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The Rarities of Russia (1662): A Pamphlet Ghostwritten by John Milton

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image of Canadian-American Slavic Studies

In 1662 a pamphlet was published in London under the title The Rarities of Russia. Although it was ostensibly written by a merchant named William White, internal evidence reveals that it was written by John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. It is well known that Milton penned a study of Russia during the 1640s, but his Moscovia manuscript remained unpublished during the poet’s lifetime. When a little book finally appeared in print in 1682 as A Brief History of Moscovia, Milton’s study of Russia was quickly dismissed as inconsequential. Today it is still considered to be his least significant prose work. In fact, the main problem with A Brief History of Moscovia is that it is simply incomplete. Most of the description of Russia that Milton had included in his Moscovia manuscript (on topics such as Russia’s climate, its commodities, people, religion, laws, and customs, the tsar’s court, his government and its revenues, the nobility, and the tsar’s military forces and their weaponry) ended up in The Rarities of Russia. Here is the complete text of that curious pamphlet that was ghostwritten by John Milton while he was composing his long poem.

Affiliations: 1: Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA,


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