The Romantic Legacy of Paradise Lost: Reading against the Grain, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Romantic Legacy of Paradise Lost

Reading against the Grain, 1st Edition

By Jonathon Shears


232 pages

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Hardback: 9780754662532
pub: 2009-04-28
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The Romantic Legacy of Paradise Lost offers a new critical insight into the relationship between Milton and the Romantic poets. Beginning with a discussion of the role that seventeenth and eighteenth-century writers like Dryden, Johnson and Burke played in formulating the political and spiritual mythology that grew up around Milton, Shears devotes a chapter to each of the major Romantic poets, contextualizing their 'misreadings' of Milton within a range of historical, aesthetic, and theoretical contexts and discourses. By tackling the vexed issue of whether Paradise Lost by its nature makes available and encourages alternate readings or whether misreadings are imposed on the poem from without, Shears argues that the Romantic inclination towards fragmentation and a polysemous aesthetic leads to disrupted readings of Paradise Lost that obscure the theme, or warp the 'grain', of the poem. Shears concludes by examining the ways in which the legacy of Romantic misreading continues to shape critical responses to Milton's epic.


'The Romantic Legacy of Paradise Lost provide[s] interesting and perceptive insights into the major male Romantic poets' aesthetic theory and practice. Shears also convincingly traces a tradition of reading Milton against the grain from the eighteenth century to the present.' Milton Quarterly '… this study is well worth reading and one whose value extends to students and scholars of Milton, Romanticism, and the long eighteenth century in general.' Seventeenth-Century News

Table of Contents

Contents: The romantic legacy of Paradise Lost: an introduction; Milton in the 18th century; Blake; Wordsworth; Coleridge; Interchapter; exploring the metaphor; Byron; Shelley; Keats; Milton in the 20th century; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Jonathon Shears is a lecturer in English at Keele University, UK.

About the Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series aims to develop and promote new approaches and fresh directions in scholarship and criticism on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The series encourages work which erodes the traditional boundary between Romantic and Victorian studies and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the literary, religious, scientific and visual cultures of the period. While British literature and culture are the core subject matter of monographs and collections in the series,  the editors encourage proposals which explore the wider, international contexts of nineteenth-century literature – transatlantic, European and global.  Print culture, including studies in the newspaper and periodical press, book history, life writing and gender studies are particular strengths of this established series as are high quality single author studies.  The series also embraces research in the field of digital humanities. The editors invite proposals from both younger and established scholars in all areas of nineteenth-century literary studies. 

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