Early
Protocols of Reading: Milton and Biography
J. Michael Vinovich
University of Toronto
vinovich@interlog.com

Vinovich, J. Michael. "Protocols of Reading: Milton and Biography." Early Modern Literary Studies 1.3 (1995): 3.1-15 <URL:
http://purl.oclc.org/emls/01-3/vinomilt.html>.

  1. In Book Ten of Paradise Lost, Adam's postlapsarian despair is momentarily disrupted by Eve's attempts to soothe him with "soft words" (10.865). [1] Instead of having their desired effect, Eve's ministrations provoke some of Adam's harshest words towards her (and her sex) contained in the entire epic (10.867-908). This passage concludes with a proleptic account of the discord that will result from any attempts at "strait conjunction with this sex":

    for either
    He never shall find out fit mate, but such
    As some misfortune brings him, or mistake,
    Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain
    Through her perverseness, but shall see her gained
    By a far worse, or if she love, withheld
    By parents, or his happiest choice too late
    Shall meet, already linked and wedlock-bound
    To a fell adversary, his hate or shame:
    Which infinite calamity shall cause
    To human life, and household peace confound. (10.898-908)

    This litany of impediments to proper union seems oddly out of place not only because it marks a sudden shift in Adam's attention from female to male, but also because it signals a generic transition from metaphysics to melodrama. Prior to this, Adam characterizes his dilemma in terms that are decidedly cosmological. He bemoans creation's lack of full similarity to heaven, and asks why God, who, in his wisdom, "peopled highest heaven / with spirits masculine, create at last / This novelty on earth, this fair defect [Eve] / Of nature" (10.889-92). Perfect correspondence would "fill the world at once / With men as angels without feminine" and would "find some other way to generate / Mankind" (10.892-95). Though Adam's list of obstacles to valid union continues the vituperative tone of the passage, its temporal trajectory and scope are in sharp contrast to the abstract and masculine vision of homogenesis presented earlier. A species of mundane prophecy, Adam's complaint traverses the discursive boundary between speculative philosophy and romance, constructing a series of eventualities approximating the bitter domestic melodrama of failed courtship and misguided husbandry.

  2. Within the scope of the epic, Adam's transition is conspicuous because susceptible to a literal interrogation given the epistemological parameters he is, supposedly, working within. The melodrama Adam constructs is predicated upon knowledge he does not, or should not, have. How is it that, in this fit of pique, he can invoke and adumbrate the actions of obstinate parents, rivals, and melancholy suitors when his own courtship simply entailed "claim[ing]" Eve (4.481-9)? In addition to the issue of internal consistency, what complicates interpretation of this passage further still is its tantalizing evocation of a specific field of extra-textual reference: Milton's biography. A series of correspondences could be posited between Adam's pessimistic representation of postlapsarian romance and Milton's own, much discussed, marital difficulties.[2] More than any other facet of the author's biography, Milton's first marriage has been the subject of lavish analysis and fierce debate. The issues raised by this episode are not simply factual or chronological,[3] but include the nature of Milton's sexual politics, questions of intention, and the status of the relation between material subject and text. It seems more than a coincidence that the appearance of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce in August, 1643, should follow Milton's recent abandonment by Mary Powell. However, the theory that would quantify the exact nature and extent of the link between life and text (both conceived of as, necessarily, constructed and therefore highly mediated objects of inquiry) has not been, and may never be, written. Rather than try to specify, once and for all, the genetic relation between life and text, this essay will instead concern itself with the epiphenomenon of what Elaine Tuttle Hansen has aptly termed the politics of literary adulation.[4] Conventional critical discomfort with the causality suggested by what we know of Milton's biography has resulted in a corner of literary studies that, more than almost any other, is intensely preoccupied with defending its subject's personality.

