[Milton-L] Marvell's Milton?

Brendan Prawdzik brendanprawdzik at gmail.com
Sun Feb 23 17:19:17 EST 2014

Thanks, Richard.  Disagreement is par for the mine-field, here.  Good for
us scholars, i suppose (Hi Stanley!).  i'm of mind that SA was "written"
over at least a decade but "authored" in 1671, when it was published.



On Sun, Feb 23, 2014 at 4:14 PM, Richard A. Strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>wrote:

>  Thanks, Brendan.  I think I now understand your position, though I think
> I don't agree with it, and hold to the "antinomian" reading -- especially
> since I am on record saying (in the last chapter of *Unrepentant*) that
> *SA* is a work of the early '60's, one that M kept in his drawer until he
> could hide it under the cover of the much more quietist *PR* (when the
> printer, as I speculate, asked for more pages -- see "to which is added").
>    ------------------------------
> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Brendan Prawdzik [
> brendanprawdzik at gmail.com]
> *Sent:* Sunday, February 23, 2014 3:30 PM
> *To:* John Milton Discussion List
> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] Marvell's Milton?
>   Hi Richard,
>  Thank you for your query into that grand undefended assertion in my previous
> post.  One might understand why I did not venture the pains of explanation
> at that time.
> I don't expect to win many over that *Samson Agonistes* represents a
> violence believed by its troubled main character to be spiritually
> motivated, but that in doing so it either rejects Samson's assumption
> completely -- an assumption that many have been all too ready to share --
> or places, in a very timely way, the danger of confusion that comes with
> spiritual phenomenology under sharp focus for scrutiny.  But that's my
> view, and if that makes me a Heretick, I embrace the name.
> Those views that see the closet drama as sanctioning religious violence I reject.
>  Too much happening in the blind spots.  I see leaps of logic,
> unjustified or poorly justified assumptions, and unpersuasive arguments
> throughout these readings.  Mostly, I see a desire to make the Milton of
> the Restoration the Milton of the 1640s and early 1650s, and thereby to
> uphold the vision of the heroic, ultra-authoritative revolutionary (aka
> Satan of PL 1-2).  None models this dance better than Christopher Hill (and I
> am a fan).  I also see erroneous readings of the drama's theological,
> cultural, and polemical context, and misreadings of Milton's view of the
> "double scripture" -- Joan Bennett, at least, does not want to make Samson
> an antinomian.  But most of us do want to make of him a superhero:
> perhaps a wise Hercules, or Hercules Gallicus?
> The corrective function of SA is to provide a lens for viewing not the
> fact that, but at least the place where impulses blend together; as such it
> distances the reader from impulses understood to be righteous and with
> certain.  Parallel arguments about immediate impulse and immediate
> conviction run through the tolerationist literature of the late 1650s and
> Restoration.
> SA thus works as though medicinally to "temper" and "reduce" the passions
> by means identification and analogy: and here the introductory note on
> drama provides much evidence.  I see Milton as entertaining the dramatic
> structure and focus on spiritual phenomenology as early as the sketch for
> *Baptistes* in TMS.  This sketch shows the possibility of how closet
> drama is working in SA, even if we are seeing a very different Milton at
> that time.
> We still have almost no clear sense of who, in the profounder senses, was
> the Restoration Milton.
> I think that I can prove my argument, and will hope to have done so when
> my book is finished and published; but of course I cannot hope to do so
> (nor do I wish, really, to try) on the listserv.  After all, this
> argument has been rather bloody and shows little sign of truce.  But I do
> hope that I've explained, at least to some satisfaction, how SA serves a
> corrective function.
>  Regards,
>  Brendan
>  On Sun, Feb 23, 2014 at 2:07 PM, Richard A. Strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu
> > wrote:
>>  For Brendan:  What is the "corrective function" of *SA* supposed to be?
>>  Looks like it supports religiously sanctioned violence -- as the recent
>> conversations about "terrorism" have suggested.
>>   RS
>>   ------------------------------
>> *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
>> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Brendan M. Prawdzik [
>> bprawdzi at cbu.edu]
>> *Sent:* Friday, February 21, 2014 8:47 AM
>> *To:* Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
>> *Subject:* [Milton-L] Marvell's Milton?
>>    Dear all,
>>  I'm wondering how some of you might venture to answer at least one the
>> following questions:  What do you think was the relationship between
>> Marvell's political and theological beliefs during the late 1660s and
>> early 1670s?  How might we characterize the social relationship between
>> these two men at this time?
>>  It seems clear to me that Marvell's Restoration prose continually
>> targets theological controversy itself, based on a) the acrimony and
>> hostility that drives and had driven, with tragic consequences, Christians
>> apart; that among his projects is the disentangling of polemic, with its
>> thorns and erring, gadding vines
>> , from a purer, more straightforward (and more pre-Nicene) form of
>> Christianity; and based on b) that these controversies cause sustained
>> eruptions over metaphysical questions beyond the reach of a fallen human
>> understanding alienated from truths behind divine mysteries.
>>  These views would have had consequences for Marvell's relation to
>> Milton; they raise the question of whether this brilliant younger man to
>> some degree *tutored* the older master, thus reversing a dynamic
>> of influence that we might see in the 1640s and 50s.
>>  After all, in the *Rehearsall Transpros'd* (1672) Marvell undeniably
>> looks to Milton's polemics, especially the *Animadversions* and *Apology*,
>> and reconstitutes them according to the ideology expressed in my second
>> paragraph.
>>  I think that we also see constructive admonishment/criticism in "On
>> *Parad**ise Lost*."
>>  I wonder if this (putatively) evolved relationship with
>> Marvell influenced what I see as the corrective function of *Samson
>> Agonistes*, which I read as marking a distinct shift from the Milton of
>> the 1640s and early 50s, when his rhetoric was at its hottest and when his
>> gradually dying Millenarianism was yet at its strongest, and when we
>> confront Milton's efforts to legitimate violence (esp. the regicide) that
>> we know to stem from a type of arbitrary government disregarding law.
>>  These are all aspects that the maturer Marvell would have
>> criticized; indeed, that he implicitly rejects while borrowing from the
>> controversial Milton, such borrowings appearing in each of his Restoration
>> prose tracts.
>>  Your thoughts?
>>  Regards,
>>  Brendan
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