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

srevard at siue.edu srevard at siue.edu
Mon Oct 28 14:28:27 EDT 2013

As always, Louis, a thoughtful and interesting comment from a careful reader.
While I am putting together a more quiet and I hope reasonable set of
suggestions for reading the poem very differently from the way Addison and
Johnson and some (no names, of course) more recent critics, let me recommend
[1] Esther Yu's helpful discussion in MILTON STUDIES 53 (2012), pp. 181-202: 
"From Judgment to Interpretation:  Eighteenth Century Critics and Milton's
PARADISE LOST," esp. 186-88 on Addison's strictures but also his "growing
awareness of the limitations of traditional benchmarks"--remarking, for
instance, of the "digressive self-references" that he had condemned as
"evidence of poor poetic judgment" ("Milton's complaint of his blindness, his
panegyrick on marriage, his reflections on Adam and Eve's going naked, of the
angels eating"), "I must confess, there is so great a beauty in these
digressions, that I would not wish them out of his poem."

[2] And, as for reading DE DOCTRINA and God's exposition as on the one hand
unorthodox and on the other Miltonic sham to cover his real views, it is well
worth reading (also in MS 53, pp. 3-15) John Hale and J. Donald Cullington's
discussion of their new edition of DOCTRINA, particularly Milton's terrific
Latin that has been missed by translators....


Quoting "Schwartz, Louis" <lschwart at richmond.edu>:

> 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
> ===========================
> Louis Schwartz
> Professor of English
> English Department
> University of Richmond
> 28 Westhampton Way
> Richmond, VA  23173
> (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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