John Milton: Epistolarum Familiarium Liber Unus and Uncollected Letters, edited with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary

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This edition of Milton’s Epistolae Familiares and Uncollected Letters presents Latin text and a new facing English translation, complemented by a detailed Introduction and Commentary. The work situates Milton’s Latin letters in relation to the classical, pedagogical, and neo-Latin contexts at the heart of their composition. Now the art of epistolography advocated and exemplified by Cicero and Quintilian and embraced by Renaissance pedagogical manuals is read through a humanist filter whereby, via the precedent (and very title) of Epistolae Familiares, the Miltonic Liber is shown to engage with a neo-Latin re-invention of the classical epistola that had come to birth in quattrocento Italy in the letters of Petrarch and his contemporaries. At the same time the Epistolae are seen as offering fresh insight into Milton’s views on education, philology, his relations with Italian literati, his blindness, the poetic dimension of his Latin prose, and especially his verbal ingenuity as the ‘words’ of Latin ‘Letters’ become a self-conscious showcasing of etymological punning on the ‘letters’ of Latin ‘words’. The edition also announces several new discoveries, most notably its uncovering and collation of a manuscript of Henry Oldenburg’s transcription (in his Liber Epistolaris held in Royal Society, London) of Milton’s Ep. Fam. 25 (to Richard Jones). Oldenburg’s transcription (from the original sent to his pupil Jones) is an important find, given the loss of all but two of the manuscripts of Milton’s original Latin letters included in the 1674 volume. It also presents new evidence in regard to Milton’s relationships with the Italian philologist Benedetto Buonmattei, the Greek humanist Leonard Philaras, the radical pastor Jean Labadie (and the French church of London), and the elusive Peter Heimbach.

Review by John K. Hale, Seventeenth-Century News: Neo-Latin News 68 (2020), 94-97:
'I welcome this very full edition with delight .... The commentary stands out for me as the greatest achievement of the edition, a triumph of contextualizing. Every person named or place visited is brought to life for Milton’s readers. The research that informed Haan’s earlier work on the Italian academies is deployed and extended, gloriously.'
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeuven
PublisherLeuven University Press
Number of pages578
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2019

Publication series

NameSupplementa Humanistica Lovaniensia

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