[Milton-L] O Eve, in evil hour...

Tom Bishop tgb2 at case.edu
Tue Nov 22 10:35:04 EST 2005

The National Theatre production of Tony Harrison's adaptation of  
medieval cycle plays, "The Mysteries", (available on video) featured  
Adam and Eve in Paradise naked and not ashamed with a remarkable and  
moving effectiveness. Adam rose -- marvelously -- out of the earth,  
and Eve joined him. The effect on an audience was interesting to  
track. Initially, I think, there was some prurient attention, but the  
very lack of any such winking hint in the production, its candid  
insistence that the innocent eye treats the whole body alike as  
uniformly good and human, quickly won out.  Part of the reason for  
this, I think, is the very ordinary demeanor in the immediacy of the  
actors. I'm not sure film could easily achieve this, as in-immediacy  
is one of its basic conditions, and the medium coerces the eye, and  
makes it aware of demands on its spectation, in the way the stage  
does not. Contemporary Hollywood in particular is almost incapable of  
forgoing such coercive pleasuring. But I think a good, thoughtful  
director might be able to unpack that problem. PL, of course, has its  
own pornographic moment after the Fall. Again, smart direction might  
make its impulse toward the pornographic eye at that point pointedly  
part of the problem, rather than a sticky "solution sweet".


On Nov 22, 2005, at 9:54 AM, Rose Williams wrote:

> The  British used to do this very well. I remember a stage  
> production of Canterbury Tales in which the cast merrily sang the  
> liveliest of Chaucer's offerings in a most inoffensive manner.
> I have seen Shakespeare productions where this was achieved.
> But I fear Britain has lost this gift, and Hollywood never had it.
> Rose Williams
>> I agree with you about the prevalence of Eros in Milton's text,  
>> esp. in prelapsarian Eden in the texts describing Adam and Eve  
>> together, but Eros legitimate, Eros in its proper place, not Eros  
>> demanding more than its due.  We need to be able to realize this  
>> in art.  I think Milton does. The question is, then, can this be  
>> realized in a visual media?
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