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Paradise Lost: Bk IV 
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Post Paradise Lost: Bk IV
Book IV Discussion

Please use this thread to discuss Book IV of Paradise Lost



Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:17 am
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Post Produce this! Mr./Ms. movie mogul
Robert Tulip inspired me with his discovery of the PL movie project. To inject a little more interest into the discussion, why don't we give some of our own views on how we'd set up Book IV for filming? If we are the film's producers, what decisions do we start to make (director, casting, special effects, plot and theme, etc.)? Book IV is very visual, of course, but it also is where the present-tense action really starts. No need to remain strictly faithful to the poem, either. For example, if the way Milton presents women starts your blood boiling, how might you give him his comeuppance? Have fun with it.


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Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:59 am
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Wow, how excruciating was this book? I still haven't finished it. I'm embarassed to say that I'm being very tempted (pun intended) to skip on to book V.
What a pointless bore! Seems that this book must have been included just to get to the total of 12 total books.



Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:11 pm
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Ibid wrote:
Wow, how excruciating was this book? I still haven't finished it. I'm embarassed to say that I'm being very tempted (pun intended) to skip on to book V.
What a pointless bore! Seems that this book must have been included just to get to the total of 12 total books.


Hold on there, Ibid! You're trashing a classic! But I admire all the hard work you're doing. When I complained that Paradise Lost was going to be heavy lifting, our now Discussion Leading said I could hang loose and come along for the ride (that's how I took it anyway), and haven't done much sequential reading. I have scanned it forword and, today, backward, and read secondary sources, and looked up allusions and parallels and history -- and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. Book IV with all its nudity scenes is going to give the movie an X rating :)

Tom



Last edited by Thomas Hood on Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:32 pm
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Ibid wrote:
Wow, how excruciating was this book? I still haven't finished it. I'm embarassed to say that I'm being very tempted (pun intended) to skip on to book V.
What a pointless bore! Seems that this book must have been included just to get to the total of 12 total books.

The good thing about discussions here is that no one has to (or should feel they have to) affect a reverent attitude toward a classic if they don't feel it. Samuel Johnson quipped that PL was a hard book to pick up again once you'd finished with it. I can understand these reactions. It's certainly very different from any other work called an epic. That difference might sit well with some, but not with others. Almost no one reads the whole thing anymore, not even English lit grad students. There is that statement I referenced from Walter Raleigh, that PL is a monument to dead ideas. I wanted to gather views on whether that is so, and whether, if it is so, there is something to salvage nevertheless.


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:32 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
Hold on there, Ibid? You're trashing a classic! But I admire all the hard work you're doing. When I complained that Paradise Lost was going to be heavy lifting, our now Discussion Leading said I could hang loose and come along for the ride (that's how I took it anyway), and haven't done much sequential reading. I have scanned it forword and, today, backward, and read secondary sources, and looked up allusions and parallels and history -- and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. Book IV with all its nudity scenes is going to give the movie an X rating :)Tom

When are we going to see the results of this forward and backward scanning, Tom? Is there something to be revealed by PL in reverse, like the Beatles' White album? :roll: I was thinking the same thing about the PL movie treatment of Bk IV, kinda sexy. You said that Milton broke with the Puritans (or maybe more with the Catholics) on the connubial bliss front. It's not so obvious to us today that saying sex is not sinful is bold speaking.


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:40 pm
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DWill wrote:
There is that statement I referenced from Walter Raleigh, that PL is a monument to dead ideas. I wanted to gather views on whether that is so, and whether, if it is so, there is something to salvage nevertheless.


I just went to Gutenberg and downloaded Sir Walter Raleigh's book on Milton:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/21677

That's Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861-1922), AKA "Dead Ideas" Raleigh: "The _Paradise Lost_ is not the less an eternal monument because it is a monument to dead ideas." I think the ideas are dead only to the unimaginative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Raleigh_(professor)

Now I have something else to read besides the purgatory of Paradise Lost :)

Also, _Peter Ramus and Educational Reformation of the sixteenth century_, 1912, by Frank Pierrepont Graves is a Google Book and very readable.

Tom



Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:06 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
That's Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861-1922), AKA "Dead Ideas" Raleigh: "The _Paradise Lost_ is not the less an eternal monument because it is a monument to dead ideas."

