[Milton-L] Cosmic and Sublime

gilliaca at jmu.edu gilliaca at jmu.edu
Sun Feb 3 00:02:57 EST 2008

 For example, as 
>John Shawcross has informed me privately, Milton 
>was deeply involved with the printing of PL, and 
>so, the spelling and the grammar are his in a way 
>that the quartos are not Shakespeare's. 

Quite so and a good reason to retain them in scholarly editions. .

>modernizing Milton as the Modern Library editors 
>do is not at all diluting or "dumbing down" our 
>man. It's about making him more accessible.


I have found that teaching undergraduates with JM's spelling and punctuation intact impedes their ability to read. This is true of English majors. 

They are willing to cope w/Shakspeare 'in the original old English,' as they sometimes say, because they know they are supposed to revere the Bard. 

They are not so willing to work hard for Milton, whom many of them have never heard of. 

The lack of quotation marks to indicate speeches is especially troublesome. Original spelling also impedes reading by undergrads whose own spelling/vocabulary are often subpar.

This summer, when a friend and I will read PL together, I'll ask which she prefers, original or modernized.

Cynthia A. Gilliatt
English Department, JMU
JMU Safe Zones participant
"You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people you hate." Fr. John Weston

More information about the Milton-L mailing list