[Milton-L] David Masson's "Luther, Milton and Goethe"

Bob Blair bblair48 at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 4 22:46:11 EDT 2012

This evening I was grumbling about an MLA-speak essay that refused to stop dancing long enough to make a point.  (I confess I'm a non-academic engineer, so my tolerance is low.)  I contrasted it with the plain-spoken sense I remembered in David Masson's essay "The Three Devils"; but I had to admit I didn't recall much of his argument.  Well I read it again tonight, and it's still an engineer's idea of how a literary analysis should be conducted.

If your memory is as vague as mine was, you can refresh it at http://books.google.com/books?id=X4NbdkYH92oC&pg=PA3

It would be of little use to repeat Masson's line of thought, but his style is worth an example:  "...it is quite conceivable that Milton might have believed in a Devil as sincerely as Luther did, and that Goethe might have believed in a Devil as sincerely as Luther did also, and yet that, in that case, the Devil which Milton believed in might not have been the Satan of the Paradise Lost, and the Devil which Goethe believed in might not have been the Mephistopheles of Faust."

The point made here seems obvious, after you've read it.  That's the beauty of it, and of Masson's thinking in general.  He makes things look like an annotated schematic.  I know that all ideas do not fit into a scheme appropriate to a schematic diagram, but I certainly appreciate the ideas that do.

Bob Blair

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