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Milton among the Iconoclasts


Bevan Zlatar, Antoinina (2021). Milton among the Iconoclasts. In: Depledge, Emma; Garrison, John; Nicosia, Marissa. Making Milton: Print, Authorship, Afterlives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 123-140.

Abstract

This chapter seeks to focus on an aspect of Milton’s alleged Puritan persona, namely his iconoclasm. Since E. B. Gilman’s subtly nuanced Iconoclasm and Poetry in the English Reformation (1986), it has become fashionable to discuss Milton the iconoclastic polemicist or to debate the extent of his iconoclastic poetic strategies. All too often this criticism rehearses the old Puritan / Laudian binary and assumes that Milton the Puritan is intrinsically iconoclastic. Yet, as the notorious 1632 Star Chamber trial of Henry Sherfield demonstrates, Calvinist iconoclasm was but the most extreme end of a rich spectrum of Protestant attitudes to images in seventeenth-century England. By reading Milton’s embodied representation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Paradise Lost in the context of the Sherfield trial, I hope to make the case for a more iconophile poet, thus rescuing Milton from the refashioning conducted by later writers and critics.

Abstract

This chapter seeks to focus on an aspect of Milton’s alleged Puritan persona, namely his iconoclasm. Since E. B. Gilman’s subtly nuanced Iconoclasm and Poetry in the English Reformation (1986), it has become fashionable to discuss Milton the iconoclastic polemicist or to debate the extent of his iconoclastic poetic strategies. All too often this criticism rehearses the old Puritan / Laudian binary and assumes that Milton the Puritan is intrinsically iconoclastic. Yet, as the notorious 1632 Star Chamber trial of Henry Sherfield demonstrates, Calvinist iconoclasm was but the most extreme end of a rich spectrum of Protestant attitudes to images in seventeenth-century England. By reading Milton’s embodied representation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Paradise Lost in the context of the Sherfield trial, I hope to make the case for a more iconophile poet, thus rescuing Milton from the refashioning conducted by later writers and critics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:John Milton, Puritanism, iconoclasm, Henry Sherfield, Paradise Lost, embodied godhead, monism
Language:English
Date:2021
Deposited On:21 Feb 2022 08:34
Last Modified:22 Mar 2024 04:39
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISBN:9780198821892
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198821892.003.0010
Related URLs:https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/9780198821892.001.0001/oso-9780198821892?rskey=9r7S2H&result=1 (Publisher)