[Milton-L] text questions
John T. Shawcross
jtshaw74 at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 3 14:38:38 EST 2008
Just throwing in a couple of comments (particularly since I've been
mentioned): The question of "original" versus "modernized" texts for
PL, et al., surely depends upon the class and the intent or approach
of the instructor. Some of the available texts are "original," some
primarily but not completely modernized (retaining, for example,
elisions for prosody and/or Milton's spelling of something like
"sovran" ), and some fully modernized. The argument for "original"
involves (looking at the second edition, 1674) the possible
1. prosody in "Heav'nly" (I, 6) or "th' Aonian Mount" (I, 15) or
"seduc'd" (I, 3).
2. emphasis through capitalization in "Forbidden Tree" (I, 2) or
"Envy and Revenge" (I, 35).
3. spelling (again prosody): "adventrous" (I. 13) or pronunciation:
"highth" (I, 24).
4. punctuation--subtle though it is: "till one greater Man / Restore
us, and regain the blissful Seat" (I, 4-5), where the comma not only
suggests pausation in reading but subtly imposes a separation of the
first part and emphasis on it: the Son. Only then, after the emphasis
on the Son--the Christ (and Ellwood missed the point and therefore
PR), is return to an Edenic/ Heavenly world remarked, perhaps
implying that internal "Paradise . . . happier farr" (XII, 586-87).
Or the series of colons in the passage of I, 84 ff., suggests a
continuing interrelationship of the parts rather than only additional
statements (and thus "yet" is not capitalized after "Arms?").
Of course, there are errors in the text and some of these details may
not be what Milton might have written. What I meant (in reference to
Peter's comment) is that the first edition alters the manuscript (of
Book I) significantly in such matters as spelling and punctuation in
the direction of what a study of Milton's holographs would indicate
he would have written, thus suggesting a corrector-agent
(proofreader) knowing Milton's practices or following his direction.
The same is particularly true of the second edition which makes many
changes that move in the direction of what would seem to be Milton's
practices. In a recent review of some editions of PL (in Milton
Quarterly) which are very different in these textual matters, I tried
to stress my opinion that all were excellent choices for a teaching
text depending upon the level of the class and its interests and what
the instructor thus aimed at.
I hope this is helpful: it all depends on the instructor and class,
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