[Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

Mulryan, John JMULRYAN at sbu.edu
Thu Jul 21 09:23:17 EDT 2011

I recommend Robert Graves' poem "On the Naked and the Nude" for (comic) clarification on this issue. 

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of richard strier [rastrier at uchicago.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 3:51 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
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 of
great Renaissance art is very sexy.  MIlton insists -- surely with his male readers
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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