[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Kim Maxwell kmaxwell at stanford.edu
Tue Jul 1 18:07:44 EDT 2008

Some more thoughts on this very long thread.

1.  The point is not that Milton attempted to duplicate unfallen language, but that he could use fallen language to represent a state of innocence.  Whether he succeeds or not may be questioned, but that he attempts seems to me to be indisputable.  This is another point M. Bell got wrong.

2. Given this intention, I think we must be careful about how much we impose postlapsarian psychology and religion upon the prelapsarian state.  One of the beauties of the prelapsarian state is the clarity and meaninglessness of the sole command.  The poem asks us to understand (a) how this man, with  all the advantages and none of the corruptions could still choose Eve over God, and (b) how his decision and conditions connect to our own (from the poem's first few lines).  When we charge Adam and Eve with concupiscence before the fall, or deeds we consider sinful but God did not, we deny much of the poem's representation of innocence (such as innocent sex, innocent politics, innocent territoriality, innocent fanstasies).   The answer to the poem's basic question should not be easy.

3.  Is there any evidence that Adam and Eve actually practiced right reason before the fall?  Is there any evidence in the poem that, after Micheal's claim of its loss in Book XII, that it was restored, or could be restored?  I mean by right reason here the Christian rather than the Greek sense.

Kim Maxwell

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