Europe Comes to Mr Milton's Door, and Other Kinds of Visitation

The European Legacy 17 (3):291 - 307 (2012)
Abstract
Using various meanings of ?visit? and ?friend? this essay freely explores connections between Milton's cultivation of fame in Europe, leading to reports in the early lives of visits of scholarly foreigners to his door, and the extraordinary concentration on scenarios of human and divine visitation in the late poems. Social, political and religious strands are followed, from humanist self-presentation in the sonnets through to prophetic isolation in the late poems. Codes of friendship are rehearsed concerning confidentiality and betrayal, and attention is paid to the effect of blindness on the activities of the humanist writer, the need for supporting visits, and an increasing interiority and preoccupation with the responsibilities of those engaged with God's special causes. The proto-humanist visit of Raphael to Adam in Paradise Lost and the many guiding visitations in that poem are contrasted with the situation in Samson Agonistes, where divine guidance is presented as clearer in the past than the present, and the reader is invited to share difficulties of discernment in the Restoration world, prefigured in Judges. The essay ends with the simultaneous publication of Milton's humanist legacy and sale of many of his foreign-language books
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John Milton (1991). Political Writings. Cambridge University Press.
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