[Milton-L] The War in Heaven

Kemmer Anderson kanderso at mccallie.org
Wed Jul 12 15:01:45 EDT 2006

I have been running around with theory or operation plan for 20 
years. Now that we crossed the Mason-Dixon line and crossed in Iraq 
and WWI, is it possible to approach the war in Heaven through the 
lens of new historicism and drop an overlay of Naseby on the text. I 
have been fascinated by this battle since high school. I went to the 
monument after World War I trenches at the Somme last year, but I had 
Haig on the brain rather than Milton. How much of the present English 
Civil War would Milton have in his mind through dispatches? Certainly 
the sonnet speaks to some of those angles. Maybe even the sonnets to 
Cromwell, Fairfax are the groundwork for the epic convention. I have 
studied the Book of Revelation at Sewanee so I see part of the 
biblical framework, but there is another text on the field that maybe 
the blind poet is seeing from memory as well as scholarship. I have 
asked this question of some of you years ago, but I kept going back 
to that "ground" like Blunden's reference to Hamlet in his into to 
Undertones about WWI.
Since I will teaching the Iliad once again, I will tweak my course 
now that I know my ground with Greek plays and history to play off 
Book 6. Thanks for the discussion. Kemmer
At 04:08 PM 7/11/2006, you wrote:
>Milton's poetry has often been read in this way as, for example, by F.
>R. Leavis (it seems) fighting in the trenches during the First World War
>and heavily marking his copy of PL and by G. Wilson Knight in Chariot of
>-----Original Message-----
>From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
>[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of
>gilliaca at jmu.edu
>Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 2:56 PM
>To: John Milton Discussion List
>Subject: RE: [Milton-L] The War in Heaven
> >
> >One has to draw the Iraq/Book VI parallels with caution: the
>last thing
> >needed below the Mason-Dixon line is encouragement to lend
> >significance to moronic foreign policy.
>Quite right, but parallels were not what I was thinking of -
>more along the lines of having kids in class whose family
>members are involved in a  conflict in which real bullets and
>bombs maim and kill real human beings on both sides, reading
>about a war that is fought by creatures who cannot die and,
>at least in the battles, cannot be permanently injured - of
>course, the fallen angels eventually are forced to change
>form against their will when Satan returns to report on
>his 'triumph,' and their continued existence is shown not to
>be desirable.
>I will also be teaching a class in Greek mythology, and that
>will involve our study of the Trojan War and the Iliad - a
>different way of seeing war too.
>As a scholar and as an Episcopal priest, I am wary indeed of
>those who can read contemporary events in the Revelation to
>St. John. Many of my neighbors here in Virginia who write
>letters to the editor of the local paper are experts in this
>kind of exegesis!
>Cynthia A. Gilliatt
>English Department, JMU
>JMU Safe Zones participant
>"You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people you
>hate." Fr. John Weston
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