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Milton's Warring Angels
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Book description

The centrality of Milton to the study of English literature often obscures the intense debates that rage about this ideological allegiances. The reception and interpretation of Milton's texts consistently present him as either a Christian republican or a committed individualist, a radical, heretical free thinker, or a traditional absolutist. In Milton's Warring Angels, William Kolbrener provides a critical account of the reception and interpretation of Milton's texts. He argues that the governing scheme of Milton criticism, the opposition of 'satanic' and 'angelic' readings, derives from historiographical tradition rooted in the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment antithesis between reason and authority, Kolbrener argues, has generated a set of interpretive approaches that inevitably end up violating the meaning of Milton's texts. Kolbrener shows how Milton articulates his thought in lexicons which are never fully assimilable to paradigms of modernity drawn from the Enlightenment. Instead, Milton's prose and poetry mediate between apparently contradictory positions; they join without ever reconciling the satanic and the angelic.


"Wide ranging and yet admirably focused, this volume is an important corrective to continuing arguments that emphasize only one of the poles on which the worlds of Milton's literary and polemical universe turn. Is Milton a dualist or monist? An individualist or a republican? A champion of freedom or authority? A proponent of contingent or absolute truth? This book responds, 'yes'." J.H. Sims, Choice

"Kolbrener provides a clear and concise argument for 'polyvalent' Milton, in a manner that raises questions and provokes further debate." Rachel Falconer, English Language Notes

"[Milton's Warring Angels] is brilliant. This is a serious book that invites every reader to Milton to acknowledge the 'situatedness' of his or her relation to the texts. The book is the product of sustained thought, and it invites questions from its readers. It subtly and maturely demonstrates the nexus of politics, religion, and poetics in Milton's texts...the reader can participate in the negativity in which thought - as opposed to fixed judgment - comes into its own and can thus occasionall experience the sublime." Journal of English and Germanic Philology

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