[Milton-L] Punctuation in 4.751-52

Feisal Mohamed f.mohamed00 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 10 17:22:47 EDT 2012

Steve has provided one reason for the majority consensus, and it is of
course a very compelling one: departing too freely from the
punctuation of the early editions can lead to a greater number of
interventions than an editor should make.

But in this case I think the comma at the end of 751 interferes with
the sense and energy of the lines.  I agree with Michael's and Alan's
articulation of the sense, but disagree with Michael that 'in
Paradise' is thus parenthetical.  It is a modifier essential to the
meaning of 'sole propriety'.  The repeated p's also suggest that the
phrase is a unit that should be read without pause.

The final phrase *is* parenthetical in that it essentially repeats the
same idea for emphasis: 'of all things common else.'  There is also
(to my ear) a pause after 'Paradise', and Milton is building steam in
the passage with his favorite device of enjambment followed by
emphatic statement, with the emphatic statement always followed by
punctuation indicating a pause: 'God declares / Pure,' (746-7); 'who
bids abstain / But our destroyer?' (748-9); 'true source / Of human
offspring,' (750-1).

So I certainly respect the many excellent editions that have followed
the early punctuation, but still think Teskey's handling has much to
recommend it.


On Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 2:05 PM, Steve Fallon <sfallon at nd.edu> wrote:
> I agree with Michael's point below.
> In the Modern Library edition we went with the comma at the end of 751 in
> conformity with our decision to be conservative in altering the punctuation
> of editions in Milton's lifetime.  We were more interventionist in
> modernizing the punctuation of Milton's prose.
> Steve
> On Oct 10, 2012, at 2:48 PM, "Michael Gillum" <mgillum at unca.edu> wrote:
> In modern punctuation, I think you would either bracket "in Paradise" with
> two commas or use neither. It seems to be a parenthetical expression.
> Outside of Paradise, marital sex is not the sole propriety, the only thing
> that is proper to ("property of," sort of) a particular person or
> partnership.

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