  3. For an example of such efforts one need only look to the bottom of the page in the Longman edition of the poem. Alastair Fowler's annotation of the passage in question contains a stern warning for anyone foolish enough to think Milton a ventriloquist:

    Those who attempt to find autobiographical allusions here ought first to reckon with the exaggerated extremity of Adam's prognostications. The almost comical multiplication of griefs accords with his present despair, but hardly with Milton's own more rational view. Throughout the present passage Milton deliberately assigns to Adam culpable sentiments and erroneous opinions.[5]

    It is not my purpose to determine whether Fowler is correct in his assertions about the passage, or whether his editorial intervention actually manages to derail a potential misreading. What is interesting about Fowler's argument is the set of critical and cultural assumptions about Milton it invokes in order to dismiss a reading strategy that threatens those assumptions. Rather than refute, point by point, the biographical allusions hinted at in the passage, he instead issues a comprehensive rejection of this approach based on what he claims is "Milton's own more rational view" (emphasis mine). Fowler invalidates this passage's status as indicative of Milton's position, and his rejection of Milton's presence implies a more authoritative source that is elsewhere. The allusion, here, to the divorce tracts as the source of Milton's own "rational view" does not, I would argue, resolve the issues of biographical reference raised by this passage but, rather, displaces them onto a different set of texts. The genealogy of Milton's rationality that Fowler posits, implicitly, is itself still subject to investigation, and in terms that are biographical. However, the only connection allowed in this instance between the historical Milton and Adam's speech is, for Fowler, aesthetic. Milton's ingenuity as author is comfortably deployed in reproducing, for Adam, "mere stock antifeminist lore," and in assigning to his character "culpable sentiments and erroneous opinions."[6] Milton could not possibly be venting spleen, or even be accused of holding "stock antifeminist" positions. Because his perspective does not admit of any expressive relation between Adam and Milton, Fowler can explain this passage as in character for Adam and as Milton's disinterested expression of a position he did not agree with.[7] This Milton, apparently, does not nod. But what, in part, enables Fowler to assume a fundamental discontinuity between potentially referential content and pure artistic activity is a conception of Milton that is no less biographical than the one it seeks to preempt and invalidate. In other words, he can only reject biography biographically.

  4. Fowler's version of Milton--the objective artist and thinker whose governing feature, both in Paradise Lost and the divorce tracts, is rationality--has, in most traditional criticism, routinely been invoked to forestall the production of any alternative. It is fair to say that this particular characterization of the author has attained iconic status culturally and institutionally and, to adapt Michel Foucault, serves the purpose of a "Milton function." [8] We move from authors to author functions when, Foucault argues, a proper name no longer simply designates the historical being who wrote but, instead, assumes a taxonomic or descriptive role in contemporary critical discourse.[9] Milton often means Miltonic and, as such, designates not so much a being in history as a specific critical and biographical construct. For Foucault,

    these aspects of an individual which we designate as making him an author are only a projection, in more or less psychologizing terms, of the operations that we force texts to undergo, the connections that we make, the traits that we establish as pertinent, the continuities that we recognize, or the exclusions that we practice.[10]

    Traditional Milton scholarship has engaged in the practices Foucault identifies as characteristic of the "author function" on an impressive scale. Pedagogical apparatus--articles, book-length studies, biographies, and scholarly annotations--have reproduced and buttressed the dominant impression of Milton as an heroic figure who, in Thomas Corns' ironic formulation, towers over his century and "regards clear-eyed and dispassionately the progress of world history and articulates truths of an eternal veracity." [11]

  5. In the case of Milton, however, the interpretive procedures Foucault specifies, and the authorial identity they defend and reinforce, are not solely the product of modern critical activities. The "Milton function" is not of recent origin. "Milton," according to Mary Nyquist and Margaret Ferguson, is "perhaps the most impressive and notorious of self-authored authors," because "of the sheer variety of the contexts in which a voice that is self-consciously or markedly his appears."[12] Poststructuralist edicts against the author notwithstanding, Annabel Patterson maintains, similarly, that

    anyone reading Paradise Lost (let alone the autobiographical poems like "Ad Patrem" or the highly self-interested interpolations in the pamphlets) runs up against the irreducible and insistent presence of Milton the author, presence, Milton and author all, of course, being subject to our inference that Milton was (carefully or anxiously) constructing them for us and for himself.[13]

    Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg observe that what these Miltonic self-productions have in common is the "overwhelming attempt to give a coherent shape to [Milton's] life. The terms change, and different constraints are denied for the sake of the controlling design." [14] In even the most demystificatory readings of Milton's strategies of self-representation, the operative presupposition is that, however flawed or transparent, these strategies are motivated by a desire to construct a public persona that is moral, consistent, and rational in its being. Given these features of the Miltonic self-portrait, it is more accurate to say that the iconic Milton is a function of both psychologized projection and the perpetuation of representational labours that originate with Milton himself. Critics and biographers who examine his life and work often seem to (re)produce a Milton very similar to the one generated by Milton himself in the extensively anthologized autobiographies of The Reason of Church Government, The Apology for Smectymnuus, and the Second Defense.

  6. I began this study with Fowler's annotation to Paradise Lost because it is paradigmatic in the exclusions it practices and in the continuity it promotes. The potentially disruptive presence of the biographical in Paradise Lost is dismissed as inconsistent with the Milton who expressed more moderate views on courtship and marriage. Fowler's substitution of one version of Milton for another is, as I argued earlier, not so much a replacement as a displacement. Moreover, the specific context of the divorce tracts he invokes to authorize Milton's rationality was itself re-narrated and rationalized by Milton, in the Second Defense, in order to explain their production as the next logical step (after the defeat of prelacy) in the campaign for liberty. Thus, in his assertion of a figure who programmatically formulated and held reasonable opinions, Fowler is anticipated by Milton. However, both Milton's act of self-revision and Fowler's recapitulation of that gesture are unsettled by the pamphlets on divorce and the decidedly personal circumstances surrounding their composition.

  7. The divorce tracts have always proved somewhat of an embarrassment to Milton studies. Discussing them in the context of Milton's contemporary reputation, William Riley Parker feels compelled to disclaim: "If I may interject a personal judgment, Milton probably never made a greater mistake in his literary life than by publishing such views, in English, at such a time." [15] Parker's judgment and sense of dissatisfaction, however, are not simply and unproblematically "personal" because they are also Milton's:

    I regret that I published this work [The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce] in English; for then it would not have been exposed to the view of those common readers, who are wont to be as ignorant of their own blessings as they are insensible to other's sufferings.[16]

    In duplicating and recasting Milton's opinion on the divorce tracts as his own, Parker unwittingly displays the tendency, common to many accounts of Milton, to negate temporal difference by generating an imaginary psychological and intellectual affinity between two disparately situated historical subjectivities. This presupposition is what, in part, enables historical understanding; however, Parker's aside also demonstrates the extent to which Milton's self-representation has been internalized institutionally, with the result that it becomes difficult to distinguish between modern critical insight and previously manufactured opinion.

  8. In his intellectual biography of Milton, E.M.W. Tillyard's sense of discomfort extends to all of Milton's pamphleteering activities during the 1640's:

    To have kept aloof in the controversy would have required great strength of mind, but Milton had sufficient. It was his judgment, not his strength of mind, that was at fault. A Shakespeare would have had the sense to keep out of active controversy.[17]

    The opposition established--implicit in Parker's aside, explicit in Tillyard--between Milton the poet and Milton the controversialist resonates throughout many apologetic accounts of his prose works. Milton is least like the touchstone of poetic genius, Shakespeare, in stooping to involve himself in the politics of his age. But in this bifurcation of creative production, Parker and Tillyard are anticipated by Milton who, in The Reason of Church Government, valorizes his poetic vocation at the expense of his polemical engagements:

    Lastly, I should not choose this manner of writing [prose], wherein knowing myself inferior to myself, led by the genial power of another task, I have the use, as I may account it, but of my left hand.[18]

    Milton's apparent legitimation of this division has fostered a polarized approach to critical discussions of his works. Distinct evaluative criteria can be, and have been, employed to keep the "illegitimate" and secondary prose separate from the "authentic" poetry;[19] however, what is more often the case is that the features of Milton's poetic personality subsume and reconfigure his prose (and the conditions of its production), generating a homology between the creative processes involved in the two spheres of activity.

