ABSTRACT

Milton's most consequential statement regarding his plans for an Arthurian epic occurs in the proem to book 9 of Paradise Lost, in which he seemingly refuses to debase his current project with the trivialities of chivalric romance. His loftier subject will instead be the tragedy of Adam and Eve. Milton's account of the Fall is obviously a Christian tragedy with classical precedents. However, judging by the frequency with which it follows romance conventions, book 9 of Paradise Lost can also be read as a chivalric tragedy, a mode not only familiar to Milton's contemporaries but also well suited to his political agenda and lifelong fondness for Arthurian literature. In fact, the proem does not reject romance outright, only a particular model associated with royalist propaganda. Its purpose is instead to prepare the reader, in true romance fashion, for the hero's choice between the genre's more superficial trappings and the righteous quests of the truly chivalrous.

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