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Milton in the Long Restoration$
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Blair Hoxby and Ann Baynes Coiro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769774.001.0001

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Purging the Visual Nerve

Purging the Visual Nerve

Exploration, ‘Revelation’, and Cosmography in Milton Commentaries and Criticism of the Long Restoration

(p.414) 22 Purging the Visual Nerve
Milton in the Long Restoration

Anne-Julia Zwierlein

Oxford University Press

Milton commentaries of the Long Restoration illustrate how the tradition of the new science, with its emphasis on experimenting, discovering, and collecting, shaped early readers’ perception of Milton’s epic. Taking up Edward Phillips’s 1658 definition of ‘cosmography’ as ‘a Science which shews the Frame of the Universe’ with the ‘two Branches of […] Astronomy and Geography’, this chapter looks at selected geographical and astronomical topics in commentaries by Hume (1695), Bentley, including his MS annotations (1732), Pearce (1732), the Richardsons (1734), Paterson (1744), Newton (1749), Craigforth (1750), and Marchant (1751). Baconian parallels between divine and secular revelation are crucial ideological moments in both Paradise Lost and its early readers. Long Restoration commentaries investigate the marked white spots on Milton’s epic map and his Galilean astronomy. Their appeals to ‘ingenious Travellers’, reliance on ‘Eye-Witnesses’, and carefully staged (but also imaginative and playful) experiments can be compared to the collective enterprise of post-Baconian ‘scientific travellers’.

Keywords:   Long Restoration Milton commentaries, Baconianism, travel, exploration, geography, astronomy, revelation, discovery, experiments, eye-witnesses

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