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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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‘A Fine Paradisaical Notion’

‘A Fine Paradisaical Notion’

Materialism and Readings of Paradise Lost in the ‘Long Restoration’

(p.41) 3 ‘A Fine Paradisaical Notion’
Milton in the Long Restoration

N. K. Sugimura

Oxford University Press

This chapter meditates on how Long Restoration readings of the metaphysic in Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost, reflect early Enlightenment concerns over what matter is and what it is capable of doing. It suggests that the genre of the commentary as well as editorial notes on the poem provided a discursive space in which these early readers could appropriate Milton for their own philosophical and theological ends, but that these appropriations were themselves deeply problematic. By exploring the responses to the ontology of the epic by Bentley and the Richardsons in particular, this chapter suggests that the poem’s metaphysic becomes one lens through which we can trace how Milton’s poetry becomes itself a site of contest between the ancients and moderns, and how it therefore plays a pivotal role in British Enlightenment thought.

Keywords:   Milton, Paradise Lost, matter, enlightenment, materialism, vitalism, Lucretius, Bentley, Richardson, Toland

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