Ferguson and Nyquist 1988

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process of refiguring Milton, making him "live" again; "it assumes, in other words, that certain forms of figurative dismemberment or dispersal have always already taken place; that the figure of Milton the author is itself the product of a certain self-construction; and that signs of motivated self-constitution can be seen even more clearly in the various critical and cultural traditions in which Milton enjoys an afterlife." (xii)

"Milton's self-authorship both participates in his political and religious radicalism and reveals features of an emerging bourgeois class-consciousness in ways that have yet to be fully explored. The distinctiveness of Milton's self-presentations, however, is complexly and problematically interrelated with the numerous representations of him to be found throughout the last three centuries.' (xiii)
"Perhaps especially in North America, so much writing on Milton has become so narrowly professionalized that the very weight of its authority tends to crush any efforts not appearing to conform to its standards."n -- also often "neo-Christian" or "neo-theological" or "logocentric" (xv)

Abbe Blum, The author's authority: Areopagitica and the labour of licensing (74-96)

contradictions in Areopagitica -- "testify to Milton's desire both to repudiate and to embrace a discourse of power associated with a principle of authorial autonomy. The problem inherent in this principle of authonomy appears when in Areopagitica we see Milton defining an ideal of authorial independence that seems inseparable from the perception of threats to that ideal. In arguing for the author's right not to be touched, initially, by the state or any individual, Milton in fact indicates the extent to which such intervention is inevitable, is indeed a precondition of the subject's desire for discursive power." (74-5)

"Centrally concerned with prescription, Areopagitica presents for analysis various images of an author who would reform authority but who inevitably nds up partially reconstituted by it." (75)
"How are we to read a tract which encodes much greater initial freedom and recognition for an author (aside from a Catholic) and at the same time grants the state's right to exercise corporal punishment on the offending author's product?"
"Milton throws the author very vigorously into the fray, with the paradoxical effect of advancing and rendering problematic the author's autonomy." (77)
"the discussions in which Milton presupposes the author's indispensable societal functions are not innocent; rather they betray the author's ambiguous state." (77)
"The violations of printing regulations, Milton's deliberately transgressive posture, is in fact crucial to an understanding of how he delineates authority in Areopagitica." (80)

transgressive signature on title page -- "S P E E C H" writter larger, darker than anything, with Milton's name writ large

  • "exercises in self-documentation" (81)

Areopagitica -- no licenser's name or imprimatur, bookseller's title, printer's name or identifying devices on title page, in defiance fo 1643 order

  • "The absences have the effect of rendering the name of Mr. John Milton more immediately present." (81-2)

drama of the author, who is absent -- "the author's name (or that name as signature) is put on stage and becomes a kind of character with speaking part" (82)

"Printed works, not just ideas, are vulnerable." (86)
"Does the nearly blind Milton not read what he licenses, or does he note, ignore, compromies? It is impossible to decide. that very impossibility argues that the silent language of prescription attends upon any attempts to speak the discoures of power and infiltrates a printed work just as surely as the language of opposition. In the midst of Milton's authorized, named, and declared bid for authority come unnamed voices which cut across his official power even as they were sanctioned by the licenser." (91-92)