Context is everything. Thanks for bringing it out.
Quote:
I think the ideas are dead only to the unimaginative.

For a moment I thought this was Raleigh speaking and not you. I reserve judgment right now. I do tend to see some of the theological foundation as dead.


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:55 am
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Post 
DWill wrote:
Thomas Hood wrote:
Quote:
I think the ideas are dead only to the unimaginative.

For a moment I thought this was Raleigh speaking and not you. I reserve judgment right now. I do tend to see some of the theological foundation as dead.


Raleigh say this of Milton:

"The close-wrought style of Milton makes the reading of _Paradise Lost_ a
hard task in this sense, that it is a severe intellectual exercise,
without relaxation. The attention that it demands, word by word, and line
by line, could not profitably be given to most books; so that many
readers, trained by a long course of novel-reading to nibble and browse
through the pastures of literature, find that Milton yields little or no
delight under their treatment, and abandon him in despair."


Speaking of the dead, Sir Walter's prose could be used by the CIA
for verbal waterboarding:

"And yet, with however great reluctance, it must be admitted that the
close study and admiring imitation of Milton bring in their train some
lesser evils. Meaning may be arranged too compactly in a sentence; for
perfect and ready assimilation some bulk and distention are necessary in
language as in diet [ :) ]. Now the study of Milton, if it teaches anything,
teaches to discard and abhor all superfluity. . . ."

This to me yields little or no delight :)

Tom



Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:42 am
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Post 
Ibid wrote:
Wow, how excruciating was this book? I still haven't finished it. I'm embarassed to say that I'm being very tempted (pun intended) to skip on to book V. What a pointless bore! Seems that this book must have been included just to get to the total of 12 total books.
No way! This book may be a grind to read, but it is intense and powerful. I finished it yesterday, and found it tough but compelling. We get Satan asking himself why destroy something of such beauty as the earth, and rationalising his purpose of revenge on God by placing man in thrall to himself. We get the dumb angels, easily tricked by the wily demon. We get the question why God needed to place military guard on earth, when they all thought the battle of heaven was over and Satan was safely locked behind the gates of hell. My nagging question on the predestination front is that God chose to lock Satan in hell, knowing that he would get out and wreak mischief. It all gets back to evil being part of the divine plan of the greater good, sent to test and prove the mettle of the creation. Satan plonking on the tree of life as a cormorant, changing into all the animals to spy out the chink in the armour, and then squat like a toad at Eve's ear. Rather like our poisonous cane toads in Australia, which look like frogs but kill anything that bites them.



Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:41 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
Speaking of the dead, Sir Walter's prose could be used by the CIA
for verbal waterboarding

Way to hoist him on his own petard!, with a wicked phrase.


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:58 pm
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Robert Tulip wrote:
No way! This book may be a grind to read, but it is intense and powerful. I finished it yesterday, and found it tough but compelling. We get Satan asking himself why destroy something of such beauty as the earth, and rationalising his purpose of revenge on God by placing man in thrall to himself. We get the dumb angels, easily tricked by the wily demon. We get the question why God needed to place military guard on earth, when they all thought the battle of heaven was over and Satan was safely locked behind the gates of hell.

Something for everyone, is how I look at PL. It has action, argument, and psychological drama. It can be wearying, but the reason probably does have something to do with us, rather than Milton's faults entirely, as Walter Raleigh said.

Pardon the bad joke, but I have to think Milton thought of Satan as a Godsend, artistically, for his poem. If I were doing a movie of PL, I'd need to convery the sense of Satan's inner conflict, the most powerfully described emotion in the poem. Maybe the only way to do this would be to give him his soliloquy as Book IV starts. I'd have him somehow confront his own image, maybe in a pool of water, and talk to himself. He briefly lapses into the second person at line 66, and I'd have him continue this mode of address.

Hadst thou the same free Will and Power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heav'ns free Love dealt equally to all?
Be then his Love accurst, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe. [ 70 ]
Nay curs'd be thou; since against his thy will.

