[Milton-L] Re: "tasteless" Milton (response)

Jameela Lares Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
Fri Dec 17 07:04:29 EST 2010

Actually, many of Milton's readings reflect standard thinking.  The Bible was thought in his time to be a doctrinally unified, so that one part glossed another. Satan is called "that old serpent, which is the Devil" in Rev. 20:2, at almost the opposite end of the text, which placement has a nice symmetry.  And Paradise Lost quotes from all over the Bible. (See especially Sims, The Bible in Milton's Epics, but even Sims's listing does not include everything.)

Milton's epic was thought to be completely orthodox until the publication of his De Doctrina Christianity in 1825. Recently, some people have been reading it as fissured. Pendulums swing. 

You are certainly welcome to your own interpretation of life, the universe, and everything, but you might consider whether you are reading an interpretation into Milton that the text cannot support. In another post, you made certain statements about Christianity: "[Milton] not only changed the facts that govern Christianity, he completely deleted the central virtue: the worth of human decision, our inherant power to change the future.  The glory of Christianity is that painful sacrifice is a virtue, and that even a divine being would choose to endure that pain to prove it to all eternity. That we have a choice in life. But Milton's version takes away the choice." That's actually not Christianity, which is rather a statement that man's sins have separated him from God, Christ's sacrifice has permitted us back in, but that we have to accept his government. But Milton's explanation of soteriology in Paradise Lost 12 and elsewhere is orthodox.  

Jameela Lares
Professor of English
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
601 266-4319 ofc
601 266-5757 fax
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Nairba Sirrah [nairbasirrah at msn.com]
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 12:59 AM
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Re: "tasteless" Milton (response)

Anyhow, none of any of that is how it reads in any form of Judiasm or Christianity. Much of what Milton did was against the law in 1667. The reality that Paradise Lost was approved for publication by the office of the Bishop of Canterbury is astonishing.

Milton basically changed all of God's reasons for doing everything, and made an epic mockery out of every divine and human decision.

Essentially saying "if god forsees the future, then there was no chance that Eve had a choice...so why forbid her from doing something fate dictated she wwas going to do anyway."

I realize the Pandora's Box this opens. But again, in defense of my point, Milton's reworking of the essential narrative is quantum and, I dare say, wrong. He might as well have just made up a whole new religion. At what point does a Milton emmendation become too ridiculous? Saying Raphael warned them is HUGE. Why not say Adam ate the fruit first?

The license Milton took is too far out of bounds. The main reason it's not talked about is hardly anyone ever reads the whole poem.

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