November’s hottie of the month is John Milton, the seventeenth-century Puritan poet, polemicist, and civil servant who wrote one of the great epic poems of all time, Paradise Lost (1667).

Milton was born in 1608 in London. He studied to become an Anglican priest at Cambridge University, where he earned an M.A. in 1632. As the English nation seemed poised for civil war, Milton began writing tracts in favor of the Puritan and Parliamentary cause. In return for his support, Milton was appointed the Secretary for Foreign Tongues, a position in which he translated the government’s correspondence in Latin. Throughout the Commonwealth period, Milton used his writing to support the government and articulate Puritan positions on important issues of the day.

After the Restoration, Milton was arrested for his beliefs, but his friends in Parliament, most notably Andrew Marvell, intervened on his behalf, and he soon released. The last decade of his life was lived in relative quiet in London.

His waning years were, of course, most notable for the publication of Paradise Lost in 1667 and its expansion and revision in 1674, the year of Milton’s death.

I selected Milton for this month’s hottie because this week marks the end of OU’s fall quarter, which began for me with Paradise Lost. This is the second time this year that I’ve taught this poem; I also taught it in my graduate class this past winter. This quarter I taught a new honors tutorial, which was designed to introduce our first-year students to the methods and theories of reading critically at the college level. The course’s content was largely put together by a committee earlier this year, and one of the things we wanted this tutorial to cover is a narrative poem. For me, this instantly suggested Paradise Lost as one of the core texts in the class.

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