Milton among the satirists
in Changing satire
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Satire ripples across the surface of John Milton’s works but also creates deep undercurrents. Classical and contemporary forms are both important: the formal verse satire of Horace, Persius and Juvenal as well as the insult and mockery exchanged in the pamphlet wars of seventeenth-century Europe. Ranging across Milton’s career, this chapter explores the theory and practice of satire that emerges from Milton’s habits of allusion to the Latins and from his early controversies with one-time satirist Joseph Hall. Defensio Secunda receives special attention as a text that adapts an arsenal of satiric techniques to a campaign of heroic praise and justification. Reading the Defensio as an epic satire in prose offers a foundation for understanding the complex role of satire in Paradise Lost. The breadth and depth of Milton’s evolving engagement with satire shows how formative and significant this mode remained for him across an entire writing life.

Changing satire

Transformations and continuities in Europe, 1600–1830

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