[Milton-L] edit done, but first

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Fri Oct 25 19:16:03 EDT 2013

Good work!  Can't wait to see it.


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: Friday, October 25, 2013 3:55 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] edit done, but first

I've trimmed the allegorical figures Sin and Death (though not sin and death) from book 10 now, too.  There are some challenges involved in sharing with you the results, so they will come in a later post.  First, I just wanted to share the discovery that this surgical operation afforded. I think there may be some more evidence in this book that the allegorical Sin and Death were a later imagination and interpolation. Anyway, there's something that might offer a trace of the composition process.  Take a look at lines 616-637.  Th'Almighty is having the Saints look down at Sin and Death, and he tells how they are laughing to think that God has left the whole world to their destruction, but He is having the last laugh because in fact He's called them there to lick up "the draff and filth / Which Man's polluting sin with taint hath shed / On what was pure."  Now, it would be a little odd to have Sin licking up the draff and filth caused by sin, so through the speech, God speaks of the persons toward whom he is directing the Saints' attention as "Dogs of Hell" and "Hell-hounds."  I think these might originally have referred to the devils, rather than Sin and Death, both because those names forget the "cry of Hell hounds" that surround Sin in book 2 (those seem forgotten altogether in book 10; they must be kenneling the whole while) and because God says these beings are laughing to think how he has given the world over to them, and that had been asserted not of Sin and Death, but of the devils back at 488 (at least Satan invites them to laugh and for that reason).  You'll see in my edit that I've cut out the phrase "So doth the Prince of Hell and his adherents" and made the whole passage instead refer to them.  Toward the end of that passage, the Father anticipates when the Sun will fling Sin and Death and the yawning Grave through Chaos to obstruct the mouth of Hell.  But I think this is not our Sin and Death but just sin and death, only minimally allegorized.  I think that in part because this sin and death has a companion, Grave, that Sin and Death never had.

Don't know if any of that makes sense.  Maybe one aspect of how I went about my edit will make it more clear.

Greg Machacek
Professor of English
Marist College
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