[Milton-L] Paradise Lost

Tom Bishop tgb2 at case.edu
Mon Nov 28 14:17:33 EST 2005


Wouldn't a present tense form here be "she eats"? Or are you asking  
whether it's a sort of grammatical catachresis, fusing a present form  
abusively with a past? But "she eat" as a past is a perfectly regular  
seventeenth century form, so it's hard to know how a contemporary  
reader would find it unusual. See OED under "eat" for examples.

TB

On Nov 28, 2005, at 12:38 PM, Beth Bradburn wrote:

> Elsewhere in PL Milton shifts between past and present tense as a  
> way of shifting between points of view.  (In Book I, for example, a  
> change to present tense often accompanies an emphasis on Satan's  
> perceptual experience at the moment.)  Perhaps this passage uses  
> that technique, although in a way so highly compressed as to be  
> nearly invisible.
>
> Beth Bradburn
>
> Felicia Weston-davies wrote:
>
>
>> I was wondering whether anyone has any thoughts on ll. 7801-1 in  
>> Book VIII of
>> Paradise Lost: 'So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
>> Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat'
>> To mix tenses at such a key point I think may be deliberate-  
>> however the
>> notes in my copy suggest that 'eat' may be a Middle English ref.  
>> to 'et'. I
>> would like to propose that it is instead a purposeful mixing of  
>> tenses, suggestive of the fact that the moment at which she first  
>> eats will
>> reverberate throughout time, affecting all mankind. Any comments/ 
>> views would be gratefully received.
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>
>
> -- 
> Dr. Elizabeth Bradburn
> Department of English
> Western Michigan University
> Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5331
> phone: (269) 387-2620
>
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