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'A Poet Early, and Always in his Soul': the eighteenth-century reception of Milton's Poems (1645)

Klimt, RS; (2016) 'A Poet Early, and Always in his Soul': the eighteenth-century reception of Milton's Poems (1645). Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the reception of Milton’s first volume of poetry, now known as the Poems (1645), during their first 150 or so years of life. It is a broadly chronological study of the Poems’ publication, citation, and critical appreciation both as a discrete volume and, more often, as broken up into its constituent parts in anthologies, miscellanies, adaptations, and translations. Running throughout this history is a thematic analysis of the eighteenth century’s changing critical approach to these early Miltonic works, including notable editions of the poems, especially those from 1673, 1695, 1752, and 1785. My project is occasioned by the absence to date of a sustained, book-length study of the reception of Milton’s Poems. Such reception studies of Milton as do exist either chronicle receptions of his entire oeuvre, or focus exclusively on Paradise Lost. My critical field encompasses these existing reception histories, as well as studies primarily devoted to analysis of the Poems (1645). It also pays attention to scholarship on eighteenth-century poetics and its main proponents, to books about miscellany and anthology culture, and to histories of the emerging concept of an English literary canon around the middle of the eighteenth century. The aim of my study is, first, to illuminate an area of Milton criticism that has not, proportionally at least, been much studied; secondly, to continue a relatively recent critical tendency towards privileging the Poems as a separate body of work, meriting scholarly attention not just as the prelude to Paradise Lost but as a collection in its own right, with its own themes, its own dilemmas, and its own preoccupations.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: 'A Poet Early, and Always in his Soul': the eighteenth-century reception of Milton's Poems (1645)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477492
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