John Milton

Areopagitica, by John Milton - click to see full size image

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Areopagitica is a famous speech by the English poet John Milton, published in 1644, that argues against government censorship and defends the freedom of the press. The title Areopagitica is a reference to a speech given by the Athenian statesman Isocrates in the 4th century BCE, in which he argued against government censorship of rhetoric and advocated for the free exchange of ideas in the public forum. Milton's wrote it in response to a law passed by the English Parliament in 1643 that required all books to be licensed before publication. He opposed this law, arguing that it was an infringement on the freedom of the press and would stifle intellectual debate and the pursuit of knowledge. In the speech, Milton argues that censorship is not only ineffective at preventing dangerous ideas from spreading, but also undermines the very purpose of education and intellectual inquiry. He contends that truth can only be arrived at through a process of free and open debate, and that censorship serves only to limit that process.

Part of Anne Haight's List of Banned Books.

Part of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World set.

Part of the Harvard Classics set.

This book has 17,999 words, 25 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1644.

Production notes: This ebook of Areopagitica was published by Global Grey in 2018, and updated on the 18th March 2023. The artwork used for the cover is 'The Royal Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851' by Henry Wyndham Phillips.

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