Thursday, July 28, 2005

Milton in Darkness

John Milton (1608-74) began writing verse at the age of 17 while a student at Cambridge. During the next half century he built his legacy as a giant of literature. His greatest work, by virtually all accounts, was accomplished after he was afflicted with blindness in 1652.

Milton’s most famous classics are Paradise Lost (1667), Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes (both finished in 1671). The former two expound on the relationship between God and humankind; the latter is a Puritan-era tragedy based on the biblical Samson.

Much of Milton’s later life was a progression of tribulations. He was severely frustrated by his visual incapacity. His first two wives died, as did an infant daughter. And he briefly was imprisoned after the restoration to the throne of Charles II in 1660; Milton had been a member of the rebellious parliamentarians during the English Civil War. He persevered with remarkable diligence to his death.


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