The New England Milton
Literary Reception and Cultural Authority in the Early Republic
By (author) Kevin Van Anglen
Publication date:15 April 1993
Length of book:272 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
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.
—Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina