Justice in the Dock: Milton's Experimental Tragedy

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University of Delaware Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 133 pages
"In Justice in the Dock, Harold Skulsky argues that the currently dominant moral readings of Samson Agonistes reduce it to the pious antiquarian charade it energetically refuses to be - whether the hero is taken as a war criminal or a saint (Christian or existentialist). Milton is as subversive a traditionalist here as elsewhere; he has picked a theologically scandalous stretch of Bible history to dramatize, and he invents a dramatic structure that makes over the theater, or theatrical imagination, into the scene of a jury trial. The result is neither a sermon in disguise nor a study in indeterminacy, but the theatrical equivalent of the republican freedom the poet's political career was dedicated to promoting. Attorney Milton declares his mind - but leaves the audience free to make up theirs." "On the way to establishing this, Skulsky brings out in all their nastiness the subversive questions forced by the Book of Judges on a would-be Christian believer of the early modern period, and he studies in detail two remarkable earlier attempts to come to terms, in the same tradition of "sacred" drama, with the same Book and the same questions." "Justice in the Dock is a book about the preeminent English poet (after Shakespeare) trying to make sense of a paradigm case of mass killing - virtually of genocide - that is endorsed by the Ground of All Justice and carried out by an Israelite hero who (if St. Paul can be trusted) is also a saint. The book is meant to attract readers interested in literature, moral philosophy, religion, or the historic roots of the modern sensibility, as well as readers specifically involved with Milton and his literary, intellectual, and religious background."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
 

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Contents

Preface
7
Introduction In Those Days Every Man Did What Was Right in His Own Eyes
11
Vondels Version
24
Samson in Court
43
Apartness Revenge Antitragedy
54
Three Recipes for Avoiding Scandal
73
Scandal Forensic Drama
86
Notes
102
Bibliography
126
Index
129
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