Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Writing Journal 4: R.E Woolf “The Devil in Old English Poetry” (1953)

R.E Woolf in “The Devil in Old English Poetry” (1953) suggests that while Anglo Saxons may not have known of Loki, Christian “tradition about Satan and northern tradition about Loki coincided” (2). Woolf lists the specific characterizations, in which Satan, Loki and certain Germanic characters (1) are similar, the similarities in how they are described as counterparts, the similarities in the descriptions of hell, how both suffer from pride and how they relate to heroic ideals. Woolf examines these similarities in order to make the argument that the heroic ideal in regards to Satan, is “fused with the Christian idea and produced a deeper meaning” (12) which would have been easily recognizable to Anglo Saxons which the figure of Christ, the apostles and saints would not have been. The author is referencing both northern Loki and Germanic myths and Genesis B, so his audience is expected to be familiar enough with both in order to follow the comparison. In particular, the references to northern mythology are more detailed than probably a casual reader would have. Likewise, an assumed knowledge of how Anglo Saxon logic would have influenced their reading of Genesis B.

In light of my decision last week to focus more on the comparison of Satan to devil imagery in literature that came before rather than limiting myself to specific sources that Milton would have used, this article fits well. Especially given the specific similarities that Woolf mentions between Satan and Loki, and how the character of Satan would have been received by Anglo Saxons with Genesis B, this article gives not only excellent background on how Genesis B would have been read but also opens up a new set of literature to look at for comparison. Woolf takes pains to simply state the similarities without implying any influence, and I found this helpful because this is the type of approach I wish to take with my topic as I have decided against limiting myself to Milton’s sources. In my argument I wish to simply present the material without stating that Milton would have used the information and let the reader draw their own conclusions.

Woolf comes to terms with the topic by stating the fact that “the view that the heroic convention was never satisfactorily adapted to Christian themes has become a commonplace in the critical theory of Old English poetry” (1). By stating the party line in Old English studies, Woolf places his argument in the sphere of accepted scholarly thought. He goes on to forward several northern mythologies and Genesis B. He also forwards Grimm and his work on Germanic mythology and Timmer who references the Weland story. Woolf references a ballad about Judas and the York Mystery plays as well as Augustine doctrine. I thought it was unusual that he did not reference many scholarly works and in fact does not counter or use these scholars to as a jumping off point for his own ideas, but rather uses them to provide summary of certain mythologies. Woolf does identify a gap in the scholarship towards the end of his argument by stating that the Anglo Saxons would have viewed Satan as heroic because while his “situation is hopeless” (12) he does not give up, and in fact displays great courage in facing his current situation and this would have appeared heroic to them as it was in line with their own beliefs. He then states that whether this description of Satan was “conventional habit and not by deliberate poetic purpose need in no way invalidate an appreciation of its result” (12). This appears to counter an accepted ideal in which there must be a decision one way or the other, despite the fact that Woolf does not specifically state this. His approach to the topic is simply to present the information without making a judgment of it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

List Serv Analysis Paper

I observed the Milton-L list serv that is hosted by Kevin Creamer at the University of Richmond. The list serv appears to have four different types of conversations that predominate: analysis of texts, pop culture conversations, personal conversations and recommendations. I chose to look at a thread that started as a question, but focused on textual analysis. There were thirteen responses in this thread with eleven separate people responding. The majority of the responders are university professors, but surprisingly, the majority of them are not Miltonists although most are English professors focusing on either Early Modern England, or English Renaissance.

The thread was started by Cacicedo forwarding Behn’s The Rover and asking whether or not the “[sin of] the apple” = sexual knowledge and whether this was a “commonplace equation”. This demonstrated questioning, or pointing out a gap in analysis. The first response by Barton addresses the topic, but in a subservient manner, starting off with “I’m not sure how authoritative this is,” and then takes a winding road to address the topic. She starts off by stating that children used to give their teachers apples and apples then became a symbol of knowledge and that is why Apple Computers chose this name. She then explains that in Ancient Greece, the apple “was the symbol of sex and virginity”. She ends her response with another question as to why the children would give their teachers apples and, the unclear question of whether or not teachers are aware of Greek culture. Barton’s response serves as the framework for the rest of the discussion of this topic. Each of her points are addressed later in the thread and serve, more than the opening question of the thread, as the guidelines.

The third response starts by addressing the naming of Apple Computers, and drops the name of important persona within the Apple company and this is the majority of her response. Maxwell then shifts into pointing out that the bible says “fruit” and it is Satan in Paradise Lost who says “apple”. She ends by bringing up why Milton “took so much trouble to remove sex as a component of original sin, when the apple has such a rich historical connection with sex”. She manages to forward Milton’s Paradise Lost in her response, however, her last comment about removing sex as a component of original sin does not seem accurate, as I can think of no instance of this being supported in the text of Paradise Lost.

