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Lost Chapters of John Milton's Moscovia

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image of Canadian-American Slavic Studies

This article examines The Rarities of Russia, a long overlooked pamphlet describing Russian commodities that was published in London in 1662, and argues that it was ghostwritten by the great poet and pamphleteer John Milton at a time when he lived in fear of assassination and was forbidden to publish anything due to his past support of the English Revolution and his service as Oliver Cromwell's Latin Secretary. The pamphlet appears to consist of previously unknown chapters of Milton's Moscovia, a work completed sometime in the 1640s but not published in Milton's lifetime. A version of Moscovia was published several years after Milton's death under the title A Brief History of Moscovia (1682). at problematic, awkwardly structured little book has long been dismissed by scholars as incomplete or as Milton's least significant work, but when the contents of The Rarities of Russia are added to it (there is virtually no overlapping information), Milton's book about Russia is transformed into a fine piece of Baconian geographic scholarship. This article explores the context in which The Rarities of Russia was published as well as the pamphlet's content and source base to make the case for Milton as its author and for Milton's friend Andrew Marvell as the probable facilitator of its publication. The pamphlet includes a reference to Russia in the Spring as something akin to “Paradise.” The use of the term “Paradise” is especially interesting because Milton was apparently composing Paradise Lost when he paused to ghostwrite The Rarities of Russia .


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