  9. This species of (re)integration is especially pronounced in relation to The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. While the story of Milton's domestic difficulties has never been entirely absent from critical and biographical explanations of Milton's thoughts on divorce, personal circumstances have usually been figured as catalyst rather than content, as the set of contingencies his imagination overcame and abstracted en route to the truth about marriage. "We read The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce," writes C.A. Patrides, "not because of its influence on Farquar or Hardy, much less as an excursion in autobiography. It is above all a remarkable testimony to a man's ability so to transcend his towering passions as to formulate principles of universal validity [emphasis mine]." [20] A.N. Wilson concedes that the "connection between the disappearance of Mary Milton and her husband's interest in divorce . . . is so obvious . . . that it is hardly worth mentioning," but then proceeds to argue that Milton "is not merely writing about himself."[21] He insists that "the kind of marital discord and horror described in The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce could not possibly be those of a man who was married, in effect, for only three weeks," and that the descriptions of marital strife are the product, not of Milton's own experience, but of his imagination and careful observation "of people other than himself." [22] The connection Wilson concedes as obvious quickly disappears from a narrative devoted to demonstrating how Milton's imagination took charge of the situation. The verisimilitude Wilson detects in the divorce tract is a function, not of self-revelation, but of imaginative extrapolation.

  10. In his seminal biography of Milton, W.R. Parker issues this claim for his objective account of Milton's separation from Mary and the subsequent publication of the divorce tracts:

    In so far as I am privileged to know the facts, therefore, I have presented them in what seems to me their proper sequence, uncoloured by imagination or by inference from Milton's poetry or his public prose (emphasis mine).[23]

    Parker's assertion of objectivity is contradicted not by any factual blunders, but by the overwhelming desire, registered in the descriptions of Milton's psyche and motives, to defend the author's character and behaviour. Milton's "personal distress" led inexorably to the "exercising [of] his God-given intelligence . . . to find a defensible solution to this great human dilemma. His individual problem sent him searching for first principles"; he "lifted the argument to the level of principles, and sought the profit of all humanity" (1.236). The vocabulary Parker deploys in relating Milton's reaction to his personal distress is remarkably centrifugal in character ("find," "sent . . . searching," "lifted"), and attempts to wrench the trajectory of Milton's thought away from any experiential epicentre towards the rarefied realm of "first principles." What enables Milton to avoid selfish implosion, or the textual replication of his own experience, and to transcend the particulars of his own biography is his status as artist. Milton "need not have experienced everything which he vividly described" because he "was a well-read artist" whose powers of imagination endorse the sharp separation of his private and public selves (2.865-66).

  11. In these narratives, the temporal contiguity of Mary's departure and Milton's production of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce is never granted the status of a real or causal relation. Whatever emotions or anxieties the biographical Milton might have been experiencing are consistently consigned to a space that is private, muted, and largely irrelevant to the Milton who, always and everywhere, only works at the level of high impersonal abstractions. Milton is rescued from the potentially damaging inferences that can be drawn from his own biography through a confusion of causes and effects. The dominant characteristics (rationality, objectivity, and artistic genius) of the iconic Milton are effects of Milton's self-representation but, in their reified and institutionalized form, these carefully constructed features are reinscribed and constitute a descriptive model of Milton's motivations. Milton's textual self-portraiture is often taken to be psychologically true, and becomes the lens through which to interpret the actions of his life. Conventional readings of Milton's biography do not produce the iconic Milton through a disinterested examination of the empirical evidence; they reproduce this familiar figure because he is their conceptual point of departure.

  12. Even in the most progressive of biographical readings, the pressure of nonconformity with Milton surfaces in obliqueness or even embarrassment. In her essay on The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, "No meer amatorious novel?", Annabel Patterson conducts a frontal assault on "the depersonalizing and antianthropological premises of postmodernism" which have, she claims, been "denying us for nearly two decades the commonsense categories of author, oeuvre and intention" (89). Her stimulating and defiantly biographical account of the tract locates it "on an undrawn boundary between polemic and narrative," as an uneasy pre-novelistic anticipation of the narrative techniques employed by Defoe and Richardson (88). Yet the essay's re-publication, two years later, contains a decidedly apologetic set of prefatory remarks.[24] She relates: "The choice of topic was accidental and occasional," "an after-dinner speech, that toughest of all academic assignments, my primary concern was how not to be boring." The study is dismissively categorized as "evidently a jeu d'esprit; and, as has been said of masturbation, while that is nothing to be ashamed of, it is nothing to be proud of either" (87-8). The immediate context of Patterson's self-deprecation is her essay's perceived inadequacy relative to James Turner's One Flesh,[25] but her introductory comments also extend the sense of anxiety apparent in the closing line of her essay:

