[Milton-L] Regaining Paradise Regained

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Fri Nov 27 12:05:01 EST 2015

Thanks Richard.

No, you're not wrong about Blake and reason in Jerusalem. Indeed, Blake was, I believe, among the few reasonable men of his time. What he objected to was the road Europe went down in the age of reason, the one we find ourselves, today, ending in a catastrophic cul de sac. What he objects to among the angels as early as MHH is the reduction of art (and life) to rational process, what we might call the tyranny of reason. Indeed, if you could reason your way to a masterpiece, you could teach the method systematically. It's for sure you can't pray your way to one either. He is, emphatically, not anti-reason any more than he's anti-spirit or anti-feeling (emotions) or anti-matter (body). He's anti-tyranny. And the fact that we find ourselves (culturally, socially) helpless in the face of tyranny (indeed, almost incapable of even defining it!) speaks directly to our failure to recognize Satanic energy. Jim Rovira's reply says all this much more clearly than I have. Anyway thanks for caring and I'll borrow my closing from him: without contraries there is no progression.

Jim Watt
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Richard A. Strier [rastrier at uchicago.edu]
Sent: Friday, November 27, 2015 11:46 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Regaining Paradise Regained

Wonderful quote from Blake about all of us as divine!  Thanks.

But I'm afraid that systematic reasoning can indeed build lasting monuments.  Think of the work of Plato or Kant -- "Monuments of unageing intellect."   Blake is wonderful in many ways, but I do not think we should adopt or praise his anti-rationalism.  And I don't think, for what it's worth, Milton would do so.  (And, as I recall -- though I might be wrong in this -- in Blake's last prophetic book, Jerusalem, I think he came to some sort of imaginative reconciliation with the rationalists).

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Watt, James [jwatt at butler.edu]
Sent: Thursday, November 26, 2015 1:27 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Regaining Paradise Regained

Thanks for this piece, professor Rivarossa.

As to Blake's care in reading J.M. I couldn't agree more and it's perfectly clear, to those who read Blake carefully, the origin of his quick response to Henry Crabb Robinson on their meeting in December of 1825. Attempting to find some solid ground on which to base their discussion, Robinson said to him (I'm quoting now from memory) something like, "But Mr. Blake, you do believe that Jesus is God, don't you?" Blake's answer rings for all time. "Yes. And so am I. And so are you."

Time bound scholars and rationalists (never mind orthodox thinkers!) are shocked by this 'blasphemy' as they understand it. Milton, no doubt, would have smiled. As he would to the words in Blake's "Memorable Fancy" in MHH (Plate 21): "I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning."

 Milton, like Blake, was a reasonable man. But systematic reasoning builds no lasting monuments.

Jim Watt
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Stella Revard [srevard at siue.edu]
Sent: Thursday, November 26, 2015 2:02 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Regaining Paradise Regained

Thanks, Dario--I like your enthusiasm for and independent views of PR, much of which I agree with.  One thing I wish some Milton scholar would give us is a full account of Gerard Manley Hopkins's comments on Milton's metrics, especially those of Paradise Regained,which Hopkins considered extraordinarily innovative and quite breathtaking.  I once dug into Hopkins's comments but never found time to locate and study his letters, journals, and comments--much of which is now in print.  (I had to try looking into some of it in Oxford at the Jesuit college and never managed to spend the time needed for that.)


On 11/26/15, Dario Rivarossa <dario.rivarossa at gmail.com> wrote:
John Milton's fame didn't gain much from Paradise Regained, often
considered the dumb brother of Paradise Lost. (The same fate as
Tasso's Gierusalemme Conquistata, incidentally.) Now, by rereading it
after a millennium has passed, literally, and after accumulating a bit
more of experience in the fields of literature, Renaissance, and
Bible, Paradise Regained appears, at last, as the true masterpiece it
is, starting from its 'mature' style, complex while crystal clear.

It probably depends on the reader's focus, e.g. without fixating on
the title. In fact, Christ's mission of regaining salvation for Man by
dying on the cross had already been dealt with in Paradise Lost, but
PR examines another side of the issue: the perception of Jesus'
identity in the eyes of those who met him and, especially, of himself
-- the development of his self-consciousness. An absolutely
fascinating subject, that would 'officially' emerge only in the 19th
century. From this viewpoint, the poem is among the best things ever
written in Christian literature, either fiction or theology. Not by
chance PR, as much as PL, deserved a careful study and a powerful
artistic rendition by Milton's top reader, William Blake.

Far from being 'absent,' anyway, the Cross provides the tonic note of
the whole poem, the foundation of all of Jesus' answers to Satan.
Another wonderful theme in PR is its insight into the whole of human
history in few pages. Milton cheats when he plays the one who despises
classical culture the very moment he stuffs his verse with it; and it
is thrilling to hear Jesus talk about matters so different from the
Gospel texts. A side effect of this is a new appreciation of Books 11
and 12 in PL, which disappointed many readers. Yes, here Milton is
sometimes lengthy, etc., but his keys for the Bible are not silly at
all. Paradise Regained, finally, includes some interesting hints at
Medieval and Renaissance literature.

P.S. The cover page of the Collins edition


is a recolor version of an engraving by Gustave Doré. But especially,
the picture has been turned upside down so as to have a "Messianic
tree shoot" in the forefront (Isaiah 4. 2 -- formerly a root in Dore's

il Tassista http://tassonomia.blogspot.it e http://stornielle.blogspot.it
co-artist with the Magic Trio http://tiziafra.wix.com/the-magic-trio

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