[Milton-L] 'nude, not naked' -- really?

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 23 10:58:19 EST 2005

Peter C. Herman wrote:

>>Remember, though, that Milton disclaims
responsibility for the narration of PL, ascribing it
all to the muse, Urania: "higher argument / Remaines,
sufficient of it self to raise / That name, unless an
age too late, or cold / Climat, or Years damp my
intended wing / Deprest and much they may, if all be
mine, / Not Hers who brings it nightly to my Ear"

According to the fiction of PL, the narrator's voice
is not human, and therefore not subject to our
(fallen) limits (which of course doesn't stop her from
getting it wrong every so often, but that's a
different story, I suppose).<<

It seems to me that Milton (or the narrator) is
leaving room for the possibility of his error in
transcribing or transmitting or otherwise relating the
'revealed' verses, an error perhaps due to his own
fallenness or that of the world in its various

I suppose, though, that if Milton thought that he was
receiving the poem in its exact wording from the
heavenly muse, then this could make the muse into the
narrator. Or is the muse simply expressing for Milton
what Milton himself should say? Would that make for
one narrator in two persons? Maybe we need a church
council to determine the precise ontological status of
Milton and his muse.

Jeffery Hodges

University Degrees:

Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

Email Address:

jefferyhodges at yahoo.com



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Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
Department of English Language and Literature
Korea University
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