Milton and Shakespeare: Battle of the Bards

ILLUSTRATION FOR TIME BY CHRISTIAN NORTHEAST

John Milton turns 400 this year, but of course the birthday doesn't matter unless Milton does. Three new scholarly biographies and an exhibit at the New York Public Library may comfort the faithful, but they won't convert anyone who hasn't already caught the Milton bug. Nigel Smith wants to engender a fandemic. In a new book, Is Milton Better Than Shakespeare?, he sets out to convince "as general a public as possible" that Milton is the "more salient and important" of these literary giants.

Smith dares to confront two big questions that most scholars nowadays scrupulously...

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