Americans in the early nineteenth century loved the writing of John Milton. Milton’s embrace of liberal individualism, meritocracy, and his championing of the right to free speech made him an easy sell to anti-British Americans. His epic poem Paradise Lost was a bestseller. Something like twenty editions of Paradise Lost were produced in America during the first half of the nineteenth century, which is right when Mormonism came on the scene. Milton also held some controversial views on the nature of the godhead, creation, and even polygamy.
In this episode, Yale professor of English John Rogers discusses parallels and differences between Joseph Smith’s revelations and John Milton’s theology.
Rogers recently visited BYU where he delivered a Maxwell Institute Guest Lecture called “Latter-Day Milton: Early Mormonism and the Political Theologies of Paradise Lost.” You can check that lecture out on the Institute’s YouTube channel.
About the Guest
A professor of English at Yale University, John Rogers is the author of Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, and Politics in the Age of Milton, a book awarded prizes by the Milton Society of America and the Modern Language Association. He is also author of several articles on Renaissance (mainly seventeenth-century) English literature and religious culture. His current projects include a book on the reading of the seventeenth-century poem Paradise Lost in the spiritual hothouse of nineteenth-century America, tentatively titled Latter-day Milton: Paradise Lost and the Creation of America’s God.
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