Milton, Toleration, and Nationhood

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John Milton lived at a time when English nationalism became entangled with principles and policies of cultural, religious, and ethnic tolerance. Combining political theory with close readings of key texts, this study examines how Milton's polemical and imaginative literature intersects with representations of English Protestant nationhood. Through detailed case studies of Milton's works, Elizabeth Sauer charts the fluctuating narrative of Milton's literary engagements in relation to social, political, and philosophical themes such as ecclesiology, exclusionism, Irish alterity, natural law, disestablishment, geography, and intermarriage. In so doing, Sauer shows the extent to which nationhood and toleration can be subjected to literary and historicist inquiry. Her study makes a salient contribution to Milton studies and to scholarship on early modern literature and the development of the early nation-state.