[Milton-L] Debbie does Eden

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Fri Jul 29 06:38:01 EDT 2011

Milton says that Adam and Eve take "thir fill of love" in book nine
(interestingly, he refers to Eve as a Virgin in book nine before that
point), but he does not explicitly describe every detail of the act --
descriptions that would be present in literary pornography.  Milton "tells"
his readers that Adam and Eve have sex, but he does not "show" it.  Telling
and showing are very different.  The cinematic equivalent would be letting
viewers know that the couple had sexual intercourse without actually showing
that the couple had intercourse -- the couple goes into the bedroom and the
wind blows on the draperies or something.  The following is hardly very
explicit.  What we picture in our heads is not what is on the page --
readers fill in their own details, which probably makes the work that much
better.  Is the following really pornographic by either literary or
cinematic standards?

If you wanted to shoot a Hollywood love scene based on the following lines,
would you really have that much to go on?  Great job with setting, which is
described in four lines.  Adam and Eve's interaction before intercourse is
described very well, in four lines before that -- darting eyes and a seized
hand.  That's good.  But the act itself?  One line, no visuals; just that
they take "thir fill of love" until they're tired and then fitfully sleep.
 The director of a film based on PL would have to invent all of his/her own
details with this part of the scene, but if s/he was really being faithful
to the text, wouldn't show it any more than Milton described it.

So said he, and forbore not glance or toy
Of amorous intent, well understood [ 1035 ]
Of Eve, whose Eye darted contagious
Her hand he seis'd<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_9/notes.shtml#seisd>,
and to a shadie bank,
Thick overhead with verdant roof imbowr'd
He led her nothing loath; Flours were the Couch,
Pansies, and Violets, and Asphodel, [ 1040 ]
And Hyacinth, Earths freshest softest lap.
There they thir fill of Love and Loves disport
Took largely, of thir mutual guilt the Seale,
The solace of thir sin, till dewie sleep
Oppress'd them, wearied with thir amorous
. [ 1045 ]

Jim R

On Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 10:48 PM, rabowitz <rabowitz at aol.com> wrote:

> Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. I am on my way out the door
> and so sorry if this is inappropriately quick. But since you quite rightly
> bring the focus back to Milton, why wouldn't a literal film interpretation
> of Paradise Lost not be required to be pornographic? Wouldn't a literal film
> mean Adam and Even have sex? And, even a slight artistic director could make
> the prelapsarian sex one thing and the post something like a scene from a
> contemporary porn and be true to the spirit if not the tastes of Milton.
>  Now, that second sex scene can be  extreme porn and  in some ways the more
> extreme the scene is then really it is artistically  totally in keeping with
> the one way of viewing Milton's point about sex after the fall in PL. That
> is the shortest way to ask why isn't the grey is everywhere  when trying to
> cleanly break between the erotic and the pornogra phic? There are few
> writers with less sex on their mind than Milton. Yet, even with PL you could
> legitimately shoot porn into a film version for artistic reasons and literal
> reproduction of the poem reasons.  I am certainly not saying you would have
> to shoot porn into the movie. I am only saying if a director chose to do so,
> the argument for art would be strong.
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