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

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Mon Oct 28 11:24:57 EDT 2013

Or you're being asked to look more closely, in a wider textual context, and with a wider sense of how the "fissures" themselves might be intentionally significant.


Louis Schwartz
Professor of English
English Department
University of Richmond
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(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of James Rovira
Sent: Monday, October 28, 2013 11:19 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Bk 3 and Jeffrey Shoulson's link

There's no question that PL is a collection of sub-genres, and that's part of what makes it so compelling, but don't you think it's possible that at times the juxtaposition of its various genres and the readerly expectations created by them will clash, contradict, or create fissures in the narrative and its coherence?

Calling it narrative to deflect one set of criticisms and allegory to deflect another is more an expression of bias than a coherent reading strategy. Yes, PL is both mimetic narrative and allegory, and that is what makes it so imaginatively compelling, and what may cause problems too at times. What I wanted to see happen in the Sin and Death episode was for the mimetic elements to better serve the allegory, that's all.

I feel like I'm being asked not to look too closely at some elements of the text.

Jim R

On Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 11:01 AM, J. Michael Gillum <mgillum at ret.unca.edu<mailto:mgillum at ret.unca.edu>> wrote:
>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.

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