[Milton-L] the 1671 volume

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Fri Dec 6 16:02:52 EST 2013


I didn't mean to contradict Richard, just to point out the significance of that "addition" as itself a significant act of composition, and I agree that it's probably the case that Milton composed SA before PR, although when exactly is anybody's guess and we have no proof yet.

I also agree that the placement of SA after PR is a rather violent gesture and meant to complicate any typological reading that allows the violent questions raised by SA to be tamed too quickly and simply.  The horror that the poem gazes at eyeless abides no matter how loudly we imagine the heavenly choirs singing victory.

Louis

 

===========================
Louis Schwartz
Professor of English
English Department
University of Richmond
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA  23173
(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu
 
 
 


-----Original Message-----
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Richard A. Strier
Sent: Friday, December 06, 2013 2:33 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] the 1671 volume

With regard to Stella's remarks re SA (I'm not biting on the apple re PL-- I am unrepentant in my sense of the brilliance and aptness of Tillyard's remark), it is simply a mistake to think that what I said and what Louis said are in any way in contradiction (Stella always assumes she will disagree with me).  My imagined story does not in any way demean the value of SA -- for my money, it is a greater work than PR (though I'm not sure that judgments of this kind, with works of this quality, matter much).  And it does not suggest that M's choice to put SA in with PR doesn't matter -- I suggested one way that it does (quietism as cover).  And I think that M did decide that he wanted SA in print.  What I do not believe is:  1) that SA was composed last among M's poems; and 2) probably more controversially:  that PR and SA were composed as a pair, in something the way that L'Alleg and II P were.  I think that "to which is added" is a real hint as to how SA got into print.  One of!
  the things that the many typological readings of the 1671 volume have never, to my mind, dealt with honestly or satisfactorily is why, if the thing is typologically organized, the NT episode comes before the OT one.  Only a few critics have addressed this -- though it seems an obvious problem -- and I don't think convincingly so.  I do certainly acknowledge that there is a sense in which SA was M's final word, and, if I am right that it is much more politically explosive than PR -- good for the old guy!

[By the way, and completely irrelevantly, I loved Stella's comments on M's marriages (she knows something about happy marriages!).]

RS


________________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of srevard at siue.edu [srevard at siue.edu]
Sent: Friday, December 06, 2013 1:06 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List; Schwartz, Louis
Cc: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] dating Samson

Excellent point, Louis. Richard's imaginative scenario relegates PR to makeweight status, whereas yours points--rightly, I believe--to Milton's deliberate setting of them as counterpointed assessments of how to carry on religious/political struggle. As for dating the compositions of PL, SA, and PR, there is well-known evidence that PL includes some bits (e.g. Satan's soliloquy) from much earlier time, and Milton's compositional procedures in prose and verse as well as his arrangements of published volumes (e.g. his POEMS) certainly show his care and subtlety in revising, in putting on final touches, and in situating texts in significant sequence and juxtapositions. And in his blindness and surrounded by dangers from 1660 to 1667, and then after even his wouldbe rival Dryden had realized the achievement of PL and Milton was being courted by the Royalists in an effort to neutralize him, Milton certainly reshaped PL (ten into twelve books etc.): so why shouldn't we propose a scenario in which Milton in dark surrounded by deadly threats was pulling out some earlier beginnings of SA, say in 1661; and following up on those, and rethinking, rewriting--and perhaps even while he was finishing PL, deciding NOT to include in what are now Books 11 and 12 of PL an account of Jesus finding his Sonship by countering Satan's temptations; then  turning that story into PR, a whole separate poem, and working it into the counterpoint relation with SA.

And just to comment, Richard, on your earlier-introduced question (with the quote from Tillyars) of whether Milton would have eaten the Apple and written a pamphlet defending the deed:  certainly Milton "identifies" with Adam in PL, certainly Milton's early Latin poems and correspondence with Diodati (see Cedric Brown's excellent discussion of this in the Oxford Press THE YOUNG MILTON), and perhaps even his 1638 Latin epigram to the great Neapolitan singer Leonora Baroni, Milton was "fondly overcome with female charm"--but that was in his salad days, wasn't it?  By the 1660s, after having taken back that perhaps too fondly charming first wife and her family (hardly, of course a Mother of God type I must suppose), after having survived her, married for love and lost a second wife, and in his late blindness having married again a wife with whom, despite the fuss with his daughters about it, he seems to have lived very
contentedly:  by the 1660s when he was finishing his account of Adam and Eve eating the Forbidden Fruit, I think he was older, wiser, and more than capable of NOT eating the Apple.  So, I think Lewis could have added that Milton not only identified himself with Satan, but with Adam; and that by the 1660s he was not the naive Adam but the sadder and wiser one.  And I think his Samson denouncing Dalila is relevant to this, but so also is his PR Son of God untempted by Satan's nymphs and houris--and waiting until after Satan is defeated to enjoy the feast set before him in the wilderness by angels.



Quoting "Schwartz, Louis" <lschwart at richmond.edu>:

> This is an interesting and still live question.  I don't know when it 
> was composed, but I do think that the decision to include it in the 
> volume with Paradise Regained counts as a (maybe final) act of composition in itself.
> The addition turns that volume into more than just a pair of poems, it 
> creates a tension in the mind that can generate considerable "Miltonic"
> energy.

> Louis
> ===========================
>
> Louis Schwartz
> Professor of English
> English Department
> University of Richmond
> 28 Westhampton Way
> Richmond, VA  23173
> (804) 289-8315
> lschwart at richmond.edu

> -----Original Message-----
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of William 
> Silverman
> Sent: Friday, December 06, 2013 12:06 PM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] dating Samson
>
> Richard,
>
> I cannot help but agree with you. I had the same thoughts in mind when 
> I read "Samson Agonistes, Milton's Last great work." I almost 
> immediately responded, "Is it?" In fact, this is a topic we just 
> addressed in my current Milton course. It is always fun when students 
> participate in this kind of debate because they come up with the most fascinating suggestions.
>
> Thanks,
>
> William
> Dr. William John Silverman, Jr.
> Assistant Professor of English
> Southern Virginia University
> Vice President, Mormon Scholars in the Humanities 
> http://www.mormonscholars.net/ 
> ________________________________________
>
> From:
>
milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>
> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Richard A. Strier 
> [rastrier at uchicago.edu]
>
> Sent: Friday, December 06, 2013 11:57 AM
>
> To: John Milton Discussion List
>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] dating Samson
>
>
>
> 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<mailto: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

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