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Milton Now pp 69-80 | Cite as

Milton’s Capitalist Son of God? Temporality and Divine Order in De doctrina Christiana

  • Feisal G. Mohamed
Chapter
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Part of the Early Modern Cultural Studies book series (EMCSS)

Abstract

If this volume invites us to reconsider Nyquist and Ferguson’s landmark collection, it also alerts us to the diverse ways in which contexts may be brought to bear upon literary texts.1 Infusing various theoretical energies into early modern studies, we find in the pages of Re-Membering Milton Richard Bradford’s historically informed close reading of “graphic poetics,” John Guillory’s application of Adorno to Samson Agonistes, Chris Kendrick’s characteristically rich psychoanalytic reading of the Ludlow masque, Abbe Blum’s materialist examination of Areopagitica in its immediate milieu, and Mary Nyquist’s spotless and seminal feminist analysis of the divorce tracts and Paradise Lost. Like any work of intellectual energy, Nyquist and Ferguson’s leaves us wondering if we are worthy heirs of its possibilities. And that wondering must light upon the historical approaches to literature now firmly regnant in scholarship on literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Historicism has become in the past 25 years far too compelling a source of scholarship and criticism to be discounted or dismissed—and fears of it being inimical to an appreciation of literariness were proven to be unfounded long ago—so that we should all be loath to use the phrase, “The problem with historicism today is…” But that tetchy clause might persuasively be adapted to the limitation of any dominant mode of criticism: that it can feel like a set of routinized maneuvers all-but bereft of reflexivity and supple attentiveness to broader intellectual currents.

Keywords

Queer Theory Paradise Lost Revolutionary Action Messianic Time Visible Universe 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Epigraph is from Walter Benjamin, Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Pantheon, 1968; Google eBook), 204.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Giorgio Agamben, Infancy and History: Essays on the Destruction of Experience, trans. Liz Heron (London: Verso, 1993): 91. For a review of queer theory treatments of temporality pertaining to historicism, seeGoogle Scholar
  3. Valerie Traub, “The New Unhistoricism in Queer Studies,” PMLA 128 (2013): 21–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    Cesare Casarino, “Time Matters: Marx, Negri, Agamben, and the Corporeal,” in In Praise of the Common, ed. Casarino and Antonio Negri (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 220.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    John Milton, De doctrina Christiana, trans, and ed. John K. Hale and J. Donald Cullington, Complete Works of John Milton, vol. 8 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 145 (“Cum haec omnia per se tam clara sint, ut nulla explanatione indigeant,” 144). For the statements I have enumerated, see pages 135, 137, 143, 201–03. Hale and Cullington address the question of Milton’s authorship on xxviii–xxix. That question is not entirely settled, as attested by the papers of Jeffrey Miller, John Mulryan, and Hugh F. Wilson at the 2014 MLA Convention, comprising the special session “The Controversy over the Attribution of De doctrina Christiana to John Milton: New Perspectives” (Panel 685). All further references to Milton’s De doctrina are to this outstanding edition and indicated in parentheses; English shall be provided in the body of this essay with original Latin in the notes.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Gordon Campbell, Thomas N. Corns, John K. Hale, and Fiona J. Tweedie, Milton and the Manuscript of “De doctrina Christiana” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 10.
    Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Barbara K. Lewalski (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007), 3.372–74, 383–84. All further, parenthetical references to Paradise Lost are to this edition. Parenthetical references to Milton’s shorter poems are toGoogle Scholar
  8. Complete Shorter Poems, ed. Stella P. Revard (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009).Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Saint Augustine, The City of God against the Pagans [De civitate Dei], trans. Henry Bettenson (London: Penguin, 1984), 436 [XI.6].Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Plato, Timaeus, Collected Dialogues, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (New York: Pantheon, 1961), 1167 [38A-B].Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Johannes Wollebius, Compendium theologiae Christianae, in Reformed Dogmatics, ed. and trans. John W Beardslee (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), 41.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    On Milton allowing for the existence of other worlds, see Gregory Chaplin, “Beyond Sacrifice: Milton and the Atonement,” PMLA 125 (2010): 354–69;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  14. 15.
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    See Stephen Gersh, From Iamblichus to Eriugena (Leiden: EJ Brill, 1978), 154.Google Scholar
  16. 20.
    On Raphael’s account of Heaven’s temporality, see Russell Hillier, Milton’s Messiah: The Son of God in the Works of John Milton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 95–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 22.
    See Emily Grosholz, “Reference and Analysis: The Representation of Time in Galileo, Newton, and Leibniz,” Journal of the History of Ideas 72 (2011): 333–50; andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Milič Čapek, “The Conflict between the Absolutist and Relational Theory of Time before Newton,” Journal of the History of Ideas 48 (1987): 595–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 25.
    Negri, Time for Revolution (London: Continuum, 2003), 108.Google Scholar
  20. 29.
    G. M. Goshgarian, intr. to Althusser, Philosophy of the Encounter: Later Writings, 1978–1987 (London: Verso, 2006), xli.Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    Leonard, “Milton, Lucretius, and ‘the Void Profound of Unessential Night,’” in Living Texts: Interpreting Milton, ed. Kristin A. Pruitt and Charles W. Durham (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 2000), 204. Leonard significantly revises his view of Milton’s universe, and its relationship with De rerum natura, in the indispensable eleventh chapter of Faithful Labourers (see especially 2: 712–13 and 717–19).Google Scholar
  22. 34.
    On Badiou’s interpretation of Maoism, and its importance to his thought, see Bruno Bosteels, Badiou and Politics, Post-Contemporary Interventions (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), esp. introduction and ch. 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 35.
    Peter Hallward, Badiou: A Subject to Truth (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 158.Google Scholar
  24. 36.
    Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 [Logiques des mondes, 2006], trans. Alberto Toscano (London: Continuum, 2009), 9.Google Scholar

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© Catharine Gray and Erin Murphy 2014

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  • Feisal G. Mohamed

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