An innovative and elegant new biography of John Milton from an acclaimed Oxford professor

John Milton was once essential reading for visionaries and revolutionaries, from William Blake to Ben Franklin. Now, however, he has become a literary institution—intimidating rather than inspiring.

In Making Darkness Light, Oxford professor Joe Moshenska rediscovers a poet whose rich contradictions confound his monumental image. Immersing ourselves in the rhythms and textures of Milton’s world, we move from the music of his childhood home to his encounter with Galileo in Florence into his idiosyncratic belief system and his strange, electrifying imagination.

Making Darkness Light  will change the way we think about Milton, the place of his writings in his life, and his life in history. It is also a book about Milton’s place in our times: about our relationship with the Western canon, about why and how we read, and about what happens when we let someone else’s ideas inflect our own.

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Reader Reviews


“Moshenska (A Stain in the Blood), a Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, delivers a strikingly original biography of John Milton... a poetic tour of 17th-century England... Literature lovers of all sorts will find something to savor here.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Oxford literature professor Moshenska takes a fresh perspective on John Milton (1608-1674), the art of biography, and the experience of reading... An inspired biographical and autobiographical journey.”—Kirkus (starred review)
Making Darkness Light is elegant, nuanced, and comprehensive. Moshenska gives us a fresh and vivid account of Milton as an individual and a poet while pushing beyond the boundaries of conventional biography. Blending the personal with the historical and the literary, the results are compelling.”—Bart van Es, author of The Cut Out Girl
“Moshenska has written a new kind of literary biography. At once glancingly a memoir, a rivetingly informative biography, and a fascinating reading of Milton as poet, scholar and ordinary man in his everyday life, Making Darkness Light is an illumination. Milton and everything and everybody around him are seen in a quite different, intriguing light.”—Adam Phillips, author of On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored and Becoming Freud
“Joe Moshenska's superb new biography of Milton is, like the poetry of his subject, a miracle of form, moving from moments of arresting detail to vast contemplations of time, history, and art, all set within an intimate narrative that is at once deeply embedded in its historical moment and aware of how that history connects through other moments to the present. The result is a stirring and compelling account of how great poetry gets written and gets read.”—Edward Wilson-Lee, author of The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books
Read More Read Less