The New England Milton

Literary Reception and Cultural Authority in the Early Republic

By (author) Kevin Van Anglen

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 April 1993

Length of book:

272 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271028279

The New England Milton concentrates on the poet's place in the writings of the Unitarians and the Transcendentalists, especially Emerson, Thoreau, William Ellery Channing, Jones Very, Margaret Fuller, and Theodore Parker, and demonstrates that his reception by both groups was a function of their response as members of the New England elite to older and broader sociopolitical tensions in Yankee culture as it underwent the process of modernization. For Milton and his writings (particularly Paradise Lost) were themselves early manifestations of the continuing crisis of authority that later afflicted the dominant class and professions in Boston; and so, the Unitarian Milton, like the Milton of Emerson's lectures or Thoreau's Walden, quite naturally became the vehicle for literary attempts by these authors to resolve the ideological contradictions they had inherited from the Puritan past.

“Scholars who seek the roots of Milton's influence in the early republic will have in one volume precisely the kind of information they need. And those who wish to understand Milton's place among the American Romantics more generally will [find here] fine chapters on Emerson, Thoreau, and the other Transcendentalists. This book will have wide appeal among Miltonists and people in American literature, but even more so for those who wish to be stimulated to reconsider transatlantic literary culture.”

—Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina