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Milton in America [Paperback]

Peter Ackroyd
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Sinclair-Stevenson (1996)
  • ISBN-10: 0749386258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749386252
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Peter Ackroyd is the author of biographies of Dickens, Blake and Thomas More and of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River. Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet and historian. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I imagined it would be 25 July 2005
I think Ackroyd's novels are a mixed bag. I've enjoyed many of them, but some of them are pretentious stinkers. I found Milton in America highly enjoyable, and I rattled through it in no time at all. There is some dazzling dialogue and interplay between the pretentious, snooty Milton and his streetwise and demotic sidekick, Goosequill.
When the two characters arrive in America, the book launches into a wonderful satire on imperial pomposity and religious fundamentalism. Milton and his fellow Puritans become increasingly paranoid about the "evil" that lurks in the ways of the "heathen natives" and the nearby Catholic township. Needless to say, their Paradise Found crumbles around them as their paranoia drives them to wage war on everybody who is not a Puritan clone. The slow revelation of the way in which Milton projects his own demons onto those around them and his utter hypocrisy is extremely cleverly done.
Highly recommended, especially in the current climate of neo-conservatism.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and intelligent short novel 7 April 2014
This is an entertaining and intelligent short novel that has a deceptively simple style, making it easy to read. It has a counter-factual premise: What if John Milton had not stayed in England after the restoration of King Charles II, but had escaped to the New England colonies? It gives a glimpse of the early history of the country that was lost to the North American Indians to become the United States of America.

John Milton is famed for his poetry, particularly Paradise Lost, and also for his political and religious writings. He was against monarchy, anti-Catholic, and critical of the established Anglican Church. He was a proponent of divorce and of freedom of the press. He also worked with Cromwell's republican government and wrote a defence of the judicial execution of Charles I. Milton did not know what would happen to him on the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. He went into hiding, fearing for his life. A warrant was issued for his arrest and his writings were burnt. He was found and briefly imprisoned, then released. He lived quietly for the rest of his life.

The author, Peter Ackroyd, invents a fictional character, a London lad nick-named Goosequill by Milton. Milton has become blind and Goosequill acts as Milton's servant and his eyes. Ackroyd describes their meeting whilst Milton is escaping London, their perilous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and their final settlement in a new community renamed New Milton in his honour. This is a community of "brethren", god-fearing Puritans led by Milton. The novel describes the friction within this community, with Catholic settlers nearby and with the native Indians. Over time Goosequill finds himself more in sympathy with the Catholics and Indians than with the Puritans.
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1.0 out of 5 stars tedious 15 Nov 2013
By Reader
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
chatterton and Hawksmoor are both excellent fact books written by the author, which is the reason i feel so strongly about this book. anyone reading it would be unaware of the authors other exceptional body of work. i found Milton unbelivabe with poor characterisation and tedious. try another book not this one.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Paradise Spoiled 8 Oct 2007
By Didier TOP 500 REVIEWER
We all know Milton, even if only by name, and some of us might even know that he was imprisoned during the Restoration, because of his earlier support of Cromwell and republicanism during the Civil War. Peter Ackroyd's novel is based on the supposition: 'what if Milton had decided to flee England?'.

In 'Milton in America', he and his servant Goosequill escape to the newfound colonies in America, to live amongst the puritans. Once there, however, they find that their idea of this new Eden does not correspond to reality. A blind man by then, Milton will on the one hand learn to see better than he could when still having his eyesight, and on the other hand discover he is a mere man, not a demi-god.

This is a gripping story from a superb story-teller, and will challenge you to think about and perhaps re-think many of our western beliefs.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Imagine Gielgud as Milton 2 Jun 2000
By A Customer
I enjoyed the first half of the book. The pair of central characters play off each others wit in an amusing way. (I could imagine the late John Gielgud playing the part of Milton.) The language is, of course, superb. And the way that 'past' events are recounted is very clever. I left the book wondering what the central 'moral' or theme was, and the ending was less than satisfactory to my taste. A good read all the same - see what you think.
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