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Milton's Rival Hermeneutics
Richard J. DuRocher, ed.; Margaret Olofson Thickstun, ed.

Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies

2012 • 303 pp. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism - English / Literary Criticism - Renaissance

$70.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8207-0450-0

“Milton’s Rival Hermeneutics . . . represents two major achievements: First, it exemplifies the significance and potential of the terms hermeneutics and choosing in Milton studies; second, it... [continued in Reviews below]”—Seventeeth-Century News

Recent critical conversation has described John Milton's major works as sites of uncertainty, irreconcilability, or even confusion — as texts that actually reflect radical incoherence and openness. These newer critical voices posit, moreover, that traditional critics must strain to find coherence and authorial control in Milton's poetry. Richard DuRocher and Margaret Thickstun, together with an esteemed group of Milton scholars from a wide range of critical and theoretical backgrounds, respond to this challenge. While accepting the presence of uncertainty and welcoming the multiple perspectives that Milton builds into his works, this volume offers a variety of nuanced approaches to Milton's texts.

As these 11 essays demonstrate, Milton's own acts of interpretation compel readers to reflect not only on the rival hermeneutics they find within his works but also on their own hermeneutic principles and choices—an interpretive complexity that is integral to his poetry's enduring appeal. Thus, each of the contributors takes up the problem of this interpretive dilemma in some way: several explore Milton's own engagement with the texts of Scripture and the classics; some examine the ways in which Milton represents the process of interpretation in his narrative poems; and still others are intrigued by the challenges that Milton's works present for the reader's own interpretive skills.

Milton's Rival Hermeneutics, in responding directly to the "incertitude critics" of Milton, will be of interest to those on all sides of this debate and will certainly redirect the ongoing conversation.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Milton’s Rival Hermeneutics . . . represents two major achievements: First, it exemplifies the significance and potential of the terms hermeneutics and choosing in Milton studies; second, it exemplifies the variegated nature of the responses Miltonists have to their subject. . . . Each of these eleven essays represents a competing, or rival, hermeneutics, one which contributes to the Milton dialogue. This is Milton scholarship at its best.” —Seventeeth-Century News

“By isolating and discussing competing hermeneutics as integral to Milton’s poetry, the essays in this collection show a writer unwilling to present formulae or neat packages of doctrine, instead envisioning writing as a means to search after truth and reading as a process in which the reader must do her own choosing. Arrangement [of the 11 essays] is in sections on violence, Paradise Lost, and cruxes in Milton's major poems.” —Reference & Research Book News

“This valuable collection of essays seeks to explore two main questions. What did Milton think about interpretation? And how do his works make his readers think about interpretation as they read? The volume is . . . by no means retrospective or backward-looking. Each essay freshly addresses a different question relating to the interpretation of Milton’s works or the acts of interpretation that go on within them. The overall coverage extends broadly from the early works through to Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained.” —Milton Quarterly

Wed, 2 Aug 2017 09:23:50 -0500