[Milton-L] Beauty dissertation (was "no subject?)

Andrew Herpich andrew.herpich at flinders.edu.au
Wed Jan 5 17:09:19 EST 2011


I second Carol Barton's advice regarding the relevance of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce to this discussion. As to Milton's aesthetics of beauty: to begin with, he seems more or less a (neo-)Platonist - pursuing 'the Idea of Beauty' as he says in one of his letters - but by PL he is advocating something much more interesting, to do with 'wildness', as when Raphael compares the angelic dance to the celestial movements, 'mazes intricate, / Eccentric, intervolved, yet regular / Then most when most irregular they seem'. Looking at the early reception of Milton's poem is illuminating in relation to this conception. John Dennis, for instance, called PL 'the most lofty, but Irregular, Poem that has been produc'd by the Mind of Man'. Leslie Moore's book Beautiful Sublime: The Making of Paradise Lost, 1701-1734 is good on this material.

Andrew.

________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Tony Demarest [tonydemarest at hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, 6 January 2011 12:22 AM
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Beauty dissertation (was "no subject?)

Thank you all for responding- I appreciate the wisdom and the suggested titles. Now that this idea has grown legs, I would like to ask for myself,
whether Milton professed an aesthetic- is there anywhere he specified an understanding of beauty? Or do we need to piece one together?
Again, ask me the same question regarding Saemund Sigfusson and I could give you a fairly educated guess- I am convinced I have been assigned Milton because no other prof in the department wants the job- though who would really shy away from the opportunity?
Thanks again-

Tony

> From: andrew.herpich at flinders.edu.au
> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
> Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2011 14:05:38 -0800
> Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Beauty dissertation (was "no subject?)
>
> Tony,
>
> It is an interesting topic, but any theory that makes anything other than Eve's and Adam's choices the 'cause' of the Fall is misdirection. One of the most notable things about the Genesis text is Eve's reasoning over the serpent's words; this is amplified in Paradise Lost. And Adam in PL chooses his love for Eve - not based on her physical beauty alone, as his exchange with Raphael in Book VIII demonstrates - over obedience to God. Nevertheless, for that reason, any topic that puts the focus on Adam and Eve's love is a worthy one.
>
> Andrew Herpich.
>
> ________________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Jameela Lares [Jameela.Lares at usm.edu]
> Sent: Wednesday, 5 January 2011 4:56 AM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Beauty dissertation (was "no subject?)
>
> Tony,
>
> I am glad you are encouraging your student in what may indeed be a compelling topic.
>
> There is, of course, the standard Neoplatonic stuff about beauty being the first rung on the ladder of Diotima. (Cf. Spenser's Fowre Hymnes.) I'm away from my library but could supply some titles later, always with the caveat that Neoplatonism works best during halcyon periods free of controversy.
>
> 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 Tony Demarest [tonydemarest at hotmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, January 03, 2011 9:03 AM
> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
> Subject: [Milton-L] (no subject)
>
> Dear All-
>
> First, Happy New Year to all; second, a problem: I have a student completing her senior thesis on PL, and she is gravitating
> to the idea that beauty- physical and aesthetic- is the reason for the Fall. She argues that Eve's beauty is responsible for Satan's
> focus upon her as target #1, and that it is also responsible for Adam's fear of immortality without her. Although my student is in the birthing throes of her thesis,
> I find the subject provocative and worthy of further inquiry. I have put a reading list together (including texts from our list members), but I would also appreciate
> any directions you may have.
> Our college is small and I (a medievalist) have been teaching Milton for the past seven years- and that after a hiatus of 39 years as a public school administrator- so
> my "scholarship" is quite pedestrian. So, that confession made, I would appreciate any assistance.
> Thanking you in advance,
>
> Tony
>
>
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