[Milton-L] Sin and other Improprieties

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Wed Oct 23 01:03:54 EDT 2013


Professor Machacek wrote, "One sometimes wishes Milton had done at least one thing properly, just so one could get one's bearings."

    I think that new ways of approaching Milton are exciting and open doors for diverse interpretations. I respect and appreciate all the ideas offered in this list by prominent scholars like Professor Machacek and others. In fact, I'm always looking for new ideas on Milton, some of them I find very intriguing and fresh. But the above statement is a little difficult for me to accept, if I understand it correctly, which I hope I do. The allegory of sin may not work in PL, but I do believe that other things in PL work properly. These are my responses: 1) Wars are not the only argument deemed heroic.  One must not forget that there is also the heroism of suffering of "the better fortitude / Of Patience and Heroic Martyrdom / Unsung" (9. 31-33) as shown in the characters of Eve and Christ. 2) Milton had to glorify Satan in order to put him down in the end as a "worm." This is the arch of the plot. Satan is not the hero, but evil is always more attractive than the good. Iago is more clever and appealing than Othello, does that make him the hero? 3) Milton "refuses to rhyme" because, as explained in the note to the Readers, he desires to write within the tradition of Homer and Virgil and not the medieval "barbarous Age." 4) If the statement means that Milton emerges as a candidate for hero in PL, it would be an approach based upon reading the biography of the author into the work.
What makes literature exciting are our different interpretations. Thanks for sharing your interpretations on this list. I am honored to be part of this group of scholars, and I am learning a great deal about Milton.
Best,
Salwa






Salwa Khoddam PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Oklahoma City University
Author of *Mythopoeic Narnia:
Memory, Metaphor, and Metamorphoses 
in The Chronicles of Narnia*
skhoddam at cox.net
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Gregory Machacek 
  To: John Milton Discussion List 
  Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 10:08 PM
  Subject: [Milton-L] Sin and other Improprieties


  But, as Johnson asked of another impropriety, "who would take [it] away?"  Indeed, we must be thankful most for Milton's improprieties, for an Impropriety so astounding it perhaps merits allegorical status.  The poem itself is a massive impropriety, wars hitherto the only argument heroic deemed.  Once one starts down the path, one finds it hard to think of a single impropriety Milton omits to perpetrate.  He refuses to rhyme.  To stay within the lines.  Eschews a national subject.  Doesn't give us a clear hero.  His giant foils his knight.  Or himself emerges as a candidate for hero.  Or as more appealing than the poem's God.  One sometimes wishes Milton had done at least one thing properly, just so one could get one's bearings.



  Greg Machacek
  Professor of English
  Marist College


  -----milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu wrote: -----
  To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
  From: "Richard A. Strier" 
  Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
  Date: 10/22/2013 08:01PM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Sin


  I'm afraid I agree with Addison on the impropriety of the allegory.



  RS 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Kevin Donovan [Kevin.Donovan at mtsu.edu]
  Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 9:45 AM
  To: John Milton Discussion List
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Sin


  And a fine paper it was, Diana! I'll be drawing on it in my teaching this week.



  Kevin J. Donovan

  Professor of English

  Middle Tennessee State University

  MTSU Box 70

  Murfreesboro, TN 37132

  Phone: 615-898-5898

  Fax: 615-494-8744



  From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Diana
  Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 9:34 AM
  To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Sin



  I recommend an excellent article by Andrew Escobedo: "Allegorical Agency and the Sin of Angels" (ELH 75 (2008).  I just presented an article at Murfreesboro that had a section of Sin, but it's not "out" anywhere yet.

  Diana T Benet 

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Arlene Stiebel <amstiebel at verizon.net>
  To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
  Sent: Fri, Oct 4, 2013 12:37 pm
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Sin

  I'd recommend CS Lewis: A Preface to Paradise Lost as an essential resource. 



  -- Arlene





  On Oct 4, 2013, at 9:15 AM, Brendan Prawdzik <brendanprawdzik at gmail.com> wrote:





  Hi Hannibal and all, 



  I'm much interested in the way that Sin emerges, almost like a cancer, from the head of Satan ("in sight of all the Seraphim").  (We see something like the raising of Pandemonium.) The description of his semi- or unconscious state is peculiar and suggestive.  Sin as product of passivity, of non-agency.  This idea seems related to her status as rigid allegory (and is of course associated with rigidly anti-feminist exegesis, representing in her serpentine, grotesque features not only Spenser's Errour but also the woman-snake tempter who appears in some Fall dramas and paintings).  As rigid allegory she is self-referential, not a product of active choice and deliberation, but of an entropic agency in relation to prepackaged, inflexible "truths" or abstractions.  What is "sin" in Paradise Lost?  This idea of fixed self-referentiality recalls Satan's narcissistic love for her as a product of his own mind (that leapt out sans his control).  She is the divesture of authority masked as ultimate authority.  She is complicated!  (Your student should certainly look at Victoria Kahn's essay on allegory and the sublime in Paradise Lost.)



  Regards,



  Brendan  



  On Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM, Hannibal Hamlin <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com> wrote:

  Friends and colleagues,



  I realize this is a bit of a cheat (I do have ideas of my own), but I'm curious to know what you all think might be the essential reading on Milton's allegorical Sin in PL. I have a senior undergrad interested in writing a thesis on the topic. We had a discussion of Sin on the list not too long ago, so many of you may have ideas fresh in mind.



  Yours gratefully,



  Hannibal





  -- 

  Hannibal Hamlin
  Associate Professor of English

  Author of The Bible in Shakespeare, now available through all good bookshops, or direct from Oxford University Press at http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199677610.do

  Editor, Reformation
  The Ohio State University
  164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
  Columbus, OH 43210-1340
  hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
  hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com


  _______________________________________________
  Milton-L mailing list
  Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
  Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

  Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/



  _______________________________________________
  Milton-L mailing list
  Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
  Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

  Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/



  _______________________________________________
  Milton-L mailing list
  Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
  Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

  Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
  _______________________________________________
  Milton-L mailing list
  Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
  Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

  Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/


------------------------------------------------------------------------------


  _______________________________________________
  Milton-L mailing list
  Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
  Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

  Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.richmond.edu/pipermail/milton-l/attachments/20131023/3cbbd805/attachment.html>


More information about the Milton-L mailing list