[Milton-L] "The liveliest pair"

maltzahn at uottawa.ca maltzahn at uottawa.ca
Wed Oct 21 13:14:07 EDT 2009


And there is a pleasing ambiguity, perhaps not unknown to commentary on
this litotes (4:741-3), where "Eve" can at once be subject and object in
that clause, further evoking mutual love:

"nor turned I ween / Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites /
Mysterious of connubial love refused."

Nick von Maltzahn


> Michael:
>
> 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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