Body politics in 'Paradise Lost'

Academic Article


  • For most readers of Milton's late prose and mature verse, his positive depictions of the human body deeply inform his monism and antimonarchical politics. This essay argues that Milton's perspectives on mind and body are more ambivalent than the critical consensus allows: that the poet equally needs and does not need the body. I demonstrate that Milton's shifting perspectives on mind and body, spirit and flesh, emanate from his opposition to dynastic kingship. They also shape his emerging modern nationalism, which is marked by contradictions and liminality. By focusing on the fallen Adam's soliloquy, I show how Milton's equivocal body politics appropriates and disembodies Hebraic traditions and the concreteness of the Hebraic past (and other histories of others), as well as the very matter of cultural memory. (RJT)
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • March 2006
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

  • PMLA  Journal
  • Keywords

  • 0000 0001 2099 3562
  • 1600-1699
  • Paradise Lost(1667)
  • English literature
  • Milton, John(1608-1674)
  • diseases
  • dualism
  • mind-body relations
  • monarchy
  • poetry
  • the body politic
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 388
  • End Page

  • +
  • Volume

  • 121
  • Issue

  • 2