1st Edition

Milton and the Early Modern Culture of Devotion
Bodies at Prayer

ISBN 9780367887384
Published December 10, 2019 by Routledge
186 Pages

USD $48.95

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Book Description

Miton and Early Modern Devotional Culture analyses the representation of public and private prayer in John Milton’s poetry and prose, paying particular attention to the ways seventeenth-century prayer is imagined as embodied in sounds, gestures, postures, and emotional responses. Naya Tsentourou demonstrates Milton’s profound engagement with prayer, and how this is driven by a consistent and ardent effort to experience one’s address to God as inclusive of body and spirit and as loaded with affective potential. The book aims to become the first interdisciplinary study to show how Milton participates in and challenges early modern debates about authentic and insincere worship in public, set and spontaneous prayers in private, and gesture and voice in devotion.

Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations and Standard Editions

Introduction: "Pathetical Prayer"

Chapter 1 Dressing the Devotional Body

"A linnen Sock over it": Material Bodies in Church

Inventorying Dress

‘The ghost of a linen decency’

Shifting Bodies in Milton’s Mask

Chapter 2 "Stale and empty words": Consuming Prayers in Eikonoklastes

Subjects and Audiences in Liturgical Prayer

Prayer in the King’s Closet

"Wholesome Words" and Manna

Feeling and Eating Prayers

Chapter 3 Hymns, Sighs, and the Materiality of Prayer in Paradise Lost

Prayer in Hymns

Singing Prayers

Prayer in Sighs

Sighs, Groans, and Agency

Chapter 4 "As one who pray’d": The Iconoclastic Prayer of Samson Agonistes

Samson’s Posture

Samson’s Rhetoric

Samson’s Violent Prayer


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Naya Tsentourou is currently Lecturer in English at the University of Exeter, Penryn. She has research interests in Milton and religious lyric, as well as Shakespeare and the history of emotions. She has co-edited the collection Forms of Hypocrisy in Early Modern England (forthcoming with Routledge) with Lucia Nigri.