Solidly grounded in Milton's prose works and the long history of Milton scholarship, Milton among the Puritans: The Case for Historical Revisionism challenges many received ideas about Milton's brand of Christianity, philosophy, and poetry. It does so chiefly by retracing his history as a great "Puritan poet" and reexamining the surprisingly tenuous Whig paradigm upon which this history has been built. Catherine Martin not only questions the current habit of "lumping" Milton with the religious Puritans but agrees with a long line of literary scholars who find his values and lifestyle markedly inconsistent with their beliefs and practices. Pursuing this argument, Martin carefully reexamines the whole spectrum of seventeenth-century English Puritanism from the standpoint of the most recent and respected scholarship on the subject. Martin also explores other, more secular sources of Milton's thought, including his Baconianism, his Christian Stoic ethics, and his classical republicanism; she establishes the importance of these influences through numerous direct references, silent but clear citations, and typical tropes. All in all, Milton among the Puritans presents a radical reassessment of Milton's religious identity; it shows that many received ideas about the "Puritan Milton" are neither as long-established as most scholars believe nor as historically defensible as most literary critics still assume, and resituates Milton's great poems in the period when they were written, the Restoration.
A Yankee Book Peddler US Core Title for 2011 'Deeply thoughtful and widely researched, Catherine Gimelli Martin's account of Milton's religious and cultural milieu and disposition offers a boldly challenging interrogation of the usual orthodoxies about the poet and his work.' Thomas N. Corns, Bangor University, UK 'Catherine Gimelli Martin's book is a bold and salutary attempt to provide a new historical and conceptual foundation for the study of Milton. Martin works fiercely to dismantle the seldom questioned, but long orthodox, identification of John Milton as a "Puritan." And in so doing, she offers us a revisionist glimpse of how a new, more nuanced analysis of the period's politics and religion could enrich our understanding of England's greatest poet.' John Rogers, Yale University, USA '…Martin's lucid prose style makes this book accessible to a broad audience, and she provides footnotes rather than endnotes and a lengthy bibliography. Martin's audacious challenge to the assumption of Milton's Puritanism will surely figure importantly in debate over Milton's religion and literature, and the book is consequently a necessary addition to any academic library supporting the teaching of Milton…Highly recommended.' Choice 'The evidence Martin gathers is not new, but she marshals it so effectively that her case seems irrefutable. No careful reader of her book will glibly allude to the "Puritan" Milton again.' Times Literary Supplement 'Milton among the Puritans returns us to some familiar aspects of Milton's life and intellectual composition - his republicanism, his rationalism, his interest in science and his commitment to humanist learning - and it does so in a way that reminds us of the unique power of Milton's mind and art in secular, political, and Baconian terms. This book also brings us back to questions that naturally invite us to prod and probe Milton's complex and sometimes heterodox relationship to seventeenth-century English Puritanism…'