Dan Sandman

29: John Milton: A Biography by Neil Forsyth

In Biography, Books, Literature, Non-Fiction on 15/07/2016 at 12:00 pm

John Milton A Biography by Neil ForsythJohn Milton was given an expensive education paid for by his father who was a scrivener (expert in financial matters). Milton was an expert in both classical and biblical traditions, particularly because he was able to read ancient texts in their original languages. This led him to become a poet in his younger years, despite the wishes of his father it is supposed. Eventually, he would start to aim his pen at a number of political issues surrounding, in particular, religion and divorce. Milton’s political involvement would lead to his appointment as Latin Secretary during the revolutionary government of Oliver Cromwell. This was a position he held even after he went blind.

Despite the judgement of Dr Samuel Johnson, who was critical of Milton’s fastidious reading, Milton actually lived an interesting and varied life outside of his books. He was married three times, spent a significant period travelling around Europe — in those days it took about two weeks to get from Paris to Nice — and formed his own private school where he set out a thoroughly classical but surprisingly dynamic curriculum. Most interestingly, on his European travels, Milton once met the genius astronomer Galileo at his home residence. The great scientist was being held imprisoned there by the Spanish Inquisition — oh to be a fly on the wall when that meeting occurred!

In conclusion, I would say that the biographer Neil Forsyth is the perfect guide to take you on an introductory journey through the life of John Milton. Forsyth’s writing is backed up by a consummate knowledge of his subject material and he is skilfully able to weave a story together in an original way. In a relatively short number of pages, with many insightful poetic analyses along the way, Neil Forsyth has pulled off an excellent biography for anyone interest in the poems or life of a great poet. It will also appeal to readers with a more general interest in the English Civil War and the revolutionary politics of the period.

A fascinating window into the past.

 

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