272 pp., 6 x 9
A volume in the series:
Massachusetts Studies in Early Modern Culture
Manuscript, Print, and Political Culture in Revolutionary England
Examines the relationship between the manuscript evidence of Milton's thinking and its representation in his printed works
John Milton's Commonplace Book is the only known political notebook of a radical polemicist writing during the English civil war, and the most extensive manuscript record of reading we have from any major English poet from this period.John Milton's Commonplace Book is the only known political notebook of a radical polemicist writing during the English civil war, and the most extensive manuscript record of reading we have from any major English poet from this period. In this rethinking of a surprisingly neglected body of evidence, Thomas Fulton explores Milton's reading practices and the ways he used this reading in his writing. Fulton's close study of the Commonplace Book suggests that this reading record is far from the haphazard collection of notes that it first appears but is instead a program of research which had its own ideology that responded to the reading habits and practices of Milton's contemporaries. Created mostly in the late 1630s and during the overthrow of the Stuart government in the 1640s, Milton's reading notes yield a number of surprises, the most fundamental being a highly structured commitment to political history. Fulton explores the relationship between the manuscript author and his polemical persona, placing the Commonplace Book, the manuscript "Digression" to the History of Britain, and some wartime poems in revealing contrast to the printed political texts of this period.
"The scholarship in this book is superb. . . . Although the primary audience will be among literary scholars, the volume promises to cross disciplinary lines, with considerable appeal to historians of print, culture, and politics in early modern England. Fulton's groundbreaking work on Milton's reading and his Commonplace Book will be the standard discussion for decades to come"—Laura Knoppers, author of Historicizing Milton: Spectacle, Power, and Poetry in Restoration England
"Fulton's groundbreaking work on Milton's reading and his Commonplace Book will be the standard discussion for decades to come"—Laura Knoppers
"The work will appeal not only to literary scholars but also to historians of print and those interested in early-modern cutlure and politics. Fulton provides detailed notes and an extensive bibliography. Recommended."—Choice
"Offers college-level students of Milton a fine analysis rethinking the most extensive manuscript record of reading from any major English poet of his time. . . . Any Milton student must have this!"—Midwest Book Review
"This critical analysis of the work of John Milton provides an interesting look at the history of his reading habits and the influence of his analysis of contemporary writings on his politics and poetry. . . . the work provides insight in both the early modern history of reading and literature as well as the development of popular political polemics during the important and influential era of the English Revolution."—Book News, Inc.
"Fulton is thoroughly on top of recent literary and historical scholarship on Milton, reading, and England in the 1640s and early 1650s, and he integrates those findings effectively in his own study."—Renaissance Quarterly
"In Historical Milton, Thomas Fulton combines painstaking textual scholarship with a powerful understanding of seventeenth-century political culture. . . . Fulton's book cuts through a fixed opposition between those who attribute Militon's politics to his religious beliefs and those who attribute them primarily to his engagement with classical republicanism. . . . This is a book written by a Miltonist for Miltonists. But it also offers valuable perspectives for anyone interested in the history of reading."—Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900
"Fulton's study of Milton's Commonplace Book makes his own book a valuable reference, and Fulton's somewhat descriptive approach to his own positions offers his readers ample space to develop and explore their own thinking."—Milton Quarterly