[Milton-L] Best initial critical work

Daniel W. Doerksen dwd at unb.ca
Thu Dec 27 18:01:11 EST 2007


As another old-timer, I can report that what I found especially attractive 
and useful in Surprised by Sin was its way of accounting for the real 
attraction of Satan in an excellent poem which is not about Satan but about 
Adam, Eve, and God. Another book I found very useful was Joseph Summers' 
The Muse's Method. I strongly recommended both books to students, including 
some first-year students with whom I read the whole of Paradise Lost in a 
full-year course called Introduction to Poetry.

Daniel W. Doerksen

At 02:14 PM 12/27/2007, you wrote:
>Dear List-
>
>I am old school, very old school- so old, Fish had not yet written the 
>first edition of Surprised by Sin, and yet, in this dotage, I find myself 
>conscripted to teach Milton at a small college because I am both old and 
>medieval in specialty. I recently retired from 41 years of administration 
>in public education and have found a wonderful via secunda teaching 
>Beowulf, Chaucer, and Malory- but because of the college's size, I also 
>teach Milton in an undergraduate, very undergraduate situation.
>My question is this, and please sense the roughness of my preparation- I 
>have just re-read Lewis's Preface to PL and have found it delightful at 
>times, and maudlin at others- a reaction I had not had in 1963. Then I 
>tried Fish's Surprised by Sin. I had read that it is not only a major work 
>of Miltonic criticism, but also the birthplace of reader/response 
>criticism. Aside from the almost impossible task of wading through the 
>Preface to the Second Edition, I have found the majority of the main text 
>to be dreadfully repetitious and unenlightening.
>I realize I am a babe in all this, but I have been raised on Practical 
>Criticism, and found Nicholson and Lewis to be quite adequate as 
>introductory critics.
>Could you, in a kind manner, explain what I am missing in Fish, better 
>yet, how I am missing it; after that suggest a solid "practical" critical 
>text for Paradise Lost? I would be grateful, and so, I think will my students.
>
>Tony
>
>
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Daniel W. Doerksen, Ph.D.,  Honorary Research Professor (English)
University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B. Canada
CURRENT ADDRESS: 207 5656 Halley Avenue, Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5H 2P8 
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