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For centuries John Milton, author of "Paradise Lost" and many other poetic works, and of radical pamphlets on free speech, divorce and political rights, has emerged from biographies as a woman-hating domestic tyrant or a saintly blind man. But, as Anna Beer shows, his personal life was just as rich and complex as his professional one. By close and groundbreaking analysis of Milton's careful editing of his own life, his wider family's affairs, the records of his government work, and the history of England during one of its most tumultuous periods of social and cultural life, Beer brings both the poet and his period to vivid life.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780747596288
ISBN-10: 074759628X
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 153mm x 35mm)
Pages: 480
Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publish Date: 17-Nov-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » Rich, often laudatory biography of the creator of Paradise Lost.John Milton's life (1608 - 74) encompassed one of the most turbulent periods in English history, notes Beer (Literature/Oxford Univ.; My Just Desire: The Life of Bess Ralegh, Wife to Sir Walter, 2003, etc.). A civil war, a beheaded king, a democracy that turned into dictatorship, a restoration of royalty, plague and the Great Fire are among the events that shaped his destiny. Beer's Milton emerges as a courageous, often wildly incautious republican whose life was more than once in jeopardy, though he was merely jailed while heads of his allies rolled. He was also a classical scholar nonpareil, one of the first political pamphleteers and, of course, a master of blank verse and of just about every other poetical form he attempted. Beer often digresses from the chronological narrative to examine such material as street life in Milton's native London, his attitudes toward women's education, his participation in the theological and political debates of the day and the titillating question of whether the revered author of a great religious poem at any point in his life "turn'd pure Italian" (i.e., had homosexual affairs). Readers will surely wince at her horrific account of contemporary medical practices, which did little to help Milton when he began going blind in 1644, or during his final torments from renal failure. Not wanting to try the patience of general readers by venturing too far into the deep end of prosody's pool, the author tends to praise more than analyze, and she occasionally offers block quotations from sources identified only in the end notes. Still, Beer takes us on an educative and often inspiring journey through Milton's life and major works, dealing as best she can with the paucity of personal information (no family letters survive) and careful to note when she is speculating and when she is not.A well-researched, graceful account of the life of a literary giant. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Anna Beer

Anna Beer is Lecturer in Literature within the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Kellogg College. She is the author of the acclaimed Bess: The Life of Lady Ralegh, Wife to Sir Walter, and of an earlier academic study of Sir Walter Ralegh's life and works, Sir Walter Ralegh and his Readers in the Seventeenth Century. She lives in Oxford with her family.

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Milton by Anna Beer


Hardback, January 2008