[Milton-L] RE: On Cynthia's Ear

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Tue Apr 14 13:34:35 EDT 2009

Amen Cynthia!  I haven't really tried hard enough to tell about Proust yet.  But I have to confess that it is only because of the enthusiastic championing of my poet friends whom I respect this side idolatry that I agree to E. Pound.  I am totally (Well almost; 'Petals on a wet black bough' I rather like) tone deaf to his whole enterprise.  And this is all the funnier in that I am sort of a nut about the epic.  I have read not only Stephen V. Benet's 'John Brown's Body' and Kazantzakis' 'Odyssey: A modern sequel", but practically every long narrative poem I could get my hands on.  I even scanned Voltaire's Henriad.  But as for the cantos: sorry.  nil.  my loss, as you say.  not the world's

jim watt
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of gilliaca at jmu.edu [gilliaca at jmu.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 12:42 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Is Paradise Lost

. The older a reader gets, the
>   more open to greatness and brilliance his/her mind
>   becomes.

Yes - and the more aware that there are a large variety of excellences.  What makes an excellent sonnet is not the same thing that makes an excellent detective novel.

And different people have different assortments of receptors for excellence. For example, I've got no receptors as all for Proust. I"ve tried and tried and tried.I  am sure that those who value Proust for his excellences can list them easily. I just don't get him. My loss, I know, but it's perhaps like taste in music. There are people who have no receptors at all for bagpipes; I think they are missing something thrilling, but if the receptors aren't there, they aren't there.

And I think over time people can grow new receptors, and perhaps other receptors fade with time.  I really DON'T think I could read "Black Beauty" with the same pleasure now that it gave me when I craved horses.

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