Horace Jeffrey Hodges takes the thread on a bit of a tangent with his response and also demonstrates a departure in the type of conversation. He mentions that Milton’s apple was in fact a peach and then gives the links for a book that supports this, as well as his own article on the subject. This self-promotion had not manifested itself in the thread so far, and Hodges’ purpose of self-promotion is seen with how he ends his response “If I might be allowed that postlapsarian vanity”.

The fifth entry in the thread starts a new topic, in focusing on the Fall in Paradise Lost. It is also the first time that a responder refers back to another post. In this way, Blackburn forwards the idea of Maxwell while also using it as a jumping off point to phrase his own question which is “when precisely does the ‘fall’ take place?” The message is brief and instead of being a response, follows more the style of what started the thread, by asking a question of the list-serv.

The sixth entry is a short tangent by Maxwell that states that this might connect with the topic of mind-body. However, this response/topic is not picked up by anyone.

In the seventh, Hodges answers Blackburn by directing him to specific lines in Paradise Lost and giving a specific citation of which version of Paradise Lost he referenced. Hodges also states his opinion on how Milton would identify the Fall. This response is interesting for a couple reasons, it is the first time that we see a previous poster come back to the topic and it is the first time that specific text is quoted to support a stance. This demonstrates the action of “coming to terms” with the topic and using analysis.

The eighth post is the longest and follows in the vein Hodges started with by cut and pasting Blackburn’s question, perhaps to clarify which aspect of the thread Prawdzik is referring to. He then goes on to reference Milton’s “Christian Doctrine” in order to define sin and then identify the moment of the fall. This is the first time that we have seen a responder define a term in order to make an argument. Prawdzik cites several other sources to make his point, and, as Hodges did, uses specific textual examples to support his argument. Interestingly enough, he ends his post with what appears to almost be backtracking of his confident tone, “All this being said, surely there are many ways, some contrary, to answer this tricky question.” This is unusual because the tone of the rest of the response is very confident and authoritative.

The next response is the first time that there seems to be a bit of a personal attack to the previous responder. The first line is “I think the answer is very simple, really”. This seems to imply that the previous responder did not know what he was talking about. Rovira continues this tone with “There was only one command, so there was only one sin possible”. This tone takes the thread in a new direction by changing it from a discussion among colleagues to promoting himself to an authoritative level, and implying that since the rest of the responders did not come to this conclusion, they are lesser somehow. However, the next part of his response forwards Hodges’ quotes, and states that they support his view. Rovira then has a strange indentation and italicized section that would appear to quote from earlier in the response, but does not. He ends his response by countering his own response at the beginning by saying that “Brendan [Prawdzik] certainly made a good case for Milton’s Christian reading of the fall of Adam and Eve.”

Gillum, with the next response takes his response back to Prawdzik in referring to how Eve sins and quotes Book 5. His response is brief and to the point, and seems to be a counter to Rovira’s response as he both states a different point of view on the time of the Fall, implies there is an argument to be made that the Fall could have been a couple of different moments in the text and ends with stating that he thought “Brendan Prawdzik’s mini-essay on law was very good.” This purpose of this response seems to only be refuting Rovira’s statements.

Van den Berg’s response redirects the topic to Blackburn’s original question both by mentioning another factor for understanding the Fall and by redirecting the thread to a more professional tone. Her response is short and to the point but in a subtle way, highlights what the topic/point of Blackburn’s original question was. She also manages to make an argument that says she’s right, without the condescending tone that is present in Rovira’s post.

The next post changes the topic by asking a tangent question, “when does Satan fall? At the moment he envies the Son? When he withdraws to the North with his legions? When he is expelled from Heaven by the Son? Or all three.” There is no response or reference to any of the previous posts, just a short set of questions. This was also a unique post in that it was the only poster that did not have a display name attached, and therefore I was not able to look up his/her credentials.

The next response is extremely jumbled. Cox references how Milton pictured the universe then mentions Milton’s “novelistic” approach and compares it to Dante. Next she states that there is “no necessary connection between the act of eating and disobedience” and then paraphrases a quote, from memory she says. Then she mentions Uriel but what she mentions about Uriel is unclear. I was not able to follow her logic or discern what topic she was even referencing. Part of the reason why I found this response so strange was that Cox is a Miltonist and I didn’t understand why her response was incomprehensible.

