Milton's Rival Hermeneutics: 'Reason Is but Choosing.'

By Mulryan, John | Cithara, November 2012 | Go to article overview

Milton's Rival Hermeneutics: 'Reason Is but Choosing.'


Mulryan, John, Cithara


Milton's Rival Hermeneutics: 'Reason Is But Choosing.' Edited by Richard J. DuRocher and Margaret Olofson Thickstun. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 2012. Pp. v-xiv, 278. $58.00.

This collection of eleven essays (in part a tribute to the late and deeply lamented Richard J. DuRocher, and to the scholarship of Mary Ann Radzinowicz) is presented under the rubric of "rival hermeneutics." It does not appear, however, that this approach is carried out consistently; new interpretations of Milton's texts based on a reassessment of current Milton scholarship are found in many of the essays, but competing or "rival" interpretations of the same texts only occasionally.

Suzanne Woods adheres closely to the theme in her essay, "Inviting Rival Hermeneutics: Milton's Language of Violence and the Invitation to Freedom." Milton's Protestant reader, Woods suggests, is free to exercise the same interpretive expertise in assessing Milton's literary texts that one deploys in reading and interpreting the Bible. Milton presents a qualified truth torn apart by violence, and leaves his readers to their own devices: "Milton's image of dismembered truth sets up an invitation to his readers to exercise liberty by freely searching for meaning in the hesitations of his text, notwithstanding the orthodoxies of his time" (10). In Diane McColley's "? Table Richly Spread': Nature, Place, and Choice in Milton's Nativity Ode," the "rival hermeheutics" reside in the reader's varying interpretations of the Psalms, the building blocks of the Nativity Ode. Gordon Teskey's brilliant essay, "Dead Shepherd: Milton's Lycidas," focuses on the "amplification and fullness" (52) of the poem, its uneasy relationship to time, its "collocation out of dead languages of the dried flowers of song" (56). The pathetic attempt to glorify Edward King's dead body recalls the Neanderthals arranging flowers around the dead: "They were doing something purely beautiful, and they were doing it to defy what strikes us as most disgusting in our nature: death and physical decay" (56). Thus Teskey links all of the funerary rites enacted in the poem to the problem of human time and its necessary termination.

Hugh Jenkins, in "Toward Latinitas: Revising the Defensio," explores the irony of Milton addressing the English people in a language (Latin) they don't understand, even though "the elegance of Latin becomes part of the ethical proof of the argument" (60). Indeed, "it remained a constant struggle, an unending dialectic, for Milton to reconcile his faith in the people in a religious sense and his frequent despair of their actions in a political sense" (72). Barbara Lewalski's essay, "Interpreting God's Word - and Words - in Paradise Lost," extends hermeneutics to include the hermeneutics of the Bible (see also Woods): Milton "also devises scenes and situations in which the central characters have to make choices grounded upon better or worse interpretations of God's pronouncements, of divine revelation" (77). This includes Eve, who "is called upon to construe a divine text [the prohibition in Genesis 2.16-17] in the light of her own experience of God's ways" (94). Joseph Wittreich's "Sites of Contention in Paradise Lost: Scenes of Instruction, Lessons in Interpretation," asks hard questions: e.g., with so many narrators in Paradise Lost, "whose is the authoritative voice in this poem"? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Milton's Rival Hermeneutics: 'Reason Is but Choosing.'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.