By Gautschi W.
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49 This first point is illustrated powerfully by the title page of Areopagitica. If the printer has suppressed his own name, Milton fearlessly showcases his own identity, incorporating it into the subtitle of this work. The second point, earlier challenged (as we have seen) by Richardson, finds its best illustration in the expanding front matter for Paradise Lost as that poem moves through different issues and eventually into a second edition, this front matter implying that the two editions of Milton’s poem are decidedly different from one another, perhaps exaggeratedly so, in this way warding off the presumption that different editions of a work are all the same.
If Milton leaves his own imprint on the emerging genre of autobiography, it is by tilting this genre toward apologia and inflecting it with self-defense; then by converting the story from the details of everyday life to an autobiography of the human psyche. In this way, Milton the author, even when supposed dead, preserves a presence in his writings. Yet that presence, highly elusive, is found in sometimes unexpected places. A P The autobiographical impulse, notoriously strong in Milton’s writings, poetry and prose alike, evident as early as his Prolusions and no less conspicuous in the early poems, becomes so pervasive both in his prose writings and later poems that, as William B.
56 Simmons would obviously be leery of another encounter with the authorities and would want to avoid yet another arrest. Poet and printer are equally vulnerable and, evidently, similarly cautious. Booksellers perhaps less so. 57 And such issues, not restricted to Paradise Lost, come to mind again with the publication of Paradise Regain’d and Samson Agonistes. 58 Indeed, as Annabel Patterson reports in conversation, by 1671 John Starkey had become an icon for radical publication. From the sixteenth century onward, censorship was used as a check on political sedition and religious heresy; and anonymity, as Robert J.