Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Writing Journal 8: “’All Things Visible in Heaven, or Earth’: Reading the Illustrations of the 1688 Edition of Paradise Lost" Thomas Anderson

In “’All Things Visible in Heaven, or Earth’: Reading the Illustrations of the 1688 Edition of Paradise Lost Thomas Anderson argues that Eve’s characterization in Paradise Lost as illustrated in the 1688 edition provides clues as to how to “read” her character in order to open up an avenue of analysis. Anderson begins by talking about scholars frustration with Eve’s “ambivalence” (163) how the 1688 illustrations provide clues as to how to analyze the contextual clues and then goes on to analyze the specific illustrations that feature Eve and how they can open a door to analysis of the text. Anderson’s purpose appears to be to suggest a new way to examine Milton’s text, using the illustrations as a lens. The intended audience is one that is familiar with both the poem and the 1688 edition’s illustrations.

This article was of interest to me because it was recommended by someone on the list serv in response to a posting I made about the analysis of the 1688 illustrations in regards to the characterization of Satan. Part of the reason I was interested was due to the fact that I’ve decided to use illustrations from the different time periods to preface the chapters of my thesis/dissertation. However, it proved not to fit my project once I read it. For one, it focuses on the character of Eve, with only a bare mention of Satan in relationship to Eve. Also, there is quite a lot of literary theory used in analyzing the art which is not a tact I agree with in regards to either the illustrations or the text. While the material was interesting, it ended up not being something I could use and I was a bit disappointed that the person on the list serv misunderstood my topic interest, on the other hand, I was pleased that I received a personal response and felt as though I was participating in a professional conversation. While the subject matter was not something that I found helpful, the form and shape of Anderson’s analysis was helpful as it gave me a model for how to formulate my own arguments when dealing with the illustrations that deal with the character traits of the devil in my project.

In the article, Anderson forwards the text of Paradise Lost the most, but also the artists of the 1688 edition with the use of the illustrations in the article.. He also forwards McColley, Froula, Guillory and Swartz’s interpretations and criticisms of Milton’s text. Anderson comes to term with the text by quoting sections of Paradise Lost and uses them to place in context his arguments about the specific illustrations. For the most part he relies on his own analysis of the text, using the illustrations as an in. He places his argument in context as well by forwarding these scholars’ opinions as well as using their arguments to point out the problem that Eve as a character represents. This article was unique in the fact that it was concerned with the illustrations and their analysis and the text was only to support the argument about the illustrations, therefore, Harris’ moves are difficult to apply.

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