[Milton-L] Fish

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at smith.edu
Mon Aug 6 15:45:39 EDT 2012


Dear Jim,

Thank you for your instructive and generous note.

I have read Professor Harbison's work and admire it. I also vividly recall
attending a lecture of his many years ago, and coming away deeply impressed
by his learning, critical acuity, and above all intellectual honesty. I'm
afraid I can't follow him and you in grasping, much less embracing, the
thought that Milton's rhetoric "transcends doctrine and confronts the
reader directly, depriving him of his old formulations." My understanding
of rhetoric, and how it works--an understanding I think JM shares--forbids
it.

I will spare you my potted defense of that understaniding (see the
paperback reprint of my *Language Recreated* *passim* for details, if
desired), because I strongly suspect that my basic "formulations" and yours
(to borrow your term) are irreconcilable. Suffice it to say that, in my
view and in what I thought was Professor Richmond's view as well, Satan's
moral shabbiness and intellectual dishonesty are obvious and
un-"surprising" from start to finish of PL--thanks precisely to
Milton's rhetoric. Fish (needless to say) to the contrary notwithstanding.

Best of luck,
Harold
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