Monday, September 9, 2013

Meeting Milton

“Ex Nihilo” or “Out of Nothing” by the Frederick Hart.
Milton is a name I've said and written many times without any real knowledge of who he is or what his accomplishments consisted of. This is mostly owing to my love of LDS literature and Orson F. Whitney's oft quoted witness that the Latter-day Saints would one day have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. As I begin to read about Milton and dig into his poetry, I appreciate a bit better something a friend of mine - who is far more qualified to comment on the subject - related to me:
If we’ve failed to fulfill Orson F. Whitney’s prophecy that “We will yet have Shakespeares and Miltons of our own,” well, as Hugh Nibley pointed out, England in its thousand-odd year history has scarcely produced one of each.
While innovative literature, a designation I presume Milton's work justly deserves, is essentially "ahead of it's time," it's also unavoidably a product of it's time. Neither we nor our works are created ex nihilo.

Beyond the obvious impact of preceding epics and the then-fresh literary heritage of the Renaissance, I expect that Milton's relationships with his family - including his parents, siblings, wives, and children - and with prominent political figures of the day will be manifest as he explores elements of love, power, and atonement in Paradise Lost.

One of the things I'm most interested to discover is how his marriages might have influenced his view of women, and how Adam and Eve's relationship may reflect the marital happiness and struggles Milton experienced himself.

1 comment:

  1. Milton as ahead of his time, a product of his time, and as a figure that has configured people and time beyond his period (like Mormons) is a fascinating road into studying him.