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The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography Paperback – November 8, 2002

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The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography + The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton (Modern Library) + The Cambridge Companion to Milton (Cambridge Companions to Literature)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (November 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405106255
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405106252
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,029,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Lewalski's is easily the best single-volume life of Milton to date, and it is hard to imagine its being significantly bettered. Every reader will benefit from its insight and compression, and it will be the biography to which I direct my students."
Times Higher Education Supplement <!--end-->

"Arguably the most readable of modern Milton biographies, it reshapes our understanding of Milton the man, the thinker, political and religious activist, husband, parent, friend ...it is certain to be a classic among Milton studies" Reference Reviews

"The Life of John Milton . . . combines lucidity with its formidable erudition."
Terry Eagleton, The Observer Books of the Year, 2001

"A rigorous, up-to-date, yet surprisingly readable account of Milton's life and work… anyone concerned with the poet or the period will have to possess this book."
The Independent

"[Lewalski] has produced an outstanding biography, one that is reliable and readable. [...] It will be vaulable, not only to Milton specialists and students of English literature but to anyone who wants to learn about Milton's life and work."
Virginia Quarterly Review

"Lewalski's volume is immensely useful. In the process of discussing Milton's life and works, she gives the reader a believable figure facing major events and also the everyday business of moving through life. Such an appealing and readbale portrayal is welcome."
Renaissance Quarterly

"As a biography of Milton, Lewalski's Life is likely to remain the definitive work for decades to come." Church Times

"The Life of John Milton is the magnum opus of Barbara K Lewalski, one of the leading Miltonists of the past half-century. [...] As an introduction to Milton's life and work it is likely to remain unequalled for years to come - that rare thing, a work of reference to be read with profit and pleasure from cover to cover."

"Her achievements scarcely need endorsement. Unsurprising, she once more surefootedly picks her way through the polemical prose while writing richly about the major poetry." Milton Quarterly

Book Description

In her detailed account of Milton's life and career, Barbara Lewalski provides a close analysis of his prose and poetry, focusing on the development of his ideas and his art.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H. von Osnabrueck on January 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is truly a work of great erudition and scholarship. Well-written and much researched, I have found this the most interesting and most complete biography about the inestimable John Milton written heretofore. I highly, highly recommend this text to anyone who wishes to gain a keen understanding not only of John Milton's life, but the author gives a pertinent description of the times in which Milton lived--arcane details and customs without knowledge of which, Milton's genius and his prolific output would seem incomprehensible.

I am extremely grateful that I found this book and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in John Milton, the English Civil War, Cromwell's Protectorate, the Stuart Restoration, proto-Libertarianism, etc. This book stands out as a cynosure among many books written about this enigmatic but extremely important historical figure. The author is a distinguished authority on the subject and employs her wit and sagacity in analyzing and explaining the facts, insights, and settings of John Milton's genius.

I originally purchased David Hawkes' John Milton: A Hero of Our Time biography about John Milton and found it utterly wanting: little actual biographical account, much speculation, and many pages of criticism of capitalistic society. Hawkes spends many a page condemning the charging of interest rates, and the entire structure of finance and modern industry. No matter where one stands on those points, I believe it may be agreed that a biography ostensibly about the great John Milton is not the proper venue thereof.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Aimee Thor on July 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Incredibly interesting and really a good, hard look at the life of John Milton and what inspired him and what aroused his wrath. His poems are eternal and deal with things secular and spiritual. His words have come down to us through many centuries and they are still as powerful as the day he wrote them. What a true genius! What a stunningly beautiful biography...I couldn't put it down.
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19 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nizar Hermes on November 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is, indeed, the most exhaustive modern biography of John Milton. The renowned critic Barbara Lewalski, as usual, offers the students and scholars of Milton an enchanting biographical masterpiece that both narrates and captures Milton's story and history from his early childhood "The childhood Strews the Man" to his last breath "Teach the every Soul". Mocking Samuel Johnson's theory on writing a biography, Lewalski, without eating, drinking, or living in social intercourse with Milton, has succeed in writing an impressive biography of Milton through, as she mockingly asserts, living in intellectual and artistic intercourse with Milton. Reading this book, to the surprise of Johnson, one will find him/herself eating, drinking, and living social intercourse with john Milton thanks to the scholarly talent of Barbara Lewlaski.
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