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The Age of Milton

Literature A 2014 Prof. Cecilia I. Kennedy

Periods : Caroline Period


Time Span: 1625-49 Monarch: Charles I Authors: John Ford, John Milton Charles I was executed 1649

Commonwealth and Protectorate


Time Span: 1649-1660 Movements: Baroque Style, and later, Rococo Style Authors: Milton, Andrew Marvell, Thomas Hobbes

The Restoration
Time Span: 1660-1700 Authors: John Dryden

Historical background
Timeframe: Reign of Charles I: English Parliament s Struggle for power Kings vain attempt to resist new force CIVIL WAR: Parliamentary side wins Puritans executed king Republic declared Dictatorship under William Cromwell 1660: Restoration of monarchy : Charles II Attempt to return to the old way Old land-owning class sinks and new middle class rises

Literature of the Period


In 17th c: even literature takes sides Cavalier poets Roundhead poets: Puritans, new men Puritan poets: Miltons the greatest in verse and prose Genres: prose and non-dramatic poetry playhouses closed in 1642 (drama became underground activity) Poetry of the time other than Milton: two main influences: John Donne and Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson
Followed the ancients His examples: Horace, Virgil took from Roman writers peculiar pagan spirit: Horaces phrase: Carpe Diem: pluck the day like a flower

Robert Herrick
1591-1674 Follows Ben Johnson closely in form and pagan philosophy Lover of pleasure His poems (eg Hesperides): full of transience of human joy, brevity of human life

Andrew Marvell

Andrew Marvell
1621-1678 Same theme of brevity of life in his poem To His Coy Mistress He has elegancy and delicacy of Ben Johnson, but also metaphysical voice of John Donne Characteristic of these Metaphysical poets: seriousness lying beneath the wit and fancy We can hear in him voice of 17th c and of pagan Roman poets Public persona: Puritan admirer of Cromwell devout bible reader supporter of joyless regime (spirit so unlike that of his verse)

Andrew Marvell
Contradictory: whatever Marvells public face, his private voice (as revealed in his poems) is bright, humorous, tolerant, above all civilised With his many facets (wit, seriousness, intellectuality, sensuousness, force, and compassion) next to Milton as the most important poet of the period

Other secular poetry of the age


Courtly poets: Thomas Carew Precursor of Cavalier poets: Suckling Lovelace (1618-58) John Cleveland

John Milton

John Milton

Biography