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John Milton: De l’engagement comme contrainte à l’engagement comme vertu

Abstract : In many respects, Milton is the epitome of the committed writer for whom the pen is the weapon he wields in his fight for Truth. Such an obvious statement is nonetheless paradoxical on at least two accounts. First, commitment was not something that came naturally to Milton; indeed, it turned out to be the result of years of hesitation and a decision taken almost regretfully, as it were. Secondly, and in connection with that first point, we are faced with an even more surprising paradox: Milton is one of those writers who look upon commitment as a form of writing intrinsically inferior to an artistic calling. That opposition has led to a dual view of Milton’s writings, opposing the circumstantial and committed prose works to the universal poetic masterpiece that is Paradise Lost. Such a view, however tempting, is misleading. In many ways, Paradise Lost is a committed work which remains closely related to the prose works of the previous decades. What we will be examining here is how the issue of commitment itself runs through Milton’s entire life and works; how both the prose works and Paradise Lost are not merely committed texts but texts about the concept of commitment; how Milton evolves from a view of commitment as a duty forced upon him by circumstances to an essential virtue through which man is in a position to make use of his free will.
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Gilles Sambras. John Milton: De l’engagement comme contrainte à l’engagement comme vertu. Etudes Epistémè : revue de littérature et de civilisation (XVIe - XVIIIe siècles), Association Études Épistémè, 2016, Noise and Sound in Eighteenth-Century Britain, ⟨10.4000/episteme.1246⟩. ⟨hal-03426693⟩



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