1st Edition

Milton, Music and Literary Interpretation Reading through the Spirit

By David Ainsworth Copyright 2020
    168 Pages
    by Routledge

    168 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Milton, Music and Literary Interpretation: Reading through the Spirit constructs a musical methodology for interpreting literary text drawn out of John Milton’s poetry and prose. Analyzing the linkage between music and the Holy Spirit in Milton’s work, it focuses on harmony and its relationship to Milton’s theology and interpretative practices. Linking both the Spirit and poetic music to Milton’s understanding of teleology, it argues that Milton uses musical metaphor to capture the inexpressible characteristics of the divine. The book then applies these musical tools of reading to examine the non-trinitarian union between Father, Son, and Spirit in Paradise Lost, argues that Adam and Eve’s argument does not break their concord, and puts forward a reading of Samson Agonistes based upon pity and grace.


    Spiritual Reading

    Musical Reading

    Three Approaches for Musical Reading


    Dissonance and Discord

    Solo and Choral Song

    1 Spiritual Harmony

    Music with a Purpose

    Heavenly Harmony and the Spirit

    Hearing the Inexpressible: Music and Transcendent Indefinition

    2 Spiritual Hermeneutics

    The Spirit’s Role in Reading

    God, the Spirit, and Truth

    3 Spiritual and Musical Teleology

    The Teleology of the Spirit

    Music as Metaphor: Playing Poetic Games

    4 Harmonious Reading

    Harmony and Milton’s Trinity

    Concord, Discord, and Marriage

    5 Music and Literary Interpretation

    Reading Samson Agonistes Musically

    "He may dispense with me or thee:" Concord and Discord with God

    Dying is Easy; Harmony is Hard



    David Ainsworth is Assistant Chair and Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama, and part of the faculty of the Hudson Strode Program for Renaissance Studies housed there. His first book, Milton and the Spiritual Reader: Reading and Religion in Seventeenth-Century England was published by Routledge in 2008, and he has published articles in journals including Milton Quarterly, Religion and Literature, and SEL.