[Milton-L] Bk 3 and Jeffrey Shoulson's link

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Sun Oct 27 18:30:16 EDT 2013


Jim,

It's doesn't (or it doesn't necessarily) out Milton in the "fortunate fall" camp.  It suggests merely (although not "merely" at all) that Milton's God intended to make the trial difficult and it's consequences (on both the passing and the failing side) "real," as we say.

There's stuff to read about all of this and related matters, if you're interested.

Louis

======================
Louis Schwartz
Professor of English
University of Richmond
Richmond, VA  23173
(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu
________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of James Rovira [jamesrovira at gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2013 6:20 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Bk 3 and Jeffrey Shoulson's link

Alan --

I don't think I've been very clear. I don't believe that Milton is obligated to aim for naturalism, psychological or otherwise, nor do I believe that I am holding Milton up to naturalistic standards in my responses. At no point am I asking Milton to do anything other than allegorize.

I just think that if he's going to allegorize, he can do it better than that. Recognizing the allegorizing tradition that Milton follows is not the same as saying that he contributed to it particularly well. However far I follow his allegory of Sin and Death, it never seems to move beyond simplistic one to one correspondences with Biblical assertions about sin and death. It doesn't yield anything unique to Milton, any added insight into these elements of Christian thought. Spenser does better than that in some of his allegorizing. Character development or added psychological depth yields insight into the allegory.

If what I'm describing is a flaw, I wouldn't say this flaw was an accidental one, but more a part of the poem that was written without being fully developed or conceptualized. It made a few points, served Milton's purposes, but wasn't important enough to him to develop further than that.

Now Louis's suggestion that Milton's God never intended to keep Satan in (physical) Hell is plausible, and would put Milton in the fortunate fall camp. That's a definite position to take, and it resolves some of the difficulties. I've been assuming Milton isn't in that camp, but I'm not prepared to to defend that position.

I guess I'd ask Michael Gillum if the point of allegory wasn't to make each element contribute to readers' understanding of the subject of the allegory?

Jim R


On Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 5:15 PM, alan horn <alanshorn at gmail.com<mailto:alanshorn at gmail.com>> wrote:
 I'm actually starting from that assumption and wanting the novelistic development of characters to serve, extend, and nuance the allegory, not to take its place.

As long as you recognize that this (in my view misguided) desideratum arises solely from the historically conditioned ideals you are familiar with. It has no bearing on the conventions that Milton was working in, which do not aim at naturalism–psychological or otherwise.

A 1921 article on “Vergil’s Alegory of Fama” notes that a recent editor (who would be quite at home on this list) complains “that the description of Fama is so extravagant as to be almost ludicrous, and proceeds to ask where her numerous ears and tongues are to be found, and how it is possible for a creature reaching from earth to heaven to sit upon a housetop.” But of course it is the idea that this figure is to be taken literally that is ludicrous.

Alan Horn


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--
Dr. James Rovira
Associate Professor of English
Tiffin University
http://www.jamesrovira.com
Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
Continuum 2010
http://jamesrovira.com/blake-and-kierkegaard-creation-and-anxiety/
Text, Identity, Subjectivity
http://scalar.usc.edu/works/text-identity-subjectivity/index
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