The last response to the thread was only the second time a previous poster comes back to the thread and responds. Barton responds to the question of Satan’s Fall, by citing “De Doctrina” and refers to the previous poster by name (Stella), which seems to indicate a personal relationship, or at least familiarity. Barton again takes a subservient tone by saying she doesn’t know if she recalls the passage “correctly” but then states what she thinks Milton says. She uses specific textual evidence, which she did not do in her first response. The assumption of a personal relationship is also supported by Barton signing off as “Best to all”. It is the only time in the thread that anyone uses a personal signature.

There were two final threads, however they did not address the topic. The first one stated that this topic had already been discussed at length during June of 2008, and referenced the archive link for that discussion. The second was by Blackburn and stated that discussion forums were a better format for discussion, “state of the art” (implying list-servs weren’t?) and would enable people to reference archived material more easily. He then went on to state that he hopes that his opinion/suggestion would be taken in the “spirit it was offered” and that this was one of his favorite “discussions on the internet”. I thought that this was a strange post for a couple of reasons. I do not see the sense in critiquing the format of the discussion when you aren’t aware of the technical or monetary reasons for why this is operating as a list-serv versus some other format. And it seems as though, if Blackburn had a suggestion for improving the way the discussions were done, then he should have sent a personal email to Kevin Creamer, who hosts the site instead of posting to this unrelated thread. I also thought it was strange that Blackburn would essentially call the list-serv backward and outdated and then turn around and praise it. It seemed like a disingenuous statement.

This thread demonstrates several of the rhetorical moves we’ve discussed in class; forwarding is seen with the advancing of other people’s ideas (both textual references and people responding on the list-serv). Countering is seen mainly by arguing the other side, and often has an adversarial tone to it, versus discussing the gaps and problems as a way to open a discussion. Each responder has a specific style of thinking and this is clear in how they take an approach and has a clear understanding of the texts mentioned (coming to terms).

One negative I noticed about this thread was that the originator of the thread never chimed back in to redirect the conversation or restate his original question. While there is no way to tell if Cacicedo read or followed the thread, I thought it odd that there was no response. I also thought it strange that only two people responded more than once (leaving out Blackburn’s postscript). It seemed as though many of the responders were simply responding to state their ideas and were not really interested in participating in the discussion. I believe that there are only three exceptions to this; Hodges, Prawdzik and Barton’s second response. Each advances the discussion and appears from their responses, to have actually listened to what the other responders had to say. Their responses are the difference in a conversation when someone is listening, and when one is simply waiting for their turn to talk.

Overall, I was impressed with both the flow of the thread and the fact that the thread stayed on topic. I have noticed that this seems characteristic of the Milton list-serv. While the responders don’t always agree with each other’s points, there seems to be a strict respect for how the discussion evolves, and this seems to support the idea that this is a professional community where people may disagree, but there are certain forms and rules to be followed. The specific function of this thread seemed to be insider discourse.

This particular thread started as a question about the apple as a sexual symbol, lapsed only once as a poster self-promoted, went on a related tangent about when the Fall took place, and continued in this vein discussing the topic of the Fall, using specific textual evidence to support individual claims, until the end of the thread. I think that this coherence through an entire thread seems to be unusual in a list-serv community. I also think that the tone of the responders is more professional than a lot of the list-servs I have observed.

List Serv Research

Topic: “Sin of the apple”

1. Alberto Cacicedo alc at

Wed Feb 10 14:52:12 EST 2010

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Rereading Behn's _The Rover_ I noticed that in the 5th act Blunt says to Frederick,

"Wert thou as innocent from the sin of the grape, as thou art from the apple, thou mightst yet claim that right in Eden which our first parents lost by too much loving."

The context makes it clear that "[sin of] the apple" = sexual knowledge. Is that a commonplace equation?

Al Cacicedo

2. Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at

Wed Feb 10 15:15:10 EST 2010

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I'm not sure how authoritative this is, but apparently, yes--as far

back as ancient Greece, Al: from

"Western children used to give their teachers apple in school. Due to

this culture, apple became a symbol of knowledge. That's why Apple

Computers chose this name.

But, in ancient Greece, Apple was the symbol of sex & virginity.

Because, when you vertically slice an apple in half, you find the

symbol of female organ. And they believed that apple is also good for

sex health.

I wonder why would the children give their female teachers apples.

Aren't the teachers aware about the Greek culture?"

