This article proposes “coalition” as an organizing dynamic for opposition politics that influenced an emergent conception of religious toleration in the English Civil Wars. Through readings of John Milton’s Areopagitica (1644), and in comparisons with his immediate forbears and contemporaries, the article distinguishes this conception of toleration from later liberal formulations. In closing, it argues that the formal dynamics of coalition also characterize the marital relationship of Adam and Eve after the fall in Milton’s epic Paradise Lost (1667, 1674).
TOM CLAYTON is Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Colgate University. His scholarship focuses on literature, religious difference, and the making of political concepts in seventeenth-century England. He is working on a book, titled The Reformation of Indifference, about the evolution of the Protestant doctrine of indifference (or adiaphora) in the period just before the emergence of the liberal rationale for religious toleration.
Tom Clayton; Milton’s Coalitions. Representations 1 November 2023; 164 (1): 51–79. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2023.164.3.51
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