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Unpremeditated Verse

Unpremeditated Verse: Feeling and Perception in "Paradise Lost"

WAYNE SHUMAKER
Copyright Date: 1967
Pages: 242
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt183pnm0
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    Unpremeditated Verse
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    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7660-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACE (pp. vii-x)
    Wayne Shumaker
  3. Table of Contents (pp. xi-2)
  4. CHAPTER I PARADISE LOST AS MYTH (pp. 3-25)

    ThatParadise Lostmakes frequent allusions to myths, classical and other, everyone is aware; but that the poem itselfismyth seems often to escape notice.¹ Its Christian subject matter is too close even to twentieth century readers to be viewed as existing on the same plane with interesting but fantastic legends about beings called Prometheus and Wotan and the Cannibal-at-the-North-End-of-the-World. Moreover, the tone of Milton’s epic, unlike that—for example—of Ovid’sMetamorphoses, is pervasively and weightily rational. The discursive explanations tempt us to criticize the events not as fiction but as alleged truth. Yet all myth while it...

  5. CHAPTER II THE NARRATIVE PLAN (pp. 26-46)

    Although Milton’s epic is based on the Scriptures and Christian tradition, not everything in it is an essential part of Christianity. He manipulated his story, adding incidents, rearranging their order, and introducing rational explications. I would next like to examine the gross narrative structure, ignoring the rationalizations, in order to discover what additional significance can be found in the major actions. Neither, for the time being, will much attention be paid to style. It will be convenient to follow the incidents in chronological order, just as it would be convenient in summarizing the Oedipus story to begin with the prophecy...

  6. CHAPTER III THREE EXAMPLES OF AFFECTIVE TONALITY (pp. 47-65)

    Hitherto we have consideredParadise Lostas a whole. In chapters to follow I shall study successive two-book sections of the poem from differing points of view. The aim will be to discover the importance in the total aesthetic structure, and by inference in the total meaning, of affects and percepts. I hope first, however, to make plausible the notion that the epic is suffused with affective overtones. (The role of percepts will not need to be argued because the importance of images is already widely recognized.) One way of accomplishing this end will be to look, in turn, at...

  7. CHAPTER IV ANIMISM : THE EPIC WORLD AS SENTIENT (pp. 66-90)

    Having in two chapters consideredParadise Lostas a whole and in a third analyzed briefly some of the ways in which nondiscursive parts of the author’s psyche contributed to producing it, I want next to attempt some experiments in histology. In this and the following chapter the emphasis will shift from purport to certain basic constituents of Milton’s epic style. Here we shall look in Books I and II, which are usually discussed with reference to Satan and the fallen angels, for evidence that in this superbly cultivated poem, the creation of a mind furnished with the best learning...

  8. CHAPTER V SYNECDOCHE AND METONYMY (pp. 91-103)

    So flexible is language, so responsive to feeling, that it reveals not only the ideas and images which occupy the speaker’s mind but also the affective values with which these are tinged. Most of the referents of words are sufficiently complex to permit description by one or more of a rich variety of terms; and the choices made among the possibilities often suggest both a selected aspect of the referent and an attitude evoked by the aspect.

    An individual human being, whom we may call by some such name as Roy Jones, will provide an illustration. For the whole man,...

  9. CHAPTER VI VISUAL PERCEPTION (pp. 104-132)

    In the immediately preceding chapters we have sought in Books I-IV ofParadise Lostthe affective implications of animistic turns of speech and of two selected rhetorical figures. We turn now to perception—which of course often stimulates affective responses but may be studied in isolation from them—and look first, in Books V and VI, at patterns of seeing.

    How hard it is to study visual images objectively will appear from a protracted look at the opening lines of Book V.

    Now Morn her rosie steps in th’ Eastern Clime Advancing, sowd the Earth with Orient Pearle.

    Are visual...

  10. CHAPTER VII AUDITORY PERCEPTION (pp. 133-166)

    Book VII ofParadise Lostis given over wholly to a description of the six days of creation. Book VIII begins with a discussion of astronomy, continues with Adam’s story of his earliest memories—his awakening to consciousness, his colloquy with the divine shape that appears from among the trees, the creation of Eve and the joy of their first meeting—and concludes with a dialogue on love, initiated by Adam’s rather excessive praise of Eve and terminated by Raphael’s comments about love among the angels. Book VII is mostly visual—a stupendous, ocular panorama of the successive stages of...

  11. CHAPTER VIII SOMATIC PERCEPTION (pp. 167-193)

    Consciousness, as we all know from experience, includes not only thought and perceptions of the external world but much more. Things seem to happen within the body, orsoma, which we attempt to describe by such phrases as “My heart swelled,” “I could hardly sit still,” “I was just sick when I heard the news,” “I never felt so jittery,” and “I was walking on air.” The reason, of course, is that the body is in fact involved in states of consciousness. Such physical processes as glandular action, modifications of the circulatory system, and changes in the nerves and muscles...

  12. CHAPTER IX AFFECT AND PERCEPT ON THE MOUNT OF SPECULATION (pp. 194-224)

    The last two books ofParadise Losthave not been among the most admired. This is not to be wondered at, for the poet had several difficulties to confront. The action within the epic’s real imaginative universe is over, and what remains is to be foreseen rather than experienced directly. Michael and Adam stand on “a Hill/ Of Paradise the highest” (xi, 377-78) and consider at a distance both of space and of time events which lie in the narrative future. At best they are spectators, not participants; but in Book XII Adam no longer sees what is to happen...

  13. INDEX (pp. 225-230)