3. Kim Maxwell kmaxwell at

Wed Feb 10 19:17:37 EST 2010

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As I have named two companies (in a previous life) and was a friend of Regis McKenna, the PR person who worked with Apple in the earliest days, I can say safely that much mythology comes after the fact of naming, and, less safely, that "Apple" was a whim. Regis said to me that Steve Jobs said to him, "tell me why we should not name the company 'apple'" as if the name just popped in his head. Regis could give him no good reason, so "Apple" it was. It has no other significance, before the fact. After, well, anything goes. It is probably how God thought about the tree; it hardly mattered what it was, so long as he could make it forbidden (perhaps why the bible just says "fruit" and no one but Satan says "apple" in PL).

On the topic, it seems interesting to me that Milton took so much trouble to remove sex as a component of original sin, when the apple has such a rich historical connection with sex (why did Paris pick Helen over all that power he was promised?). This may have some connection with the other topic of interest, the mind-body problem. If original sin does nor arise from the flesh, perhaps it is not such a problem.

Kim Maxwell

4. Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at

Wed Feb 10 19:41:29 EST 2010

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The bite (byte?) taken out of the Apple implies forbidden knowledge, but perhaps that was an afterthought for Apple.

As for Milton's 'apple', we now know that it was a peach. Or so Robert Appelbaum in Aguecheek's beef, belch's hiccup, and other gastronomic interjections (2006):

Or my more recent article "Forbidden Fruit as Impedimental Peach: A Scholarly 'Pesher' on Paradise Lost 9.850-852":

If I might be allowed that postlapsarian vanity . . .

Jeffery Hodges

5. Sanford Blackburn antinomian2 at

Thu Feb 11 21:15:23 EST 2010

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Kim's question/suggestion reminds me of a question I've long wondered about. When precisely does the "fall" take place? When Adam decides to follow Eve's advice, when their transgression is "found out," when they are expelled from Paradise?

Carter Kaplan

6. Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2010 16:17:37 -0800

From: kmaxwell at

Subject: Re: [Milton-L] "Sin of the apple" and apple computer

To: milton-l at

This may have some connection with the other topic of interest, the mind-body problem. If original sin does nor arise from the flesh, perhaps it is not such a problem.

Kim Maxwell

7. Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at

Thu Feb 11 21:33:53 EST 2010

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The Fall was a process, as we can explicitly see from PL 9.782f

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat

Sighing through all her Works gave signs of woe,

That all was lost. (PL 9.782f)

and from PL 9.1000f

Earth trembl'd from her entrails, as again

In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan,

Skie lowr'd, and muttering Thunder, som sad drops

Wept at compleating of the mortal Sin

Original; (PL 9.1000f)

But Eve was already falling as she began to 'fall' for Satan's temptation, and some effects of the Fall continued after Adam's "compleating of the mortal Sin / Original," such as the disarrangement of the sun's orbit, the curse on the earth, and other consequences. Milton would probably say that the Fall is an ongoing process (though Paradise is, in principle, regained in Paradise Regained).

[PL citations: Thomas H. Luxon, ed. The Milton Reading Room,, February, 2010]

Jeffery Hodges

8. Brendan Prawdzik brendanprawdzik at

Thu Feb 11 21:47:47 EST 2010

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On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 6:15 PM, Sanford Blackburn


> Kim's question/suggestion reminds me of a question I've long wondered

> about. When precisely does the "fall" take place? When Adam decides to

> follow Eve's advice, when their transgression is "found out," when they are

> expelled from Paradise?



I see the Fall as a process at once psychological (including rationality and

the passions) and verbal.

Defining sin in the *Christian Doctrine*, Milton distinguishes between the

sin of “evil desire” and of “the evil action or crime itself,” which “can be

committed not only through actions, as such, but also through words and

thoughts and even through the omission of a good action.” He makes it clear,

moreover, that in Genesis Adam and Eve sin primarily against a natural law

“which is innate and implanted in man’s mind,” and secondly against “the law

which proceeded from the mouth of God" (6.390-91, 382). (Here he cites

God’s express prohibition in Genesis 2.17.) The transgression, then, is an

action performed in violation of the natural law that has been codified in

the prohibition. By violating the codified law it thereby confirms a lapse

into evil desire, which I believe to have unfolded subconsciously from the

moment that the serpent's (as well as author's, reader's) gaze lights upon

her. The linguistic distinction between the law as commanded by God and the

law implanted in man’s mind also structures the distinction between the

fruit as a “sign” of obedience and the will to obey to which that sign

corresponds. These distinctions in prelapsarian Paradise are distinctions of

form rather than of substance, pointing to disparate qualities of a single

essence. The natural law as bodied forth in God’s prohibition is necessary

insofar as it provides a verbal expression of innate knowledge that allows

Adam and Eve to conceptualize and speak about obedience, as well as to

fortify each other’s wills through sustaining conversation. It also, of

course, provides leverage for Satan to infect Eve’s will, also through the

medium of words; in fact, the success of his seduction depends on his

ability to disjoin God’s commandment from the natural law to which it

corresponds, thereby making it possible for Eve to read the prohibition

perversely as an inducement: God’s “forbidding/ Commends” the fruit “more”

(9.753-54). By this point, she seems prepared to manifest a lapse into evil

desire by committing the act that violates the express prohibition.

