[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 
their life.

But I'm merely guessing at what Milton might have thought.

Jeffery Hodges

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

(o) 305-284-5596
(f) 305-284-5635

ON LEAVE, AY 2010-11

jshoulson at miami.edu
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