Milton’s Paradise Lost in Eighteenth-Century Germany: Tradition and Renewal
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
By the eighteenth century, Milton’s work was read outside England both in the original English and, increasingly, in translation. Paradise Lost in particular was to arouse the imagination and interest of its German-speaking readers as it entered and transformed (and thus renewed) an existing and changing literary and critical tradition, at a time when many of its readers considered it to be quite radical in its style and many of the details of its treatment of its subject. In the German-speaking literary world, six distinct trends were to emerge, either sparked or fostered by the reception of Milton’s epic. These were the Seraphik, the Patriarchaden, poems and prose depicting natural idylls, the heroic rebel (à la Satan), lyrical odes and the notion of the ‘sublime’ as a prerequisite for poetry. This article explores the interaction of Milton’s text with the tradition it entered, and considers Klopstock as a specific instance of Milton’s influence.
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