[Milton-L] Flaws

srevard at siue.edu srevard at siue.edu
Thu Oct 24 10:09:33 EDT 2013


Dear Achsah,

Thanks, dear Achsah.  Stella tried to tone me down but I ranted as usual.  Don't
know if the List will tolerate it but it's good distraction.

How things up your way?

Stella and Carter


Quoting Achsah Guibbory <aguibbor at barnard.edu>:

> Carter, as usual you and Stella are brilliant!!!!
> Achsah
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> On Oct 24, 2013, at 2:33 AM, srevard at siue.edu wrote:
>
> > This is Carter Revard again.  Stella and I have followed with interest this
> > thread.  Something that it seems to me (as to her also) has been completely
> > ignored, which matters very much, is that Milton did not just invent these
> > figures out of his English poet's mind. He drew them, did he not, in part
> from
> > Hebrew/Old Testament/Apocryphal/Talmudic/New Testament/Early Christian
> > writings? So it is somewhat sophomoric, jejune, pedantically mistaken, to
> sniff
> > and snuff and whoof (okay, shoot me?) without considering Sin and Death as
> to
> > some extent "found art." Any critical reading of Paradise Lost should
> consider
> > these facts. Milton "found" them, then he re-created them so as to advance
> the
> > action of his epic poem. He used the Greek birth of Athena as one "source"
> for
> > the birth of Sin; this is a part of his epic's reshaping all of Greek myth
> as
> > damned lies put about by demons.  He is rewriting, not just referencing,
> the
> > Bible and Homer and EVERY God-damned God-blessed THING.
> >
> > Look, Milton knew a great many epic and other versions of Satan--Neil
> Forsyth
> > has done a great deal on a'that and a'that, eh what?--but his Satan is not
> > Dante's, nor Tasso's, nor Matthew's, and yet his Satan certainly comes
> directly
> > at one point in Paradise Regained out of 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, when
> Jesus
> > asks him bluntly about his having tempted David and brought down a plague
> upon
> > Jerusalem and the Israelites. Milton drew on damned near (literally
> damned?)
> > everything from everywhere to create his figures. Audacious is far too
> timid a
> > word to describe Milton's ambitious epic.
> >
> > To take another instance of Milton's creating a dramatic character, Comus
> is not
> > allegorical, exactly, but like Sin and Death, has a very complex
> "parentage."
> > So should Comus not be interacting with the "real historical" children of a
> > particular noble English family in an actual English town and its castle?
> >
> > Just for fun, how many of you want to stomp on Spenser for "mixing"
> historical
> > English figures in with the allegorical ones in The Faery Queene?  I can't
> > recall whether Sam Johnson ever read that poem, or had anything to say
> about
> > it.
> >
> >
> >
> > Quoting "Hugh M. RICHMOND" <hmr at berkeley.edu>:
> >
> >> I do agree that our generic tastes are more circumstantial than absolute.
> I
> >> always saw Satan as a mere element of human consciousness (an allegorical
> >> figure?) not a complete personality, and his associates (and Sin and
> Death)
> >> as aspects or consequences of that frustrated egotism, which we see
> >> integrated into full human consciousness only in the psychological
> >> progressions of Adam and Eve. This is how they all emerged in our
> >> production of "Paradise Lost" (see "John Milton's Drama of 'Paradise Lost'
> >> ", Peter Lang, 1992). In our production, the encounter of Satan, Sin and
> >> Death was a real shock to the audiences - perhaps Milton's violation of
> >> decorum was deliberate. Best wishes, Hugh richmond
> >>
> >>
> >> On Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 5:38 PM, alan horn <alanshorn at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >>> 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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> >>>
> >>
> >
> >
> >
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