[Milton-L] technical challenges in the excision of s&d from 10 (long, involved post)

srevard at siue.edu srevard at siue.edu
Fri Oct 25 00:37:18 EDT 2013

 Au contraire, mon cher Coeur de Lion:  detailed examination of all the lines
involving Sin and Death (not only their encounters with Satan) is a good way to
try and see just how Milton MAY have spatulated them into the poem once he had
the brilliant idea of creating their first dramatic encounter with Satan. It
deepens Milton's portrayal of Satan as grotesque parody of God and the Son: it
reveals even to him the shocking truth of his "bringing forth" not a Savior but
a Murderer, not eternal life but eternal Death.  The Satan who has "heroically"
undertaken this journey and has so courageously fought his way here, is
suddenly unmasked as the BAD Father, the Incestuous Father, whose Only Begotten
Daughter (proleptic of Eve/Mary) he is suddenly forced to acknowledge as his,
and to see their Only Begotten Son now prepared to kill his Father.  Satan must
therefore recognize the limits of his power and be stunned by his own
dementia/amnesia. We recognize this, do we not, as the horrifying parodic
version of Book III's dialogue between Father and Son (surely all Milton
Listers routinely teach this?). So once we have wrapped our little minds around
these huge revelations to Satan and to us as readers, it behooves us as critics
interested in the processes of authorial composition to look through the later
lines as our colleague GM is doing to see if we can reconstruct Milton's (as we
may think at least) integrating the dramatic figures of Sin and Death into the
poem's dramatic action....

Well, them's my sediments.

Quoting "Richard A. Strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu>:

> I hope this is fun for everyone, but excision is not the point.  Thew point
> is what would the poem look like if Milton had not decided to put those
> episodes in in the first place.  To take them out now only minimally helps us
> in imagining that.
> Richard Strier
> Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus
> Editor, Modern Philology
> Department of English
> University of Chicago
> 1115 E. 58th St.
> Chicago, IL 60637
> ________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of David Urban
> [dvu2 at calvin.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 9:57 PM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] technical challenges in the excision of s&d from 10
> (long, involved post)
> Greg--can we call you "Ritchie B" for a nickname?
> :),
> David
> ________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of Gregory Machacek
> <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu>
> Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:33 PM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: [Milton-L] technical challenges in the excision of s&d from 10
> (long, involved post)
> For anyone who him or herself wants to play the game of improving Paradise
> Lost by cutting out the inconsistent-in-representational-mode Sin and Death:
> The cut will start at 229-30.  The Son has returned to heaven and recounts to
> the Father his judgment, Meanwhile Sin and Death...  Here it is:
> Recounted, mixing intercession sweet.
> Meanwhile ere thus was sinn'd and judg'd on Earth
> Within the Gates of Hell sat Sin and Death
> [Odd expression:  "Meanwhile ere thus" Shouldn't it be one or the other?  Can
> anyone help me get a fix on what just these three words are saying?]
> They talk and snuff (I will miss "snuff"; I do like "snuff") and start
> building their bridge, and at 325 they've descried their way to earth
> when behold 326
> Satan in likeness of an angel bright
> steers his Zenith toward them.  He's disguised but they can tell it's him.
> The stuff we probably do want to follow "intercession sweet" starts at 332.
> "He after Eve seduc't unminded slunk."  But as phrased, it grammatically
> depends on the lines where Sin and Death can recognize their parent;  the
> pronoun "he" needs that as a referent.  Otherwise, 332-346 should all be in.
> It recounts what Satan did between seducing Eve and the judgment.
> [One thing that's odd, though, that I'm noticing for the first time is
> 341-345.  It says that Satan fled when the Son came to judge (which we know
> was at evening time), but then came back at night and heard from Adam and
> Eve's "sad discourse" that his own doom would be in the future.  But the poem
> doesn't narrate that "sad discourse" until much later: 720ff.  Is this a
> known glitch in the poem?  Milton is having to manage lots of "meanwhiles,"
> with action in heaven, on earth, and with two sets of agents in Chaos, but
> 341-5 seems weirdly proleptic.]
> A discordance in lines 346-7 perhaps suggest the late-composition theory.
> Line 346 say of Satan, "to hell he now returned," but line 347 backs us up to
> the foot of Chaos and S & D's bridge, for a conversation with them.
> He has a conversation with them, dismisses them, continues on his journey.
> There's another odd bit when he reaches the gate (418) he finds it desolate
> because those appointed to keep it had "flown to the upper world."  It hardly
> feels like we should need to be told that, having as recently as 411 been
> told so, particularly that he's finding it that way; duh, you just said
> farewell to the guards well outside the gate and going the opposite
> direction.  Anyway, there are also other guards (devils, I don't think we
> knew about them) who have fled inward, to Pandaemonium.  Satan sneaks in
> there, reveals himself.  His speech to the devils mentions Sin and Death at
> 473 and 490 [Also odd, he talks like they know who S&D are, but he'd
> forgotten them prior to his encounter; had they not? and does he now know
> they'd not?].  The devils turn to snakes.  At 585 a "Meanwhile" has moved Sin
> and Death to Paradise.  At 617, th'Almighty sees them and comments on how
> they and the devils think He's let them free to misrule the earth, but
> they're in fact there just to lick up the pollution of man's sin.  The angels
> sing halleluiah, God's decrees are righteous.
> It's going to take a lot of doing to trim them from this book.
> Greg Machacek
> Professor of English
> Marist College

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