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

srevard at siue.edu srevard at siue.edu
Sat Oct 26 13:59:57 EDT 2013

Not so fast, Bentley Boy!  You have not cut the Book III dialogue of Father and
Son which directly references (and contrastively parallels) the Sin/Death/Satan
episode near the end of Book II, and in so doing uses Pauline passages (Romans
and Corinthians--"O Death, where is thy sting?" perhaps the best known of
those) to personify Sin and Death.  Also, to slash comprehensively, should your
damascened meat-cleaver not chop out Milton's astonishing lines in III.13-21,
where he tells us (in effect) that he has just flown alongside Satan, and like
Satan is now about to "revisit...with bolder wing" the Holy Light? A reader of
the uncut poem would surely take that to imply Milton, "taught by the heavenly
Muse," himself "witnessed" not only Satan's whole journey, but the encounter of
Sin, Death, and Satan.

Quoting Gregory Machacek <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu>:

> 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 troopAcross the bog of Chaos
> inconcreteAnd trample, in their ruinous multitude,Th'unsettled Inconsistence
> to a broad,Smooth way, o'er which henceforth both theyMight haste on purposes
> maligh, and allOn 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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