[Milton-L] a note to the saint-exupery edition

Horace Jeffery Hodges horacejeffery at gmail.com
Sat Oct 26 21:00:52 EDT 2013


Here's the crux of Greg's cutting:

>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."


Assuming that Greg is right, that the allegorical figures' interaction with
Satan was a later addition, the question is "Why?" Why did Milton add it?
Actually, there are two questions: 1) why did he need an interpolation, and
2) why did he choose *this* allegorical interpolation?

(I believe some answers have been broached, so I may be repeating what
others have said.)

Milton needed to get the gates of hell opened, but who would be culpable?
Not the unfallen angels since they would not disobey. Only someone
disobedient could be responsible. But not the locked-in fallen angels, not
directly, else there would be no point to locking them in. That would be
the adamantine-chains problem writ large. One can see how Milton could have
thought:

"I need someone culpable, but it can't be the fallen or the unfallen.
Culpable . . . hmmm . . . why not 'sin' itself? It's the 'key' to getting
into hell. So, sin can open the gates. Or better, Sin herself with a key.
Culpability write large! But she has to be allegorical, though I'll still
need to 'explain' her presence. Satan was the first to sin, so Sin is his
conception, as I've already implied in the line 'Deep malice then
conceiving.' Ah, I  can take 'conceiving' in two senses and have 'Sin'
spring from Satan's head! That'll also be a slap at the Zeus myth on
Athena's birth -- goddess of wisdom, hah! The owl of Minerva flies only at
dusk because she prefers the gathering darkness! Anyway, Sin will open
Hell's gates with her key. But I'll be criticized for having an allegorical
figure interact with a 'historical' one. Hmmm . . . ah, no problem -- Sin
is just Satan's conception, so she's only in his head, anyway! He's insane
and hallucinates the encounter. But I've got to make the episode
intriguing. Hmmm . . . ah, I've got it! James 1:15. Satan's lust for power
brings forth Sin and Sin brings forth Death! I'll write up a gripping
little allegory on this and 'fit audience find, though few' who'll
understand that it's all in Satan's mind. I haven't really resolved my
dilemma of fallen or unfallen, of course, since the fallen Satan would,
implicitly, be the one who opens the gates, but I'll at least have told a
good tale to cover the gap."


Or something like that . . .

Jeffery Hodges

Ewha Womans University
Seoul, South Korea


Novella: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E18KW0K (*The Bottomless Bottle of Beer
*)


Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bottomless-Bottle-of-Beer/204064649770035
 (*The Bottomless Bottle of Beer*)

Blog: http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ (*Gypsy Scholar*)


Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in the Gospel of John and Gnostic
Texts"


Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University


Home Address:


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On Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 7:02 AM, Gregory Machacek <
Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote:

