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

J. Michael Gillum mgillum at ret.unca.edu
Mon Oct 28 11:01:01 EDT 2013


>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?

Well, we have some people complaining that the episode is not mimetic
enough, and now Jim complaining that it is not allegorical enough. PL is a
collection of sub-genres within an epic framework; it is anything but pure.

Literary allegories often contain mimetic and narrative elements that are
not allegorical. So when Death and Satan quarrel, that episode doesn't
assert a natural antipathy between the Adversary of God and the biological
process of death. It simply enacts the tendency of heroic warriors to brag
and threaten in response to a challenge. As narrative, it sets up the
brilliant surprise of Sin's first speech.


On Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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> 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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