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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the modern editing practices of John Milton's poetry and argues for the need to respect the evidence of his original publications – both the accidentals and the bibliographical context. Surveying the approaches taken by recent editors, it aims to show, most simply, that form matters: the edition in which readers experience Milton's poetry can influence their interpretations. The uncertainty surrounding Milton's contemporary texts may itself be significant. Other details in Milton's original publications that modernizing editors obscure or omit also deserve attention. Milton's revisions in modern editions of Paradise Lost are addressed. The consequences of modernization are also described. Only by looking anew at the old forms of Milton's publications can the meaning of his poems can be understood.

Keywords: John Milton, poetry, Paradise Lost, modernization, contemporary texts

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