Divided Empire: Milton's Political Imagery

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Penn State Press, Nov 8, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 208 pages
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In Divided Empire, Robert T. Fallon examines the influence of John Milton's political experience on his great poems: Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. This study is a natural sequel to Fallon's previous book, Milton in Government, which examined Milton's decade of service as Secretary for Foreign Languages to the English Republic.

Milton's works are crowded with political figures—kings, counselors, senators, soldiers, and envoys—all engaged in a comparable variety of public acts—debate, decree, diplomacy, and warfare—in a manner similar to those who exercised power on the world stage during his time in public office. Traditionally, scholars have cited this imagery for two purposes: first, to support studies of the poet's political allegiances as reflected in his prose and his life; and, second, to demonstrate that his works are sympathetic to certain ideological positions popular in present times.

Fallon argues that Paradise Lost is not a political testament, however, and to read its lines as a critique of allegiances and ideologies outside the work is limit the range and scope of critical inquiry and to miss the larger purpose of the political imagery within the poem. That imagery, the author proposes, like that of all Milton's later works, serves to illuminate the spiritual message, a vision of the human soul caught up in the struggle between vast metaphysical forces of good and evil. Fallon seeks to enlarge the range of critical inquiry by assessing the influence of personal and historical events upon art, asking, as he puts it, "not what the poetry says about the events, but what the events say about the poetry." Divided Empire probes, not Milton's judgment on his sources, but the use he made of them.

 

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Contents

The Image of Rule
1
France and the Kingdoms of the Imagination
4
A Handmaid to Truth
18
The Kingdom of Heaven
25
God the Father
26
God the Son
42
To Reign in Hell
55
The Great Consult
62
Divided Empire
119
Cosmic Conflict
121
The Missions to Earth
131
The Conflict Within
135
The Final Things
143
The Trump of Doom
144
All in All
155
Embattled Humanity
161

The Voyage
72
Heaven and Hell
83
The Lords of the Earth
97
Prelapsarian Rule
98
Postlapsarian Rule
103
Fulfilled All Justice
113
Paradise Regained
162
Samson Agonistes
169
Works Cited
180
Index
186
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About the author (1995)

Robert T. Fallon is retired professor of English at LaSalle University. He is the author of Milton in Government (Penn State, 1993), which was co-winner of the 1993 James Holly Hanford Award of the Milton Society of America, and Captain or Colonel: The Soldier in Milton's Life and Art (1984).

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