationship between Church and State. Finally, in Chapter IV I contend that Paradise Regain 'd is the most authoritative poetic expression of Milton's mature political thinking via a re-examination of its genre, protagonist, and non-traditional banquet temptation. Having established the conspicuous political identity of the poem's content and form, I then discuss how the poem's use of biblical history is structured to oppose contemporaneous appeals to the 'common good' and quiescence at any price.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.554362  DOI: Not available
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