[Milton-L] Re: Moby-Youknow (porno vs. art)?

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 30 19:47:01 EST 2005

More than likely the early Queequeg scenes, as Jeffrey Hodges suggests,
Rose: they occur fairly early, and are somewhat "graphic" (though entirely
innocent). If I recall, Ishmael also speaks in post-Wordsworthian rapture
about the "godliness" of the heathen--and of course Ahab blasphemes
metaphorically in his quest to conquer the whale, and the whalers' church is
more than a little unorthodox. In some regions and times, the mere mention
of "sperm" in any context (even as in "sperm whale" would have been enough).
Who knows what motivates such thinking (or lack thereof)?

Earlier, someone asked what Milton would have thought of all this. Look at
what he says at the beginning of _Eikonoklastes_ about his anticipated
readership, and it might serve as an insight. (I think he would have
entrusted judgment of texts to discerning readers, and let their opprobrium
serve as censorship: he says in _Areopagitica_ that reading bad books has no
effect on good people--but I don't think he would have included minors in
that class.)

Forgive me for not citing chapter and verse: I will, if anyone needs me to,
but not this evening.

Best to all,

Carol Barton

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