Milton’s maps

Citation:

Ng, Morgan. “Milton’s maps.” Word & Image 29, no. 4 (2013): 428-42.
Milton’s maps

Date Published:

2013

Abstract:

Cartography’s ascendance in the early modern period as a universal form of visual communication profoundly destabilized earlier modes of literary and iconographic expression. Milton’s Paradise Lost, as this essay demonstrates, was a poetic response to this representational upheaval. More than offering an ekphrastic rendition of contemporary pictorial practices, Milton structurally “remapped” both scripture and classical epic to produce a literary work that accorded with new standards of representational authenticity. Close analysis of the poet’s long-neglected cartographic sources, alongside key passages of Paradise Lost, reveals such visual–textual exchanges at two perceptual scales. On the global scale of its narrative form, the poem exhibits a fantastically nonlinear temporal structure that mirrors the complex display of information on English bible maps. On a closer descriptive scale, Milton’s rich depictions of Edenic abundance draw from new standards of estate surveying to present Adam’s garden as the original prototype for rural property.

Notes:

Recipient of the 2015 Schulman and Bullard Article Prize from the Association of Print Scholars.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 06/04/2017