Milton and Science

Milton and Science

Milton and Science

Milton and Science

Excerpt

Walter Raleigh would have been more nearly right had he called Paradise Lost a living monument, for ideas in theology and science that perished elsewhere in the great swing of seventeenth-century culture give life to the epic as well as gain it. Even the supposed flats and shallows are functional in the heroic scheme; rightly understood, Raphael's discourse on astronomy is, like the war in Heaven, part of a grand poetic strategy. The mode of critical inquiry is crucial here; the intentional fallacy has diverted many a Raleigh and many an Eliot from seeing what theology does in the poem. The same distraction awaits the student of science in Milton. He must work with what actually happened in Paradise Lost. The maker may indeed have moved from strategy to execution, from the governing idea to the supporting details; but the critic must proceed inductively as well, gaining insight into that poetic strategy from the examination of particulars. His concern is with a poem, not merely with a body of ideas; yet he must use everything which establishes the poetic vocabulary. It is a mistake, for example, to suppose Paradise Lost a systematic treatise on divinity; it is a greater one to neglect Christian Doctrine as a gloss. And it is folly to extract such ideas as relate Milton to one or another tradition in science, to fill in gaps from cultural history, and then . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.