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Milton in Holland

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Chapter VIII

THE RECEPTION OF MILTON'S POETRY IN HOLLAND

The general Dutch public had Milton before them, presently in two versions, of which one was in the popular form of rhyming alexandrines.

Van Zanten's translation was reviewed in the Journal Literaire of 1729,1 along with a French prose translation, which, with a life of Milton and Addison's remarks, was published in Paris (1729) and which could be had at Pierre Mortier's, Amsterdam. The reviewer, who, from his style and ideas seems to be Justus van Effen, 2 thinks it a pity that Van Zanten used the first edition of Paradise Lost, even though the 2nd edition contained only 20 lines more, for 'quand il s'agit d'un Poëme comme le Paradis perdu, vingt Vers sont quelque chose de très-considerable." Special attention is drawn to the self-delineation in the speeches of the various demons in the second Rook, to the description of Chaos and to the grand opening of the third Book, which "est une digression a la verité, mais une digression sur laquelle le Genie de Milton, & sa douleur d'avoir perdu la vuë, ont répandu toute les beautez, dont ce sujet étoit susceptible."

The criticism of Van Zanten's work promised well. Passages from the Dutch version and the French translation were compared and Van Zanten came off best. The line

Which, if not victory, is yet revenge, is said to be "parfaitement bien rendu dans le Hollandais":

1 Journal Literaire, XIV, 2, p. 337ff. — 2 I am thinking especially of the Slightly ironical tone, when dealing with De Magny's criticism and Paludanus' version, and of his opinion about rhyme and blank verse.