    if the individual life [Milton's] breaks through the generalizing and impersonalizing impulse [of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce], if the by-ends that criticism is unfairly equipped to notice become visible as criticism itself loses some of its own inhibitions, we need not, I think, today be embarrassed, either for Milton or ourselves. (100)

    The Milton evoked here is a figure who seems to have been injudiciously exposed by an act of theoretical voyeurism--regardless of its invasive conceptual tools or mandate. Why, one might ask, raise the issue of Milton's embarrassment at all? Patterson's preface fits the standard humility topos, but, because it attempts to so thoroughly cancel the essay as a serious academic exercise, it also suggests the degree of her discomfort with the exposure of Milton it achieves.

  13. In contrast, some of Milton's earliest biographers did not feel compelled to engage in apologetics, and did not dissociate Milton's domestic situation from the production of the divorce tracts. In 1694 Edward Phillips, Milton's nephew, made the connection between Mary's refusal to return to Milton and the composition of the divorce tracts explicit:

    it [Mary's absence] so incensed our Author, that he thought it would be dishonourable ever to receive her again, after such a repulse; so that he forthwith prepared to Fortify himself with Arguments for such a Resolution [emphasis mine].[26]

    In the interim between her departure (possibly July 1642) and return (1645), Milton entered into what Phillips calls "a grand Affair . . . a design of Marrying one of Dr. Davis's Daughters, a very Handsom and Witty Gentlewoman, but averse, as it is said, to this Motion" (Phillips, 66). Mary's return, because of "the Intelligence hereof, and the then declining State of the King's Cause, and consequently of the Circumstances of Justice Powell's family," put a stop to this plan, but Phillips' novelistic narration of the reunion is revealing on the issue of Milton's motivation in writing the divorce pamphlets:

    One time above the rest, he making his usual visit, the Wife was ready in another Room, and on a sudden he was surprised to see one whom he thought to have never seen more, making Submission and begging Pardon on her Knees before him; he might probably at first make some shew of aversion; but partly his own generous nature, more inclinable to Reconciliation than to perseverance in Anger and Revenge; and partly the strong intercession of Friends. . . soon brought him to an Act of Oblivion [emphasis mine] (Phillips, 66-7).

    Phillips' story of the reconciliation suggests more than just emotional turbulence in Milton; "Revenge" implies that his anger took a much more calculated form. Anthony Wood's earlier (1691) biography offers a comparable account of the sequence of events prior to the publication of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce: "But he not able to bear this abuse, did therefore upon consideration, after he had consulted many eminent Authors, write the said book of Divorce, with intentions to be separated from her" (Wood, 40). Similarly, John Toland (1698) characterizes the tract as a variety of self-justification after Milton's injury by Mary:

    This usage incens'd him to that degree, that he thought it against his Honor and Repose to own her any longer for his Wife. . . . He thought it now high time to justify by proper Arguments the firm Resolution he had taken of never receiving his Wife back again (Toland, 119-20).

    In the absence of a (modern) recuperative agenda, these early biographies expose the interconnectedness of Milton's anger over Mary's absence and his composition of the divorce pamphlets. Furthermore, this hostility is not privatized or cordoned off from his textual productions but is instead transmuted into a conscious design that receives its public articulation in The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce.

