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Born into a financially prosperous middle class family, John Milton was well educated, receiving degrees from Cambridge University. After completing his MA with honors, Milton moved to his father’s home where he spent several years in private study and writing. He also, like most well-to-do young men, undertook an extended trip to the continent, returning to England when civil war seemed imminent.
Referred to as the great Puritan poet, Milton found his fortunes went up and down with the rise and fall of Cromwell’s commonwealth. He accepted a government post as a translator under the commonwealth government, writing treatises supporting republicanism and Oliver Cromwell. During this period, Milton lost his vision and was forced to continue his writing by dictating to assistants, including poet Andrew Marvell. Following the Restoration, a warrant was issued for Milton’s arrest because of his support of Cromwell and the commonwealth government. Milton was arrested and imprisoned for a time until friends, again including poet Andrew Marvell, intervened and won his release, possibly saving Milton from execution. Milton retired to a small cottage in Chalfont St. Giles, where he continued to write until his death in 1674.
John Milton(click to see video)
In 2008, Christ’s College, Cambridge created a Milton website as part of a celebration of Milton’s 400th birthday. It includes an abundance of information about Milton as well as an interactive study resource on Paradise Lost titled Darkness Visible.
Milton Dictates to His Daughters Delacroix.
Milton wrote several types of literature:
Milton had long contemplated writing an epic poem before he began Paradise Lost. He first thought of making the Arthurian legends its topic. Then he decided to write about the fall of man—”of man’s first disobedience.” Paradise Lost is considered the greatest epic written in the English language.
An epica long narrative poem in elevated style depicting the heroic adventures of a valiant, superhuman individual is a long narrative poem in elevated style depicting the heroic adventures of a valiant, superhuman individual.
Examples of epics include
Epics share the following characteristics:
style: an imposing, formal style that includes the use of literary and metrical techniques to convey a sense of eloquence and gravity, such as the caesura in Beowulf and in Paradise Lost
In addition to these characteristics of epics, epics share a group of conventionstraditional features that are usually employed in a particular genre, traditional features that are usually employed in a particular genre:
Identify the characteristics and conventions you find in Paradise Lost: