[Milton-L] Bloom & Rovira on Xtian narratives

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Fri Dec 17 22:21:52 EST 2010

Would be very interesting to hear you describe your reading experiences of
PL from that background, Carl.  I was fortunate enough to teach selections
to a very mixed audience in a survey course this semester.  Many of my
Christian students -- most of them Evangelical of sorts with little real
historical understanding of Christianity -- were largely shocked by their
being drawn toward Satan as a character.  Many comments about that.  The
general feeling was that Satan was humanized, given feelings and motivation,
rather than being a somewhat abstract force of pure evil.  Alongside these
students were others who had no religious background at all.  They too were
similarly drawn, without the sense of shock.  Students both Christian and
non-Christian were about evenly divided over Satan turning into a real jerk
eventually and Satan being a character with whom one could sympathize.

Of everything we read from, gasp, Beowulf to the 18thC, Paradise Lost seemed
the greatest and most impressive work of the imagination.  I could tell that
it captured students in ways that other literature did not, even my students
who were not great readers and certainly not great readers of poetry.  One
of my most gifted students rewrote sections of PL into a short story set in
a rural church today.  The church building represented Pandaemonium, the
pastor Satan, who tries to seduce the female partner in a young, innocent

But, to get to the point, most of those who read it from a faith perspective
did not feel that their beliefs were challenged.  When I've taught it in the
past I've had Roman Catholic students who, surprisingly, treated it
consistently and coherently almost as a doctrinal manual.  THAT was shocking
to me, esp. since they'd been taught in their Catholic HSs to read it that

My responses to this thread have been that we can't assume how an orthodox
believer will respond as both Scripture and Milton are subject to
interpretation, like everything else.

Jim R

On Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 1:03 AM, Carl Bellinger <bcarlb at comcast.net> wrote:

>  Sorry Jim. Attempting to escape the tedious style that dogs my keyboard
> I have flown apparently into mere opacity. I think I should try-&-find [is
> there a proper spelling of the idiomatic "try and find"?] Bloom's comment in
> situ before getting back to you on this.
>     But in the mean time I would say only that having myself grown up in a
> bible-centered but also bible-rich [Christian narrative?] community I know
> what it's like to feel blasted at every turn in this great poem, and to feel
> that not only the monks deserve to be tattered into rags by the violent
> crosswind but Milton too.
>  Cheers
> Carl
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