The Development of Milton's Thought: Law, Government, and ReligionJohn T. Shawcross $60.00
Published in 2008 | 293 pages | cloth | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0411-1
“Shawcross offers a careful, convincing consideration of Milton's legal, political, theological, and artistic thought, both its application and its effect. All along the way, he guides the reader of Milton toward a fuller, more sensitive evaluation of Milton's artistry. . . . Highly recommended.” — Choice
“Shawcross's intimate familiarity with Milton's oeuvre allows him to pepper every moment of his argument with references to what has come before and what will follow in Milton's life. . . . In The Development of Milton's Thought, Shawcross leads us back to the man himself to remind us that Milton was a frail human being in search of personal understanding of the world and the divine. It is an important reminder.” — Discoveries
“The Development of Milton's Thought is a valuable book, functioning as an important resource of information on a wide range of topics relevant to Milton studies today. There is something in this richly informed study for everyone – the historian of Milton's republicanism; the reader of his theology; the feminist critic of patriarchalism. . . . Shawcross' study will also be of deep interest to cultural critics, church historians, and the general reader of seventeenth-century English history, politics, Literary Studies, and culture.” — Christianity and Literary Studies
With this pioneering book, John T. Shawcross debunks a common assumption about what we see in Milton's work: that Milton's views remained unchanged over time. Shawcross systematically analyzes this belief in light of Milton's vocation, social life, politics, and religion, and presents us with a Milton who, indeed, changes his mind.
The one constant in Milton's writing and thought is that of faith in God, but the theology that underlies this unchanging faith—such as his views on the Trinity and God's providence—develops through reflection and adverse experience, often yielding more defined ideas. Shawcross also traces the development of Milton's concepts about political thought, attitudes toward the church, financial matters, the “people,” and gender, some of which result in complicated (and often unresolved) issues.
Shawcross's presentation of a Milton whose thought does indeed develop and change—albeit with an unbending belief that faith and God supervene—is an essential contribution to Milton scholarship.
JOHN T. SHAWCROSS is professor emeritus of English at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books, including With Mortal Voice: The Creation of Paradise Lost. He is coeditor of Milton and the Grounds of Contention, and is a two-time winner of the James Holly Hanford Award for the most distinguished book on Milton.