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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,057 ratings  ·  39 reviews
This Elibron Classics book is a facsimile reprint of a 1868 edition by Alex. Murray & Son, London.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1644)
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“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

I had a more coherent statement available earlier but it was deleted by accident. So I'm going to spew this out and try and fix it later after I deal with other obligations. Forgive my wandering and ungrammatical thoughts.

Now I'm sure you've all heard by now about the new Goodreads policy changes and all the controversy surrounding them.

Goodreads has now officially apologized for deleting co
Ron Nie
In quite beautiful language, Milton argues against licensing (a process where a book had to be approved by a state official before it was published). He persuades his reader through a plethora of rhetorical strategies (hyperbole, reductio ad absurdum, morality, practicality) that people should not have their literature restricted by the state. Everything should be published, the public can judge it, and then if the public hates it and it is terrible and dangerous and bad (read: catholic lol), th ...more
Oh, if only Milton knew what his name was used for now. He's always been a symbol of freedom (see Wordsworth's poem to him, Oscar Wilde's prison poem to Milton, too--although I'm not sure Milton would be thrilled to have his name used to defend homosexuals). If only Milton knew that this little pamphlet were to be used to defend atheism, pornography, and all other nonsense, all under the heading of

But Milton favored no such BS. I don't think Christopher H
Ben Babcock
In Areopagitica, John Milton delivers a finely-honed argument in opposition to the Licensing Order of 1643, which restored strict censorship laws to England. Milton relies primarily on classical references; indeed, the title is an allusion to the Areopagus, a hill in Athens and the name of a council who sat in judgement on that hill. In a single word, Milton links the crux of his argument to the zeitgeist of Hellenic antiquity, which held a great fascination for learned individuals of the sevent ...more
Brilliant pamphlet in defense of free speech. Some of my favorite quotes include:

"I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat."

"For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy
Notable lines from the speech:
He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true warfaring Christian.

. . . here the great art lies to discern in what the law is to bid restraint and punishment, and in what things persuasion only is to work.

They are not skilful considerers of human things, who imagine to remove sin by removing the matter of sin.

A man may be a heretic in
"Who kills a man kills a resonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of the master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. 'Tis true, no age can restore a life, where of perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which wh ...more
"For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon’s teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet … as good almost kill a man as kill a good book. Who kills a man, kills a reasonable c ...more
One of the most eloquent and convincing attacks on censorship ever written.
Despite all the beautiful prose, whole sections where Milton is comparing books to food and comparing books to life itself, I'm still not completely sure I understand the whole dang thing. This rhetoric was so complex, involved, and imaginative that I can't even begin to understand the nuances behind his argument. I love the part where he speaks on the testing of virtues and describes how choice is actually the virtue, not just doing good things; one has to consciously make the choice to partake ...more
Justly famous for its most eloquent and learned defense of a free press, and liberalism in general (absolutely all of Mill's "On Liberty" is contained here), before the arrival of capitalism rendered such a defense morally bankrupt in the extreme, this pamphlet also contains, more curiously, the key to the meaning of Paradise Lost. Undoubtedly, ignorant Christians will always take Milton at his word when he says that the meaning of Paradise Lost is to "justify God's ways to man", but as soon as ...more
Mike W
This is a passionate defense of liberty by one of the greatest British writers. Here, Milton vehemently criticizes efforts by the crown to restrict free expression, arguing that such freedom was one of the great advantages Britain had over much of the rest of the world, since freedom permits healthy innovation and progress, while censorship brings stagnation or even decline.

That said, the style of the times was quite different from now, and this essay (or "speech") is difficult to read. It takes
As a book lover, it’s difficult not to have a warm regard for Milton after reading this. His defense of free speech is both eloquent and persuasive. Drawing on history, philosophy, and religion, he puts forward multiple arguments for the free printing of books, all of which build upon one another, and almost all of which are still relevant today.

