[Milton-L] [Fwd: Re: When and how did the canon die?]

jsavoie at siue.edu jsavoie at siue.edu
Sat Nov 19 21:41:56 EST 2005

I believe the latest Norton survey of British Lit contains the whole of Paradise
Lost.  I agree that the books keep getting bigger and usually not better, but a
few years back the editors did make a decision to include it all.  Has a newer
edition since come out to reverse the relatively recent decision to include more

John Savoie

Quoting "Kirby J. Booker" <kirby_jo21 at yahoo.ca>:

>   I agree with regards to the Norton texts and I recall my high school engl
> lit teacher telling us much the same thing, although he did teach Books I, II
> and IX from the anthology as part of a survey, as you say. Some of us were
> eager to read the epic in full after, but just as many, I think, were
> relieved to move on. How then, can large canonical works be fairly treated in
> an anthology? Or should they be presented in full or not at all?
>   K.J.B.
> Carol Barton <cbartonphd at earthlink.net> wrote:
>           Nonetheless: if the reference is to the Norton anthologies, the
> attrition described is very close to true: the "books get bigger and bigger
> [containing "new" writers more and more obscure] and Dryden and Milton fade
> into the subchapters and indexes," silenced, one supposes, by the demon
> Diversity. What's included is an embarrassment; better it were, were nothing
> included at all. (The rendering of _Paradise Lost_, for example, is so
> minimal as to be a mockery for any student beyond the just-out-of-high-school
> level. No serious Miltonist would use the "selections" to teach--unless one
> intended only to cover a single "representative" book in a survey course.)
> Even then, I wouldn't use it: Milton, like Chaucer, is an acquired taste,
> developed after exposure sufficient to "normalize" his long periods and
> sometimes convoluted syntax. You don't breed familiarity, teaching books I or
> IX . . . all you do is foster contempt.
>   Best to all,
>   Carol Barton
> ---------------------------------
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