[Milton-L] new from saint-exupery press: the improved paradise lost

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Sat Oct 26 13:57:31 EDT 2013

Great Fun, Greg!

I'm saving this email and tucking it in my old faithful Hughes edition. I love, btw, "Th'unsettled Inconsistence". No matter that I completely disagree with you, the invention is worth the critical overreach. Nothing is more refreshing than reading old Richard B. He's the very definition of a brilliant mind "in wand'ring mazes lost." The miracle is, for humans, if not for angels who are, as Blake percipiently remarked, "have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise...[which proceeds]...from systematic reasoning," even these self-imposed manacles can be removed by Grace. Richard Bently and J. M. are boon companions in Elysium no doubt and by no wit or act of their own, saved only by poetry "how sweet the sound" proof positive of Grace.

Jim Watt
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: Saturday, October 26, 2013 1:22 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] new from saint-exupery press: the improved paradise lost

Professors:  Are you tired of your students pointing out to you that the key that an allegorical character carries cannot open a gate for a historical-mimetic character to walk through?  For a full three hundred years, literary critics have known that the allegory of Sin and Death, while fine, was improper.  Well, they've finally done something about it.  The Improved Paradise Lost has been carefully designed by a team prominent Miltonists to remove these chimerical actors from the poem.  Like fan edits of the Phantom Menace that remove the annoying Jar-Jar Binks, this edition cleanly excises the offensive Sin and Death--while leaving the poem fundamentally about (historical-mimetic) sin and death.  To see how dramatically this excision improves the original, simply follow these directions in any of the many improper editions presently available on the market.

>From Book 2, omit the material from the second half of line 648 through the first half of line 884.  Line 648 should now end "Surprised but with delight" and the new line 649 begin "Satan observed."

>From Book 10, after line 228, add "Mean while, the enemy of God and Man, / Had" and omit the material running from line 229 through 331 and the first word of 332.

After line 346, add the following two lines "The gate he found wide open and unguarded still, / His comrades, torments still unassuaged,"  then omit the stretch running from the present 347 to 422.

Replace line 473-4 with the following "The tread of your triumphant feet shall pave / Anon a broad and easy way; but I"

After line 584, insert the following passage:

Their former shapes recovered now, they troop
Across the bog of Chaos inconcrete
And trample, in their ruinous multitude,
Th'unsettled Inconsistence to a broad,
Smooth way, o'er which henceforth both they
Might haste on purposes maligh, and all
On Earth that towards hell inclines might speed.
This baleful march uncurbed th'Almighty seeing

Omit lines 585 through 613.

Line 621 now reads "Folly to me, that with such marvelous ease" and 622 is omitted.

See if you don't agree that these changes improve what had been, no one denies, already a pretty good poem.  A Word document presenting these edits as a continuous text is available upon request.

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