Cover: Delirious Milton: The Fate of the Poet in Modernity, from Harvard University PressCover: Delirious Milton in PAPERBACK

Delirious Milton

The Fate of the Poet in Modernity

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674035096

Publication Date: 10/15/2009


224 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


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This is a brilliant book…that repays attentive reading… An important and elegant book, for which all sensible Miltonists and lovers of poetry should be grateful.—Neil Forsyth, The Times Literary Supplement

[Teskey’s] book is an interesting reaffirmation in today’s often contrary academic climate of a poetic approach to Milton, swiping at those who would specialize Milton studies into obscurity. He is refreshingly suspicious of narrowly historicist or theological readings and even calls Milton’s poetry ‘shamanistic,’ which will have certain Miltonists choking on their historicist porridge. Perhaps we need to be told this kind of thing, and Teskey’s deep seriousness and stylistic verve is attractive.—William Poole, London Review of Books

Gordon Teskey begins his meditation by observing that, in contrast to Spenser, Milton is a poet of the ‘origin’; that is, he ‘strives to understand things by going back to their beginnings.’ What Milton finds when he goes back is the act of divine creation, the consciousness of which enters into a complex and even vertiginous relationship with the creation the poet himself is now attempting. Out of ‘the rapid alternation between those two,’ between ‘obedience to the existence of the other and resolution to produce,’ Milton, says Teskey, produces a poetry of delirium. It is the achievement of Teskey’s book to match that delirium—that sense of the unconfinable and our struggles to confine it—with his own.—Stanley Fish, author of How Milton Works

This is the most important study of Milton to be written in many years. Teskey has a rare gift for combining rigorous argument with an unusually broad sense of literary history. He thinks afresh about Milton—no mean achievement—and at the same time provides us with a new way of understanding the conditions under which Milton could be a poet of such cosmic range.—Angus Fletcher, author of A New Theory for American Poetry

A brooding, brilliant, fantastically ambitious book in which Gordon Teskey undertakes to write a history of modernity through an analysis of creation in Milton. For Teskey, Milton was not only the greatest epic poet since Homer but also the philosophical revolutionary who marked the decisive break between divine will and human will. Before Milton, poets derived their authority from the cosmos that God had created; after Milton, they claimed the power of creation for themselves. At once risk-taking and deeply learned, Delirious Milton is a crucial text for anyone who wishes to understand the central claims of modern art.—Stephen Greenblatt, author of Will in the World

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