[Milton-L] dating Samson

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Fri Dec 6 11:57:20 EST 2013


Finally I see a topic worthy of this list.  Of course it's lamentable and stupid that the anthologists do not want translations of OE biblical poems, but there's not much to discuss there.  And how one would -- if at all -- use this new little anthology isn't that interesting.  BUT when one reads, "Samson Agonistes, Milton's last great work" -- there's a topic.  I am curious how many scholars on this list do think of SA as Milton's last poem.  Myself, I don't.  I am quite convinced by the arguments of Woodhouse, Worden, and others that the poem was written fairly shortly after the Restoration -- with the execution of the regicides in mind, and with a profound sense that Engand had lost its chance (unless...).  I think M kept it in his desk drawer because it was too hot to publish.  After he had written PR -- which I do think is his last great work -- I think the publisher thought the manuscript too small and asked Mr. M if he had anything with which to bulk it out.  And so we got "to which is added."  M thought he could duke it in under the cover of that much more quietist piece, and as a kind of barely announced supplement.  (Can't prove any of this, but I believe it, and am eager to start the conversation.)

RS
________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of James Rovira [jamesrovira at gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, December 06, 2013 8:05 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] New Broadview Anthology of Milton's Poetry

I thought it was interesting that Broadview attempted this anthology, but I've been asking myself the same question: for what course would I purchase this volume?  Maybe a course on poetry and revolution? Early Modern poetry and religion? Biblical reimaginings? But which of these courses wouldn't also want to use at least selections from Paradise Lost?

The copy for this volume on Broadview's website begins with a series of questions that are equally applicable to Paradise Lost:

"In Samson Agonistes, Milton's last great work, he addresses questions that pressed insistently on the imagination of all who were unhappy with the changes wrought by the Restoration. How do we respond to the experience of defeat, and to fears of having been abandoned by the divine? How do we know when our actions accord with divine will, or when they are fueled instead by our fallen desires and weaknesses? At what point do accommodation and compromise with an enemy become a failure of will? What constitutes true heroism? To what extent is violence justified in the cause of freedom?"

http://www.broadviewpress.com/product.php?productid=1763&cat=0&page=1

I think they should have pushed up the page count to about 150 pages and included at least selections from PL.

Jim R


On Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 7:08 AM, Ross Leasure <trleasure at gmail.com<mailto:trleasure at gmail.com>> wrote:
I would have to agree with Richard.  What course might this figure into?  Why not avail oneself of other more complete collocations of Milton's work?

Ross


On Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 3:59 PM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com<mailto:jamesrovira at gmail.com>> wrote:
Broadview has an interesting Milton anthology out -- just SA, a few sonnets, and L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, and Lycidas. Very short: just over 100 pages total. Anyone using it?  Any opinions?

http://www.amazon.com/Samson-Agonistes-Other-Poems-Literature/dp/1554812097

Jim

--
Dr. James Rovira
Associate Professor of English
Tiffin University
http://www.jamesrovira.com
Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
Continuum 2010
http://jamesrovira.com/blake-and-kierkegaard-creation-and-anxiety/
Text, Identity, Subjectivity
http://scalar.usc.edu/works/text-identity-subjectivity/index

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T. Ross Leasure, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Dept. of English
Salisbury University
Salisbury MD 21801

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--
Dr. James Rovira
Associate Professor of English
Tiffin University
http://www.jamesrovira.com
Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
Continuum 2010
http://jamesrovira.com/blake-and-kierkegaard-creation-and-anxiety/
Text, Identity, Subjectivity
http://scalar.usc.edu/works/text-identity-subjectivity/index
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