I T is one of the interesting characteristics of most human activities, that with the progress of time, developments and changes take place at an ever quicker rate. Miltonic criticism has been no exception to this rule. Whereas the 'romantic' critical tradition, culminating at the beginning of the twentieth century, could look back on more than a century of steady, albeit unequal growth, the first half of the twentieth century has already seen at least two significant revolutions. If dates must needs be assigned, we may consider Raleigh's Milton (1900) as the last great expression of the romantic tradition before the turning of the tide, which set in in 1917 with Greenlaw's now classic article, 'A Better Teacher than Aquinas'.1 There followed a period of much scholarly activity, mainly in America and on the Continent, in the course of which a new Milton seemed to emerge: a somewhat depuritanized renaissance artist. Particularly the European group, headed by Professor Liljegren, did much to bring out the renaissance traits in Milton's character and art, and one of them, the 'diabolic' Mutschmann, undertook to lead the movement ad absurdum by pushing their methods and conclusions to fantastical extremes. The work of Professor Saurat, though lying outside these groups,2 nevertheless tended to strengthen the impression of Milton as a bold, adventurous personality, a man whose basic emotions were a monumental pride and powerful egotism, and a thinker of terrible thoughts, who would drink heresies from any of the many 'turbid streams' of contemporary mystical and sectarian speculation. Meanwhile a new turning-point was reached when much detailed and patient, mainly American research had amassed overwhelming evidence of the traditional, conventional, and orthodox commonplaces embedded in almost every line of Milton. The dashing Satanist had given way to the conventional poet who would not say anything unless
seventeen people had said it before,3 and the pendulum has now gradually swung back to a definitely Christian, though not precisely puritan interpretation of Milton's poetry.