[Milton-L] RE: Samson's prayer for revengr

Beth Quitslund quitslun at ohio.edu
Tue Feb 26 08:10:32 EST 2008


Quoting jfleming at sfu.ca:

> But the point, for Puttenham and for Milton's Christ, is that
> ambiguity is a
> bad thing (rather than being a valuable aesthetic arrangement, as it
> is for
> Empson, Brooks et al). It indicates that there is no point attending
> to the
> utterance, or part of an utterance, where it appears. Transferred to
> _SA_,
> the inference would seem to be, not that ambiguity is not present,
> but that
> there is no point inquiring much into it. Ambiguity says "I'm here;
> look
> elsewhere." JD Fleming
> 
> On Mon, 25 Feb 2008 18:12:08 -0500 milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
> wrote:
> > There's no place like home, there's no place like home!
> > 
> > I think the point has been made about SA, but re. ambiguity, it's
> > hardly a postmodern invention.  Remember Empson and the 7 types
> > (1930)?  Much of Empson's reading was in Renaissance poets like
> Donne
> > and Shakespeare.  I note from the OED that Puttenham includes the
> > ambiguous, or "figure of sense uncertain" in The Arte of English
> > Poesie (I could claim I remembered it, but I'll fess up).  And one
> > might also point out Milton's use of the word in Paradise
> Regained,
> > when the Son responds to Satan (1.4.434ff.):
> > 
> > But what have been thy answers? what but dark, 
> > Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding, 
> > Which they who asked have seldom understood, 
> > And, not well understood, as good not known?
> > 
> > Hannibal
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > Hannibal Hamlin
> > Associate Professor of English
> > The Ohio State University
> > Book Review Editor and Associate Editor, Reformation
> > 
> > Mailing Address (2007-2009):
> > 
> > The Folger Shakespeare Library
> > 201 East Capitol Street SE
> > Washington, DC 20003
> > 
> > Permanent Address:
> > 
> > Department of English
> > The Ohio State University
> > 421 Denney Hall, 164 W. 17th Avenue
> > Columbus, OH 43210-1340
> > 
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Paul Miller <pm9 at comcast.net>
> > Date: Monday, February 25, 2008 2:57 pm
> > Subject: Re: [Milton-L] RE: Samson's prayer for revengr
> > 
> > > Jim
> > > 
> > > I am not trying to posit that there is no intended ambiguity in 
> > > Milton's 
> > > work just none intended by our esteemed author in this paticular
> 
> > > instance. 
> > > Responses have ranged from unadorned assertion to dogmatic 
> > > certainty that 
> > > the passage in view is pregnant with ambiguity. It is not enough
> 
> > > to assume 
> > > authorial ambiguity because Milton is known to have written it in
> 
> > > in other 
> > > places in his work. The source text and context argue against it
> 
> > > and there 
> > > has been little evidential argument put forward on this list to 
> > > gainsay my 
> > > position just naked assertion. I think it must be hoped that if 
> > > the mantra 
> > > of ambiguity is repeated often it might prove soporiferous enough
> 
> > > to put me 
> > > in thrall to the god Hypnos or maybe transport me to a poppy
> field 
> > > with 
> > > Dorothy and Toto.
> > > 
> > > Paul Miller
> > > 
> > > So Hills amid the Air encounterd Hills
> > > Hurl'd to and fro with jaculation dire,
> > > That under ground, they fought in dismal
> > > shade --- Paradise Lost
> > > 
> > > ----- Original Message ----- 
> > > From: "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
> > > To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> > > Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 11:55 AM
> > > Subject: Re: [Milton-L] RE: Samson's prayer for revengr
> > > 
> > > 
> > > > Paul --
> > > >
> > > > Differences in interpretation here, from my point of view, do
> not
> > > > proceed from any commitment to "postmodernism" (which, frankly,
> 
> > > annoys> me), than it does from close attention to the language of
> 
> > > the text,
> > > > from attention to Milton's own historical context and his
> likely
> > > > response to it, and that Milton chose to present his material
> > > > ambiguously.  Again, we need to see this ambiguity as a
> deliberate
> > > > choice on Milton's part, not a limitation to which he was
> subject.
> > > > Milton chose to represent the scene from the messenger's point
> 
> > > of view
> > > > and chose to place the messenger in such a way as to render
> his
> > > > testimony ambiguous.  Hannibal's previous post emphasized that
> we
> > > > can't assume a uniformity of opinion on the part of Milton's 
> > > readers.>
> > > > To me, the best way to approach this topic is to read these
> lines
> > > > fully within the context of the  poem, and if I wasn't so
> behind 
> > > in my
> > > > grading right now I'd do that.  You're providing me a great
> service,
> > > > actually: an excuse not to be grading another paper right
> now.	
> > > Thank> you...thank	you...
> > > >
> > > > Jim R
> > > > _______________________________________________
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> > > > Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
> > > > Manage your list membership and access list archives at 
> > > > http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
> > > > 
> > > 
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> > > 
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> 
> 
> James Dougal Fleming
> Department of English
> Simon Fraser University
> (778)-782-4713
> cell: 778-865-0926
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***************************************

Beth Quitslund
Assistant Professor
Dept. of English
Ohio University
Athens, OH  45701

phone: (740) 593-2829
FAX: (740) 593-2818


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