In this book a pre-eminent historian of Cromwellian England takes a fresh approach to the literary biography of the two great poets of the Puritan Revolution, John Milton and Andrew Marvell. Blair Worden reconstructs the political contexts within which Milton and Marvell wrote, and reassesses their writings against the background of volatile and dramatic changes of public mood and circumstance. Two figures are shown to have been prominent in their minds. First there is Oliver Cromwell, on whose character and decisions the future of the Puritan Revolution and of the nation rested, and whose ascent the two writers traced and assessed, in both cases with an acute ambivalence. The second is Marchamont Nedham, the pioneering journalist of the civil wars, a close friend of Milton and a man whose writings prove to be intimately linked to Marvell's. The high achievements of Milton and Marvell are shown to belong to world of pressing political debate which Nedham's ephemeral publications helped to shape. The book follows Marvell's transition from royalism to Cromwellianism. In Milton's case we explore the profound effect on his outlook brought by the execution of King Charles I in 1649; his difficult and disillusioning relationship with the successive regimes of the Interregnum; and his attempt to come to terms, in his immortal poetry of the Restoration, with the failure of Puritan rule.
`Review from previous edition Our understanding of Milton, Marvell and Nedham is quite simply transformed by Worden's brilliance as a reader of their texts and by his extraordinary ability to use their connections and divergences one with another and with a wider group of kindred spirits.'
John Morrill, BBC History Magazine
`Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England is a marvellous contribution to the field. It will play a central role in all future discussions of Milton, Nedham and Marvell, and will be of fundamental importance to all those interested in the relationship between literature and politics in seventeenth-century England.
Matthew Adams, Review of English Studies
2: Milton and Nedham
3: Marvell and Nedham
4: Marvell in 1650
5: Marvell and the Ambassadors
6: Marvell and the First Anniversary
7: Milton and the Civil Wars
8: Milton and the New Order
9: Milton in Journalism
10: Milton and the Commonwealth
11: Milton and Cromwell
12: Milton's Second Defence
13: Milton and the Protectorate
14: Milton and the Good Old Cause
15: Milton and Samson Agonistes
16: Milton and the Fall of England
Appendix A: Milton and the Embassy of 1651
Appendix B: Milton and Cromwell's Advisers
Appendix C: The Composition of Milton's History of Britain