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Title: Italia conquistata : the role of Italy in Milton's early poetic development
Author: Slade, Paul Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 7736
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2017
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My thesis explores the way in which the Italian language and literary culture contributed to John Milton’s early development as a poet (over the period up to 1639 and the composition of Epitaphium Damonis). I begin by investigating the nature of the cultural relationship between England and Italy in the late medieval and early modern periods. I then examine how Milton’s own engagement with the Italian language and its literature evolved in the context of his family background, his personal contacts with the London Italian community and modern language teaching in the early seventeenth century as he grew to become a ‘multilingual’ poet. My study then turns to his first published collection of verse, Poems 1645. Here, I reconsider the Italian elements in Milton’s early poetry, beginning with the six poems he wrote in Italian, identifying their place and significance in the overall structure of the volume, and their status and place within the Italian Petrarchan verse tradition. After considering the significance of the Italian titles of L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, I assess the impact of Italian verse forms (and particularly the canzone) upon Milton’s early poetry in English and the question of the nature of the relationship between Milton’s Mask presented at Ludlow Castle and Tasso’s ‘favola boschereccia’, Aminta. Finally, I consider the place in Milton’s career of his journey to Italy in 1938-9 and its importance to him as a personal ‘conquest’ of Italy. I suggest that, far from setting him upon the path toward poetic glory, as is often claimed, his return England marked the beginning of a lengthy hiatus in his poetic career. My argument is that Milton was much more Italianate, by background, accident of birth and personal bent, than has usually been recognised and that an appreciation of how this Italian aspect of his cultural identity contributed to his poetic development is central to an understanding of his poetry.
Supervisor: Edwards, Karen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Early Modern Literature ; John Milton ; Italy ; The Grand Tour ; Poems 1645 ; Italian verse