[Milton-L] Flaws

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Thu Oct 24 16:49:24 EDT 2013

Yes!  I still think this is a key insight into how Milton thought about the allegorical mode-especially when it comes to creaturely being and will.  It's an important part of what the inconsistency suggests.  Part of its intellectual resonance.


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

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Steve Fallon
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 4:36 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Flaws

I tried something along these lines 26 years ago, when I argued that Milton's harnessed the inconsistency to signal the gap between being and (Augustinian) privation of being.  I can understand that my reading will strike some as bending away from the poetic and bending too far toward the theological and philosophical, but I'm still partial to it.

If interested, one can find it here: "Milton's Sin and Death: The Ontology of Allegory in Paradise Lost" [a terrible title, I know], ELR 17 (1987): 329-50. A version, with a better title, appears as Ch 6 of Milton among the Philosophers.

Steve Fallon

On Oct 24, 2013, at 12:31 PM, Schwartz, Louis wrote:

The only way to defend the passages is to argue that Milton, who clearly knew what he was doing (creating an inconsistency), had a poetic reason (a reason as a maker of a poem) to create it and the confusions that it inevitable courted.  So the real question is:  what's the pay-off for the loss of consistency?
   . . . . . . .
It's a rigorous poem, and it's theological and philosophical frameworks do powerfully bend things to their thematic will, but not without showing the pressure and certainly not toward a tidy end.  It's rigorous, but not tidy.  Open-ended.  Ported.  But I'll stop before I get more carried away with the puns.

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