[Milton-L] New Milton Criticism, C. S. Lewis, and Ad Hominem Attacks

David Urban dvu2 at calvin.edu
Mon Nov 26 22:12:13 EST 2012

Thanks for your reply, JD.  I'll admit that I'm not entirely clear what you
mean by your statement, so please forgive my interpretive limitations.  Perhaps
your basic point is that Milton scholarship should be more proactive than
reactive, and I absolutely agree with that.  At the same time, when scholars
put forward arguments that can't be backed up by the texts in question, and
those arguments are put forward in misleading and perhaps even demeaning ways,
I think those scholars and their tactics need to be called out.

Thanks again,


>>> JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca> 11/26/12 6:31 PM >>>
p { margin: 0; }In my view, David, on this set of issues, we need more dog,
less tail. In terms of what wags what, I mean. JD Fleming

De: "David Urban" <dvu2 at calvin.edu>
À: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Envoyé: Lundi 26 Novembre 2012 14:38:22
Objet: [Milton-L] New Milton Criticism, C. S. Lewis, and Ad Hominem Attacks

                     Dear Fellow Miltonists,    
                  I recently read the intro to Michael Bryson's *The Atheist
Milton* and noted that Michael essentially repeats aspects of Peter Herman's
December 2011 MQ (45.4) article, "C. S. Lewis and the New Milton Criticism," in
its attempts to respond to the concerns I raised in "Speaking for the Dead" (MQ
45.2, May 2011) about certain New Milton Critics' misrepresentations of C. S.
Lewis' *A Preface to "Paradise Lost."*    
                  I am sheepish about requesting that you read another article
of mine, but because both Herman and Bryson choose to respond to my concerns
with ad hominem attacks against me and misrepresentations of my college, I am
asking Milton-L readers to please read my response to Herman (and, implicitly,
Bryson), which appears in the most recent issue (46.3, October 2012) of *Milton
Quarterly.*  Here is the link to "The Acolyte's Rejoinder: C. S. Lewis and the
New Milton Criticism, Yet Once More":    
                  As I note in my essay's conclusion, I invite Herman (and/or
Bryson anyone else) to participate with me in a public forum in which we can
collegially discuss the aims, successes, and shortcomings of the New Milton
Criticism and its critical forebears.  I would like to discuss the substance of
the scholarship itself, and I would like to see Herman, Bryson, and their
supporters respond to my concerns about their methodology and
misrepresentations with something more substantial than they have offered thus
far.  (As I also note in my conclusion, I would also endeavor to be humorous
enough to cause even my interlocutor[s] to laugh.)    
                  Finally, both Peter and Michael should know better than to
suggest that my concerns about their methodology and misrepresentations can
simply be dismissed by referring to my religious beliefs (or in Bryson's words,
"a very specific theological agenda") and my place of employment.  My concerns
about their methodology and misrepresentations concern me as a scholar who
cares about integrity in scholarship.  And I would have those concerns
regardless of my institutional affiliation.  To paraphrase Shakespeare's Edmund
in *King Lear* I.ii.453-54)  "Fut! I should have been that I am, had the most
secular of schools deigned to employ me."      
                  Humbly yours,    
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James Dougal Fleming
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Chair
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

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