[Milton-L] "Orphan" works

Jason Kerr aelfric at gmail.com
Wed Apr 20 11:23:08 EDT 2011

I've just been rereading _Areopagitica_, and found on p. 22 (YP II:534) that
Milton refers to books by deceased authors as "the orphan remainders of
worthiest men after death." One often hears the phrase "orphan works" in
connection with the Google Books effort, but I'm wondering whether or not
this particular metaphor turns out to be Miltonic in origin, and if any
list-member knows of any concrete evidence that might suggest this to be the
case (or to suggest that it isn't). The two phrases aren't quite talking
about the same thing, but the distinction seems to be a fine one, and
goodness knows that ideas get lifted from _Areopagitica_ all the time with,
shall we say, less than exacting literality (was the NYPL just rebelling
against "alphabetical servility"?).

Just a passing curiosity...

Jason A. Kerr

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

           —Czeslaw Milosz, from "Ars Poetica?"
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