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Milton's Words$
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Annabel Patterson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573462

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573462.001.0001

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Negativity

Negativity

Chapter:
(p.165) Negativity
Source:
Milton's Words
Author(s):

Annabel Annabel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573462.003.0008

This chapter examines John Milton's tendency to put his positives in a negative form in his polemic prose. One example of these is the opening line of Paradise Regained which states Worthy to have not remained so long unsung. Lines such as this are twisted in the grammatical sense but in the larger context of how Milton learned to write they are fascinating. This chapter suggests that this style was the result of Milton's deep familiarity with Latin syntax and his obsession with adjectives that are switched from a positive semantic register to a negative, or from a negative to a positive, by the use of the prefix un-.

Keywords:   John Milton, writing style, negative words, Paradise Regained, Latin syntax, adjectives

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