[Milton-L] Prelapsarian hair dressing
Horace Jeffery Hodges
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 5 14:40:03 EDT 2010
Hair doesn't just keep growing longer and longer. At some point, a single hair
falls out and a new one grows in its place. There would thus be a limit to how
long a head of hair would reach as a balance is achieved between old hair
falling out and new hair growing.
(I don't know about nails, however. They just seem to keep growing.)
Of course, this would entail that the hairs falling out die, which seems odd in
a world without death, but we've already speculated about leaves falling in
the prelapsarian paradise, haven't we?
This gets into speculations on what death means for Milton. I wonder if it
refers to entire organisms, not to their parts. Thus, whereas an entire tree in
paradise would never die, some of its parts could cease to live -- such as
leaves fallen and fruit cropped. The fruit, however, would offer its life to the
one who eats, and the leaves would fertilize the garden and thereby circulate
But I'm merely guessing at what Milton might have thought.
From: Jeffrey Shoulson <jshoulson at mail.as.miami.edu>
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Thu, August 5, 2010 11:32:36 PM
Subject: [Milton-L] Prelapsarian hair dressing
Here's a question one of my students posed--admittedly a little silly, but
intriguing, nonetheless--for which I did not have a very satisfying answer.
Perhaps some listserv subscriber can offer a better one:
Book 4's description of Adam and Eve famously makes much of their hair and,
particularly, how their respective hair lengths manifest their gendered
differences. If we are to presume that things like knives and blades would not
have been necessary or invented (cf. this list's earlier exchange about the
Satanic origins of technological invention) had the Fall never occurred, what
can we assume would have happened to Adam's and Eve's hair over time? Would it
have simply stayed the same length? Would they have found other means to keep
their hair in the state in which we first see them?
(I won't even bother to add the further question I got about the apparent
absence of prelapsarian facial hair on Adam).
If the question is beneath this list or too silly, feel free to ignore. I did
tell my students, however, that I would put it out on the list and see what it
I need a haircut.
Jeffrey S. Shoulson, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of English and Judaic Studies
University of Miami
PO Box 248145
Coral Gables, FL 33124-4632
ON LEAVE, AY 2010-11
jshoulson at miami.edu
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