[Milton-L] Fish

David Urban dvu2 at calvin.edu
Fri Aug 3 08:57:01 EDT 2012


Regardless of your opinion of Fish's book, don't you think calling him
"Satanley" (see line 9 of your post) is excessive?  :)



>>> Hugh Richmond <hmr at berkeley.edu> 08/03/12 1:48 AM >>>
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 the office-mate and colleague of Stanley Fish during the         formative
years when         he was completing Surprised by Sin, I am a little surprised
at         the geneological         intensity of the scrutiny of his ideas’
supposed critical         derivations. In 1957         C. A. Patrides and I
were both hired by UCB as experts on 17th         c.         poetry, from
Wadham  College,  Oxford, where we both had completed D.         Phil.s.
Patrides left, and Fish arrived at a time when I was         teaching a large  
      (200+) and successful Milton course, which no doubt suggested to        
Stanley that         Skelton was not a comparable career focus.  However,      
  initially finding Milton not terribly viable         either, he rapidly
picked up the idea of involving students via         similar affective        
approaches to those which I was using to suggest that Milton was         not
himself         subconsciously attracted by Satan but presented him seductively
        enough to         achieve reader catharsis. After Satanley published
Surprised by         Sin, I realized         that the concept was too naïve:
Milton’s intended audience could         not be the         uninitiated, but
was confined to those already sufficiently         aware of such        
temptations, who enjoyed the reassurance of reading the epic as        
corroboration         of their own past experience. The affective modern
audience         solicited by         Stanley was surely not that “fit audience
though few” which         Milton predicted         for his epic. He was not
saving souls by smugly entrapping them         (a concept I         heard many
students considered supercilious) but modestly         confirming his shared   
     awareness with the already elect.          Stanley’s references to C. S.
Lewis and others were         probably merely incidental,         
corroborative, or repudiated         afterthoughts. Context defines content.
Personally, I find         Addison the         worthiest precedent for all
modern Milton criticism. However, I         doubt if any of         this helps
the debate! Best wishes, Hugh Richmond

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