Interpreting Samson Agonistes by Joseph Anthony Wittreich

By Joseph Anthony Wittreich

Joseph Wittreich finds Samson to be an intensely political paintings that displays the heroic goals and failings of the Puritan Revolution and the tragic ambiguities of the period. He sees within the paintings now not the purveyance of Medieval and early Renaissance typological institutions yet an interrogation of them and a consequent circulation clear of them.

Originally released in 1986.

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MIT Press, 1980), pp. 154, 156, 159, 160. 19 iiSamson Agomstes as Christian Tragedy," p. 173. It must be acknowledged, THE STATE OF MILTON CRITICISM Milton's Samson is a deliberately aggrandized, regenerate hero need to be reminded that such a conception, by the time of Samsotis publication, is a dead orthodoxy. We need to question whether this is the kind of poem Milton has really written, whether the Milton of Samson Agonistes hardens into orthodoxy or is rather its interrogator, whether Milton's Samson is a mountain heightened to sublimity or rather a volcano erupting.

13 To restrict attention to, or even settle it upon, such gatherings of previous, mostly Medieval, exegesis is to insure continuity between its and the Renaissance Samson. On the other hand, to redirect attention to sermons (often prophesyings in the sense that they articulate freshly emerging interpretations of biblical texts) and to political tracts (often dependent upon, and developments of, the new discoveries of such prophesy­ ings) is to enlarge the historical perspective by engaging the contrary evidence.

W. Provincetown, Massachusetts 23 July 1984 CITATIONS All citations of Milton's writings are given parenthetically within the text and, unless otherwise indicated, are (for the poetry) to The Works of John Milton, ed. ; New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1931-38) and (for the prose) to Complete Prose Works of John Milton, ed. Don M. Wolfe et al. ; New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, and London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1953-83). For Milton's last poems, I have used the standard abbreviations: PL (Par­ adise Lost), PR (Paradise Regained), 5,4 (Samson Agonistes).

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