  14. The anonymous [27] biographer is anomalous (and prototypical) in that he characterizes Mary's "obstinate absenting" as coincidental to Milton's already well-formulated ideas on marriage and divorce:

    Hee in this Interval . . . therefore thought upon a Divorce, that hee might bee free to marry another; concerning which hee also was in treaty. The lawfulness and expedience of this . . . had upon full consideration & reading of good Authors bin formerly his Opinion: And the necessity of justifying himselfe now concurring with the opportunity, acceptable to him, of instructing others in a point of so great concern (emphasis mine). (Darbishire, 23)

    The divorce tracts are not the vengeful product of Milton's unhappiness but of a fortuitous conjunction between event and (fore)thought. Milton the philosopher is afforded the opportunity, "acceptable to him," to sharpen the focus of arguments he had in store in order to instruct England and further the Reformation. Not unexpectedly, any scribblings Milton made touching the subject prior to 1642 have been accredited the status, if not of systematic argument, then of an abiding, and thus powerfully predictive, interest. In the most recent biography of the author, John Shawcross reiterates this particular sequencing of Milton's intellectual development:

    Milton's concern with divorce began, as his notes in his Commonplace Book show, before his marriage to Mary Powell . . . the seeming incompatibility of Milton and Mary on mental and cultural levels may have set him to thinking more fully about the topic and may have fostered his basic reasons for nullification of a marriage.[28]

    Echoing the anonymous biographer, Shawcross frames the separation as an actuation of the next stage in Milton's intellectual growth. However, the contention that Milton somehow anticipates the divorce tracts in his Commonplace Book is not substantiated by that text.[29] Of the entries on divorce in the Commonplace Book, only four can be assigned a possible date of entry prior to the composition of the divorce tracts. These earlier entries are concerned not with the emotional, theological, or legal arguments in favour of divorce, but with the jurisdictional issue of the Church's usurpation of civil authority.[30] The oversight is telling, not because it exposes a lapse in Shawcross' research but, more importantly, because it reveals the teleological imperative that informs his narrative. The argument that Milton anticipates himself, that the episode with Mary Powell only heightened his awareness of issues with which he was already conversant, is also the argument that personal history is finally subordinate to, and subsumed within, the dominant construction of Milton as disinterested, and therefore timeless, artist. The biographical narrative that would mar such a construction is neutralized by explaining it not as a rupture (as the self-interested and originary moment of Milton's thoughts on divorce) but as part of an intellectual continuity.

  15. Many conventional accounts of this episode exhibit the concerted effort made to place Milton in possession of himself and therefore of his texts. The result has been a series of stories in which Milton heroically triumphs over himself and his personal circumstances; any emotion or introspection that might have ensued following Mary's departure is either surpassed or translated into objective argument. What undermines the persuasive force of such descriptions is the specific conceptualization of Milton's character that informs and authorizes them. The image of Milton as artistic genius and disinterested agent of programmatic reform is suspect because it depends upon a largely uncritical acceptance of Milton's own statements about himself. If we are to fully acknowledge the role biography plays in criticism, we must also recognize that its occurrence is not confined to the explicit; the scholarly footnote participates in the construction and defense of an author's personality as much as the full scale work that calls itself a biography. By examining some of the ways in which Milton's self-representation is (and has been) perpetuated and replicated in modern criticism, I have not only attempted to show how Milton's biography has been constructed, but also to demonstrate how its ideological and institutional protocols constrain reading strategies that threaten to qualify it.

