John Milton's Aristocratic Entertainments
This book is a comprehensive account of Milton’s two aristocratic entertainments, Arcades and Comus in the context of their original occasions and in the light of Milton’s developing sense of vocation as a poet in the earlier part of his career. The book is especially original in the amount of socio-historical information it offers about the relationship between the independent and pastorly poet and his aristocratic patrons, and about the degree to which Milton was prepared to work within the constraints and decorum of the Caroline masque and country-house entertainment. A particular feature of the book is the analysis of changes in the texts of the two entertainments, from the earliest version in the Trinity College manuscript through to the first printings, considering Milton’s changing manner of address to the different occasions of performance and publication. A degree of tension is discovered between the poet and the organisers of the Ludlow masque, and an explanation is given for a kind of censorship in the Bridgewater manuscript of Comus.