A collection of essays on all aspects of gender in Milton's works.
Milton's contempt for women has been accepted since Samuel Johnson's famous Life of the poet. Subsequent critics have long debated whether Milton's writings were anti- or pro-feminine, a problem further complicated by his advocacy of 'divorce on demand' for men. Milton and Gender re-evaluates these claims of Milton as anti-feminist, pointing out that he was not seen that way by contemporaries, but espoused startlingly fresh ideas of marriage and the relations between the sexes. The first two sections of specially commissioned essays in this volume investigate the representations of gender and sexuality in Milton's prose and verse. In the final section, the responses of female readers ranging from George Eliot and Virginia Woolf to lesser-known artists and revolutionaries are brought to bear on Milton's afterlife and reputation. Together, these essays provide a critical perspective on the contested issues of femininity and masculinity, marriage and divorce in Milton's work.
Introduction: Milton's gendered subjects Catherine Gimelli Martin; Part I. Masculinity, Divorce, and Misogyny in Milton's Prose: 1. The gender of civic virtue: masculinity and Milton's consenting subject Gina Hausknecht; 2. The aesthetics of divorce: 'masculinism' and poetic authority in Tetrachordon and Paradise Lost James Grantham Turner; 3. Dalila, misogyny and Milton's Christian liberty of divorce Catherine Gimelli Martin; Part II. The Gendered Subjects of Milton's Major Poems: 4. The profession of virginity in A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle William Shullenberger; 5. The genders of God and the redemption of the flesh in Paradise Lost Marshall Grossman; 6. Transported touch: the fruit of marriage in Paradise Lost John Rogers; 7. The experience of defeat: Milton and some female contemporaries Elizabeth Sauer; 8. Samson and surrogacy Amy Boesky; 9. 'I was his nursling once': nation, lactation, and the 'Hebraic' in Samson Agonistes Rachel Trubowitz; 10. The 'Jewish Question' and the 'Woman Question' in Samson Agonistes Achsah Guibbory; Part III. Gendered Subjectivity in Milton's Literary History: 11. George Eliot as a 'Miltonist': Milton, marriage and Middlemarch Dayton Haskin; 12. Saying it with flowers: Jane Giraud's ecofeminist Paradise Lost Wendy Furman-Adams and Virginia Tufte; 13. Woolf's allusion to Comus in The Voyage Out Lisa Low.
Milton's contempt for women has been accepted as fact by many critics. This book re-evaluates this claim by analysing his major poems, his four divorce tracts, and the responses of female readers. Together, these essays provide a fresh perspective on all aspects of gender in Milton's work.
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