John Milton: Areopagitica

(2063 words)
  • Neil Forsyth (Université de Lausanne )

Areopagitica is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential of all works of English prose. One of its many famous phrases is still prominently displayed over the entrance to the Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library: “A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” Published on November 23, 1644, it is constructed as an oration to Parliament, and its title alludes to the discourse of the Greek orator Isocrates who had written “from his private house” to the popular assembly on the hill called Areopagus in Athens; the full title is A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to the Parliament of England. The tract …

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Forsyth, Neil. "Areopagitica". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 December 2011
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]