Principle and Politics in Milton's <i>Areopagitica</i>

Stephen B. Dobranski

in The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560608
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Principle and Politics in Milton's Areopagitica

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This article considers the tensions in Areopagitica between John Milton's broad appeals for liberty and the circumstances to which he was responding, between his arguments from principle and the practical considerations that shaped those arguments. It examines the precise political context of Milton's ideas as well as his personal reasons for publishing the tract. It then addresses Milton's idealized vision of ‘books freely permitted...both to the triall of vertue, and the exercise of truth’. In response to the government's censorship, Milton posits a collaborative process for sharing knowledge that includes not only authors but also members of the book trade and a book's diverse readership.

Keywords: John Milton; liberty; government censorship; knowledge sharing; book trade

Article.  8067 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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