[Milton-L] "erotic" versus

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Thu Jul 21 18:26:59 EDT 2011


Sorry, I have to reply.  John, you're sanitizing the discussion.  I
too "feel the erotic power" of Milton's depiction of Eve.  Does that
mean I have to be sexually aroused during the act of reading?  Did
Milton intend -sexual arousal-?  That was my question, after all.
Would you extend your YES to agreement with Richard that these parts
of PL are therefore pornographic?

Jim R

On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 5:58 PM, John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca> wrote:
> 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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>
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