[Milton-L] KJV in NYTimes

Hannibal Hamlin hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
Mon Jan 10 17:45:31 EST 2011

My first response isn't exactly Milton-related, but Klinkenborg is
wrongabout the KJV style in both respects. The KJV is oftern strikingly
Latinate, more so than Tyndale certainly. Some of the best examples are in
the Pauline epistles. And it's also an extremely literal translation, as the
translators themselves announce, aiming to reproduce as closely as possible,
word for word, the original Hebrew and Greek.

I suppose to Miltonize this email, I could raise the question of whether the
very Latinity of the KJV (at times) might have appealed to the exceptionally
Latinate Milton? But then I wonder if Milton himself was quite as Latinate
as is sometimes made out? It seems to me he can go Saxon when he needs to,
and that the dynamic between Saxon and Latin in the poems can sometimes be
to interesting effect.


On Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 5:36 PM, Nancy Charlton <nbcharlton at comcast.net>wrote:

> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/opinion/09sun3.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha211
> This is the URL for a short and gracious appraisal of the place the King
> James Bible holds in literature and culture. The author Verlyn Klinkenborg,
> concludes:  "Its words are almost never Latinate, and its rhythms are never
> hampered by the literalism that afflicts other translations."
> I've started and erased half a dozen sentences commenting on this and
> trying to bring it deliberately into the purview of Milton studies, but the
> most original thing I can think of, and I don't recall it ever being
> discussed here, is the question of verbal antiquity and archaism in Milton's
> works.
> Many in our day are as ill-equipped as Tyndale's ploughboy to take on, say,
> PL XI.385-422, but few would not be touched by "...took their solitary way"
> or "Earth felt the wound." Milton was generally aware of himself as the
> author or narrator or any piece, but he was never preoccupied with his own
> responses. This he has in common with the Bible narrations and even where
> the poet pours out his soul and describes  physiological effects ("I wept")
> still focus on the reason ("...when I remembered Zion.")
> Would this be worth a discussion, or a study?
> Nancy Charlton
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Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
Editor, Reformation
Organizer, The King James Bible and its Cultural Afterlife
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1340
hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
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