London: Cambridge University Press
The Masculinites of John Milton is the first published monograph on Milton’s men. Examining how Milton’s fantasies of manly authority are framed in his major works, this study exposes the gaps between Milton’s pleas for liberty and his assumptions that White men like himself should rule his culture. From schoolboys teaching each other how to traffic in young women in the Ludlow Masque, to his treatises on divorce that make the wife-less husband the best possible citizen, and to the later epics, in which Milton wrestles with male small talk and the ladders of masculine social power, his verse and prose draw from and amplify his culture’s claims about manliness in education, warfare, friendship, citizenship, and conversation. This revolutionary poet’s most famous writings reveal how ambivalently manhood is constructed to serve itself in early modern England.