Fallon, Robert Thomas 1927-
FALLON, Robert Thomas 1927-
PERSONAL: Born June 6, 1927, in New York, NY; son of John Edward (an engineer) and Winifred (a fashion consultant; maiden name, Hanigan) Fallon; married Mary Snyder, May 18, 1953 (divorced May, 1971); married Elizabeth Boyd, May 18, 1972 (divorced, June, 1984); children: Frances Fallon Schuster, Robert Thomas, Jr. Education: U.S. Military Academy, B.S., 1949; Canisius College, M.A., 1960; Columbia University, M.A., 1962, Ph.D., 1965. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis.
ADDRESSES: Home—River Rd., Lumberville, PA 18933. Office—Department of English, LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PA 19141. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: U.S. Army career officer, 1949-70, assistant professor of English at U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY, 1961-64, retiring as lieutenant colonel; La-Salle University, Philadelphia, PA, chairman of department of military science, 1969-70, associate professor, 1970-79, professor of English, 1979-95, professor emeritus, 1995—, assistant to president, 1970-71.
MEMBER: Modern Language Association of America, Milton Society of America (treasurer, 1977-86; vice president, 1987, president, 1988), Cromwell Association, Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, John Donne Society (member of executive committee, 1991-93).
AWARDS, HONORS: American Council of Learned Societies grant in aid, 1980; National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1990-91; James Holly Hanford Award, 1994, for Milton in Government; Outstanding Academic Book, Choice, 1996, for Divided Empire: Milton's Political Imagery. Military: Legion of Merit, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Joint Services Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart.
Captain or Colonel: The Soldier in Milton's Life and Art, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1985.
Milton in Government, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1993.
Divided Empire: Milton's Political Imagery, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1995.
A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare, I. R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2001.
A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare's Themes, I. R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2002.
(Editor and author of commentary) The Christian Soldier: Religious Tracts Published for Soldiers on Both Sides during and after the English Civil Wars, 1642-1648, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Tempe, AZ), 2003.
A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare's Characters, I. R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2004.
How to Enjoy Shakespeare, I. R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2005.
Contributor to The Milton Encyclopedia. Contributor to journals, including Milton Quarterly, Milton Studies, and Studies in English Literature.
SIDELIGHTS: Robert Thomas Fallon is a former army officer and professor emeritus at LaSalle University who has written several books concerning the influence of John Milton's experiences in war and government on his epic poems. Milton lived in London during the English Civil War and served in Oliver Cromwell's government as secretary of foreign affairs; Fallon offers new insights into how this affected the poet's writings, including Paradise Lost. Captain or Colonel: The Soldier in Milton's Life and Art discusses how Milton's firsthand knowledge of military campaigns influenced the imagery of his poetry, while Milton in Government and Divided Empire: Milton's Political Imagery discuss how the poet's government work also shaped his epics.
Through his extensive research into centuries-old documents, Fallon reveals in Milton in Government that the poet was much more involved in Cromwell's government than scholars had previously believed. The reason for this previous misunderstanding of Milton's role in politics was due to poor recordkeeping during a reorganization of the government at the time. But Fallon carefully uncovered many valuable documents. "One of Professor Fallon's greatest services in this book has been his careful sorting and dating and listing of the papers in the appendices," said Renaissance Quarterly reviewer Caroline McAlister. "His scholarship will be a boon to students of Milton and the interregnum."
Through this research, Fallon shows that Milton helped shape foreign policy in Cromwell's government, but, more importantly to students of literature, he also "argues that … [his] involvement in state affairs had a profound impact on his creative imagination," according to McAlister. Fallon further concludes that previous scholars erred in their thinking that Milton disapproved of Cromwell and that this explained why his name appeared increasingly infrequently in government records. By more accurately revealing that Milton was, indeed, highly involved in the Protectorate throughout its existence, he provides a new perspective on the allegorical elements of Paradise Lost, concluding that the poet's warnings against a "rule by a single person" in his epic was directed at the impending return of the monarchy of Charles I and not an attack on Cromwell. Fallon thus reprimands scholars who imposed on Milton modern sensibilities about Cromwell. "This is a valuable book," asserted Christopher Hill in his English Historical Review assessment of Milton in Government, "which will add to the canon of Milton's writings and will force us to rethink Milton's role in the 1650s. It is full of ideas which are well worth discussing."
Fallon concentrates on the imagery in Paradise Lost and its parallels to government in his Divided Empire. Here, the author asserts that part of the appeal of Paradise Lost is how Satan is made to be a sympathetic character in many ways, while, as he says, "there is … no way to avoid the impression that Milton's God is an absolute monarch who governs in ways that Milton roundly condemned in earthly kings." While other scholars have drawn direct parallels between Satan and Charles I, however, Fallon argues for a more complex analysis of the Satan character, finding in him aspects of both the English king and Cromwell. "Thus," commented Robert L. Entzminger in Renaissance Quarterly, "the assumption that one can easily discern Milton's judgment of historical figures and events from his poetic representations is usefully called into question." Although Entzminger wished that Fallon had pursued his analyses more thoroughly with Milton's other major works Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes, the critic concluded that "Fallon has nonetheless given us an important study, one that enriches our sense of how historical experience is mediated by imagination even as it illuminates central passages of Milton's major poetry." Hill, writing in another English Historical Review article, further noted that Divided Empire will be "illuminating" for "those who have tried to make sense of Milton's theology and its significance for his poetry as well as for his political activities."
Fallon, who has also published several guides to the plays of Shakespeare, once told CA: "For several decades, it has been an unexamined premise of literary scholarship that when an artist makes use of military imagery, its purpose is invariably to deplore war or disparage the military. In my work, I examine that premise and find that its wide acceptance has discouraged or seriously distorted inquiry into the function of the military figure in poetic works, particularly those of seventeenth-century poets. My historical studies reveal, not surprisingly, that poets of this period had a very different perception of the soldier than do twentieth-century scholars."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fallon, Robert Thomas, Divided Empire: Milton's Political Imagery, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1995.
American Book Review, March-April, 2005, Daniel Leary, review of A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare's Characters, p. 31.
American Historical Review, December, 1994, Perez Zagorin, review of Milton in Government, p. 1686.
Back Stage, July 20, 2001, Mark Dundas Wood, "In Reference to…," p. 30.
Booklist, April 15, 2001, Jack Helbig, review of A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare, p. 1526.
Choice, November, 2004, M. H. Kealy, review of A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare's Characters, p. 482.
English Historical Review, April, 1996, Christopher Hill, review of Milton in Government, p. 467; February, 1998, Christopher Hill, review of Divided Empire: Milton's Political Imagery, p. 183.
Library Journal, March 15, 2001, Howard Miller, review of A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare, p. 84; May 15, 2004, Susan L. Peters, review of A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare's Characters, p. 87; February 15, 2005, Susan L. Peters, review of How to Enjoy Shakespeare, p. 131.
Reference and Research Book News, August, 2004, review of A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare's Characters, p. 278.
Renaissance Quarterly, autumn, 1996, Caroline McAlister, review of Milton in Government, p. 662; summer, 1998, Robert L. Entzminger, review of Divided Empire, p. 701.*