Living Texts: Interpreting Milton

By Kristin A. Pruitt; Charles W. Durham | Go to book overview

“If Not Milton, Who Did Write the DDCV?”:
The Amyraldian Connection

PAUL R. SELLIN

A proper account of the treatise must rest on the Latin text
and must take appropriate account of the highly unusual
character of the manuscript.

Gordon Campbell, Thomas M. Corns, John K. Hale,

David I. Holmes, and Fiona J. Tweedie

The natural challenge to Professor William B. Hunter's calling into question the attribution of De Doctrina Christiana(hereafter designated DDC) to John Milton1 is first, like Christopher Hill, to demand, “if not Milton, who did write the DDCV?” Then, since identifying such an “unknown author”is supposedly “fairly easy,”authorial orthodoxy ridicules the endeavor when there is no ready answer acceptable to pro-Miltonists.2 Apart from indulging in the obvious non sequitur that refuting Hunter proves Milton's authorship, the method raises questions about assumptions that we commonly use in clinging to the notion of Milton's authorship.

To term the problem of identifying an alternative author a light task betrays, first, some insouciance regarding prepossessions. Many seem to think that as such a substitute author ought to be someone in agreement with Milton's unorthodox views, a simple-minded search for unusual ideas that he shares will do. Thus, when a kindred advocate of divorce fails to turn up, it follows that Milton authored the DDC and that other peculiar elements in the treatise are therefore his, too. But is the premise sound? What happens if, now that the supposed crossreference to Tetrachordon in DDC has been discredited,3 we start with the equally tenable assumption that Milton was hostile to the treatise or an enemy of the author?

A second notion that should be questioned is single authorship of the sections of the treatise that have led, as Hunter puts

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