Milton, history, and Christian truth

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1956

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The occasion for this essay, and the point of departure, is the disagreement among scholars concerning Milton as an historian. Masson considered him no historian, Firth thought him an occasionally good historian, and J. Milton French thought him a scientific and analytical historian. On what basis may these scholarly evaluations be defined and, if possible, reconciled? This essay shows first the manner in which Milton accepted both history and poetry as a means of teaching moral truth within a Christian framework. Whereas Spenser and Sidney, among others, had insisted upon the didactic purpose of literature and history and had affirmed the superiority of poetry as a means of teaching. Milton, though he agreed in principle, differed in one important respect. [...]

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