[Milton-L] PL: the gap between the early editions

JCarl Bellinger dionhalic at gmail.com
Fri May 5 01:35:36 EDT 2017

Looking into 'why the longish gap –1667 to 1672– between PL Eds 1 & 2,' I
find this astonishing note from the Pierpont Morgan Library that A) not a
single copy of the 1667 Ed 1 was issued in 1667; B) the first issuance was
in 1668, and bore a "1668" title page; C) because the publisher witheld
"1667" copies until it became clear Milton's poem was not dying in
controversy but rather flying off the shelves:


[image: milton_pml19262.jpg] <http://www.themorgan.org/node/1154/zoomify>

The bibliographer Hugh Amory argues persuasively for this being the
earliest issue of the first edition of Paradise Lost (despite its title
page, dated 1668), in which the anonymous author is identified only by his
initials, "J. M." Similarly, the author is identified in the Stationers'
Register on 20 August 1667 by his initials only. Amory speculates that
Samuel Simmons, the printer and publisher of the first edition, decided
against using Milton's full name on the title page "as the day of
publication approached," substituting this version on which the author
remained anonymous. Simmons's faltering confidence is understandable
because Milton, a prominent supporter of regicide (he defended the
execution of Charles I), was still widely regarded as a dangerous radical
when Paradise Lost was first published.>>

Apparently we may be celebrating the 350th one year early. -Carl
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