[Milton-L] PL VI as Paen to Power

Feisal Mohamed feisalm at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 11 18:45:14 EDT 2006


You've just demonstrated Jim Rovira's point, Michael.

Comparing Book VI to current politics is a leap, and the interpreter's 
politics inevitably fill the gap.  To a certain kind of undergraduate 
audience, comparing the Son's triumph to Shock and Awe can suggest godly 
triumph over Saddam Hussein.

To be clear, I'm not saying that no poem should be tuaght with reference to 
current politics, just that reading Book VI in this way is likely to fuel 
sentiments that many of us would oppose.  A poem like Barbauld's _Eighteen 
Hundred and Eleven_,say, immediately invites reading in light of present-day 
concerns: there one sees explicitly the argument that foreign war causes 
suffering at home and abroad, and that economic downturn anticipates a that 
imperial power will flee westward (to the Americas in Barbauld's day, to 
East Asia in ours).

F


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael Bryson" <michael.bryson at csun.edu>
To: <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 3:25 PM
Subject: [Milton-L] PL VI as Paen to Power


> In response to Richard and Feisal particularly, I can't help but think of 
> the Son's military "victory" in book 6 as a version of "Shock and Awe" 
> (the active--and immediately destructive--arm of a "moronic foreign 
> policy"). A military operation that merely hardens the enemy's resolve to 
> continue hostilities ("he no less / At length from us may find, who 
> overcomes / By force hath overcome but half his foe." 1.647-49) seems all 
> too familiar these days. While I agree that the resolution of the war in 
> heaven is, as Richard puts it, "a paean to Power" (Might, not Right wins 
> the war in heaven, making Satan's calculations about the nature of the 
> place and those who run it rather more credible--at least to this 
> reader--than other Miltonists have often argued), I also agree with 
> Feisal's point that "pointlessness and absurdity" characterize the war 
> (though I would extend that to the *entire* war, not just the first two 
> days).
> 


More information about the Milton-L mailing list