Achinstein explores how lyric embarrassment becomes a figure for forms of obligation newly emergent, and under emergency, in historical conditions where uncontrolled reception and political uncertainty give rise to a new reflexiveness about the medium of lyric. The essay focuses on John Milton’s repeated gestures of lyric disparagement as well as his iconography of the anthropomorphized book. Both of these rhetorical features seem to constellate around the genre of the lyric during the early modern period.

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