[Milton-L] Fish

Daniel W. Doerksen dwd at unb.ca
Fri Aug 3 22:34:26 EDT 2012


I much enjoyed this post.

But need the intended audience exclude the (previously) uninitiated? I 
think that Milton, like other good theologians of his time, was not only 
deeply "aware of such temptations," but willing to admit their powerful 
appeal, even to the expeienced believer. George Herbert also made good 
poetry showing awareness that not just novices, but the long-time Christian 
traveler can fall into such traps.

Dan Doerksen

A 10:47 PM 8/2/2012, you wrote:

>As 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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Daniel W. Doerksen, Ph.D.,  Honorary Research Professor (English)
University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B. Canada
CURRENT ADDRESS: 207 5656 Halley Avenue, Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5H 2P8 
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