Tolerance or a War on Shadows: John Miltons Paradise Lost, the English Civil War, and the kaleidoscopic early modern frontier


  • Tadd Graham Fernée New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria



John Milton, Paradise Lost, English Civil War, Scientific Revolution, colonialism, religious wars, state building, Natural Rights, Providence, secularism, revolution


This article comprises two sections. The first analyses John Milton's Paradise Lost in terms of the frontier dividing Providence and Chaos. Chaos is represented in violent images of the colonial world, the English Civil War, and Scientific Revolution cosmology. Providence intends to justify the ways of God in history. Milton's retelling of the traditional Biblical Fall allegorises the 17th century Scientific Revolution, English society overwhelmed by market forces, and early modern nation-building wars. The second section analyses the English Civil War, focusing on Providence and Natural Rights. The Natural Rights defence of pluralism was the work of political refugees, attempting to curtail atrocities done in the name of Providence. Providence, meanwhile, was a political weapon, amidst new forces of capitalism, dynastic rivalry, and nationalism. This article examines Milton's poetic visions, and the institutions and actions that characterized his political life in the English Revolution, and their interconnection.

Author Biography

Tadd Graham Fernée, New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria

Tadd Graham Fernée belongs to the New Bulgarian University English Studies department, and has
lectured in English and the History of Ideas. He recently completed a Fellowship at Indian Institute of
Advanced Study, Shimla, producing forthcoming book Beyond the Faustian Bargain: Indian and Egyptian
development experiments in Transnational Perspective. He is the author of Enlightenment and Violence:
modernity and nation-making (2014) and co-author of Islam, Democracy, and Cosmopolitanism (2014). He is currently a researcher for New York University, working on a forthcoming co-written historical
monograph, Al-Ghazali and the Crisis of the 11th century Abbasid Empire.


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How to Cite

Fernée, T. G. (2017). Tolerance or a War on Shadows: John Miltons Paradise Lost, the English Civil War, and the kaleidoscopic early modern frontier. English Studies at NBU, 3(2), 53–73.