Also, though eating the apple concludes the Fall of Eve, Adam's eating of

the apple completes the original Fall of humankind, which becomes

immediately certified in the act of lustful (and subsequently) shameful sex

that follows.

At the same time, it is clear that Milton intends that after the Fall each

moment provides opportunities for regeneration or deeper falls, hence the

"one just man" that punctuates intervals of further decline and straying

from God's law, both before and after it has been codified in the Mosaic

law. Jesus's quoting of Deuteronomy 6.16 on the pinnacle, for instance,

reverses Eve's "evil action or crime itself" in the most literal sense by

creatively redeploying the Mosaic law in a way that authorizes both God and

the new dispensation via Christ. Then again, there's the psychological

struggle or process that precedes this act, which transpires over the first

four books as he "revolves" the "law and the prophets," remembers the words

of his mother, and interacts with the tempter.

All this being said, surely there are many ways, some contrary, to answer

this tricky question.


Brendan M. Prawdzik

9. James Rovira jamesrovira at

Fri Feb 12 01:25:33 EST 2010

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I think the answer is very simple, really. There was only one

command, so there was only one sin possible. Adam and Eve were

commanded not to eat of the forbidden fruit. They weren't commanded

to refrain from wanting it, thinking about it, desiring it, choosing

it, etc. Only from eating it. The fall occurred when they actually

ate the fruit. Other views read Christ's teachings back into a

pre-Christian context.

I think the lines that Jeffery quoted support this view.

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat

Sighing through all her Works gave signs of woe,

That all was lost. (PL 9.782f)

and from PL 9.1000f

Earth trembl'd from her entrails, as again

In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan,

Skie lowr'd, and muttering Thunder, som sad drops

Wept at compleating of the mortal Sin

Original; (PL 9.1000f)

The first three quoted lines describe the earth's reaction as it "sees

it coming," the final lines quoted describe the earth's reaction at

the "compleating" of the fall.

>From a Christian point of view, Adam and Eve were fallen from the

moment they chose to disobey. Within the context of the world in

which they lived, only from the moment that they actually ate the

fruit. The point of Eve being deceived is that, being unfallen, she

could only choose to sin for good reasons -- it was pleasant to look

at and desirable for giving one wisdom. I think Milton goes back and

forth between these two positions. Brendan certainly made a good case

for Milton's Christian reading of the fall of Adam and Eve.

Jim R

10. Michael Gillum mgillum at

Fri Feb 12 11:04:12 EST 2010

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At 5.117, referring to Eve's dream of disobedience, Adam says that evil

thoughts are not sinful unless they are "approved," presumably by the will.

Eve was "yet sinless" even after her dream. It follows that wrong thoughts

that are "approved" are sins, or the approval is the sin. Eve first sins

(falls) either at the moment she endorses the serpent's characterization of

God as an oppressor or (at latest) at the moment she decides to taste the

fruit. Milton writes this notion of "approval" explicitly into Adam's silent

deliberation: "certain my resolution is to die." In his subsequent speech to

Eve, Adam's sophistical reasoning shows that he is already fallen, his mind


I thought Brendan Prawdzik's mini-essay on law was very good.


11. Sara van den Berg vandens at

Fri Feb 12 11:23:10 EST 2010

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Another factor in understanding the Fall is the traditional theological

formulation of serious sin as Milton dramatizes it in PL. Three conditions

are required: serious matter (the interdiction), sufficient reflection (the

soliloquies of Eve and Adam), and full consent of the will. Milton expands

the Genesis narrative so that the moment of eating is the climax of all

three conditions. After sufficient reflection, and with full consent, Eve

and then Adam eat (choose to violate the interdiction).

Sara van den Berg

12. srevard at srevard at

Sat Feb 13 09:30:54 EST 2010

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A parallel question would certainly be: when does Satan fall? At the moment he

envies the Son? When he withdraws to the North with his legions? When he is

expelled from Heaven by the Son? Or all three.


SIUE Web Mail

13. Carrol Cox cbcox at

Sat Feb 13 10:15:47 EST 2010

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srevard at wrote:


> A parallel question would certainly be: when does Satan fall? At the moment he

> envies the Son? When he withdraws to the North with his legions? When he is

> expelled from Heaven by the Son? Or all three.

