Roston, Murray 1928–

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Roston, Murray 1928–


Born December 10, 1928, in London, England; emigrated to Israel, 1956; son of Hyman and Matilda Roston; married Faith C. Lehrman, April 8, 1956; children: Yardenna, Nina, Yonit (daughters). Education: Queens' College, Cambridge, M.A., 1952; Queen Mary College, London, M.A., 1954, Ph.D., 1961. Religion: Orthodox Jew.


Home—Kiryat Ono, Israel. Office—Department of English, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.


Writer and educator. Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, assistant professor, 1956-65, associate professor, 1965-69, chair of English department, 1967-72, professor of English, 1969—, dean of humanities faculty, 1988-90. University of CaliforniaLos Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, professor, 1999—. Stanford University, Stanford, CA, visiting professor, 1966-67, 1971-72; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, visiting professor, 1981-82, 1986, 1987. Member of academic council, Everyman's University, Israel, 1974—.


National Humanities Center fellow, 1986.


Prophet and Poet: The Bible and the Growth of Romanticism, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 1965.

(Editor) The Shakespearean World, Am-Hassefer (Tel Aviv, Israel), 1965.

Biblical Drama in England from the Middle Ages to the Present Day, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 1968.

The Soul of Wit: A Study of John Donne, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1974.

Milton and the Baroque, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1980.

Renaissance Perspectives in Literature and the Visual Arts, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1987.

Changing Perspectives in Literature and the Visual Arts, 1650-1820, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1990.

Victorian Contexts: Literature and the Visual Arts, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Modernist Patterns in Literature and the Visual Arts, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

The Search for Selfhood in Modern Literature, Palgrave (New York, NY), 2001.

Graham Greene's Narrative Strategies: A Study of the Major Novels, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2006.

Tradition and Subversion in Renaissance Literature: Studies in Shakespeare, Spenser, Jonson, and Donne, Duquesne University Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2007.

Contributor to books, including Approaches to Sir Thomas Brown, edited by C.A. Patrides, 1981; Homes and Homelessness in the Victorian Imagination, edited by H.M. Daleski and M. Baumgarten, AMS Press, 1996; and Sacred and Secular in Late-Medieval and Early Modern Literature: New Essays, edited by Lawrence A. Besserman, Palgrave Press, 2005. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Religion and Literature, Ben Jonson Journal, Hamlet Studies, Dickens Studies, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, and Milton Quarterly.


Writer, historian, and classics scholar Murray Roston is a professor of English at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He also holds a dual concurrent appointment as a professor at the University of California—Los Angeles. He is the author of several books on Baroque, Renaissance, Shakespearean, and modern literature.

"A brilliant work," noted a Choice reviewer about Roston's Milton and the Baroque. The critic saw the first chapter as being "the best treatment of the relationships of literature and the visual arts in the baroque that has appeared in book form." While acknowledging possible disagreement with certain details, the reviewer concluded that "such criticisms here would be carping." In assessing the scope of the work, Robin Robbins of the Times Literary Supplement observed: "Roston achieves far more than illumination of local effects. As healthily aware of the inadequacy of mere academic historicism as of over-simplification, he tackles some of the largest questions regarding Milton's art." Like the Choice critic, Robbins perceived several flaws in Roston's support of his thesis, but wrote: "He has memorably demonstrated the roots and affinities of Milton's vision in a study which itself partakes of the power and brilliance of his subject…. Roston's analysis of the poem's [Paradise Lost] vital dynamics may enhance the experience of every reader."

While Robbins believed Roston "persuasively describes the origins and nature of the baroque itself," a British Book News reviewer considered the author's examination of the development of baroque style "a fragile argument," noting that "very few modern authorities among art historians would support it. Nor is there much solid historical evidence in its favor." Despite his criticism of the book's "inadequacies," the critic conceded both that Milton and the Baroque offers new insights on Paradise Lost and that Paradise Lost "can still be illuminated by the comparison" to Roston's theory of baroque relationships.

Much of Roston's scholarly work has focused on the "locating of literature within contemporary changes in the visual arts of painting, architecture, and sculpture," noted a biographer on the University of California—Los Angeles Department of English Web site. His book Changing Perspectives in Literature and the Visual Arts, 1650-1820 addresses topics within this theme, looking at ways in which writers, painters, sculptors, and architects approached their work during four historical periods, and in doing so accepted or abandoned a particular technique in favor of another. "Artists of all kinds, it is believed, share contemporary problems and devise comparable methods to cope with them," commented reviewer David Constantine in the Review of English Studies. In the book's four sections, Roston covers Late Baroque, Rococo, Pre-Romanticism, and Romanticism. Among his conclusions, Roston sees a connection between Dryden's use of rhyming couplets and Poussin's technique of freezing movement in his paintings, both used as a way to "impose some limitation upon the emotions," Constantine stated. He "connects Pope's ‘equipoise’ in the handling of the heroic couplet with the symmetrical subdivisions common in contemporary architecture," the critic noted. "Roston assembles, in a readably encyclopedic way, a great variety of material from across the disciplines and from other authors' books," which is "liberating" for the reader, Constantine concluded. Throughout, Constantine observed: "The reader is constantly incited to test the analogies and challenge any generalizations emerging from them."



British Book News, July, 1980, review of Milton and the Baroque, p. 436.

British Journal of Aesthetics, January, 1998, John Coates, review of Victorian Contexts: Literature and the Visual Arts, p. 98.

Choice, October, 1980, review of Milton and the Baroque, p. 250.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2007, review of Tradition and Subversion in Renaissance Literature: Studies in Shakespeare, Spenser, Jonson, and Donne.

Review of English Studies, February, 1993, David Constantine, review of Changing Perspectives in Literature and the Visual Arts, 1650-1820, p. 134.

Times Literary Supplement, October 24, 1980, review of Milton and the Baroque, p. 1196.


Bar-Ilan University Web site, (January 25, 2008), curriculum vitae of Murray Roston.

University of California—Los Angeles Department of English Web site, (January 25, 2008), biography of Murray Roston.

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Roston, Murray 1928–

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