[Milton-L] Manifest contradiction in Milton?

jsavoie at siue.edu jsavoie at siue.edu
Thu Feb 13 10:54:07 EST 2014


With the slight shame of self-promotion I would draw attention to my essay on
Paradise Regained in ELR a decade back (which puzzlingly has not been added to
the MLA database and so perhaps hard to find) which seeks to reconcile the
tension, if not contradiction, in the Son's cultural austerity. The essay is a
bit long; section V, pp. 111-17, most directly addresses the difficulty.



John Savoie
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

>   On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:52 PM, Salwa Khoddam <skhoddam at cox.net> wrote:

>         If I can pivot to another "contradiction," if I may, I would like to
> ask for your thoughts on the passage where Christ condemns classical learning
> in PR, bk. 4, ll. 285-64. I'm sure many of you have worked out any seeming
> contradictions here and written about them, but for me this passage is
> puzzling since I feel it contradicts other stated views by Milton. I can
> understand Christ's satement: "[h]e who receives / light from above, from the
> fountain of light / No other doctrine needs, though granted true" (4.
> 288-90). It agrees with what Milton wrote elsewhere (I can't find the source
> right now), that "a plain unlearned man that lives well by that light which
> he has, is better, and wiser, and edifies others more towards a godly and
> happy life." But . . . . when Christ refers to bringing "[a] spirit and
> judgment equal or superior" to one's readings (324), Milton seems to be
> prescribng an intellectual regimen (as in "Of Education") which may be open
> to all, or maybe  essentially aristocratic. If so, then one questions whether
> this "superior judgment" can be found in the  "plain unlearned man." Milton's
> lifelong reading and study of the classical languages and literature,
> science, medicine, etc., also contradicts the Puritanism that dictates this
> passage here.  Milton could be stating a "double truth," like many others of
> his age, that what is useful in the world of nature is useless in the world
> of grace--a clear contradiction, logically speaking, and difficult to
> reconcile for most of us.
>        Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
>     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

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