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

Nancy Charlton pastorale55 at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 27 01:48:31 EST 2008

I hesitate to get into this, but I a statement in Jim's most recent post seems to me it should have been set forth at the beginning:  "What are the standards of greatness here?"

To go back to  the beginning of this thread a couple of days ago, jonnyangel posted his statement "No greater writer has ever lived," and then posted Milton's Hymn in the Morning of Christ's Nativity" as if in support of the statement, with no further argument were needed. My first impression was that jonny was not arguing with a scholarly hat on his head, but rather was speaking as one two whom Milton's poetry had meant a great deal, whose life was changed and mind, soul, and spirit turned around by the poetry, by its beauty, its vigor, its truth. That for him (Jonnyangel) there has been no greater poet in his experience. If this is the case, arguments about compositional structure, criteria for "greatness," and the rest are nugatory.

If what I speculate is true, then I will go out further on the limb and speculate that Jon is not the only person on whom Milton has power to touch our senses so. 

Nancy Charlton
still snowed in, but it's melting fast.

 Nancy Charlton


Ring out, ye crustal spheres . . .

--- On Fri, 12/26/08, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:
From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night...
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Friday, December 26, 2008, 10:21 PM

J --

You can't say:

³There is no -greater- writer that has ever lived².

and then say:

And all of this talk about _who¹s the greatest_ is a complete distortion of

what I said (see above) and more importantly, a complete waste of time.

And make any sense at all.  "No greater" implies a comparison whether you intend it or not -- a willingness to acknowledge others "as good" but no others "as better," all comparative terms.  

Evaluating Milton as a writer means taking into account all his writing.  I would say there are better prose writers and better authors of shorter poems, and Shakespeare was certainly a better dramatist.  

If you mean to say that there are no greater epic poets, that's a different claim.  I don't know.  Perhaps.  I don't know what that claim means, or why it is important.  What are the standards of greatness here?  Are you following Longinus?   This sounds a bit like the exercise at the beginning of Dead Poets Society.      

Jim R

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