Fulton 2010

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Fulton, Thomas. Historical Milton: Manuscript, Print, and Political Culture in Revolutionary England. Amherst: U Mass Press, 2010.
"This study focuses on the relationship between the manuscript evidence of Milton's thinking and its public representation in his printed works." (2)

Milton's commonplace book as only political notebook known to have belonged to an anti-Stuart writer during the Civil War

"Part of the challenge in gauging the differences between manuscript and print evidence lies in understanding how much this repressive language shaped the conditions of writing and, in turn, how much cultural and political impositions on the conditions of writing shaped Mitlon's own arguments -- in Areopagitica and elsewhere -- about the nature of representation." (3)
"Areopagitica is about more than books; it is about the way in which information from books is digested. Its core argument therefore is a theory of knowledge, derived from a reinterpretaion of the story of the Fall." (5)
"My rethinking of Milton's political writing will also investigate the ways in which Milton's tracts operate within a particular rhetorical framework, but with added attention to what the manuscript evidence of his political thought, and particularly his reading practices -- both in the manuscript record and what can be recovered in his writing -- reveals about these rhetorical systems. The manuscript notes derived from Milton's reading prior to and during the civil war period, as well as the manuscript of the 'Digression,' provide a platform from which to survey the rhetorical maneuvering of milton's public polemics. While not entirely private, these amnuscripts were nonetheless constructed for different purposes, and so provide an instructive foil against which to gauge the polemical writing." (7)

classic and Roman republicanism less influential/cited in his texts and previously assumed (10)

commonplace book ordered into three indexes Ethics, Economics, Politics (12)

A Material History of Texts in Milton's England

problems of how to read manuscripts different from printed materials (16)

hierarchy of textual authenticity

  • "Manuscripts remained the most unreliable for being potentially inauthentic, authorless, of unknown origin, and empty of the assurance provided by the assumed regulatory system of the STationers' Company. Their use, Dallison implies, represents a kind of scofflaw scholarship." (17)
  • discrediting of manuscript sources continues today (19)

Hobbes presented Charles II a manuscript copy of his Leviathan on vellum, with some changes to the text, since he feared it would be perceived as supporting Cromwell (20-1)

more difficult than print to know how many copies of manuscript text circulated (21-2)

"Such networking structures and production methods were well established, and deserve to be taken into account when considering the mechanisms of censorship, since print is only one form in which texts circulated. While some of these texts may have crossed into the world of print -- or attempted that crossing -- others were assumed 'not fit to be printed' by the readers and entrepreneurial publishers, even without input from the authorities, and circulated scribally as highly valued -- if scandalous and scandalizing -- texts." (27)
"There is thus a considerable history of radical prose tracts that circulated in manuscript, as well as a history of manuscripts written to defend anti-Trinitarianism and toleration under a governmental position of intolerance supported by Calvinism. This history of intolerance is one of the contexts in which Milton's own writing -- both manuscript and print -- deserves further scrutiny." (29)
"The Act of Oblivion, the Printing Act, and the singular treatment of Milton are major factors in understanding why Milton's manuscript work was either self-censored or censored, and it suggests that the work published may have taken a very different form had it not been for these prohibitions." (33)