Milton In America Paperback – 11 Sep 1997
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"More concise and sardonic than Hawksmoor and Chatterton, and even more mysteriously brilliant, Milton in America fills the reader's mind with images of extraordinary vividness" (John Bayley The Times)
"A strikingly clever premise for a novel... Ackroyd's prose fizzes and sparkles as brightly as an electrical misconnection" (Lucy Hughes-Hallett Independent)
"Consistently funny. Ackroyd's comic genius... is allowed to let rip, with wonderfully enjoyable gusto" (A.N.Wilson Literary Review)
"A startlingly good novel... authentically tragic and unforgettable" (Victoria Glendinning Daily Telegraph)
'Ackroyd has come up with an almost seamless work, one which earns its place on the same shelf as the best of his literary fantasies' - GuardianSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›