[Milton-L] my known/ mine own

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Mon Sep 4 12:06:00 EDT 2017

There's a lovely moment like this in the King Lear quarto, where we read "a dogge so bade in office."  This makes some sense as a phrase by itself, but pretty minimal sense in context.  But the Folio restores what the printer clearly heard (and Shakespeare clearly intended -- oops! I dare to say that!):  "a Dogg's obey'd in  Office."  Hearing can indeed be deceiving.


From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on behalf of John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>
Sent: Monday, September 4, 2017 7:17 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton-L Digest, Vol 130, Issue 8

Roy Flannagan's excellent point about dictating when blind reminds me of a possible "Siri" moment in Samson Agonistes:

I was no private, but a person raised,

With strength sufficient, and command from Heaven,
To free my country. If their servile minds
Me, their Deliverer sent, would not receive,
But to their masters gave me up for nought,
The unworthier they; whence to this day they serve.             1215
I was to do my part from Heaven assigned,
And had performed it if my known offence
Had not disabled me

Someone (I forget who) has conjectured that the words the amanuensis wrote down (and read back) as "my known offence" were delivered as "mine own offence." I find this suggestion plausible (though not compelling) because "mine own offence" makes for a better antithesis with "my part from Heaven" (Heaven did Heaven's part, Samson failed to do Samson's). The alternative reading, followed by all editors, is arguably lamer since "known" adds nothing that is not already known ("that offence you all know about"). Perhaps Samson speaks in this way because he is too ashamed to say what the offence was, but Roy's Siri analogy adds credibility to the proposed emendation. It would be difficult for the unaided human ear to catch the distinction, either when writing the words down or reading them back to check for accuracy.

John Leonard

From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on behalf of john rumrich <rumrichj at gmail.com>
Sent: September 4, 2017 2:30 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton-L Digest, Vol 130, Issue 8

I don't know, Roy.  You say it's a problem, but your Siri mediated message strikes me as a model of clarity and point.

One thing, given the scenario you describe, Bentley would have had to come up with a different or at least modified pretext for altering the text of Milton's epic, unless he had been willing to ascribe a persistently malignant agency to an autocorrect function.


On Mon, Sep 4, 2017 at 1:27 AM, Roy Flannagan <royflannagan at gmail.com<mailto:royflannagan at gmail.com>> wrote:
What if blind Milton had had an iPhone and Siri?

I'm being more than half serious now, partly because I have glaucoma and partly because I have a love-hate relationship for dictating with Siri, as I am doing right now.

Milton would have some of the same problems that I do, and he would still have needed amanuenses or his daughters to take dictation, perhaps in the middle of the night. Mainly, he would have to correct after Siri had auto-corrected his poetry. I can imagine a witty poet writing an essay about Milton's great argument with Siri from sentence to sentence. We all might try this reading our favorite passage into the iPhone or other device and seeing what corrections it makes. This will obviously be very funny. Thank God Milton could not see emoji's!

May I introduce the subject as one that we might take seriously?

Best wishes to all, especially Steve Fallon, who has an argument with auto correct,


Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 3, 2017, at 1:41 PM, milton-l-request at richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-request at richmond.edu> wrote:

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