Milton in America

by Peter Ackroyd

Paperback, 1997




Vintage, (1997)


What if John Milton, Cromwell's secretary, anticipating the King's return to London, had decided to flee England in order to avoid imprisonment or death? What if he had crossed the ocean and joined the Puritans recently settled in New England? From this idea Peter Ackroyd creates an enthralling story of conflict, treachery, hypocrisy and greed.

User reviews

LibraryThing member the.ken.petersen
A curious what if story: the premise of this book is that John Milton runs from the King's return and turns up in the newly discovered America.
Milton's puritanical Christianity causes problems from day one and the tale builds to a war with the next settlement, a Catholic group who raise their
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leader to the level of king. New Milton, our eponymous hero's township wins a pyrrhic victory over Ralph Kempis (King of Mary Mount - and surely, history's only King Ralph!) .
Milton is not given the pleasure of his victory as he is tricked into an alcohol induced night of sin, after which, he staggers off into the woods, trips and loses the sight which had returned at the hands of an Indian healer.
I found the concept more entertaining than its inception: I was not sorry to reach the final full stop.
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LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
I enjoy Peter Ackroyd's prose and have been a fan since "Hawksmoor", his very chilling possession story. Milton is not his best book, but an interesting exploration of his view of the American character. which seems to be rather autistic. Readable but not captivating.
LibraryThing member thorold
Ackroyd explores Milton's complicated and contradictory character by speculating about what might have happened had he fled to America in 1660 and become the spiritual and temporal leader of a Puritan settlement. It's more of a satire of seventeenth-century religious certainty and the intolerance
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it led to than a serious attempt to describe the Puritan endeavour, but if you read it on that level and accept its one-sided view, it's quite an engaging read, and often rather funny in a bleak, Monrty Python sort of way.
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