[Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

JD Fleming jfleming at sfu.ca
Wed Jul 20 18:16:13 EDT 2011

I'm afraid I see this one the other way around: what's interesting is precisely how much is the _the same_ between the book 4 and book 9 representations of sexuality. Centering on the word "Seized."

Neither do I see what basis there is for the claim that readers feel uncomfortable about the book 9 scene; or that Adam and Eve do. Sex is "the solace of their sin." After the fact, they are horrified at having fallen. But this is nothing directly to do with their copulation. They would have been fallen, on the basis of their disobedience, whether or not they then decided to play their favorite game. JDF

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mitchell M. Harris" <mitchell.harris at augie.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:36:25 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

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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James Dougal Fleming
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

"to see what is questionable"

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