Are not these kinds of questions generated by Milton conceiving the

supernatural as existing within absolute (Newtonian) time and place?

Instead of eternity (the timeless) we have a universe in which before

and after, past and future, have a "real" existence. This is what makes

his epic 'novelistic' in contrast to Dante. It is also the basis for the

separation of act and motive. There is no _necessary_ connection between

the act of eating and disobedience: the visible does not manifest the

real. ("Relations, unlike the thigns in relation, must be thought, not

observed." -- paraphrase from memory, someplace in the _Grundrisse_)

Uriel (though surprised) takes for granted the abstrac possibility of a

heavenly _citizen_ engaged in individual action in abstraction from

some given _place_ (as in Dante). But he does examine the cherub as to

the _principle_ that motivates his travels, and judgesd that pricniple

to be a valid one. But the principle is not manifested in the act



14. Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at

Sat Feb 13 10:57:13 EST 2010

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I don't have the _De Doctrina_ to hand at the moment, Stella, but if I

recall it correctly, Milton defines sin as separation from the will of

God--so for both Adam and Eve and Lucifer, the fall occurs at the

precise moment at which the individual makes the decision to act in a

manner inconsistent with God's commandment--whether it is

This day I have begot whom I declare

My only Son, and on this holy hill

Him have anointed, whom ye now behold 605

At my right hand; your head I him appoint

And by myself have sworn to him shall bow

All knees in Heav'n, and shall confess him Lord:

Under his great vice-regent reign abide

United as one individual soul 610

For ever happy: Him who disobeys,

Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day

Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls

Into' utter darkness, deep ingulf'd, his place

Ordain'd without redemption, without end. 615

or of this Fruit ye shall not taste, lest ye die.

(The annunciation above says as much, too.)

Best to all,

Carol Barton

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Writing Process 2

This week I focused on Caedmon's Christ and Satan perhaps because I don't know how anyone can read it and Paradise Lost and not draw parallels. I mean some of the dialogue is almost word for word. So either Milton was a plagarist, or he was specifically concerned with using it as a model.

This week I tried a slightly different approach, with 1)focusing on a specific topic versus the more general Milton, Satan or Paradise Lost. I also read several articles that focused on the Junius Manuscript. While I only had to respond to one for class, I liked the different perspectives they gave me, although the one that focused on how the "him" pronoun being mistranslated from Caedmon was a bit much.

I enjoy the rhetoric precis model that Professor has given me and honestly wish someone had given it to me years ago. I can definitely see how these responses and the research relates to our conference proposals and ultimate thesis, I am a little unsure of how it will relate to our review, but hopefully more guidelines will come soon. I don't do well with not having the whole thing laid out for me, but I'm anal that way. At least I recognize that and don't let it make me too crazy.

J.W Lever’s “Paradise Lost and the Anglo-Saxon Tradition”

J.W Lever’s “Paradise Lost and the Anglo-Saxon Tradition” argues that Milton was attempting to create a work that followed “a national poetic tradition” (97) and when he became displeased with the comparisons between Charles I and King Arthur, he sought other, older sources, namely Caedmon’s work. Lever begins his argument by stating that there is a controversy with regards to what sources Milton used, then goes on to discuss Milton’s research of Arthurian myths, with Spenser as a source. When Milton became disillusioned with Charles I, he “abandoned the legendary and royalist Arthur for the historical and constitutional Alfred” (98). However, Lever says that as Milton lost “faith in England”, he abandoned “his lifelong intention of writing a national epic” (99). This changed when Milton became acquaintances with Junius and studied his Caedmon manuscript which bears quite a few similarities to Paradise Lost in structure, lines, and characterization. Lever ends by stating that while there are many similarities, the Caedmon source should be seen only as an inspiration, not a model. Lever’s purpose is to address the controversy surrounding Milton and the sources he may have used by offering the idea that instead of sources, the material was simply inspiration. Lever is writing for an audience that can read Old English (as all his quotations offer no modern English translation) and one that is familiar enough with Milton to see the parallels with only a few lines from Paradise Lost.

This week I focused on researching articles that dealt with the Junius Manuscript, and Caedmon’s Genesis that contains Christ and Satan, which bears a lot of similarities with Paradise Lost. This article in particular made me realize something in my approach for the project. I had focused on researching sources that Milton probably used in creating the characterization of Satan and this article confirms correspondence between Junius and Milton, thus making it very probable that Milton was familiar with Caedmon’s work. This article made me realize that I didn’t really care about sources Milton used, rather I was interested in comparing the characterizations of Satan in works that came before Milton’s and illustrating how Milton’s Satan was something different from what came before. This is ironic because this article, despite Lever’s claim, lays out a lot of my previous argument with the line by line comparisons which Lever dismisses as “accidental” (106). This article still fits well with my project however, because it offers the specific textual evidence that I need for my argument.

