John Milton: A Short Introduction provides a readable and uncluttered critical account of a complicated and sophisticated author, and his poetry and prose.
Using the still-evolving critical perspectives of the last fifty years, Flannagan puts the mercantile scrivener's son and Cambridge-educated poet Milton under the microscope as a radical social theorist who believed that some monarchs deserved to be deposed or beheaded, if they became tyrants, and who believed in freedom to worship the god of one's conscience, freedom to divorce in an unhappy marriage, and freedom from pre-publication censorship.
Flannagan examines Milton's God as the original father figure, incorporating both genders into one as He gives birth first to Adam and then delivers Eve out of Adam's side. Adam and Eve are the first happy couple and the first couple to argue over questions of authority, to the point where Adam considers divorce and Eve and Adam consider suicide. As the first ecologically fit couple, Adam and Eve begin life living easily within the natural world, but their fall skews Earth's axis and wrecks its delicate balance."
The book will be invaluable for undergraduate and graduate students coming to Milton for the first time and needing an introduction to the man and to his poetry and prose.
A founder and longtime editor of the Milton Quarterly and editor of the Riverside Milton, with 32 years' experience teaching at Ohio University, Flannagan is eminently qualified to explain the greatness of English poet John Milton and he's marvelously successful in achieving his goal. Focusing on the oral qualities of Milton's art, Flannagan argues that he brought to his work an unequaled learning, humor, and skill that stretch and ultimately break aesthetic, religious, and political conventions, making him still relevant. Organized chronologically and centered on Milton's major works, this introduction is not a handbook to be consulted but a book to be read so that one can understand Milton's organic development. Fresh, fluent, and witty, Flannagan's treatment is thoroughly informed by the insights of current literary theory and is rendered without jargon. Of particular interest are his remarks on Adam and Eve in terms of ecocriticism. While he assumes some familiarity with Milton, Flannagan's discussion is accessible to the general reader yet offers insights to the specialist. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries. T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.