Let us never forget Milton, the first defender of regicide.
-Frederick Engels, The Northern Star Dec 18th, 1847.
Biographies are bourgeois. More often than not, they are little more than the supports to Great Man theories of history, in which the dynamics of historical change are explicable through the actions of the most prominent individual actors. We can see this in the tremendous academic industry of biographies of the Founding Fathers of the United States, whose every whisper and fart becomes more relevant to national history than the culture (in Raymond Williams’ sense of a way of life) of the millions over whom they ruled. (Highlighting the genre’s ideological proclivities does not, of course, render it useless).
Christopher Hill’s biography of John Milton is particularly worthwhile for its interaction with the these strictures of the genre. Milton was one of the first bourgeois radicals, and in many ways…
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