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The poet John Milton was a difficult man who lived in difficult times. A republican at the time of the restoration of Charles II to the throne, the blind Milton found himself summarily bounced from his job, tossed into prison, and threatened with execution before he was eventually released. Despite his troubles, or perhaps because of them, it was in this tumultuous time that Milton created his enduring masterpiece Paradise Lost. But what if he hadn't? What if, instead of pouring his creative energies into poetry, Milton had followed a different path, say, to America? This is the premise of Peter Akroyd's novel, Milton in America.
In Milton in America the poet flees England for the New World, where he proceeds to establish a Puritan community and to become increasingly obsessed and repressive as years go by. Milton's madness reaches a bloody climax when a group of Roman Catholics sets up a settlement nearby. Admirers of Ackroyd's previous works will find this one intriguing; admirers of the historical Milton might well be outraged by this radical revision of the great man's life. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Suppose that instead of returning his attention to the crafting of poetry upon the restoration of Charles II in 1660, John Milton had fled to New England with the idea of creating his own earthly paradise. Suppose, too, that you are among those who see Milton as a strict Puritan and domestic tyrant?a man whose sensuousness T.S. Eliot once claimed was "withered by book learning" and his blindness. Then suppose that you are an author with a reputation as an imaginative, witty storyteller (e.g., The Trial of Elizabeth Cree, LJ 5/15/95). Given such circumstances, you might very well create a novel as compelling and as entertaining as this one. Exuding moral rectitude and self-importance, Ackroyd's Milton becomes an even greater despot than the kings he professes so fervently to despise. As a result, his companions in the wilderness are forced to pay a fearful price. This tale of the dangers of self-righteous pomposity and bigotry is adroitly and wittily crafted (you have to love characters like Humility Tilly and Outspoken Mather?even if your not familiar with Colonial history) and carries with it an important message. Highly recommended for all libraries.?David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersberg, Fla.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.