Satan's speech in this section went a long way toward creating the view of him as a type of tragic hero, the villain who confronted his own evil nature. He also seems a bit like Prometheus in struggling against God. Of course, this view can be called a misreading, but it is partly understandable through Satan's eloquence and his honest emotional struggle with what he, unable to will it otherwise, is. It is also understandable in relation to the character of God. We as readers also might feel like rebelling against such a fellow. We also can see in Satan how powerful for Milton was the idea of the inner Hell. He didn't deny that Hell was a physical place, but his imagination is more inspired by Hell as a condition of inner torment one suffers from.

Me miserable! which way shall I flie
Infinite wrauth, and infinite despaire?
Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell; [ 75 ]
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threatning to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav'n.

Satan's dilemma has another dimension, that of the public man who has committed himslef to a position and now cannot back down even if he wanted. He is a prisoner of politics.

Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduc'd
With other promises and other vaunts
Then to submit, boasting I could subdue [ 85 ]
Th' Omnipotent. Ay me, they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vaine,
Under what torments inwardly I groane:
While they adore me on the Throne of Hell

What does everyone reading this poem think of the portrait of Adam and Eve? Women may have the strongest reaction to how Eve is depicted.


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Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:35 pm
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Post 
Once again, I'm going to put my 2 cents in before I read what others have posted. What to say about the comment I am about to make, humm -- I guess this is where the feminist in me comes out.

Here is the lines from bk IV:

To whom thus Eve repli'd. O thou for whom [ 440 ]
And from whom I was formd flesh of thy flesh,

It seems impossible that anyone, anyone before John Milton, John Milton and every person who had a hand in creating the multiple copies of the bible that exist, could write these lines without thinking, "There must be some mistake. New life comes from women, not men." It defies logic and the simple observation of nature. I am not making any commentary on the role of the male in the process of procreation, but rather that observation would/should lean one in the direction of assigning genesis to the female. In fact, in many primitive and tribal groups the belief is that the fetus begins to grow without the aid of a male, his role is only to feed the growing life.

I guess my comment is how strange this idea is to me, that woman was created from man. The only explanation I can come up with is that it is a deliberate co-opting of power -- the power of creation for the purpose of subjugation. Have I gone too far? I am sure there are quite a few heads shaking, but I think not. There is an anthropologist, Riane Eisler, that has written extensively about the emergence of patriarchy. Her book Sacred Pleasure she explores the Adam and Eve myth and its role in patriarchy.


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Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:28 am
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Post 
Saffron wrote:
To whom thus Eve repli'd. O thou for whom [ 440 ]
And from whom I was formd flesh of thy flesh

It seems impossible that anyone, anyone before John Milton, John Milton and every person who had a hand in creating the multiple copies of the bible that exist, could write these lines without thinking, "There must be some mistake. New life comes from women, not men." It defies logic and the simple observation of nature. I am not making any commentary on the role of the male in the process of procreation, but rather that observation would/should lean one in the direction of assigning genesis to the female. In fact, in many primitive and tribal groups the belief is that the fetus begins to grow without the aid of a male, his role is only to feed the growing life.
I guess my comment is how strange this idea is to me, that woman was created from man. The only explanation I can come up with is that it is a deliberate co-opting of power -- the power of creation for the purpose of subjugation. Have I gone too far? I am sure there are quite a few heads shaking, but I think not. There is an anthropologist, Riane Eisler, that has written extensively about the emergence of patriarchy. Her book Sacred Pleasure she explores the Adam and Eve myth and its role in patriarchy.

Thank you for kicking off this discussion, often the most active one that PL produces. I think that feeling of strangeness you mention is exactly what happens when we step back from stories or ideas we've heard for years (though I suspect this one has seemed strange to you for quite a while). The strangeness of the Christian belief in expiation of sin through the sacrifice of Christ impressed me anew as I read Book III.

My head is nodding, not shaking. As you say, the creation of the future child-bearing human from the man is strange indeed. As you've read by now, Eve's subjugation to the male goes beyond her physical origin. She's portrayed as a peg or two below her husband in brainpower, and that's the way it was meant to be, says Milton, no dinosuar in his own day but possibly relatively liberal. Well, myths do serve a defintie social purpose, don't they?


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:16 am
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Saffron wrote:
It seems impossible that anyone, anyone could write these lines . . .


Saffron, the prehistoric paradigm for sexual reproduction was the agricultural sowing of seed. According to this view, since the male possessed the seed, he was the originator of life. Everything else follows from this paradigmatic assumption.

Tom



Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:22 am
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