[Milton-L] "erotic" versus

John Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Thu Jul 21 17:58:55 EDT 2011

I'm with Richard on this.  Of course YES is the right answer.  One would 
have to be dead not to feel the erotic power of:

                                                but Eve
        Undecked, save with herself more lovely fair
        Than wood-nymph, or the fairest goddess feigned
        Of three that in Mount Ida naked strove,
        Stood to entertain her guest . . .

"Strove" there comes directly from Marlowe's Hero and Leander ("Venus in her 
naked glory strove / To please") an unabashedly erotic poem that also 
provided Milton with "naked glory."  A little later we get:

                                O innocence
        Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,
        Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
        Enamoured at that sight, but in those hearts
        Love unlibidinous reigned.. . .

Sister Mary Corcaran in 1944 lifted "Love unlibidinous" from context and 
quoted as if it were a reference to Adam and Eve.  Others have since done 
the same and concluded that Adam and Eve do not make love.  This is a 
crucial misreading.  "Those hearts" are in angelic breasts ("the sons of 
God").  Human hearts throb.  Adam and Eve are libidinous, and so is Milton, 
and so are his fit readers.

John Leonard

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "richard strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 5:20 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] "erotic" versus

> Just to be clear, and to continue to be "outrageous" (and consistent), my 
> answer
> to your "rhetorical" question (clearly meant to be a knock-down) -- "Do 
> you
> really think Milton consciously intended his audience to be sexually 
> aroused by
> parts of PL?" -- my answer is YES.
> I'm afraid that the words "consciously intended" don't frighten me.
> ---- Original message ----
>>Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2011 16:59:17 -0400
>>From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu (on behalf of James Rovira
> <jamesrovira at gmail.com>)
>>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] "erotic" versus
>>To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>>I believe you when you say that at least you haven't meant to change
>>your position, Richard.
>>You're missing an important qualification of my definition of
>>pornography -- it is intended "primarily" if not "only" to provide
>>"sexual stimulation."
>>Do you really think Milton consciously intended his audience to be
>>sexually aroused by parts of PL?  I'm not saying that no one can be
>>aroused by parts of PL.  The question here is about Milton's intent.
>>I think we need to clearly think about what we mean when we're making
>>claims about intentionality, however.  These are claims about the
>>author, not about possible audience responses.
>>Have you ever seen the film The Last Word?  Ray Romano's character has
>>some funny dialog about the things that arouse him at times and why.
>>No one would attribute his spontaneous, uncontrolled state of arousal
>>in the produce aisle to the nature of the objects themselves.  He
>>didn't, anyway.
>>Jim R
>>On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 4:45 PM, richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
> wrote:
>>> 1) I do not think I've changed my position at all. Certainly have not 
>>> meant
> to.
>>> If pornography is defined as "representations that intend to cause 
>>> erotic
>>> arousal" (in some part of their audience), I am happy to reiterate the 
>>> claim
> that
>>> PL and many other great works of art are (at least in parts) 
>>> pornographic.
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