Notes

1. John Milton, Paradise Lost, The Poems of John Milton, John Carey and Alastair Fowler eds. (New York: Longman, 1968). All quotations of Milton's poetry are taken from this edition and will, hereafter, be cited in the text.
2. Construction of a biographical field of reference in relation to this passage would entail elaboration of the possible allusions to: Mary Powell (ll 900, 904); the daughter of Dr. Davis (ll 901-2); Lady Margaret Ley (l 905); The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (ll 907-8). For a more extensive account of Milton's romantic misadventures, see the "Anonymous Life" and the "Life of Milton" by Edward Phillips in Helen Darbishire ed. The Early Lives of Milton, (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1965), especially pages 22-23 and 63-67.
3. Chronology was, initially, a serious issue. The traditional date assigned to Milton's marriage was June, 1643, placing it uncomfortably close to the publication of the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. June, 1642 is now the accepted date.
4. Elaine Tuttle Hansen, "Fearing for Chaucer's Good Name," Exemplaria 2.1 (Spring, 1990), 23-37.
5. Fowler, 972, note to lines 898-908.
6. Fowler, 971, note to lines 884-8.
7. The issues surrounding the critical construction, or prohibition, of the connection between Milton and his characters is also explored by Mary Nyquist in "Fallen Differences: Phallogocentric Discourses: Losing Paradise Lost to History," in Post-Structuralism and the Question of History," ed. Derek Attridge et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987), 212-43.
8. Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?", The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 101-20. For a recent discussion of Milton's cultural authority see Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse, The Imaginary Puritan: Literature, Intellectual Labor, and the Origins of Personal Life, (Berkeley: U of California P, 1992), 1-47. This study attempts to locate the emergence of the author-function with Milton. It is somewhat more helpful, historically, than Foucault's equivocal dating of this moment as "in the seventeenth or eighteenth century."
9. Foucault, 105-7.
10. Foucault, 110.
11. Thomas Corns, "'Some Rousing motions': the plurality of Miltonic Ideology," Literature and the English Civil War, eds. Thomas Healy and Jonathan Sawday, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990) 114.
12. Mary Nyquist and Margaret Ferguson eds., "Preface," Re-Membering Milton: Essays on the texts and traditions, (New York: Methuen, 1987) xiii.
13. "Introduction," John Milton, (New York: Longman, 1992), 7.
14. "Introduction," John Milton, (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990), xvi. The locus classicus of Milton's retrospective revision of himself is the characterization, in 1654, of his pamphleteering activities a decade earlier: "Since, then, I observed that there were, in all, three varieties of liberty without which civilized life is scarcely possible, namely ecclesiastical liberty, domestic or personal liberty, and civil liberty, and since I had already written about the first, while I saw that the magistrates were vigorously attending to the third, I took as my province the remaining one, the second or domestic kind. This too seemed to be concerned with three problems: the nature of marriage, the education of the children, and finally the existence of freedom to express oneself" (324).
15. Milton's Contemporary Reputation, (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1940), 18.
16. The Second Defense of the English People Merritt Hughes ed. John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose (New York: Macmillan, 1957), 828. For Milton's poetical reaction to the reception of his divorce pamphlets, see sonnets 11 and 12.
17. Milton (London: Chatto and Windus, 1956), 111.
18. Don M. Wolfe et al., eds., Complete Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 1, (New Haven: Yale UP, 1953), 235. Unless otherwise noted, all references to Milton's prose will be taken from the Yale edition and will be cited as YP, followed by volume and page number(s).
19. James Grantham Turner, "The poetics of engagement," Politics, Poetics, and Hermeneutics in Milton's Prose, eds. David Loewenstein and James Grantham Turner (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), 257-9.
20. "Milton's Prose: The Adjustment of Idealism," Figures in a Renaissance Context eds. Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1989), 258.
21. A.N. Wilson, The Life of John Milton, (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1983), 133.
22. Wilson, 133-4.
23. Milton: A Biography, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1968), 2.866. Volume and page references hereafter cited in the text.
24. The first version appeared in Politics, Poetics and Hermeneutics in Milton's Prose, Eds. James Grantham Turner and David Loewenstein (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), and the second in John Milton, Annabel Patterson ed. (New York: Longman, 1992). The page references in my text are from the later edition.
25. One Flesh: Paradisal Marriage and Sexual Relations in the Age of Milton (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1987).
26. "The Life of Mr. John Milton" The Early Lives of Milton Helen Darbishire Ed. (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1932, 1965), 65. Subsequent citations from the early biographers will be from this edition.
27. This life of Milton, found amongst Anthony Wood's papers and dated 1686-87, has been attributed, by Darbishire, to John Phillips, while W.R. Parker attributes it to Cyriack Skinner.
28. John Milton: The Self and the World (Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1993), 214.
29. Arthur Barker, Milton and the Puritan Dilemma: 1641-1660 (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1942), 353n.
30. Commonplace Book, Ruth Mohl ed. Complete Prose Works of John Milton, 8 vols. (New Haven: Yale UP, 1953-83), vol. 1.

Works Cited

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(RGS, rev. 28 February 1998)