And, in addition to Milton’s compelling argument, we get his masterful prose. To many modern readers, I suspect this will be dense and hard to follow at
Danielle Lovesey
This is really interesting, but I couldn't help but giggle as it descended into the olden day version of an Internet rant about the government, something's don't change and the government trying to screw us over still hasn't, there is some awesome quotes that are still relevant!
Denitch Mallory
Classic text on freedom of speech. Bottom line: there is a right to speak and a right to listen - both are equally important for a democracy to function. Highly recommended read.
Yasmina Elhayane
A powerful, impassioned, beautifully written defense of free speech, acutely relevant to our contemporary religious and political situation.
I read this book for my Literature and Censorship class at the University of Toronto. Review to come after class discussion.
Milton takes an almost libertarian approach to the issue of censorship, and though I didn't much care for his picking and choosing who gets the right of a free press (no Catholics allowed!), I thought his insight was ahead of his time. Marked by a passionate respect for books, Milton elevates the issue beyond censorship into a treatise on the importance of free will and moral responsibility. Eloquent, (it's Milton, after all) finely wrought prose, on a vital and interesting topic.
Aaron Crofut
If I wished to convince someone to support freedom of speech and publishing, I would not offer up this work. Even if you read it in modern English, it's still a rambling piece without much order. Mill did a significantly better job in On Liberty. I don't disagree with Milton; indeed, a very good argument could very well be hidden in here, but outside of a few useful quotes I can't say it is worth the effort.
Very difficult to read but well worth the effort. Mr. Milton composed this treatise to defend the freedom of the press, freedom of expression and to declare that the government did not have the right to decide between 'improper' and 'proper' books under most cirumstances. Beautifully wriiten and powerfully persuasive.
Erik Moore
One of the best books of its age. Defending open discourse against censorship, he calls on Democritus, Protagoras, Lucretius, Epicurus, and a host of others to defend innovative thinking against those who automatically suppress with prudish piety and fear of the different, of the new, and of the unknown.
I love Milton in general, but this one really hit home with me, having spent my teenage years in an oppressive environment that controlled all manners of learning, and reading books and talking about them in secret. John Milton, everyone: the revolutionary man's revolutionary!
A generally eloquent railing against literary censorship. Milton arguing that people have the right and responsibility to make their own moral choices after having gleaned all information available, not simply what the regulating bodies see fit for public consumption.
A tract supporting free speech written in England in 1644 to oppose a the Licensing Act that Parliament was debating. It was very influential regarding parts of our own constitution. It's difficult to read, but you'll probably be better for it.
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Christopher Hitchens gave a wonderful speech and participated in a most excellent debate on freedom of speech which I've listened to/watched recently in which he referenced this text. I like Hitch, I like Milton, therefore I must read this text.
17th century English is not easy to read! :-)

This link has a lot of hyperlinked notes to help the reader understand some of what might be confusing to the modern reader.
Ke Huang
Given that my IQ is just little bit over the average, I found this tract quite challenging. But with multiple readings, it is possible to be understood.

The topic is relevant for anyone interested in intellectual endeavors.
One of the first anti-censorship tracts. A must-read for anyone unsure about the place of "bad" books in society. Lots of great ideas about the value of books and a community of free thinking and expression.
Katherine Simmons
Currently reading Paradice Lost so this was a natural companion to gain some insight into Milton's thoughts. Intelligent arguments which are better thought out that many I read today from todays time.
Ahmed Magdy
كتاب كان يجاهد الرقابة على الفكر و الإبداع و حرية الرأي فى زمن اشتهر بكثير من المحاكمات لكل من هو يفكر ولكن أيضاً يرفض و يوضح رفضه الشديد ضد كل فكر او راى ارهابى سواى بالقول او بالفعل.
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John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), written in blank verse.

Milton's poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and
More about John Milton...
Paradise Lost Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained (Signet Classics) The Complete Poetry Samson Agonistes Paradise Regained

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“For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” 1365 likes
“A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” 155 likes
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