Stavely, Keith W. F.
Paradise Lost and the New England Tradition, 1630-1890
Aims and Scope
The greatest Puritan literary achievement, Paradise Lost, and perhaps the greatest Puritan historical achievement, the founding and development of New England, had at their source the same set of cultural circumstances. So asserts Keith Stavely in a groundbreaking work of major importance in American studies. Stavely explores this shared cultural identity by using Milton's epic poem as a means of surveying and assessing the historical and cultural evolution of New England.
- 312 pages
- CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS
"Using Paradise Lost as a touchstone first to the English Revolution and second to the way that revolution was transferred to and institutionalized in America, Stavely convincingly argues that the 'structure of feeling' embodied in the poem persists through three centuries of American culture. His discussion of Puritan radicalism in New England and, more importantly, his detailed case studies of Marlborough and Westborough, Massachusetts, which he investigates and understands by constant reference to Milton's great poem, display his strong gifts as both literary critic and intellectual historian. Puritan Legacies is a challenging example of the 'New Historicism' we have so long needed."