Lever forwards Dr. Tillyard’s remarks on Milton and his writing of History of Britain and how this research affected his perspective on national epics and kings. However, he uses this as a way into the argument. What Lever is really interested in focusing on is the gap in discussing Milton and his sources and he states this in his opening paragraph where he says the reader should turn back to the controversy but look at it with some new perspective (presumably Lever’s own argument). Lever’s approach is to establish his credentials by citing Tillyard, then moving onto his own research into Milton and Junius’ correspondence and then move onto a textual break down of similar passages. In a strange twist though, after making a very convincing argument that Milton used Caedmon as a source, he counters himself by saying that the themes and phrasings are an accident and would be expected because they form “a common Christian tradition” (106).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writing Process Log

I am interested in writing about Milton's characterization of his character of Satan, because it actually depends a lot on the medieval sources that came before. THe Caedmon poem "Christ and Satan" has almost line by line similarities with Satan in "Paradise Lost". The bestial characterizations in "Malleus Maleficarum" are important to understand that people of Milton's time would not only have believed the devil was real, but also that he could shape shift (as he does in the garden with Eve). Even Dante's devil, which on the surface seems so different, is similar in emotions and in his reaction to his situation.
I became interested in this idea while taking a course on "Paradise Lost" two summers ago at Bread Loaf School of English. I enjoy medieval studies, but I am also very interested in the gaps of Biblical literature- literature that is responsible for what most modern people view as the Bible, but in fact comes from other sources. William Blake's old quote of "people knowing their Milton better than their Bible" comes to mind.
In the beginning, I submitted this idea as an Independent Reading Project to complete over the year. My Milton professor was nice enough to work with me on it, and I felt very good about the research. As well as completely sucked in the more I read. However, my proposal was rejected as being ill laid out, and too big for a 35 page paper.
However, I was given another chance to revisit the topic with taking Critical Writing in English Studies as East Carolina University this semester. We were able to pick our own topics that we wanted to study and use for writing a conference proposal and an outline for a thesis/dissertation. The class is amazingly helpful as I was never taught HOW to craft scholarly articles, we we re always just left to our own devices to figure it out.
I had a break through this past week when my professor responded to my topic proposal. It was nothing he said, BUT what we've been covering in class suddenly popped into my head as I was reading his comments. We've talked a lot about HOW to approach a topic and one of the ways was to look at the gaps, what is not covered in scholarly research. I realized that was a big part of my topic- why had no one researched this?
Now, this is a bit of a risky proposition, as I am making the assumption that no one has. However, now, with almost a year of research behind me, I feel confident saying that a gap exists.

Response to Henry Ansgar Kelly “Satan the Old Enemy: A Cosmic J. Edgar Hoover” (1990)

Henry Ansgar Kelly argues in “Satan the Old Enemy: A Cosmic J. Edgar Hoover” (1990) that the mythos of Satan as rebelling against God before creation does not have biblical sources, but rather is based on the work of Origen and that Neil Forsyth has misread Kelly’s work on the subject. Kelly constructs his argument by stating that the above statement is his greatest contribution to demonology, points out what Forsyth misunderstood, what he believes to be the flaws in Forsyth’s arguments and concludes with stating his intention is to “purify Christian doctrine by eliminating belief in the devil as an essential dogma” (83). Kelly’s purpose appears to be pointing out all the myriad ways that Forsyth has misunderstood Kelly’s work in order to show that Forsyth is not the expert on the origins of Satan that he purports to be. The intended audience is one that is intimately familiar with Forsyth’s work, and with Kelly’s work both as a Jesuit and a folklore scholar.
Kelly’s argument that the first origin of what most people think of as the character of Satan, is not one I had heard before and many of the sources he cites would contribute to my topic. The fact that Kelly approaches the topic as a folklorist is interesting and opens other avenues of research for me, as I had been looking at the character of Satan through major literary works that led up to Milton. Also, his historical knowledge within the different religious texts points out places to look for more specific textual evidence, as well as what texts can be avoided. As a whole, this is an excellent source for my project even though I don’t agree with his approach.
However, Kelly’s argument seems buried beneath his desire to prove that he is smarter than Forsyth. This article is unique in that it is in response to Forsyth’s review of Kelly’s work. Kelly opens by coming to terms with what Forsyth said and then immediately begins to counter Forsyth’s argument by pointing out the gaps. Kelly forwards several other scholars in creating his own argument, and usually uses it as a way in, but always returns to countering Forsyth’s argument. He does it in both the structure of his argument, and his phrasing, using words such as “misunderstood” (77), and “misread” (80). Kelly goes so far as to say that he did not say certain things and that Forsyth “came to my essay late” (79). In the end, the argument that Kelly makes is a very interesting one however, the tone he takes when responding to Forsyth’s criticism turns the audience off from his meaning.

