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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 January 2022

Milton and the People

Milton and the People

Chapter:
(p.483) 26 Milton and the People
Source:
Milton in the Long Restoration
Author(s):

Joanna Picciotto

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769774.003.0027

Milton’s account of creation is examined alongside the discourse of physico-theology, which read ‘the book of nature’ as a testament to the wisdom and benevolence of its divine author. To recover the physico-theological tradition is to reveal continuities between revolutionary England and post-Restoration culture that scholars have long ignored, for although the physico-theological craze is a post-Restoration phenomenon, its founding texts date from the revolutionary period. Writing in the physico-theological mode always sets itself the same (impossible) task: leveraging the new natural history to do the work of theodicy. Instead of engaging the natural world through allegorical interpretation, physico-theology attempts to analyse a system, reconstructing and imaginatively inhabiting each subject position within that system. The project of physico-theology provides a bridge between the age of Milton and the age of the novel; the habits of thought it encouraged were precisely those suited to the new prose fiction.

Keywords:   John Milton, Paradise Lost, physico-theology, James Thomson, The Seasons, William Derham, John Ray, Henry More, sympathy, ecology

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