Answerable Style: Essays on Paradise Lost

By Arnold Stein | Go to book overview

THE GARDEN

WE FIRST approach the happy Garden from the Fall. Immediately outside this "happy rural seat of various view" is the impassable wilderness -- steep, hairy, overgrown, grotesque, wild, denying access; the trees that rise in ascent are of insuperable height; beneath them all is steep and savage, entwined, tangling, perplexing. That seems to be part of the various view, though outside. It is presented with an intensity of detail and sustained frustration, then interrupted by a glimpse and a sense of Paradise, then returned to with a varied repetition that changes nothing, except the tightness of our expectations. It has become so much a part of the experience of entering the Garden that it enters with us; we bring the outside, at least as vivid memory, into the more vivid inside. And if the entrance into Paradise is -- as it must be for fallen man -- a return, then we bring a recent immediate memory of the outside into our ancient memory of the inside.

Stretching beyond, from the prospect provided by the Tree of Life and the great narrative office behind everything we see, are the famous realms that make history after the Fall and acquire their fame then. Our immediate guide through the wonders of the Garden is leviathan-explorer-merchant-griffin-vulture-scout-wolfcormorant-Satan, fresh from the wonders of hell and his mind still enough its own place. For a long moment he is a tourist against his will, gaping in admiration at what is before him. Behind him are the wonders of hell, the other extreme of the natural

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Answerable Style: Essays on Paradise Lost
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Satan 3
  • The War in Heaven 17
  • A Note on Hell 38
  • The Garden 52
  • The Fall 75
  • Answerable Style 119
  • Notes 163
  • Index 165
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