[Milton-L] Milton's Deliberate Ambiguities

Hugh M. RICHMOND hmr at berkeley.edu
Sun Sep 3 16:55:19 EDT 2017


The attempts to make the Shakespeare sonnets 116 & 130 ambiguous
illustrates my point perfectly: that the ambiguity lies in the mind of the
critic. The explicit sense of both sonnets is made vividly and consistently
 clear:  ‘I will not admit that true love requires perfection in the
beloved.” That point of view is all I am interested in, as that of WS since
it also explains many of the plot and character details in the plays. All
the destructive conjectures of hypothetical subsidiary meanings originate
with the critic, which leaves us with just a confused heap of depressing
wreckage. For fuller discussion of these issues see my essay on “The Dark
Lady as Reformation Mistress” and other essays in my *academia.edu
<http://academia.edu>* folder.


  As for Miltonic complexities, I recall one of my better students
progressing enthusiastically from my naive Milton course of 200 students to
my office-mate’s, the Great Fish’s  Milton seminar - and disappearing into
modern American literature thereafter. Years later she told me “You were
wrong about Milton’s positive value, and Fish is right about how he tricks
readers - I hate Milton and will never read him again.” No wonder
university presses no longer  want to print such sophisticated literary
criticism showing everything is too complicated to understand or enjoy. HR
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