Terry Eagleton fails to grasp the true significance of the intellectual legacy of John Milton and the revolutionary era of which his was the most memorable and enduring poetic voice (Milton's republic, December 9). His was a time when the expansion of England's colonial and slave-trading empire heralded the great divergence between the rich and poor peoples of the world which was to configure the world's societies and economies throughout the succeeding centuries. The English revolution of the 1640s failed to disentangle itself from this process.
Indeed, Milton enthusiastically advocated colonialism and supported the most notorious colonial adventure of England's republican years - Cromwell's invasion of Ireland. Milton thus epitomised what has bedevilled and undermined revolutionary and radical movements within England ever since: that even the most nobly expressed vision of a better society will always be corrupted and undermined so long as it fails to confront and surmount the legacy of colonialism and chauvinism that has lain at the heart of England's political and literary culture from Milton's day to ours.
Dr Hugh Goodacre
University of Westminster