[Milton-L] Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night...

Greg Lowe irnbrigade at hotmail.com
Fri Dec 26 12:43:41 EST 2008


So true, Cristina 
 
If Milton felt that the licensers had the potential to be repressive, he would surely be aghast to consider the scope of the technology supported repression that that NCLB has fostered now, where "have we made AYP?" replaces "are our students better able to reason through the challenges they will face in an ever changing world?"
 
Greg
 
> Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2008 10:01:45 -0700> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night...> From: csoliz at csoliz.com> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu> > In today's academies of consumer-based politics, Milton might have gotten> stuck in basic or developmental writing until he learned to have a clear> thesis statement.> > Cheers --> Cristina> > -- > Dr. Cristine Soliz> Visiting Assistant Professor> Colorado State University-Pueblo> Project Director, NEH Grant> http://dchumanities.org/> Area Chair Historical Fiction, SW Tex Pop Culture and Am Culture Assoc> http://swtxpca.org> Associate Scholar, Center for World Indigenous Studies> http://csoliz.com> csoliz at csoliz.com> > > The statement that any author is "the greatest who has ever lived" implies> > a> > comparison between that author and all others. Criticism makes> > comparisons> > all the time, though, and for many different purposes.> >> > The problem is that people have quit writing about "greatness" in> > literature> > (using that language) for about three to four decades now. Part of the> > problem is that reading evaluations of one author's greatness in> > relationship to other authors begins to sound more like a testimony to the> > critic's greatness than a meaningful evaluation of any literature. These> > readings sound pointless and overbearing after awhile. Furthermore,> > criteria for greatness usually include specific value judgments that can> > no> > longer be assumed to be shared even among all people writing criticism in> > English.> >> > Longinus has been democratized into reader response theory because the> > concept of the "sublime" came to be associated negatively with elitism.> > But, elitism seems to be back in these days, so who knows?> >> > If we jettison value judgments and simply evaluate a work on the basis of> > its formal merits, we run into other problems. It's very difficult to> > make> > comparisons among authors engaged in different tasks. Wordsworth's> > Prelude> > could be compared to PL, and is strongly indebted to it, but is completely> > focused upon a single subjectivity. It's highly personal so written> > following different conventions. Blake's Jerusalem could be compared too,> > and is indebted as well, but is a mythological poem representing> > psychological forces rather than an epic poem mythologizing religious> > figures.> >> > And these are just comparisons among authors engaged in similar tasks.> > Relatively few specific criteria apply to a comparison between Milton and> > Shakespeare: one is writing plays, the other epic poems. Milton's> > attempts> > at drama are few in number. They're very good, but not as good as> > Shakespeare in my opinion, certainly not as entertaining and meaningful in> > so many different ways. Furthermore, Shakespeare never attempted an epic> > poem to my knowledge. Since these two authors spent their time writing> > very> > different types of works, how do you compare them? A comparison between> > Joyce's Ulysses and PL seems right too -- but how do you compare a novel> > to> > an epic poem? Even if the novel's a novelization of the grandfather (or> > grandmother?) of epic poems, and both PL and Ulysses are indebted to the> > same works?> >> > I think it may be more useful to make narrower comparisons: who wrote the> > greatest sonnets? But I think we'd still have problems. Even when> > Collins> > and cummings wrote rather silly sonnets, they're brilliantly silly> > sonnets.> > Even the sonnet keeps being reinvented and reused for different purposes,> > so> > that an evaluation of the greatness of any sonnet would have to evaluate> > the> > purposes to which different sonnets are put -- again, requiring value> > judgments that we can't agree upon any more (If we ever did to begin> > with).> >> >> > So a statement that Milton was the greatest author who ever lived sounds> > these days more like an emotional expression on the part of the person> > speaking rather than a careful evaluation of literature.> >> > What's more interesting to me are the ways we may still be applying a> > concept of "greatness" to literature but just calling it something else.> >> > Jim R> > _______________________________________________> > Milton-L mailing list> > Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu> > Manage your list membership and access list archives at> > http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l> >> > Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/> > > _______________________________________________> Milton-L mailing list> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu> Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l> > Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
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