> I tried to describe something in a post that preceded the ad for the
> Saint-Exupery edition, but it probably didn't make any sense then.  I want
> to try again because in doing this exercise, I noticed one thing that I
> think bears on the whole discussion of how the allegory fits within the
> overall "historical-mimetic" narrative.
>
> In God's speech starting at 10.616, he predicts a time when the Son will
> "sling . . . Both Sin and Death and yawning Grave" through Chaos and they
> will henceforth and forever "obstruct the mouth of Hell."  I don't think
> this "Sin and Death" is exactly the Sin and Death of Book 2 (though I think
> it might be the start of that imagination).  One reason I don't think so is
> that this Sin and Death is part of a threesome, as the Sin and Death we
> know from elsewhere generally are not.  And I'm going to start with this
> other fellow:  yawning Grave.  I submit that slinging a yawning Grave in
> such a way that it lodges and henceforth obstructs a mouth is a sublime
> conception.  A grave, not necessarily; it might be a filled grave; such a
> thing *could* be slung and obstruct.  But the thought of the *space*inside an empty grave, a yawn(ing something) obstructing anything, suggests
> something about how *insubstantial* Milton regards all of these concepts
> as being (including, now, this Sin and Death, the ones with whom Grave is
> paired).  It's true that elsewhere in the poem, Milton gives us the sense
> that Hell is a more historical-mimetic place than Sin and Death are
> figures, but here, no.  They are equally insubstantial-substantial.
>  Insubstantial because they're yawning gaps filling yawning gaps;
> substantial because one yawning gap can be slung into the other and lodge
> there.
>
> This picks up several of the comments that have been made in defense of
> the allegory in the course of this thread.  The Revards stressed early on
> the status of some of these figures as "found poetry."  Sin and Death have
> a history as concepts and as allegorical figures, and I think that might
> confer on them a tangibility that they wouldn't have if they were a fresh
> allegory.  Hugh Richmond said "I always saw Satan as a mere element of
> human consciousness (an allegorical figure?) not a complete personality"
> and I think someone else said everything in the poem is allegorical to a
> degree (I can't find that post).  And John Leonard pointed out that the
> Book 2 Sin and Death are themselves not simply allegorical, but a weird mix
> of historical-mimetic and allegorical.  (He didn't use that language; all
> along I've borrowed "historical-mimetic" from Strier).
>
> In the Improved Paradise Lost, several "sin and death"s and even one "Sin
> and Death" didn't get excised.  The phrases didn't feel to me as though
> they referred to our figures; they're the kind of concept and phrase a guy
> writing an epic on sin and death will occasionally have to employ.  What
> I'm trying to get said is that sin and death exist in varying degrees of
> substantiality in the poem, one of them substantial enough to carry a key
> that opens a door for a figure who feels to us like he has a still greater
> degree of substantiality.  I'm imagining trying to build a rhetorical*continuum
> * (on the model of Milton's monistic substance having varying degrees,
> some more spiritous and pure) a monistic rhetoric that runs from the
> firguration that gives us solid seeming historical-mimetic figures like
> Adam and Eve; through Satan, who's mostly historical-mimetic, but sometimes
> a shade more allegorical; through Sin and Death in their Book 2 forms; to
> the 10.635 version; to mere concept; to some Augustinian privation version.
> (Gotta go read Fallon) And the rhetorical continuum might be somehow
> continuous with the substance continuum (since discursive and intuitive
> reason is the most refined thing on the substance continuum). It's not
> going to do away with the key problem, but it might contexutalize it in
> some interesting way.
>
> Two other incidental points.  1) In the drafts for a tragedy on the Fall,
> Death appears, usually in a group of mutes (Feare, Sickness, Ignorance (but
> not Sin)) but sometimes having prominence as the first or last of those
> mutes.  2) I did glance at Gilbert, just his table.  He puts the
> composition of Sin and Death as among the latest material, Group VI, the
> last group.  I'd be willing to bet that in the text of his study, his
> grounds for placing it there is its easy excisibility from book 2, so I
> don't think, as was asserted earlier, that mine was an altogether new
> discovery.  Anyway, Sin and Death may be both and early and a late
> conception.
>
> I'm thinking of signing off now, going mute myself for two weeks to make
> up for the eighteen posts I've made in the last four days.  Thanks, all,
> for playing along.  Proud as I am of the Improved Paradise Lost, I return
> to my paean to Milton's Impropriety that began all of this.  The way Sin
> and Death cross representational lines *is* improper, but sublimely
> improper.  Although I admired the courage of Richard Strier's frank answer
> to my question, "would the poem be better without them?" and although it
> prompted the exhilarating fun of seeing what the poem would look like in
> that case, he gave the wrong answer.  Even if
> inconsistency-in-representational-mode is a flaw, the poem is better for
> the flaw.  So, sadly, the Saint-Exupery edition probably won't sell
> particularly well.
>
> Henceforth, I'm going to try to find excuses to take lots of things out of
> Paradise Lost; it focuses one's attention in interesting ways.  Talk to you
> all again on November 9th.  If you want to torment me, have lots of
> discussions about metrics between now and then.
>
> Be well,
>
>
> Greg Machacek
> Professor of English
> Marist College
>
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