Modern Language Association
Viewing convention Program information from 2009

Session Details

Tuesday, 29 December

530. Reading Milton

3:30–4:45 p.m., Liberty Ballroom Salon B, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the Milton Society of America

Presiding: Ken Hiltner, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara

1. “Reading Milton Reading: Beyond the New Milton Criticism,” Stephen M. Fallon, Univ. of Notre Dame

2. “Reading, Feeling, and Responding to Violence in Samson Agonistes,” John David Staines, John Jay Coll. of Criminal Justice, City Univ. of New York

3. “Topical Reading,” Sharon Achinstein, Univ. of Oxford

Author Comment
Subject: Milton contradicts himself
I thought all the papers were excellent in this session, esp. Fallon's, esp. when he explains Milton's contradictions as a retreat to a compromise position, saying, "So you don't accept that, would you at least accept this?" James Tracy records that at the end of his life Erasmus contradicted himself about grace vs. free will; he presents it as almost a deathbed "conversion." All his life Erasmus had maintained the Origenistic reading of Romans 7 in which "the law of my mind" denotes reason, but at the end of his life he retracted this reading and took the Augustinian and Lutheran view that "The law of my mind" denotes the Holy Spirit and reason has nothing to do with it. Conversely,"flesh" denotes not the body and the passions but everything that is not the spirit of God. I don't know whether Milton contradicted himself on this subject, but he seems to in God's speech in PL III: "Some have I chosen of peculiar grace . . . yet not of will in them but grace in me."

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