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The Humanities Conference 2003

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The Reception History of John Milton in Russia and the Former Soviet Union

Oydin Uzakova.

In the pre-Soviet period, Russian critics like Karamzin and Timkovskii valued Milton's poetic talent and his eleoquent prose, but considered him too radical and extreme in his political views, especially his advocacy of the regicide of King Charles I. However Pushkin admired Milton exactly for his political mission and therefore placed his attention mostly on Milton's political treatises.
Soviet scholarship, represented mainly by Samarin, Chameev, and Kon, made out of Milton a revolutionary, almost an advocate of socialism, but criticized him for not being radical enough and for being "misguided" by his Christian faith. Samarin strongly believed, however, that the theological theme found in Milton's works served only as a cover for his radical political philosophy, for Milton feared censorship. According to this hypothesis, Milton's epic Paradise Lost states the political struggle of the 1640s. This reasoning would explain why Milton's Satan turned out to be a more impressive character than Milton's God.
The post-Soviet period is characterized by the attempts of Russian critics to purify the assessment of Milton from both socialist or capitalist ideologies, and discover the "true" Milton, above all political parties. This is the goal of a recent massive bibliography by Tat'yana Pavlova, and Ivan Garin's 100-page philiosophical essay on Milton, issued as a volume in the series Prophets and Poets.


Oydin Uzakova  (United States)

University of Tulsa

Oydin Uzakova is originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and is currently a graduate student in the Department of English at the University of Tulsa. She was graduated with honors from Oklahoma State University, and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and the Golden Key Society. Her research interests include Renaissance literature and comparative literary analysis.

  • John Milton
  • Russia
  • Paradise Lost
  • Pre-Soviet Scholarship
  • Post-Soviet Scholarship
Person as Subject
  • Milton, John

(30 min Conference Paper, English)