[Milton-L] Is Paradise Lost

Alberto Cacicedo alc at mac.com
Wed Apr 15 13:11:19 EDT 2009

I think that the tone of the responses was more about the dismissal of  
Shakespeare as poet than about the possibility of evaluating the  
excellence of particular works.  Of course that's not the question  
that was posed--not particular works but the writers, and that makes  
for a much more imponderable judgment.  No doubt discrimination about  
gradations of greatness in writers is possible, but I suspect that any  
conclusion would say more about the evaluator's tastes than about the  
poet (I use the word with trepidation).--Al Cacicedo

On Apr 15, 2009, at 11:12 AM, Gregory Machacek wrote:

> I'll put my point more pointedly, then.
> Theoretically:  at what altitude does Parnassus plateau?   If judgment
> between Milton and Steele is possible, why isn't judgment between  
> Milton
> and Shakespeare?
> Miltonically:  Isn't Paradise Lost precisely about making very fine
> distinctions between competing goods, about discriminating between  
> good (or
> seeming good) and the best?  Aren't we being non-Miltonic in the  
> extreme to
> decline to hone our evaluative tools to a fineness that will allow  
> us to
> make such judgments.
> I'm responding to the *tone* of many of the comments I cited, the  
> jocular
> and easy presupposition that evaluation has no part in the  
> enterprise of
> literary criticism, is essentially impossible--
> reveals more about the critic than the work.
> Does it say more about me than about Paradise Lost that I judge  
> Paradise
> Lost the best work of literature in English?  No doubt it does.  To  
> adapt
> Jonson:  Judge that I may know thee.  Or decline to judge and I'll  
> know
> that about you.
> Greg Machacek
> Professor of English
> Marist College
> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu wrote on 04/15/2009 09:48:19 AM:
>> [image removed]
>> Re: [Milton-L] Is Paradise Lost
>> James Rovira
>> to:
>> John Milton Discussion List
>> 04/15/2009 09:52 AM
>> Sent by:
>> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
>> Please respond to John Milton Discussion List
>> In response to Professor Machacek's post, if we were talking about a
>> comparison between Milton and Danielle Steele then conceptions of
>> literary merit and perhaps even greatness might be meaningful.  But  
>> if
>> we're talking about a comparison between Milton and Shakespeare I
>> think we're asking for more finely honed evaluative tools than are
>> humanly possible.  A comparison on this level is meaningless, largely
>> aggrandizes the critic far beyond his/her merit, and in the end
>> teaches us little about the literature and a great deal about the
>> critic -- which is still valuable knowledge, so long as we know  
>> that's
>> what we're getting.
>> Jim R
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