[Milton-L] "The liveliest pair"

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Wed Oct 21 11:10:34 EDT 2009


it is, indeed, a litotes, a figure we should all encourage as much as possible to return English to its delightful dryness, something that an anglosaxon scot like me cherishes.  the mediterranean hyperbole that has snuck into common speech is to my ears unseemly at the least.

jim watt
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Michael Gillum [mgillum at unca.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:26 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] "The liveliest pair"

According to the estimable Michael Lieb, their embraces were dutiful rather than lively. However, I think in his reading of "nor turned I ween / Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites / Mysterious of connubial love refused," Lieb misses the tone. It is a litotes. Do others agree?

Speaking to Raphael at 8.522-30, Adam describes the sexual consummation as "the sum of earthly bliss." He feels "vehement desire." Regarding Eve, "transported I behold, / Transported touch. . . ." He is madly in love, and it is a sexual passion as well as having other dimensions.

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