[Milton-L] Sin, Death, and other improprieties

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Tue Oct 29 15:32:20 EDT 2013


I am not sure that the past discussion about Milton's "flaws" was really to 
"stir up the gang." I do hate to think that literary debates are done for 
this purpose, even though the references to "sides" that were made were 
unfortunate and not helpful to clarify matters. As for Lewis, his criticism 
of PL was based upon his beliefs, and I admit they are strong, but he 
attempts to be as objective as possible. Yes, he had conflicts with T. S. 
Eliot and Leavis, but his statements are true to his beliefs. Specifically, 
his statements about books 11 and 12 as "an untransmuted [not 
undigested--very different!] lump of futurity" are based upon his views that 
they are  "inartistic" structurally, although there is in them "fine 
moments, and a great recovery at the very end." He certainly was not trying 
to excise them. Maybe he was trying to "stir" up his gang-of-one, Charles 
Williams, whom he respected as a critic of PL, and to whom he dedicated A 
Preface to Paradise Lost.
Best,
Salwa

Salwa Khoddam PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Oklahoma City University
Author of *Mythopoeic Narnia:
Memory, Metaphor, and Metamorphoses
in The Chronicles of Narnia*
skhoddam at cox.net
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Watt, James" <jwatt at butler.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:50 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Sin, Death, and other improprieties


> Dario Rivarossa:
>
> it wasn't about Renaissance practice; it wasn't even about P.L.;
> it was about stirring up the gang. Remember C.S. Lewis's remark
> about Books XI & XII being "undigested lumps of futurity"? Same
> thing.
>
> jim watt
> ________________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu 
> [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Dario Rivarossa 
> [dario.rivarossa at gmail.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 8:54 AM
> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
> Subject: [Milton-L] Sin, Death, and other improprieties
>
> Having been off home in these past few days, I found a synthesis of
> the M-L discussion about Sin and Death in Prof. H. Jeffery Hodges'
> blog. Here's the brief remarks I posted there:
>
> Your reconstruction of Milton's psychological process is vivid and
> witty, but I can't get the point of Machaceck's problem. Renaissance
> poems were full of allegorical figures. Milton, besides, had a big
> classical culture, so he could easily remember Virgil's description of
> the entrance of 'hell' in Aeneid 6.273-281, where a lot of allegorical
> monsters were set, the first two of which being basically Death and
> Sin (i.e. Grief and Remorse, v. 274). Then Milton reinterpreted this
> in the light of James and Paul ("per peccatum mors," "through / out of
> Sin, Death did come"), of course.
>
>>Hodges: The problem lay in having real characters in a historical 
>>narrative interacting with unreal allegorical characters in a purely 
>>symbolic fable.
>
> But precisely this was normal in Renaissance poetry and drama -- as
> well as in Medieval plays before. See e.g. the whole episode of
> Alcina's island in "Orlando Furioso," that shows a sort of hell on
> earth (in fact, Tasso will draw on this when describing the actual
> hell).
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