[Milton-L] Re: More Info - Satan, Confusion and Amazement

Nancy Rosenfeld rosenfeld.n at gmail.com
Mon Aug 4 12:47:45 EDT 2008

Dear Yaakov,

In my book *The Human Satan in Seventeenth-Century English Literature: From
Milton to Rochester* (recently published by Ashgate) I deal at some length
with confusion as a defining element of Milton's Satan character ( I also
treat with confusion as central to Bunyan's, Etherege's and Rochester's
satanic characters, who are approached as avatars of Milton's humanized
satanic form.) Just a snippet:

"a main aspect of the Satan character is a sense of confusion as to one's
place. A similar confusion, moreover, can be found vis-a-vis the narrative
act itself: the satanic desire to speak what should be hidden is both the
result of confusion and an expression of confusion. This confusion may have
been Milton's portion too, despite, or even because of, his commitment to a
didactic task. Milton was aware of possible dangers inherent in the
narrative act, and his late start as a writer of epic may be the result not
only of his preoccupation with political activity during the 1650s, but of a
sense that the narrative endeavor itself contains characteristics of the
satanic. The Invocations at the beginning of books 1, 3, 7 and 9 of PL, in
which the poet appeals for help, not to his God, but rather to a 'celestial
patroness' (9.21), may have as their source not only the epic convention;
they can also be understood as Milton's engagement with the frightening
possibility that the desire to speak and write is itself a sign of the
devil" (p. 174-5)

Hope that this is of help. All the best,


Nancy Rosenfeld, PhD.
University of Haifa, Israel.
Max Stern College of Jezreel Valley, Israel.
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