[Milton-L] oops, I forgot one

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Thu Oct 24 12:20:56 EDT 2013

I was thinking Alan Horn's question was perhaps the place to start the
discussion, not to end it. "Impropriety" is especially context specific.
It's naive to think otherwise, as if table manners, figures of speech, and
literary conventions were constant from age to age. Yes, Milton's epic is
an epic in a long line of epics, but what does it do with the epic
tradition? Something never before attempted? He's not just writing a
national history.

So if we want to talk about Milton's improprieties, we need to ask how most
readers of his own generation reacted to *Paradise Lost*, and perhaps the
next generation too, and not just Johnson. Otherwise, we're not talking
about "Milton's" improprieties but about our own.

Impropriety is context specific even within the same era in a variety of
ways. Literary, social, and religious improprieties do not necessarily
coincide even within the same era. Complaints about the episode involving
Sin and Death might reflect literary impropriety, but that is only one
kind. Is it a religious impropriety when it seems to dramatize James 1:15
in ways that serve the purpose of the narrative? There's no defending God's
ways to man without accounting for the existence of sin, which if God is
good must be heterogeneous to creation.

I also recall expressing a bit of disregard for the Sin and Death episode
myself -- feeling like it was overly obvious allegorizing for a literary
work of PL's scale, and I recall Harold Skulsky's response, which I think
is worth revisiting.

Jim R

On Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 11:42 AM, Gregory Machacek <
Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote:

> The Our-Critical-Judgments-Are-Determined-By-Our-Eraers (Horn).  This is
> the era in which we live.  What are we going to do but make this era's
> judgments?  That we can't make transhistorically valid judgments means we
> can't make judgments?
> Greg Machacek
> Professor of English
> Marist College
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Dr. James Rovira
Associate Professor of English
Tiffin University
Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
Continuum 2010
Text, Identity, Subjectivity
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