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Milton's poetry is one of the glories of the English language, and yet it owes everything to Milton's widespread knowledge of other languages: he knew ten and wrote in four. In Milton's Languages, John K. Hale examines Milton's language-related arts, giving all relevant texts in the original and in translation, and then traces the impact of Milton's multilingualism on his Milton's poetry is one of the glories of the English language, and yet it owes everything to Milton's widespread knowledge of other languages: he knew ten and wrote in four. In Milton's Languages, John K. Hale examines Milton's language-related arts, giving all relevant texts in the original and in translation, and then traces the impact of Milton's multilingualism on his major English poems. Hale argues convincingly that only by understanding Milton's choice among languages can we grasp where Milton's own unique--and highly influential--form of English originated.


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Milton's poetry is one of the glories of the English language, and yet it owes everything to Milton's widespread knowledge of other languages: he knew ten and wrote in four. In Milton's Languages, John K. Hale examines Milton's language-related arts, giving all relevant texts in the original and in translation, and then traces the impact of Milton's multilingualism on his Milton's poetry is one of the glories of the English language, and yet it owes everything to Milton's widespread knowledge of other languages: he knew ten and wrote in four. In Milton's Languages, John K. Hale examines Milton's language-related arts, giving all relevant texts in the original and in translation, and then traces the impact of Milton's multilingualism on his major English poems. Hale argues convincingly that only by understanding Milton's choice among languages can we grasp where Milton's own unique--and highly influential--form of English originated.

15 review for Milton's Languages: The Impact of Multilingualism on Style

  1. 4 out of 5

    J. Sebastian

    Milton knew ten languages: Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, English, Italian, French, Spanish, & Dutch––others would also add Old English and German (though Hale considers the evidence too slight), and composed in four: Latin, Italian, Greek, and English. The book explores the influence of Milton's multilingualism on his English. The deep knowledge and facility that Milton, a compound multilingual, had with his languages makes him learned and most clever in his writing; he operates artfull Milton knew ten languages: Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, English, Italian, French, Spanish, & Dutch––others would also add Old English and German (though Hale considers the evidence too slight), and composed in four: Latin, Italian, Greek, and English. The book explores the influence of Milton's multilingualism on his English. The deep knowledge and facility that Milton, a compound multilingual, had with his languages makes him learned and most clever in his writing; he operates artfully, elegantly, playfully (serio ludens) on an allusive level, with a full panoply of classical and biblical languages from which to draw. Hale's study foregrounds the evident importance of a knowledge of Latin to the study of the English humanists and of Milton in particular; a portion of the book examines Milton's Latinate English, which goes far beyond playing artfully with English word order, and includes the adoption of Latin idioms. Hale describes Fowler's lovely analysis of Latinate expression into four distinct bands, yet shows it to be insufficient for the analysis of Milton's style. Milton's English is more than just Latinate, however, and Hale explores the other linguistic undercurrents as well. A wonderful section of the book contains examples of how Vergil and Dante had also played the multilingual game, and considers intertextual allusiveness to former poets. Milton learns from his predecessors, and emerges not a greater poet, but a greater multilingual poet than any before him. Consider Hale's assessment of Milton's capacity in this regard: "As Virgil stood to Homer and Ennius, so Dante stands to Virgil and all that had happened after him (yet not Homer, not having Greek). Just so but even more so, Milton stands to Homer and Greek, Virgil and Latin, and adds Dante and Italian; to which again add lesser exemplars, and the whole biblical tradition known in its own languages and the languages of its translations to boot. Milton's emulating of Dante will be a mighty, and equal contest." Milton will not only uses the vocabulary and syntax of other languages in his English, but will also employ allusions most artful to former works. My favourite example was the illustration of Vergil's allusion to Ennius's 'Unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem' (Fabius Maximus Cunctator, who saves Rome after Hannibal's initial victories), and Milton's allusion in the opening of PL both to Vergil and Ennius, while praising a more than Roman saviour: Till one greater Man / Restore us and regain the blissful Seat. If you love the poetry of Milton, and you want to learn to spot some of the hidden lingustic and philological gems in his writing this is a book to study carefully. Of course, one should also at the least be cultivating one's Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Italian.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dakota Bri (brisbookbag)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tito

  6. 4 out of 5

    A

  7. 4 out of 5

    Munirah Raji

  8. 5 out of 5

    Madeline Marsanne

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Bruce

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Hill

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emdom

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Andrew Higgins

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  15. 5 out of 5

    Unwordy

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