[Milton-L] The Milton Controversy and Satan

Michael Bryson michael.bryson at csun.edu
Tue Feb 15 15:05:19 EST 2005

The "'Milton Controversy' of the mid-20th century" did not end
with Fish--though it may have been driven underground. It is
alive and well today, however--though it is, perhaps, wearing
a new outfit. As evidence for this idea, I submit John
Rumrich's *Milton Unbound*, Richard Strier's "Milton's
Fetters, or, Why Eden is Better than Heaven" in Milton Studies
38, Neil Forsyth's *The Satanic Epic*, my own *The Tyranny of
Heaven*, and Peter Herman's forthcoming *Destabilizing Milton*
(among others). I would also suggest having a look, when it
reaches print, at a forthcoming Duquesne U. Press volume on
the 1667 Paradise Lost (Eds. Shawcross and Lieb).

This argument is far from over. In fact, it seems as if it is
picking up steam again.

I too, am surprised by the notion that a reading that finds
Satan unattractive would be considered (or has been considered
in the recent past) "naive." I can only speak for my own
experience, but a reading that found Satan unattractive was
the only one allowed (if one cared for such things as grades)
in my undergraduate career. *Surprised by Sin* was held up as
the model of the "correct" reading. A “double tyrannie, of
Custom from without and blind affections within” indeed.

But maybe that was just me...

Michael Bryson

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