[Milton-L] Re: Milton-L Digest, Vol 33, Issue 23

Michael Bryson michael.bryson at csun.edu
Fri Jul 21 14:19:04 EDT 2006

In response to Peter Herman:

Milton did, after all, reconsider his alliance with the Presbyterians. Milton was a man of strong opinions, but he was hardly impassible and unchangeable. And he was subject to doubt, even weaving it into his poetry, as your work has recently emphasized (*Destabilizing Milton*). The Milton who is a poet and thinker of unbending certitude (and *Satan* gets accused of pride?), well...I disagree with that construction, but as you point out in your book, that figure is alive and well in many of our (Miltonists') discussions.

In response to James Fleming:

You just commented that, in your view, Milton was "a very strong literalist." I think that explains why we seem to be coming from opposite points of view in much of this recent discussion. I think that the Milton who emphasizes the spirit as the preeminent interpretive authority in reading scripture, while also emphasizing the textual corruptions of scripture, and sewing neoplatonic themes into his poetry (the mechanics of descent and return seem clear to me in Paradise Lost, and also seem to me to play an important role in Paradise Regained) is less inclined to be an interpretive literalist than you are positing and arguing for here (especially in relation to a tradition of "orthodox Augustinian literalism"--though that was an important part of Lewis' view of Milton). We're looking at the same Milton and seeing two very different figures, it seems.

Great discussions lately,

Michael Bryson

>Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2006 10:33:00 -0700
>From: "Peter C. Herman" <herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu>  
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] The irrelevance of Satan's character  
>To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>Is it possible that in between 1641, when Milton published ORE, and 1667, 
>when he published PL, that is to say, over the course of 26 years, Milton 
>may have reconsidered the matter?
>Peter C. Herman
>At 10:19 AM 7/21/2006, you wrote:
>>Cf. *Of Reformation in England* Book One: "Who is ignorant of the foul
>>errors, the ridiculous wresting of Scripture, the heresies, the vanities
>>thick sown through the volumes of Justin Martyr, Clemens, ORIGEN,
>>Tertullian, and others of eldest time?" Milton's rejection of a
>>redeemable Satan was not a rejection of Origen's authority, which for
>>Milton is nonexistent.
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