24 November 2013

Areopagitica




369 years ago, Areopagitica was published in 23 November 1644, at the height of the English Civil War. When John Milton wrote in his political tract that “[a] good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life” (Milton 27), he would have never imagined that his words would welcome visitors to the New York Public Library in the 21st century.

Today, John Milton is still remembered not only because “his literary art places him in the small circle of great epic writers” (Abrams 649), the arch important among them being of course his famous Paradise Lost, but also for his entire prose work. In fact, he was a very prolific author who wrote about education, logic, religion, politics, divorce and many other subjects. However, there is something special in Milton´s short tract. First of all, Areopagitica shows very clearly that Milton’s arguments are often contradictory, which makes his ideas even more appealing and provoking. Secondly, his attack to censorship is outstanding. 

It seems to me that even though John Milton wrote his tract in 1644, its content and the spirit of it is still quoted as a powerful reference in our lives. In many respects Areopagitica is a timeless text that has never belonged to any specific era, and probably, the source of such timelessness is undoubtedly Milton´s strong defence of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and press freedom.

You can read it here: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/areopagitica/

Bibliography:

Abrams, M.H. 1986. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 5th ed. W.W Norton & Company Ltd., New York and London


Milton, John. 1905. Areopagitica, Letters on Education, Sonnets and Psalms.  
Cassell and Company Limited, London, Paris, New York and Melbourne.


 




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