Milton and the Rhetoric of Zeal

Milton and the Rhetoric of Zeal

Thomas Kranidas $70.00

Published in 2005 | 264 pages | cloth | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0361-9


“Highly recommended for its detailed and appreciative discussion of Milton's political tracts and the fiery rhetorical background in which they live and move and have their being.” — Ben Jonson Journal

Milton and the Rhetoric of Zeal proves itself to be an urbane, graceful, and pointed study.” — Seventeenth-Century News

“Indeed, the identification with his author evidently motivates Kranidas' deeply informed and often illuminating discussion of Milton's handling of his opponents and friends.” — American and English Studies

“Every student of Miltonic prose will be in Kranidas' debt.” — American and English Studies"

Book Information:

Milton's radically aggressive English prose emerged from a dynamic rhetorical milieu. A rhetoric of radical excess developed among the Puritan wing of English Protestantism throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, scriptural injunctions to will the sword of the spirit against the enemies of the Lord. The most potent of these texts was the pronouncement from Revelation 3:16: “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” The tradition culminated in a politically virulent and highly effective “rhetoric of zeal,” which was deployed against the Church of England, and ultimately against the monarchy, during the 1630s and the 1640s. The first part of Kranidas's study demonstrates the widespread acceptance of the attack on “lukewarmness” and the celebration of a passionate and immoderate commitment to action against the Laudian campaign for “Holy Decency,” the reform of ritual and discipline generally in the Church of England. The book then turns to an analysis of Milton's antiprelatical tracts, with particular, but not exclusive, reference to the tradition of zeal. Kranidas demonstrates the broad range of Milton's styles and the increasing confidence in his assumption of kerygmatic authority in the argument against prelaty, the arguments for freedom of conscience, and the evolving arguments for republicanism. The book ends with a brief coda that argues the similarities of radical Puritan rhetoric and the rhetoric of the radical American movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Author Information:

THOMAS KRANIDAS is professor emeritus of English at SUNY, Stony Brook. He is the author of The Fierce Equation and has coedited New Essays on "Paradise Lost" and Barfield Sampler. Kranidas has received several awards and grants, including a Fulbright Research Grant, Guggenheim and the NEH–Huntington.


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