[Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 20 15:55:41 EDT 2011

Would you see any distinction between erotic and pornographic?

Jeffery Hodges

From: richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Thu, July 21, 2011 4:51:06 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

Well, I don't hold the view (which some philosophers--e.g. Roger Scruton) hold 
that great art can't be erotically stimulating.  Seems like a silly view.  Lots 

great Renaissance art is very sexy.  MIlton insists -- surely with his male 

in mind (but not only, of course) -- on Eve's gorgeousness and her absolute 
nakedness. No reason for us, or her, to feel ashamed, and no reason for us (or 
her, or Adam) not to feel erotically aroused.

And, to say something that will surely invite/incite some responses, I think the 

supposed contrast between the fallen and unfallen sex of A and E to be quite 

And, finally, I think the supposed distinction between nudity and nakedness 
(Kenneth Clark) also to be bogus (let's all pretend to be very high-minded!).

---- Original message ----
>Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 14:36:25 -0500
>From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu (on behalf of "Mitchell M. Harris" 
<mitchell.harris at augie.edu>)
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!  
>To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>Dr. Strier, would you argue that PL is pornographic before the fall?  
>I've always thought that Milton was following a conventional patristic  
>argument that Augustine made against Jerome in defending the notion of  
>prelapsarian sex--thus drawing a middle line between Jerome and  
>Jovinian in debates on the role of human sexuality in prelapsarian  
>Eden. I would certainly see the sex scene after the fall as being  
>pornographic--Milton goes out of his way to make us feel as  
>uncomfortable as Adam and Eve feel about the act. But I've always  
>thought that the prelapsarian scenes are natural and untitillating,  
>which, paradoxically, is provocative in its own right.
>    Mitch Harris
>On Jul 20, 2011, at 2:13 PM, richard strier wrote:
>> Absolutely right about the necessity for non-self-conscious  
>> nakedness.  After
>> all, PL is one of the great pornographic works of all time.  The  
>> audience might
>> begin by leering and tittering, but, as at nude beaches, the lack of  
>> pretense
>> would affect the experience after a while.  And if we titter, so  
>> what?  We're fallen,
>> they're not (for most of the Eden scenes).  And sometimes, as Milton  
>> thought, we
>> can transcend our fallenness.
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