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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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‘His Ears Now Were Eyes to Him’

‘His Ears Now Were Eyes to Him’

The Lives of Milton in the Long Restoration

(p.557) 29 ‘His Ears Now Were Eyes to Him’
Milton in the Long Restoration

Jayne Lewis

Oxford University Press

In the Long Restoration, the modernizing genre of life-writing posited the visibility and integrity of the biographical subject. As such a subject, Milton disrupted this premise. Lives of Milton appearing between 1681 (Aubrey) and 1734 (Richardson) share a preoccupation with discrete parts of Milton’s body. His eyes, mouth, hands, and ears appear not as definite objects but as independent, unbounded sensory organs that can be redistributed, recombined, and mixed with their readers’ living senses. Early efforts to turn Milton’s life into letters thus move in contradictory directions: if dissociated from integrated forms of textualized memory, they also support contemporary regenerative medicine’s aim to dissolve post-lapsarian divisions between the senses and the world. In their very incoherence—internally and with one another—the early Lives script a textual praxis that recovers the moment of lived composition in the phenomenology of reading.

Keywords:   biography, disability, seventeenth-century medicine, early print culture, John Milton

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