[Milton-L] My post for the day: Cultural Frames, directly related to the imagery conjured by book 8 Paradise Lost

Terrance Lindall tlindall at gmail.com
Mon Dec 20 15:24:04 EST 2010

I described the events on my web-site leaving out the more ad hominem
exchanges and I posted a new email from Bob Wickenheiser who DIRECTLY
addresses the offending card. He said "Your Holiday card is very moving and
your accompanying message even more so!" That from a former Benedictine monk
who would pray for several hours a day before undertaking work!

See my postings here. I will modify if anyone has good suggestions:


On Cultural Frames

I sent my little Christmas greeting above out to the scholars on the Milton
List. It caused a bit of a furor, pro and con. One very reasonable response
from a Jewish Milton scholar pointed out that since there arr many
non-Christians on the list that it might have been better had I sent it
privately only to Christians. Well, that is reasonable. Then I thought more
about it, that what my card depicted was something from the Old Testament
from the book of Genesis to which Jews, Christians and Muslims subscribe. I
erred in calling it a Christmas card! Therefore, let me offer my little card
to be a holiday and seasonal card to all, including those of the Hindu,
Shinto and those within any other framework of belief and even for those who
do subscribe to the Western tradition of the Bible to which the illustration
refers! I am sure that most will not take umbrage with my greeting, but
probably find it amusing. However…

Then I thought about the subject matter that some probably found offensive,
id est, Adam & Eve in their heat. Well, the subject engaged goes back for
centuries. In great books images of nudity and copulation are abundant
enough. Milton described the scene I illustrated rather directly enough and
I did it with some modesty by hiding the joining behind the tree of

Artists, writers, poets and actors are generally less likely to be Prudish
(Old French “prude” meaning “honourable woman”) or be concerned with decorum
or propriety by prevailing community standards. They are not unusually
uncomfortable with sexuality, nudity or mischief as these are with many
people, especially ordinary church going Christians. I should have been
aware that the degree of prudery can vary among different cultural frames
and there are certainly a variety of cultural frames lurking on the Milton
List. *So forgive me!*

I have a 16th century illustrated book of Boccaccio’s Decameron in our
collection. One of the little woodcut illustrations has a piece of paper
pasted over a portion of an offending image (see this on my site). In
another scene (not shown there) the genitals are inked over and the ink has
faded over centuries.
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