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Milton and the Ineffable$
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Noam Reisner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572625

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572625.001.0001

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Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes: the ineffable self

Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes: the ineffable self

(p.234) 5 Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes: the ineffable self
Milton and the Ineffable

Noam Reisner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to the 1671 volume of Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. It analyses the crisis of apophatic discourse at the heart of the poet's subjectivity, when modes of spiritual interiority surrender to ineffable silence at the expense of voice and meaning. It demonstrates that Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes are reflective and meta-poetic in that they explore the potential failure or success of the divinely inspired poet contemplating redemption for humanity. In these two oddly comparable poems about the merits and limits of individual Christian heroism, Milton finally confronts the ineffable mystery at the heart of the Protestant election and regeneration narrative. In doing so he offers his readers seemingly two very different, yet in fact congruent, didactic reflections on the nature of interior holiness and what it takes to secure salvation and redemption for the individual, if not for his nation.

Keywords:   Milton, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, apophatic discourse, ineffable silence, mystery, election, regeneration, interior holiness

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