[Milton-L] Sounds like something our own JL would have said . . .

Carol Barton, Ph.D. cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Wed Jan 4 11:14:03 EST 2012


I wonder, though, if he would have bristled at the thought of Adam and Eve lacking "moral consciousness" until they knew enough to grab for the fig leaves . . . ?

I think Lewis was wrong, too (virginal modesty is not the same as "embarrassment"), and one need not necessarily be capable of feeling embarrassment to have moral consciousness. (Precisely why I liked the quotation: like most things Miltonic, it is neither as simple nor as one-directional as it seems.

Mark Twain, on the other hand, was of the opinion that "Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."  


From: John Leonard 
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 10:37 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List 
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Sounds like something our own JL would have said . . .


SInce Carol mentions me (blush, blush) I shall speak up for my more illustrious namesake and voice my opinion that Milton would have heartily endorsed his pronouncement. My evidence? 'To the Nuptial bower / I led her blushing like the Morn' (8.510-11). C.S.Lewis deplored Eve's blush ("most offensive"), but Christopher Ricks in Keats and Embarrassment defends it on exactly the grounds that John Leonard articulates so well, and Ricks adds the splendid observation that Milton's syntax allows for the possibility that Adam also blushes.

jl
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Carol Barton, Ph.D. 
  To: MILTON-L 
  Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 9:21 AM
  Subject: [Milton-L] Sounds like something our own JL would have said . . .


  however, quite happily, our John Leonard is still with us:

  A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
  To be capable of embarrassment is the beginning of moral consciousness. Honor grows from qualms. -John Leonard, critic (1939-2008) 

  I think JM might have had some qualms about this pronouncement, though.

  Happy, healthy, peaceful, prosperous, and productive New Year to all,

  Carol Barton


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