Response to Anne Paolucci’s “Dante’s Satan and Milton’s “Byronic Hero” (1964),

In Anne Paolucci’s “Dante’s Satan and Milton’s “Byronic Hero”” (1964), she argues that Dante and Milton’s characterization of Satan are more alike than the superficial physical descriptions would imply and that to truly understand both characters, the reader must look at them as both the conclusion of all that has been represented before and as a change from what has come before. Paolucci begins her argument by contrasting the two characterizations; that Dante portrays Satan as something “sub-human” (141) and grotesque while Milton’s is portrayed as still retaining his angelic form; Dante’s Satan rarely speaks, and is portrayed as having no redeeming features, while Milton shows Satan’s eloquence and his similarities to a tragic “Greek hero” (144). Paolucci’s illustrates that while both characterizations seem superficially different, the characters in fact both suffer from immense rage at the fact that they “cannot undo the consequences of rebellion against God” (145) and that both are condemned to be rulers in Hell when they know what a pale comparison it is to Heaven’s majesty and she does this in order to make clear that both characterizations require the reader to bring to the table all their knowledge of the character of Satan and that it is impossible to view either in a vacuum. Paolucci establishes immediately that her audience is meant to be one that is familiar with both Dante and Milton’s portrayal and the criticisms of both in her reference to T.S Eliot’s observations on both.
Dante’s characterization of Satan in Inferno is often dismissed as a source for Milton’s portrayal in Paradise Lost because of the apparent differences in the characters and I was no different in dismissing the influence of Dante on Milton. However, Paolucci’s argument presents a new perspective in that she postulates that the characters are similar in the context in which they must be read. She presents both characterizations as both the summation of all that had come before, and also radically different from all that had come before. Given that my argument when analyzing Milton’s Satan is that he created a new fusion of the literary, political and religious, it seems arrogant to dismiss Dante’s Satan when his characterization also created something new.
Paolucci opens her article by referring to how T.S Eliot observed that Dante’s Satan would be seen as disappointing in contrast to Milton’s but should also be seen as something “utterly different” (139). She counters Eliot’s analysis by stating that his disappointment was “an utterly false impression” and results from viewing the portrayal as superficial. She also states that Eliot “instinctively understood Dante’s intention” (139) although she counters Eliot in stating that he was “unable perhaps to appreciate the full beauty” (139) of Dante’s representation. Paolucci then uses this interpretation as an opening into her own assertion, that both characterizations cannot be viewed or interpreted superficially or in a vacuum, that people often try to read both texts on their own without considering what came before. She argues that it is the “newness” of how the characters are used that creates a similarity. Paolucci uses forwarding by citing specific textual evidence from Dante to show that while the beginning impressions of the two characters may be different, their uses by the authors are the same.

Topic Proposal for Dissertation/Thesis

This semester, I would like to explore how Milton’s character of Satan in Paradise Lost represents a fusion of the religious, literary and political and how this was something never seen before. Previous scholarship, when analyzing the character of Satan has focused on his role as an epic hero or anti-hero. Except for Neil Forsyth’s brief research, which for the most part falls into the previously mentioned category, there is little scholarship that explores what sources Milton drew from and how he used and deviated from them. In order to examine this topic, I would explore sources that Milton would have been familiar with, and analyze those sources by looking at how the character of Satan was used for making an argument, and how the author used the character or traits of this archetype in creating and making their argument. I am also interested in researching how these character depictions in these sources compare to Milton’s, and what these depictions represented during the time period.
There are several questions that will guide my research. How was the character of Satan used to personify a particular religious or political figure of the time (pope, anti-royalists)? How did religious representations of Satan differ from the political representations and what is the significance of these differences? How did the character of Satan move from a strictly religious character used to one used in polemics and what prompted these changes? How does the author of any given source use the character of Satan (as a figure to be feared, moral lesson, as an anti-hero)and how seriously does the author treat the character of Satan? What role did the character play in nationalistic arguments? How was devil imagery used to mask dangerous political positions?
In order to answer these questions, primary sources such as Christ and Satan, Malleus Maleficarum, Inferno, Daemonologie, King James Bible and Paradise Lost will be used, as well as secondary, scholarly articles.