[Milton-L] lapsarian sex

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Tue Apr 15 17:51:45 EDT 2014

I think that what Larisa says is exactly right.  Even pornographic poetry, like Donne's "Love's Progress" elegy were remarkably genitally oriented in their vision of heterosexuality, and that poem sees the woman's mouth as a possible but less desirable location (like the rest of her body except her "centrique part").  And, just to stick with Jack Donne, there is a startling reference to a midwife's perspective in the very heterosexually eager "Going to Bed" elegy.

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Larisa Zámbóné Kocić [larisa.kocic at gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:17 PM
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] lapsarian sex

Dear John,

As far as I am aware of it, sex in the Renaissance, wether sanctioned in matrimony or practiced as a "sport" for pleasures, always seems to intail procreation, or at least to strive towards it. Even the lust driven, erotic literature of the age (and I am here deliberatly sticking with Ian Moulton's phrase) is replete with procreation, hence, prefering penetrative sex descriptions - if mentioning other, alternative variations, they are either featured as foreplays, or are described in derogatory sense not necessarily connected to the postlapsarian condition as such (see The School of Venus for example). Particularly interesting in this regards would be Sarah Toulalan's  Pornography and Bodies in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford UP, 2007), chapter two: "‘What a Fountain of Joys’: Reproduction and Sexual Pleasure."
So, I am inclined to agree with Oydin about "fallacious" puning on "fall", if at all.
Thank you for the very intersting article,

Larisa Kocic-Zámbó

Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:42:09 -0500
From: jsavoie at siue.edu<mailto:jsavoie at siue.edu>

Thanks for your response, Michael.

Raphael's first words to Eve are
"Hail Mother of Mankind, whose fruitful Womb
Shall fill the World more numerous with thy Sons
Than with these various fruits . . ." 4:388-90

Eve's final words--indeed the final spoken words of the epic:
"By mee the Promis'd Seed shall all restore." 12.623

PL is emphatically procreative.  Moreover, with one exception, the eros of PL is
procreative.  On p. 169 of my MQ essay I gather several of the more erotically
aware passages and show how each is closely tied to procreation.  The one
exception?  The lapsarian sex of Bk 9.  Despite ingesting the forbidden fruit
and having passionate sex, Adam and Eve end Bk 9 "fruitless," their argument
and accusation yes, but that extended episode as a whole.

Of course elsewhere Milton beautifully urges other aspects of marriage,
particularly in the divorce tracts.  I don't contest that at all.  Miltonic
marriage is about much more than sex, but when it is about sex, especially in
PL, it is closely tied to procreation except when it notably is not.

I do not insist upon the pun, but it makes one wonder. My argument works without
it, but it works better with the pun, which I ascribe to a proven punster of
extraordinary verbal density and poetic dexterity.

John Savoie

Quoting Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu<mailto:mgillum at unca.edu>>:

> What is the basis for claiming that Milton wants sex to be necessarily
> connected with reproduction? Clearly, for him marital sex is part of that
> "conversation" which is the main purpose of marriage, more essential than
> reproduction, although "our Maker bids increase." The contrast he draws in
> the Book 4 passage is between sex that is part of a mutual loving
> commitment and sex that is predatory and self-gratifying.
> I agree that the pun on "fallacious" is unintended. On the other hand, the
> implication in Michaelangelo's Temptation seems obvious even if a viewer is
> unaware of MB's sexual orientation. My students aways get it.


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