[Milton-L] Flaws

alan horn alanshorn at gmail.com
Wed Oct 23 20:38:14 EDT 2013


We may regard our own standards of taste as natural and correct, but it is
interesting to note how different standards have prevailed at other times.
Addison and Johnson were offended by the mixing of modes and genres they
found in Shakespeare, a judgment which seems peculiar now when such
conventions no longer have the same significance. But overt allegory has
been out of fashion long enough that the allegorical interlude involving
Sin and Death tends to bother contemporary readers of PL as much as it did
certain eighteenth-century critics--we’re not used to THIS kind of mixture.
Registering our distance from the work in this respect is important to do
and can be instructive. But to take the conventions we’re used to for
timeless norms is, it seems to me, to fall into a rather old-fashioned
error.
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