[Milton-L] obedience to your creator

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Fri Apr 11 14:54:48 EDT 2014


Much appreciation for David's post. I've actually been grading papers
rather than participating in this discussion, but I did get enough of a
break to read his post. I'd like to respond to this:

<< I think Jim can be both right and wrong: right in that the poem may
actually mimetically associate itself with its subject, wrong about the
level of reality of the characters in the poem. Even autobiography walks
the line between truth and invention; its success as autobiography depends
more upon the results of the mixture of the two, less on how it upholds the
truth alone.>>

I think David may have stated my own position better than I did: I'm not
attempting to gauge the "level of reality of characters in the poem" but
attempting to place PL within discourse about these characters -- so that,
as David said, whatever we think about the characters populating the
tradition out of which Milton wrote, we can at least assert that the
tradition itself is real.

What further complicates the matter is that Milton himself powerfully
shaped that tradition going forward. Did I recall reading in an
introduction to an edition of Milton's works that 18thC readers may have
been confused at times about what they read in PL and what they read in the
Bible? Something like people confusing  the content of Austen novels and
their film adaptations?

This influence means that the God of PL actually becomes the God of the
Anglican church at some point, for at least some people, making Milton a
massive and either direct or indirect target for dissenters like Blake.

Jim R
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